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Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing

Just a link today. I came across it via the Swivet. JA Konrath has a post about Confident or Delusion writers. It's funny, and accurate on many counts. Among many pieces of wisdom..

"Confident writers believe they owe the world.

Delusional writers believe the world owes them."


Yeah. The good thing is that it's possible to move from being delusional to confident. I've got some first hand experience with that.

What about you. Confident? Delusion? Bit a both?

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

In Praise of French Friends and IMAGINALES 2009!

I'm really enthusiastic about the way Le Pre auc Clercs has published Acacia: La guerre du Mein. It feels like they've gotten behind it with a level of overseas support I haven't quite felt before. It's one thing when you know your publisher likes your book; it's another when you know they're going the extra mile, staking their reputation on it, investing in it, making a website for it... So, thanks to Carola Strang and everyone at Le Pre auc Clercs!

Also, a big thank you to Thierry Arson. He's the wonderful translator that worked on the book. I knew that Le Pre auc Clercs gave it to him because they wanted a finely crafted version of my text. Sounds like they got that. I'm very pleased to learn he'll likely be translating The Other Lands also!

Didier Graffet's cover image is one of the first things that introduces people to the book. I like what he's done very much, especially when actually holding it in my hand. You can see covers he did for Bragelonne and Editions Mnemos, and here's a Bibliographie of all his works. It takes a lot of people to produce a book; I'm only mentioning a few here.

What prompts me to give these shout outs? Well... it looks like I'm going to France. To Paris, to Epinal - in May, no less! Are you kidding me? France in the spring? To promote my novel and hang out at what appears to be an awesome con - Imaginales... As you can tell I'm thrilled. Imaginales was kind enough to invite me as one of their international guests, and Le pre auc Clercs has me doing all sorts of cool stuff during my short stay. It will be grand!

So if you happen to be in Epinal this May come and say bonjour (or bonsoir), or anything you'd like to say!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jim C. Hines and the Stepsisters

A couple years back now I had the pleasure of meeting Jim C Hines at the Fantasy Matters Conference in Minnesota. He's a great guy, very funny and a pleasure to be around.

At that point in time he had a series of Jig the Goblin novels out, but he read from a then forthcoming novel that twists some traditional fairy tales into quirky, decidedly modern sounding creations. It was clever, sharp and a good laugh.

I recently realized that book, The Stepsister Scheme, is actually out now, the first of a new series. Thought I'd mention it. By description, it's not an obvious book for me, but that's what's nice about cons. You meet folks and get exposed to things you wouldn't otherwise.

Here's his LiveJournal.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Slumdog

Last night I saw Slumdog Millionaire. Despite the fact that it's about to win the Best Picture Oscar, it's only playing on a couple of screens in the Fresno/Clovis area. We had to drive past several cineplexes to get to it. Ah, Fresno... but I digress.

I thought it was really quite good, and I'm sure it's walking away with that gold statue-thing tonight. I respect the film on several different levels. For one, it's structurally very clever. It's composed in a way that uses near and distant backstory to move the narrative forward, while at the time managing to leave all the suspense in place at the movie's conclusion. The fundamental thematic revelation that explains why this young man was able to answer the Millionaire questions is brilliant (even if it reminds some of Forrest Gump). Boyle depicts so much crushing poverty and child abuse in a film that still manages to have a logical progression to its uplifting ending. Not easy, and absolutely better than most Hollywood attempts at the same.

And it's got subtle moments as well, things that pass by without being highlighted but that certainly were intentional. Take, for example, the fact that it begins with a torture sequence. Not pleasant, and yet it's interesting that the person being tortured doesn't open up until the torturers... well, sit him down and start talking to him like he's a person. I respect Boyle for having elements like that that can be seen as overtly political statements that he manages to work seamlessly into the logic of the narrative.

Now, I can't deny that this film's success comes from the fact that Boyle knows how to meaningfully present this material for a Western audience. Does he touch on some familiar Indian stereotypes and landmarks? Sure. But he also takes us - and middle class Indians too - into places we/they have not been. I know the reaction in India has not been as euphoric as here, which prompted me to check out some Indian-oriented blogs. Here's The Imagined Universe's take on it. Here's Prerna on Family Secrets, Objections and Excuses. Perhaps most interesting, though - and more to the point than middle class ruminations - is this piece on how "destitute" Indian children responded to viewing the movie. Take a look. It was about them, after all...


