f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Great Writer

Dara Moskowitz, is a food critic from the City Pages in Minneapolis. Her restaurant reviews are subversively funny and usually quite tempting. Plus, she has fun with her taste metaphors.

"[The skate] arrived in a cloud of white foam, a cloud that tasted like crème fraîche and the brief tears cried by a young lemon..."

Or this review of Manny's Steakhouse:

One of the nice things about writing this blurb is the knowledge that it will never end up on the walls of the establishment in question, because the folks who run Manny's don't give a hoot what chump-change suckers who read (or write) free newspapers care (or write) about. Because if you've got $75 a head (not counting drinks) to blow on steak and potatoes and asparagus, you're probably too busy parking your Expedition on the backs of the working class to read a rag like this. But damned if these people, with their tiny, too-close-together tables and mind-bending wine list, don't serve the most heartbreakingly perfect aged steaks money can buy. Like the salty tear of an angel in heaven. The bastards.

Or this, about trying to find a decent bagel in Minneapolis. (Impossible, btw. Like the Italian hoagie.)
Simmering rage is one thing if you're a police sergeant with a shady past whose daughter has been kidnapped by a ring of thugs who are in cahoots with your police chief and want you to keep your mouth shut about their arson ring. It's quite another when you're simply looking for breakfast.

Why am I linking to this? Not sure. But good writing everywhere deserves to be celebrated.

One Year Moratorium

In the face of the upcoming Narnia craze, I'm requesting a one year moratorium on mentioning/referencing the following quote:

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

I've said it. You've said it. We've all said it. Allusions and pithy, knowing uses may resume again in December 2006.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tensions: Day II

(Speaking of tension. In dire frustration, I shouted audibly in the office today. Rather loudly. Here's the thing about publishing houses: they're dead quiet. Publishing houses in reserved Scandanavia-laden Minnesota are doubly so. I had six people check in to make sure I was okay. Some from halfway down the office.)

Anyway, here are the other two tensions. You know these. We talk about them all the time.


Craft and Commerce

Like all of these, it's fundamentally a false dichotomy, the assumption that one can't be found without the other. But in practice it's pretty evident. Critically-acclaimed books often have very low sales. Bestselling novels often get ripped to shreds by the literati. I'm not saying anything new. The interesting question isn't about good writing or bad. It's about where a novel starts and where it finishes. How much are you willing to change your initial vision for a novel to capture a theoretical audience?

Finally the biggie, at least for us here on this board.

Art and God

What's interesting is that for most of us, this isn't a tension. It might have been at one point, but likely we've gone before the throne and prayed and thought through this. We've made our decision. I had a dark night of the soul regarding my writing shortly out of college. A sermon on Phillipians of all things gave me confidence and restored the joy of the creative spirit.

So it's not an internal tension so much as an external tension. Because what we find, particularly in the Christian publishing world, is that a lot of people have come to very different conclusions about this topic. And so we're either frustrated at the undisciplined worldliness of some art or dumbstruck that intelligent human beings could think a swear word invalidates an entire piece of art. I'm not sure I've seen even a lick of movement from either side.

::

So those are the four fundamental tensions, as I see them, within Christian publishing. They make it a fascinating place because, in the best of times, there can be widespread discussion and debate. Very little comes easy or cheap. At the worst of times, these tensions can be extremely polarizing...and we have plenty of that in our country right now as it is.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Status and Tension

It’s been hit-or-miss around here, hasn’t it? I didn’t even manage to post a Thanksgiving message before bolting for the holidays. For that I’m sorry. I suspect you were all able to endure the holiday just fine without a short post from me listing all the things for which I’m thankful or making a lame joke about tryptophan.

We’re in a bit of short story purgatory here. Still waiting on a few things and then we’ll begin looking at the actual stories themselves.

In the meanwhile, one of the things that’s occupied a bit of my time was playing guest lecturer at a local college. Two weeks ago, I spoke at a Monday-8:00am Writing and Ethics class. Those who know me well may puzzle over me being invited to even attend an ethics class let alone shape the minds of today’s youth. And yet there I was.

The students had submitted questions about the worlds of writing and publishing to me in advance and as a framework for answering them, I presented four main tensions that face us in publishing, particularly Christian publishing.

I think these four tensions pretty much encapsulate most of the major arguments and conversations occurring right now. We’ll get to two today.

Profit vs. Mission

Mick Silva is currently tackling this topic over at his blog so I won’t spend too much time here. This gets into weird territory of accusing certain successful people of doing things just for money than for God. Lots of plank/splinter stuff. If you were to get an honest answer from most Christian publishers on their business model my guess is they’d say this:

1. Our goal is to publish life/world changing books that we think will sell strongly.
2. After those, we will publish books for which we see a market as long as the message is strong…though perhaps not life-changing.
3. And we will back what we see as life-changing projects of dubious commercial potential when they emerge.

Number 1 is a no-brainer and I think nearly all the books BHP publishes are viewed in this category. Someone in-house believes in an author and their message or story enough that they fight for them in-house.

Number 3 is the land of the idealist. I don’t know that you can live there, but it’s phenomenal to visit now and then and if you’re at a company that won’t…that’s sketchy. BHP will. Baker Publishing Group does all the time. And I’m thankful for that. (See, there’s your post-Thanksgiving thanks. Now let me go sleep off that tryptophan.)


Corporate vs. Personal Ideology

This tension is primarily for those working within the publishing world. (Although it directly affects you as writers because it’s the changes within companies that open and shut doors to new books/markets/genres/etc.

The direction of a company does not emerge fully formed from the heavens. It’s a result of the decisions, abilities, and choices of people within the company. For the most part, folks agree on a general destination, but in a dynamic market (and Christian fiction is dynamic) the opportunity for change or different paths mean that there will be varied opinions within a company.

An author I like with a story I like may not get signed. If that happens too often is my personal ideology too disparate from the defined course of the company? (That’s a hypothetical. I’m doing fine here.)

::

So those are two of the fundamental tensions within the Christian publishing universe. Tomorrow we’ll move from the corporate side to the writing side.

::

Continue to Day 2 of our discussion of tensions in publishing.

Monday, November 21, 2005

10 - 1!

Congratulations to the Penn State Nittany Lions--and especially JoePa--on their terrific season. This defense has been a thing of beauty to watch all year. Now we'll just wait to see if it's the Orange or the Fiesta Bowl for New Year's.

Friday, November 18, 2005

CSSCA: Day 2 – The Need

I’m going to piggy-back slightly onto something Mark Bertrand’s posited at his blog. His post talks about the possibility that certain theologies or philosophies are attractive to us because they offer a vocabulary we’d previously not had access to which seemed able to describe things of importance to us. (Or perhaps lacked a vocabulary for things of which we’d grown weary and focused their attentions elsewhere.)

To me this makes enormous sense and parallels an idea I’ve bandied about before in my head and want to posit today in the light of our short story conversions.

This point is that, to me, it seems at the moment of conversion (assuming there is one), a person is very rarely responding to the breadth and depth of Christian philosophy. Instead, it seems in listening to real testimonies and reading stories that an individual is choosing faith because it’s answering some specific question or need.

My own experience was intricately wrapped together with Camus’ The Plague, the Book of Ecclesiastes, and about 18 years worth of questions about the nature of meaning in life.

I have a good friend who found himself standing between the man mourning his sins in silence and Pharisee pointing at that man and thanking God for not making not making that his fate. For him, what burned deep was his own choking sense of self-righteousness.

Many of you, in your stories, followed the axiom that you don’t turn your face up to God until you’re at your lowest point. The healing that follows that brokenness is powerful indeed. But there’s a generality to brokenness that doesn’t translate so well to fiction. And it’s difficult to distinguish one brokenness from another from story to story. Especially in short fiction, specificity and details matter. I wonder if honing in on some need might’ve been the knife edge that would cut some space around a story, make it its own time and place.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

National Book Award Winner

Europe Central by William Vollman won the National Book Award for Fiction. I have no idea what the novel is like but PW started its review of it with this lovely bit of praise:
In the small set of America's best contemporary novelists, Vollmann is the perpetual comet. Every two years or so he flashes across the sky with another incredibly learned, incredibly written, incredibly long novel.

Mostly I'm just disappointed that The March lost because then I could've said, "Well, yes, I read Doctorow before he won the NBA." All about the snobbery here

Goodnight, Moon Controversy

"What," you ask, "could be controversial about the children's book, Goodnight, Moon?

This.

They've digitally removed the cigarette from the illustrator photo of Clement Hurd at the back of the book. Kate Jackson, editor in chief of Harper Collins children says, "It is potentially a harmful message to very young kids and it doesn't need to be there."

Apparently tampering with history has irritated some purists who've launched a website campaign. Their tagline is "Reject the selective histories of corporate Stalinists!" which is so over-the-top that it has to be a joke.

