Thursday, November 25, 2010

Words Used For Not So Sincere Ends

As much as I love words, whether reading or writing them, especially in the form of fiction, I recognize that they are tools, that language is a tool, and it can be used in variety of ways. Just like, say, a knife, which can be used to either cut food in preparation for cooking or as a weapon to commit a crime, words can be used also for something useful, or entertaining, or as a means to lie and manipulate. It thus becomes a matter of having a critical mind in gauging whatever we read to discern just how the words are being used.

So, here are six subtle ways that words can be used to disguise facts and the truth. Being subtle, they can slip quite easily through our critical filters, but if we're a bit more aware of them, we can know when what we're reading isn't entirely on the level.

The Greatest Science-Fiction Story Ever Written

I had a good laugh with this blog entry about The Greatest Science-Fiction Story Ever Written. It really had me going there for a while, and the ending was completely unexpected! :D

The Gruesome Origins Of 5 Popular Fairy Tales

For a more scholarly understanding of a fairy tale's history, you can check out the link in this old blog post. But for a humorously sarcastic take on five fairy tales, check out this link from The Gruesome Origins Of 5 Popular Fairy Tales. The stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, and Snow White that we know are shown to be less filtered in their original forms. An excerpt:

We know what's you're thinking. "What the hell is Cracked writing articles about fairy tales for? That's kids stuff! Give us more articles about the Top 10 Transformers Characters, or Worst Dressed Thundercat!" And that's good, because that means our Spyware technology is getting better than ever.

The thing about fairy tales, though, is that they weren't always for kids. Back when these stories were first told around campfires and in taverns in some medieval village there were very few kids present. These were racy, violent parables to distract peasants after a hard day's dirt farming, and some of them made Hostel look like, well, kid's stuff.

Top 5 Ways To Alienate Readers

From Selling Books, the Top 5 Ways To Alienate Readers:

1. Poor spelling and grammar.
2. Set-up with no pay-off.
3. Made up language.
4. Killing off main characters.
5. Verbal diarrhea.

Click here to read the whole piece.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pakinggan Pilipinas: The Double Issue

PGS contributor Elyss Punsalan of Pakinggan Pilipinas has put up the teasers for the coming December uploads of her fiction podcast site. Next month, we can expect not one, but two podcasts, both taken from PGS issues!

The first one is "Twilight Of The Magi" by PGS contributor Dominique Cimafranca, a Christmas story from the PGS Holiday issue.

The second podcast is "God Is The Space Between" by PGS contributor Maryanne Moll, a crime story from the soon-to-be-released PGS crime issue.

Head on over to listen to the teasers!

Oh, and by the way, Elyss also has some new online fiction up over at Bewildering Stories. Check out her tale, Pursuit Of The Litaniera. Congratulations, Elyss!

Ebooks And The Independent Publisher

Here's an article, Ebooks And The Independent Publisher, that talks about the myths of going digital, and how this relates to both small and big publishers. An excerpt:

Many participants involved in independent-press publishing have by now built good careers and successful companies by keeping clearly in mind what they can do really well versus what the big corporate publishing conglomerates can do.

Successful independent publishing is about niche titles, moderate author advances, low initial print runs, modest publicity campaigns, nickel squeezing left, right, and center, and a marketing approach that starts conservatively and builds incrementally if the market signals are positive enough.

Take these methods and turn them on their heads, and you have a description of how the corporate giants work. The way good independent publishers (and independent-press distributors too) get in trouble is by heeding the siren song of big-time publishing: “If I could only afford the $50,000 advance, or the 12-city author tour, I could be a contender!”

This is not to say that independent publishers don’t sometimes sell a huge number of copies of some titles. I have either published or distributed hundreds of titles that have sold in the range of 100,000 to 500,000 copies—easily enough to make the bestseller lists if their sales had occurred in a short period of time. But only one did make the list. Most had good sales over many months, some had solid sales over many years, and one of them has kept the lights on here for over 20 years.

Still, independent presses should not aspire to the big-publisher model, which, in terms of trade books, is not, in fact, very profitable. If we publish a hot title, we can enjoy the ride, but our focus should be on mastering the niche publishing model, which can be low risk and quite profitable.

Should there be an independent-press model for handling e-books, just as there is for printed books? I think there will be, but first let’s get past some false hopes.

The advent of the e-book has put many independent publishers into a state of wild excitement because they imagine that they will now be able to compete directly with the big publishers without having to invest any money to speak of.

Two big ideas are driving this excitement.

First, e-books eliminate the expense of a large print run. Any number of electronic copies can be produced at negligible cost, and the cost of warehousing and shipping these copies is trivial.

Second, with e-books, publicity and expenses largely disappear because of the Internet. Just arrange for your title to go viral on the blogs and social networking sites, and huge results will be achieved without a large publicity budget or fancy connections. Who cares about a New York Times book review now that we have the Web?

Both these ideas are false.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Top Trends Of 2010: Growth Of EBooks and EReaders

This article touches on the growth of Ebooks and EReaders in 2010. I wonder what 2011 will be like? An excerpt from the article:

A recent report from the Association of American Publishers stated that eBooks sales grew 193% between January and August 2010. In dollar terms, eBook sales for January to August were up from $89.8 million in 2009 to $263 million in 2010.

What's more, according to the Association of American Publishers, eBooks now make up 9.03% of total consumer book sales - compared to 3.31% at the close of 2009.

