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Posts tagged ‘CompuServe’

Book Bits: Workplace abuse, In memoriam, literary forums,’Wrinkle in Time’ movie, stolen books

It’s getting more and more difficult to talk about books, publishing, and authors without straying into political issues that often have a very polarized reader-base.  Some people believe CNN 100%, while others believe FOX 100%. I’ve more or less stopped posting anything political on my Facebook page because it always ends up with people shouting at each other. Sexual harassment is one of those issues. I mention this here because Publishers Weekly ran into a few snags with a recent article about sexual harassment in our business (Item 1). Maybe they’ll get it sorted out this time.

  1. IssuesLetter from the Editors: Covering Sexual Abuse in the Book Business, By Jim Milliot, Rachel Deahl, and John Maher – “The difficult nature of covering the subject hit home on December 5, when we ran a story announcing the resignation of Giuseppe Castellano, executive art director of Penguin Workshop, following claims of sexual harassment by actress and comedian Charlyne Yi. The article we published was intended to be a balanced account based on verifiable facts. Not everyone agreed that it was. Some readers expressed frustration that we put too much emphasis on Castellano’s account over Yi’s.” Publishers Weekly
  2.  News: Notable Literary Deaths in 2017, by Emily Temple – “This has not been the best year. In addition to, well everything, we lost a number of literary luminaries in 2017: beloved novelists, champions of the written word, legendary editors, and genre-defining journalists.”  Literary Hub
  3. One of the new forums focusing on book and writers.

    News: The Tale of Two Literary Forums, by Malcolm R. Campbell – “If you were out on the Internet in the 1980s, you probably remember that CompuServe was a major ISP, providing e-mail and forums for millions of users. In those days, almost every hi-tech company, whether hardware or software, had a forum staffed in part by representatives of the company to help people with bugs, usage issues, and other information. In addition to these forums, CompuServe also maintained forums for pets, religion, political discussions, hobbies, and literature.” Malcolm’s Round Table

  4. Film: Hollywood’s Once and Future Classic, Hollywood’s Once and Future Classic, Why it took 54 years to turn A Wrinkle in Time into a movie, By Eliza Berman – “A Wrinkle in Time, a Disney movie based on Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel of the same name, will come out on March 9, 2018. The film brings to life the story of Meg Murry, a gangly adolescent who travels across dimensions to rescue her scientist father. Meg is guided by a trio of guardian angels collectively called “the Mrs.” The book, and the movie, is about what it means to be a source of light in a world in which darkness seems only to proliferate. It also makes the case for thinking independently when conformity is the norm.” Time Magazine
  5. Quotation: “When I see a store, I MUST GO IN. I’m a sucker for books, but indie bookstores take that up a few levels because they’ll curate for me. I go in saying I want to learn about some obscure topic and they won’t look at me as if I’m from Mars! Instead it’s almost as if I see my own curiosity reflected back at me, and they share it instantly. I’ve had that same experience happen in multiple cities, so I think it’s common to independent bookstore owners and I love them for it.” – Author Jessee Mecham Shelf Awareness
  6. Review: THE ICE HOUSE – Home is a long way from here, by Laura Lee Smith, reviewed by Thane Tierney – “The Scots didn’t invent stubbornness, but they perfected it, raised it to a high art where irresistible force and immovable object are sometimes locked like two neutron stars in a perilous dance. So it is with American immigrant Johnny MacKinnon and his Scottish son, Corran, in Laura Lee Smith’s second novel, ‘The Ice House.'” Book Page
  7. Lists: The Ultimate Best Books of 2017 List, by Emily Temple – “It’s the end of the year, and everybody has an opinion. And of course, where there’s an opinion, there’s a listicle. The river of Best of 2017 lists can be exhausting this time of year, so as a public service, and because my math skills are always in need of a little exercise, I’ve created a streamlined master list of the books that the most people loved this year.” Literary Hub
  8. News: Cat Person author’s debut book sparks flurry of international publishing deals, by Alison Flood – “Following her viral short story hit, Kristen Roupenian’s You Know You Want This has been sold to Cape in the UK, with the US auction said to be topping $1m.” The Guardian
  9. ReviewLITTLE LEADERS: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison ; illustrated by Vashti Harrison (Age Range: 6 – 12) – “Visual artist Harrison introduces 40 trailblazing black women from United States history in this inspiring volume for young readers…Perfect for exploring together at bedtime or for children to browse independently, a gorgeous invitation for children of all backgrounds, and especially for black girls, to learn about black women who were pioneers.” Kirkus Reviews
  10. News: Indie Bookstores Tell Us About Their Most Stolen Books – Which volumes walk out the door most often, and why? by Jo Lou – “Independent bookstores are magical, endangered places. Stealing from these small, often struggling establishments is a mortal sin and the Book Gods will smite you. If you must kidnap books (which you shouldn’t, because libraries exist) then steal from big box stores instead.” Electic Lit

