1. Could your Tumblr win a book deal? 

    The book publishing industry, a notorious slouch when it comes to emerging trends on the internet, is not going to let this Tumblr thing come and go without earning a buck or two. 

     


  2. I found the Brie and broke off a fragment, sucking her nipple through it.
    — 

    Jonathan Grimod’s The Last Banquet, a finalist for 2013’s Bad Sex Award.

    All hail the Bad Sex Awards, the world’s best literary prize

     

  3. In 1995, at the age of 43, Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a major stroke and slipped into a coma. He regained consciousness two days later, but his entire body — with the exception of his left eyelid — was paralyzed.

    Still, Bauby was determined to write. Using only his lucid mind and one eye, he began working on his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Each night, he’d lie awake editing and re-editing the story in his mind, memorizing every paragraph as he hoped to relay it. By day, his transcriber would recite the alphabet to him over and over. When she reached a letter Bauby desired, he’d wink. Each word took about two minutes to produce, and during the course of a year, Bauby managed to tell his story of life in paralysis. His moving and often funny prose won critical acclaim, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly became a bestseller throughout Europe.

    10 works of literature that were exceptionally hard to write

     

  4. 9 contemporary horror stories you can read right now

    6. The Sloan Men, by David Nickle (2007)

    "Nickle’s disturbing take on a Meet the Parents scenario unfolds more gradually than most stories in the genre, as narrator Judith becomes unsettled during an increasingly strange conversation with her boyfriend’s mother:”

    Mrs. Sloan had only three fingers on her left hand, but when she drummed them against the countertop, the tiny polished bones at the end of the fourth and fifth stumps clattered like fingernails. If Judith hadn’t been looking, she wouldn’t have noticed anything strange about Mrs. Sloan’s hand.

    "Tell me how you met Herman," said Mrs. Sloan. She turned away from Judith as she spoke, to look out the kitchen window where Herman and his father were getting into Mr. Sloan’s black pickup truck. Seeing Herman and Mr. Sloan together was a welcome distraction for Judith. She was afraid Herman’s stepmother would catch her staring at the hand. Judith didn’t know how she would explain that with any grace: Things are off to a bad enough start as it is.

     

  5. Bram Stoker gets a lot of credit for kicking off vampire literature with Dracula, but Sheridan Le Fanu beat him to the punch a full 25 years later with the gothic tale Carmilla. The story follows the relationship between two young girls, and modern readers are likely to figure out the so-called “twist” long before it’s revealed — but Le Fanu’s prose is reliably gorgeous, and the story’s lesbian undertones are surprisingly overt for a story of its era.

    9 classic horror stories you can read right now

     


  6. I always have to know my characters in a lot of depth — what clothes they’d choose, what they were like at school, etc. And I know what happened before and what will happen after the part of their lives I’m dealing with. I can’t see them just now, packed into the stress of the moment.
     

  7. This Sunday is the birthday of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, the English mathematician and writer whose most famous works include Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking-Glass, and The Hunting of the Snark. Such works featured Carroll’s specialty: coining blends and nonce words. Here are some of our favorites:
    1. Boojum
      The boojum is “a particularly dangerous variety of ‘snark,’” an imaginary creature of Carroll’s invention. The word boojum has inspired the naming of everything from “a species of tree… native to Baja California, Mexico” (found in 1922 by plant explorer Godfrey Sykes, who proclaimed, “It must be a boojum!”); to a supersonic cruise missile that “was determined to be too ambitious a project… and was canceled in 1951”; to “a geometric pattern sometimes observed on the surface of superfluid helium-3,” as named by physicist David Mermin in 1976.
      Example: But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day, / If your Snark be a Boojum!  For then / You will softly and suddenly vanish away, / And never be met with again!” — Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark, 1876
       
    2. Chortle
      To chortle means “to exclaim exultingly, with a noisy chuckle.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), Carroll coined the word as a blend of chuckle and snort.
      Example: ”He chortled in his joy.” —Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, 1871
       
    3. Frabjous 
      Frabjous means “great, wonderful, fabulous,” and is a blend of either fabulous and joyous, or fair and joyous. “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” cries the narrator of The Jabberwocky upon learning that the Jabberwock has been slain.
      Example: “‘O frabjous day!’ rejoiced Emma Dean, using her bath towel as a scarf and performing a weird dance about the room.” — Jessie Graham Flower, Grace Harlowe’s Return to Overton Campus, 1915
     

  8. Wanna be a better writer? Try writing by hand. 

    Many famous authors opt for the meticulousness of writing by hand over the utility of a typewriter or computer. In a 1995 interview with the Paris Review, writer Susan Sontag said that she penned her first drafts the analog way before typing them up for editing later. "I write with a felt-tip pen, or sometimes a pencil, on yellow or white legal pads, that fetish of American writers," she said. "I like the slowness of writing by hand."