It's difficult to get sales data from the eReader vendors. However Amazon was vocal throughout 2010 on the overall trends.

In January Amazon announced that it was selling 6 Kindle eBooks for every 10 physical books, when both editions are available. Later, in October, Amazon announced that sales of Kindle eBooks had passed sales of hardcover books. Specifically, over the three months prior to October, Amazon said that it had sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books.

At the end of October Amazon announced that for its top 10 best-selling books, customers bought the Kindle edition twice as often as the print copy. According to Amazon's VP for Kindle, Steve Kessel, Kindle eBook sales also topped print sales of hardcovers and paperbacks for its top 25, top 100 and top 1,000 bestsellers.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Expression Through Social Media

Because Presidential speechwriter Mai Mislang tweeted what she tweeted, it has begotten these two articles, which I bring up because they react to our capability of putting up on the web whatever we want to express through our Facebook status updates, our tweets, and in particular, through our blogs.

The first is this article, The Petty Perils of Tech and Sosyal Ek-Ek. An excerpt:

First it was blogs and blogsites and blogorrhea — opening up all that digital slumbook space to kids who think they enjoy anonymity behind virtual facelessness so that they can turn into an army of trolls, flamers, haters, and ranters — in brief a disputatious lot.

Then you had Multiply and WordPress and everyone became a photographer cum diarist, welcoming and pushing the envelope on all the shareware like so much block rosary rituals. So that it leads to phishing aggravation with Boxbe et al. that even tries to shame one into lighting candles in the name of feigned camaraderie.

All this excited, excitable talk about the glories of new media and sosyal ek-ek-working can really be only signposts to something possibly overrated. The jury should still be out on whether some benefits — like tweeting disasters and calls for relief aid, or finding long-lost cousins via Facebook to get up to speed on who's won any Lotto draw — outweigh the nakedness of public spectacle, or expose the sloth of universal interest in what anyone may have had for breakfast, or how many corny pictures one can take at a barbecue party, thence parade onscreen as an imposition of generosity.

But then geeks, techies and faddists tend to view everything new with rose-colored glasses, like Manong Johnny who only wanted to make you happy. So the darned bandwagon begins to creak under the weight of too many cock-eyed optimists hailing a brave new world called the kingdom of sharing.

Whatever happened to the fine memory of Groucho Marx begging off from joining any group that would have him?

Sure, it fills the vanity void, expands virtual friendships. But what about the sensitivities of the poor lot who are defriended, or maybe worse, ignored, denied entry into private settings, or laughed out of an unsolicited tag?

I still don't understand why one can't just join a specific e-loop, which is like having a more intimate soiree, rather than have to cast one's lot with a street hoedown where stalkers can turn up to foist their graceless manners and bad grammar on non-peers of greater cachet.

Well, if I reflect a little deeper, I do understand. After all, there have been religions since that first crack of lightning hit a tree, and it happened to have been witnessed by humanoid eyes. Had the event escaped observation, then it would have simply been Zen — like that other tree soundlessly crashing in a forest where there are no lurkers around.

All this tweeting and FB paging may indeed be the brave new world's version of one hand clapping — if only cuz the other hand may be too busy reaching out for the next novelty, so that no consensual applause is ever generated.

Okay, say that I'm so yesterday. Why, yes. We had real friends then. And we knew our manners, even when we played tag.

And the second is On The Petty And The Sosyal: A Defense Of Social Media. An excerpt:

This is about the Internet and the ways we use it. It’s about Twitter and tweeting, and why it is never just about responding to someone with 140 characters or less. It’s about the old pointing a finger at the young and new, highlighting our lack of manners, maybe our lack of knowledge and intelligence, too. It’s about being told that we are sosyal because we are online. It’s about pettiness.

Because only one who isn’t online every day, who doesn’t see it as part of his life, who doesn’t care much for it unless he’s got something published there (though the question does become why does he even publish here?), would talk about the Pinoy’s online behavior as if we were only being introduced to it now. There are meanwhile many things to say about one who sees the demonizing of someone who displays ill-breeding on Twitter to be exactly the same as the victimization of a woman in a Hayden Kho video. But I digress.

Anyone who has been engaging with the virtual Pinoy world, maybe someone who has tried blogging, would know that while in the mid-90s anonymous Blogspot blogs were the schtick, in the past decade or so, anonymity has slowly and surely been looked upon with disdain. You only need to look at current and relevant Pinoy blogs to see that most, if not all of them, have named owners usually with profiles and CVs to boot. Anonymous blogs still pop up once in a while, but these lose readership quickly enough, a measure really of an audience’s insistence on knowing whom they’re reading and why he’s writing. To a certain extent, anonymity has come to be seen as nothing but cowardly.

And so to even mention anonymity as a function of the Internet in this country at this point, is to reveal one’s limited experience of the Pinoy virtual community. To say that the Pinoy blogging community is still a disputatious lot is to point not to its immaturity, but to the fact that you’re out of touch and wrongfully judging something you don’t know about.

Meanwhile what we do know is that more than anything, it’s the insistence on personality and identity that has allowed for Twitter and Facebook to succeed. In these spaces we know whom we’re talking to, and they are “real" to us, albeit virtually. Our Facebook friends and Twitter followers know that when they respond to our statuses and tweets, they are interacting with a real person and not a machine.

