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Friday, November 7, 2008

Quote of the Day for the Writer

Creative people rarely need to be motivated—they have their own inner drive that refuses to be bored. They refused to be complacent. They live on the edge, which is precisely what is needed to be successful and remain successful.

--Donald Trump, How to Get Rich

11/08/2008 Sat 12:03am

Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer talks about going into the publishing industry. Her book Twilight is now a major motion picture.

Best-Selling Author Michael Crichton Dies

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 5, 2008
(CBS) Best-selling author and filmaker Michael Crichton died unexpectedly in Los Angeles Tuesday, after a courageous and private battle against cancer, his family said in a statement. He was 66.
Crichton was a brand-name author, known for his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as the rampant microbe of "The Andromeda Strain" or dinosaurs running amok in "Jurassic Park," one of his many million-selling books that became major Hollywood movies.

Crichton also created the hospital drama "ER" for television. His most recent novel, "Next," about genetics and law, was published in December 2006.

"While the world knew him as a great story teller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us -- and entertained us all while doing so -- his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes," the statement said. "He did this with a wry sense of humor that those who were privileged to know him personally will never forget.

" Through his books, Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way all could understand.

"He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand, and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world," the statement added.

Born in Chicago Oct. 23, 1942, Crichton graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, received his MD from Harvard Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researching public policy with Jacob Bronowski. He taught courses in anthropology at Cambridge University and writing at MIT.

Crichton's 2004 bestseller, "State of Fear," acknowledged the world was growing warmer, but challenged extreme anthropogenic warming scenarios. His views were strongly condemned by environmentalists, who alleged that the author was hurting efforts to pass legislation to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

Crichton's first bestseller, "The Andromeda Strain," was published while he was still a medical student. He later worked full time on film and writing. One of the most popular writers in the world, his books have been translated into thirty-six languages, and thirteen have been made into films.

Crichton won an Emmy, a Peabody, and a Writer's Guild of America Award for "ER." In 2002, a newly discovered ankylosaur was named for him: Crichtonsaurus bohlini.

A private funeral service is expected, but no further details will be released to the public.

Writers welcome a literary president-elect

NEW YORK – Last winter, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison received a phone call from Sen. Barack Obama, then the underdog to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama had contacted Morrison to ask for her support. But before they got into politics, the author and the candidate had a little chat about literature.

"He began to talk to me about one of the books I had written, `Song of Solomon,' and how it had meant a lot to him," Morrison said in a postelection interview from her office at Princeton University, where for years she has taught creative writing.

"And I had read his first book (`Dreams From My Father'). I was astonished by his ability to write, to think, to reflect, to learn and turn a good phrase. I was very impressed. This was not a normal political biography."

For Morrison and others, the election of Obama matters not because he will be the first black president or because the vast majority of writers usually vote for Democrats. Writers welcome Obama as a peer, a thinker, a man of words — his own words.

"When I was watching Obama's acceptance speech (Tuesday night), I was convinced that he had written it himself, and therefore that he was saying things that he actually believed and had considered," says Jane Smiley, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "A Thousand Acres" and other fiction.

"I find that more convincing in a politician than the usual thing of speaking the words of a raft of hack speechwriters. If he were to lie to us, he would really be betraying his deepest self."

"Until now, my identity as a writer has never overlapped with my identity as an American — in the past eight years, my writing has often felt like an antidote or correction to my Americanism," says "Everything Is Illuminated" novelist Jonathan Safran Foer.

"But finally having a writer-president — and I don't mean a published author, but someone who knows the full value of the carefully chosen word — I suddenly feel, for the first time, not only like a writer who happens to be American, but an American writer."

"Dreams From My Father" and Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" have each sold millions of copies and have been praised as the rare works by politicians that can actually be read for pleasure. Obama's student poetry was even lauded — and compared to the work of Langston Hughes — by the most discerning of critics, Harold Bloom.

Morrison, whose novel "A Mercy" comes out next week, endorsed Obama in January, even though she was a friend and admirer of Hillary Rodham Clinton and had famously labeled Bill Clinton the country's first black president. As if reviewing a new book, Morrison released a statement citing Obama's "intelligence, integrity and rare authenticity," and his "creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom."

Morrison finds herself wondering how some of her late friends would have reacted, like James Baldwin ("How I miss him now," she says), who in the 1960s had scorned as condescending Robert Kennedy's prediction that the United States would have a black president in 40 years. Were "Invisible Man" author Ralph Ellison still alive, he would have renamed his classic novel "Visible Man," Morrison joked.

Ayelet Waldman, whose novels include "Daughter's Keeper," is an Obama fan dating back to when both attended Harvard University. Her husband, novelist Michael Chabon, came to support him through "his writing, the quality of his prose," Waldman says. They in turn persuaded author and former Hillary Clinton supporter Rick Moody.

