Archive for May, 2010

On the Other Hand…

There’s no doubt that publishing is going through serious changes right now, and the causes are almost entirely technological.

Almost.

It’s true that the PC has given everybody the power of word processing, along with social networking and at least the illusion of a market.  As the number of manuscripts swells and the number of contracts at publishing houses shrinks it’s not surprising that people are reinventing publishing via the internet, but I suspect certain attitudes long held by the publishers themselves may also be working against them.

I’m not slamming publishers.  A publishing house is just a bunch of decent people trying to make a living, but with big box stores driving the price of a book down, technology chipping away at their market share and the economy tanking, they’ve had to streamline like everybody else.  They can’t do everything anymore because they’re short handed, so they’ve had to lighten ship— and make some tough choices about what to throw overboard.

These days, editors have too many books to turn around, which gives them less time to spend on…

The Demise of Publishing

The email world is abuzz this weekend with backlash from an article Garrison Keillor recently published in the New York Times lamenting the end of publishing as we know it.  It’s a brilliant piece of writing, mainly because Keillor is a brilliant writer.  The setting for his epiphany is a “rooftop party in Tribeca that I got invited to via a well-connected pal, wall-to-wall authors and agents and editors and elegant young women in little black dresses, standing, white wine in hand, looking out across the Hudson at the lights of Hoboken and Jersey City, eating shrimp and scallops and spanikopita on toothpicks, all talking at once the way New Yorkers do.”

The man knows how to set a scene.  He even drops a few names to let us know this is the elite, the crème de la crème of the writing world.  For modesty’s sake he’s careful to point out that he’s not one of the elite (a humble lie) and then he says the gathering of literati feels “like a Historic Moment, like a 1982 convention of…

Please Be Patient

Did I mention that this site is under construction?  We’re in the process of trying to figure out exactly what I want here (“we” being myself, a bumbling techno-challenged redneck, and my cousin June, the wizard behind the curtain who has already sprained an eye muscle twice from rolling her eyes at my ignorance).  Anyway, we’re in the process of putting up some book blurbs and a little background material and figuring out how to categorize the blog posts.  We’ll get there, eventually.  In the meantime, I was thinking it would be great if I could get some input from the millions of readers out there (okay, hundreds… maybe even dozens) who are clamoring for more blog posts.  What sort of things would you like to hear about?  I tend to be a little scattershot, so any suggestions at all could help me focus in a certain direction.  The categories I’m currently considering are (1) Amish (2) Hooptedoodle (misc. musings) (3) Writer stuff and (4) Construction stuff.  I might also, once in a while, want to do a piece about…

Best Laid Plans

Twenty-five years ago we built a house out in the country, in the middle of the woods, on five acres of land, on a dirt road.  There are lots of advantages to not living in a subdivision; you can pee off the back porch if you want, play Wagner as loud as you please, and nobody tells you when to cut your grass.  But the main reason we wanted to build here was that we knew we were going to have children and we wanted to give them continuity, safety, and security.  Our two sons are all grown up now— well no, they’ve reached maturity— well no, let’s just say they’re about as tall as they’re likely to get— and if raising kids has taught us anything it’s that continuity, safety, and security are illusions.

We haven’t moved.  Our kids have lived in the same house all their lives, but urban sprawl swallowed our sparsely populated pecan groves and farm ponds and spit out endless rows of ticky-tacky houses punctuated by strip malls, pizza places, not one but TWO Super…

Redneck Rule #1

One of the first jobs I worked on when I was a kid, just starting out in the electrical trade, was a new eight-story wing on a hospital.  The foreman gave me a nickel tour of the project the first morning.  He was a leathery old salt in his late forties with a dry wit and a boatload of common sense.  I was following him through the basement of the building when we passed an elevator shaft.  None of the equipment was installed yet, and there were no doors, just three big square openings into a massive concrete shaft where sunlight angled down from the eight floors above.

There was a warning sign hanging on the two-by-four barrier across the opening of the shaft, but I ignored it because I felt it was really important to know what it was like to look up an eight-story elevator shaft.  I took my hardhat off so it wouldn’t impede my line of sight, leaned way out over the barrier and looked up.  The first thing I saw was a chunk of concrete…