Friday Funny - Literary Holidays! (via @melvillehouse)

I retweeted this on Twitter but I realise not everyone would see it, so here's a quick post. It's been a little quiet here while Lucas and I are actually finally polishing Literarium for our early-sign-up alpha/beta users. I'm quite excited to see the project in its present shape and can't wait to inflict it on you all!

Anyway, this list of suggested comical national reading holidays struck a chord with me because we had to try to read 2666, and apparently that national holiday is January 13:

January 13: Give Up Trying to Read 2666 Day On the one hand, you’ve read 400 pages. That’s a lot. On the other, you’ve just read the first 100 pages four times. It’s time to admit defeat and pass this “international sensation” along to one of your friends. Tell them they have to read it."

I also quite like:

June: NaTwiWriMo Everyone’s heard of National Novel Writing Month, but what about your personal #brand? Writing a novel won’t help with that—not one bit. So in June, put the novel on hold (let’s be honest—it’s probably terrible) and instead, dedicate yourself to your Twitter account! Get those followers up up up, keep the hashtags fresh, and remember—if you’re not making three autocorrect jokes a day, you’re not Tweeting Like a Pro.

Check out the others here:

I wasn't interested in the grammar of clickbait titles. But then everything changed. (via @readermagazine)

If that title made you cringe as much as I cringed then we can be friends. The structure and development of language is an important thing to understand (or at least appreciate) for writers, and this American Reader article delves into those horrible titles, and why we can react so strongly to them (either with excitement or revulsion):

Upworthy Titles Often Make a Relatively Banal Claim. Until They Change It.

The most essential grammatical tic that Upworthy employs is a bit more complex than simple word choice or sentence structure: the titles introduce a fairly typical story, idea, or theme in the first sentence, then use a much shorter sentence to complicate or undermine it. This is irritating as hell. And I think that’s the point; the second sentence piques you to resolve the irritation it causes.

Intrigued? Would you like some resolution? Then read the rest of it here:

Judging a Book by Its Cover: A 6-year-old Guesses What Classic Novels Are All About (via @Sunnychanel HT: @katengh)

This is an older post but still entertaining: Sunny Chanel's daughter is curious about books.

“Momma, what’s this book about?” That is a question that I hear every time we go to our local bookstore as my very curious six-year-old daughter picks up eye-catching books from various sections from fiction to biographies to psychology.

In an entertaining experiment Ms6 was presented with a range of classic and some not-so-classic book covers in order to see what she made of it:

Fifty Shades of Grey

"On the cover is a very weird looking Zebra. The book is about a zebra that wears pants. It’s a drama book about this zebra guy who likes to go fishing for aces."

And no, I have no idea what she meant by any of that either.

Have a laugh about it here:

April Fool

Out of respect for International 'Do Not Internet For 36 Hours' day we will not be trying to fool you with any silly news post of our own, though it did occur to me that we should announce we're only going to cater to Ad Copy writers from now on. However, here is an important news article highlighting a shift in direction from Momentum Books.

Momentum’s publisher Joel Naoum said, “While we’ve had an extremely valuable experience working in digital, we’ve had to make the decision to go to a print-based model. We’ll still be publishing the same kinds of projects, but we’ll be delivering them via an exciting new system.”

Read it here:

Friday Funnies: 40 Worst Book Covers and Titles Ever (HT @kessbird)

Ah look, these horrors speak for themselves, really.

Some of the people who wrote these titles might have been oblivious and out of touch, but it could also have to do with changing word use in the English language. “Dick” wasn’t always a slang word the way we use it today, and neither was “boner.” Depending on what you’re writing about and who your target audience is, shock value can also sell books – we’re assuming that’s what the idea is behind books like “How To Succeed In Business Without A Penis” and “How To Shit In The Woods.”

Behold them in all their horror here:

Baboon Fart Odyssey (via @cstross)

You may or may not have seen Chuck Wendig's joke about being able to create an ebook with 100,000 instances of the word 'fart', slap a cover of a baboon peeing into its own mouth on it, and self-publish it on Amazon:

This is true-ish, in that I can literally write the word “fart” 100,000 times and slap a cover of baboon urinating into his own mouth, then upload that cool motherfucker right to Amazon. Nobody would stop me. Whereas, at the Kept Gates, a dozen editors and agents would slap my Baboon Fart Story to the ground like an errant badminton birdie.

It was a joke, although not everyone saw the humor in it (as is true always of jokes). Nonetheless, @phronk went to a lot of effort to make the joke real, and because jokes can go viral it quickly gathered more reviews than the average book (most were 5 stars of course) as well as likely earning more money than most authors see in their lifetime (this is not a joke, and actually only needs to be a small number to be true - the long tail is long, folks).

Charles Stross threw in some commentary of his own. The book isn't just fart repeated over and over; it's broken into paragraphs and sentences with punctuation and so forth. It raised this interesting question:

If I take an existing novel and replace all the words with words of my own, retaining only the punctuation and pagination, is this plagiarism?

And this raises the converse idea: taking Baboon Fart Story's structure, and replacing each instance of the word 'fart' with an actual english word to craft a coherent narrative!

There is much more of course, and it's worthwhile reading here:

Russian Man Stabbed for Dissing Poetry (via @huffingtonpost)

We shouldn't laugh about this, but it highlights how seriously people take their art.

A Russian teacher stabbed his friend, (According to the courts) Because the man disparaged Poems, RIA reports.

Read the full report, in verse, here:

Scribbling in the Margins of Dan Brown's Inferno (via @the_millions)

I don't generally like picking on an author's style, but Dan Brown is probably used to it by now, and also filthy rich, so I guess he can take it. Sam Anderson and David Rees started an experiment in 'dialogic marginalia' whereby the first would annotate the text of Dan Brown's Inferno, then hand it to the second, who would do the same.