This also means we are always ready for argument, because not everyone will agree with what we say. This means we are mindful of what we say, knowing when the 140 character-count will not suffice for the full idea, or when the 420-character count requires that we put in something in the FB comment box. This means we know when something is just about the funnies, e.g., I actually follow @Jesus on Twitter, and did too @PCOSmachine post-May elections.

Perhaps the solution lies in coming to the realization that discourtesy can and has made itself manifest both in reality and virtually. Wherever and whenever humans interact, be it online or face-to-face or group-to-group, the possibility of conflict arises. It's not like rudeness only came into existence with the invention of social media, after all. It then becomes a matter of treating others with respect and tolerance, and carrying ourselves with dignity, whether we're communicating with our computers and other gadgets, or through direct contact.


My thanks to The Bibliophile Stalker for sending me this link of a computer keyboard that, with each key pressed, makes the sound of a typewriter! Nice!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Filipino Book Bloggers' Filipino Friday November 19, 2010

Through Chachic--and I hope others won't mind--I'm this week's host for Filipino Book Bloggers' Filipino Friday. :) Filipino Friday is Chachic's idea, and what it is is a question every Friday which others can answer by leaving a comment, with the hopes that an interesting discussion will follow. So, here we go!

Plagiarism, and it's relative, copyright infringement, are big issues nowadays. Internationally, there is the Cooks Source magazine matter, which may lead to the closure of the publication and has resulted in the notoriety of its publisher, Judith Griggs, so much so that her last name is now a verb for having your copyright, um, infringed (to be "Grigged", so to speak). The issue seems to be settling down (well, more or less), and not without a little help from the "Internets".

Not yet over is the local plagiarism issue, where the Supreme Court has exonerated one of its own of the accusation despite the fact that, despite all evidence, it is clearly a case of unintentional plagiarism. The Supreme Court decided so because, for them, it was accidental and there was no "malicious intent". Many have spoken against the SC's decision. In fact, plagiarism may not just be of texts, but of music, film, and, to add to our local issues, even perhaps the artwork for a country's international tourism campaign.

Related to us as readers: granted that none of us like plagiarism or copyright infringement, we must also keep in mind that old saying, "There are no more original stories". Some even go so far as to say, "Nothing is original anymore". To many, especially those who are well-read of stories from the present, past, and way-in-the-past, all stories can find their roots in some older tale (the number of original stories varies, depending on the theorist); what changes is the treatment of and approach to the tale. Taking the popular Harry Potter story, for example, we find this page, detailing where some parts may have been influenced by other, older works.

So, on this issue, here are some questions: Can you recognize in your favorite stories any familiar elements in an older book, and if not, do you think you can find one? And what are your opinions on the Cooks Source issue, as well as the local ones with regard to the Supreme Court's decision, and the Department of Tourism's logo for their planned advertising campaign?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Are The Coming Holidays The Season Of The E-Reader?

Here are two articles that speculate so.

The first is Great Holiday Expectations For E-Readers. An excerpt:

Publishers and booksellers are expecting that instead of giving your mother a new Nicholas Sparks novel or your father a David Baldacci thriller in the hardcovers that traditionally fly off the shelves and into wrapping paper at this time of year, you might elect to convert them to e-reading.

“This is the tipping-point season for e-readers, there’s no question,” said Peter Hildick-Smith, president of the Codex Group, a book market research company. “A lot more books are going to be sold in e-book format. It also means that a lot fewer people are going to be shopping in bookstores.”

Only a small slice of the book-buying public has bought an e-reader. About nine million devices are in circulation in the United States, according to Forrester Research.

That could jump in the coming weeks as consumers begin their holiday shopping, analysts predict. According to Forrester, at least 10.3 million e-readers could be in circulation by the end of the year.

And many of them will be bought for other people. Research from Simba Information, which provides data and advice to publishers, has shown that 1 in 5 of those who own a Kindle, Amazon’s dedicated e-reader, received it as a gift.

In a recent Consumer Reports poll, 10 percent of the adults surveyed said they planned to give an e-reader as a gift this year, up from 4 percent in 2009.

That has corresponded with an increase in e-book sales. Two years ago, publishers said that sales of e-books constituted 1 percent of total book sales, but the figure is now closer to 9 or 10 percent.

“There’s no question that this is the year of the gadget, and this year’s gadget is the e-reader,” said Geoffrey Jennings, the owner of Rainy Day Books, an independent bookstore in Fairway, Kan.

But Mr. Jennings said that sales of print books at his store were even stronger than last year, and that he believed the e-reading craze could be limited.

“A lot of people are going to get these things and they’re going to go, ‘This isn’t like reading a book,’” he said. “Then again, you’ll have people who get them and then say, this is a fun gadget. But people get sick of gadgets after a while.”

Publishers insisted that they were not worried about the spread of e-readers. “We’ll see a lot of reading devices under the tree, which means we’ll sell a lot of e-books,” said Tim McCall, the director of online sales for Penguin Group USA.

Carolyn Reidy, president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster, said she expected e-book sales to shoot up on Christmas Day, when people open up their e-readers and immediately start buying books.

“The digital will be an added plus to what looks like we’re starting to pull out of — a very lackluster market,” Ms. Reidy said. “That will make for a very happy year after two Christmases that have not been very happy.”

The second is The Ebooks Are Coming! The Ebooks Are Coming! An excerpt:

Throughout the country, what looks like a coordinated army of retailers have set up big retail displays—always near the front door of their stores—hawking Kindles, Nooks, Sony Readers, Kobos, iPads, and all the other hopefuls in the ereader race. Prepare to be corralled into a test drive when you hit Wal Mart, Target, Best Buy and every other shopping destination this holiday season.

