20 Oct

Queen of the Editorial Jungle (repost)

Reprinted from an early episode of Nuclear Frisson with Bob Price. Written for an Editor friend on her 40th. I ran across it recently and it made me laugh, so I’m sharing again. But not oversharing. Really.

QUEEN OF THE EDITORIAL JUNGLE

FADE IN:

SHE is sitting at her computer, with marked up papers scattered in loose piles about her cube floor. SHE is wearing headphones, and is frustrated and mumbling to herself.

HE stands in her cube entrance, dripping sweat from dysfunctional glands, tangling up his therapist’s advice with the feverish influences of lonely nights fueled by super heroine graphical novels (She Bantha, Tiger Twins, Ms. Victory, and Lightnin’ Streak), his adrenalin fired by a Venti latte, 50 sit-ups, new power tie, narrow nylon rimmed glasses, and red Pumas, he blurts the completely inappropriate observation he’s been girding his loins for days to get the balls to make.

SHE turns, pulling off her headphones.

SHE

I’m sorry, what? Say again?

SHE squints at him.

HE

I—

SHE

Stop there. Here’s some advice: keep your eyes on the business end of business, buster, and it won’t trouble you again.

HE

But, I—

SHE (sighing)

I suppose it’s natural to descend right to the anus jokes, but it won’t do. Helloooo, employee handbook? Look, page 65, paragraph 6. There’s an opaque shield around exposed skin at the office. If you’d follow rules, you wouldn’t find yourself in such a state.

HE

But—no, please, no, let me speak! Look, it’s very attractive, but do you worry about unwanted attention?

SHE

Hellooo? Business end? Opaque shield? What’s the problem? Okay, look. It’s comfortable. It’s practical. And…

SHE dangles limp marked up copy as EXHIBIT B.

SHE

…it is hotter than a freakin’ jungle in here.

HE

But—

SHE

Floss—yeah, I’ve heard it all before. In high school.

HE

Not…

SHE

So hard to see the utility, is it? It not only covers me below, but it doubles as a sling, and a slingshot—I can stun small vermin at 100 yards. Voila!—it’s fashionable headgear, and a very edgy robber’s mask. Itis my utility belt, Boy Wonder. Stick ’em up! Hah!

HE

Well. I didn’t mean, just—be right back.

SHE

That didn’t take long.

HE

While I was gone I—

SHE

Got into your lower left desk drawer? We all know about the bottle. Let me extinguish all live flames.

HE

—Did some research while I was gone.

SHE

I see you killed a few trees.

HE

Well, I have compiled a definitive history of the thong. You may find it—

SHE

Fascinating. CliffNotes version please.

SHE

Ahem. For millennia, this versatile strap was habillement du jour for the wandering San men of southern Africa…and, err, male gods of the Greek pantheon…who were captured and sold into the harem of Awilda, a migratory Scandinavian princess turned Viking raider—

SHE

Great-great-great granny!

HE

—to avoid marrying Alf the Feeble…she traded thongs for salted herring to Native American fishermen…their photos firing the imaginations of golden age American comic book artists…launched the first Brazilian Carnivale…and, ahem, of course, Gandhi.

SHE

It’s a history of men? Typical. Not the tale of your daddy’s shower shoes, though, eh?

HE

I, um, also wrote a song. In praise. A thong song.

SHE

Stop there, citizen! You’re about to violate copyright. As an Editor, I’m duty bound to report you. First, I’ll have to stun you and bind your wrists and ankles. Two more uses.

HE

You…it’s like you anticipate my every move. Are you…a super hero?

SHE

Heroine, mac! Get a clue. No man can do this!

CRACK! THWUP!

THE OVERHEAD FLOURESCENTS start to strobe…

SAMUEL JACKSON (lyrical, growling V.O.)

FOXY GUINEVERE JONES!! DIVINE EDITORIAL ENFORCER!! (“motherfucking” implied)

A LIGHT OVER A DISTANT CUBICLE explodes, with accompanying shrieks. JUNGLE DRUMS BEGIN, LOW.

