How Jessica Mitford Exposed A $48m Scam From America’s Literary Establishment

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Xina Marie Uhl:

A disgusting look at the duplicitous of the publishing industry.

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

Cerf1Jessica Mitford took on the American funeral industry, the California Department of Corrections, and the Ku Klux Klan, but it was her 1970 exposé of The Famous Writers School which led to Time calling her “The Queen of the Muckrakers.” And if a courageous editor hadn’t reversed his decision to kill her story, it might never have happened.

Mitford had been aware of The Famous Writers School’s existence for some time. Anyone who was a frequent reader of newspapers, books or magazines would have seen its ever-present advertisements, inviting aspiring writers to cut out and apply for the free aptitude test. While Mitford was suspicious, she didn’t have anything concrete until her lawyer husband took on a new client.

Bob Treuhaft was approached by a 72-year old widow, living on Social Security, who had cleaned out her bank account to make a down-payment to The Famous Writers School. On the…

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Antarctica’s farthest frontier: The strange story of the Pole of Inaccessibility Station.

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Antarctica’s farthest frontier: The strange story of the Pole of Inaccessibility Station.

Xina Marie Uhl:

Interesting tale about one of my obsessions – Antarctica!

Originally posted on www.seanmunger.com:

pole of inaccessibility

What’s the farthest away you can get from everything and still be on planet Earth? The easy and obvious answer is Antarctica, which is a fascinating place with an astounding history, but it’s still a very large place. Where in Antarctica is, technically and scientifically, the “farthest” place on Earth? I did not know the answer until yesterday, but it’s a place called the South Pole of Inaccessibility. It was first reached by human beings 56 years ago today, on December 14, 1958, and its story is as epic as any tale of exploration or discovery in recent human history.

The Pole of Inaccessibility is not the same as the South Pole. While the geographic South Pole is the southernmost point on Earth, where the axis of its rotation intersects its surface, the Pole of Inaccessibility is the place, mathematically calculated, to be the farthest distance from land anywhere in…

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Check out the Read Tuesday Catalog for Black Friday Book Deals in December

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Xina Marie Uhl:

It’s here! Today is READ TUESDAY. Both Necropolis and The Cat’s Guide to Human Behavior are available for just $.99. Woo hoo! Follow the links here to find the lower prices: http://xuwriter.wordpress.com/published-works/. And browse the below for lots of other excellent offers.

Originally posted on ReadTuesday:

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READ TUESDAY CATALOG

It’s the second annual Read Tuesday—a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers on Tuesday, December 9, 2014.

Several of the participating books are already on sale.

The Read Tuesday catalog is now up.

We have both print books and e-books participating. (Did you know that e-books can be gifted? Learn how here.)

Choose one of the following pages, depending on your interests:

(1) Kindle Deals

These Kindle e-books are on sale. Find several low-priced deals (even freebies):

http://readtuesday.com/countdown-deals

(2) Buy the Print Book, Get the Kindle Edition Free (Great Gift Option)

These books take advantage of Amazon’s MatchBook tool, setting the MatchBook offer to free. First purchase the print edition at Amazon, then get the Kindle edition for free. Read the instructions at the top of this catalog (click the following link) to learn more (it includes pictures to help make sure that…

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Read Tuesday will Launch with Thunder

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Xina Marie Uhl:

Attention readers and authors! You won’t want to miss Read Tuesday on 12/09/2014.

Originally posted on ReadTuesday:

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SPREADING THE NEWS

Read Tuesday is a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers on December 9, 2014.

Authors can participate for free. Signing up and participating is easy.

Readers and gift-givers just need to browse the Read Tuesday catalog in early December. Find the books you like here, but buy them at Amazon or Smashwords like normal. Except for saving big, of course.

To help spread the news, we have a ThunderClap promotion scheduled for the morning of December 9.

Our ThunderClap currently has a social reach of over 300,000 through 100 supporters (thank you, everyone), with 18 days left to improve these numbers. We have our sights set on a million, and we’re nearly one-third the way there.

What the ThunderClap does is announce the big Read Tuesday sale by synchronizing posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. It’s easy to add your support (see below).