Until just recently, and despite a lot of excitement, ebooks made up only a tiny proportion of all books sold. But now the indication is that’s changing, and changing fast.

Over on there are reviews of 76 different ereader models from 17 manufacturers.

Remember this recent entry about CD-R King's PhP3,990.00 e-reader? I haven't seen any yet at any of their stores, but I wonder if they'll have this ready and available by December, just in time for holiday shopping.

I confess to have gone digital: I went and bought a Kindle just some weeks ago. It's still abroad, ordered by a relative, but it should be with me a bit before Christmas. I'm quite excited to have it in my hands. It's exciting to think that I can carry hundreds, even thousands, of books in one gadget, readily available to me at any time.

I'm not the only old-fogey who has purchased an e-reader. I know of quite a number in my generation who have bought or have expressed interest in buying Kindles, iPads, Nooks, and other e-readers. Those who have bought one have said that they are now reading more thanks to their new gadgets. Whether this is just temporary--the thrill of a new toy--or the sign of a permanent change in how we read, remains to be seen, but by all indications it looks like the latter. At the very least, I have a feeling we're going to see the existence of two media for reading now: the book, and the ebook.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PGS Holiday Issue Review

Sungazer gracefully shares her thoughts on the PGS Holiday issue. My thanks to her for putting up her blog entry. I'm glad she found the issue worth her while, and I'm looking forward to what she'll have to say about the PGS Horror issue. ;-P. Thank you very much!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Filipino Book Bloggers At Libreria, Cubao X (Part 5)

Filipino Book Bloggers At Libreria, Cubao X (Part 4)

Filipino Book Bloggers At Libreria, Cubao X (Part 3)

Filipino Book Bloggers At Libreria, Cubao X (Part 2)

Those who were there:

Chachic's Book Nook (Chachic)
Taking A Break (Jason)
Asia In The Heart, World On The Mind (Tarie)
Me Likes Art (Will)
Kyusireader (Peter)
Guy Gone Geek (Aaron)
Coffeespoons (Honey)
ArtSeblis (Michelle)
Bookmarked! (Blooey)

Filipino Book Bloggers At Libreria, Cubao X (Part 1)

The Filipino Book Bloggers whom I met last September got together again yesterday at a small, cozy bookstore named Libreira in Cubao X (the former Marikina Shoe Expo). It was a wonderful afternoon talking books and reading-related matter over coffee. I really enjoy the company of fellow-readers, and in a setting that is so appropriate: a small, independent bookstore. The love of reading is what binds us together, and frankly, I do hope that in the future, there'll be more of us.

Check out these links by some of the bloggers for excellent recaps of what we talked about as well as for pictures of the store.

Chachic is planning a get-together in the first quarter of 2011, possibly at Libreria again. Here's hoping more folks can make it, and new readers will also join in.

Our deep thanks to Triccie Cantero, proprietor of Libreria, for letting us stay at her store!

More pics of the get-together in the immediately succeeding posts. :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Day Without Diabetes

(We interrupt the usual reading/publishing/writing/stories/books blog entries to bring you this special announcement)

I don't think this has received the kind of press as other causes, but it's still worthwhile: tomorrow, November 14, 2010, is World Diabetes Day. The University of the Philippines Pre-Medical Honor Society is sponsoring a fun run tomorrow called "Sugar Rush" to make people more aware of the disease, and whose proceeds will go to helping those suffering from it.

I bring it up because of two friends who are coming to terms with the fact that their young son has Type 1 diabetes, a most difficult and unfair situation for any kid to deal with. I feel for the family, and I do hope that one day a cure for this disease is found (as well as for all other illnesses, if that's possible). But this family's tough, and they're going to fight it off and come out better and stronger for it, I'm sure.

Head on over to this blog, A Day Without Diabetes, to read up on how this family is facing their situation with courage and hope.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Filipino Book Bloggers November 13, 2010 Meet-Up

The Filipino Book Bloggers I blogged about here are meeting up at 2 p.m. on November 13, 2010 at the Libreira Bookstore in Cubao X. If you have time, please drop by, and meet fellow readers and book lovers! Click here for details.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

LOL: Lit Out Loud! International Literary Festival

The LOL: Lit Out Loud! International Literary Festival will be held from November 18 to 20 at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati. To register for the festival and/or select sessions, call 892-1801. For further details, call the National Book Development Board (NBDB) at 920-9853 or visit their website. Below is the festival program:

DAY 1 November 18


8:00 Registration

9:00-10:00 (Bahia Room) Keynote Speech The Novel by Jose Y. Dalisay

10:00-10:30 Coffee Break

10:30-11:30 (Bahia Room) A panel on the novel.

Panelists: CristinaPantoja Hidalgo, Patricia May Jurilla, Rose Torres-Yu. Moderator: Jose Y. Dalisay

12:00-1:30 Lunch Break

PM Breakout Sessions


Translating from the Regional Languages (Dasmariñas Room). When translating from the regional languages, do we accept that English is the translation we need,or should we translate to Filipino?

Panelists: Marne Kilates, Marjorie Evasco. Moderator: Ricardo de Ungria

Intertextuality and Plagiarism (Bel-Air). Is the novel dead? Is the practice of intertextuality technique a violation of the other artist’s copyright?