    Novelist Truman Capote insisted on a similar process, although his involved lying down with a coffee and cigarette nearby. “No, I don’t use a typewriter,” he said in an interview. “Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand.” A 2009 study from the University of Washington seems to support Sontag, Capote, and many other writers’ preference for writing by hand: Elementary school students who wrote essays with a pen not only wrote more than their keyboard-tapping peers, but they also wrote faster and in more complete sentences.  

    4 benefits of writing by hand

     

  9. Photo: Amherst College Archives & Special Collections/Emily Dickinson Museum

    Emily Dickinson was incredibly reclusive — so much so that there has long been only one known photograph of her. But now, a possible second image of the poet — a daguerreotype from 1859 owned by a private collector — has turned up in Amherst, Mass., Dickinson’s hometown.

    Researchers are convinced it’s a picture of Dickinson in her 20s. In the image, a woman with a slight smile sits with her left arm extended tenderly behind the back of Dickinson’s friend Kate Scott Turner, who had recently become a widow.

    A video comparison of the 1859 image with the already authenticated picture of Dickinson in 1847, at age 16, reveals strikingly similar facial characteristics. “The two women have the same eye opening size,” with the right eye opening just a bit wider than the left, says professor Susan Pepin of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Amherst College even found a fabric sample at the Emily Dickinson Museum that appeared to match the dress in the photo. The dress is a bit out of date for the times, and Amherst notes that a few years earlier Dickinson had told a friend, “I’m so old-fashioned, darling, all your friends would stare.”

    Keep reading…

     


  10. I sometimes get up at night when I can’t sleep and walk down into my library and open one of my books and read a paragraph and say, ‘My God, did I write that?’
    — 

    Ray Bradbury, whom The New York Times calls ”the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream,” died Wednesday at age 91.

    Here, his most affecting quotes

     

  11. Writers remember Maurice Sendak: The “author of splendid nightmares” died Tuesday at age 83. His stories, especially the classic Where the Wild Things Are, were among the first popular tales to truly acknowledge that children experience darkness, and then to reflect those shadows right back at them. At first, that notion drew plenty of criticism, but ultimately turned Sendak into one of the most celebrated children’s authors in modern history. The prolific writer and illustrator is now “widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century,” says Margalit Fox at The New York Times.

    When Where the Wild Things Are was published in 1963, it was an instant classic — and instantly controversial. The story of young Max, a grumpy boy who lashes out at his mother, is sent to his room without supper, and is then magically transported to a menacing forest populated by grotesque creatures who want to eat him, was “a startling departure from the sweetness and innocence that ruled childhood literature,” says Valerie J. Nelson at the Los Angeles Times. Libraries banned it, but the book won the Caldecott Medal, was considered for the Pulitzer Prize, and eventually sold more than 19 million copies.

    He was a prickly, loving, complicated man. Sendak, who was gay and had no children, was famously both ornery and warm. He told Vanity Fair last year: “A woman came up to me the other day and said, ‘You’re the kiddie-book man!’ I wanted to kill her.” Despite occasional grumpiness, Sendak was dearly fond of his young fans, and had a sense of humor about himself, as exhibited during a recent viral interview on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Speaking with NPR's Fresh Air last year, he faced his own mortality: "I have nothing but praise now, for my life. I’m not unhappy… Oh God, there are such beautiful things in the world, which I will have to leave when I die. But I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready."

    How Sendak revolutionized children’s literature

     

  12. Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s biggest literary stars, Charles Dickens. The beloved British storyteller was the original literary celebrity and creator of more than two dozen works of fiction that have never gone out of print. His influence lives on in musicals, film, television, art, and literature. Here, a visual history of his life and enduring legacy.

     

  13. Did Jane Austen die of arsenic poisoning?

    Since at least the 1960s, historians and scholars studying Jane Austen’s life and work have been perplexed: What could have prematurely killed the English novelist at age 41? The Pride and Prejudice author’s death over 200 years ago has been blamed on everything from cancer to Addison’s disease. But now, crime novelist Lindsay Ashford presents new evidence suggesting that the likely culprit was arsenic poisoning, thanks to a series of clues unearthed in Austen’s hometown. “The alarm bells that sounded,” says Ashford, “were deafening.”