Introducing the 21st Century Author

I met someone over at podiobooks, a podbook author. Having amassed a large following with her podbook, she’s getting ready to self-publish it as a print book. Under normal circumstances I would caution her against it, but as everyone knows there is no such thing as normal circumstances in publishing anymore. She’s actually going to do the thing right by hiring an editor so her product is going to be a cut above the self-publishers we have known in the past. I can’t really say she won’t end up with a good book.

Continue reading


Teenagers From the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes: A Very Short Review

No especially interesting comics this week (recommendations solicited, if anybody knows of anything thrilling coming up), but here is an exciting nonfiction volume!  Published by Sequart Research & Literacy Organization, a nonprofit new to me, this is a solid well-made volume.  It delves deeply into subjects that till now have only been debated among Legion fans, perhaps on lightly-attended late-night panels at Worldcons.  The role of women in the Legion, a passionate defense of the Giffen version, the relative professionalism of the Legion compared to other super-hero groups, an analysis of 30th century architecture — it’s all here, oh frabjous day!


These are the issues that try Legion fans’ souls.  Why is the LSH the only group of comics characters that actually ages?  Have any of the contrivances to get around the paradoxes of time travel really been successful?  (For consistency I would simply sever all connection between the 31st and the 21st centuries, but nobody is consulting me, and marketing considerations always prevail.)  How malign was the influence of disco on costuming issues?  (Horrible, it is universally agreed.) How to reconcile the various Legion reboots?  This is minute analysis, folks.

There is an optimistic avowal in the foreword, that this book could introduce new readers to the LSH.  But these essays are going to appeal far more deeply to the real geeks among us.   I would not hand this volume to a new reader — it’s just too much.  If you want to know more about the Legion you would do better to go straight to the source, and pick up back issues of Legion from the sale bins or in the various compendiums DC has helpfully published.  A discussion about a subject can never convey the charms of the subject itself — would you rather meet Hugh Jackman in person, or just talk about him?  The question answers itself, does it not?

But then!  Once you are in, this is a delightful book — more coherent than fan newsgroups, more permanent than blogs.  The only improvement I can imagine would be articles or interviews with some of the actual Legion creators.  But this lack does give room for a follow-up volume!


Someday I’ll Use That, or: Ghoul


We are an anecdote-making species. We tell stories: the time Aunt Suze’s cat got stuck in the sewer; the time Uncle Moe was arrested for skimping on child support…. You don’t have to be a writer to make stories out of your life. Stories are one way we make sense of the random occurrences, minor tragedies, and banana-peels of existence. But writers…ah, we are a scary group. Because at any time, consciously or unconsciously, we’re taking notes.

I am 17 and a passenger in a car accident.  I don’t just recall the accident and the peripheral touches (the wash of beer and macaroni salad across the highway; pulling the scarf from my hair and offering it to a fellow passenger with a gash on his cheek), I am watching the reactions of the people around the accident.  I am watching the mix of emotions in the driver of our car: guilt, anger, anguish (her car and her guitar, both totalled!), and stoicism.  I’m watching the way the state police handle her — a mixture of kindness and sternness, with an eyebrow’s worth of skepticism when she said she hadn’t been drinking.  I don’t even know yet that I’m going to write, and yet I’m storing this stuff up. Continue reading


Looking for Feedback

bookpile1Hello.  I’m Sarah Zettel, and as you may, or may not, know I’m the Project Manager for Book View Cafe.

Book View Cafe launched roughly three months ago.  So far, we have received a tremendous response,  and we have a lot of plans we want to put into action in the coming weeks and months.

But all these plans are heading toward a very short set of goals;

1) For Book View Cafe to be a go-to place for people looking for something good to read.

2) For the process of acquiring a good read to be convenient and flexible.

3) To keep our readers happy so you will keep coming back.

Now, obviously, we can’t give you chocolate and comfy pillows, but we would like to hear what you would like to see from the site.  For instance, what download formats would you most like to see made available?  What (if any) changes to the look, or the navigation of the site would you find helpful?

We’d be interested in some blue-sky feedback as well.  If you could design your idea fiction access site or system, what would it be?

Do you have any questions about our plans for the future?

We are, of course, interested in compliments, but we need (polite) complaints as well.  We want to make Book View Cafe useful and interesting to you, after all.

So, here’s the place and now’s the time to speak directly to us about the site.  Please let us know what you think so we can continue to make Book View Cafe the best fiction site on the web.


Dance For Your Life


Dance For Your Life:

The first time I set foot in a dance studio I lost my heart.  I think I was 7.  We lived in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.  My mother had signed me up for a combined tap and ballet class in Portland because it coincided with my sister’s modeling class–she had scoliosis and some idiot thought posture exercises would help.

While my sister walked with a book on her head, I shuffled and pliéd and boureé my way to bliss. Continue reading


The Changes in Publishing: How Do You Get Your News?

My father reads the San Antonio Express-News every day. He reads it thoroughly and, because he knows a lot of history, also reads several magazines, and has been reading the news daily for more than 70 years, he not only gets the facts, but can put them in context.

He reads the print edition. The other day he said to me, “Since you don’t read newspapers,” and I interrupted.

“I read newspapers,” I said — indignantly — “I just read them online.”

And I do. Continue reading


In Search of … the Mysterious Tea Stalker

cat_mysteryThe morning of my birthday (February 9th), an anonymous package arrived on my doorstep containing an amazing tea sampler with a wooden tray, a lovely lidded cup, sugar and cream pots and tea bag holder. There was no name on the box or the card that came with it, and no one has yet stepped forward to take credit for this nefarious plot calculated to give me an island of peaceful reflection in the midst of my mentally hectic workday.

So, here I am, putting out an APB — seeking the identity of the Mysterious Tea Stalker.

C’mon, whoever you are — fess up.

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff


EVERGREEN: On Becoming a Professional Amateur # 14: When to Hide the Thesaurus

Sample paragraph: I saw Hal coming toward me across the office commons, waving. “What did the boss say?” he screeched. “Oh, Ron, please tell me he didn’t fire you!” he squealed.

If you read my last post, this should be a familiar snatch of dialogue. In addition to being an example of how strong verbs create strong images (in this case an owl in a three-piece suit), it is also an illustration of a pet peeve of mine: careless use of one of the most dangerous tools in the writer’s kit.

I speak, dear Reader, of the Thesaurus.  Continue reading


Animal Hoarders: In Over Their Heads

For an animal rights activist, I guess I pretty much stink.  I don’t believe that animals should vote, like Peter Singer.  Interestingly, this newer (1989 – Peter Singer’s origination of the animal rights movement dates back to the 1970’s and a landmark book called Animal Liberation) essay discusses the rights of mentally-incapacitated humans vs. dogs, which Singer refers to as “irrational”.

I do not see Badger, who is currently lying on his side in the sun, as “irrational”.  I think he is a pretty smart dog.  Many people would not be smart or rational enough to do any number of things Badger has done to get his heart’s desire – in particular, the “chicken trick” and the amazing grilled-cheese sandwich leap of faith. Continue reading


BookViewCafe at

Our foray into the world of writerly chats ( last evening was successful. We were on time, awake and entertaining. We did not have browser issues. Our user names and colors were acceptable to all participants in the room. We answered their questions efficiently and truthfully. We gave away free copies of our work. The recipients seemed happy, no eager, to receive our humble gifts. In short we conquered.

The most asked question of the evening was how does an aspiring writer become a member of BVC. We hemmed and hawed for several moments until Brenda Clough came up with the correct answer. Hopefully she’ll read this and let us all know.