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Chimp

I hesitate to do this since you've probably heard this talked about plenty already, but I realize I haven't discussed it with anyone yet, so I might as well. This cartoon from the New York Post...

There's been a lot of talk about whether or not it's racist, and a lot of time spent noting that Bush got caricatured as a chimp plenty of times and nobody complained. There are a variety of reasons for that, but I'll stick to the basic questions and my answers to them.

Question: Is this cartoon racist?

Answer: Yes.

Question: What? And what if it was referring to Bush? Would it be racist then?

Answer: No.

Question: What? Why not? Just cause Obama's black and Bush is white?

Answer: Yes.

Question: That's just perfect! Can't you see how hypocritical that is?

Answer: No, but I can see how you might think it's hypocritical. For me, though, I can't help but be cognizant that the same imagery means different things depending on the context in which is used. There is not the same historical baggage attached to a white man being caricatured as monkey as there is to a black man. It ain't the same. Same image; different meaning. Weird, huh?

I know that. The guy who drew this cartoon knows that. The paper that printed it knows that. At some level I even think the masses of people defending it know that. They may not understand that they know it, because complex self-examination - with all of its contradictions and overlapping truths - is not something we train for in American popular culture.

Question: So you'd be fine with this if it was about a white president?

Answer: No. I'd still think it in bad taste. Again, though, this image refers to more than just the assassination of a colorless president. This is a New York paper. New York - like many other cities in the country - has a clear and recent history of police killings of black males under questionable circumstances. This image is also playing with that connection. Not only is the president equated with a monkey. He's also being equated with other black men that have been shot down on the streets by law enforcement figures.

Question: So what, are you for censorship?

Answer: No.

Question: But you think they should apologize for the cartoon?

Answer: Not if they don't mean it.

Question: Are you insulted?

Answer: No, I'm fairly pleased with myself. This doesn't change that.

Question: Do you think the president should feel insulted?

Answer: I think the president has been insulted, but I'm sure he has better things to do than choose to feel insulted.

He is, after all, the president.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Hurray for Spain!

This is another bit of cool foreign language news. The Spanish publisher of Pride of Carthage (Anibal, el orgullo de Cartago), has just bought the rights to Acacia. I'm thrilled by that. I'd been waiting for a Spanish sale, hoping, dreaming...

I knew Ediciones B did well with Anibal, but they didn't jump immediately at Acacia. It's tough to sell the rights to a series with only one book actually out. I think what happened is that another published did jump, and that prodded Ediciones B to jump a bit higher. Oh, it might have helped that they heard the second book was done, also. So very glad to hear it.

This feels especially nice because several Spanish-language readers of Anibal have asked if there would be a translation of Acacia. I can now happily say that there will be. It could be 18 months before it appears in the world. But it's coming!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Richard K Morgan on Tolkien

British author Richard K Morganhas a short essay up over on Suvudu. Just thought I'd provide a link. So here it is: A LINK.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Hannibal Marches On Romania?

It pays to look over your royalty statements from time to time. I feel like each time I do I discover something new...

Something prompted me to take a look at the last statement for Pride of Carthagerecently, and guess what I noticed?

Unless I'm reading the thing wrong, Pride of Carthage has been published (or will be published) in Romanian! The publisher is the RAO Publishing Group. I can find little info about them on the internet, but...

I think this is them.

Beyond that, no, I can't actually prove to you that I'm big in Romania. You'll have to use your imagination.

How could I not know this already? Uh... Well, I don't know. Doubleday is part of Random House. Random House is huge. Some things just sort of slip through the cracks in terms of somebody at my publisher realizing they have or haven't told me about something. I guess this was one of those cases. Also, the advance wasn't... uh... much. Not enough to really attract anyone's attention.

