Showing posts from March, 2010

even YOU can surf the slush!

Has anyone else played with PagetoFame? INTERN discovered it this morning via this Writer Beware post about electronic slush piles.

Basically, it's a game where writers submit the first page of their manuscript, which readers then rate on a scale from "Lousy" to "Heavenly". If a page gets enough "Heavenly" ratings, the author is allowed to submit their first chapter for the next round. If the first chapter does well, the author submits the first 50 pages. In the final round, a handful of authors are allowed to submit their complete manuscript, which are then "reviewed" by a literary agent (though what this review entails is unclear).

While INTERN is dubious about the "Fame" part of PagetoFame, clicking through a bunch of first pages (you choose the genre) is weirdly addictive. To INTERN, it felt just like kicking back on the red couch at Big Fancy Publishing Office, or sitting up straight at her Venny McP workstation, siftin…

are some publishers "easier" to sell manuscripts to than others?

Following INTERN's Awkward Goodbye Luncheon at Venny McPulitzer on Friday, the Stepford Interns (who really deserve a nicer name) decided to prolong the festivities by frog-marching INTERN to their favorite Happy Hour spot and plying her with a stream of technicolored elixirs. INTERN feels like she finally bonded with her now-former colleagues, although as the evening wore on their declarations of adoration for Executive Ed grew simultaneously more detailed and more carnal until INTERN figured out it was probably time to catch the train.

INTERN did not make it out of the bar, however, before her intern posse had attracted the attentions of a duo of slick young gentlemen who seemed to take an inordinate interest in the nuts and bolts of the publishing industry (that, and the Stepford Interns' level of desire for more beverages, to which the answer was, "high".) Right before INTERN left, Stepford Intern No. 1 had just finished regaling them with the facts of how Extre…

INTERN: Going Rogue

It has been two very short (but also very long) months since INTERN first entered Venerable McPulitzer's well-oiled doors and, as hinted yesterday, INTERN's time at that discerning establishment is almost at its conclusion. INTERN had discussed the possibility of a shorter-than-usual term with Venny McP in advance and now, with one month remaining until her own book comes out, it seems fair to say that her time would be better spent pleasing her (regal and angelic) publicist than cleaning out Venny McP's distinguished office supply closet for the second time in a month.

Not everyone has the luxury of quitting their COMPLETELY UNPAID job in order to focus on book promotion, manuscript critiques, and the occasional spring mushroom foray, but the oracular chickens have smiled on INTERN in this respect and she is ready to roll.

At Venerable McPulitzer, INTERN learned the art of writing incisive manuscript assessments, using a soft and discreet Telephone Voice when speaking to…

Guest Post: Scientific Proof That Some Character Names Are Hotter Than Others

This week's Fresh and Delightful Springtime Guest Post is brought to you by Livia Blackburne, a graduate student in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. Her blog is A Brain Scientist's Take on Creative Writing

Let’s say you’re writing a sizzling hot romance with a tall, handsome hero and a super sexy heroine. You probably think a lot about how their personalities and looks affect their attractiveness. But what about their names?

Dr. Amy Perfors is a Professor at the University of Adelaide. While a student at MIT, she conducted what might just be the most awesome study ever conducted involving the website “Hot or Not.” For those unfamiliar with Hot or Not, it’s a website where people upload pictures of themselves and ask other users to rate their hotness from 1 to 10.

Perfors was interested in whether certain names make people more attractive. She posted pictures of men and women and changed the names to see whether they affected the picture’s rating. She found that for me…

carpe delirium

INTERN is down with a fever today and is recovering on the couch with some good surrealist movies.

In the meantime, perhaps you might be interested in this interview INTERN had the pleasure of doing about the intricacies of anonymity. Or in this article by the former editor of Grand Central Books about how much publishing blogs have changed over the past three years.