I'm forgoing any actual work on aquisitions for the near future and will merely be trying to drum up some kind of controversy for our books here. For instance, did you know that T.L. Hines is a clownist? He threatens and demeans clowns for kicks and giggles. Now could the NYTimes do an article on it for their book section?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Myths Made Modern

Canongate Publishers is diving headlong into the realm of myth and metaphor with a new series that will introduce ancient myths retold in modern novels by a fairly impressive list of authors. Salon.com has an article about the series that tackles our human need and desire for myths.

As I've mentioned before Neil Gaiman has single-handedly done an enormous job of reinventing mythology for the post-modern age with his Sandman series and the book American Gods.

These things are going to look dangerous and depressing to many Christians who see these things as replacements for the Gospel. But for storytellers and artists, a world taken with myth is much more our turf than a world obsessed with reason and science. Ill-fitting evangelical poster boy C.S. Lewis wrapped himself in myth and classic literature and wrote a book, Till We Have Faces, that looks like it could fit quite neatly into Canongate's line.

What's the point of this?

I think some of us need to begin reexploring the place that symbol and metaphor can play in our novels. I think we need to risk insensate adherence to our established theologies for the chance to explore grand themes that can't be boiled down to four spiritual laws. Are these things going to be published within CBA? Don't know. Could be. But our stories need to be able to exist outside the context of an evangelical vocabulary that is extremely modern and tends to be insular and less than expansive in its breadth of what it's able to express.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Book Cover Controversy

PW's email newsletter covered an interesting controversy brewing. The book is called Hokum and it's an anthology of African-American humor. The editor is Paul Beatty. He chose the image for the cover and called earlier versions as "overly bland and cowardly."

The controversy began when a media outlet and a library both rescinded invitations to Beatty and a magazine editor complained to the publisher.

So far Bloomsbury the publisher has refused to change the image.

Any thoughts?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pastors in Fiction

The Dallas Morning News has an article on Jan Karon, Phillip Gulley, and Marilynne Robinson and their "positive" presentation of the pastorate. (Karon is wrapping up her Mitford series so you'll see her name appearing more.) The journalist was kind enough to provide a link here.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Justification vs. Sanctification – Which Makes for Better Fiction?

So we’re not even at the official Day 2 of CSSCA and already we’re bringing out the theological terms. Which means we’re headed in the right direction.

These weeks upcoming, I hope, are going to get to the real heart of faith and fiction: the “god-talk” that fills our books and its inevitable link to our own individual expression of faith and beliefs. It’s going to traverse ground that church and denomination has helped establish for thousands of years…and it’ll touch on our own often idiosyncratic interpretations of those thoughts.

Fiction and theology often become inextricable at this point and I often wonder: Is this for the best? No, we may not be writing a fictionalized systematic theology…but the faith witnessed, practiced, and revealed in our fiction quite often fits into that framework.

Which leads us (at least in my head) to a quick sidebar on justification and sanctification.

My post a few days ago immediately led to some discussion. But it wasn’t so much about fiction as it was about the nature of conversion itself—which many of you had pretty definitive ideas about. There is a level of specificity that has come to our understanding of the doctrine of justification. And I wonder if that specificity has made it more difficult to write about. You’re writing within a tight theological box at that point and the room for two of the hallmarks of fiction—surprise and question—don’t seem to exist.

(And please note, this isn’t criticism or blame. I set up of the story parameters. I’m just realizing now that in doing so, I tripped a few wires that we need to discuss. Because we can extrapolate these things outside of our story contest. Many folks are writing novels where important characters get converted at the end.)

So does a novel considering the idea of sanctification offer more wiggle room to the average Christian writer? Does it, I wonder, offer more space to approach the notion from the perspective of metaphor. Conversion was treated with theological accuracy because I think many of us believe that to view it from any other perspective means to corrupt it. But to me it seems there might be a preponderance of different avenues by which one could tackle what happens after …

Yikes. No clue if any of that made sense. Long week. If nothing else, reread the post heading and give your thoughts on that.

My New Favorite Book Title

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders

Now I will read it and see if it lives up to the title.

Copycat Book Covers

There was a thread about this at the discussion board the other day. Here's a post and a slide show from WBUR radio in Boston of some examples of books that used the same cover art. The guy is putting together a collection of these things.

Let Santa Claus Personally Reaffirm Jesus' Deity for Your Child

So when your kid finds out Santa isn't real, he'll assume the Jesus thing was a hoax, too.

This has bad idea written all over it.

Yowser...

Every morning I come in, log on, check a few daily sites and then check my web stats to see how the ole site is doing. This morning I had to blink a few times at the numbers.They were...high.

Somebody big linked to the site.

Turns out it was Neil Gaiman.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

CSSCA: Day 1 – Beginning or End?

CSSCA? That’d be Conversion Short Story Contest Aftermath. And this is Day 1.

Over the next weeks (And yes it’ll be weeks, because I’m posting less and there’s a lot to talk about) we’re going to explore some of the things that came up while I read your 76 conversion short stories.

Some of these things are going to be presented as neutral observations. Some of these things are going to be generalized critiques. A few will be generalized praises. Please bear in mind that if I bring something up that is in your story, I’m not talking about YOUR story specifically. That’s the whole point. It’s your story and her story and his story. And a bunch others, too.

::

You’ll remember when I launched the contest, I was pretty vague about what I actually wanted in the stories. In fact, here’s the single rule about content:

I have no definition for what a conversion story is, but we're talking about some Christian salvific experience. It also needs to be fiction, no autobiography or memoir.

There were two primary ways you seemed to take this note. You either wrote what I’m going to call a “traditional” conversion story. Or you took my lack of specific definition as leeway to write a “non-traditional” story. And we’re going to get to these breakdowns a lot in future days.

During my judging of the stories I read an article about Brian McClaren in Leadership journals’ online presence. It was a slightly muddied article about the worldview of the emergent church, but I was intrigued by one of the tenants supposedly upheld by this “new” conversation.

Conversion is accepted as a journey and not merely a point of decision.
The stories, as a whole, reflected the exact opposite of this statement. The strong majority of stories made the moment of conversion the climactic or concluding scene of story. In many cases, this moment was even captured in the final, resounding words. A powerful concluding sentence to capture this moment of glory.

But that’s what you asked for, you may say.

Well, yes, I suppose I did. Calling it a “conversion story” makes it seem like it needs to be about a “conversion.” But after all this I think that’s what’s at debate here. Or should be up for debate. Just what is a conversion? Is it that single moment when we “believe”? What if there isn’t a moment? What if there’s a moment and then a week of doubt and then a gentle reassurance?

Why, I’m really asking, was conversion always the end of the story?

And what happens when we making it the beginning of the story?

Really, I’m not trying to pick on you. A lot of it is my fault for calling this thing a “conversion story contest” when it should have been a “story-with-a-conversion-in-it contest.” I had no idea what I was going to get with these stories and very many of them moved me. But, no matter how much I fought it, that rising climax to the grand realization—well it couldn’t help but feel “done” after the 60th time.

And that’s what you’re facing in the publishing world, too. Much of this has been “done” before. Editors see a lot of the “same-old, same-old.”

So your choices are:

1. Do you something that hasn’t been “done”.
2. Do something that’s been “done” so well that it doesn’t matter.

The Best Bookstore in the World

From Slate. And suddenly I hear Mark Bertrand checking flights from Houston to London.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

PW's Top Ten Novels of 2005

The assumption, I suppose, is that nothing comes out from now until Dec. 31. So here's PW's list:

10 Best Novels

On Beauty
Zadie Smith (Penguin Press)
A smart, funny, ambitious novel that expertly encompasses all the big themes—love, lust, race, class, religion.

The March
E.L. Doctorow (Random)
Powerful novel showing the epic destruction of the Civil War while providing intimate, complex portraits of real historical figures, including Gen. Sherman.

Veronica
Mary Gaitskill (Pantheon)
A wrenching reflection on beauty, power and cruelty as a former model, now sick and aging, looks back on her life.

Trance
Christopher Sorrentino (FSG)
Deft blend of history and fiction based on the Symbionese Liberation Army's 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst; joins Doctorow and Gaitskill as NBA finalists.

Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf)
Exquisitely observed cautionary tale of science outpacing ethics.

Small Island
Andrea Levy (Picador)
Captivating novel of emigration, loss and love in post–WWII England; winner of the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Book of the Year.

The English Teacher
Lily King (Atlantic Monthly)
A single mother who teaches at an exclusive private high school is the focus of this intense character study.

Saturday
Ian McEwan (Doubleday/Talese)
Wise and poignant novel covers one day in the life of a London surgeon post 9/11.

Anansi Boys
Neil Gaiman (Morrow)
A brilliant mix of the mundane and fantastic, in which a man discovers bizarre facts about his brother and late father.

