A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[META] On types of writing at A Bit More Detail

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One thing I would like to do is to associate different nights with different kinds of long-form blog posts. Thursday would be for music, as it has been for years, while Wednesday might be for pop culture, Monday and Friday for more various themed stuff, and so on.

Thematically, I’d like to focus the blog tightly. The focus I’ve chosen so far is on Toronto and secondarily on islands, not just Prince Edward Island, leaving other linkage for the [BLOG] and [NEWS] posts of the earlier parts of the day.

If you have better ideas, please tell me. I only want A Bit More Detail to get better, and recognize I need help from others to take it to the next level.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 29, 2016 at 11:58 pm

Posted in Meta, Writing

Tagged with , ,

[PHOTO] Five photos from Harbourfront, Toronto on Victoria Day

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Last Monday, Victoria Day, was a beautiful day on the Toronto harbourfront, the sky a perfect blue and the cold Lake Ontario water hosting flotillas of boats and hordes of people and condos on the shores.

Looking at the Weston Harbour Castle #toronto #lakeontario #harbourfront #westinharborcastle

Ferry to the Islands #toronto #lakeontario #harbourfront #torontoislands #ferry

Coming in for a landing #toronto #lakeontario #harbourfront  #torontoislands #airplane

Condo towers #toronto #harbourfront #condos #tower

Thalassa, thalassa #toronto #lakeontario #harbourfront

Written by Randy McDonald

May 29, 2016 at 9:50 am

[FORUM] What have you been reading?

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Do you read fiction or non-fiction, books or shorter texts, printed material or online?


Written by Randy McDonald

May 28, 2016 at 11:59 pm

[WRITING] “It’s a Writer’s Market”: Bloomberg Businessweek on e-publishing

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Karen Angel’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek article is thought-provoking. Is this an accurate depiction of the situation facing writers? (Also: How do you become a midlist author in the first place?)

For Greg White, the last straw came when his publisher forgot to ship copies of his book to the launch party last October. It was just one in a series of lost marketing opportunities, says White, co-host of the Food Network show Unique Sweets. So he decided to take his book back. After getting his contract canceled, he turned to the editorial marketplace Reedsy to redesign The Pink Marine, his memoir about life as a gay serviceman. The author, who lives in Santa Monica, Calif., formed his own imprint, AboutFace Books, and cut a distribution deal with Ingram Content Group. “Five years ago, self-publishing was a scar,” White says. “Now it’s a tattoo.”

A new generation of online editorial services and self-publishing platforms is fueling that change in perception. The upstarts offer skills and services that used to be available only through traditional publishing, plus favorable royalty splits. They also allow authors to retain the copyright to their work. The array of offerings is spurring some writers to leave their publishing houses—particularly midlist authors whose books receive scant marketing support. Some are also using the new services to put out e-book versions of their out-of-print titles.

Janice Graham used Amazon.com’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform to release digital versions of her five novels, including 1998’s Firebird, a New York Times best-seller. For a novel in progress, she hired an editor through Reedsy and plans to self-publish unless a publisher offers her a good deal. “I’m not so interested in the prestige of being published by a traditional publisher at this point,” says Graham, who lives in Florence, Italy. “What I’m interested in is maximizing sales.”

Reedsy is a community of about 450 handpicked publishing professionals available for hire. The two-year-old London-based company offers software that allows authors to collaborate with editors without having to e-mail manuscripts back and forth. Reedsy co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Nataf says he had an epiphany when he got his first Amazon Kindle e-reader: “The barriers to publishing had been removed.”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 28, 2016 at 10:15 pm

[WRITING] “How Literature Became Word Perfect”: On the advent of word processing for writers

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Josephine Livingstone’s article at The New Republic describing how writers made the transition from typewriter to computer is a fascinating piece of history.

“As if being 1984 weren’t enough.” Thomas Pynchon, writing in The New York Times Book Review, marked the unnerving year with an honest question about seemingly dystopian technology: “Is It OK to Be a Luddite?” The Association of American Publishers records that by 1984, between 40 and 50 percent of American authors were using word processors. It had been a quarter-century since novelist C.P. Snow gave a lecture in which he saw intellectual life split into “literary” and “scientific” halves. Pynchon posited that the division no longer held true; it obscured the reality about the way things were going. “Writers of all descriptions are stampeding to buy word processors,” he wrote. “Machines have already become so user-friendly that even the most unreconstructed of Luddites can be charmed into laying down the old sledgehammer and stroking a few keys instead.”

