Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

NEWS: Who Moved My Buy Button?


The following came in an email from The Authors Guild in response to the Amazon/Macmillan feud.

The Authors Guild is pleased to announce the launch of, which is now live in fully-functional beta form. Who Moved My Buy Button? allows authors to keep track of whether Amazon has removed the "buy buttons" from any of their books.

Simply register the ISBNs of any books you'd like monitored, and our web tool will check daily to make sure your buy buttons are safe and sound. If there's a problem, we'll e-mail you an alert.

Although we've launched in response to Amazon's wholesale removal of buy buttons from Macmillan titles, we believe Amazon should be monitored for years to come. Amazon's developed quite a fondness for employing this draconian tactic (there's a chronology at the website); it's only grown bolder with its growing market clout.

Vigilance is called for: sounding off is our best collective defense. Register your ISBNs today -- it's free and open to all authors, Guild members and not.

You can find other thoughts on the subject here:
Amazon Pulls Macmillan Books Over E-Book Price Disagreement by Brad Stone (The New York Times)

John Sargent addresses all Macmillan authors and illustrators

Why My Books Are No Longer For Sale Via Amazon by Tobias Buckell

Macmillan Books Gone Missing from Amazon by John Scalzi

AmazonFail, Part 2? by Laura Anne Gilman

The Macmillan vs. Amazon Throwdown by Susan Piver

quick sketch on the Amazon vs. Macmillan weekend theater by Jennifer Jackson mysteriously removes Macmillan book titles by Paul Boutin

...and a bazillion others by searching 'Amazon vs. Macmillan'

Monday, February 08, 2010

Shows: The Drowsy Chaperone and The Opera Show


Last month we saw two wonderful shows as part of the West Virginia University Arts Series.

The Drowsy ChaperoneThe Drowsy Chaperone

The Drowsy Chaperone reminded me of when I would watch Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in movies like Shall We Dance and The Gay Divorcee. I loved the dancing in those old movies, especially since I had thirteen years of lessons, and I loved the costumes. As a child I assumed everyone lived like Fred and Ginger did way back in the 30s because you would never know there was a depression going on by the opulence of the characters' lives. But maybe that was why people liked them; they were an escape.

Escape was the premise of The Drowsy Chaperone, with its winking satire and endearing narrator. The highest compliment to an artist, in my opinion, is knowing you provided someone a place to go and pretend for a little while. That's what I'd like people to say about my fiction one day.

The Opera Show didn't bring as much nostalgia as opened my eyes and ears to something new that was actually old. My Grandmother Ruby often listened to opera, and though it was never distasteful to me, I never gained an appreciation of this incredible art in my childhood.

Experiencing opera in an almost Cirque du Soleil type fashion made me feel I had been missing something. To use the human voice as such a diverse instrument amazed me. At one point, one of the female singer's mic went out, but she compensated to the point that we were almost sorry the crew foxed the problem by the next act because that type of voice doesn't need to be filtered through anything. Although, I suppose the amplification helps to save their voices a bit.

Always a fan of huge productions, bright lights, sparkly costumes, dramatic make up, and The Opera Show didn't disappoint me. Of all the shows we saw this season, it ranks just below RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles as a favorite.

The Opera ShowThe Opera Show

Sunday, February 07, 2010

BOOKS: Fallingwater Book Club Reads The Devil in the White City


This weekend the Fallingwater Book Club met to discuss Erik Larson's bestselling book The Devil in the White City.

In this true story of the 1893 World's Fair held in Chicago, we find out about Daniel Burnham* who was Director of Works for the fair and who somehow brought this grandiose celebration to fruition, as well as Dr. H.H. Holmes, the serial murderer who used the fair as a venue to sate his grisly addiction.

Of course, the descriptions of architecture were just as interesting to this Frank Lloyd Wright crowd as the darker details of the women murdered by Holmes. Some attendees read pertinent passages and some had done extra research about the fair and the participants. Many pointed out how this early feat would have impacted Mr. Wright, especially as he was working with Louis Sullivan on part of the fair.

You can print a free reading group guide for the book at the website:

*Daniel Burnham also designed several buildings in the Pittsburgh area, including the First National Bank Building in Uniontown in 1901 for J. V. Thompson.

Photo by Jason Jack Miller