But, hey, who cares how many lei I'm raking in? (That's Romanian for money, by the way.) The point is my characters are getting to have a Romanian life! That's fun.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Surprise

Here in the Durham household we don't watch a lot of tv. When we have in recent days I feel like I've been beat over the head by those teddy bear or lingerie commercials. I have issues with these ads for a variety of reasons, not least because of the things they insinuate about women (that a hastily purchased gift will trick them into feeling loved, happy and horny) and the way they ask me to be one of the guys (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

I'm not one of the guys. Maybe I'd be happier if I was, but I'm just not. My wife doesn't want a teddy bear. I don't even think my daughter wants a teddy bear. I just don't get teddy bears, to be honest. And my wife's pajamas are perfectly fine. We're okay, really. We do a pretty good job of demonstrating that we love each other by the way we live our lives every day. At least, I think we do. (What's the Valentine's equivalent of "Bah Humbug"?)

Considering all of this, we weren't expecting much of a celebration of the holiday at all. Hence our surprise when woke up to find these on the table waiting for us...


The kids completely ignored our crotchety grumbling, made us Valentine's Day cards, and then woke up some time during the night and set them out on the table for us. Maya is nine. Sage is seven. They did this completely without prompting from either of us. I'm a bit stunned.

Sage's card was a jaunty wish for good things on the day. Maya went a little further, though. She wrote poems for both of us. Mine goes as follows...

To My Dearest Dad

You are like
an artist drawing.
A flower in a vase
or a single shell on the beach.
There is nothing just quite like you
or as special.

A mountain of love,
from Maya.


Pretty cool, huh? I think my daughter just taught me something...

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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Other Lands Cover!

This is happy news. Yesterday, Doubleday dropped the cover for The Other Lands(by the way, you can pre-order it using this link) on me. Without further preamble, I offer it for your consideration...

Some of you make recognize the image as being the same one used by my German publisher, Blanvalet. The artwork is by Mikko Kinnunen. Seems Doubleday liked that treatment so much they spent a while trying to find a new way to get the same look, and eventually decided to just stick with the image they liked so much. I have to say, I've always loved the artwork, and it actually suits the book just that little bit more considering the "Other Lands" aspect of it. I think it looks terrific.

Yesterday, I sort of "leaked" it to a few of the bloggers that were so kind to Acacia. They all did me the solid of posting it, which I love. Makes it feel official. The Other Lands is coming! You can check them, and their blogs, out here...

Suvudu

A Dribble of Ink

davebrendon's fantasy and sci-fi weblog

Fantasy Book Critic

Graeme's Fantasy Review

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Normal School

This is just a quick shout out for the new literary mag here at Cal State Fresno. I've been amazed at how quickly it's grown into an awesome journal. This is mostly due to the work of Steven Church, the main dude in charge of the thing (and author of The Guinness Book of Me: A Memoir of Record and the forthcoming Theoretical Killings: Essays, Experiments and Accidents).

Not only was the debut issue pretty fabulous, the magazine has recently been picked up for distribution by Ingrams. You may see the next edition in... in... Barnes and Noble and such places! For an upstart literary journal that's rather amazing. To win that shelf space during this economic cycle is... well, whatever comes after amazing.

Here's our site; pretty stylish, huh?

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two Friends With Publication News!

Thrilled to point you toward two friends that have just inked publishing deals.

One is Mary Robinette Kowal, last year's Campbell winner and the author of many lovely stories. She's signed a two-book deal with Tor's Liz Gorinsky. The first book, Shades of Milk and Honey, she describes as a "Jane Austen with magic novel". She posts about it on her journal, including describing when she got the news - while hanging out with Sir Scalzi, no less. I'm very happy for her.

The other is Nnedi Okorafor. She's just sold her first adult title, Who Fears Death, to Betsy Wollheim at DAW Books! This is very good news. I had the pleasure of reading the book in manuscript form. "Pleasure" is probably not quite the right word. It is an intense, often difficult book because of the subject matter, but it's also plenty brave and powerfully written. Come to think of it, I even offered a blurb. Among other things, I said...

"Her latest novel for adults, Who Fears Death?, is urgently topical, at times brutal, and always wholly original. It's no surprise she's been racking up awards. There are more to come, surely."

Her announcement is HERE. And here she is hanging out with Wole Soyinko...
Cool. Congrats to both!

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Can I Show You Something?

Note to Myself:

Okay, this doesn't really mean anything. I mean, it's just what it is. No more. It doesn't like mean it's happening, or anything. Total long shot. Nothing be a dream, baby. Don't start playing golf or shopping for a sailboat, David. Really. Don't.

But... you may give in to short lived daydreams and flights on fancy. You may bookmark this page and return to it daily, just in case there's some new bit of information added to move it more toward reality...

