Friday, November 30, 2012

The Great Man

It's Mark Twain's birthday today.  He'd be one of the attendees at my dream dinner party.  HuffPo has a nice selection of quotations here.  It's hard to choose a favorite, but since we've just survived another election, I'll go with this one:

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Cockney Bible

Okay.  Thanksgiving is over, Mom has visited her doctor, India #4 is being emailed to my agent today and it's time to get back in blogging mode.  Except my muse is still enjoying a long holiday weekend.  So, here's a  video about the Cockney Bible.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Gatekeepers

If you read much about the current state of the publishing industry, you'll soon run across a defender of traditional publishing protesting that without agents and editors there will be no "gatekeepers."  No one to keep us from reading those awful self-published novels.  No one to stop the publication of poorly written books.  No one to halt the spread of poor grammar, misused metaphors and tautologies.  I'm so glad we have gatekeepers.


Great job, gatekeepers!  Thank you for ensuring that only the quality stuff gets published.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


This is the new library in the city of Dalian in China:

The architecture is dazzling, but this is not a proper library.  Compare and contrast to the "Long Room" at Trinity College Library.  This is a proper library:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I haven't been posting much lately because...I don't have much to say.  TC is reading India #4 and wielding his red pencil with relish.  I just wish he'd stop marching into my office and announcing:  "I found another mistake."  We need to have a talk about how editors should handle sensitive writers.  Actually, I'm grateful for his anal thorough editing skills.

While he's been working hard, I've been indulging in a real reading binge.  I've read nearly 4,000 words in the last two weeks.  One more Lee Child and TC should be finished with his review.  Then I have to get back to work.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We Don't Make Hasty Decisions Here

On Monday night before the election I was reading the guide put out by the League of Women Voters and learned that I would be voting on whether to return control of the St. Louis Police Department from the state of Missouri to the citizens of St. Louis.  Huh?

It seems that during the Civil War, the governor was a Confederate sympathizer and wanted to get his hands on the federal arsenal in St. Louis, so he found a way to remove the city's control over its police force and grant it to a board of commissioners appointed by the governor.

We've left this law on the books for 150 years?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Random Penguins

Last week a momentous moment occurred in the publishing world:  the announcement that Random House and Penguin would be merging, giving the resulting company 25% of the world's publishing market.  The companies both announced that the purpose of the merger would be to benefit from the synergies created, which as one writer pointed out, is Wall Street speak for layoffs, consolidation of divisions and the elimination of competing imprints and duplicate departments.  Fewer imprints and editors mean fewer places to pitch books, and agents and authors are already muttering about the negative impact of the merger.

In fact, it's hard to find anything very positive in the coverage of the merger.  Some writers are downright hostile, with one commenting that the move should be expected when these businesses are run by English majors wearing Daddy's work clothes.  I don't know if I'd go that far (or be that snarky), but I don't think the merger will prove to be good for authors.  One analyst (quoted in this week's edition of The Economist) says that the merger will mean many mid-list authors will be jettisoned, as the two publishers focus on their stable of best-selling authors and more spin-offs of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The new company, to be called Penguin Random House, has announced it will using the savings generated by the "synergy" to explore and expand their digital publishing options.  I read one article which raised an interesting point about how the companies might do this.  In the past, the German publishing company which owns Random House held a small stake in Barnes & Noble.  The writer suggested that we should keep our eyes peeled for a potential deal between PRH and B&N.  PRH could gain a foothold in the ereader business with the Nook, and B&N would get a shot of cash necessary to keep their brick and mortar stores open, a retail outlet which, of course, Amazon does not have.  This is better than a soap opera.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Since I'm writing about Victorian London, I want to be someplace else entirely.  That's why I've been reading about intrigue, espionage, assassinations, murders and all sorts of dirty deeds in the modern era.  Very relaxing stuff. Here are some authors I've been reading.