Data Pad

I don’t want to overstate this, or come off as overly geeky, so I’ll try to keep things in perspective.
I’m living in freaking STAR TREK, man!
Yesterday I received my new laptop, an Asus Eee PC. It’s roughly the size and weight of a hardcover book. It’s part of a group of PCs called UMPCs: ultra-mobile PC. It’s about 2 pounds and easily carried in a book bag. My bag is actually LIGHTER than it was yesterday because my journal weighs more than this computer. It’s small: it looks a little like a laptop that shrank in the dryer, and so the keyboard is taking a little getting used to, but it’s not so small I can’t use it. And I did, this morning, to my great satisfaction. Sandwiched between a large, sleeping man and a woman who stood in front of a seat but never sat down (welcome to the New York City subway), I typed out three single spaced pages of my current WIP. It was awesome.
I do not think that technology makes a better writer. It does, however, make a better typer, and that’s always been my problem. Jaye Wells issued a challenge on her blog and I took up the challenge, claiming I would transcribe one of my untyped novels in the time alloted. So far… ummm… not so much. (Jaye, if you’re done punching your computer, I promise I will get typing). I still have to transcribe older work, but from now on I won’t have to worry about transcribing new work. You have no idea what a relief that is.

This entry may or may not have been stolen from Wikipedia

So many elements of this NYTimes story are bizarre to the point of comic that for a moment I wondered if it was a spoof. Seems that George Orwel* lifted several paragraphs without attributing their source for his book about the oil industry. The source: Wikipedia.** But other than a statement from the publisher, there’s not any big lawsuit or any other major response. That’s because Wikipedia isn’t like other sources:

Copying from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia produced by tens of thousands of contributors, does not raise the same legal complications as copying from a copyrighted book. According to Mike Godwin, the lead lawyer at the Wikimedia Foundation, under Wikipedia’s license anyone can reprint material found there as long as Wikipedia is given credit and the license itself is reprinted, assuring that the material continues to roam free.

So go ahead and lift from Wikipedia for your next book. I am. My newest WIP is entitled WIKINOVEL, and it’s going to be very informative.
*This is the first bizarre element. The man’s name is George Orwel. GEORGE ORWEL? Is that real? If you’re going to be named George Orwel just go whole hog and tack on that second “L.”
** Second bizarre element.***
*** WIKIPEDIA!?!

Building a Reading

For those interested in how the reading on 11/2 went…
After a very, very, very nice introduction by my agent (Janet Reid, whom I wouldn’t trade for all the whiskey in Ireland), I got up, told a few jokes and got into it. I could only read an excerpt as my story was clocking in at 40+minutes. I wanted to keep it to 20 so I read the first half. Janet had prepared copies of the story for people to take with them to read it in its entirety. I read, keeping my head aimed at my papers, and heard laughter at the appropriate times. When I finished I looked up to see that there were about 40+ people in the room. There were people who had to stand at the back! It was amazing.
I sat down, and the other readers read. Some wonderful stories were shared by the others. It was a very nice evening and there were refreshments. I got to meet a couple of Janet’s other authors, and was pleased to meet Evan Mandery, whose novel Dreaming of Gwen Stefani came out just when I signed on with Janet. He’s a great writer and is worth checking out.
All in all it was fun and barely hurt. I’d do it again.

Pat Conroy writes to book banners

Pat Conroy, author of “The Prince of Tides”, responds to a school board in West Virginia which banned two of his books:

The school board of Charleston, West Virginia, has sullied that gift and shamed themselves and their community. You’ve now entered the ranks of censors, book-banners, and teacher-haters, and the word will spread. Good teachers will avoid you as though you had cholera. But here is my favorite thing: Because you banned my books, every kid in that county will read them, every single one of them. Because book banners are invariably idiots, they don’t know how the world works — but writers and English teachers do.

Read the whole letter to the editor here.

Updated: Reading “Building an Elephant”

I’m reposting this as the reading is tonight. Should be fun. I’m getting over a cold and haven’t spoken in front of a crowd since… ever. Wish me luck.
I’m pleased to announce that I will be part of a reading event in honor of the Fulton Prize from the Adirondack Review. I will be reading my short story, “Building an Elephant”, which won the award.
For those of you in NYC: The reading will be held at 20 West 44th at the NY Center for Independent Publishers on November 2 at 7PM.
For those NOT in NYC… too bad for you. Should be fun, even though I’m terrified.
The NYCIP is an educational program of The General Society of the Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York, located at 20 West 44th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues in midtown Manhattan. Subways: B, D, F, or V to Bryant Park; 4, 5, or 6 to Grand Central. For more information call, 212.764.7021.
Hope to see you there.