Panelists: Angelo Suarez, Carljoe Javier, Angelo Lacuesta. Moderator: Isagani Cruz

Literary Journalism (North Forbes).

Panelists: Mita Kapur, Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Kriselda Yabes. Moderator: Susan Lara

3:00-3:30 Coffee Break


Writing the Asian Experience in English (Dasmariñas) How writing in English can reflect the Asian experience. Panelists: Vikas Swarup, Alfred Yuson. Moderator: J. Neil Garcia

Roots and Imagination: What do we write about? (Bel-Air). Bringing our own experiences to the world to reach markets, does one need a big theme? Should one write about nation?

Panelists: Christopher Cheng, Andy Mulligan, Charlson Ong. Moderator: Gemino Abad

The Importance of Literary Agents and How to Get One (North Forbes). How Philippine writers can break into the international market through a literary agent and how to find one.

Panelists: Mita Kapur, Jayapriya Vasudevan. Moderator: Jose Y. Dalisay

6:00-7:00 Cocktails at the Filipinas Heritage Library (by invitation only)

DAY 2 November 19

8:00 Registration

AM Breakout Sessions


How to Market Literary Titles (Dasmariñas). Marketing literary titles for different markets.

Panelists: Rino Balatbat, Mita Kapur, Jayapriya Vasudevan. Moderator: Karina Bolasco

Genre Fiction (Bel-Air)

Panelists: Dean Alfar, Karl de Mesa,Yvette Tan. Moderator: Tara FT Sering

The Children’s Market: What has Changed in 20 Years and What Sells Now (North Forbes).

Panelists: Christopher Cheng, Andy Mulligan. Moderator:

10:30-11:00 Coffee break


Emerging Forms of Literature (Dasmariñas). The prevalence of new forms/experimental literary works.

Panelists: Vim Nadera. Angelo Suarez. Moderator: Erwin Romulo

The Young Adult Novel (Bel-Air). The forms, the topics, the age, and being culturally specific.

Panelists: Andy Mulligan, Christopher Cheng. Moderator: Ramon Sunico

Writing Online (North Forbes) The forms, what to write about, and how writers promote themselves online. Panelists: Carljoe Javier, Luis Katigbak, Marne Kilates. Moderator: Tarie Sabido

12:30-1:30 Lunch Break

PM Breakout Sessions


From Manuscript to Film (Dasmariñas) Screenwriters and filmmakers on the challenges of writing for film. Panelists: Jerry Gracio, Eric Ramos, Vikas Swarup. Moderator: Jose F. Lacaba

Graphic Literature (Bel-Air). The country’s top graphic lit artists on how to break into the graphic lit scene and the future of the genre in the country.

Panelists: Gerry Alanguilan, Elbert Or. Moderator: Carlo Vergara

How to Teach Literature to Young Adults (North Forbes). A lecture for teachers on how to read and teach different genres of literature to young adults.

Panelists: Anna Rodriguez. Moderator: Mailin Paterno-Locsin

3:00-3:30 Coffee break


Filipino Poetry over the Years (Dasmariñas).

Panelists: Rio Alma, Bienvenido Lumbera, Roberto Añonuevo. Moderator: Michael Coroza

How to Make Book Trailers (Bel-Air). Christopher Cheng

Travel Writing (North Forbes). How to turn one’s personal journal into publishable essays.

Panelists: Cristina Hidalgo, Tara FT Sering. Moderator: Ralph Galan

DAY 3 November 20

8:00 Registration

AM Breakout Sessions


The Man Asian Literary Prize: What Makes an International Prizewinning Book? (Dasmariñas). The latest changes in the Man Asian rules and the importance of winning international awards.

Panelists: David Parker,Charlson Ong, Alfred Yuson. Moderator: Jose Y. Dalisay

Literary Appreciation for High School Students (Bel-Air). Reading appreciation for literary pieces.

Panelists: Carla Pacis, Cyan Abad-Jugo. Moderator: Carla Pacis

A Library that Reaches Out (North Forbes). How librarians can make libraries more interactive to attract readers.

Panelists: Troy Lacsamana (Quezon City Public Library), Maritoni Ortigas (Filipinas Heritage Library)

10:30-11:00 Coffee break


Storytelling Workshop for Teachers (Dasmariñas). Facilitator:Tony Yanza

Writing the Diaspora (Bel-Air).

Panelists: Oscar Campomanes,Jose Wendell Capili. Moderator: J. Neil Garcia

Making Your Own Center Away from the Center (North Forbes). Non-Manila based writers on how they make literature come alive in their respective regions.

Panelists: Merlie Alunan, Resil Mojares, Abdon M. Balde. Moderator: Ricardo de Ungria

12:30-1:30 Lunch Break

PM Breakout Sessions


Launch of The F-Word (Dasmariñas) A cooking demo and book signing with Mita Kapur.

Gender Issues in Writing (Bel-Air).

Panelists: J. Neil Garcia, Danton Remoto, Jhoanna Lyn Cruz. Moderator: Jose Wendell Capili

100 Years of Philippine Poetry from English (North Forbes).

Panelists: Ricardo de Ungria, Alfred Yuson. Moderator: Gemino Abad


Reading and boom discussion with Andy Mulligan.

Slumdog Millionaire Screening with Annotations by Vikas Swarup (Filipinas Heritage Library).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Latest E-book Reader Consumer Report

Here's the latest e-book reader consumer report. Bottom line: stick with the top brands, avoid new ones just getting into the game. Click here to read the details.