HE

I…seek your autograph.

SHE

Rise, citizen. Here’s my catalog—order something and I’ll be happy to sign it. How about this decorative Post-It block? Comes in handy as a cry for help when I’m away from the desk.

CUT TO BLACK

07 Oct

Participant Writing and Publishing

Fiction Stimulus
Actively engaging people (via text, chat, and video) in the reading and writing experience until Oct 13, then it remains as an archive. As David Bowie once said, they invitate you to join. Requires a Ning login.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Books
Thoughts on “how bookstores might evolve to give publishers a way to reassert their brands and strengthen their position” (at if:book)

Branding: The Future of Publishing?
Vroman’s bookstore riffs on the if:book post around branding.

Subject: Our Marketing Plan
Modern Marketing help for Authors (via the New Yorker)

06 Oct

More Slamming w/ Spam

Fresh spam, hot off the griddle:

Permanent enlarged penis
What should I do?
I failed to find you
In that very bed
Can’t answer?
Fine, then
Erase my photo
I canz chatz w/ celebrity

The gmail pre-spam spam filters are reasonably effective, so I don’t have a really gooey rich cache of spam from which to draw. If nothing else, composing freeform from spam subject lines is a good way to loosen (and lighten) up.

There is some unsung talent out there, occasionally crafting fridge magnet poetry subject lines to get past the old school filters. Or, more likely, someone’s using a semi-random text string generator to make poetry the same way that some musicians compose New Age rhythms.

You know what they say: Cork the wood that parts the barley, John. And leave the periwinkles to Mother.

05 Oct

Email Fridge Spam Slam

In seeking inspiration for fridge magnet storytelling, look no further than your local e-mail spam queue. Here’s a sampling of subject lines from the last two days, in order of appearance:

Torment of cheerleader girls
Our school’s in trouble!
What should I do?
Everybody be cool!
Don’t panic, I’ve found a solution!
Bro, you sure?
To climb your throat on sobs easily chased
Courage required

05 Oct

PageFour?

As pretty as the GUI is for the latest version of Word, and as nice as it is that they’ve fixed so many bugs from previous version–it’s still not a great tool for writing a novel. Not without having minion tools (paper or electronic) to keep track of all the disparate pieces that go into that novel, most of them on paper needing transcription of some sort.

I’ve accumulated years worth of amazing and invaluable (yes, every single one of them!) handwritten and typed notes and epiphanies, drafts, questions, issues, todo’s, and sublimated research, that I don’t want to search through by hand, rediscover, or rewrite (the latter happens far too often, producing variations on a note scattered physically and chronologically–drives me f–ing nuts sometimes). I know that writers have been producing novels for hundreds of years from notecard and other paper-based filing systems, but I’m entrenched in my computer, have a horrendously busy life already, and need an easy to use single tool or suite of tools that’ll help me keep organized (even if I do have to retype from paper–never a bad thing), and does not smack my hands if I need it to be flexible.

I’ve heard good things from writers about Scrivener, but it’s for the Mac, and I have a Windows system. I’ve looked at several novel writing tools for Windows over the years and found them too restrictive or short-handed and keep going back to my Word-based free form approach. But the author of Scrivener noted that a tool called PageFour “allows you to edit and organise your writing in a tabbed interface. It provides word processing and outlining capabilities, and is probably the product closest to Scrivener on Windows.” And it has version control–always a good thing.

I’m going to download PF and give it a shot. This weekend I’m attending workshops at Wordstock, including one on managing writing time with an already full life. Having a writing tool to support that effort can only help.

Update 10/13/09: Who would have thought that a focused word processor with a handy folder-based sidebar that took me almost no time to learn now to use would make me so productive. I love this tool. It has a few shortcomings, all easily worked around. Note: I’m very good with Word and similar tools–that probably made it harder for me to adapt to a simpler tool like PageFour than it would for people who don’t waste their time building such arcane skills or don’t have much experience with them. Or have simply lost patience with Word, even with the new bejeweled version.