Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Contrast & Compare

Today's Lunch Deluxe email newsletter from Publishers Marketplace was a study in contrasts, with these headlines:
Medina "Suspended" in UK
Director's Jesus Book a Dutch Bestseller
The Bookseller reports on THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, the novel about Muhammed's wife Aisha, whose UK publisher was firebombed over the weekend (see Quote for the Day--Make that Every Day). Ballantine dropped the book in the US, after a (Jewish!) advance reader warned that the book could foment trouble, then passed along word about it to a Muslim website, which was followed by--surprise!--incendiary attacks, rhetorical and actual.
The UK publication of The Jewel of Medina is in "suspended animation" according to Gibson Square's external sales team Compass, following this weekend's attempted attack on publisher Martin Rynja's house. Alan Jessop, m.d. of Compass, this morning (Tuesday 30th September) spoke to Rynja who said he would be taking some time out to decide whether to continue with plans to publish the controversial historial novel. Jessop said: "He is in good spirits, but has put publication in suspended animation while he reflects and takes advice on what the best foot forward is."
Then we have JESUS OF NAZARETH, co-written by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, currently in its 4th printing in Holland "after a big promotional campaign." Per the Hollywood Reporter, "Verhoeven suggests that Jesus was the son of Mary and a Roman soldier who raped her."

WOW!!! Now that's incendiary! How interesting that there have been no reports so far of any arson, or even outrage. How wonderful it would be to live in a world where no author or publisher would have to fear censorship or violence.

Monday, September 29, 2008

On Copyright

Yesterday's post Values v. Reality prompted unpleasant comments from a reader, which led to the following email exchange with the editorial page editor of the Roanoke Times. I like the part about being polite.

RT: It is better form when reprinting commentary from another source to excerpt it with a link to the full piece.

Me: I am quite aware of good form, fair use and copyright, and usually do run just excerpts with links (e.g., my two blog posts today). However, since I had permission from Janis Jaquith--who I assume holds the copyright to her essay--to post her piece in full, I did so. If my assumption is incorrect, please let me know and I will revise the offending post.

RT: It's not a big deal to me one way or the other. We have no objection to people reprinting commentary with appropriate credit, which you gave. A reader wrote us, however, offended on our behalf by what you had done, so I thought I'd just drop you a polite note. Again, it's not a big thing to me either way.

A Thoughtful Xmas Gift for Mom & Dad

Writer Janis Jaquith forwarded me a hilarious job posting from Craigslist, Ready to Write About My Sex Life - But I Suck at Grammar. Seems that a woman who's been wearing out the Hollywood casting couch needs help with her memoirs:
...after my husband left me for another actress that he met on a new set, I began to write about the men I met in Santa Monica, my old marriage, and what brought me to LA. Sometimes steamy, often sexy, and very real, I have been writing many paragraphs, but I need help - Preferably from a woman with a healthy attitude about men, dating, romantic, often lusty encounters, and basically my very story about a girl that finds herself sleeping her way thru LA....

So I am looking for help, because I would like to self-publish my stories by Christmas and send them to my family for always being there for me.... Going back East to see people I haven't seen in a long time. Christmas is only three months away....
I see this as the jump-off for a novel, not a ghostwriting job.

Quote for the Day--Make that Every Day

"I don't spend my time worrying about how I'm going to live. I think a life where you can't express yourself and you can't speak is a life worse than death."

--Sherry Jones, author of THE JEWEL OF MEDINA
This quote is at the end of an article in the national edition of the New York Times, Attack on Publisher's House May Be Linked to Book About Muhammad and Wife. The home and headquarters of the London publisher, Gibson Square, was set on fire yesterday, via a fire bomb pushed through the mail slot. Police were already on the scene, so no one was hurt.

Here's a strange thing I just discovered: The quote isn't in the article online, which has had at least five grafs deleted.

Here are other passages that didn't make it to the NYT site:
[Jones] added, "I hope as many people read it as possible, so they can see my book has been lied about."...

[Eric M. Kampmann, president of Beaufort Books, which picked up THE JEWEL OF MEDINA after Ballantine canceled it] said that he still stood behind the book.

"We found it to be credible historical fiction, and the author to be a very open person who did not have an anti-Muslim ax to grind--probably the reverse," he said. "We became involved with the book because it was wrong that an American publisher would fail to stand up to a real or imagined threat."
See more about Jones and the firebombing in GalleyCat and UK Guardian.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Values v. Reality

My friend Janis Jaquith, in my former hometown of Charlottesville VA, writes:
Rather than preach to the choir, I wrote this piece hoping to reach the voters in the "reddest" areas of Virginia. The commentary appears in today's edition of The Roanoke Times.

What have Republicans done for you?

You know in your heart that homosexuality is unnatural, an abomination. You are foursquare against abortion and there's no doubt in your mind that Muslims are a foreign threat -- and it goes without saying that the United States is a Christian nation.

