And… the… finalists… are…
Yeah, still working on that. But!! I shall have them ready for you early next week. I think. There are a lot of them. Soon! Meanwhile, there was a Week in Books….
Before we get to the books, remember when I went to Peru on a volunteer vacation and it changed my life? Well! You have this opportunity too! Please visit Volunteer Journals at Travelocity, and all you have to do is enter a video for a chance to win a volunteer vacation. People, voluntourism is the greatest thing ever. Enter! Enter! Enter!!
Another domino in the path toward e-book-adoption has fallen. In their recent earnings report, Amazon reported the Kindle e-books now outsell paperbacks on Amazon. The e-books, they are selling like mad! (disclosure: link is to CNET, I work at CNET.)
Lots of people talking about Stanely Fish’s book about how to write a sentence, and writer Adam Haslett took on Stanley Fish’s book, and placed it in context with that tome extolling the terse sentence, Strunk & White. (via The Book Bench) Meanwhile, Slate took a look at Stanley Fish’s Top 5 Sentences of all Time. Which are rather top.
And speaking of great sentences, there was a great feature this week over at the Quentessentially Questionable Query Experiment, where my friend Matt Rush interviewed my other friend Bryan Russell about his rather impressive query for his novel THE DREAM OF CROWS. Much insightfulness resulted.
In writing advice news, my former colleague agent Sarah LaPolla breaks down different pitch session attendee types, Eric from Pimp My Novel reminds us of a very important fact of life: this is a business, my dear friend the Rejectionist talks about Inappropriate Agent Behaviors and a Five Step Program for Exiting, my former client Jennifer Hubbard talks about the necessity of taking a break (she’s right), and and agent Rachelle Gardner talks about the importance of having a core group of fans.
Oh, and Nabokov was right about the butterflies.
This week in the Forums, getting ready for the Super Bowl, talking about HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, sharing your first paragraph, and how do you decide on a title?
Comment! of! the! Week! There were many great comments about the post on what keeps you reading a book, but I decided to go with Tammy for brevity and insightfulness:
I like the first line to be short and seemingly impossible.
And finally, it’s been hotter than summer here in San Francsico, but I know all of you folks back East and in Europe have been having the winter from the opposite of Hades. Of all the things I’ve seen, this is probably the craziest. Frozen bubbles!!
Have a great weekend!!
OH WOW! I love the frozen bubbles! If it gets cold enough here to do that my six year old will be filled with joy. Frozen bubble joy.
Can't find the link for Jennifer's article….
Ted Fox says
I kind of love that Gertrude Stein sentence, even if the editor inside of me had a little bit of a panic attack while reading it.
Stanley Fish is SUCH an academic, with a list that implies nothing good was written after 1835.
So here's one of my favorite sentences from 1998, in part because the certain Oklahoma newspaper deleted a certain adjective beginning with F — and now I get to correct that injustice.
"Fortunately for us, The World's Largest Roadside Attractions brings us the freakin' huge, sliced and diced in handy-dandy ways to help us hapless tourists find on the finest in huge mutant fiberglass things."
So there, Stanley. (Word verification: "daing," You're daing right it is.)
Laura Campbell says
Yes, a crazy winter here on the East Coast. My arms are throbbing today from all the shoveling yesterday.
From the article Stanley Fish's Top Five Sentences—Now with Reader Contest!: Fish describes how he carries sentences with him "as others might carry a precious gem or a fine Swiss watch."
What an excellent analogy. Haunting sentences from novels and books I've read are written down all over the place: journals, Post-Its, books and Macaroni Grill table cloths. This is the exact reason I got my English degree and write.
Thanks for the links!
James Harden says
Yay, first time posting and I'm in the top 10! All I had to do was stay up 'til 3am. Unfortunately I don't have anything insightful to say. But how cool are frozen bubbles. Very cool.
Nathan Bransford says
thanks anon, fixed.
Susan Kaye Quinn says
Frozen bubbles – better living through science entertainment. Love it. 🙂
Sierra McConnell says
I used to think I would love to live where it snowed all the time.
…I'm beginning to change that thought. Save me from the snow! Send me some hot weather, Nathan!
D.G. Hudson says
After seeing Fish's top five sentences, I think I'm somewhere in-between what he prefers and what EB White prefers. I don't like Gertrude Stein's run-on sentences, although she had good taste in the artists she kept around her.
Checked out the interview with Bryan (INK) by Matt, and yes it was well done. I love the humour in the evaluation. Good Luck Bryan with THE DREAM OF CROWS. Great work, Matt on the interview.
I'll have to check the other links over the weekend. Have a good one, everyone. Happy reading Nathan.
Matthew Rush says
Nathan. You've got to stop mentioning me on your blog. It makes me sound way cooler than I really am.
On the other hand, Bryan really is that cool, so read the post people, and then follow it over to his blog. He's so much more awesome than me, but only gets half the traffic. Which is wrong.
As to the rest of your post I've just opened three tabs based off of all your links. No I'm not telling you which ones, and no I haven't read them yet, but I will say I wish there was time to read them all!
You, my friend, are awesome.
