Monthly Archives: November 2011

Art and writing with Michael Phipps

For this podcast Writing Snippets interviews artist Michael Phipps, who did the cover art for James Dashner’s Jimmy Fincher series. We talk about his creative process, about how and why he does art, and about how this applies to writing. Comment on this podcast to be entered to win one of James Dashner’s Jimmy Fincher books.

Download (right click and go to “save link as” to download)

Writing and Publishing Around the Web: November 2011

There’s so much writing and publishing advice on the web these days that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here are the blog posts and articles that sparked my interest over the past month. Hopefully they will help you, as well–and maybe point you in the direction of some great bloggers to follow in the process.

Writer/editor Katheryn Craft writes about The Art of Chaptering.

Author Kate Elliot talks about using Fiction as Inspiration.

Author Judith Tarr wrote a helpful article on Worldbuilding with Horses: Basics.

Author and Indie-publishing advocate Kristine Kathryn Rusch posted two fascinating articles. One discusses believing in yourself as a writer when dealing with other publishing professionals. The other is a fascinating discussion about How Traditional Publishers are Making Money.

Editor Stacy Whitman talked about the pros and cons of writing in your villain’s point of view.

Writer Charissa Weaks posted two great lists of resources on The Writer’s Resource, one on How To Find a Critique Partner, and a list of Great Books on Writing.

Author Nathan Bransford lists Five Ways to Stay Motivated While Writing a Novel.

Agent Rachelle Gardner posted an interesting article on Authors and Book Piracy.

Author Patricia C. Wrede talked about writing your characters’ Reactions.

Writer Jan Gangsei wrote the article: Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Voice I Learned… In Drama Class.

Two of author Janice Hardy’s many great posts caught my eye: “Need a Jump? Four Ways to Fix a Stalled Story,” and “Hey, Who Said That? Polishing Our Dialog Tags.”

Author David B. Coe wrote about The Value of Professional Copyediting, and placed it in the context of traditional vs. self-publishing.

Author Juliette Wade gave us a Checklist for deep POV (in 1st or 3rd person!).

Author Marie Brennan talked about getting help from knowledgeable people (even ones you’ve never met before) while researching for your writing.

Agent Mary Kole answered that difficult question: Do Fiction Writers Need a Platform?

Finally, writer/blogger/lawyer Passive Guy posted a compendium of articles on Literary Agents and Conflicts of Interest when it comes to “assisted self-publishing” ventures.

Check back next month for another list of the best of writing and publishing on the web. And don’t forget to check out Writing Snippets weekly for more great posts and podcasts on writing.

The Economics of Reading

I have to admit I’m addicted to second-hand bookstores.  I’m a bookaholic, and they tell me that acknowledging the problem is the first step…except that I don’t want to recover.  The second-hand bookstores allow me to read and re-read, then go back and find more at a fraction of the price of a new book.

But there’s a problem with this, one which I fully acknowledge (and I also acknowledge that I’d fix it in my own life if I had more money to spend on books).

Over the years I’ve watched various authors rise and fall, and some few of them rise again.  Those that do “rise again” usually go through an interesting cycle.

Take this quote, from the author’s note to one of my favorite books:

“…having committed those stories—and seen them published, back in the late 80’s—we were told by our publisher that the numbers weren’t there.  No one had read our books, that means in publish-speak.  And, since no one had read the first three, the outlined fourth—and the proposed fifth—would not be needed.”

I read their books for the first time in the late 80’s, and I am still reading them.  The first I got from the library, but when I went to the bookstores, even the used bookstores I couldn’t find it again.  I finally found a copy about 10 years later, used (as in totally trashed) and I read it until it fell apart.  I also have the other books in the series, although on several I have multiple copies because the only copies on some that I’ve been able to find were in compilations that contained books I already had.

According to the publishers their books hadn’t been read and yet when I first searched on the internet the only copy I could find (a used paperback) was being sold for $40.  Whether the books were popular or not, all the evidence points to something that I have seen with other books.

If a book is really good, but not touted as such by the media, many times the book is passed from person to person, read and re-read until it falls apart simply because other copies are not available.  Fifty people may read one copy, and all of them enjoy it, but the book was only purchased once so the publisher really has no idea just how many people are reading it or interested.  Those same copies (those that survive the original purchase) then go to used book sellers, who sell the book and the whole process begins again.  But the publishers won’t take the chance of printing more copies because “the numbers aren’t there.”  i.e., no one is buying the book new, off the shelf.  If I’d been able to get my hands on a new copy, I would have purchased it.

Many, many people, for whatever reason, choose to go to used book sellers or libraries.  I have to admit I’m one of them.  But if I like a book enough to purchase it (meaning it’s good enough to read multiple times without getting tired of it) then I should really purchase a copy of my own and support the authors I like.

Otherwise, the market will just get saturated with authors I don’t like.

Hm.  Is that what happened?

Disclaimer 🙂  :  This is not an advertisement.  I have no financial interest in Steve Miller and Sharon Lee (the above mentioned authors) except for having purchased many of their books (mostly the Liaden Universe).

In chronological order:

Scouts Progress

Mouse and Dragon

(Generational gap, here)


(another gap, but only a few years)

Agent of Change

Carpe Diem

Plan B

I Dare

More, please!

-By Lauren Ritz

October Winner

Our winner for the October give away is K. Bill Albrecht. Please email us at with your address and your choice of which classic or contemporary novel you want that we reviewed last month so we can send that out to you. Thanks and congratulations!