These are your most cherished values. What could be more natural than to vote for people who share your values? Someone you feel comfortable with. Someone like you.

This is a basic human instinct. We gravitate toward our own kind.

People who look like you, sound like you and think like you have been in charge of this country for nearly eight years now. As Dr. Phil would say, "How's that workin' out for you?"

Do you have more money in the bank than you did in 2000? Is your job more secure? Is your medical care any easier to handle?

If you answered "no" to any of those questions, you may want to rethink the way you choose your leaders. Ask yourself what your congressman and your president have done to make your life better.

Do you feel safer than you did in 2000? I sure don't. And I have not seen a shred of evidence that Virgil Goode or Bob Goodlatte or George Bush have done a single thing -- made a law or put a policy in place -- to improve my life one iota.

Instead, I feel like my pocket has been picked. I feel like my own patriotism was used against me when they tricked me into supporting a war against Iraq -- a country that had, it turns out, not a thing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. And now, my tax dollars are stuffing the pockets of war profiteers like Halliburton and Blackwater. (And don't forget the high-rollers on Wall Street who are resting in a cushy safety net -- on our dime.)

Meanwhile, Virginia manufacturers have closed up shop and fled to other countries, leaving tons of Virginians high and dry. Why are there no effective trade policies or tax incentives in place to bring jobs back to Virginia? We've been without leadership for so long, we've forgotten what it looks like.

The fact that Goode and Goodlatte and Bush share their heartfelt values must be cold comfort for the legions of hard-working Virginians who are now either without a job or are under-employed. And the loss of Virginian lives in the ill-conceived Iraq war is too painful to think about.

Ask yourself: Are you better off now than you were before the Republicans took the wheel?

This Nov. 4, I'll pick my leaders by finding out which ones will make my life better. The candidates who advocate for ordinary, middle-class people, the ones who will keep us out of wars, help me get decent medical care for a fair price and allow my bank account to fill up again.

Will they be the candidates who also share my bedrock values? To tell you the truth, I really don't care.

Jaquith is a columnist for Charlottesville's newsweekly, The Hook. She has also been a frequent radio commentator for WVTF and for PRI's "Marketplace," and has appeared on NPR's "Day to Day."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Best Headline & Creepiest Story of the Month

I cracked up when I was reading a story on the Washington Post site and saw the below headline under the heading "People who read this also read..."

Wis. court: Cops illegally taped nursing home sex

Naturally, I clicked on the link (wouldn't you?), then exclaimed, "EWW!" at the lede:
Police who videotaped a man having sex with his comatose wife in her nursing home room violated his constitutional rights, an appeals court ruled Thursday.
EWWW!!, EWWW!!! EWWWWWW!!!! were my responses to the next few grafs:
David W. Johnson, 59, had an expectation to privacy when he visited his wife, a stroke victim, at Divine Savior Nursing Home in Portage, the District 4 Court of Appeals ruled. Therefore, police violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches when they installed a hidden video camera in the room, the court said.

"We are satisfied that Johnson's expectation of privacy while visiting his wife in her nursing home room is one that society would recognize as reasonable," the unanimous three-judge panel wrote.

The ruling means prosecutors cannot introduce the videotapes as evidence in their case against Johnson, who is charged with felony sexual assault for having intercourse with his wife without her consent at least three times in 2005.
I don't like to think of what Mr. Johnson would do at his wife's wake.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Joke of the Day

From the wiseguys at Something Awful: The Internet Makes You Stupid, via the Boy Wonder:

Q: What's the difference between George W. Bush and Sarah Palin?

A: Lipstick!

For proof, see today's New York Times (Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes) and Washington Post (As Mayor of Wasilla, Palin Cut Own Duties, Left Trail of Bad Blood).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Meaning & Nothingness on a Friday Afternoon

Maybe it's the gloomy weather, maybe it's the political climate, but I was feeling kinda mopey. And as is my wont when feeling blue-ish (and not coincidentally procrastinating on writing my Great American Potboiler), I read Andrew Sullivan's blog. Which led me to this video: "Pre-Game Coin Toss Makes Jacksonville Jaguars Realize Randomness Of Life."

And now everything is illuminated...in pitch black.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hold the Phone for Book Promotion 101 TeleSeminar

In early June I did three "Promoting Like a Pro" phone-in seminars for the Authors Guild. They went so well that I decided to do them all by my very own self. So a little while ago I set up the first seminar through FreeConference. Here's the scoop:

Book Promotion 101 TeleSeminar
Date: Sunday, Sept. 28
Time: 3-4:30pm Eastern (12-1:30pm Pacific)
Price: $90
Registration limited to 10.

You get:

  • The lowdown on promoting your book like a pro--the same as in my all-day workshop.
  • Q&A session.
  • Individual 15-minute follow-up consultation.
  • First hour of additional consultation for $125 (a $25 discount).
Interested? Send an email to: blog (at) bellastander.com, with subject "TeleSeminar." Note: For commercially published authors only.