Friday, January 29, 2010

R.I.P. J.D. Salinger

Another great one has died and the world is a little weirder and lonelier knowing the great writer who brought us Holden Caulfied has breathed his last.

If INTERN was having one of her "acute paranoia" moments (which she is *totally* not), she would see an OBVIOUS AND SINISTER connection between the fact that Salinger died on the same day as Apple revealed its new iPad. (That, and the freaky weather, which Apple also controls).


Thursday, January 28, 2010

questions re: Evil

Last night, INTERN went out to hear a panel discussion about the impact e-books are going to have on readers and writers. More than once over the course of the evening, a panelist or a member of the (publishing industry-heavy) audience used the word “evil” to describe either themselves, their publisher, or another publisher (e.g. “OK, so I’m a publicist at one of the big evil publishers and…”)

As she sat there, INTERN started thinking about how weird this was.

For one thing, the word “evil” gets bandied around a lot. Consider the following not-so-uncommon formulas:

“Evil” = Big 6 publishing conglomerate+Risk-Aversive and Market-Driven/racism*2

“Evil” = self-absorbed nutcase + print-on-demand technology*shockingly terrible cover design.

“Evil” = Agents who reject anybody for any reason(wrath of millions)

“Evil” = Publishers who print “those awful books people actually buy” + people who buy those books, thereby encouraging publishers to publish more of them

“Evil” = The publishing industry in general/those people on the subway who evangelize about The Obvious Merits of Self-Publishing*0.5

“Evil” = (Those cliquey indie presses who only publish obscure bearded guys)(those other totally cliquey publishers who only publish people with, like, agents)

“Evil” = (“Those slatternly peasants in publicity/marketing aren’t doing enough to promote my book”)/(“Those slatterns in publicity/marketing are such slatterns for even attempting to commercialize my book!”)

“Evil” = Technology That Threatens to Rip Our Beloved Hardcovers From Our Very Breasts, Yea Verily

And on and on.

When INTERN really thinks about it, there are few aspects of publishing that she has not heard pronounced evil.

So what’s going on?

Is publishing a total Orgy of Iniquity, or does everyone just like to talk smack?

INTERN wants to believe that everyone (readers, writers, and people in different aspects of publishing) are basically good people trying to do good things. But that doesn’t seem to jive with this whole “evil” mentality.

Wiser readers: Please educate! INTERN is going to start making a Good/Evil list.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

on billfoldic transduction

a monograph by techie boyfriend

I have just received sad news from our dear INTERN: travelling alone in The Big City, she has been pock-picketed. Why this kindly creature should be marked is beyond me, but I have taken it upon myself to request, nay demand acts of vigilante kindness directed toward the object of our mutual admiration.

But first, the story...

In this episode, INTERN jets to The Big Apple in the course of her bloggerly duties (no, truly, didn't she tell you she was talking @ NYU? I am so very proud). She finds her meager billfold snatched from her pocket whilst frolicking innocently amidst the glory of the NYPL.

A description of the pilfered purse: INTERN's wallet looks like its about 15 years old, fading black, is decorated with the peeling image of a california raisin in roller skates, contains no credit cards, and probaby carries less than 14 cents in cash. Should you find it when digging through a NYC dumpster (you know, The Economy), you know what to do.

But on to the vigilante kindness: should you encounter my dear INTERN while she is on this trip (and I know some of you new yorkers will!), I am sure she would appreciate a friendly treat. Amongst other things, she is very fond of raw beets, small curious objects, pen and ink sketches, dark chocolate, quiet places to read, mushroom gluten, and kind words.

-this episode ghost-written from snow-capped mountains by yours truly, "techie" BOYFRIEND.

Note from a very tired and surprised INTERN who has just discovered this post:

OMG! It's all true!

Mystery of INTERN's true identity and location = now 300% more mysterious.

Message to Techie Boyfriend: please make it home from those snow-capped mountains alive so INTERN can give you the gift of a bagel or some kind of knish from this Metropolis, and adoration!

Monday, January 25, 2010

beware the ides of intern...

INTERN has been posting a little less frequently these past couple weeks, because she is starting her new internship in exactly seven days and has been taking advantage of her last little bit of time pre-full time internment to:

-gossip w/Hippie Roommate re: Vampire Roommate (Apparently, the girl who had INTERN's room before INTERN got on Vampire Roommate's bad side (or the VR got on *her* bad side) and they spent the last three months before said girl moved out hexing one another. Says Hippie Roommate "I was always tripping over bowls of salt water and rusty nails." INTERN is glad she dodged that bullet. Sheesh!)

