Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Debut" Books

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I'm a reader of professional reviews, such as the ones in Publishers Weekly and other industry sources. So I found this article hysterical because it is so, so true. You can tell what a reviewer really thought about a book by the adjective they attach to "debut".

To quote part of the article:
  1. a promising debut”: “This author already signed a two-book deal.”
  2. a timely debut”: “A book about racism.”
  3. a clever debut”: “This book has a twist ending.”
  4. a solid debut”: “I have an irrational dislike of this technically unimpeachable book.”
  5. a touching/heartbreaking debut”: “Someone dies.”
  6. a chilling debut”: “Someone dies, and then we discover a terrible secret about them.”
  7. a memorable debut”: “This book has a lot of sex in it.”
  8. a bold debut”: “This book relies on a gimmick that, considered independently, is kind of obnoxious.”
  9. a slender, tightly wound debut”: “Sorry, I was thinking about my new watch.”
  10. a stunning/dazzling/ breathtaking/auspicious/knockout/ splendid/winning debut”: “I want my name to appear on this book’s dust jacket.”

Monday, May 28, 2012

Celebrate Memorial Day: Send Books to Troops

by Raelene Gorlinsky

It's Memorial Day. Please honor our troops, especially those on active duty overseas. GalleyCat has a list of ways you can donate books (including ebooks/ereaders) to soldiers overseas.

I do. You can too. It isn't simple or easy -- what with security concerns, restrictions on types of material, shipping costs, and such, it takes time and effort. But compare that to the time and effort being put out by our troops sweating and dying in inhospitable places.

And here's my personal rant or plea: It doesn't matter what you think about the war itself (whichever one), these soldiers didn't start the war and have no choice in their service. Don't blame them. Scream at your elected politicians, not at the servicemen and women. I'm old enough to remember the soldiers returning from Vietnam -- never, ever again should this country shame itself by treating our veterans like that. Just recalling how those men were treated by the public and by the government brings me to tears, forty years afterward. So remember that soldiers are individuals, give them personal support -- surely you can find some way that you can bring a spark of light into a soldier's day, to let them know we care.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Make Good Art

Neil Gaiman, the well-known and oft-quoted (because he says so many wise things in witty ways) scifi/fantasy/horror author, was the speaker to the 2012 class at the University of the Arts. As he noted in his speech, he never attending any form of higher education. But his speech is erudite, profound, captivating, inspiring, motivating - and in places quite funny. Every writer and aspiring writer needs to listen to this, all twenty minutes of it.

His key points:
~ Make mistakes.
~ Break rules.
~ Make the world more interesting for your being here.

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it's much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!” ~ Neil Gaiman

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” 
      ~ Neil Gaiman

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It's that easy, and that hard.”        ~ Neil Gaiman

“When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.” 
      ~ Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Birth of a Book

Do you want to know how it really works to get from great (or not so great) idea to a successful (or, umm, not so successful) book? I especially like the first step, which takes into consideration whether the "author" is a normal person or a celebrity. Yep, that is how it truly works and why so many really bad books get published--because it doesn't matter if it's crap, Snooki's name is on it!

Oh, and notice the step in the lower left: Editor quits publishing, moves to country, and starts a goat farm. I have known such editors... (not at EC, of course).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Liquorice Library

And yet another great bookshelf. This is so versatile - comes in several colors, plus it's separate pieces that can be combined any way you need.

Friday, May 18, 2012

50 Most Influential Books

SuperScholar is a site that helps aspiring college students find the right school to match their needs. It also offers advice on succeeding. So they have come up with a list of what they feel are the fifty most influential books published in the last fifty years.

"In compiling the books on this list, the editors at SuperScholar have tried to provide a window into the culture of the last 50 years. Ideally, if you read every book on this list, you will know how we got to where we are today. Not all the books on this list are “great.” The criterion for inclusion was not greatness but INFLUENCE. All the books on this list have been enormously influential. "

So here's the list. How many of the titles do you recognize? Have you read many of the books? The list is heavily non-fiction, but note that some international fiction hits appear, including Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the Harry Potter series. Yep, I would say those were indeed influential on people and society.

