Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Publication Notes --April 2008

Probably the most significant news (perhaps the only news) is that two of my stories are now available on Sniplits. Click here and you can go directly to my page there. One of the stories, "A Little Accident" is one of the featured stories. "Puppy" is shorter and a little cheaper. (They charge based on the length of the story, all good prices for a story that is easy to download.) If you are reading and love to listen to stories, please consider buying one or more from this site. I'd, of course, be pleased if you got one of mine, but I think there is something there for pretty much every taste.

Looking forward to summer. Should get a little writing done and hopefully see a few more things out there.

Press release for Sniplits.
New on-line publisher offers DRM-free digital audio short stories
Sniplits’ beta test site offers downloadable MP3 audio shorts, author fan clubs and community forums
Batavia, Illinois – 1 May 2008 – Anyone with a digital music player, smart phone or laptop understands the hunger for new content. Now, with the beta site launch of, there’s a new source for entertainment on the Internet. Sniplits is publishing audio short stories, packaged as DRM-free MP3 files and playable on virtually any device capable of playing digital music.
The Sniplits website has launched for beta testing with 85 audio short stories ranging from about two minutes in length to nearly an hour. The initial batch of stories represents the work of approximately 50 authors, and Sniplits will add additional stories and Fan Club pages as the site ramps up. The stories sell for $0.48 or $0.88 each, depending on length. In addition to mainstream and literary short stories, Sniplits offers mystery and suspense, speculative/science fiction and fantasy, romance, horror, adventure, sports, western, historical fiction and young adult stories.
“While they may be brief, there’s really nothing small about a short story,” says company founder, Anne Stuessy. “The best short stories are packed with compelling characters and storylines, with suspense, romance, heartbreak, humor, shivers and surprises. The need to make every word count, means that they can pack an astounding punch.”
“Our goal is to provide listeners with audio stories that are perfectly-sized for any pause in their day, from under two minutes to nearly an hour,” says Stuessy. “A ten-minute story might be perfect while waiting for an oil change, while a 30-minute story might be just the thing for a dentist appointment or lunch break.”
Sniplits publishes new as well as established authors and, unlike many markets, pays them for their work.
“It makes me crazy that we’re willing to pay millions to athletes right out of college or even high school, but expect our writers to pay their mortgages with little but the satisfaction of having written a good story,” says Stuessy.
Sniplits pays an advance of between $15 and $150 for stories between 100 and 8,000 words, and authors have the potential to receive royalty payments on net sales of their stories of between 30 to 50%.
“Unfortunately, the economics of print publishing today make it difficult for most short story publishers to offer much of anything in the way of compensation. Still,” Stuessy says, “many of those literary, university and genre-specific publishers play a – perhaps the – critical role in developing writers, and they do it very well. We’d like to support their work, and grow the audience for short stories in all formats, so we enable authors to link from Sniplits’ Fan Club pages to their work with print publishers. We also decided that Sniplits will not necessarily require first publication rights, but will only ask for audio rights and the right to distribute stories electronically. That might enable an author to have his story published in a literary print magazine, for example, and still have an audio version published by Sniplits.”
In addition to offering audio short stories, Sniplits plans to build out what it calls its “Open Mic” community, where members can connect with authors and each other. It includes Fan Club pages for authors and discussion forums. While anyone can visit and shop Sniplits, only Sniplits Members are allowed access to Fan Clubs where they can ask authors questions. Membership is also required to participate in community discussion forums. Membership is free and members are not required to purchase stories. Membership benefits include a free story each week.

Sniplits and the stylized logo are service marks of Stussi, Inc.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bookmarks for March/April 2008

Drift and Pulse by Kathleen Halme. I should have waited, I suspect, until summer to read this book. I wanted so to like it, but found most of the poems rough going. I felt like I needed, for most pieces, degrees in anthropology and biology to get what was going on. Wonderful, beautiful and thought-provoking lines in places, but the overall experience was not good. I should try this again later when I have more ability to concentrate on these interesting metaphors than I do with eight classes to teach. But right now the book is overdue, and I have to get it back to the library.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham. This is a much needed book. Yes, DNA evidence has helped exonerate many people of crimes they did not commit. But DNA is only part of this story. There are other stories to tell here. First, there is story of pride and arrogance, not only by police and prosecutors in the case of Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz, who were sentenced for the brutal murder of Debra Sue Carter, but of many citizens of the small town where the events take place. This is also, of course, the story of Williamson's ordeal, not only at the hands of a justice system bent on failure, but also his torture and neglect. It is also, sadly, the story of mental illness. While the first two elements of this tale certain got my interest, it is the plight of Williamson as a mental patient that intrigue me most.

The Truth (with Jokes) by Al Franken. Don't let the jokes fool ya: Franken is outraged at how Bush and his cronies hijacked the United States and may have done harm that will take years to undo (if that is even possible). But unlike certain so called voices for the people who have no sense of humor, Franken must make us laugh in these dark times. And laugh you should (unless you are one of those he harpoons, and as I said, they don't have a sense of humor. Well, some do, but it is pretty darn sick). Read here about how one conservative tells his voters he is going to fight to make abortion illegal and then supports forced prostitution and forced abortions. Read about how Americans were made to cower so much in fear that Bush could easily make them believe they much go to war for him.

Through Painted Deserts
by Donald Miller (2005). Some time ago, I recommended Miller's Blue Like Jazz. This is not as striking a book, but I do think it is worth reading. It is a revising of the memoir Prayer and the Art of Volkswagon Maintenance. Miller claims he added back, in the rewrite, "authentic" material his original publisher did not wish to keep because of their "market." Okay, fine.
I think this book is written specifically for guys like me, people who read books like this, and wonder how anyone gets up the guts to leave everyone and everything behind to take a trip. A mixture of annoyance and envy marked some of my reading, thinking that I could never take such a trip, even though my heart and soul would be better off for having taken the journey. But that may be the point. Not so much that I need to do this thing, but that perhaps all of us need something like this, not to happen to us, but for us to experience so that we can put our spiritual lives, so easily neglected, back into perspective.

Night by Elie Wiesel (1960). Night is a powerful memoir of Wiesel's experience during the Holocaust, and I wish I had read it many years ago. I recall my wife and picking it during a bookstore excursion, and for some reason, it sat on the shelf. One day I picked it up and began to read. Of course, the story of the horrors of the Holocaust, told from one who has been there, is certainly compelling. But I was also drawn to the relationship between Wiesel and his father, and how his father's life and death continued to haunt him. Thus, this book is one of those "must read" books, not only because of what it chronicles about one of the worst atrocities in history, but also because it puts human faces on that atrocity which keeps us from merely shaking our heads. We are encouraged to hope and work toward a better world.