Vita
Melania Mazzucco, trans. by Virginia Jewiss (FSG)
Sweeping novel of early 20th-century Italian-American immigrants; winner of Italy's Strega Prize in its original language

Slate on Calvin & Hobbes

Slate.com sends a little love to Bill Watterson and the best comic strip ever, Calvin and Hobbes. The Star Tribune has taken to re-running the strip here in Minneapolis and it just makes everything else in the comics look sickly and pathetic.

Some of my favorite strips were his scathing critiques of modern art and art criticism...often expressed through snowmen.

Anyone seeking ideas for Christmas bribes can buy me the hardback The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.

Friday, November 04, 2005

f*i*f conversion short story contest

So we're making progress in the conversion short story contest.

I've finished reading all the entries. Today, I sent a quick email to the "finalists" so check your in-boxes.

This was a fascinating contest with a lot of worthy entries. I'm not entirely sure when I'll be posting stories here, but I'd like to run two weeks worth because I think there's a wide variety that deserve praise and exposure. As well, I really like it when all of you have access to the entire list of stories, so I encourage you all to find some space on-line (Blogger is free and easy) to post your stories. I'll be collecting links shortly.

::

Once I get some dates and plans squared away, I'll be better able to talk about some thoughts I had relating to the fiction you all turned in. Once we get started, I think it'll be some of the more important discussions we've had on f*i*f, because it'll get to the heart of what it means to write specifically about faith and God in fiction.

But to all of you, I want to say, "Thank you" for taking your time and effort to complete a story for submission. It's always an honor to read your work and I hope we can do it again next year, too.

Ruined for Reading

A colleague passed this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education on. Basically outlines the dangers of beginning to look at books with a critical eye. It's not so bad as she makes it (I love reading, even still.) but it certainly is a different experience from, say, when you were a kid.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Things I Learned From My Authors: Part Deux

Okay, Day 2 of me thanking my authors for being talented, hard-working folks. Day 1 got me a few hinky editor/marriage proposals and I'm hoping Day 2 brings me... a new car!

::

TL Hines
– Tony’s first novel, Waking Lazarus, is coming out from BHP next summer. As such I’m in the middle of editing it right now. This work coupled with the short stories inspired me to write this post.

Tony’s writing a suspense novel but I’m excited that he’s as strong in characterization as he is in hairpin plotting. He’s got characters who you end up feeling more attached to than you ever expected and so when hearts start pounding you actually feel sickly-nervous for their “safety.” A lot of this characterization comes through voice and part of Tony’s skill in voice is that he’s got a bit of the stylist in him. Not to be a writing geek, but I’m learning first-hand how things normally overlooked (like punctuation) can help make a character three-dimensional.

(BTW: Tony's got some funny and interesting glimpses at being a first-time novelist going on at his blog. He's also launching a true behind-the-scenes opportunity for folks fascinated by writing and interested in his book.)

Robin Parrish – Robin’s debut novel, Relentless, will also be releasing from BHP next summer. It’s also a suspense novel but is of a different taste and feel than Tony’s. Robin is best known for tackling culture, art, and faith at InFuze and is a strong new voice in a fairly unrepresented generation of Christian writers. I don’t think I’d so far as to call him a postmodern voice, but he’s certainly got those tendencies, finding God outside traditional venues and exploring faith in non-traditional forms. Like me, Robin’s also an emerging comics guy, though I’m not sure I’ve confessed that I’m a DC-fan to his Marvel appreciation. Hopefully he doesn’t drop me.

Now that I’ve made it to Robin, I realize that I’m learning and seeing things in my authors that are my own personal weaknesses because Robin’s a study in pace. Namely, fast pace. You don’t have the gumption to name a book Relentless unless you’ve got the overdrive to back it up, and his novel never stops to putter. There’s numerous marketing clichés about “page-turning” novels, but it’s terrific when you find yourself in the midst of one, page-after-page flying by as a story whirls in front of you.

::

So, those are some thoughts I have about my writers. I’ve limited my thoughts to these four because they’re the folks whose books I know best and whose work I’ve been closest to. There are lots of other excellent writers here at BHP (and within CBA as a whole) and I’m not trying to short-shrift them. This is one of the perks of signing with the emotive guy with the blog.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What I’ve Learned From My Authors

I’ll be honest with you, working through the stories for the conversion stories contest has been a bit exhausting. Exhausting but fascinating at the same time. And if there’s one thing that will encourage me to run another contest like this in 2006, it’s the fact that this consolidated amount of writing has given me a lot to mull over. And I like that.

