Five Things on my Mind on a Friday

 

Thing One. James Frey. You may remember him as the author of the “memoir” A Million Little Pieces and the recipient of a serious tongue-lashing from Oprah. In an apparent effort to be as unsympathetic as possible, Frey has made the news again. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported on Frey’s new young adult book packaging company, Full Fathom Five. Actually, this is a topic currently very near and dear to my heart.  The complaint is that Frey was recruiting students in expensive MFA programs and paying them a mere $250 for signing onto write a book and another $250 for finishing a manuscript. As you can probably guess, that’s low. Extremely low. Of course, they were promised 30-49% of all revenues, which for a James Frey book could be pretty substantial. But word on the street is that there was no accounting mechanism and authors weren’t getting even close to their due. Plus, there was a high penalty for disclosing that you wrote for Frey. Author, Jobie Hughes, came forward sometime after the book he penned, I Am Four, sold to DreamWorks. It’s important to remember in all of this that Frey did come up with the ideas for the books put into production by Full Fathom and I’m sure there are two sides to every story, but there certainly needs to be some recourse for authors who spend 500+ hours writing a novel on someone else’s bidding.

 

Thing Two. BookPeople. BookPeople is our local Austin bookstore and it’s awesome. It’s so awesome, it recently got a shout out in Entertainment Weekly. There are two things I love about BookPeople. The first is the employee recommendation feature in the Young Adult section. Employees make these little cards that they color and decorate and tape up under the books they like. It’s a fun way to “hand sell” books to customers. Second is the book-related events. Most recently, BookPeople hosted a parking lot release party for Jeff Kinney’s newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. The new book, published by Abrams, just had the strongest release of any Wimpy Kid book yet–and even sold more copies than George W. Bush’s Decision Points in its first week. You’ve got to wonder how much cool release events like those of BookPeople fuel sales. I bet a decent amount as a result of buzz and even just customer turnout.

Where can I get a tour bus?

 

 

Thing Three. Writing stuff. And how it looks like in the next few months I am going to be doing a lot of it. (Yay!) So, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the best ways to go about it and stay organized. Am I schedule person? Would it work best to write an hour in the morning and an hour at night? That would get me a good chunk of writing done every day, so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. But what really tends to happen is that I go on marathon sessions and write 10k in a weekend and tear my hair out and gnash my teeth, but secretly enjoy taking that much time out to work on bookish things. Or, are word count goals really the way to go? 1-2k a day–if I finish then I can go frolick, if not, I’m handcuffed to the desk. I’ve always been sort of a word count goal person, but like I said, I’m in the process of reevaluating.

Thing Four. Outlining. Turns out that law school and writing life are not so different after all. Both require outlining. And in both contexts I don’t like doing it but I do like having it. However, in a surprising upset, I think law school outlining might (at times) be the more enjoyable of the two. Law school outlining can be pretty mindless if you’ve already taken good class notes, etc.  And if you’re lucky, you have a really smart person’s outline to work from. This never happens in writing, which means, you can never zone out and listen to country music while you type random words that sound funny and mean nothing to you like “assumpsit.” Of course, rarely do you get to come up with anything new and exciting in law school outlines. (i.e. To date, I’ve never had a dress-wearing gnome-hobbit hybrid show up in a Trademarks outline, but as far as I know, this could totally happen in a writing outline.)

Thing Five. Harry Potter. Okay, this is actually the only thing on my mind this Friday. Harry Potter! Harry Potter. Harry Potter! I have done as much research (read: watching interviews and listening to MuggleCast) as muggle-y possible, so I think I am ready to reap maximum enjoyment today. Happy HPott Day, people.