Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Writing News

Janet Evanovich just released a new book, but it doesn't feature Stephanie Plum. She talks about her creative process in How I Write -- Secrets of a Bestselling Author.

The film adaptation of James Ellroy's book Black Dahlia hit the screen recently. Ellroy's story is anchored around the sensational 1947 murder/mutilation of a young woman in Hollywood. The movie is garnering mixed reviews.

Christopher Paolini self-published his first book, written when he was 15. Eragon went on to be picked up by Knopf and Paolini has since released Eldest, the next book in the series. A movie version of Eragon is scheduled for release December 15. Not bad for a 23-year-old.

On Friday (09-15-06) USA Today reported that the Federal Communications Commission ordered the destruction of a study critical of monopolistic media ownership. Fewer media outlets = fewer points of view. Do we really want to have our news single sourced?

Last week USA Today also reported on another troubling new trend -- product placement in books. The headline for their September 11, 2006, story: "Authors strike deals to squeeze in a few brand names." Writers striving for specifics -- it's not a car, it's a Ford; he didn't smoke a cigarette, he smoked a Marlboro -- might be the perfect target for marketers keen to get their products out there.

The journalist credited with coining the phrase "Dust Bowl" has died. Bob Geiger was 103. Geiger refused to take all the credit for the two-word description that came to characterize one of the darkest times in American history. He said an editor added it to one of his 1935 stories.

Writers and journalists throughout the world continue to be jailed, attacked, and killed. People who think that writing's major occupational hazard is paper cuts might be shocked to learn that in 2006, 53 journalists and 17 media assistants have been killed (figures from Reporters Without Borders).

Turkish novelist Elif Shafak faces jail time for writing about a unpopular version of 100-year-old Turkish history. According to USA Today, "It is a criminal act in Turkey to back the view that forced marches to the Syrian border that killed up to 1 million Armenians should be considered genocide." What else, exactly, would we call that?

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