Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Around the Word

Jersey scorn: Professional jealousy is a significant hazard of the writing trade -- watching your friends and cohorts win awards and climb best-seller lists while you type away in obscurity can be hugely frustrating. Novelist Valerie Frankel tackles the topic of the green-eyed monster in a recent essay for the Daily Beast. She admits to hating every friend, acquaintance and stranger who ever made the New York Times best-seller list -- until a foray into ghostwriting, and a petite "Jersey Shore" heroine, helped her get there herself. Frankel collaborated with "Shore" star Snooki on her best-selling memoir, A Shore Thing. Though high-grossing celebrity memoirs, like the Kardashian sisters' new book, sometimes make us rage with jealousy, we find that the cure is to think about the anonymous ghost behind the glamour.

Real genius: Speaking of professional jealousy, several well-known writers and storytellers were awarded MacArthur foundation "genius grants" this week. RadioLab host Jad Abumrad, poet Kay Ryan and New Yorker writer Peter Hessler were among the literary types to each win a $500,000 grant. We're happy to see so many writers get an award that often goes to more scientifically-minded creators. For a list of all the word nerd winners, check out this post on GalleyCat.

The EP of e-books? We wrote on Monday about traditional news publishers venturing into the e-book market as a medium for long-form content. Now, the Columbia Journalism Review has delved deeper into the subject, looking at e-books as an opportunity for journalists to quickly release pieces that are too long for a magazine, but too short for a book. E-"booklet" publishers, like Byliner and the Atavist, have seen success with these in-between pieces, and they've taken advantage of new technology to give writers more flexibility in their word counts. "Thousand-word pieces are not in human DNA and neither are 400-page reported books," writes Alissa Quart for the CJR. "They were in the pre-digital marketplace's DNA, though." Do you think these digital booklets will find an audience?

Back to school: Thanks to the power of the Internet, you can now hear Ivy League-level lectures without paying a dime in college tuition. YouTube's educational channel, YouTube EDU, offers recordings of lectures from schools like Harvard, Yale and MIT, and GalleyCat has combed the site for the best writing and lit lectures at top universities. Check out the talks from luminaries like Ray Bradbury, Clive Cussler and Penelope Lively and let us know what you think.

Fill-in-the-blank: The Eloquent Woman is taking a poll on public speaking, and the results are a good cross-section of the trials and tribulations of being a professional speaker. So, we thought we would ask our gracious ghosts to give their opinion on the topic. The prompt asks you to finish this sentence: "I'd enjoy public speaking more if..." Leave your answer in the comments or send it to us on Twitter (@GothamGhosts) to let your voice be heard.

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