Cornfield Meet

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“100 Stories for Haiti” – just a reminder

It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned 100 Stories for Haiti, but just because I’ve been a slacker about that doesn’t mean the need for Red Cross aid – even three months after the earthquake – has let up, so here’s some news and a few reminders about the book:

BBC Audiobooks America has produced an abridged version – the list of the 20 stories included is here, although the release date has been pushed back to May 1.

The no-seriously-really-name-your-own-price electronic edition at Smashwords still comes in the .lrf, .mobi and .epub formats which mean you can load it in an eyeblink onto your Kindle or your Sony Reader or the portable Apple device of your choosing, and >poof!< you’ve got a hundred short reads all queued up for whenever you have a spare minute or three.

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April 15, 2010 Posted by | Books, Current Affairs, Fiction, Web/Tech, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Read an E-Book Week

No, I don’t own an electronic book reader, and yes, I prefer my reading in dead-tree editions, and I don’t see that changing in the near future for many reasons. But today is apparently the beginning of something called Read an E-Book Week , brought to my attention through my involvement with the 100 Stories for Haiti project, so it’s pixelpages of which I’ll speak today.

I’ve read two Wil Wheaton books electronically –  Memories of the Future Vol. 1 and Sunken Treasure – as well as Jon Paul Fiorentino’s Asthmatica, all three of which break up similarly and fit that entertain-me-for-a-couple-minutes-at-a-time need that pops up every so often during my day. (You can only unwind with so much Yahtzee clone, you know?) I have downloaded longer works – Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is on my desktop as of late last week – but I have yet to read one of them entirely here at my computer.

I am, in fact, currently reading 100 Stories for Haiti‘s electronic edition because while the Bridge House paperback is available, I expect it will be awhile before my copy arrives from overseas. Being far too eager to dive into the collection to wait, I went to Smashwords and picked my own price for the download, which in case I haven’t said it an even 1,138 times yet, still means all the proceeds to to the Red Cross relief effort in Haiti and you get a very cool book besides. (And hey, do the book and the Red Cross a favor, and if you do download it or buy the hardcopy, go to its Amazon page – yes, the UK version works for Amazon.com members just fine – and leave a quick rating or a review and click on the book’s tagged terms (anthology, short stories, fiction, etc.), and help boost its profile a bit.)

With its 1,000-words-or-fewer pieces 100 stories for Haiti fits my own ebook bill perfectly. They’re arranged alphabetically and I’m only in the Ds right now, but I’ve always been a fan of short fiction and I’m really enjoying the variety of styles and moods and approaches, and there’s just some flat-out good writing in here.

It also seems somehow appropriate that since technology made it possible for dozens of people to come together for a project like this in just six weeks, I should sit here in a room in Ohio on a sunny March morning, and with a few quick clicks and keystrokes, hear voices from Australia,  Botswana, Finland, Germany, the UK…

March 7, 2010 Posted by | Books, Current Affairs, Fiction, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest post: “100 Stories for Haiti” creator Greg McQueen

Today – meaning Feb. 25, because even though it’s before midnight here, it’s already Thursday over in Europe –  I’m turning Cornfield Meet over to the inspired and ambitious Greg McQueen, whose brainspark got the “100 Stories for Haiti” fire going in the first place. And because he clearly has no need for sleep, the guy’s in the midst of “blog tour,” writing about the book for various sites and talking about different angles of the project, to which I contributed a story called “The Painting.”

Read on for a glimpse into the process of bringing an 80,000-word book from concept to finalized reality in just a few weeks:

Thanks for letting me graffiti your blog, John.

If you’re just joining this blog tour, you can catch up HERE and HERE … Oh, and HERE.

Today I want to talk a little about how we handled submissions and chose the 100 stories for the book. As you can imagine, it was a huge task, and I have to admit that I didn’t have as much to do with it as I’d wished.

To give you a rough idea how big a task it was … We had 420 submissions within about a week. Each submission, on average, was at least 800 words, so that’s about 336,000 words that needed to be read within a matter of days.

When I started the project, I fully expected to be hands-on with the story selections. However coordinating everything — answering emails, arranging stuff with the publishers, sorting out agreements for the authors, plus a million things that I never expected would be part of producing a book — took up most of my time. I read as many of the stories as I could, but the real credit for making sure that each and every submission was read goes to Amy Burns and the team of volunteer editors.

So, I want you to get up now and give them a standing ovation. They deserve it. They all worked their wobbly bits off to make this book happen.

Okay. Thanks. Be seated and read on.

We started out with about 25 readers and editors. Everyone gave as much time as they could spare. I set up a special web forum for everyone to work in. For the geek-a-trons among you, we used Basecamp from 37 Signals. I chose Basecamp because 37 Signals like to create products that don’t need a manual (and they come pretty darn close!). They also have a system called Writeboards, which are amazing for writers because they save every version of a document. So, it made it easy to encourage readers to correct typos as they found them because we could always rollback to a previous version of the story if needed.

The way we initially vetted submissions was simple. I described it to one of the editors as the literary equivalent to a wrestle-mania smackdown. Each story had to be read three times, and each person had to vote, Yes, No, or Maybe.

2 x Yes = Stays for the next round.

2 x No = Knock out.

2 x Maybe = Stays for the next round.

There were disagreements and discussions over pieces, which was where I stepped in. The original spec for submissions was 1000 words, any genre, no massive death-destruction-violence, feel good stories – the kind that makes you tell grumpy old men that life really ain’t that bad. We had to compromise on the specs a bit, not too much, though.

As the submissions dwindled to about 150, Amy volunteered as Head Editor, and whip-cracked to get those submissions down to 100.

This was where encouraging readers to make corrections as they found them really paid off because we ended up with stories that needed little or no corrections. Amy and a team of about five core editors then re-read and re-edited the remaining 100 stories to get them close to publishing standards.

I’d be lying if I said that I’d planned the whole thing. I started the 100 Stories for Haiti project because I wanted to help. I didn’t sit down and think it through at all … If anything, my plan was that I had no plan. I felt that many of the people involved in the editing process were experienced writers and editors. I told them from the start that I had this crazy notion that they’d be able to just roll up sleeves, knowing the kind of stories that we were looking for, and do what they do best — read and edit, choose stories that resonated with them, and fight to have them included in the book.

Odd thing is … Turned out I was right.

You’re going to read/hear me say this a lot during this blog tour. It’s because I am proud of the book. I want people to read it. More importantly, I want people to buy it. Not because I want a best-seller of some sort, simply because I think it’s a cracking read, made by a talented and dedicated team of writers and editors who want nothing more than to raise money for the Haiti Earthquake and Disaster Recovery appeals. Here goes …

100 Stories for Haiti comes out as an ebook and paperback on March 4th, 2010. The paperback costs £11.99 + P&P. It is available to pre-order here: http://www.100storiesforhaiti.org/buy-the-book

Tomorrow, the blog tour takes me  HERE and will feature a few more extracts from the book.

…..

Thanks for stopping by, Greg!

Okay, so, to sum up: Buy a book that The Gone-Away World author Nick Harkaway describes with the phrase “the sheer weight of unrefined awesome contained within these covers,” and all the proceeds go to the Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti, because every bit of time and work going into 100 Stories has been donated. (And yes, for those of us living outside the United Kingdom, the shipping costs don’t come cheap: If that’s an issue – which I totally understand – buy the electronic version: It’ll be coming out via Smashwords the same day as Bridge House releases the paperback, March 4.)

February 24, 2010 Posted by | Books, Current Affairs, Fiction, science fiction, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pre-order “100 Stories for Haiti”

Thanks to the timely arrival of some funds in my PayPal account, I just ordered my paperback copy of  100 Stories for Haiti.

100 Stories for Haiti

The paperback edition from Bridge House Publishing in the UK is set for a March 4 release, and there’s a Smashwords electronic edition on the way, too.

This is such an amazingly cool worldwide effort, and if you don’t believe me, check the list of author bios, which is not only jaw-dropping in its diversity but has introduced several new writers and books to my own must-read list.

Still on the fence? Consider this bit from Nick Harkaway, author of The Gone-Away World:

“Of course, while giving is, according to a recent scientific study, more pleasurable and healthy than receiving, it can become a bit burdensome after a while — especially if you can’t see the real time effects of your gifts. That’s where this book comes in. The writers and publishers will do the actual giving, and you just have to buy some really great stories which you would, of course, have rushed to buy anyway because of the sheer weight of unrefined awesome contained within these covers.”

So you get 80,000-plus words of good book, and all the proceeds go to the Red Cross’ relief efforts in Haiti.

Now, here’s what you do: You can go to the 100 Stories for Haiti site and order from there, or to the Bridge House site and order from there. If, like me, you’re ordering from the U.S., since the book project is UK-based, you’ll need to buy through that little button/option marked “Rest of World” or “ROW” (a note of caution: I very nearly ordered an extra UK-shipped edition due to a default setting somewhere that put both an ROW order and a standard order in my PayPal cart, so play close attention). And PayPal automatically handled the pounds-to-dollars conversion swimmingly, I say.

Also, tell a lot of people about it.

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Books, Current Affairs, science fiction, Travel, writing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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