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Will The French Say NON To Ebooks?

The French love their language.  You might remember the resistance the country had to American words on McDonald’s menus.  Or perhaps you’ve visited Paris, confident in a basic command of the language, only to find yourself rebuffed when asking for directions, most likely due to a mispronounced word or a disagreeable accent.

Are French publishing houses any different when it comes to literary innovations? As of a year ago, when asked about their digital strategy, a major publishing house replied that they didn’t have one, according to a recent “Pbs.org” article.  Part of the reluctance has to do with a law fixing book prices, passed in the 80’s, which prevents mega-stores from glutting the market and also sets book prices well above what readers expect to pay for ebooks.  Complicating matters further, ebooks are taxed at close to 20 percent, because they are not classified as books, which have to bound.

Despite a slow beginning when it comes to digital publishing, correspondent Fabrice Neuman predicts the French may be “very good race finishers.”  For example, in an effort to make way for the ebook, the French government recently redefined what constitutes a book to include ebooks and challenged the European union regarding book tax laws.  At the 33rd Paris Book Fair this year, participants attended an “International Digital Publishing Forum,” and entrepreneurs have come up with a site for books similar to Netflix, called Youboox, where readers can read books online.

Still, nay-sayers remain.  A recent study by the Paris-Dauphine Foundation found that “one out of five French people has already read an e-book, but also that more than half of them declared they would never touch one.”

What will happen next?  Je ne sais pas.

Read the entire “Pbs.org” article.

 

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Mark Saunders Presented at San Miguel Writers Conference

 

Mark Saunders, author of Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak, a humorous memoir about dropping out and moving to San Miguel de Allende, presented a humor workshop for writers, titled “Oedipus and Hamlet Walk into a Bar,” at the popular San Miguel Writers Conference in February.  He was joined by keynote speakers/writers Cheryl Strayed (Wild) and Luis Alberto Urrea, pictured at left.

“If you do not know the writer Luis Alberto Urrea,” Saunders declares in a recent Fuze blog post, “I urge you to check him out. He gave the best keynote address I’ve ever watched or listened to. He didn’t just knock it out of the park; he knocked it out of several parks. With great animation, he told funny and intimate stories about his parents, his loving but idiosyncratic aunts, and what it was like growing up first in Tijuana and then later in San Diego. Some of these family members and stories ended up in his novels. You mi

ght want to start with his novel Into the Beautiful North, which was selected as the Big Read book here in San Miguel this year. Coincidentally, the National Endowment for the Arts in the USA picked it as one of their Big Read books, as well (ahem, we picked it first).”

In addition to Saunders’ blog post, he also included gorgeous pictures of the conference, all taken by professional photographer Charlotte Bell.  To view more conference photos, especially of the Mexican Fiesta, pictured above, which Saunders calls, “the best party, bar none and hands down, I’ve ever attended,” go to www.charlottebell.com.

If you want a free pdf copy of Mark Saunders’ workshop workbook, please email him at:msaunderswriter@yahoo.com

 

Read Mark’s entire blog post on the Fuze blog.

 
 
 
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Neo-Nazi Accusation Rocks Publishing World

 

According to the ARD, a German television network, Amazon is scrambling to do damage control after one of their security contractors, HESS (the name of Hitler’s deputy), was accused of harassing immigrant workers, and wearing uniforms designed by a Berlin brand linked to neo-Nazis.  It’s unclear if Amazon knew about the company’s tendencies, but this is not the only mark on their reputation in Germany.  Some of the company’s abuses–paying lower wages than advertised on job applications–have attracted the attention of the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, who is opening an investigation and threatening to revoke Amazon contractor licenses.

The accusations expand beyond HESS and unfair wages.  According to The Independent, the intimidation by security personnel reaches the unimaginable at Amazon’s seven logistics centers in Germany, including “threats of random staff searches, constant pressure to perform better and firing of workers who complained… employees’ rooms being searched, and staff being frisked at breakfast and constantly watched.”

One publisher, Christopher Schroer, has gone so far as to write an “adieu letter” to the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, in which he complains about Amazon’s exorbitant cut of each sale–50%–as well as the company’s tricks to avoid taxes, and hiring of outsourced staffers who have little rights and protections.  As for Amazon’s treatment of temporary, immigrant workers, Schroer says, “these people, your employees, your ‘human capital,’ you treat just as unfairly as you already have treated us.”  In conclusion, Schroer writes, “You are, you never were and you never will be a company that treats people like people, publishers like partners and customers like kings. You are not a company that is committed to the cultural treasure of the book. You are not a company that has social and ethical principles.”

Unfortunately, the problem is not just in Germany.  In recent years, stories have spreadabout Amazon warehouses in the U.S. with no air conditioning in brutal heat, as well as the practice of hiring temporary workers to keep wages low and prevent unionizing.

Why does Amazon continue to gain momentum?  In Germany, speculators claim there are no other options.  In the United States, some feel the same, claiming that other online book sellers aren’t as cheap or organized.

Fuze poses these question to us all: knowing what is behind these cut-rate prices, is it worth the Amazon Prime free shipping, or other perks?  When will there be no other choice but Amazon?

