Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sweeping up

So, now that we have that dreaded catch-up question post out of the way, what else is new?

Well, there’s all the various scandals, storms and tempests that have been going on in the corners of blogland that I used to frequent, and occasionally lurk in. Here is a totally scientific and accurate statistical assessment.

1. 1,394 internet squabbles over who has the right to review books.

2. 2,587.6 arguments about the fairness of “mean” reviews, and whether the only criticism permitted should be constructive, helpful, and gently eased by the presence of fluffy chubby cupids and rainbow unicorns.

3. 982.92 monologues about why Bad Reviews Are Good For You and should be swallowed by authors, preferably whole and before breakfast, rather like castor oil.

4. 1,187.3 monologues about why Bad Reviews Are Not Your Business If You Are An Author. If Bad Reviews did not exist, tender, delicate and easily-led readers would otherwise fall for the seductive wiles of Harriet Klausner & co. These fiendish producers of uniformly sunshiny reviews have but one foul aim. They are trying to convince Poor Innocent Readers that Every Book in the World is Brilliant, Wonderful and Amazing.

This is of course, all part of a plot to ensure that Poor Innocent Readers lose significant chunks of their lives lurching from one ill-penned book to the next, constantly lured on by yet another review promising, “The greatest Secret Virgin Doctor Billionaire’s Sheikh’s Secretary’s Love Child in the Magically-Endowed Camper Van novel to ever exist, both now and in the hereafter.” The sunshiny review producers are doing this because

a) they lack critical faculties

b) they aren't actually reading the books they review

c) they are in it for the free books, even if they are crap

d) they are succumbing to the dominating cultural norms inculcated by the patriarchy that women must always be kind, sweet and nice and never say anything nasty to anyone.

e) they are a bit odd

f) all of the above

5. Some stuff that I mainly skimmed about why ebooks rule. See 2 posts below for the why of the skimming. Anyhow, death to paper. Death to paper publishers. Death to the old model of publishing. Oh, but it must be CHEAPER. Blabla long tail, blabla wisdom of crowds. And stuff.

6. A frustrating number of competitions, largely useless to me as I live outside shipping distances. That said, I tend to regard said competitions with a largely unbothered eye, since I don’t particularly worry if the book I’m reading carries the signature of the author (unless maybe the author is Eric Hobsbawm). The frustrating part is more the way the frenzied posts clutter up the more entertaining blogs.

7. Breath by breathless tweeting and live-blogging from assorted conferences and whatnot. Again, geography.

8. 35,843 arguments about what constitutes either acceptable romance, or acceptable tools of romance marketing. They kind of blur after a while, presumably due to shock value.

9. Some people who write blogs now have published, or will be publishing books (paper or otherwise). Good on them. More importantly, does this mean they are allowed to blog any more? Or only on certain posts? Discuss, or just pull it out as an ad hominem argument in the middle of any of the kerfuffles of your choice.

10. The thrills and excitement about a hot new YA author making the rounds and everyone writing about how they are so much MORE than just YA, and why YA is the bestest ever and we should not be ashamed to read YA because really it’s better than some of the other things that are published. It probably is, but I don’t see how this becomes a moral question.

11. Jean M. Auel has published a new Clan of the Cave Bear Book. Suppressing my suspicion that we have another Virginia Andrews on our hands, I am compelled to cry out with unmitigated prehistoric pleasure. Long Live Ayla, the Mother of All, the Creator of Everything, the Inventor of the Bra! She who will invent the internet and dining-table centerpieces of ochre-glazed pinecones! After she tames the dinosaurs and turns them into ostriches! Long Live Dongelar! Long Live his most significant asset! Long live the improbably-named cave lion, Baby!

12. Fan Fiction. Le Scandal. Le Kerfuffle. Le Distress. Les up-mixeds wacky relationships that ruin your reading of the original text forEVAH. Never more can I read the Big Book of Dinosaurs. I am forever plagued by the memory of that disturbing piece of fanfic involving the pachycephalosaurus and the procompsognathus. And the velociraptors. Oh the humanity.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Enter, pursued by a bear

Once upon a time there was an evil auntie who had a blog. First, she was a fake auntie, then a real auntie, but always there was the blog.

Sadly, the evil auntie had a job, and as the years progressed the job sucked up more time and energy. And so the blog withered and dwindled.

However, it had not been wholly forgotten by the evil auntie, who would occasionally drop by to see if it had been infested by spambots, or turn around post ideas in her mind. But the actual writing of the actual post, well, that was always going to be trickier.

However, as is the wont of evil aunties everywhere, this evil auntie was somewhat bloody-minded and couldn’t quite give up the idea of the blog. And so she eventually returned. And thus, the most evil entry to date came about. The dreaded, fearsome and horrific catch up question post.

1. Where have you been?

A. Busy. Stuff. Slow internet. Work. More work.

2. But geographically, where have you been?

A. Prague. Still Prague, more Prague. Some holidays.

3. Gosh, you must be older now.

A. Yes.

4. And that monkey? You know, the one that, er…

A. Monkey? What monkey?

5. Umm… that monkey? You know, the one that got bored with writing Shakespeare sonnets, and… er…

A. …awkward pause… I think you may be confusing me with someone else.

6. Yes, yes of course. No monkey. So Prague? Still? Wow, you must really like it? Job going well, that sort of thing?

A. There has been that world economic crisis.

7. Ah, yes. Haha. So, um… what have you been reading?

A. Cookbooks.

8. Oh, FF’s sake. Now you’re really being bloody-minded.

A. I’m interviewing myself in a virtual vacuum, and vaguely annoyed by the fact that I felt the need to euphemize my language. Of course I’m bloody-minded.

Next time: the dreaded what-have-I-missed post.