I’ve banged this gong countless times, but I simply don’t see how you learn anything about books without reading. You can learn from good books and you can learn from bad books. You can definitely learn something about Christian writers by making your way through 76 short stories on the theme of salvation. All editors do this, I’m no different, but this blog at least lets me bounce back what I’ve learned to you all.

So in the upcoming weeks we’ll get to what I’ve learned from your stories.

Today, I’d like to talk a quick minute about what I’ve learned from my authors. (By “my” authors, I mean the ones I’ve contracted to write books. You’re welcome to join that list. Please send me a great, well-written story.) I’ve not signed a ton of them—just four so far, but I’m proud of them all and I think each has something different to show me.

I’ll tackle two today and two tomorrow.

Deeanne Gist – Dee’s the author of A Bride Most Begrudging. The bestselling author, I should say, as that book has taken off. A couple of Dee’s strengths are her understanding of her market (a hypothetical audience at first that has turned out to be real), a fluency with the requirements of her genre, and an effortless humor that I know requires incredible skill.

The thing I’ve taken most to heart from Dee, however, is the emotional passion that fills the pages of her books. Mark Bertrand and I both confessed to being emotionless automatons in our writing, so to see LOVE and FAITH and ANGER and PASSION and DESPAIR and, yes even, LUST sometimes fill pages in bold scenes that obviously grab readers. Well, I get it.

Athol Dickson – I haven’t mentioned Athol a lot yet, but that’s about to change in a big way and soon. Athol has a novel coming out in December called River Rising that’s one of the finest, most thought-provoking, challenging things I’ve read recently. It’s also a gripping suspense story all the way through, and not to make this “bash-Dave-week-again” but we talked about Ezekiel’s Shadow’s suffering from giving up on its genre roots.

We talk so much about theme/language vs. the drive of story and that’s such a difficult balance. In River Rising, Athol’s come across what seems to be the ideal blend. Plus, I love that he sees fiction as an art form where it’s still possible to talk about grand things in meaningful and beautiful ways.

Brit's Own Literary Squabble: 2005 Man Booker Prize Winner

It's not just Americans who bicker over literary pretentions. The NYTimes gives a glimpse into England's recent dust-up involving Booker Prize-winner John Banville's The Sea.

Here's an interesting quote which I can't refute or corroborate.
"English writers for the most part try to follow Orwell's dictum that prose should be a pane of clear glass through which you look," he said. "But Irish writers think of prose style as a distorting lens. We love that ambiguity; we love that a word can have three or four meanings at the same time."

One Book: Three Covers

David Maine's fictionalization of the life of Noah, The Preservationist (released in England as The Flood), has gotten three very different cover treatments for various editions. I find this interesting. Which catches your eye?

The Preservationist - US Hardcover, later release
The Flood - UK Hardcover and US Hardcover First edition
The Flood - UK Trade Paperback

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Chris Elliot's Strange Case of Copyright Infringment

From the NYTimes. Comedian Chris Elliott has written a historical-suspense-spoof called The Shroud of the Thwacker and inadvertantly gotten roped into a bizarre copyright infringment case. Thankfully, all parties seem to be dealing with this rationally and, shockingly, without the help of lawyers.

I like this quote from Elliott:
"I think it's really kind of funny. The whole thing about this book is that I did almost no research for it, and the one little bit of research I did I got wrong."

The lesson, as always: Beware the Internet.

Short Story Contest Update

I'm on the final stretch in reading your short stories. I'll be finishing this week and will be following up shortly after that. I am amazed (as I was last time) on the variety of these things. There are certain themes and settings that get repeated, but for the most part, there's quite a bit of variance in voice and character. Thank you.

This will be the final contest of the year. I won't be able to run a Christmas story contest. However, I love Christmas stories and if you'd like to be part of a Christmas story celebration I'd like to invite you to write a story for the month of December. Find a place to post it online and then I'll maintain a list of links for people to check out your story. I mean it's not like you're insane enough to spend the entire month of November writing a novel, right? ;)

Mastering the Obvious: The Dartmouth Reviews a Talk About Left Behind

Alexander Stephan (Professor and Ohio Eminent Scholar at the Ohio State University and senior fellow at the Mershon Center for the Study of International Security) gave a talk about the Left Behind series at prestigious Dartmouth University the other night. Based on this article it was either the most ridiculously obvious lecture ever or the school needs to find better student journalists.