 

Read the entire Shelf Awareness article.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

The Next Big Thing Tags Molly Tinsley

mollyforblogThe Next Big Thing is a sort of combination of chain letter and a “tag-you’re-it” interview game for writers. Molly Tinsley, author of Entering the Blue Stone, was tagged by Sarah Pleydell (see February 12th blog) to interview herself about her most recent book with the following 9 designated questions, post it somewhere on the internet as soon as possible, and then tag five writers for the next week to do the same. Molly’s answers are below.

What is the title/working title of the book?

The title is Entering the Blue Stone.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

In my parents’ final years, my siblings and I had to move them out of their home into an independent living apartment in a continuing care facility, then to the assisted living wing, and finally to the nursing home on the bottom floor.  A pretty common experience nowadays, but it feels extraordinary when it happens to you, a cross between a comedy of errors, a crusade for humane treatment, and, of course, a prolonged funeral.  In order to maintain my sanity, I transcribed events almost as they were happening, including conversations verbatim.  No matter how overwhelming the chaos and the loss, I would tell myself, in the end I will have something saved, which I can write about.  Out of this effort to contain the experience, I wound up with a cautionary tale, a sort of how-not-to.  But it also led me to insights that have enriched my life ever since.

What genre does your book fall under?

Entering the Blue Stone is a literary memoir.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

My father, the General, would be played by James Stewart; my mother, by Ava Gardner.  If I could bring these actors of an older generation back to life, they would embody perfectly my pavaarents, who were newly-weds during World War II.  I wouldn’t mind being played by one of my favorites, Emma Thompson, and Sigourney Weaver could be my sister.  My brother Chris is a dead ringer for Tom Selleck, so why not?

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Balancing comedy and heartbreak, Molly Best Tinsley tells the story of her military parents’ final battle and her own attempt to protect the quality of their lives from the harsh practices of a continuing care facility.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It took about a year—which is fast for me—but I was working from notes that I’d taken conscientiously throughout the experience.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to document my parents’ end-of-life challenges in an honest, compassionate account that would recreate them on the page and also allow readers to avoid some of the mistakes my siblings and I made in caring for them.  I particularly hoped to demystify Alzheimer’s disease:  it does eventually destroy cognitive function, but it does not strip its sufferers of their humanity.

I’m a story-teller, not a psychologist, or physician, and I believe that a boots-on-the-ground, anecdotal approach communicates information more powerfully than an abstract power point presentation.  Stories lodge in the memory; they bring our fellow human beings to life in a nuanced, three-dimensional world.  They remind us that we are never in this struggle alone.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Besides exploring end-of-life issues, Entering the Blue Stone is both a love story and a portrait of a military family.  Diametrically different in temperament, my parents forged a powerful bond in the process of unmaking then remaking their home every couple years, on air bases across the country and around the world.  Neither had strong friendships with other adults, and perpetually on the move, we hardly ever saw members of our extended family.  As Entering the Blue Stone shows, the family created its own microcosm.  Meanwhile, there was the constant pressure on all of us to present a flawless front.  For if an officer can’t control his own family, how is he effectively going to lead his troops?  Thus life became a performance—we acted out the drama of the perfect family.  When Parkinson’s disease then Alzheimer’s struck my parents, it’s an understatement to say that no one had any idea what to do.

Was your book self-published or represented by an agency?

Entering the Blue Stone was published by a small, independent press located in Ashland, Oregon, Fuze Publishing.

 

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Words and Pictures… from the 2013 San Miguel Writers’ Conference

 
By Mark Saunders

Mark Saunders, Author of "Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak"

Mark Saunders, Author of “Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak”

This year I was privileged to be a presenter, aka a member of faculty, at the 2013 San Miguel Writers’Conference and Literary Festival. I was also a volunteer and managed the workshops, which for the first time were held in tents as well as conference rooms. In February of 2006, I attended the first-ever San Miguel Writers’ Conference.

What a difference seven years can make. In 2006, fewer than 30 people attended the initial conference; in fact, we had more volunteers than attendees that year. This year, the conference had in excess of 200 attendees—closer to 300 counting single-ticket purchases—and something in the neighborhood of 800 people attended each of the first two keynote addresses.

Full conference attendees could go to their choice of seven out of 56 workshops. I gave a humor workshop for writers, titled “Oedipus and Hamlet Walk into a Bar.” Forty enthusiastic writers were in my workshop and it was a great, interactive 90 minutes. (If you want a free pdf copy of my workshop workbook, please email me at: msaunderswriter@yahoo.com)
   
