Thursday, January 31, 2008

Writer Apprentice 2008 Edition

Here I am again. This month I am at the knee of the redoubtable Margie Lawson, learning all about Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors (e-mail and excessive surfing, anyone?) It's a very good course filled with tools to attack and defeat all the negative things we tell ourselves and the negative behaviors we tend to have around writing.

Goals for 2008...well, they seem formidable. But I think another pass through my WIP's couldn't exactly hurt. And this is the year I tackle Donald Maass's Breakout Novel books and continue to master short fiction.

And I would like to blog just a little bit more. :D

I do have a new short story. Finishing it made me feel like I'd accomplished a marathon. If I do this once a month, I could have an anthology by the end of the year. (!!)

Maybe I'm just a teeny weeny bit depressed with all that's going on...which makes The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person's Path through Depression a timely addition to my library. Nationally known creativity coach Eric Maisel will be my guest right here on Feb 21st, as part of his virtual blog tour for VGB. The tour has already started--the schedule is here and I encourage you to surf around. I'm small potatoes :) but he is visiting many neat people in different artistic disciplines with unique perspectives on creativity and depression.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Annals of Plagiarism: Heaving Ferrets

This story of a wildlife writer's article on black-footed ferrets being plagiarised to produce pillow talk for a romance novel was amusing, until you realize how chronic the novelist's little habit of plagiarism was.

Who found all this? Bloggers on a romance blog armed with a stack of books and a search engine. What tipped them off? "Change of voice." Not satisfied to just check the data dumps, they started running the well-written passages through as well, which is how they found this Pulitzer prize winner from 1930.

Bad enough the publisher thought lifting whole passages from all those dry scholarly works in public domain without attribution was fair use. I think possibly publishers should rehire their fact checkers and have them google manuscripts all day. It might save them some embarrassment.

Like the Opal Mehta could you (an agent, editor, publishing house) be familiar with YA chicklit market and not catch it before the readers on the street did?

And I know I'm getting old...and I know our schools are turning out kids who don't know the difference...but when is plagiarism ever the right thing to do?

As I told a friend of mine, I may be a hack, but I come by it honestly.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Spy Who Came In From the Cold

William G Fuchs
3/18/24 - 12/19/07

My blog has humble beginnings. I started it for my parents to give them a place to go on the Web and keep up with my writing. My Dad was delighted and printed out the whole thing.

I cannot begin to describe him to you. He was very humble and unassuming. He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things. His life is a kaleidoscope of extraordinary images: passing through Ellis Island as an infant, sitting on Einstein's lap as a child, sneaking into the Apollo Theatre with a black classmate in the 30's. Being tapped for OSS because of his fluency in German, surviving bombings in London, lying quietly in a boat next to director ("The Admiral") John Ford as a German patrol boat cruised past. Showing up for a blind date at the GW auditorium, even though he was ill with food poisoning. (The blind date was with my mother.) The OSS stint turned into the CIA, Germany and Switzerland, DC and Hawaii. He helped raise a Soviet sub, helped invent the fax machine and saw the Roswell autopsy reports. Those were the things he could talk about.

When I last saw him in September, he told me what he was doing on the day I was born in Germany in 1962. Some of it is still classified. He took all those oaths he signed to secrecy seriously, so it was significant that he told me this. I suspected it was closure. He awakened me and saw me out the door at 3 AM the day I left. Still punctual and efficient.

This is the only digital picture I have of him...from the US Navy Memorial site. From 1945, a young sailor in front of Picadilly Circus.