-scrounge together some kind of acceptable outfit for a fancy reading she will be working at as part of her first week at Venerable McPulitzer Publishing Co.

-help Techie Boyfriend construct an astrolabe.

-gossip w/Techie Boyfriend re: Hippie Roommate's new manfriend (a soft-spoken, generous, intelligent 45-year old businessman (!) whose moodlit apartment contains no furniture, only yoga props) and speculate about how this will affect her dumpster-diving ninja ways.

-do as many odd jobs as possible (life-modeling, deck swabbing, tutoring, etc) because there will be less time to do those life-sustaining things once said Internship has begun.

-visit friends, read books. revise novel.

In any event, INTERN expects to be back to a more regular and predictable posting schedule in the near future.

PS If you need something to read right now, you might want to ponder this intriguing article about the pros and cons of free books on Kindle. (via INTERN's forward-happy dad)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

why you really don't want to get published (part 2)

-Somewhere out there, a publicist will start sending out extremely misleading press releases about your book and yourself. These press releases will make highly dubious claims as to the unsurpassed quality of your book and the charm and charisma of your person. Also, they will (mistakenly) claim you live in Pablo, Montana (when you have in fact never even been to Montana) to cover up the fact that you are, effectively, homeless.

-The author photo you provide to your publisher will be stretched, squashed, pixellated, and maybe converted to sepia so that you look as much like a post-apocalyptic iguana as possible.

-Reviewers you don’t know and have never met will be sent advance copies of your book. Though there’s no way you can know this for sure (yet!), you are certain that they are at this very moment flipping through it with an expression of smoldering disdain (or, alternatively, stifling their gag reflex).

-Though there’s no way you can know this for sure (yet!), you are certain that, at this very moment, there is someone out there penning a death threat with your name on it because you somehow managed to insult them with your book.

-Against your better judgement, you will agree to make some sort of Author Appearance which will either be a) grievously under-attended or b) attended only by belligerent old ladies in the advanced stages of psychosis or c) attended by a disappointed audience of would-be fans who assumed you were way doper than you actually are.

-As soon as the book is published, your name will be associated exclusively with a) seventeenth century teapots b) teenage sleuths with eating disorders c) Living With Scabies d) some other narrow topic that only defines 0.1% of your actual life and interests but has now come to define your entire public identity.

Readers who have had a book published—care to add?

Monday, January 18, 2010

How to Attract Interns: A Guide for Craigslist Posters

Recently, INTERN has being seeing lots of posts on craigslist looking for "interns" that look sort of like this:

"Hard-working, slef-motivated intern wantd for online fashion magazine. U will be writing 20-30 cutting edge fashion articles a day and posting them to ourwebsite. 30 hr/week commitment reqd. This is an entirely work from home internship, prefect for ppl with busy schedules. Unpaid, w/oppurtiny for advancement."

or this:

"Nubile—er, reliable intern wanted to assist established author with day-to-day tasks. You will be working from my home office on tasks including mail, word processing and occasional light cleaning. Must have own transportation and BE TOTALLY RELIABLE AND RESPECTFUL. NO BACK-TALK. I offer a letter of recommendation and the possibility of college credit. SCENT-FREE household. Unpaid."

or this:

"E-book publisher seeks research intern to conduct online research for business textbooks. 40 hrs/week. You will send us a daily report summarizing your research. This is a telecommuting position. Unpaid."


1. Interns are not moths. They are not attracted to the word "internship" the way moths careen blindly towards light. Placing the word "internship" in a post that otherwise describes slave labor, a pyramid scheme, or some kind of dubious domestic situation will not land you dozens of eager interns knocking down your door.

2. Do not claim you can offer college credit when you cannot. If every Tom, Dick, and Harry who claimed to offer college credit really did, all interns would be post-docs by now.

3. The word "telecommute" or "work from home" is an instant tip-off that you are trying to get free labor with no real benefits for the intern, and/or that you are a dubious individual or start-up with no office space. (see item 1 in this list).


5. Interns do not like to be insulted. If your internship is unpaid (as most are), do not say "there is sometimes the possibility of a small stipend on completion of 100000 hours of work." If there is a stipend, good. But don't dangle it like some kind of infested carrot in front of an intern's nose.