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Dubious Math and a Work in Progress

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Happy Wednesday! Today is the day that our most excellent monkey maven, K.L. Schwengel, has designated as WIPpet Wednesday, which involves posting a date-related snippet of one’s work in progress. I’m working on an alternate history of sorts which takes place in a slightly different version of the world from 1880-1930. The theme is that it involves icy regions of the earth – the Antarctica and the Arctic and other desolate and fascinating places and the people who inhabit them (thus, the series is called “Icebound”). Here is the beginning from volume 2, “All Mouth and No Trousers,” currently in progress. My math is suspect, but involves: 27 lines (11+19+2+0+1+4-1)

Commandant Gorge Elderbatch didn’t actually read the letter from his wife until two days after receiving the bundle of mail. He was sitting in his office, laboriously attempting to compose and inspiring speech after delivering the latest round of orders to attain the impossible, create triumph out of disarray, and endure the unendurable for the sake of God, glory, and Shepherd’s Pie. A waft of Mrs. Elderbatch’s perfume rose from the crisp, neatly handwritten letter. She had told him the name of the perfume countless times, but he never could remember it. Something like Athena’s musk or St. Brigid’s Rose Arbor or maybe it was Henley’s Delectable Concoction. Whatever the name actually was, he conjured in his mind and image of his stately, rather prudish, carefully manicured, and pleasant smelling wife. He read the letter all the way through, blinked, wiped at his eyes – for they seemed to suddenly blur everything – and sat for a moment staring at his office wall before reading it again, slower this time.

Dear Gorge,

It is with little regret and great satisfaction that I pen this letter to you now. By the time you receive it, I will have left behind our modest home at 10 Will Bury Ln. and arrived at the sprawling veranda of Rodrigo Rodriguez Scardina’s cattle ranch in Brazil. You and I will have at last ended this farce of a marriage officially – for the vicar Williams assures me that your desertion of me and the children to that God-awful southernmost post is more than cause enough to file for divorce. If it is not, however, adultery on my part should seal the deal entirely. I warned you that if you left you would live to regret it. I imagine you assumed that threat was not something I was prepared to enact.

Miss Electra Yellowsmile appeared in the doorway, her luminous blue eyes attentive. “What was that, sir? I didn’t understand what you were saying.”

It was at that moment the Gorge realized he had been reading the letter aloud. There seemed to be something wrong with his vision, which blurred and sharpened at irregular intervals. And there was a most tremendous throbbing in his temples the likes of which he had never experienced before. A voice rasped out:

“Mrs. Felicia Elderbatch has filed for divorce.”

The voice was a man’s. Since only he and Miss Electra occupied this room, logic told him that the voice was his. It got louder.

“She has taken Phebe, Edward, Maurice, Andrew, Prudence and even Methuselah the dog to South America to live with some bloke named Rodrigo! Do you hear me, Miss Yellowsmile? My wife has left me and filed for divorce!”

“Oh,” Electra responded, a dimple appearing in her pixie-like chin as she frowned, lips downturned in a perfect half-arc. “How very unwise of her.”

Join us if you’re game.

Note to SF/F Writers: Random House’s Hydra Imprint Has Appallingly Bad Contract Terms

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Xina Marie Uhl:

And another big publisher does all it can to screw authors over.

Originally posted on Whatever:

Random House recently started Hydra, an electronic-only imprint for science fiction stories and short novels. But, as noted by Writer Beware here, the terms in a Hydra deal sheet shown to them are pretty damn awful:

* No advance.

* The author is charged “set-up costs” for editing, artwork, sale, marketing, publicity — i.e., all the costs a publisher is has been expected to bear. The “good news” is that the author is not charged up front for these; they’re taken out of the backend. If the book is ever published in paper, costs are deducted for those, too.

* The contract asks for primary and subsidiary rights for the term of copyright.

Writer Beware notes, appropriately, that this information comes from only one deal sheet it’s seen from Hydra. But, you know what: One attempt at this sort of appalling, rapacious behavior on the part of Random House is bad

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This Might Be the World’s First Book on Color Palettes

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This Might Be the World’s First Book on Color Palettes

Xina Marie Uhl:

One of my very first blog articles was on the History of Color (http://xuwriter.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/color-me-intrigued-history/). Fascinating stuff!

Originally posted on TwistedSifter:

dutch color pantone swatch book 1692 by a boogert (2)

At Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France you will find an 894-page book from 1692 dedicated entirely to color. One A. Boogert is credited as the author to this fascinating manual written in Dutch.

According to Erik Kwakkel, Boogert describes how to make watercolor paints; explaining how to mix colors and change their tone by adding varying amounts of water. To illustrate his instructions, each facing page is filled with various shades of the color in question. There’s even an amazing index at the end of the book for every color listed.

Thanks to e-corpus the entire book can be seen in high-resolution online and you can zoom in and out of every single page. If you like old, handmade books, definitely check out the link and explore.

[e-corpus via Erik Kwakkel, Colossal, Gizmodo]

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Tempus Fugit! And works in progress ….

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Hello all!

I hope November is treating you right. I’m trucking along. I joined a “mini” NaNoWriMo challenge over on Livejournal with a goal of 750 words per day. I’ve made it every day so far although I can’t say it’s always been easy. I did switch to writing a nonfiction article for several of the days in order to get me through over the weekend. Whatever works, right?