Go HERE, to the hallowed pages of the Internet Move Database to see what I'm blathering about.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

New Elbakin.net interview.

David Anthony Durham de nouveau en exclusivite sur Elbakin.net...

French

English

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

It's All Love

I'm very pleased to announce the publication of a new anthology. Now, this is me taking off my fantasist hat and stepping back to my earlier days as a writer of literary fiction - often with an African-American focus. That's exactly what this anthology features. It's called It's All Love: Black Writers on Soul Mates, Family and Friends, edited by Marita Golden.

Here's the jacket copy:

In It's All Love, Black writers celebrate the complexity, power, danger, and glory of love in all its many forms: romantic, familial, communal, and sacred. Editor Marita Golden recounts the morning she woke up certain that she would meet her soul mate in "My Own Happy Ending"; memoirist Reginald Dwayne Betts, in a piece he calls "Learning the Name Dad," writes stirringly about serving time in prison and how that transformed his life for the better; New York Times bestselling author Pearl Cleage is at her best in the delicate, touching "Missing You"; award-winning author David Anthony Durham enraptures readers with his 'An Act of Faith"; New York Times bestselling author L. A. Banks is both funny and wise in her beautiful essay on discovering love as a child, "Two Cents and a Question." And the poetry of love is here, too - from Gwendolyn Brooks's classic "Black Wedding Song" to works by Nikki Giovanni, E. Ethelbert Miller, and Kwame Alexander. It's All Love is a dazzling, delightfully diverse exploration of the wonderful gift of love.

I'm very happy to be included. My story, by the way, was inspired by some tales my mother told me about meeting my father. It's not their story, but it's a fiction prompted by a few elements of their story. Because of that it's quite important to me. Also, the publication is a fundraiser for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. May it raise much funds!

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

An "Oh no..." Moment

I just had one. I'm talking about writing now. Creative process. I'm still polishing up a few scenes of The Other Lands, adding a bit here and there. I just two minutes ago wrote a line in which one character defines the relationship he/she has to another character. It was an innocuous enough line, I thought. But the moment after I wrote it I realized it's a line that announces that character's eventual death!

Ah... I didn't mean it. It just happened. This bit of fate won't come into play until the third book, but still, the seed is planted in fertile ground. It can't help but grow. There's not a thing I can do about it...

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Wanna Have the First Say...

In terms of how a new book begins to enter the publishing world? Well, Publishers Weekly is one of the places to start, and interestingly enough they're looking for reviewers - especially in genre areas. Says Rose Fox (the power that be in this area)...

"At this point I am only looking for people who have already done a lot of nonfiction writing, preferably book or movie reviewing, and are familiar and comfortable with the editorial process, small wordcounts (I ask for 180-200 words and edit them down to about 145), and tight deadlines. The pay is $25 per review and I generally send each reviewer about one book every two weeks, though if I bring on many more reviewers that may stretch to one book every three or four weeks."

I know, $25 will hardly put the kids through college, but think labor of love, though. Labor of love...

The full ad is here, on PW's site.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Neil Talking About the Graveyard Book...

Did you know he was giving The Graveyard Book away "a chapter at a time?..."

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Le top 10 2008 de la redaction Elbakin.net

I have to say, I'm really pleased by this. I just found out that the good folks at Elbakin.net - a wonderful French language fantasy website - have chosen the French version of Acacia as one of their top titles for last year. Not only one of the top, it looks like Acacia: La guerre du Mein is the top pick! Wow... I'm thrilled.

The French rock, clearly. I've been there before so I know this to be true, and, if things go well, I'll be over there again soon to verify their awesomeness again. More details on that when I know them...

Here is the Elbakin.net Feature.

And here's an Amazon.fr link if you're interested.

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To Facebook for Realms of Fantasy!

Some very good writer/student/friends of mine have started a Facebook group with the goal of aiding Realms of Fantasy. It's likely a tall order, but I do think it's important to rally behind causes you care about - especially when something like economics is dragging down a publication that fulfills some very needed roles for a literary genre. Realms of Fantasy did that. It's a publication I personally went to many times as I felt my way into being a writer of fantasy. It's been a very real resource for me, and I'm sure it has been for others too.

So... pop over there and see if you can't brainstorm some ideas to help!

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