5 September 2009 - 17:30Updating Wordpress

To the few of you who follow this blog, I’m going to be doing some emergency updates.  I may actually wipe out and restart this blog.  I don’t expect to use it a lot for a while, though.  See ya in the funny papers….

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6 August 2009 - 16:17Blake Snyder - Rest in Peace

I was really shocked to hear that Blake Snyder died a couple of days ago of cardiac arrest.

If you don’t know who he is, he wrote a ground-breaking screenwriting book called “Save the Cat”.  That book is the most important writing book (not just screenwriting) that I ever read, because even though it gives you a lot of formulas for plot and how to write a logline and choosing a story structure, it transcends genre as no other screenwriting book ever has. (And I’m including “Story” here.)

What Snyder did was look at story with the kind of perspective you see in psychologists and anthropologists who study folk tale.  Genre, for him, is not about whether the first murder or first kiss appears on page 8, but rather on what kind of hero you have and what’s his journey about.  Genre isn’t just marketing category, and it sure isn’t formula - but it does provide insight into the audience for both the writer and the marketing department to understand.

I’m so sorry to hear he’s gone.

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27 July 2009 - 15:09Irony Impaired?

New York Times published a story about the fuss that was made when Amazon erased purchased copies of “1984″ that had been sold by an unlicensed book dealer.

Much of the article is about how people are disturbed by the, um, “Big Brother” like control Amazon keeps over its customers through Kindle’s DRM.

But they never actually use the term “big brother” nor do they seem to get that the book involved was … 1984!

(That link is to the paperback edition.  I think the irony level would have been too high if I’d linked to the Kindle edition.)

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17 June 2009 - 9:46The Self-funded Fellowship Update

I was at last able to decompress to the point where I was able to get some coherent thinking in, and I realized what I desperately wanted to do with my time this summer was write fiction.

One of the reasons I had stopped writing fiction was because the market dried up. That is, lots of books were being published, but the brick and mortar bookstores were still calling the shots and they basically treated the mid-list as canon fodder.  (The midlist, for those of you who don’t know, was the bread and butter of the industry - things like genre and mystery series that had a smaller audience than the best sellers, but it was an incredibly LOYAL audience and therefore pretty much guaranteed a steady income to publishers and writers.)

The big bookstores took to churning the midlist.  If an author didn’t make it to a best seller status after two or three books, they stopped carrying the author.  Many people had to keep their careers going by changing their name every three books.

But people were working their asses off for almost no pay.  And then they’d be blacklisted.  I knew Amazon and other online retailers and publishers would be the savior in all this but it just wasn’t happening ten years ago.

But now it IS happening.  Now that Amazon offers used books, every book can still have an audience, authors can keep their careers alive.  And the market for online reading is growing, as people switch to reading from their computers, netbooks, Kindles, iPhones and other handheld devices.

John August has experimentally published a short story online as a mini-ebook.  He seems to be having great success - certainly much greater return than you’d get for most entertaining genre short stories these days.  And as it happened, I had planned in August, at the end of my fellowship, to set up a website for my cozy mystery western series - publish reprints and new short fiction.

Some how that whole August thing seems like kismet.  Stay tuned….

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2 February 2009 - 22:13Changes to RSS Feeds

Feedburner, the service which has handled my RSS feeds up to now, is merging with Google.  This blog’s feed, unfortunately, is a bit tangled with another account.  At this point, I am thinking that the best way to straighten this out would be to delete this feed, and restart it in a clean new Google account.

It’s not quite clear what Feedburner and Google are swapping around, so this may not even cause a disruption to your feed.

I’m going to make these changes this week.  I will post again on Friday when they are done.  You can check your feed reader on Saturday, Feb 7, to see if the subscription survived.

In the meantime, I suggest you bookmark this blog, or send me an email at pitchlady@pitchlady.com for a notice of when I’m done.  Just in case things go wrong.

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13 January 2008 - 9:34Comcast, Apple and 1984

Just reading an article in Forbes Magazine about the CEO of Comcast. Here’s a guy who has made a fortune out of Getting His Way. He insists on controlling everything, from customer choice to prices to congressional regulation.

And that’s being shaken by … the internet. No the alternative streams are not quite there yet, but I know I gave up cable two years ago, and haven’t missed it. (Other than Alton Brown. And Iron Chef, especially the origial Japanese one.) Between DVDs, iTunes and the internet, I get to watch all I want, and at my own convenience.

The thing about Getting Your Way is that if it doesn’t benefit others, it won’t last. Edison tried it in the early days of movies, and failed because a million shopgirls with nickels can’t be denied.

While reading that article, I couldn’t help thinking about Apple’s classic 1984 “Big Brother” ad. Apple ought to trot that one out again in support of the new Apple TV. (Sure, Apple TV is too controlled itself right now — but it just got started.)

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