Episode 39 - Critiques
In this episode we talk about banned books, a word count spreadsheet, and how to give and take a critiques.
Works in Progress
Mike's successes in 2015 were joining Typehammer, and the progress he has made in his writing because of it. His biggest highlight was the shortlisting of his Rotgut story on Mashs
John is stuck again on the Hobo and Drone story. He is really having trouble getting his stories motivated in the right directions. He also sort of started another story in a post-apocalypse. In 2015, John wrote over 100K words which is more than he's ever written, and it's the encouragement and accountability of the podcast that has pushed him.
Eric wrote a short story for Battletech over the holidays, but didn't do much work with his main WIPs.
What's happening online
Tor Closed to Unsolicited Submissions
[00:07:10] In Episode 7 we mentioned that the science fiction and fantasy publisher Tor had opened their site to new fiction submissions. As of January 7, 2016, Tor.com is closing its doors to unsolicited fiction.
The Revenant's Author
Michael Punke is the author of a book that has been made into a highly anticipated movie with Leonardo Di Caprio. The Revenant was written by Punke in 2002 in the mornings before his job as a lawyer in Washington DC. The book was popular enough that he resigned from the position and moved out of DC.
But in 2009 he became the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative for the World Trade Organization. Part of the job? He cannot do any promotional work on the side. So in 2016, when The Revenant was released as a movie starring Di Caprio, Punke was not allowed to do any promotion of his work. He can cash the checks, sure, but he can't talk about the book or even sign copies.
[00:10:27] Shelfie is a site for readers that helps you get a digital copy of books you own in print. The founder of the site, Peter Hudson, wondered why, if he had already purchased in physical form, he couldn't get it in digital form too. With Shelfie, you sign the copyright page of the book, snap a photo, and the site will find the digital copy of the book for free or at a reduced cost.
As publishers realize readers don't care about the form in which their books come as much as having access to them. That's the incentive behind giving away the digital copies with the physical books.
Best Instrumental Albums
[00:13:05] [Parents Call Cops on Teen for Giving Away Banned Book
In Idaho, parents managed to ban The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, a 2007 YA novel from the school curriculum. When junior-high student Brady Kissel helped distribute free copies to any student who wanted a copy, the parents panicked and called the police.
The cops didn't know what they were doing there, and let the book distribution continue. When Hachette, the publisher, heard the story, they sent an additional 350 copies of the book, completely backfiring the parents' ban on the book.
[00:14:14] Eric is reading Eunoia by Christian Bok. In this book each chapter uses only a single vowel.
Eric is also reading Walking Shadow by Clifford Royal James. James is a Chicago author.
Eric started The Winter King by Bernard Cromwell.
Mike is reading The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth) by N. K. Jemisin
John is still reading On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
John's also reading Organized Crime in Chicago - Beyond the Mafia by Robert M Lombardo
(Eric also mentioned Chicago by Gaslight by Richard Lindberg)
Tech Focus - John Made a Thing
[00:25:23] To get a start to a 2016 full of writing, John created a Google Spreadsheet to track his word count and longest daily writing streak. You can grab a copy of the spreadsheet here: Word counts and if you want to see what John's 2015 data looked like, you can peek at it here: 2015 Word count
Craft Talk - Giving Critiques
[00:27:22] Being a good beta reader / critiquer:
- Ask what kind of feedback the author wants. Line edits? Story?
- Don't be afraid to stop. No one said you have to finish the whole thing.
- Mark points where you got bored or were broken out of the story.
- Don't get upset when the same mistakes appear in the manuscript. It's not like they can fix it while you're reading.
- Read as a reader, not a writer.
- Don't try to fix things that are wrong, just point them out.
- Try to be precise as to why you don't like something, but again, don't offer a suggestion.
- If you know the author, try to abstract that fact away from the reading you're doing.
- Don' feel rushed to read it all in one sitting. Read it as you would read any other book.
- Compliments can be helpful feedback, too. Say why you like something.
- Do not attack the author in any way. They are not stupid for writing something, etc.
- Don't ask the author questions while you are reading, regular readers won't be able to.
- Make notes of those questions, though, in the margins or as a footnote. Where you got confused is important for the author to know.
- Use a green pen. Not red. Green is nice.
- Let the author know of any unfulfilled promises. If they didn't use Checkov's gun, let them know.
We have a Typehammer Scribophile Group and we'll help our listeners get their work critiqued.
Writing that Pays
Write a 250 word essay, win a movie theater (No, SERIOUSLY)
Mike Hurley, owner of the two-screen Temple Theatre in Houlton, Maine, has decided it’s time to move on with his career. Instead of putting the historic theater on the market, Hurley has decided to hold an essay contest with the winner getting the deed to the movie palace.
According to Hurley, the 250-word essays will be judged on several criteria, including “…writing structure, content, quality of expression (and) creativity.”
All essays should explain why the entrant would be the best new owner for the theater.
"Why would you be the bests person, family, or group to be the new owner of teh temple theatre?"
Hurley can’t afford to pay up with the theater without a minimum of 3500 entries. No sweat on missing out because of the minimum, however. Hurley says all entry fees will be returned if the minimum isn’t met.
The contest winnings include not only the theater, but the entire building, a large parking lot, and $25,000 in cash to cover your start-up expenses.