"I heard an Obama speech on NPR, sometime before the New York primary, and was moved to tears. At that point, I suppose I did start thinking of him as a writer, in the sense that he had, and has, a very good ear for le mot juste," says Moody, whose novels include "The Ice Storm" and "The Diviners."

"But I think the larger issue is cultural. There's a trickle down from the top in the way art exists inside and outside of the culture as a whole. Here in the USA, you could feel in the Bush years how little regard there was for it. People who disliked art, literature, dance, fine arts, they had a lot of cover for this antipathy. There's reason to believe that we are in for a much better period."

Words of Steel: Best-selling author starting blog

NEW YORK – After dozens of best sellers, novelist Danielle Steel still has words to spare: She's starting a blog.

"It's like a letter to a friend, and fun to be able share something and say, `Gee I did this,'" says Steel, 61, whose run of hits includes three this year alone: "Honor Thyself," "Rogue" and "A Good Woman."

In a recent telephone interview from her home in San Francisco, Steel said she expects to launch her blog,, on Thursday, to post entries once a week, or more often "if I get excited about something."

by Hillel Italie, AP National Writer

Anne Rice goes from vampires to Jesus biographer

NEW ORLEANS – It's Halloween, and Anne Rice has a new book — a memoir in fact — that's climbing best-seller lists. Everything is normal, then.

Normal if it were 1994 — the height of Rice's megaselling fame as a queen of Southern Gothic pulp.

For those who haven't been paying attention lately to vampire lit, America's most famous chronicler of bloodsuckers doesn't live in New Orleans anymore — and hasn't since before Hurricane Katrina hit — and she's riding new waves of enthusiasm: the memoir and Christian lit.

Her memoir, "Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession," is the latest piece of evidence that Rice is reinventing herself in an attempt to build a reputation as a serious Christian writer.

In the memoir, the 67-year-old writer doesn't disavow the two decades she spent churning out books on vampires, demons and witches — with a batch of S&M erotica thrown in — following the breakout success of her first novel in 1976, "Interview With the Vampire."
But she's clearly moved on.

In a telephone interview from her mountain home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Rice laid out her goal:

"To be able to take the tools, the apprenticeship, whatever I learned from being a vampire writer, or whatever I was — to be able to take those tools now and put them in the service of God is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful opportunity," she said. "And I hope I can redeem myself in that way. I hope that the Lord will accept the books I am writing now."

The memoir follows the release of two books in a planned four-part, first-person chronicle of the life of Jesus.

And in this new 245-page memoir, Rice presents her former life as vampire writer as that of a soul-searching wanderer in the deserts of atheism; as someone akin to her most famous literary creations — Lestat, her "dark search engine," Louis the aristocrat-turned-vampire and Egyptian Queen Akasha, "the mother of all vampires."

"I do think that those dark books were always talking about religion in their own way. They were talking about the grief for a lost faith," she said.

In 2002, Rice broke away completely from atheism — nearly four decades after she gave up her Roman Catholic faith as the 1960s started. It happened when she went off to college and found her peers talking about existentialism — Martin Heidegger, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre. Religion, she writes, was too restrictive to the young Rice. Too out of step.

Yet, religion had to come back into her life, she writes. For her, it was something she'd have to face up to again like an absent parent or a long-lost love child or Banquo the ghost in Macbeth.
By the late 1990s, when she went back to Mass, Rice — the author whose books sold in the tens of millions and who had recharged Hollywood's appetite for vampire-inspired horror — had fallen on hard times.

Her husband, poet and artist Stan Rice, died of a brain tumor in 2002. And she had become victim to diabetes.

Always over-the-top and beyond the rational, she writes that her return of faith was preceded by a series of epiphanies — many while on travels to Europe's cathedrals, Israel and Brazil. In one episode, when she visited the giant Jesus statue above Rio de Janeiro, she writes that she felt "delirium" as the clouds broke and revealed the statue.

Her professed revelations recall the religious intoxication she describes of her childhood.

When she was 12, she had her father turn a room on the back porch of the family's Uptown home in New Orleans into an oratory modeled after St. Rose of Lima — the saint Catholics believe turned roses into floating crosses. She wanted to be a saint, she writes.

In the memoir, Rice describes a familiar Catholic upbringing imbued with opulence and mystery. The incense. The statuary. The stained glass. The darkness. She learned the world, she writes, through her senses, through a "preliterate" understanding of the world. She writes that she possessed "an internal gallery of pictorial images" that, lamentably, was replaced "by the alphabetic letters" she learned later.

"You might call it the Mozart effect, but it was the Catholic effect on me," she said.

