the Unending Journey of the Wandering Author

A chronicle of the unending journey of the Wandering Author through life, with notes and observations made along the way. My readers should be aware I will not censor comments that disagree with me, but I do refuse to display comment spam or pointless, obscene rants. Humans may contact me at thewanderingauthor at yahoo dot com - I'll reply as I am able.

Location: New England, United States

I have always known I was meant to write, even when I was too young to know the word 'author'. When I learned that books were printed, I developed an interest in that as well. And I have always been a wanderer, at least in my mind. It's not the worst trait in an author. For more, read my writing; every author illuminates their heart and soul on the pages they write upon.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tragic News From Holland

I hate to post about such a sad subject during the Christmas season, but I just learned the news today. The chestnut tree which Anne Frank loved and wrote about in her diary can no longer be saved, and a permit to cut it down has already been applied for.

For anyone who ever read Anne's diary, this must be sad news. I knew the chestnut tree was ill, but the last I had heard it was still considered possible to save it. It was one of the few signs of the outside world she could see from her window, and one that gave her comfort. So another link with the life of a wonderful, talented girl whose life was so tragically, maliciously, and senselessly cut short will be lost.

I was at least pleased to read that there are plans to plant a descendant of this tree. I suppose this is all that can be done, sad as that thought may be. I believe that the webcam will be showing the tree's removal live once the permit has been granted. Personally, I doubt I will be able to bear to watch, although another part of me would like to be witness to its last moments.

When I was young, there was a chestnut tree on my way to school. It was always a wonderful, magical time when the chestnuts, many still wrapped in their prickly green outer casings, would begin to fall. I'd spend as many minutes as I could each morning gathering as many as I could, then I'd admire the beautiful, mahogany coloured nuts inside.

One of my teachers took an exceptional dislike to me, and did all in her power to make my life miserable. The situation became so terrible, the school superintendent even advised my parents on how much time they could legally have me excused from school without (quite) violating the law. While not an ordeal half so bad as Anne's, and certainly one with a much happier ending, a chestnut tree provided its comfort to me during a difficult time as well. Perhaps this is why I'm taking the news so hard.

They say there are no plans to reuse the wood from the felled tree. While I regret the death of the tree, if there is nothing else to be done, it would be nice if some good could come of it. Personally, I would think the would should be auctioned off in an online charity auction. The proceeds, of course, would go to perpetuating the memory of Anne Frank.

I know, if I had enough money I thought I had the slightest hope of winning the bidding, I'd spend every penny I could afford. Imagine being able to have a desk or chair made from the wood of that wonderful tree! Or, if a commercial buyer won the bidding, they could manufacture custom fountain pens with wooden barrels to sell - I'd happily pay an outrageous price for one of those.

I think Anne would have liked the idea, if her beloved tree were to die, of every possible bit of good being derived from it. It would raise money to honour her memory, and to combat the kind of hatred that took her life. It would also preserve some tiny bit of memory, some additional souvenir of her life. I hope my suggestion may reach the right ears in time to do some good.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

A Brief Status Update

I will be writing another post on the issue of chain bookstores. Before I do, I want to assure you, yes, I do take this seriously, but I will not blame anyone for disagreeing with me. You have a right to your opinions, and it is not the kind of issue I'd start a quarrel over. But some comments did make me realise I didn't explain the issue as well as I would have liked to. I hope those of you who do disagree won't be offended by that.

I will also try to write a post soon listing some of the books, and authors, I've found worth reading over the years. It won't be the "100 best books ever" sort of post. It is just too hard to remember every book, then decide which of them was better than another. But I will list books I think are interesting, and I hope some of you will enjoy them if I tempt you to read them.

However, in the meantime, it's late, and I'm not sure when I'll get to writing either post, or when I'll get to editing my NaNo novel. Earlier this week, I discovered that I'd lost some of my bookmarks from my main collection. These are links I need, for my work and for my writing. I do have backup files, but each of these is missing some of the bookmarks (one is earlier, another was edited, and so on).