Book Bits is compiled randomly by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of paranormal, contemporary fantasy, and magical realism novels and short stories.

The tale of two literary forums (updated 02/07/19)

If you were out on the Internet in the 1980s, you probably remember that CompuServe was a major ISP, providing e-mail and forums for millions of users. In those days, almost every hi-tech company, whether hardware or software, had a forum staffed in part by representatives of the company to help people with bugs, usage issues, and other information. In addition to these forums, CompuServe also maintained forums for pets, religion, political discussions, hobbies, and literature.

Jupiter Images art

The forums all provided discussions in threads–originally in a DOS/non-graphic mode–that looked sort of like the outline-style comments on many blogs as well as on Facebook posts. As CompuServe (which became part of AOL) lost market share over time, these forums dwindled in number so that on December 14th when the remaining forums were shut down by CompuServe’s parent (a Verizon subsidiary), there were relatively few forums left compared to the old lineup.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was a regular participant on CompuServe’s Literary Forum. That name was later changed to Books and Writers. Those who participated in the forum in those days had a rare treat, seeing the birth of now-bestselling author Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. In those days, she was a very active participant and helped many of us get our start in the writing business. She answered questions from everything from craft issues to publication and promotion issues. While her active participation seemed reduced to me due to her busier schedule, she was still on the forum when CompuServe pulled the plug this month.

Like many early participants, I was lured away from the forum by the more cutting-edge software at MySpace and then Facebook. Also, the software at CompuServe’s forums changed so that when you replied to a comment, your reply was no longer posted beneath the message you were responding to, but at the end of the thread. For me, that made navigation a punishing task. Plus, many of the people I knew there when I was a regular had drifted away, and so I had less incentive to go there as fewer and fewer people knew me. My personal opinion was that the staff had become a bit heavy handed, though others didn’t see it that way.

Now, there are two forums to choose from

  1. The management of the former CompuServe forum, that is to say, the forum’s contract holder and the staff members (called Sysops and Section Leaders) changed the name back to Literary Forum. You can find it here: http://www.thelitforum.com/
  2. Meanwhile, a group of former-participants at the CompuServe forum who disagreed with various of the forum’s policies, started its own Literary Forum. You can find it here: https://forumania.com/      This screen is a landing page for multiple forums, one of which is Literary Forum with a button to click on to go to the forum. UPDATE: This forum has closed.

Both forums are new. So there are probably software issues still to be worked out. The first forum listed here has more posts because they apparently were able to bring over posts from CompuServe. The Forumania Literary Forum doesn’t have a fan base and has fewer discussions to involve yourself with. I am a participant in both forums, but have a strong preference for the new Literary forum on Forumania.

Both forums require you to create an account if you want to respond to posts or start your own threads. Both are free. Both forums offer sections (groupings of threads) that will appeal to many readers and writers. There are discussions of current books, genres, the writing craft, and promotional matters.

I invite you to look at each of them, learn how they are organized, and see if you can find a niche there that fits your preferences for talking about the books you’re reading and/or the books you’re writing and promoting. Unfortunately, neither forum has been able for afford software that places responses to threads in the order they’re posted. I figure that if Facebook and WordPress can display responses in an outline form, everyone ought to be able to do it–and CompuServe knew how to do it decades ago. So navigation isn’t as user friendly at either place as it is at other websites.

However, I received a lot of writing help and inspiration at the original Literary Forum when I was starting out. Perhaps you’ll find this kind of help at one of these literary forums as well. They are worth the time and effort and a good place to make some new online friends.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, paranormal, and contemporary fantasy novels and short stories, many from Thomas-Jacob Publishing.