The literary history of the early years of word processing—the late 1960s through the mid-’80s—forms the subject of Matthew G. Kirschenbaum’s new book, Track Changes. The year 1984 was a key moment for writers deciding whether to upgrade their writing tools. That year, the novelist Amy Tan founded a support group for Kaypro users called Bad Sector, named after her first computer—itself named for the error message it spat up so often; and Gore Vidal grumped that word processing was “erasing” literature. He grumped in vain. By 1984, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Michael Chabon, Ralph Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, and Anne Rice all used WordStar, a first-generation commercial piece of software that ran on a pre-DOS operating system called CP/M. (One notable author still using WordStar is George R.R. Martin.)

In the late 1970s and ’80s, brands of home computers proliferated: TRS-80 Model I, Commodore PET, Philips/Magnavox VideoWriter 250. All of these were stand-alone machines with price tags over $500. In 1984, Apple released the Macintosh personal computer, which included MacWrite, a word processor that couldn’t deal with documents over eight pages. Very few writers liked it—with the notable exceptions of Douglas Adams, creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Mona Simpson, who used MacWrite to compose Anywhere but Here while interning at The Paris Review. Simpson had an excellent reason for enjoying the new Mac: Her biological brother, Steve Jobs, had invented it.

Genre writers were among the earliest adopters of new word processing technologies—experimenting with them as early as the 1970s—since they were often more adventurous and less precious than their hyper-literary colleagues. Many of the highest-browed in the literary world resisted word processing for decades. Indeed, some writers would conceal the fact that they used a word processor for fear of being tarnished by an association with automation or inauthenticity. In a 2011 New York Times article, Gish Jen recalled colleagues at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the 1980s doctoring their printouts, adding unnecessary pencil annotations in order to make their manuscripts seem more “real,” less perfect. Perfect copy, after all, was for the typist, not the genius.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 28, 2016 at 9:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Why is Same-Sex Marriage Still Up for Debate Among Conservatives?”

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That it has taken so long for the Conservative Party of Canada to accept same-sex marriage, as Erica Lenti wrote in Torontoist, is astounding.

According to the platform, which was last amended in November 2013, the Conservative Party “believe[s] that Parliament, through a free vote, and not the courts should determine the definition of marriage. We support legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Several MPs felt strongly about removing these clauses from the platform. Winnipeg MP Michelle Rempel broke down in tears during a scrum, noting to party members that her cousin is gay and that the Tory stance should be inclusive.

But the Tories are still split: about one-third of those at the convention voted against reviewing the heternormative references from the platform. In particular, Saskatoon MP Brad Trost said the issue is “divisive” and could tear the party apart.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 28, 2016 at 7:52 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto Police try to convince us marijuana dispensaries are dangerous”

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Michelle da Silva and Kate Robertson of NOW Toronto report on the unconvincing arguments of Toronto police that the marijuana dispensaries were dangerous.

No one is coming from this looking good, not the dispensaries that opened while their key product was illegal, not the police that mounted the raids.

Reason #1: Because they’re not licenced to sell what they sell.

“We have to have environments where it is regulated, properly by the government so that there is a standard, not just an ad hoc, ‘I think i’ll just open a shop and go by my own rules,’” Saunders said today. “You can’t do that.”

But isn’t that why so many medpot activists and dispensary owners were eager to speak to the issue at the May 19 Licensing and Standards Committee meeting that was deferred to be held on June 27? Should the City not take some responsibility for their snail-paced approach to regulating the industry?

Reason #2: Because there are serious health and safety concerns.

“There is no quality control whatsoever on these products and, as you can see, they’re marketed in a way to disguise the unknown and unregulated amount of THC in the products,” Saunders said today. But at least some of the products on display were reportedly bought at Bulk Barn and intended to demonstrate that they are similar to edible cannabis products.

But many of the products shown at the press conference – like this Twisted Extracts’ Jelly Bomb (a fruit-flavoured edible in the shape of a Lego piece, with each dot representing one dose) – do clearly outline THC levels and recommended doses. In fact, many edible cannabis products do. To suggest that dispensaries are filled with unlabelled goods that look exactly like treats for kids is misleading.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 28, 2016 at 7:37 pm


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