They are also in formats which will not import well in any central place, such as my browser or a bookmarking service. So, the only solution I have is to manually go through these files, figure out which links are duplicates, and assemble all of the links by hand. Some of you, who only have a few hundred bookmarks, no doubt think that sounds easy. In my case, I have a few thousand... and five partial files to sort through. I fear all my "spare time" for months will be spent recovering from this.

For those of you who think that is a bit drastic, I can only say that, in the past few days, not having these links conveniently to hand has cost me roughly an extra couple of hours per day digging out the resources I need. As I get more of them in one place, accessible, I hope that time will decrease, but there are other links I don't need right now, but will soon. Thus, the need to salvage all that I can.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

What All Writers Want for Christmas

I've been aware of the problem for some time, but Holly Lisle just published a post detailing the harm chain bookstores do to writers, readers, and just about everything and everyone but their bottom line. Holly, God bless her, is trying to start a campaign to save the independent bookstore. Let's take advantage of the momentum!

I know many of my readers care about writing, and about reading. I hope you will consider this issue important enough to act upon. More than one talented writer has found themselves stranded after three books, because bean counters soullessly suck the lifeblood out of their careers, killing unborn books many of us would love to read.

Do I sound upset about this? You bet I am! It is getting harder and harder for decent writers to build a career, while O. J. Simpson got a nice little advance for a tasteless little exercise in sensationalism was only kept from clogging shelves that should hold good books thanks to a huge public outcry.

If you write, or you simply care about reading, and you aren't furious about the current state of things, I can only assume you don't understand how the industry works. Holly Lisle is a successful author, and even she has trouble with this system. But she does have enough of a following that, if we all help her to publicise this issue, we may gain some attention.

Please, consider writing about this on your blog. Ask your readers to write about it as well. I know it's the Christmas season, and you're all busy. I'm busy too. But consider giving the one gift every writer whose work you enjoy can appreciate. Write a nice, long post, get involved in the campaign yourselves, and urge all your readers to do so.

Boycott the chain bookstores. Not just Borders, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, and, but every bookseller who has more than two or three locations. Pass around petitions for others to pledge to boycott them, and bring them to the manager of your local chain. Only if we hurt them in the pocketbook will they stop fouling the nest that hatched them.

If you can't locate an independent bookstore near you, try to locate one near where you work, or any place you visit frequently enough. Try to locate one that does business on the Web. Post about any independents you find. Give them free advertising, and tell them why. Don't risk their growing large and arrogant.

If you have any other ideas, post about those as well. The Web offers us a chance to make our voices heard. Let's take advantage of that, and save what we can. Thanks in advance for the Christmas gift. One more thing; Holly Lisle started this ball rolling. She has a series she desperately wants to save. I haven't read it (yet) but I can understand her feelings.

She may have personal motives, but she's also doing this for writers and for readers everywhere. Let's all give her a big Christmas gift as well. Read this post, then go out and buy as many copies of Talyn as you can think of a use for.

Give 'em as Christmas gifts. Give 'em to your local library. Give 'em to friends. And, if you can afford it, buy the earlier books in the series as well. Get them from your friendly local independent bookseller. Or from your friendly online independent bookseller. Please, let's all see if we can give Holly a nice little Christmas gift.

Now, if you'll forgive me, since the blighted and tasteless wasteland where I live barely supports one or two struggling used bookstores and a chain outlet, I'm off to find out where the nearest independent is. Yes, I'm going to definitely find it a pain since it will be so much harder to get to a bookstore, but I've been unhappy with the selection in my local Barnes and Noble anyway.

They didn't even have any of the mysteries in the Falco series by Lindsey Davis the last time I was there. I walked out muttering that it wasn't really even worth going in there. So, time to act on my beliefs. If I have to visit a bookstore less frequently, or pay more in gas and time to get there, so be it.

I will be repaid by a better selection, more knowledgeable staff, and the warm feeling of knowing I'm doing all I can for writers and for readers. I hope each and every one of you will feel the same way. And I hope, between us, we can spread this idea far and wide enough to force any chains that survive (yes, I'd be happy enough if they all went bankrupt, clearing the way for more independent stores, but I don't expect that to happen) to listen to their customers instead of a bunch of bean counters.