This week in……….
TYRA MAIL! Screeeeeammmm!!!!!!!
Yes, it has finally happened. Tyra Banks. Novelist. The model/talk show host/judge-of-fierceness has smized her way to a book deal for a YA novel called “Modelland,” involving a land populated by “Intoxibellas,” who are, of course, hot and fierce and will cry dramatically if you ask them about the challenges they had to overcome to become a top model (I made that last part up). Are you couture enough to read this book or are you just catalog?
Meanwhile, a commenter at Gawker took a stab at the first chapter, and the results. were. AMAZING. An excerpt: “When Mr. and Mrs. Catalog woke up on the dull, Covergirlless gray but not smokey-eyed Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing about the bland sky outside to suggest that fashionable or artistic things would soon be happening all over the country. Mr. Catalog hummed as he picked out the most boring pose for his photoshoot, and Mrs. Dursley talked smack happily as she wrestled a screaming Dreckley into her high chair… None of them noticed the large, tawny TyraMail flash across the window.”
Whoever wrote that: PLEASE QUERY ME. PLEASE. IMMEDIATELY.
Believe it or not there was other news this week. I know!! I was surprised too.
More e-reader news afoot as Borders will be selling the e-ink Kobo e-reader for the cheaper-than-Kindle price of $149.99 starting in June. And in tablet news, Google is apparently teaming up with Verizon to create a tablet device amid news that a whopping 28% of Americans expect to buy an e-reader or tablet in the next year, and 49% within three years (via PubLunch).
All of which leads Mike Shatzkin to observe that e-book growth has been somewhat incremental things over the last few years and things have been changing gradually. Get ready for suddenly. (I love that the last few years were the gradual part. Hold on tight, everyone!!!)
The Guardian surveyed the landscape of international book covers, noting that unlike movie posters, book covers vary wildly from country to country. (via The Book Bench)
Stephen Parrish sent me two great links: an article from Newsweek about Herman Wouk, still writing at age 95! And I missed this one a few weeks ago, but the NY Times has published their seven millionth article about self-publishing.
Lots of great agent blog posts this week! Mary Kole is decamping for Brooklyn, Rachelle Gardner has a great post on the secrets of of a great pitch, Kate Schafer Testerman asks how much info is too much info about an author, and my brilliant colleague Sara LaPolla has an awesome post about what writers can learn from Betty White.
In other publishing news, Jeff Abbott tipped me off to an interesting post from Publishing Trends about the rise of hardcover series in the YA world, and Eric from Pimp My Novel has a great refresher post on some of the different departments within a publisher.
This week in the Forums, Friday Night Lights is back on network TV, we’re continuing our discussion of LORD OF THE RINGS (I’m now into RETURN OF THE KING), predictions for the next big YA genre, whether the present tense works, and I would be wondering what is happening on Lost, but I’m too busy wondering why no one thought to give the guy in the black shirt a name. I mean, isn’t that explanation enough for why he turned into a smoke monster??
Comment! of! the! week! Well, Bryan Russell (aka Ink) shows why he’s the sheriff with a comment that bears mentioning again in full. On voice and the importance of authority:
For me, one of the absolutely key elements of voice is authority. With a great voice you know the writer is in control, so in control that the writer vanishes and you see only the story. A great voice carries you through the story, compels you through the story.
“Call me Ishmael.”
There’s such authorial command in that opening. Indeed, it is a command. He doesn’t say “My name is Ishmael” or “I’m called Ishmael.” He says “Call me Ishmael.” The voice itself tells you to sit down and listen to the story it’s going to tell.
I think all great voices have that authority. Cormac McCarthy, Ian McEwan, Tim O’Brien, Ann Patchett, Javier Marias, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Chimamanda Adichie, David Foster Wallace… voices so uniquely themselves, and yet they all hold an incredible confidence and command. There’s a sureness to a great voice. The words are simply right and the rhythms of the prose are buoyant. You won’t sink, not with these voices
And finally, amid speculation that Hollywood is SO OVER Jane Austen and is now moving on to the Bronte sisters, there’s a hilarious video making the rounds around the Internet (and forgive me, I can’t remember who sent it to me first): the Bronte Sister Action Dolls!!
Have a great weekend!
I can't stop laughing. Mr and Mrs Catalog, Tyra's Modelland or 'whatever' it's called and the Bronte Power Dolls! It's all too fiercely fabulous.
February Grace says
LOL @ Michele for this: "The Bronte action figures rock! I just want to see a Mr. Rochester doll–post Thornfield Hall fire. Every Barbie needs her Ken!"
Thank you for the laugh- to that I would humbly add: "Grace Poole Playset with Mrs. Fairfax sold separately. Lunatic wife figure with biting jaw action not for use with some sets. St.John Rivers' ego not included."
So, I've been thinking more about this authoritative voice thing.
If I say: 'Call me Ishmael', that means the reader has to call me Ishmael, right? Even if my name is Mira, they have to call me Ishmael because I said it with Great Authority.
Does this work for other things? If I say authoritative things to my readers, do they have to do what I say? Is this a writing skill?
For example, let's say I wanted to get Nathan to do something. Just hypothetically.
Would I say: Nathan, I want you to do this.
Or should I say it more firmly: Nathan, do this!
Or maybe it would be best to cut to the chase: Nathan!!!!!!!
Just wondering. I want to improve my voice so it's…effective.
It has to do with more than just the opening sentence. Call me Ishmael is strong because of what follows. It resonates as authoritative only when you read it in the context of the book.
I would argue that you could get away with all three: nathan do this, nathan!!!, or nathan I want you to do this, as long as they are in tune with the style of the rest of the story.
A reader will never go: wow, this sentence is strong.. unless the whole narrative is strong.. only then can a particular sentence resonate.
So instead of worrying about a sentence, worry about the whole, and then make sure the particulars are in tune.. that way… when I buy your book, I will burst in awe: darn, is this an authoritative sentence or what =)