Odds, Ends

~Interest is really starting to pick up on the author chats. I’m getting all kinds of email queries from readers wanting to know the best way to make sure they’ll be able to chat with Samantha Dunn. The answer: just make sure you’re there early, as the room will only hold 50 people. The chat isn’t for another 2 weeks anyway, so don’t worry about it at this point. But I must tell you all that it has been really heartening and inspring to see so many people excited about talking to authors. It gives one hope, you know?

~My friend Brandon Stickney just had a story published in the Spring/Summer issue of the Ontario Review, the lit journal publised by Joyce Carol Oates. As one could imagine, it is no small feat getting in on that gig, so kudos to Brandon for finally breaking through there. His constant hard work and determination are proof positive that if you just keep pushing, keep refining your work, you WILL make it through to the other side, none the worse for wear. And, to top it off, Brandon holds the distinction of having had his work plagiarized by award-winning L.A. Times reporter Richard Serrano.

As noted in the Columbia Journalism Review, “Richard Serrano, latest nominee for membership in the Curious Coincidences Club. Serrano’s book, One of Ours: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing, published by Norton in 1998, bears a number of striking resemblances to Brandon Stickney’s All-American Monster: The Unauthorized Biography of Timothy McVeigh, published by Prometheus in 1996. Similarities between Serrano’s unsourced volume and Stickney’s extensively referenced work include substantive sentences and overall approach. Similarities also include a couple of trivial, though telling, mistakes — to wit: “The Last Day,” Stickney wrote of a 1980s film about “a notion of nuclear holocaust imbedded in [McVeigh’s and his survivalist friends’] heads chronicles World War III’s effect on a small town.” “The Last Day,” wrote Serrano about “[a movie] that took hold of [McVeigh] told the story of the effect of World War III on a small town.” As Stickney had discovered after his book went to press, the correct title of the movie is The Day After.”

Serrano later wrote in to the CJR, saying “Every author I know necessarily relies to some extent on prior reporting by others about facts and events. Stickney’s All American Monster, was just one of the many published sources which I, like any author, reviewed. These secondary sources were in addition to my own independent reporting, which included nearly three years of coverage of the McVeigh case since the day of the bombing. My only regret is that I looked to All American Monster for a few of the facts about McVeigh’s early life. Stickney’s error about the name of the movie caused me to include this minor error in my book as well.”

The CJR editors reply? “The Dart was based on a thorough comparison of the two books. Similarities included not only facts and chronology (and minor errors), but also peculiar words, verbatim phrases, and extraordinarily close paraphrases.”

I know this has nothing to do with anything, but I think it’s funny that Stickney’s book was published by a small house to very little press, while the esteemed Serrano put out an unsourced book on Stickney’s back and probably made a hell of a lot more money than Stickney ever did. The rich getting richer? Anyway, point is, if Brandon’s writing is good enough to be plagiarized by a hoity toity Los Angeles Times reporter, then it must be something worth checking into. Pick up the latest Ontario Review and check him out.

~Another friend, Sarahbeth Purcell, has a new book coming out TODAY called THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG (Simon & Schuster/Washington Square Press). To get the ball rolling on it, she’s holding a contest. From Sarahbeth:
“I announce my challenge to all readers: Every chapter in TINALS is headed by a song title. The FIRST reader who can guess ALL the artists who belong to these songs and submits the list to me via email wins a prize sent directly to them! (I promise no socks, toilet paper, dollar store figurines, or booby prizes!) GAME ON! And thanks for your support! sarahbethpurcell@gmail.com

Ms. Purcell will be holding a chat on my site sometime in June, so read up and get ready for a great conversation.

~Slowly but surely, the futureproof homepage is being updated. By next week the t-shirts will be available, as well as signed 12 x 17 mini-posters, signed by yours truly. I hate to come across as some kind of shill, but when you’re doing this stuff on no budget, you find ways to get cash-flow (trickle?) to continue the funding of the most important futureproof stuff, which is getting the book physically placed in stores. When you don’t have a huge publishing house behind you, the stores want you to just give them the books, with them paying you only after they’ve sold your books. So you have to have money to actually have the books printed so that I can send them to these stores. And so on. And so forth. It’s a dirty job, etc. But anyway, I figured, if I could give something cool and limited edition-ish to people in exchange for their cold-hard funds, then all the better, no?

To everyone who has been buying and reading and supporting and spreading the word on futureproof, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It makes all this waiting and hair-pulling worthwhile, when somebody sends me an email or drops a comment on the old myspace page saying how the book has positively affected them. You guys are my life’s-blood. THANK YOU.

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