Thursday, May 10, 2012
This 'n' That
I don’t have any one topic to chat about today, so here’s a couple snippets of things. We’ll start with the fun one, because everybody should kick off the day with a laugh. British researchers have determined that dinosaur flatulence released millions of tons of methane and other greenhouse gases into the primordial air, and may have contributed to prehistoric global warming. And you thought cows were bad. Me, I’m green with envy over those Brits, who got paid to speculate on the effects of dinosaur belches and pooties. Who says you can’t find a job in today’s economy?
There’s another touch Mr. Spielberg could have added to his now-cancelled show Terra Nova. The kids have once again slipped out of the compound without supervision or weapons. They hear an enormous bang. “What was that?” The gas cloud hits. “Yecchhh! Fartosaurus!” Or imagine a scene in Jurassic Park, with the Brontosaurus herd placidly grazing, punctuated by the occasional air horn or earth-shaking belch. What did they say to each other? “Pull my tail”? No wonder they were known as “thunder lizards.” Maybe the next flick in the series will be written by Adam Sandler.
Nobody has yet speculated on the effects of pterosaur mid-air evacuations. Think about that next time the local robins target your car.
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This one’s not so funny if you’re a writer who wants to make a living. It’s romance writer Ann Voss Peterson, who won’t be writing for Harlequin any more because she can’t make a living thanks to their low royalties, which she worked out to be about 2.4%. This is after 25 releases, books in bookstores and WalMart and Target, and worldwide distribution. Selling 10,000 copies sounds like a lot until you realize you’re only getting 6-10 cents per copy. She could probably self-pub her out-of-print books and make a ton more money, but Harlequin’s clinging to the rights. She’s not the only one who has issues with Harlequin’s contract and business practices either.
The whole story can be found here at Joe Konrath's blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, at jakonrath.blogspot.com. Look for the "Harlequin Fail" entry on May 8. Or check out the forums at Absolute Write (www.absolutewrite.com/forums, Romance/Women's Fiction thread, "Tell us how you really feel, Mr. Konrath!")for other writers’ takes on the story. Between this and Harlequin’s reported response times of up to a year or longer, I don’t think I’ll be subbing anything to them after all. There was a time when Harlequin was pretty much the only game in town, but that’s not true any more. Much as I’d love to see my paperbacks on a bookstore’s shelves, I’d rather make a decent living without having to look for a job. I can still get print copies through POD, so in the end I’ll be happy.
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Here’s why I like physical bookstores: you can take a book off the shelf and skim through it in the store to see if you like it or not before you slap down your dollars at the register. That’s not fair to the writers who worked so hard for so long to get it into the store so you can flip through it for free, but times are tough. One book I previewed had a total weepy wimp of a heroine—a vampire, no less—who failed to grow a spine in 200 pages and allowed not one but two “heroes” to emotionally abuse her. Of course, the alpha male had a change of heart at the end and decided he truly loved her after all. Yeah, right. Am I glad I didn’t pay good money for that. Ladies, if you want to sell, write better books.
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The Avengers has kicked off the summer movie season, which means there won’t be any real movies for grownups until after school starts in September. I do recommend The Avengers, because there’s actual character development and growth in between the fight scenes and stuff blowing up, and because Joss Whedon is God. The CGI Hulk doesn’t quite steal the movie, but he comes pretty damn close. Take that, expensive flesh and blood actors. We’re heading for the point where pretty soon Hollywood won’t need you any more. I recommend you learn computer animation or brush up on your voiceover skills. Or you could always write for Harlequin.
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What will I be doing this weekend? Probably pulling weeds and mowing the lawn. Wish I had a dinosaur to eat all my greens, but the winds would probably blow my mobile home over. There’s an upside and a downside to everything. Enjoy today!