Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More on writers and depression.

New Zealand writer Colin Roswell has started a thoughtful conversation over at his blog about how writers deal with chronic depression. In response, writer J.K.Richárd has posted his own very personal essay about being a writer living with bipolar disorder. Head over and read both; it's good stuff.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thinning of brain cortex linked to hereditary depression.

(Apparently today is the day that Colleen became totally obsessed with science.) A fascinating article in the Los Angeles Times talks about the suspected link between the thinning of the brain cortex and hereditary depression:
On average, people with a family history of depression appear to have brains that are 28% thinner in the right cortex -- the outermost layer of the brain -- than those with no known family history of the disease. That cortical thinning, said the researchers, is on a scale similar to that seen in patients with Alzheimer's disease or schizophrenia.

"These are really impressive anatomical differences," said Dr. Bradley Peterson, the lead author of the study. The greater the anatomical differences seen in patients, on average, the more severe were their symptoms of intellectual impairment, he said. But thinning on the right side was associated with cognitive problems only; when thinning began to occur on the left side of the cortex, the hallmark symptoms of depression or anxiety became evident as well.
Read the whole piece here.

Giant single-cell organisms found rolling across ocean floor.

There's a new giant inch and a half wide amoeba taking over the Bahamas, and its name is Bahamian Gromia. And apparently? It can propel itself across the ocean floor.


New Scientist ponders the population dynamics of vampires.

And this is why I love the New Scientist so!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

One more: Finalists for the 2009 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer have been announced.

Nearly forgot about this one: the finalists for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer have also been announced:
Aliette de Bodard*
David Anthony Durham*
Felix Gilman
Tony Pi*
Gord Sellar*
* indicates second year of eligibility.

** And for the record? David Anthony Durham has my vote for this one. If you haven't read his novel Acacia, then drop everything you're doing and go get a copy right now.

Finalists for the 2009 Arthur C. Clarke Awards have also been announced

The finalists for the 2009 Arthur C. Clarke Award have also been announced!

Finalists for the 2009 Hugo Awards announced

Cheryl Morgan tells me that the finalists for the 2009 Hugo Awards have been announced on the AnticipationSF website. (As per usual with the Hugos, if you didn't bother to vote for them, you don't get to bitch about the nominees.)

Are small LGBT publishers invisible to agents?

Periodically here at FinePrint, we go through and scrub our marvelous - and usually comprehensive - list of publishers/editors by category. The past few days I've been going through those categories in which I'm most interested: SF/F, YA, Comics, Paranormal Romance, Pop Culture and LGBT. And guess what? Either there aren't very many LGBT publishers out there, or our database is woefully lacking. I suspect it may be the latter, simply because there wasn't anyone here actively seeking out manuscripts in that category before I got here.

And I know for a fact that there are dozens - if not hundreds - of great little LGBT presses out there.

Now I'll be the first to admit: we agents generally prefer to try to submit to those publishers who pay an advance to authors. After all, we pay our rent and eat based upon the commission we get on those advances. Royalties are always nice but it's tough to wait eighteen to twenty-four months to see any income from a manuscript sale, for both author and agent. And a lot of the smaller LGBT presses simply don't pay advances.

However....

Sometimes it's just the right fit for a book. So don't believe that all agents discount the small LGBT presses.

So if you own, work for, or are published by a great LGBT press that you think more people need to know about, please feel free to email me directly and give me the 411 on your publisher. (And don't be shy about pimping your press in the comments field!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson, RIP.

Sad news: Seems that Natasha Richardson has passed away, succumbing to the head injuries caused by her skiing accident. More at the New York Times here. Damn it.

The Watchmen in Context: A Lecture at MoCCA

If you're a Watchmen fan and you live in the New York City-area, you're invited to join us at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art tomorrow night where my client Peter Sanderson, comic historian extraordinaire, will be giving a lecture called The Watchmen in Context. The lecture starts at 7:00 PM and costs a measly $5 to get in (free if you're a MoCCA member!). Peter is the co-curator of the Art of Watchmen exhibit that's showing at MoCCA through May 2, 2009.
What: The Watchmen in Context
When: Thursday, March 19th, 7pm
Where: MoCCA, 594 Broadway, Suite 401, New York City

The Art of Watchmen co-curator, comics historian Peter Sanderson, will deliver a lecture that will serve as a guided tour through all twelve issues of the original Watchmen comics series. Sanderson will reveal how Watchmen's creators take character types and storylines from traditional superhero stories and adapt them to convey the book's themes. Pointing out Watchmen's allusions to real world events, Sanderson will show how Watchmen requires the readers to rexamine the proper role of the superhero in fiction--and of America as a real world superpower. "Watchmen in Context" will explore how this classic graphic novel juxtaposes different ways of viewing existence and asks the readers to choose among them.

The Closing of Stacey's Bookstore: A Video Tribute

Yesterday was the last day of business at Stacey's Bookstore in San Francisco. The Chronicle writes about it here. And San Francisco-based author Kemble Scott just posted this beautiful short tribute video, where the customer, authors and employees of Stacey's share their feelings. The video was taken on March 4th, 2009, on the date of Stacey's last author event, an event that welcomed local San Francisco writer Cara Black. Thanks for sharing this, Kemble!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Temporarily closed to submissions

This is a heads up: As of today, I'm temporarily closed to submissions.

I've reached saturation point on the crazy increase in the quantity of queries, and I need a chance to get caught up as well as some breathing room to sort through and respond to the shameful number of wonderful partials and fulls I've requested. (#agentfail #agentfail #agentfail!)

So please take note: Any queries received after Thursday, March 19th will be deleted unread. I'm not holding onto anything. (This doesn't apply to those of you from whom I've requested materials or whom I've invited to requery after revisions.) All queries received PRIOR to Thursday, March 19th will be absolutely be read and responded to.

When I'm open to submissions again, I'll post here. (It'll probably be about a month.) In the meantime, I recommend that you keep querying widely both my great colleagues at FinePrint as well as all of my other blogging agent colleagues. (Just remember to look at their submission guidelines!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Finalists for the 21st Annual Lambda Literary Awards announced.

The Lambda Literary Foundation has announced the finalists for the 21st Annual Lambda Literary Awards. There are some really books on the list this year, too!

The Lambda Literary Awards seek to recognize excellence in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender literature. Winners will be announced on Thursday, May 28, at a ceremony in New York.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Better late than never: Query Haiku Contest Winners!

Can I just say how amazed I am that you guys always manage to rise to the incredible query challenges that I throw at you? First I make you do a whole query in 140 characters, and you blow me away with your creativity and ability to convey an idea in such a concise way. And now I make it harder: write a whole query using the constraints of the haiku format. Five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables.

GREAT JOB, PEOPLE!

Now, a few of you are not so great at counting syllables so those queries were, unfortunately, disqualified. (Although, if you want a great visual to keep you laughing, picture me mumbling to myself and counting syllables aloud on my fingers at 4:00 AM on Saturday night. Good times!) But the majority of you knocked the ball out of the part. Impressive!
The Winning Query:

Cross-dressing rent boy
wants man to love and girl's voice
in head to shut up.
(tcastleb)
Honorable Mentions:

Geek boy, surfer girl
Cosmic Freaky Friday tale
Nightmares turn to dreams
(laura)

Girl turns into frog
Must kiss princess to transform
Dissection is near
(teennovelist)

Sole teen character
Desolate wild Alaska
His quest to survive
(pablo)

Chicago mayor
hurts a child, K. breaks the news
mayor wants her dead
(thea miller ryan)

Knights of Roundtable
Reborn as New Jersey teens
Learn past, save future
(melissa)
The Funniest Queries:

Damn it, Jim, I'm a
Novelist not a poet,
Letter I will write.
(dina)

"It's about Love! O-
vercoming all obstacles."
Wait, that's Moulin Rouge.
(anonymous)

Will you buy my book?
It's Epic in Proportion,
Fraught with Great Peril.
(finch)

After near-drowning
Woman gives birth to mermaid
Spouse finds it fishy
(serenissima)
Thanks, everyone who participated! And Ms. Castleberry, please feel free to pick a query to send me a query to critique as your prize!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

So what happens when you don't follow my submission guidelines?

You get this in your in-box:
This is an automated response. Please re-query according to my posted submission guidelines. Thank you.
And then your query gets deleted.

No exceptions.

Saying farewell to a neighborhood bookstore, or The importance of engaging with your community.

Over at Used Buyer 2.0 (a new book blog that you all should be reading regularly!), my friend and former Stacey's colleague (and boss!) Brad Craft has posted a lovely farewell letter from current Stacey's events and marketing manager Ingrid Nystrom, whose words drive home the importance of shopping locally when you can and engaging with your community:
"I’d like to again say thanks for all of your support over the years. When I first started working for Stacey’s, I was excited at the opportunities open to me but a bit disappointed that I wasn’t in a neighborhood bookstore. What I have realized in my eleven years here is that I am in a neighborhood bookstore. It may be a slightly strange neighborhood that arrives at 8 in the morning and goes home by 8 in the evening, but it has its regular rhythms, its regular characters, and a sense of community for anyone wishing to extend themselves. After talking with so many customers disappointed by Stacey’s closure, I’ve been reminded that Stacey’s has served as a decompression zone between work and home, a welcoming island of culture, a Christmas treat, a literary community, an escape from corporate-land, an interesting talk with lunch, and, of course, a bookstore. Whatever Stacey’s did or didn’t mean to you, I would like to remind you to look around you at your physical community and think about what matters. And if it matters, remember to step outside of your virtual world, unplug your iPods, look up from your Blackberrys and shop it, talk it, engage it."
Likewise, Brad (who is still a bookseller, by the way!) has also written up his own lovely farewell tribute.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wise words on rejection from writer/actress/director Amber Benson.

Most of you out there may know Amber Benson best from her three-year stint as "Tara" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I know her best as a writer. (And as the extremely good-natured kid who forgave me when I accidentally detoured her and Chris Golden to Coney Island on a suddenly-express F train while on the way to a book signing at the Park Slope Barnes & Noble. Oooops!) You see, back when I worked at Del Rey Books, I had the good fortune to be able to work with Amber and Christopher on their co-authored book The Ghosts of Albion. (Good stuff! Go out and find a copy!). I'd never actually seen BTVS until after I met Amber, so in my mind, the "writer" part of "actor/director/writer" always comes first. Speaking of which, Amber's new urban fantasy novel, Death's Daughter, has just come out from Ace/Roc.

We discuss rejection a lot here on the Swivet. Rejection is one of the terrible but necesary parts of growing as a writer. But writing isn't the only creative profession that comes with constant rejection. Head over to Amber's blog and read a great post about how she learned to keep her soul while dealing with rejection in Hollywood.

(Broken link fixed! Sorry!)