The Center of the American Canon, or the 2nd Most Influential Book in My Life

huck-cover2Last night while I was watching one of the great pitching performances of the last few decades (or possibly, ever…at least in the live ball era) it occurred to me that we (by that I mean the entirety of baseball fans, but also Dodger fans specifically) are likely watching history unfold. And today, there is no shortage of words being written about Kershaw’s game last night specifically, or his career in general. The overriding theme, though, seems to be that what separates him from every other person on the planet who has ever tried to throw a baseball is not his natural talent (of which he has an over abundance…but so do many other major league pitchers) so much as his work ethic.

Inspired by Kershaw, I’ve set some goals for myself in the coming (i.e. summer) months. Mostly a list of milestones to reach as regards writing, in addition to finalizing the presentation I will give at the WCCHA conference in October. Long time readers of NR might be slightly (or, more probably, loudly) laughing at the thought of me sticking to any kind of deadline, let alone self-imposed ones. I have, however, been quite successful this year at actually accomplishing goals. Not really sure why that is and, honestly, said accomplishments have been achieved in non-writing areas, but still…I’m optimistic the trend will continue.

Continue reading

Indie Publishing: Considerations for Writers and Readers

A very unscientific search of images using the phrase "death of publishing" brought me this...

A very unscientific search for images using the phrase “death of publishing” brought me this…

While in graduate school, (2005-2009) I was in the regular habit of asking both Tim Powers and James Blaylock for advice. On one such occasion (circa 2007) I asked Powers what he thought about publishing in general, and whether or not an unpublished author (like, say, a guy in graduate school) even had a shot at when submitting to a large publisher.

His response, in typically entertaining, Powerisian fashion was something along the lines of “Hell yes! Look, do you realize how much crap they get sent? Half of it is in crayon. And you know how to write, so yeah, they’re [editors] practically foaming at the mouth waiting to get their hands on something good.”

Continue reading

A Virtual Ghost Town, or Where Does the Time Go, or I’m a Year Older, or Consistent Professional Disappointments May Be Coming to An End

4668275-297851-old-buildings-in-bodie-an-original-ghost-town-from-the-late-1800sI have been remiss in not spending any time on this site. To be honest, it has fallen off my radar for, literally the entire last year. 10 days ago, however, I received a very polite form email from the web hosting company letting me know that the host and domain were set to expire on May 1st, 2014. Meaning, unless I coughed up some monies, the Ol’ NR would fade off into the ether whence it had been spawned.

Surely worse events have transpired in the long, sordid history of the internetz. And I did give some serious consideration to allow the site to expire. It was quite a shock, in fact, to realize that is has been 13 months since my last post. If I had not made the site any kind of priority over the last year, what is the likelihood that I would do so moving forward?

Continue reading

Random Acts of Insightfulness #4 – Mark Lawrence, or The Writer of Thorns


Though my posting has decreased significantly due to a variety of factors. I’ve kept thoughts of what NR is, was, and can be in the future constantly on my mind. Obviously, I would love to be able to produce comics, either as the ol’ NR proper, or something new. As I’m not capable of producing visual art anyone would want to look at, that won’t be happening anytime soon. Gilgrim and I are still in contact from time to time, but circumstances for both of us have conspired to make collaboration…what’s less than “not feasible”…where n = some value of feasible, let’s just say -n for now.

One component of NR that I wish I would have pursued with more vigor, though, is the quite sporadic interview series, Random Acts of Insightfulness. And then it occurred to me that there wasn’t anything very compelling (other than lack of time) that was keeping me from interviewing interesting and intelligent persons on a more regular basis.

So here we are, then, with the (quite overdue) fourth installment of RAOI. This being the first text based go round…an interview that was conducted over the course of several weeks and no doubt tested the certifiably saint like patience of the interviewee…it worked better than I could have hoped. Though I believe the success can be fully attributed to said interviewee.

So, without much further ado, I present to you Random Acts of Insightfulness #4 with Mark Lawrence, author of the “Thorns Trilogy” by night and (seriously) research scientist by day (no, seriously!). Topics for your consideration: writing as a mid-life endeavor, character considerations both within the fantasy genre and without, redemptive/non-redemptive ideology within fiction, writing processes, and some opportunities for charitable contributions,


Continue reading

Why Do People Steal My Ideas Before I Have a Chance to Profit From Them, or HarperTeen Impulse and Some Wise Words from Cory Doctorow

On Sunday HarperTeen announced the launch of a digital imprint called HarperTeen Impulse. The title of the NY Times article says it all…HarperCollins Imprint Aims at Lucrative Young Adult Market. The imprint will release up to four new books each month (every first Tuesday) with prices ranging from $.99 to $2.99. The work will be in a variety of genres, but it does look like the works will all be novella length or shorter, hence the low price point.

Harper has a similar model with Avon Impulse which focuses on romance titles. The Romance world, of course, has a long history of churning out new, short, titles on a monthly basis…even back in the dark ages (read: print only days). The appetite for new content of the average Romance reader being akin to the gaping dark maw of a black hole, the Romance imprints learned long ago that they could produce a constant stream of work and still never quell that collective hunger.

Continue reading

Random House and Penguin Might Merge or, Why I'm Writing a Topical Post

There was a time when 1 out of 2, or 2 out of 3 posts on this site were topical, news related, or relevant to a larger cross section of individuals than just myself. That hasn’t been the case for some time. As my post frequency has lessened, so too has the focus of this site become a consideration of writing…particularly my own, and my own process. Certainly, the less constant updates, and less generally interesting subject matter have accounted for the precipitous drop in site views, but I digress

Today, however, there is word that Random House and Penguin may just decide to merge.

This is important, not just to the wider book reading world (as I will go into in a moment) but also directly important to me, a freshly minted independently published author. What I’m saying is that, even though this post is topical in nature, it will devolve into a consideration of how it affects me (or persons like me) directly…see how I’m still completely self involved even when discussing the wider world of books.

But let’s start with the broader issues at play here…

Continue reading

The Book I've Spent More Than a Decade Trying to Rip Off, or The Third Most Influential Book in My Life

So posts on the ol’ NR have slowed cheapest line viagra a bit as I’ve gotten back into the editing cycle.  For the curious, the next installment of Minding the Heavens will be titled:

Part II: Transfiguration (and I should have the cover image ready to go for perusal this weekend…maybe)

Nevertheless, I have this list looming in front of me that needs completion or I will feel I’ve failed you all. So let us, once again, recap where we been.

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  3. Good Omens
  4. Life of Pi — a consideration of the coming movie adaptation
  5. Erasure — the writer whose ability i most covet
  6. The French Lieutenant’s Woman — a novel that speaks to my broken self
  7. Everything is Illuminated — why I simultaneously hate and envy Jonathan Safran Foer

Which brings us to the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett co-authored work Good Omens. I came to Good Omens by way of a friend when we were in high school. Chronologically speaking, I read it after both books 1 and 2, and while every book on this list was influential in informing me, both as a writer and person, these first three (or last three, bottom to top) were the most important, for very different reasons.

Astute readers of the ol’ NR will notice that Gaiman and Pratchett are the writers I mention the most. I’ve read more Pratchett words than any other author, and every one of Gaiman’s novels haunts my soul. So one might wonder why no other works from these two show up on this list.

Continue reading