A demain!

from the annals of authorial awkwardness

This afternoon, one of Venny McPulitzer's not-so-bestselling authors called up from Osaka to ask how his sales were doing in Japan. He was apparently in the middle of breakfast with his Japanese hosts when he called, and wanted to impress them by getting his Venerable American Publisher on the line with some sales figures.

Whereupon said author was politely informed that he had no sales in Japan—indeed, the Foreign Rights person had not successfully shlepped his book to anyone—and no, his book had not been translated into Japanese quite yet.

INTERN has never seen anyone at Venny McPulitzer acting so undignified as in the ten minutes following that phone call. Howler monkeys could not have howled with greater mirth. Executive Ed even issued a chuckle when the news was related to him.

INTERN is lighting a candle for this author's soul.

why famous authors don't want to read your unpublished manuscript

Everyone's read this expletive-laden Village Voice piece about why amateur script-writers should never ask professionals to read their scripts. And a lot of authors object to reading strangers' unpublished manuscripts for the same reasons (roughly summed up as: the hugely time-consuming, hellish acrobatics that go into writing a "casual" 3-line e-mail response that will convey the author's honest opinion—often a negative opinion—without sounding like a jerk).

Today while cruising around YA author websites, INTERN came across the "can I show you my manuscript?" question in Aprilynne Pike's FAQ. Her answer:

"I actually get this a lot. If your work is unpublished, the answer is almost always no. I can't review unpublished material simply because I have to protect myself and my family from potential liability."

Now this is a whole 'nother ballgame indeed, and one INTERN had never considered.

In a time when it seems like everybody and th…

in which cardboard boats reveal the secret to everything…

Thanks and props to everyone who responded to INTERN's call for Fresh and Delightful Springtime Guest Bloggers. The variety and quality of entries blew INTERN's mind. What follows is the first Guest Post of the season, written by A Faithful Reader

Last week Techie Boyfriend and INTERN went with random, second friends once removed, acquaintances of hippy roommate to watch the CARDBOARD BOAT REGATTA. Frivolity was had, copious beer consumption was observed, and boats were launched or sunk, (mostly sunk) and it occurred to INTERN that cardboard boat builders (CBBs) are just like writers.

1. Quite a few, perhaps even a preponderance of CBBs, make their first attempt without even rudimentary background investigation of the art and science of Cardboard Boat Building… See Miss Snark if you aren’t making the connection…

2. Most people just want to build the boat and don’t really mind if it sinks, are expecting it to sink, would even be thoroughly shocked if it did not sink. Mostly …

best book blurb on earth space?

On Saturday, Techie Boyfriend read some of Loren Eiseley's incredible nature-and-philosophy essays out loud to INTERN. INTERN was completely enamored and moved by Eiseley's writing and spent most of the weekend reading The Unexpected Universe and The Star Thrower, trying to make up for a lifetime of pre-Eiseley intellectual and spiritual impoverishment.

It turns out INTERN is not the only one who was so blown away by this poet of the natural world. There is a blurb on the back of The Star Thrower from Ray Bradbury (!) stating:

"This book will be read and cherished in the year 2001. It will go to the MOON and MARS with future generations. Loren Eiseley's work changed my life."

MOON and MARS CAPS are Ray Bradbury's own.

This is simply the most incredible book blurb INTERN has ever read.

Not only does Ray Bradbury predict that people will still be reading Eiseley more than twenty years after the book's publication (perhaps from the back seat of our flyin…

The Ten Best Things You Can Do For Your Manuscript

INTERN is feeling extremely wonderful and happy today and wanted to fill the world with yes's instead of no's, do's instead of don'ts. Here, then, are the ten most wonderful and useful things you can do you for your manuscript to give it the best possible chance of growing up big and strong.

1. Revise until there is no "anyway".

The single most common reason that reasonably good manuscripts get turned down (at least, as far as INTERN has observed) is because a writer had an exciting idea, wrote a kinda promising book with a lot of flaws, tried to fix the flaws, gave up, and submitted it anyway.