In a sense, the memoir also is a confessional about her struggle as a writer to be a reader, a thinker and an author with a distinct literary style. Her stories often are reveries with no end in sight — and all too often ugly with pedantic unwinding, numbing in detail and overly simplistic, a pastiche of cliches.

Her turn in direction — from vampire fiction to Christian musings — still isn't winning the critics over.

In The New York Times, Christopher Buckley slammed Rice's memoir as "a crashing, mind-numbing bore. This is the literary equivalent of waterboarding."

And the bar is high when it comes to writing about Jesus.

"The best may be Nikos Kazantzakis' 'The Last Temptation of Christ,'" said Jason Berry, a novelist and journalist who has written extensively on the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal. "But also (G.K.) Chesterton, Norman Mailer. ... A lot of narrative artists in both literature and film have taken on Jesus, so to speak."

Rice isn't out to impress the critics, though.

"My objective is simple: It's to write books about our Lord living on Earth that make him real to people who don't believe in him; or people who have never really tried to believe in him," she said.

She pressed the point: "I mean, I've made vampires believable to grown women. Now, if I can do that, I can make our Lord Jesus Christ believable to people who've never believed in him. I hope and pray."

For her devotees, whatever she writes invariably goes down like a smooth bloodbath, that favorite Goth beverage sometimes made with raspberry liqueur, red wine and cranberry juice.

"There are so many people dedicated to her. They want her to write more vampire books," said Marta Acosta, author of the popular "Casa Dracula" series, a "comedy of manners" that plays on vampire themes. She also runs the Vampire Wire, a book blog for fans of gore and the undead.
As for her, Acosta couldn't care less if Rice sinks back into the vampire vein.

"People think it's sexual, but it's not. It's suppressed stuff. Southern Gothic," Acosta said. "How many centuries is Louis (played by Brad Pitt in the movie 'Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles') going to whine?"

Never again, it seems.

Rice is busy writing about Jesus as a minister. And that's a tall order, Rice said.

by Cain Burdeu, Associated Press Writer 10/30/08

Online sales of Obama's books surge after win

NEW YORK – Barack Obama's historic victory has given yet another boost to his million-selling books, "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope."

Both were in the Top 25 on's best-seller list early Wednesday, soon after the Illinois Democrat defeated Republican John McCain to become the country's first black president-elect.

"Dreams from My Father," a memoir released in the 1990s when few had heard of Obama, and "Audacity of Hope," a reflection on politics that came out in 2006 and helped to solidify his national following, have far outsold any of the anti-Obama books that came out last summer.

The most notable and best-selling attack against Obama, Jerome Corsi's "Obama Nation," was ranked No. 466 on early Wednesday. Corsi was co-author of the highly effective "Unfit for Command" at the center of the "Swift Boat" attack against defeated Democratic presidential contender John Kerry in 2004.

Conservatives had hoped that Corsi's current book would prove equally influential in the 2008 election. "The Obama Nation" was released by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster run by Republican strategist Mary Matalin.

"The Swift Boat book appeared to have a devastating effect on the polls in 2004," said Adrian Zackheim, head of the conservative Sentinel imprint at Penguin Group (USA). "It was my impression that the books about the candidates didn't have much of an effect on a lot of voters this time. There seems to have been a lot of different forces at play."

One sobering fact on the list: The No. 1 book at the time of Obama's victory was "I.O.U.S.A.: One Nation. Under Stress. In Debt," by Addison Wiggin and Kate Incontrera.

by Hillel Italie, AP National Writer 11/05/08

Comfort Zone

Here is a poem I found about the problems of staying in your comfort zone. People who are successful become that way because they take risks. Individuals who don't step out and believe stay at the same job or live the same life they don't like and they become negative, angry ppl which makes them even worse to be around. They end up living a full life never fulfilling their dreams. What a waste of a life! Don't stay in your Comfort Zone! Venture out!

I use to have a Comfort Zone where I knew I couldn't fail
The same four walls of busy work were really more like jail.

I longed so much to do the things I'd never done before
But I stayed inside my Comfort Zone and paced the same old floor

I said it didn't matter; that I wasn't doing much
I said I didn't care for things like diamonds, furs and such

I claimed to be so busy with the things inside my zone
But deep inside I longed for something special of my own.

I couldn't let my life go by just watching others win.
I held my breath and stepped outside and let the change begin.

I took a step and with new strength I'd never felt before
I kissed my Comfort Zone "goodbye"and closed and locked the door.

If you are in a Comfort Zone, Afraid to venture out,
Remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt.

A step or two and words of praise, Can make your dreams come true.
Greet your future with a smile, Success is there for you!

by Author Unknown

Quote of the Day For the Writer

"Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy."

-- Kahlil Gibran