Friday, August 5, 2011

Around the Word

Hashtag heaven: One of the features we love about Twitter is the hashtag, a conversational marker that organizes a discussion and lets you follow it throughout the network. The writing community, being the creative folk that we are, has come up with a slew of helpful hashtags to facilitate discussion about writing, offer encouragement to fellow wordsmiths, and connect with like-minded people. To get a sense of what's trending, this week Publishing Talk Daily assembled a list of the Top 10 tags for writers, from the popular #amwriting to the helpful #askagent. Which hashtags do you use when tweeting about writing?

All the words that's fit to define: The New York Times may be the standard-bearer for American journalism, but sometimes the writers over at the Gray Lady throw in a word that is more comfortable in an SAT-prep class than a newspaper article. For those occasions, the New York Times has a handy "look up" feature that allows a reader to immediately find the definition of a word they don't know. The Times has been tracking which words are looked up the most, and the Nieman Journalism Lab has analyzed this year's results. The most popular are mostly negative, with words like "omerta," "duplicity" and "dyspeptic" making the list. For our word nerd friends out there, the number one looked-up word this year was "panegyric."

Another self-publishing star: Another day, another sweet deal for a self-publishing Cinderalla. The latest e-volutionary sucess story is Louise Voss, whose novel Catch Your Death sold big in the Kindle UK store after being rejected by many traditional publishing houses. All the reader love resulted in a six-figure, four book contract from HarperFiction, reports the London Evening Standard (h/t GalleyCat). Is this trend ready to hit critical mass market?

Vital video links: We wanted to pass along two video gems from our friend David Murray at Vital Speeches of the Day. In the first, Murray gives us an inside look at the latest iteration of the famous Bughouse Square debates in Chicago, an annual event that "pays homage to the early-to-mid 20th century tradition of quirky (and often cranky) public soap-box opining." For a more traditional view of speechifying history, Murray suggests a trip to the American Rhetoric's Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century page, which gives mp3 files and transcripts of some of history's greatest oratory. Take a look at the list and let us know which speeches inspire you.

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