6. Interns are telepathic.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

in which evil gets ingested orally

Yesterday morning, INTERN packed herself some crackers and cashews in a ziplock bag and went off to spend the day in the library. At midday she took a break from her labors and went downstairs to have a snack. As she devoured her crackers, she slowly became aware of a strange taste. She was hungry, so she resolutely ignored the strange taste until it became rather...overwhelming.

Annoyed, INTERN stopped her scarfing to inspect the contents of the ziplock. And found two whitish, nearly transpararent cubes of some sort of chemical giving off the harsh scent that had infected the food.

At home that evening, INTERN questioned her roommates about the incident. Now, INTERN has never mentioned this before, but her HIppie Roommate is not her only roommate. INTERN also has a male Vampire Roommate whom she has never had cause to mention because he spends all his time in his room with the lights off, nursing a bong the size of an office water cooler.

INTERN's Vampire Roommate tends to only come out at night, in full and rather beautiful gothic regalia and makeup. He has mentioned his vampiric leanings a few times, mostly when intoxicated, but that is neither here nor there.

INTERN caught Vampire Roommate on his way out the door to some kind of club night where he was going to meet a female vampire with whom he was quite twitterpated.

After a minute or so of questioning, it was revealed that the weird chemical INTERN had eaten at the library that day was camphor, which INTERN's Vampire Roommate was using to (quote) "soak up the evil spirits from the kitchen."

Which means that INTERN actually ate some of said evil spirits which had presumably leaked into her crackers.

Score one point for real life being weirder than fiction.

Monday, January 11, 2010

the infants are coming!

INTERN is staring a birthday in the face (tomorrow, actually) so thoughts of age have been on her mind. She went to the library yesterday to check up on the new YA novels and actually felt creepy for being there, even making up excuses of "professional interest" to justify her lurking presence (and definitely not, um, to justify wrestling the latest Laurie Halse Anderson novel out of that little thirteen-year old girl's hands and running away with it.)

Then something creepier happened. INTERN more or less fled from the new books section (too many fresh-faced youngsters about) and perused the other YA stacks. Then it so happened that every book INTERN picked off the shelves (OK, two books, but whatever) were indeed written by 13-year olds. The first was In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, whom INTERN had never heard of, and the other was something by Gordan Korman of This Can't be Happening at Macdonald Hall renown, who was INTERN's absolute favorite author growing up and who wrote the aforementioned Macdonald Hall book in grade seven.

This led INTERN to spend the rest of the day in dire research, over the course of which she discovered a whole pile of authors who published their first novel at thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen, and then kept on going at the pace of about a book a year, pretty much ever since. Even frickin' Jane Austen wrote The History of England (of which there is a copy on INTERN's shelf) when she was 15.

INTERN feeling aged and forlorn. The late eighties suddenly feel as antiquated a time to get born as the 1880's. Out brief candle!

Over the course of her stalki—er, research, INTERN noticed a few similarities among the Child Novelists published by major publishing houses (as opposed to the self-published camp, which is a whole 'nother ball game).

First, obviously, is talent. Talent, diligence, humor, and imagination...which every novelist needs, regardless of age.

Second, there is a disproportionate amount of homeschooled Child Novelists, some with very involved parents (tales of parents dropping their other work to promote the young scribe's masterpiece, as in the case of Christopher Paolini's Eragon series, pop up more than once).

Third, there is often (not always) some kind of Mentor who gives the budding Child Novelist a nudge (Atwater-Rhodes' highschool English teacher was a literary agent) and says, "yes, you are mere no pipsqueak, you are a Writer!"

Then there is sometimes that magical Inciting Incident to push the Child Novelist on their way, like Gordon Korman's grade seven teacher's assignment to write a novel over the course of the semester.


It may be too late for INTERN to be a Child Novelist, but for the parental types who read this blog, it is not too late for thy cute and scampering progeny! So go forth and get little Jimmy a high-powered creative writing coach and an agent, already! Geeze!

INTERN is off to learn how to smoke cigarettes or something so that if she can't be a Child Novelist, she can at least start practicing her Bitter and Shriveled Old Woman act as of tomorrow.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

holy. crap. look.

INTERN doesn't normally post photos on her blog, but she stumbled across the following last night:

Twi-mania: it has sunk its fangs into organic chocolate.

Someone tell INTERN this is just an innocent coincidence.




Wednesday, January 6, 2010

in which INTERN is a threat to public health

Waking up with a cold: sad.

Eating a cubic inch of raw ginger root in an unsuccessful attempt to nuke said cold: alarming.

Rasping with victory after finding a dirty blister package of expired Sudafed between the couch cushions: pathetic.