I want to let everyone know about a promotion opportunity that I’ll be participating in this year – and that you can participate in as well. It’s called READ TUESDAY and it takes place on December 9, 2014. Learn more on the website http://readtuesday.com/

Now for my work in progress (WIPpet) which is supposed to take place on Wednesday every week. I’m just a little early. And we’ll gloss over the fact that I haven’t participated at all for the past two weeks. I’ve been doing stuff. Making mosaics of dubious quality, selling cockatiels, riding bikes with my dogs, taking painkillers for an ornery hip, and eating FAR too much. Among other things. And time management? So not my forte. Or even calendar management. I should just accept that about myself and remain an intermittent participant, it seems.

Ahem.

Okay, K.L. Schwengel is the organizer of this weekly affair, which involves posting a date-related snippet of one’s work in progress. I’m working on an alternate history of sorts which takes place in a slightly different version of the world from 1880-1930. The theme is that it involves icy regions of the earth – the Antarctica and the Arctic and other desolate and fascinating places and the hunky dudes people who inhabit them (thus, the series is called “Icebound”). Here is the beginning from volume 2, “All Mouth and No Trousers,” currently in progress. For your enjoyment here is 11 sentences for the month of November and an extra sentence as a bonus. Some of you may remember Electa from previous snippets. Written quick and dirty, without editing, which is probably all too apparent. Oh, I should probably note that I know nothing about military ranks, British or otherwise, but that is something I will fix before finishing the story.

Of all the foes Commandant Gorge Elderbatch had fought in his thirty-odd years as a British naval officer – enemy combatants, pirates, insubordinates, pestilence, penury, and probably some other he couldn’t think of off the fly – one stood out above the others. One who was the most difficult, the most intractable, the most completely infuriating. That one was his secretary, Miss Electa Yellowsmile.

Oh, she looked harmless enough. Young enough to be his daughter – twenty or twenty-five at the most – all of 105 pounds soaking wet, most slender and willowy, doll-like with her perfect blonde hair and clear wide blue eyes, her long and delicate fingers and tapping away on the Smith Premier typewriter, unfazed by his rather imposing (if he did say so himself) presence. 

“You will most certainly retype that order, Miss Yellowsmile,” he instructed, jabbing his finger at the trash bin like a bayonet. She had taken one look at the order for two boxes of premium cigars and six tins of grade A snuff and ripped it down the center before depositing it in the waste can.

Outrageous! Indubitably and irrefutably outrageous!

Electa continued typing for several excruciating moments, posture erect, crisp lace collar shockingly white and open slightly to reveal the unblemished skin of her pale neck. Her eyes flicked to his scribbled notes at her right and her smooth, painted red fingernails created a discordant staccato on the keys with practiced efficiency.

“Miss Yellowsmile, do me the honor of looking me in the eye when you commit mutiny!”

That got her attention.

That’s it for this week. Join in if you like:

Book Review: Lower Education by A.M. Leibowitz

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Lower EducationLower Education by A. M. Leibowitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hard-nosed educational consultant Phin Patterson is used to breezing into town, analyzing troubled schools and taking off before his superiors bring the hatchet down, disrupting the status quo. When he takes a job in small town New York, though, he figures he’ll do what he’s always done and be finished in no time. No harm, no foul. This town is different, though. For one thing, it doesn’t take administrative assistant Dani long to figure out that Phin’s hiding something. And then there’s deliciously attractive school psychologist Alex, who’s someone he has a significant past with. It seems, though, that Phin’s past is now wrapped up with his present and it’s proving harder than he thought to keep the two separate.

Lower Education is a slow build kind of story, one which relies on multi-faceted characterization and strong dialogue to guide the reader through the tale. What it lacks in narrative tension it makes up for in a real world premise, a well-rounded setting, and characters who juggle work and home. I particularly liked how refreshingly open they were about their sexuality. The heart of the story lies in the relationships, like it does for any satisfying romance. Most satisfying is the front row seat to savor the fissures that appear in bad boy Phin’s carefully constructed emotional walls when he slowly lets love in

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Purchase here: Lower Education

Say What? Lots of Languages in Charlemagne’s Realm.

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Xina Marie Uhl:

One of the challenges faced by historical writers….

Originally posted on Anna Belfrage:

KimBookPhotoSmallerI have a thing about languages. So much, in fact, that I would warn you from ever initiating a conversation about the subject, as chances are you’ll be quite bleary-eyed by the time I finish my little lecture about the Indo european languages. Turns out, I am not alone in my fascination for languages, and today I welcome Kim Rendfeld to my blog to give you a little flavour of the polyglot court Charlemagne ruled over. Kim has recently published her second book, The Ashes of Heavens Pillar, and both of her novels are set in that somewhat hazy past we tend to fob off as the dark Ages. Somehow, I don’t believe Charlemagne would agree – or Kim, who on her excellent blog gives multiple examples of just how vibrant this era was – plus she brings it all to heaving life in her books! So, dear Kim…

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