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The recent story of Bay Area writer Joe Quirk who is suing Sony Pictures and others over copyright infringement contains a number of disheartening facts: “Even at (a) time when the value of intellectual property is perhaps higher than ever, with local technology companies including Google and Apple...
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Lev Grossman has beautifully explained in a New York Times article what makes me uneasy about the eBook: “…so far the great e-book debate has barely touched on the most important feature that the codex introduced: nonlinear reading.” Starting in the first century A.D., Western readers discarded the...
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I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with willpower.  As a writer I count on it to get me to the desk but as a non-conformist I rail over the Puritanical, judgmental tone that always seems to come with the advice to exert willpower over temptations.  And as someone who constantly...
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Cities of the World
Discovered this eye-opening book by the Taschen company, makers of amazing art books:  Cities of the World: 363 Engravings Revolutionize The View of the World which contains color plates of cities 1572 -1617.  It’s a gold-mine for the historical novelist (or the dreamer who wants to fall...
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Strange Histories by Darren Oldridge
The prosecution of animals – putting a pig on trial with its own lawyer, bringing criminals charges against a horde of flies – was a common practice in the Middle Ages and into the early modern period.  Strange as it may seem to us, it was based on some fairly sound logic, according to Darren...
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My remarks during a recent panel on historical fiction at the wonderful Saints and Sinners Festival: I love historical fiction but it’s a recent appreciation and it was born of a reading of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind because it’s a historical setting but a modern novel form...
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The Key West Literary Seminar for 2012 is entitled "Yet Another World" and will focus on creating alternate realities, or as they describe "To celebrate our 30th anniversary, we look to the unexpected, the unknown, to worlds that might have been, and worlds that may still come to...
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I’m repulsed by the idea outlined in a recent New York Times article that Kindle e-books have so-called “popular highlights” in which the ‘quotable’ phrase is highlighted for you before you even read the book.  As a writer, I want each reader to experience the work on their own terms and not be...
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Richly detailed and insightful review in the New York Times by Leon Wieseltier of the new book of Saul Bellow's letters. Here's a gem from Bellow: “The range of a writer’s metaphor is a measure of the range of his cognition.” Love that. “As with his novels," the review says, "the reading...
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Thrilled to say I’ll be moderating a panel at the Historical Novel Society Conference in San Diego June 17-19, 2011, focused on “Making Characters Believable.”  It will be held from 9:45-10:45 a.m. Saturday, June 18th and I think my opening remarks will be focused on the fascinating book, Strange...
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I’ll be teaching a new class at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival (SASfest)in New Orleans, May 12-15th, 2011: “Building Credible Worlds/Making Setting Work for Your Story. Here's what I'll be teaching: Setting is not simple backdrop, like a green screen on which on film is shot.  Setting in...
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Gems in the New York Times this weekend, including this great quote from Jeanette Winterson, reviewing the new novel by Michael Cunningham (By Nightfall).  She says “good novels are novels that provoke us to argue with the writer, not just novels that make us feel magically, mysteriously at home. ...
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Imagining the Past in France
Am definitely planning to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum for it’s “Imagining the Past in France 1250-1500” which dovetails beautifully with the period I’m currently working on.  Christine de Pizan was in the court of Charles V and Charles VI and was actively involved in the production of her own...
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Scored a teaching gig at The Writing Salon: join me for my 1-day and 5-week workshops on “How to Write Historical Fiction.”  Both classes will involve lectures on the unique requirements of the genre, plus in-class or take-home exercises to help you find or refine the era and area that resonate...
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The end of summer in San Francisco is a glorious, unnerving wake-up call. On one of the handful of days when it hits in the 80s the cord of wood and the presto logs you laid in for July look odd in your living room. The ski jacket you keep in the back seat of the car strikes you as absurd. You...
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