wikipedia

Into the Wilderness in trade paper

I may have mentioned that Bantam is re-issuing Into the Wilderness in the fall, in trade paperback format. ((TPB, sometimes referred to as a trade paper edition, is a paperback book in which the text pages are identical to the text pages in the hardcover edition. It is usually the same size as the hardcover edition. The only difference is the softbinding; and the quality of the paper is usually higher than that of a mass market paperback.

Trade paperbacks are typically priced less than hardcover books and higher than mass market paperbacks. Virtually all “Advance Reader’s Copies” are issued in trade paperback format. Wikipedia ))

What Bantam hopes (and I hope too, of course) is that this new edition will catch the eye, leading to a whole new readership. If it does well, (and I mean, really well), they will probably re-issue the other titles as well in new format with new cover art.

I’m quite happy with this design. The cut-off face thing is big now and sometimes I don’t like it, but I think it works here. And they got the clothes right. And the hair. So I’m satisfied. No, I’m more than satisfied. I’m really pleased that Bantam has such faith in the series.

in solidarity

The Writers Guild of America is the labor union that represents film, television and radio writers. They called a strike on November 5 that is still ongoing. Most people don’t know what’s at stake. They only know that Jon Stewart is missing from their lives, that there’s no new episode of The Office or anything else and won’t be, until the strike is ended.

A couple of posts ago I wrote about the coming revolution in the publishing industry, how everything is going to shift in terms of distribution and thus, power and money. For screen writers, the people who write the stories that end up on your television or on movie screens, everything is shifting right now. For them it’s all happening as we speak, because the New Media is here and it isn’t going away. Continue reading…

Harry who?

Around here things are pretty quiet. I’m trying to keep focused on writing and everybody else is reading. The Mathematician is reading the sixth HP while the Girlchild is reading the seventh. He’s just tiding himself over until she’s done and he gets his turn. I’m not worried. I don’t need to read it — the day after it came out, I read the whole detailed summary on Wikipedia. This is how I’ve handled all the books. I read the first one with the Girlchild, and after that the Mathematician took over and I was no longer obliged.

The thing is, I’m just not all that interested. Rowlings has an incredible imagination and she tells a fantastic story that has caught the interest of millions of people — not just children — around the world. But not every story is right for every person, and this is just not the story for me.

When I was teaching, we’d talk about this quite a lot. Students would be puzzled by their own lack of response to some story or novel with a stellar reputation. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, a college freshman said to me one year. But these Chekov short stories are boring. I don’t get anything out of them at all.

It’s not a crime to pick up a book and then put it down again. If it isn’t what you need to read at the moment — if it’s not what satisfies your need for a story — then by all means, set it aside. You may find that a year from that point, or two years or twenty years that you adore the story.

Or you’ll still dislike it. You may hate it. You are not the right reader for that book.
In fact that particular novel may not have many readers at all, but somehow or another it has got on the canon and so people of a certain mindset feel they are obliged not only to read and understand it, but to value it. Continue reading…

lexical choice

We were watching a western on dvd last night (I cannot resist Robert Duvall in a western. I can’t see anybody but Gus McCrae when he’s on the screen, and Gus is one of my all time favorite fictional men.

/cue quote/: I met a wonderful new man yesterday. He’s fictional, but you can’t have everything/end quote.

Where was I. Oh yes, lexical choice. If you write historical fiction you’re always on the alert about getting simple vocabulary right. They didn’t use the term ‘strep throat’ in the early 1800s, because the strep bacillus hadn’t been isolated or identified. So your character does have strep (and thank dog, because back then strep killed a lot of people); your character has a putrid sore throat.

Some lexical anachronisms are bound to slip through, no matter how hard you (or your editor) look for them. Most of the time you won’t even realize it’s an anachronism until a reader who happens to be an expert in sleigh bells or trapping or kitchen implements of 1820 gets in touch and let’s you know where you messed up.

Maybe five people who read the book will catch that kind of error, but most of us who write historical fiction would prefer not to make the mistake in the first place.

So when a historical term comes to my attention that is new to me, I always look it up and think about it for a while.

Yesterday evening Robert Duvall requested that his nephew bring him some convenience paper from town. The Mathematician and I looked at each other and shrugged. A few scenes later it turned out that convenience paper was an early term for commercially made toilet paper. I haven’t had time yet, but I’ve got this on my list of words to check and sooner or later I’ll go on a quest. There may even be a website about the history of toilet paper, or a Wikipedia article. There are millions of people out there with all kinds of interests, and they are happy to share their knowledge with you. Usually.

Are there any historical lexical items which you learned about through a novel or a movie?