I purchased and read Inferno, which was inscrutable and interminable, and as I read I scribbled in its margins. When I finished, my friend David Rees, the artisanal pencil sharpener, asked if he could borrow it. He added his thoughts.

It was fun to see someone else’s words next to mine. I wrote in black pen, in cursive. David wrote in red pencil, in block letters. I was semi-serious. David swore and told a lot of jokes. Usually we agreed, but occasionally we disagreed. Here are some of the highlights.

Have a read and see what 'live feedback while reading' means in the context of a massive blockbuster:

Some Concerns About Sauron's Battle Plan (via @dorkly, HT: @trentonomicon)

Just an entertaining friday read, which we could justify as relevant to writing by... let's see... ...So this is a critical analysis of an important plot point in the Lord of the Rings universe, framed as an epistolary of sorts. Or perhaps a critique.

I like how part two is:

My Backup Plan In Case I Die and We Lose

By Sauron

And how most of the plan seems to be written in crayon...

Check it here:

The Bookshelf That Becomes Your Coffin (via @bookriot)

It's halloween! A Dutch funeral products company designed a coffin that doubles as a bookshelf while you're still alive:

‘Death has to be understood, just like birth, as an important part of life,’ says Rademaker. ‘I made the coffin because it must become easier to discuss death and integrate it with life. Death does not come after life, death belongs to life. You should be able to discuss death in an unforced, natural way, just as you talk to people about expecting a baby, bringing up children, or your relationships.’

Check it out here:

Star Wars as seen by Shakespeare (HT: @sarah_crown)

Continuing the Shakespearean theme, but on an even more lighthearted note:

Ian Doescher’s new book, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, translates the entirety of A New Hope into Shakespearean form.

It's actually supremely cool, so you should check it out. There are some great woodcut illustrations too:

ACT V, Scene 5, lines 279-329. Space.

BIGGS           Make haste, O Luke. Methinks they do approach E’en faster than before. I shall not hold Them back for long!

LUKE              —Now, R2, straight increase The pow’r.

R2-D2              —Beep, whee.

BIGGS               —Make haste, Luke. O, alas!

 [Darth Vader shoots. Explosion. Biggs dies.

LUKE             That ever I should see this day, O woe! My childhood friend from Tatooine now slain Protecting me from harm. Thou ow’dst a life— Dear Biggs, sweet Biggs—and thou hast paid. And now ’Tis down to me: the boy turn’d warrior. Be still, my errant heart, and seek the Force.

VADER          The leader now is mine.

R2-D2           —Meep, beep.

C-3PO          —Take care Sweet R2-D2! Come thou back, I pray!

Check it out here:

Performing Shakespeare in the Original Accent (HT: @ljharb)

This ia a great little short documentary discovering the benefits of performing Shakespeare's work in the original accent:

In this short documentary, linguist David Crystal and his son, actor Ben Crystal look at the differences between English pronunciation now and how it was spoken 400 years ago. They answer the most basic question you probably have right now — How do you know what it sounded like back then? — and they discuss the value of performing Shakespeare’s plays in the original accent…

Video here:

Formatting issue renders George R.R. Martin book hilarious (via @nydailynews, HT: @text_publishing)

Here's a reason to proofread your electronic transfers of print books.

A glitch in the formatting of the e-book of George R.R. Martin’s “A Feast for Crows” rendered one reader’s experience of the fantasy epic unintentionally hilarious.

In the comments of an io9 post discussing book series that went on past its expiration date, a user with the handle Teshara shared some screengrabs from her e-copy, which inserts Martin’s name in awkward places.

My favourite is definitely:

"I was drunk on you. It had been ten years since ... I never touched a woman until George R. R. Martin - A Feast for Crows."

Watch the entertainment unfold here:

Shouldn't you be writing another book or something, you lazy [swear] (via @cacotopos)

I wrote a blog post on my less formal blog, and it had a sweary swear in the title, so I didn't think it was appropriate to post it here. If you can handle a single swear that starts with 'f' and rhymes with 'fuck' you should be safe.

When I (affectionately) hurled the title of this piece at author Felicity Dowker on Twitter, I realised that not every moment of the writing day is suited for our primary output, despite that ‘just write’ rule. So what can we do to stay ‘writerly’ while not writing?

Procrastinate in a convincingly writerly way, of course!

It sounds like a joke, but let me share with you how I improve my writing brain without writing: what to do to stay writerly while not writing, followed by what not to do.

Read the whole thing here:

Shit Non-Writers Say to Writers (via @amandafoody HT: @lawrence_wray)

This is just an entertaining list (back from January) of ... 'stuff' ... Amanda Foody has heard said to writers by non-writers, and her own acerbic responses. I particularly liked:

16. I'd so write a book if I had time. 

Yes, that's why I write. Because I have so much time.

Have a read of the other 20 entries here:

Inspiring and Entertaining: World Maps with Etymological Names

I sadly can't recall where I found this, but it's a nice piece of entertaining inspiration.

The Atlas of True Names reveals the etymological roots, or original meanings, of the familiar terms on today's maps of the World, Europe, the British Isles and the United States. For instance, where you would normally expect to see the Sahara indicated, the Atlas gives you "The Tawny One", derived from Arab. es-sahra "the fawn coloured, desert". The 'True Names' of 3000 cities, countries, rivers, oceans and mountain ranges are displayed on these four fascinating maps, each of which includes a comprehensive index of derivations.

I think one of my favourites was: 'From the Fort of the Illustrious One'.

Check out some of the maps here: