Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blogging book competition hots up

The first short-list for a literary prize that rewards bloggers turned bookwriters has been announced.
Dubbed the Blooker Prize, the contest is for those bloggers who have turned their episodic journals into something more substantial.

British entries on the Blooker short-list include the intimate diary of a prostitute and a guide to the UK's best "greasy spoon" cafes.

The first winner of the Blooker Prize will be announced on 3 April.

Cafe culture

The Blooker Prize was first suggested in October 2005 and was the creation of Bob Young, founder of self-publishing site Lulu which sponsors the prize.

In the last few years, regularly updated web logs - or blogs - have become a major feature on the internet and now there are believed to be more than 60 million of them in existence.

There are blogs on any and every subject and many of the writers behind blogs have found their passions for a particular subject and writing style has won them a regular and appreciative audience.

There's definitely a romance to cafes. Once there you can easily get yourself into the frame of mind that you are about to start a novel
Russell Davies

Some blogs or their authors have become so popular that they have turned to traditional print to collect their thoughts or explore their interest at greater length.
Books from blogs, or "blooks", were becoming hugely popular, said Mr Young.

Any blook published in English anywhere in the world before the deadline of 30 January 2006 was eligible for entry.

A total of 89 entries made it to the Lulu Blooker's long-list and this has been whittled down to just 16 that will compete for the prize money.

The entries are arranged into three categories - fiction, non-fiction and comics - and the winners of two of these sections get a cash prize of £550 ($1,000). The winner of the grand prize gets a cash prize of £1,100 ($2,000).

The short-list is dominated by US entries but the UK has two strong contenders in the running. One is notorious Belle De Jour, who blogs about life as a prostitute.

The other contender is Russell Davies, who turned his affection for "greasy spoon" cafes into a blog called eggbaconchipsandbeans and a book detailing the 50 best cafes in the UK.

"I was looking for something to blog about that was not a picture of a cat," Mr Davies told the BBC News website, explaining his choice of subject matter.

"I'm drawn to a full English," he said, referring to the colloquial term for a fried breakfast.

"There's definitely a romance to cafes. Once there, you can easily get yourself into the frame of mind that you are about to start a novel."

Co-judging the event are writer and activist Cory Doctorow, Robin Miller, editor-in-chief of online publisher OSTG and Paul Jones, director of Ibiblio.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/03/08 00:03:18 GMT


The Short-List
Non-fiction (6 finalists)

All The President's Spin: George W. Bush, the Media, and the Truth by Bryan Keefer, Ben Fritz, and Brendan Nyhan

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (paperback, $14.00)
Source blog/site: Spinsanity -

Belle de Jour: The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl by Anonymous

Publisher: Phoenix (paperback, £7.99)
Source blog/site: Belle de Jour -
Biodiesel Power by Lyle Estill

Publisher: New Society Publishers (paperback, $16.95)
Source blog/site: Piedmont Biofuels Energy Blog -
Egg Bacon Chips and Beans: 50 Great Cafes and the Stuff That Makes Them Great by Russell Davies

Publisher: HarperCollins Entertainment (hardback, £9.99)
Source blog/site: eggbaconchipsandbeans -
Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

Publisher: Little, Brown (hardback, $23.95)
Source blog/site: The Julie/Julia project -
Stone Cold Guilty - The People v. Scott Lee Peterson by Loretta Dillon

Publisher: self-published through Lulu (paperback, $16.50)
Source blog/site: Observations of a Misfit -
Fiction (5 finalists)

Action Poetry: Literary Tribes for the Internet Age edited by Levi Asher, Jamelah Earle, and Caryn Thurman

Publisher: Authorhouse (paperback, $17.50)
Source blog/site: Literary Kicks -
Africa Fresh! New Voices from the First Continent - edited by Rod Amis

Publisher: self-published through Lulu (paperback, $15.00)
Source blog/site: G21: The World's Magazine -
Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest

Publisher: Tor (paperback, $13.95)
Source blog/site: Heretic Spire, a Damn Lie -
Gus Openshaw's Whale-Killing Journal by Keith Thomson

Publisher: MacAdam/Cage (hardback, $23.00)
Source blog/site: Gus Openshaw's Whale-Killing Journal - an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble by Tom Evslin

Publisher: dotHill Press (hardback, $24.95)
Source blog/site: -
Comics (5 finalists)

Ambidextrous: Collection 1 by Kevin Cornell

Publisher: self-published through Lulu (paperback, $11.99)
Source blog/site: Bearskinrug -
Comic Strip Volume 1: Scarybear and Friends by Jason Pultz

Publisher: self-published
Source blog/site: Comic Strip -
Dinosaur Comics: Huge Eyes, Beaks, Intelligence, and Ambition by Ryan North

Publisher: self-published through CatPrint (paperback, $8.00)
Source blog/site: Dinosaur Comics -
The Dada Alphabet: An Absurdist's Illustrated Primer by Stephanie Freese, David Milloway, and Matthew Wood

Publisher: self-published through Lulu (paperback, $15.00)
Source blog/site: The Dada Detective -

Totally Boned: A Joe and Monkey Collection by Zach Miller

Publisher: self-published through Lulu (paperback, $14.95)
Source blog/site: Joe and Monkey -

BBC NEWS | Technology | Blogging book competition hots up

Monday, March 06, 2006

BOOK OR MOVIE? It’s time to stop the comparisons LIT vs. FLICK?

The Kansas City Star

If you still don’t know why many bibliophiles cringe at seeing their favorite books turned into films, here’s a timely answer: &.

That’s an ampersand, as in this year’s Oscar-nominated “Pride & Prejudice.” I’ve yet to find a reason why Hollywood felt the need to change the title from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but I suspect it was nothing more than the nonsense that went into advertising “Terminator 2” as “T2” or “Alien vs. Predator” as “AVP.” Tinseltown loves typographical tomfoolery.

Actually, “Pride & Prejudice” is a fine film. Also nominated in various categories this year are “Brokeback Mountain,” from the Annie Proulx short story, and “Capote,” from the biography by Gerald Clarke.

My, my; could it be that Hollywood finally has learned to respect literature?


This is just coincidence: Three films getting released in the same year, all of which do justice to their source material. They just as easily could have been released in three different years. Every film that gets made is a caprice of time, the end result of certain opportunities and obstacles, including the schedules of hundreds of people, from director and actors to gaffers and key grips.

So my first reaction to the literary sparkle of this year’s Oscar-nominated films: big deal.

I can cite many movies in which the filmmakers eviscerated the literary cow. The one that still sickens me is “Simon Birch,” the execrable 1998 weepfest so unfaithful to A Prayer for Owen Meany that author John Irving asked for the radical title change.

The truth is that none of us really should care whether a book makes it to the screen in good shape, because these two art forms are two different animals.

Vivid as any book or story may be, assimilating it remains a function of our ability to imagine. We must create, in our heads, the story’s faces, rooms, voices and so on — based, of course, on the author’s little black marks on white paper.

Not so with film; much of the work is done for us. And so, confronted with the literality of an actor’s chiseled chin or an actress’s flawless lashes, we sometimes find that it was more fun doing the imagining ourselves. That can happen even with a good film.

That said, there are cases in which the Hollywood product can transcend the printed matter. I’ve always thought Francis Ford Coppola’s brooding “Godfather” superior to Mario Puzo’s florid novel. And I suspect Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club was better off once director David Fincher, along with actors Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, got their mitts on it.

If you’re a Palahniuk fan and you find the previous sentence heretical, consider this: In the supplemental material included on the double-disc DVD of “Fight Club,” the author remarks that he was so impressed with the contributions of Fincher and Co. that he began to wonder if his book didn’t suffer by comparison.

But wait … we’re doing it again: judging the apples against the oranges. I like “Fight Club” a great deal … and I like Fight Club immensely, too, but the former is a film and the latter is a novel and the twain don’t really meet.

The film, as films tend to be, is more linear, and its directness is a result of the filmmakers taking some of the bends out of the novel’s narrative river. The book is a serpentine thing; it toys with time even more playfully than the film does. Both are valid works of art.

I do confess I saw “Fight Club” before I read Fight Club; thus, approaching the book, it was hard for me to see Tyler Durden in my mind without seeing Brad Pitt. I suspect some of you who saw “Brokeback Mountain” before reading the Annie Proulx story might have had trouble forgetting hunky Heath Ledger.

That leads to this point: I’ve often been asked if one should not read the source material before seeing a film. Actually I think it’s entirely up to you and partly dependent on the situation. If a good film is in limited release instead of enjoying a long run at a multiplex, this books editor has no qualms about seeing the flick first, then reading (or re-reading) the book.

Our lives are bound by many rules. I’m not sure the arts should be. Forcing ourselves to read every book before seeing the film or insisting on finding fault with one or the other after we’ve experienced both — why, that’s nothing but pride, & prejudice, too.



The famous “I wish I knew how to quit you” scene from “Brokeback Mountain” differs only slightly from the short story. We pick up Annie Proulx’s story after the oft-repeated line.

“Like vast clouds of steam from thermal springs in winter the years of things unsaid and now unsayable — admisssions, declarations, shames, guilts, fears — rose around them. Ennis stood as if heart-shot, face gray and deep-lined, grimacing, eyes screwed shut, fists clenched, legs caving, hit the ground on his knees.

“ ‘Jesus,’ said Jack. ‘Ennis?’ But before he was out of the truck, trying to guess if it was a heart attack or the overflow of incendiary rage, Ennis was back on his feet and somehow, as a coat hanger is straightened to open a locked car and then bent again to its original shape, they torqued things almost to where they had been for what they’d said was no news. Nothing ended, nothing begun, nothing resolved.”

But Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana’s script continues the confrontation:

“ENNIS: Then why don’t you?! Why don’t you let me be? It’s because of you, Jack, that I’m like this. I’m nothin’. I’m nowhere.”

“(JACK starts toward him, but ENNIS jerks away.)

“ENNIS: Get the (expletive) off me!

“(JACK moves towards him again, and this time, ENNIS doesn’t resist.

“JACK: Come here … it’s all right. It’s all right … damn you, Ennis.

“(And then … they hug one another, a fierce desperate embrace, managing to torque things almost to where they had been …”)



Movies based on an original screenplay seldom win a best picture Oscar — only 10 times since 1982. Sometimes those winners were based on plays (“Chicago”) or historical texts (“Titanic”), but here are some recent winners that started out as books:

? “Million Dollar Baby”: A book of short stories by F.X. Toole.

? “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”: The final book in the trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.

? “A Beautiful Mind”: The biography of John Nash by Sylvia Nasar.

? “The English Patient”: A novel by Micheal Ondaatje.

? “Forrest Gump”: A novel by Winston Groom.

? “The Silence of the Lambs”: The second Hannibal Lecter novel by Thomas Harris.

? “Out of Africa”: Based on several texts, including Judith Thurman’s Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller, Errol Trzebinski’s Silence Will Speak and the memoirs of Isak Dinesen.

? “Ordinary People”: Novel by Judith Guest.

? “Kramer vs. Kramer”: Novel by Avery Corman.

? “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”: Novel by Ken Kesey.

? “The Godfather”: Novel by Mario Puzo.

? “The French Connection”: Novel by Robin Moore.

? The first big-screen adaptation to win a best picture Oscar was “All Quiet on the Western Front” in 1930 — only the third year of the Academy Awards. The film was based on Erich Maria Remarque’s novel.

Sources: Internet Movie Database,, 70 Years of Oscar by Robert Osborne (1989), ACNielsen Academy Awards Guide

Compiled by David Frese The Star Source: Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay, by Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana Compiled by David Frese The Star Source: Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay, by Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana

Kansas City Star | 03/05/2006 | BOOK OR MOVIE? It?s time to stop the comparisons LIT vs. FLICK?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

From the truth is stranger than fiction file...

King County Journal, Bellevue, Washington


SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY: A resident called 911 at 4:15 p.m. Oct. 20 to report seeing a handwritten note in a car window at the Safeway on Northwest Gilman Boulevard. The note read, ``First Kill Michael Kronenwetter.'' An investigation revealed that ``First Kill'' is the name of a novel by author Michael Kronenwetter. - Police

B&N Finds Great New Writers

Winners of the 13th annual Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Awards are:


First place: Beasts of No Nation (HarperCollins), Uzodinma Iweala's first novel about an African boy forced to become a soldier early in life. Fiction jurist Carrie Brown commented: "For its breathtaking portrayal of the survival of the human spirit in the face of suffering and cruelty, Beasts of No Nation would be a remarkable accomplishment for a writer practicing at the height of maturity and skill. Uzodinma Iweala was only 23 years old when he published this novel, but it is unmistakably an imaginative tour de force. [He] has found a voice for young Agu, an African child soldier conscripted into a brutal guerilla army, which is both harrowing and heartbreaking. The novel is testament to the profound ability of literature to show us horror, dismantle it and identify its parts, and arrive in the silent ether of the aftermath with something utterly unforgettable and, most importantly, worth cherishing."

Second place: Kitty Fitzgerald's first novel, Pigtopia (Miramax Books).

Third place: Catherine Tudish's short-story collection, Tenney's Landing (Scribner)


First place: One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick (Houghton Mifflin), a memoir of the author's Marine Corps service. Nonfiction judge Tom Groneberg said, "One Bullet Away is about two wars in different places. It's about . . . [a] fight to become a Marine officer . . and . . . the fights on the streets of Iraq and in the countryside of Afghanistan, the battle within a young soldier to do the right thing despite what the textbooks or his superiors might command. . . . While the book's subtitle might be: 'The Making of a Marine Officer,' ultimately, [Fick's book] heralds the making of a truly powerful new writer."

Second place: Martin Moran's memoir, The Tricky Part (Beacon Press)

Third place: Louise Brown's groundbreaking foray into a world of dynastic prostitution, The Dancing Girls of Lahore (Fourth Estate)

First-place winners receive $10,000 and a year of additional marketing and advertising support. Second-place winners receive $5,000, and third-place winners nab $2,500. All finalists are also given Tiffany awards and were honored yesterday at a private ceremony and read from their works in the evening at the Lincoln Triangle B&N in New York City.

The awards honor the best of the 70 authors featured in B&N's Discover Great New Writers program last year.

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