Nathan, new to twitter.Went to Peru last year and climbed Mt.Salkantay,17,000'and hit the Amazon. Hung out with the Queros. Amazing.
Kristin Laughtin says
I do quite agree that the 5 sentences Slate examined are interesting and impressive, but I wish they’d included some more recent examples. Few people write in the same style as Bunyan or Swift anymore, and I’m not sure the market would support them if they did. The sentences do cover a wide span of time; I just wish that span extended a little closer to the present. (Fish’s book seems interesting, though. I will have to check it out. Perhaps on my Kindle!)
Query posts are always great. I don't mind if you keep them coming.
I never knew that about Nabokov! It’s always interesting to learn about the secret lives or second careers of well-known authors, especially those so well-known for only one or two works.
Tammy’s line is really making me think now. I totally get what she means about a “seemingly impossible” line; there are definitely a few I’ve read in my lifetime that have made me do a double-take and ask, “Wait, did that just happen?” I’ll have to add “seemingly impossible” to my list of things to evaluate in revisions.
Josin L. McQuein says
Tsk.. tsk.. tsk..
Lack of agent-muscle stretching has made you soft, Nathan. Last year, you'd have had all the entries read, alphabetized, weighed, and color-coded twenty-seven seconds after the close of comments.
Those 5 sentences are… um… interesting choices. And the frozen bubbles were definitely awesome. I have now seen bubbles both burn and freeze.
JohnO: Ordinarily I would be inclined to agree with you, but I think Fish is on to something with his new book. I'll have to read it to critique it.
I wanna give a shout out to Strunk and White. If someone had handed me the text when I was 15 not 25, I would have been spared much heartache as an undergrad.
Bryan Russell (Ink) says
Great links! I'm gonna have to look into that book on sentences. The obsession continues…
And frozen bubbles? That just rocks. I love the slow motion where you can see the ice crystals as they start spanning the little globes.
Jennifer R. Hubbard says
Thanks for linking.
I'm not surprised that film was made at Mt. Washington, home of extreme weather. But Josin McQuein, now I want to see flaming bubbles!
Josin L. McQuein says
@jennifer r. hubbard
The flaming bubbles are insane. We had a guy in our science class in HS that used the gasline from the Bunsen burner to make bubbles with bubble solution. He'd pop them with an Aim N' Flame and make little flame spurts.
It was insane (in the "Hey, kids, don't try this at home" kind of way), but our teacher let us play with fire for some odd reason.
Kitchen Pantry Scientist says
Wish I would have tried the frozen bubbles for my science website last week when it was subarctic here in Minnesota. Lots of people flung boiling water in the air and watched it turn to snow before it hit the ground, but my kids would have LOVED this. I wonder what the Mentos/Diet Coke geyser would look like at -20. Hmmm.
Kathryn Packer Roberts says
Love the frozen bubbles!
dan radke says
Last year you announced the finalists as Dwight Schrute. I think it was Draper the year before. Tyra was in there somewhere as well I think. Just wanted to toss out some suggestions-
Bunk from The Wire
Tigh from BSG
Tracey Jordan from 30 Rock
J. T. Shea says
Cusco is 11,000 feet up? So you briefly replaced Kristin Nelson as the world's top literary agent! Denver is only 10,000 feet up.
But red shirts, Nathan? Of course, you are more a Star Warrior than a Trekkie, but still risky.
Seriously, bravo on the voluntouring!
Simon Hay Soul Healer says
The ebooks out selling paperbacks isn't a surprise. Strunk and white's little book is a favourite and I wish I'd had it earlier. I'm not keen on Stanley Fish's top five. The bubbles are very cool.
ya know the problem with ebooks…?
they just don't stack like regular books….
Bethany Brengan says
Loved the articles on sentences. (Makes me wish I had read them *before* I posted my paragraph…)
Ted Cross says
Aw, Matt. Nathan called you a friend. I am so jealous!
Kathryn Magendie says
Thanks for the great links, as usual!
The slow mo image of the bubble is stunningly beautiful. Fun video! Brrrr…
Oooo, pretty bubbles.
I think the best sentence is the world is this:
In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.
You know who wrote that! 🙂
I love first sentences. They're fun to write, too.
So, thanks for all the links, Nathan. I'll be reading them next week after I finish my papers and such, so no comments today, but a very big thank you. So much information! Truly appreciated.
And that's very cool about Bryan. Can't wait until we can read the book for his query! Hurry and finish up, Bryan.
Okey doke – hope everyone's having fun and is nice and warm
R.k. Gold says
Awww, the contest comments for the best 1st paragrah has been closed. I'm guessing it probably crashed? Or you, Nathan, saw the amount of people that entered and quailed at what you had done? Well, at least I've been put off from ever trying to become an agent because after the first hundred I started skim reading and stoppped paying attention.
Pen and Ink says
Nathan, How do you find time to write? You read 1500 paragraphs and gave us a great roundup of the blog circuit for the week. I am in awe of your accomplishments. Okay off to check out your links
To add to your link on being an editor, here's one by by the fantastic and long-time speculative fiction editrix Terri Windling that breaks down the different uses of the term: