Friday, November 30, 2012

Choose Your Own Adventure Gets New Life

Seeing this news story on Galley Cat made me nostalgic for my childhood days spent reading Choose Your Own Adventure novels as well as the Give Yourself Goosebumps novels. If tablets had existed when I was a kid, reading these books would have been so much easier! I wouldn't have had to bookmark the pages to go back to and then get upset when I lost track and had to start all over. Look at that beautiful format! Ah, to be a child again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HarperCollins Picks Up Webcomic (and Thoughts on Graphic Novels)

I was really excited to hear this news over on Comics Beat about HarperCollins picking up the webcomic Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. She blogs here and tumbles here and you can read Nimona starting here.

The webcomic is great, but I also just love her random comics, particularly the ones about the Hunger Games:

The rest are here.

Since she just writes great comics in general, I think her agent (and HarperCollins) made a great decision taking her on, as she clearly has plenty more great ideas and a promising career ahead of her.

I also think it's great that so many people these days are able to launch their careers via their personal web presence, build up a fan base, and then gain official representation and publication by a traditional publishing house. The Coquette did it as well, and I think the way is being paved for many other creative types to launch their careers this way. It's also cool to have followed these people when they were just getting started on the web and finally see them get published. 

From a publishing perspective, graphic novels (or any other book with a nontraditional format) are harder to sell, and so most agents are reluctant to acquire them. But I think graphic novels are rising in popularity, and the general public is becoming aware of them as not existing solely for the "geek" community or hardcore comic fan (not that there's anything wrong with the geek community; I myself am a card-carrying member). The visual element adds a rich layer to the storytelling that just can't be achieved in a standard novel. Look at the success of the Scott Pilgrim series. The creators of Avatar: the Last Airbender series had great success continuing their stories in the graphic novel format as well. I hope graphic novels continue to get the exposure they deserve, and with the changing nature of the publishing industry, I think graphic novels are only going to do better from here on out.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holden Caulfield is Here to Stay (Whether You Like it or Not)

I finally got around to reading this article about Mary O'Connell's plan to feature Holden Caulfield in her book, and I just wanted to say I totally understand Salinger's desire to control his intellectual property. He's far from the only author to control his work so tightly. I don't agree with O'Connell's decision to feature Holden Caulfield in a novel. Why not write Catcher in the Rye fanfiction? We quickly forget that it's only recently when it became desirable to write "original" stories (but let's be real, there are no new stories). For a long time, people just wanted to read more stories about the same characters (see the popularity of the Greek myths with their recurring characters). Every time a popular, influential work was published, authors tried to write something similar. She doesn't need to call him Holden Caulfield, just write a similar character. John Green's Looking for Alaska owes a huge debt to Holden, but he doesn't actually drop Holden in his story as a character, because he doesn't need to nor should he. If you need to drop in famous characters to make your story interesting, perhaps you should go work on your skills as a writer before you try to publish something.

I agree with John Green when he said: "I don’t know where people got the idea that characters in books are supposed to be likable. Books are not in the business of creating merely likeable characters with whom you can have some simple identification with. Books are in the business of creating great stories that make your brain go ahhbdgbdmerhbergurhbudgerbudbaaarr." If characters are likeable, that's great, but ultimately, I want to read about interesting characters, and the fact that this article has been written and people are still talking about this character and this novel mean that they're interesting. There are plenty of stories right now that people are obsessed with (*cough* 50 Shades of Grey) but time will tell which ones we still read in school and write essays about and discuss with our friends.

I think the students who comment, "I can’t really feel bad for this rich kid with a weekend free in New York City" miss the point of the story. Holden is dealing with the grief of his brother's death, and the fact that his family has money doesn't solve his problems. Money doesn't keep the people you love from dying. Money doesn't provide you with support when you are grieving. Money can buy you companionship but it can't buy you true friendship or love. I could go on about Catcher in the Rye, but I'll stop here by saying that I like the novel, I think it's great, and I can guarantee we'll still be talking about it after another 60 years.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Outlawed by Amazon DRM « Martin Bekkelund

"Did she violate any terms? Amazon will not tell. Perhaps by accident? Amazon does not care. The conclusion so far is clear: Amazon closed her account, wiped her Kindle and refuses to tell her why. End of discussion. As a long-term writer about technology, DRM, privacy and user rights, this Amazon example shows the very worst of DRM. If the retailer, in this case Amazon, thinks you’re a crook, they will throw you out and take away everything that you bought. And if you disagree, you’re totally outlawed. Not only is your account closed, all your books that you paid for are gone. With DRM, you don’t buy and own books, you merely rent them for as long as the retailer finds it convenient."

This is just going to be my answer when people ask me what I have against Amazon and the Kindle. I want to actually own my books and e-reader. Not to mention all the ways they make it impossible for smaller e-book retailers to compete, etc. Oh, Amazon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dear Tara: You’re my worst nightmare. How does it feel to fail? | The Tara Tracks

"Writing a good book, even an incredible book, will not automatically score you a successful career in traditional publishing. Anyone who tells you differently is either misinformed or sugar-coating it."

I can't stress how true this is. J. K. Rowling got lucky. So did Stephenie Meyer. They started trends rather than riding on the coattails, and in both cases, it just happened to be the right manuscript for the right agent to sell to the right publishing house, and the reading public was ready.