Micro-Interview At Innsmouth Free Press

I have a short interview up over at Innsmouth Free Press, where I was asked how I came up with my short story, "The Concerto Of Señor Lorenzo" (which I blogged about here). Again, my thanks to publisher Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Editor-in-Chief Paula Stiles!

A Digital Library; John Grisham's Digital E-Book Sales

My blog entry yesterday about E-book sales approaching US$1B finds a related development in how the digital sales of writer John Grisham's latest book, "The Confession", has helped his story reach more readers. An excerpt from the article:

In recent years, even some of the biggest authors have lost gravitational pull with readers. But for John Grisham's 24th adult book, "The Confession," the e-book version has helped propel first-week sales beyond that of his last legal thriller.

"The Confession" is the first of Mr. Grisham's adult hardcover novels to also be available simultaneously as an e-book. Doubleday, an imprint of Bertelsmann AG's Random House, says e-book sales were about one-third of week-one hardcover sales, or around 70,000.

The novel, about a guilty man who allows an innocent man to go to jail in his place, also sold 160,000 hardcovers through Oct. 31, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks approximately 75% of general retail book sales in the U.S. By comparison, his last legal thriller, "The Associate," published in January 2009, sold 223,000 hardcover copies in its first week, according to BookScan.

"The e-book sales are astonishing," said Mr. Grisham in an interview. "Would anybody have thought that a year ago? The future has arrived, and we're looking at it."

Mr. Grisham said he initially opposed selling his books digitally because he worried it would cripple his book sales at the independent bookstores that were among his earliest supporters. However, the author said he received numerous unhappy emails from readers who were upset that they couldn't buy his book digitally. "As an author, that hits pretty close to home," he said.

Mr. Grisham has his readers on his mind, and the digital medium has helped him reach more. I'm like him in that even if it's too early to tell, I'm cautiously optimistic that because of e-books, the number of readers may increase. It's the readers after all who are the "bosses". With e-book reading devices such as the Nook, the Kindle, and the iPad, becoming more affordable and popular, it is possible that everyone will now have the ability to take a lot of reading material with them wherever they go.

And would that our country had the same concerns and issues as more advanced ones! Here's an article about how the concerns over a national digital library system has taken prime importance in the U.S. The Philippines has many other basic issues to worry about, true, but making books accessible to a country's population is certainly one sure and strong way to building a better country. An excerpt:

E-book gadgets have finally cracked the mass market here in the United States or at least have come a long way.

Consider a memorable Kindle commercial from Amazon, in which a brunette in a bikini one-ups an oafish man reading off a rival machine. Mr. Beer Belly asks about her e-reader. "It's a Kindle," she says by the pool. "$139. I actually paid more for these sunglasses." Mad Men would be proud. A year or two from now, count on twice as much ballyhoo and on better machines for less than $99.

I myself own both a Kindle 3 and the Brand X iPad and can attest to the improved readability of the latest E Ink from Amazon's supplier, even indoors, despite lack of built-in illumination. Outside on walks, as with earlier Kindles, I can listen to books from publishing houses savvy enough to allow text to speech. No matter where I am, I can instantly see all occurrences of a character's name in an engrossing Louis Bayard novel. I can also track down the meanings of archaic words that Bayard's detective narrator uses in this murder mystery set at West Point and featuring a fictionalized Edgar Allan Poe.

But there is one thing I currently cannot do with my Kindle despite all the sizzle in the commercials--read public library books. Local libraries do not use the Kindle format for their electronic collections, relying instead on rival standards used by Sony Readers and certain other devices. Amazon undoubtedly would love to fix this under terms favorable to CEO Jeff Bezos and friends. But then other issues will remain. How many Kindle books--or those readable on Sony Readers, iPads, and others--will cash-strapped libraries in poorer cities be able to lend? What range of titles will be available? And shouldn't we look beyond books and consider the needs of researchers who, for example, could benefit from reliably preserved electronic discussions linked to individual books.

Might the time have finally come for a well-stocked national digital library system (NDLS) for the United States--a cause I've publicly advocated since 1992 in Computerworld, a 1996 MIT Press information science collection, the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere, including my national information stimulus plan here in the Fallows blog? That's the topic of this essay, and many of the same concepts could apply to other countries, including Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Japan, China, India, Brazil, and various other nations. Perhaps national digital library systems could interconnect, forming a global one. But for simplicity's sake and reasons of self interest, I'll focus here on a digital system for the United States, which, in national digital library planning and execution, lags far behind the diligent Chinese, among others.

A library plan and related initiatives should include the actual collections, not just for traditional education and research but also for job training; tight integration with schools, libraries, and other institutions; encouragement of the spread of the right hardware and connections; and the cost-justification described in the stimulus proposal. Multimedia is essential, and Kindle-style tablets will almost surely include color and video in the future, blurring distinctions between them and iPads. But the digital library system mustn't neglect books and other texts. Old-fashioned literacy, in fact, rather than e-book standards, should be the foremost argument for a national digital library system--as a way to expand the number and variety of books for average Americans, especially students. Without basic skills, young people will not be fit for many demanding blue-collar jobs, much less for Ph.D.-level work, and economic growth will suffer (PDF). Even recreational reading of fiction, not just nonfiction, can help develop the comprehension needed for the job-related kind. But by the end of high school, most young people in the United States no longer read for fun. E-books and other technology could expand their reading choices and make books more enticing, through such wrinkles as Kindle-style dictionaries and encyclopedia links to help students better understand the words in front of them.