(The list is alphabetical by author surname, it is not listed in order of importance.)

I recognize almost most of the titles, which would seem to indicate some degree of "influence" on the general public. I have only read about 10%. I am being inspired to read others, although I think the more recent books. Books from several decades ago clearly influenced where we are now, but are less relevant as societal influences after the change they've already brought about change.

1. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958), as the most widely read book in contemporary African literature, focuses on the clash of colonialism, Christianity, and native African culture.

2. Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979) reinvented the science fiction genre, making it at once sociologically incisive as well as funny.

3. Robert Atkins’ Dr Atkins’s New Diet Revolution (1992, last edition 2002) launched the low-carbohydrate diet revolution, variants of which continue to be seen in numerous other diet programs.

4. Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion (2006), drawing on his background as an evolutionary theorist to elevate science at the expense of religion, propelled the neo-atheist movement.

5. Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (1987) set the tone for the questioning of political correctness and the reassertion of a “canon” of Western civilization.

6. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003), an entertaining thriller, has been enormously influential in getting people to think that Jesus is not who Christians say he is and that Christianity is all a conspiracy.

7. Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970) transformed the way we view native Americans as they lost their land, lives, and dignity to expanding white social and military pressures.

8. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) more than any other book helped launch the environmental movement.

9. Noam Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures (1957), laying out his ideas of transformational grammar, revolutionized the field of linguistics and at the same time dethroned behaviorism in psychology.

10. Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People (1989) set the standard for books on leadership and effectiveness in business.

11. Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box (1996), though roundly rejected by the scientific community, epitomizes the challenge of so-called intelligent design to evolutionary theory and has spawned an enormous literature, both pro and con.

12. Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997), in employing evolutionary determinism as a lens for understanding human history, reignited grand history making in the spirit Spengler and Toynbee.

13. Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose (1980) examines, in the context of a mystery at a medieval monastery, the key themes of premodernity, modernity and postmodernity.

14. Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning (1962) provides a particularly effective answer to totalitarian attempts to crush the human spirit, showing how humanity can overcome horror and futility through finding meaning and purpose.

15. Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963), in giving expression to the discontent women felt in being confined to the role of homemaker, helped galvanize the women’s movement.

16. Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom (1962) argued that capitalism constitutes a necessary condition for political liberties and thus paved the way for the conservative economics of the Reagan years.

17. Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence (1995) showed clearly how skills in dealing with and reading emotions can be even more important than the cognitive skills that are usually cited as the official reason for career advancement.

18. Jane Goodall’s In the Shadow of Man (1971), in relating her experiences with chimpanzees in the wild, underscored the deep connection between humans and the rest of the animal world.

19. John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1992), in highlighting and elevating the differences between men and women in their relationships, challenged the contention that gender differences are socially constructed.

20. Alex Haley’s Roots (1976), by personalizing the tragic history of American slavery through the story of Kunta Kinte, provided a poignant challenge to racism in America.

21. Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time (1988, updated and expanded 1998), by one of the age’s great physicists, attempts to answer the big questions of existence, not least how the universe got here.

22. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (1961) etched into public consciousness a deep skepticism of bureaucracies, which in the book are portrayed as self-serving and soul-destroying.

23. Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962, last edition 1978) changed our view of science from a fully rational enterprise to one fraught with bias and irrational elements.

24. Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981) transformed people’s view of God, exonerating God of evil by making him less than all-powerful.

25. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) served as prelude to the civil rights advances of the 1960s by portraying race relations from a fresh vantage—the vantage of an innocent child untainted by surrounding racism and bigotry.

26. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), as an example magical realism, epitomizes the renaissance in Latin American literature.

27. Alasdair McIntyre’s After Virtue (1981, last edition 2007) is one of the 20th century’s most important works of moral philosophy, critiquing the rationalism and irrationalism that pervade modern moral discourse.

28. Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved (1987) provides a profound and moving reflection on the impact of American slavery.

29. Abdul Rahman Munif’s Cities of Salt (1984-89) is a quintet of novels in Arabic focusing on the psychological, sociological, and economic impact on the Middle East of oil.

30. Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed (1965), attacking car industry’s lax safety standards, not only improved the safety of cars but also mainstreamed consumer protection (we take such protections for granted now).

31. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks’ The 9/11 Commission Report (2004), though not the final statement on the 9/11 disaster, encapsulated the broader threat of terrorism in the new millennium.

32. Roger Penrose’s The Emperor’s New Mind (1988) provides a sweeping view of 20th century’s scientific advances while at the same time challenging the reductionism prevalent among many scientists.

33. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1957) has become a key inspiration for conservative economics in challenging entitlements and promoting unimpeded markets.

34. John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice (1971, last edition 1999) is the most significant effort to date to resolve the problem of distributive justice and has formed the backdrop for public policy debates.

35. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series (seven volumes, 1997-2007), loved by children, panned by many literary critics, has nonetheless set the standard for contemporary children’s literature.

36. Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988), which led Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a death edict (fatwa) against Rushdie, underscored the clash between Islamic fundamentalism and Western civilization.

37. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (1980), based on his wildly popular PBS series by the same name, inspired widespread interest in science while promoting the idea that nothing beyond the cosmos exists.

38. Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation (2001) details the massive impact that the U.S. fast food industry has had on people’s diets not just in the U.S. but also across the globe.

39. Amartya Sen’s Resources, Values and Development (1984, last edition 1997) develops an approach to economics that, instead of focusing on utility maximization, attempts to alleviate human suffering by redressing the poverty that results from economic mismanagement.

40. B. F. Skinner’s Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971) attacked free will and moral autonomy in an effort to justify the use of scientific (behavioral) methods in improving society.

41. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago (in three volumes, 1974-78) relentlessly exposed the totalitarian oppression of the former Soviet Union and, more than any other book, was responsible for its government’s subsequent dissolution.

42. Hernando de Soto’s The Mystery of Capitalism (2000) argues that the absence of legal infrastructure, especially as it relates to property, is the key reason that capitalism fails when it does fail.

43. Benjamin Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946, last edition 2004) sold 50 million copies and revolutionized how Americans raise their children.

4. Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan (2007, last edition 2010) provides the most trenchant critique to date of the financial and monetary backdrop to the current economic crisis.

45. Mao Tse-tung’s The Little Red Book, aka Quotations From Chairman Mao (1966) was required reading throughout China and epitomized his political and social philosophy.

46. Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life (2002), though addressed to the American evangelical culture, has crossed boundaries and even led to Warren giving the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration.

47. James D. Watson’s The Double Helix (1969), in presenting a personal account of his discovery, with Francis Crick, of the structure of DNA, not only recounted one of the 20th century’s greatest scientific discoveries but also showed how science, as a human enterprise, really works.

48. E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology (1975) challenged the idea that cultural evolution can be decoupled from biological evolution, thus engendering the fields of evolutionary psychology and evolutionary ethics.

49. Malcolm X’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), written posthumously by Alex Haley from interviews, portrays a complex activist for human rights at a complex time in American history.

50. Muhammad Yunus’ Banker to the Poor (1999, last edition 2007) lays out how “micro-lending” made it possible to provide credit to the poor, thereby offering a viable way to significantly diminish world poverty.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ding, Dong, the DRM is dead?

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Well, maybe the death throes have begun, and soon the house will fall and crush it.

If you are an ebook user, you're already aware that many if not most small epubs and digital-first publishers do not put DRM (Digital Rights Management) on their ebook files. Ellora's Cave has never used DRM.

But the big traditional publishers, those who are mainly print and have just in the past few years gotten into digital, have always used annoying and customer-hated DRM. Despite all studies that indicated that DRM did not prevent intentional piracy, these publishers stubbornly cling to trying to control and limit how and where readers can view the ebooks they purchase.

Are your ebook purchase criteria like mine? The first thing I look at when considering buying an ebook is whether it is DRM'ed -- if so, I will not buy it. Or there is the growing popularity of  "honest" piracy to avoid DRM: buy the DRM'ed ebook, but then go download the non-DRM version from a pirate site. That way, publisher and author get their payment, but the reader gets a usable digital file. So DRM is actually supporting and encouraging use of pirate sites by customers who are willing to pay for the book but are getting more and more frustrated with non-customer-sensitive publishers.