If you do not know the writer Luis Alberto Urrea, I urge you to check him out. He gave the best keynote address I’ve ever watched or listened to. He didn’t just knock it out of the park; he knocked it out of several parks. With great animation, he told funny and intimate stories about his parents, his loving but idiosyncratic aunts, and what it was like growing up first in Tijuana and then later in San Diego. Some of these family members and stories ended up in his novels. You might want to start with his novel Into the Beautiful North, which was selected as the Big Read book here in San Miguel this year. Coincidentally, the National Endowment for the Arts in the USA picked it as one of their Big Read books, as well (ahem, we picked it first).
There were three other keynote addresses. The opening keynote address was by Cheryl Strayed (Wild) and she opened on a strong note, setting a positive tone for the conference. Btw, look for the movie based on her book Wild, with Reese Witherspoon in the role of Cheryl.
As it turned out, a common but unplanned thread connecting both Strayed’s speech and Urrea’s speech was the influence of parents. Both authors expressed a regret that their parents had not lived long enough to share in their success.
The conference tagline is: The Creative Crossroads of the Americas. And it truly is a crossroads. Once a year in mid-February, the conference brings together Canadian, American, and Mexican writers and readers for a celebration of writing. There were so many highlights and bragging rights about the conference, that I’m going to give you taste with a few photos, all taken by professional photographer Charlotte Bell. Don’t forget to check out her many other photos of the conference, especially the Mexican Fiesta, which was probably the best party, bar none and hands down, I’ve ever attended. To see more conference photos, go to www.charlottebell.com

I hope to see you at next year’s conference (for more details on this year’s conference, don’t forget to visit www. http://sanmiguelwritersconference2013.org/

Luis Urrea (author of "Into the Beautiful North") delivered the best keynote address I’ve ever heard—and I’ve been to a lot of conferences.

Luis Urrea (author of “Into the Beautiful North”) delivered the best keynote address I’ve ever heard—and I’ve been to a lot of conferences.

Cheryl Strayed, author of the best-selling sensation "Wild," set the tone with an enthusiastic opening keynote address.

Cheryl Strayed, author of the best-selling sensation “Wild,” set the tone with an enthusiastic opening keynote address.

We had eight 90-minute workshops running simultaneously twice a day, in tents (for the first time) and conference rooms.

We had eight 90-minute workshops running simultaneously twice a day, in tents (for the first time) and conference rooms.

Audiences enjoyed the general sessions and keynote addresses.

Audiences enjoyed the general sessions and keynote addresses.

The book store was a popular site, busy from opening to closing.

The book store was a popular site, busy from opening to closing.

Perfect weather made it easy to enjoy the outdoors with friends.

Perfect weather made it easy to enjoy the outdoors with friends.

Many attendees took time out to read.

Many attendees took time out to read.

The Mexican Fiesta had it all. From indigenous dancers…

The Mexican Fiesta had it all. From indigenous dancers…

… to local cuisine, hot off the grill…

… to local cuisine, hot off the grill…

… to a closing fireworks display. See you at next year’s conference!

… to a closing fireworks display. See you at next year’s conference!

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Richard III’s Bones, Found Under a Parking Lot?

 

Shakespeare’s Richard III describes the medieval king as “rudely stamp’d” and “deformed, unfinish’d,” because of an affliction today known as scoliosis.  In the tragedy, Richard’s “ugly” appearance parallels his actions as his jealousy compels him towards deceit and murder in order to win the kingship and his betrayed brother’s widow, Anne.  

Richard III, in real life as in the play, came to an untimely end at the hands of those who despised him.  According to the New York Times, experts recently confirmed the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton, seen at left, exhumed from beneath a parking lot.  According to excavators, his burial was plain and hasty, his body stuffed into a shallow grave by anxious friars who feared recrimination by his murderers, the avenging Tudors.  

The wonders of modern science and investigation–DNA testing of his close ancestors, bone analysis uncovering a privileged diet befitting a king, and, of course the giveaway twisted spine–reveal that the skeleton is a likely match to Richard III’s ravaged body.

The discovery unearthed both Richard’s skeleton and a hope held by select scholars that the renewed attention would help revitalize the crippled king’s reputation.  New York Times correspondent John F. Burns says these scholars see Richard as “a man with a strong sympathy for the rights of the common man, who was deeply wronged by his vengeful Tudor successors.”   Some in this group even want the misjudged king to have a proper burial, in Westminster Abbey–perhaps to make up, in some small way, for centuries of slander.

What do you think?  Leave your comments on the Fuze Facebook page.

Read the entire New York Times article.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Cologne Bursts with Favorable Reviews

“Anglotopia” describes the significant historical value of Cologne:  “The story of an unwilling German au pair joining a troubled family in London in 1960, this novel covers a point in England’s history that I have not given much thought to. So much is written about London during World War II, and London in the swinging sixties, but this is the first time I can recall reading about what it was like for people in between.”

“The writing is gorgeous”, “Anglotopia” continues, “and full of heartrending emotion. It was a pleasure to read, and a pleasure for me to recommend.”

Read the entire “Anglotopia” Review.

Southern Maryland’s The County Times on the imprint of WWII on the 60’s

 Alex Panos, Staff Writer for The County Times,interviewed Sarah Pleydell, author of Cologne.  “The story is seen through the eyes of two young sisters,” Panos says, “who play many war games, and even set up the Berlin Wall in their bedroom.”  Author Pleydell, who drew from her own experience growing up in London in the 60’s to write Cologne, says, “the lingering afterglow” impacted the next generation in London.

 Read the entire article in The County Times out of Southern Maryland.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
 
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