The need is there.

The Curses Of A Writer

C. Hope Clark shares this blog entry, The Curses Of A Writer, where she gives practical advice to anyone who wants to really, truly, madly, deeply, set words down. An excerpt:

Don't tell me THAT question hasn't rattled around in your mind before. Especially if you don't have letters after your name like MFA. I don't have them either, and some days I wonder if I'm fooling myself.

If you write nonfiction, having expertise in the subject matter often substitutes partially for not having that almighty writing education. If you write fiction, you simply have to prove yourself with remarkable prose. Either way, though, you need a following. To be a published writer, you have to be a recognized writer. For many, becoming known is a curse that gets in the way.

You've heard the Chinese proverb, "May you live in interesting times." It's supposed to be the first of three curses. The second is: "May you come to the attention of those in authority (usually referring to the government)." The third is: "May you find what you are looking for."

So many writers are afraid of standing up and being writers. They talk about becoming one; they attend book festivals and other events; and they even speak of how to publish and market -- all before they've written the book. Being a published author still carries an air of respect. We crave it. We taste it. We dream about it.

You live in interesting times dominated by the Internet. You want people to know you. You want to find that satisfaction you are looking for as an author/writer. Many are afraid of their duties outside the actual writing effort, so they talk about writing instead of tackling the curses.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

E-book Market Surges To US$1 Billion

Here's a report saying that the E-book market has almost reached US$1 billion already. An excerpt:

Customers will have bought $966 million in e-books by the end of 2010, according to a new report from Forrester.

The report says the e-book market still has tremendous room to grow, as only 7% of online adults who read books read e-books. Forrester predicts that the e-book market will have risen to almost $3 billion by 2015, even if nothing else changes in the industry, which is unlikely given the rapid development of e-ink technology and the rise of e-book readers in the last couple of years.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Interesting Writing Habits Of Famous Writers

Did you know that Truman Capote wrote lying down? Or that Philip Roth paces? Or that Vladimir Nabokov used notecards? Check out other writing habits of famous writers here.

Young Adult Lit Comes Of Age

From the LA Times, this article: "Young Adult Lit Comes Of Age". An excerpt:

It used to be that the only adults who read young adult literature were those who had a vested interest -- teachers or librarians or parents who either needed or wanted to keep an eye on developing readers' tastes.

But increasingly, adults are reading YA books with no ulterior motives. Attracted by well-written, fast-paced and engaging stories that span the gamut of genres and subjects, such readers have mainstreamed a niche long derided as just for kids.

Thanks to huge crossover hits like Stephenie Meyer's bloodsucking "Twilight" saga, Suzanne Collins' fight-to-the-death "The Hunger Games" trilogy, Rick Riordan's "The Lightning Thief" and Markus Zusak's Nazi-era "The Book Thief," YA is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak publishing market. Where adult hardcover sales were down 17.8% for the first half of 2009 versus the same period in 2008, children's/young adult hardcovers were up 30.7%.

"Even as the recession has dipped publishing in general, young adult has held strong," said David Levithan, editorial director and vice president of Scholastic, publisher of "The Hunger Games," as well as of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, the series largely credited with jump-starting this juggernaut of a trend.

"You go on the subway and see 40-year-old stockbrokers reading 'Twilight,' " said Levithan, himself a YA author. "That wouldn't have happened five years ago."

Levithan added that passing "the mother test" is an indication that a title could go wide. "If a lot of us on staff are sending a book to our mothers because it's really engaging literature, that's a good sign."

Books that have passed the Scholastic mother test? Judy Blundell's "What I Saw and How I Lied," which won a 2008 National Book Award, and the wolf love story "Shiver" by Maggie Stiefvater.

According to Kris Vreeland, children's department manager for Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, "You have a lot of different people coming to young adult in a lot of different ways."

Why Science Fiction May Not Be A Genre

Here's an interesting article over at, "Why Science Fiction May Not Be A Genre". An excerpt:

Daniel Abraham has a very thought-provoking article on genre on his blog, I commend it all to your attention. He talks about what genres are, and he says:

I think that the successful genres of a particular period are reflections of the needs and thoughts and social struggles of that time. When you see a bunch of similar projects meeting with success, you’ve found a place in the social landscape where a particular story (or moral or scenario) speaks to readers. You’ve found a place where the things that stories offer are most needed.

And since the thing that stories most often offer is comfort, you’ve found someplace rich with anxiety and uncertainty. (That’s what I meant when I said to Melinda Snodgrass that genre is where fears pool.)

I think this is brilliant and insightful, and when he goes on to talk about romances, westerns, and urban fantasy I was nodding along. Genre is a something beyond a marketing category. Where fears pool. Yes. But when he got to science fiction I disagreed just as strongly as I’d been agreeing before, because in that sense—the sense in which “a particular story (or moral or scenario) speaks to readers” science fiction isn’t one genre, it’s a whole set of different ones, some of them nested.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Copyright Infringement, Plagiarism--Potaytoe, Potahtoe...

Well, not exactly potaytoe, potahtoe, but copyright infringement and plagiarism are close relations, like first cousins.

The ongoing local plagiarism issue isn't done yet, and I'm following it with interest because, really, if a judge can say that when he wrote what he did, even if it was copied from another source without attribution, and that he did so without "malicious intent", and get away with it without punishment, then that opens up an easy excuse for anyone to copy anything. We may soon be hearing a lot of stuff like:

"Yeah, I copied the lyrics of his song, but I had no malicious intent."