Common sense,  business sense and good customer relations may finally be prevailing. Several weeks ago, Tor/Forge announced that they will drop DRM from all their ebooks by July 2012. Tom Doherty of Tor stated:

"Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time. They're a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways,  like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another."

The traditional NY publishers will be watching this, waiting to see if Tor/Forge detects any changes in sales and in piracy numbers, but it is predicted that others will soon follow this lead.

Hurrah! The witch is dying. What do you think? Will DRM be going away? Does DRM affect your ebook purchasing decisions?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sit with a Story

For those of us who generally are in the midst of several books at once, or for those who want to keep their to-be-read books near their favorite reading chair:

From nobody&co in Milan, Italy.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Meet the Editors: Carrie Jackson

And yet another EC content editor for you to meet!

Carrie Jackson first caught the editing bug in college, where she worked for a literary journal in exchange for credit and free coffee. After graduating, she followed her passion for genre fiction to a job with a romance publisher and never looked back. Eventually, that path led to her dream job as a member of the Ellora’s Cave editing team. Carrie currently lives in Ohio with her ex-husband, some stubborn felines, and a Chihuahua who thinks he’s a stubborn feline. In her spare time, she helps run a stray and feral cat rescue group and travels as much as she possibly can.

(Have you noticed the continuing theme that all our editors seem to love pets?)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Slant

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I'm not only a book lover and fanatic, but a bookshelf connoisseur. As you may have guessed from previous blog posts featuring unusual bookshelves. This is one of my favorites - not only interesting and unusual, but functional and appealing.

funny real estate - Your Daily Bookcase: Do the Lean
Courtesy of

Monday, May 7, 2012

Always carry a book

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I am terrified of being stuck somewhere with nothing to read. Whether it's an office waiting room, a long line at the store, or a frozen-in-place traffic jam, I want to be able to pull out a book to read to keep my mind occupied. It might be a magazine or a paperback book or my Nook, but there's always something in my purse.

But I never thought that my purse could BE a book! Yep, books made into purses. These are wonderful, I want a dozen.

Novel Creations:

Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix Book Purse          The Scarlet Letter Book Purse - Leatherbound          Pride and Prejudice Book Purse

The Hunger Games Book Purse-PREORDER          Jane Eyre Book Purse - Beaded Embellished Ribbon Accent          Black Beauty Book Purse
From the website:
My search starts with ♻ gently used ♻ books. They have to be unique, eye catching, or "make a statement" type books with their covers. My treasures come from garage sales, flea markets, estate sales, and the used bookstore where I work. In some cases, I will purchase a new book if there is a special request that I just can not locate used. Searching for that perfect book is half the fun. The rest is matching the fabric, handles and the button enclosure.

The inside pages of the book are ♻ recycled/upcycled ♻ into other projects that I am working on currently. If you want the inside pages from your purchase, just let me know and I will ship with your purchase at no extra charge.

Yes! The book as a purse plus the book pages to read!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Meet the Editors: April Chapman

April Chapman - EC Editor

After years spent learning the trade and honing her editing skills working for various print and e-publishers, April Chapman finally found her permanent career home in EC when she signed on as a content editor in 2011. She's in the process of building her list of charming, talented authors and has a fondness for manuscripts that are edgy, contemporary or paranormal. She strives to maintain an editing style that's both thorough and honest, guiding authors through the process and helping them find their feet in the overwhelming world of publishing.

When she's not working, she can be found reading (naturally!), watching movies, obsessing over music or beating her six-year-old son at Mario Kart. Mostly on her days off she exists on the couch, on the other couch, or on the bed--because she lives in Ireland, and the first thing you learn in Ireland is how to make a sport out of relaxing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Publishing explained with action figures

First-time author James Renner (The Man from Primrose Lane) uses Star Wars figures to explain the process of getting an agent and then a publisher, and then having your print books appear in bookstores. (The author is R2D2. Han Solo is the reader, the most important person in the chain.)

James lives here in Akron, where EC is located!