Teaching five piano lessons while half-delirious with fever: inadvisable.

Being bundled up in a blanket and read out loud to by Techie Boyfriend from David Brin's The Postman. For two hours. With voices. : AWESOME!

Monday, January 4, 2010

NaNoReVisMo #6: Electric Kool-Aid Conflict Test PART TWO

Back in November, INTERN posted about a curious phenomenon she noticed when flipping through a stack of library books: wherever she stuck in her thumb, she was never more than two or three sentences from a clearly identifiable internal or external conflict.

In the intervening weeks, INTERN has been doing more experiments in her (padlocked and bat-infested) Book Laboratory, and has noticed another phenomenon among published novels, memoirs, and even some non-fiction.

INTERN observed that at the end of every chapter in any novel she picked up from her pile, she was left with at least one, but sometimes two or three, Questions. The existence of these Questions produced in INTERN's fevered little brain a desire to keep reading, if only to find out the Answers.

As INTERN continued the experiment, she was horrified to discover that even when she thought a particular book or chapter was trashy and poorly-written, she would still experience desire to keep reading if the Questions were salient enough. Like a rat in a maze, INTERN wanted to scurry down the hallway of each Question, lured by the promise of answering Cheese.

End-of-chapter Questions come in many different flavors. Here is but a small smattering:

There's the Mystery Question: "Could it be that roguish masked man was the legendary...Thievaro? But if so, where was his wooden leg?"

The Will-he-make-it: "Will Casey make it to the baseball diamond in time to save his team?"

The Bet-he-won't: "Will that hideous car crash prevent Casey from making it to the baseball diamond on time?"

The And-he-didn't: "Oh no! Casey missed the ball game! How will he survive the horrible consequences?"

The Inner Turmoil: "Can Georgette forgive Sir Roguesly for leaving her at the altar?"

The Growth Spurt: "Will Frodo be able to carry on without his beloved mentor?"

The Scientific: "Is the atmosphere of planet Ziggabrix really turning people into sponges?"

The Technical: "Why can't the motorcycle engine start?"

The Twist: "How will this new information or unexpected turn of events affect the hero?"

The Flirt: "Did the lascivious Sensualissa really just WINK at RAYMOND???"

The Hero Gets Shot: "The hero got shot! Now how will Trentsville protect itself from zombies?"

The Mystery Flirt: "It has been suggested that a certain character knows more than they have been letting on! But what do they know?"

Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

A question doesn't have to be Big and Monstrous for it to be interesting. God forbid that every novel or memoir should be a constant stream of mysterious or coy chapter endings. Emotional subtleties and changing dynamics of character relationships can form effective questions just as well as plot twists and mystery bandits.

But whatever kind of Question it is, INTERN has found that there is always a Question. And that Question is what keeps INTERN reading. Giving the reader something to want (answers, resolution to built-up tension) can be an effective way to keep interest high.

Note, however, that the experiment totally fails for jazzy, unusual books like Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's incredible So Many Ways to Sleep Badly. Books like that have developed other ingenious ways of keeping readers interested, and it will take many more sleepless nights in the Book Lab for this lowly INTERN to even scratch the surface of those.

Friday, January 1, 2010

resolutions a'heapful

INTERN’s New Year’s Resolutions 2010

-Preemptively get full sleeve tattoos of Paul Celan poems in the original German so that the (undoubtedly uber-sophisticated) Other Interns at Venerable McPulitzer Publishing Co. can see that INTERN is Serious about Literature.

-Overcome fear of police officers, border guards, mall cops, and friendly but square acquaintances who may or may not have spotted INTERN before she ducked behind the nearest bookshelf wearing a large sweater as pants and a slightly muddy tea cozy for a hat.

-Overcome fear of/desire to mate with Espresso Book Machine.

-Self-publish thinly-veiled, completely “fictional” “novel” on Espresso Book Machine.

-Philanthropic goal: Design simple, crank-powered Kindle à la One Laptop Per Child so desert nomads and children in third-world villages can read the New York Times on glare-resistant e-ink display.

-Delete embarrassing photographs of self with Espresso Book Machine from hard drive.

-Overcome fear of acquaintances in general.

-Finish revising novel *for reals* so that Techie Boyfriend can stop banging his head against the wall each time INTERN claims to be “almost done except for one more total rewrite”.

-Make it through next internship alive and full of useful knowledges.


It is so so so good to be back! INTERN is filled with love and excitement! Hello hello!