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Remembering Forrest—An Online Tribute

From The New York Times:

Rev. Forrest Church, Who Embraced a Gospel of Service, Dies at 61

By WILLIAM GRIMES

The Rev. Forrest Church, a longtime pastor at the Unitarian Church of All Souls on the Upper East Side who spent the last three years of his life, after being told he had terminal cancer, articulating a philosophy of death and dying and a complete expression of his liberal theology in two books, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 61. The cause was complications of esophogeal cancer, said his wife, Carolyn Buck Luce.

As the senior minister to the liberal and affluent All Souls congregation since 1978, Mr. Church preached a...

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I came across this blog post "Johnny, Dressed in Layers" on Edittorrent this weekend and thought it was a really unique way of thinking about creating characters:

"... If you're at all familiar with astrology, you might already have some basis for understanding this concept. (We're going to file this under "things I learned in creative writing school.") When an astrologer casts a natal chart, the first three placements identified are the sun sign, the moon sign, and the rising sign.

The sun sign is a person's core personality, the foundational traits which will always make up part of their character in some way. These traits can be magnified or diminished by other factors, but they're still pretty constant. When we say things like, "Geminis have quick minds," or, "Capricorns are good with money," we're usually referencing a sun sign trait. And when we read our horoscopes in the newspaper, we're reading for our...

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Passing along a great essay from The Chronicle Review on how academics can write for trade audiences.

Prune That Prose: Learning to write for readers beyond academe

By Gail A. Hornstein

"... Do you ever read your prose aloud, either quietly to yourself or at a public reading of your work? Too many academics would answer no to that question. We have a kind of reverse aestheticism—if our writing is dense and unwieldy, filled with technical terms and convoluted sentences, we wear its lack of accessibility as a badge of honor.

A friend in mainstream trade publishing, who'd like nothing better than to buy books written by smart people on important topics, cringes when she spies an academic heading toward her at a party. For D and her editorial colleagues, "academic" is shorthand for "lifeless prose, cumbersome to read, filled with unnecessary complication, often disdainful and stridently obscure in style and...

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The Brookline Booksmith included a link to this video from HarperCollins Children's Books today in their newsletter and I couldn't help but pass it along.

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books, fun, Off topic

Most of us went into publishing because we love to read.  But too many of us get caught up only in our own projects and don’t have time to savor or recommend books that aren’t our own.  Three books have crossed my desk that I simply can’t resist recommending.  Although I know each of the authors, I’m not the agent or publisher for any of them – I just admire them:

Coming soon from Bloomsbury is Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou.  This utterly original book tackles a topic you might consider intimidating – Bertrand Russell’s search for the fundamentals of mathematics – and turns it into something magical and much more – an exploration of the links between genius and madness.  And it’s a graphic novel with delightful art that brings the story to life.  Trust me – you won’t put it down.

Next is Tracy Kidder...

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Geoffrey Nunberg has a very interesting article in today's The Chronicle Review on how Google Book Search's metadata errors effect scholars.

Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars

Start with publication dates. To take Google's word for it, 1899 was a literary annus mirabilis, which saw the publication of Raymond Chandler's Killer in the Rain, The Portable Dorothy Parker, André Malraux's La Condition Humaine, Stephen King's Christine, The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf, Raymond Williams's Culture and Society 1780-1950, and Robert Shelton's biography of Bob Dylan,...

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By Audrey Chait

There is no window in the intern’s alcove where I sit at the Strothman Agency, so I generally have no idea if it’s sunny or pouring buckets. Given the summer I have spent here, it is probably misting humidly in that delightful East Coast way that inflates my hair to the size of Andrew Jackson’s. The agency is tucked away in a building full of law firms at No. 6 Beacon St., and here it has been my pleasure to be an intern at this oasis of historical fiction, food memoir, and teenage superheroes, happily discovering that there are indeed ways to make a career out of reading.

 I read a lot of slush, and some pretty wild things come across my desk. Glittery query letters, missives in other languages,...

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Publisher's Weekly's Soap Box has a hilarious article in the current issue on "prologues, prefaces, introductions, forewords and other ways to clear your throat": 

by Laurence Hughes -- Publishers Weekly, 8/17/2009

".... The introduction is as different from the preface as a hot dog is from a frankfurter. It was created, separate and distinct from the preface, to answer a very pressing need. Unfortunately no one alive today remembers what that was. The introduction also provides recourse for superstitious authors whose books turn out to be 13 chapters in length. Not wishing to tempt fate, they will designate Chapter 1 the Introduction and renumber the other chapters 1–12, in the hope of avoiding bad luck and misfortune. Truman Capote is known to have done this with the final draft of In Cold Blood. Two days later, he was run over by the Hampton Jitney, so the effectiveness of this ploy is still in...

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Client Sashi Kaufman blogs about the writing rule "show don’t tell" and when to break it. 

To read her insight, click here.

 

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Revising, Tips

I saw this article online in THE NEW YORK OBSERVER  this morning and I just had to share it: 

Note to Authors: Make Your Deadlines!

By Leon Neyfakh

 The New York Observer, August 4, 2009 | 7:17 p.m

There was a time not so long ago when authors never had to worry about handing in their manuscripts on time. Deadlines back then were a formality—something publishers took about as seriously in the course of contractual negotiations as they did the profit-and-loss statements they used to justify their acquisitions. If an author hit their delivery date, great! But if they didn’t, that was O.K., too. 

For the most part, that is still true. But as book sales fall and publishing houses look for ways to cut costs, many literary agents are growing...

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