Never submit it anyway.

"Anyway" is an otherwise promising manuscript's worst enemy. And a manuscript that has been tinkered with until its eyeballs bleed and then submitted anyway screams like a mandrake when pulled out of its envelope. Would you try to fix your car's brakes, get frustrated, and drive it anyway? No? Point made!

2. Run more tests …

121 post-pocalypse!

It has been almost a year since INTERN started this blog, and one hundred and twenty posts. INTERN is growing weary of listening to herself jabber. Another anecdote about Executive Ed? Yawn! Another sappy but earnest analogy about writing? Snooze! It's time for some fresh air! Sheesh! Even Techie Boyfriend agrees!

Hence, INTERN is hereby putting out a call for Fresh And Delightful Springtime Guest Bloggers.

Specifically, INTERN is looking for Guest Posts in the following categories:

1. Parodies of INTERN

INTERN and this blog are both in need of some serious mockery. Spoofs of existing posts especially welcome.

2. Posts in the manner of David Foster Wallace

Interpret as you will.

3. Posts that inform/educate/otherwise enlighten re: some aspect of writing, publishing, or bookselling.

What's on the best-seller list in Kenya? What's the latest research on the psychology of reading? What's it like to work at a bookstore? First-person accounts of unusual bookish sit…

in which INTERN is not destined for the Dep't of Marketeering

Today, INTERN was excited to be given the task of writing sales copy for several Venny McP titles, to appear in a forthcoming catalogue. Determined to produce the most tantalizing sales copy ever written, INTERN spent most of the morning reading through past catalogues to get an idea of what said sales copy is supposed to sound like and ultra-familiarizing herself with the books and authors in question. She started making notes. Writing drafts. Joggling sentences around to portray said books in the most flattering possible light.

Somehow, her first several attempts just didn’t seem tantalizing enough:

The Glory of the WonderBees is Ozzy McTwillop’s brightest and most ambitious work yet…

In The Glory of the WonderBees, MacArthur fellow Ozzy McTwillop is at his earthshattering finest…

So INTERN figured she just wasn’t trying hard enough:

Readers’ very souls will be ransacked by the staggering power of three-time National Book Award winner Ozzy McTwillop’s new saga The Glory of the Wond…

thoughts on YA: of xylophones and violins

Lately INTERN has been reading a lot of quirky/funny YA manuscripts and noticed a phenomenon which she has been struggling to articulate to herself: a pattern of brand-new gags, information, and characters being teleported in at the last minute to solve the problems of the story. It was more than just deus ex machina—but what was it?

Then last night INTERN went to a potluck that turned into an informal jam session and saw the same phenomenon at work. The host of the party dumped a huge box of instruments on the floor and everybody grabbed whatever looked interesting. Everybody started playing.

And something interesting happened.

The less experienced and confident musicians quickly abandoned whatever instrument they'd grabbed first and started scrabbling around for another one. They kept on switching instruments frequently as they grew bored or frustrated with whatever they had in their hands.

The more experienced musicians tended to stick to whichever instrument had first caugh…

Why You Really Don't Want To Get Published (part 3)

...because you will need to pay $@$#@% self-employment taxes on your measly pitiful flea-bitten advance! D'oh!


INTERN has been having somewhat of a Venerable McPulitzer-induced spiritual crisis and has been spending a lot of time lying in the dark listening to Vampire Roommate's vampire music over iTunes. Elements of said spiritual crisis are fairly stock in nature and boil down to "What is the meaning of Art, really?" and also a feeling of general overwhelmed-ment at the sheer volume of manuscripts in the world versus books actually published (aptly expressed by the Fugees as "too many MCs not enough mics").

Techie Boyfriend has promised to commence work immediately on a time-travel device that will allow INTERN to travel back to a simpler time when monks spent entire days writing a single letter of the alphabet and every book that existed was an object to be treasured and revered by generations.

Over the weekend, INTERN went to a story-telling party o…