"So I copied his poem for homework, but I really had no malicious intent."

"I copied from a book by an author from abroad for my thesis, but I had no malicious intent."

"Yeah, I copied that piece of video scene-for-scene, character-for-character, dialogue-for-dialogue, for my own film, but I had no malicious intent."

Well, you get the drift.

For what it's worth, the judge in question's excuse was that one of his aides honestly forgot to put down the attributions, and frankly, this can happen easily, given the voluminous documents one has to handle everyday in the legal profession; but nevertheless, is that a legitimate enough excuse? For the Philippine Supreme Court, it is. For the UP law professors, a number of other legal personalities from abroad, a lot of people in the academe, and many, many creatives, it's not.

And now, we have this: a case of copyright infringement abroad, as seen via the blog of illadore. An excerpt:

My 2005 Ice Dragon entry, called "A Tale of Two Tarts" was apparently printed without my knowledge or permission in a magazine and I am apparently the victim of copyright infringement.

The story:
I was contacted early last week by a friend of mine who lives in the Northeast about my "As American as Apple Pie - Isn't!" article that was published in Cooks Source magazine, mostly to inquire how I had gotten published. This was news to me, as I hadn't ever heard of this magazine before.

However, some basic Google-fu lead me to find them online and on Facebook. In fact, after looking at the Cooks Source Facebook page, I found the article with my name on it on on "Page 10" of the Cooks Source Pumpkin fest issue. (No worries, I have screencaps.) The magazine is published on paper (the website says they have between 17,000 and 28,000 readers) as well as being published on Facebook as well.

So. I first phone the magazine then send a quick note to the "Contact Us" information page, asking them what happened and how they got my article. (I thought it could have been some sort of mix-up or that someone posted it to some sort of free article database.) Apparently, it was just copied straight off the Godecookery webpage. As you can see from the page, it is copyrighted and it is also on a Domain name that I own.

After the first couple of emails, the editor of Cooks Source asked me what I wanted -- I responded that I wanted an apology on Facebook, a printed apology in the magazine and $130 donation (which turns out to be about $0.10 per word of the original article) to be given to the Columbia School of Journalism.

What I got instead was this (I am just quoting a piece of it here:)

"Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was "my bad" indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!"
Whoah. Talk about 'tude. Head on over to read the comments in the entry.

So this is another case on something similar I'm following with interest.

Some More Thoughts On Digital Publishing

Digital publishing has been on my mind a lot, and I've blogged about it many times. This blog post, The Emperor Has No Clothes from Call My Agent! succinctly puts forward a lot of thoughts about digital publishing, thoughts that call for quick adjustment to the, um, "new world order". The essence of the post really is that focus should be given now to content, and not anymore to the physical book. Even without the book, the content is still needed. An excerpt:

First, let me say that I believe that what's changing in the industry is going to be very good for authors, as a whole, and obviously better for some authors than others. It will be great for authors who understand that they need to connect to their readers, whether they do it through social media, live readings, open dialogue. This is, in a way, a return to the original forms of storytelling: in a cave, perhaps, or around a fire, with your audience right there in front of you. It's going to suit some authors very well, and others not so much. But it was ever thus.

Second, a lot of the intra-industry thinking (and I'm only talking about the Australian industry, because that's what I know best) about how to wrestle with the changing digital landscape is, I believe, wrongly framed. Publishers are still focusing on books, but we're so far past that now. Books contain stories and content. Stories and content are what we all work in, not books. Yet the production processes and supply chain are all about books. So I can understand why there's a reluctance to think differently - once we're no longer talking about books, all those processes have to change. But it's better to make the change than have the change forced upon you, which is what's happening right now.

When all we focus on is books-as-objects, a very important element of the whole process is overlooked: the author. If sales reps are selling books, they mainly need to focus on the book. If they have no book to sell - if you take away that object - they're left with stories/content created by the author. An author is quite a different sales proposition to a book. An author is a person, for one thing, and comes loaded with all the person complications - like a personality. A book is easier. A book is less messy. Sometimes it's easy to forget that the book came from an author originally. But it did. The author is not a necessary evil; the author is the reason the story exists.

An E-Reader At Php3,990

That's right. A local store, CD-R King, is now selling an e-reader at Php3,990.00. That's less than US$100.00. I'm unsure of the durability and the quality, but this is below the magic number I mentioned in an old blog entry. This just might be the first of many lower-priced e-readers that will soon be ubiquitous. My thanks to School Librarian In Action, from whose blog I saw the entry about this gadget.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Usok 2 Is Live

I'm happy to blog that Usok 2 is now live. Check it out here. An excerpt from the blog post on Rocket Kapre:

The second issue of Usok is now live! I’ll post my introduction here, but you can also see it on the front page of the new issue itself. I hope you enjoy the stories and the art, and if you do, please comment and encourage the creators, because feedback is sweet ambrosia for writers and artists. For those who are looking for Usok #1, you can get a PDF of the illustrated edition in the Past Issues section of the Usok site.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Pakinggan Pilipinas Episode 5: "Self With Dog"

Episode 5 is now up at Pakinggan Pilipinas. It features "Self With Dog" by Angelo Lacuesta. It's the latest podcast from PGS contributor--Elyss Punsalan.