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A Strange Subculture Term Every Day on Twitter

Luc's writing projects

To celebrate the publishing of the second, expanded, newly illustrated edition of my book Talk the Talk: The Slang of 67 American Subcultures, I’m following through with something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: showcasing some of the oddest and most entertaining subculture slang terms from the thousands and thousands I covered in the book, including “meat actor,” “feghoot,” “monster heel,” “ringmaster” (it doesn’t mean what most of us think it does!), “whuffo,” and (one of my all-time favorites) “nerd gate.”

Talk the Talk

You can follow me on Twitter @lucreid, or find out more about the book (including where to get it in paperback or for Kindle) right here.

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My latest story now live on Daily Science Fiction: Uh .. Guys?

Luc's writing projects

Daily Science Fiction, a free electronic science fiction and fantasy magazine, published my short short story of aliens observing an Earth in peril, “Uh … Guys?” last week for their e-mail subscribers and today free for everyone at http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/aliens/luc-reid/uh-guys .

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Valley Players Present the 2013 Ten Fest of 10-Minute Plays

Luc's writing projects

Thursday evening, Valley Players in Waitsfield, Vermont presents the 6th annual Ten Fest, a festival of 10-minute plays by Vermont authors. Included is my play “Willing,” in which an author struggles with her characters in an increasingly difficult attempt to maintain a plot.

I had the great pleasure of seeing another of my plays produced 2 years ago at the 4th annual Ten Fest, that being my caveperson micro-epic “The Discovery of Fire (and Other Bad Ideas).” The cast gave a rollicking performance, set off by costumes that are especially amazing when you take into account the fact that they were for such a short play. Maybe I have a picture here somewhere … oh, better yet, here’s a video:

Here’s a full list of the plays that will be presented:

“Helicopter Parents for Hire” by Stefan G. Lanfer
“Snowed In” by Em Frappier
“My Tea with Cocoa” by Jack Ruston
“Long Trips” by Richard Klovdahl
“Silver Lining” by Roger Strauss
“Ommm, Sweet Ommm” by John Kern
“Homeland Security” by Mimi D’Aponte
“Beach Combing” by Lauren Kelley
“Willing” by Luc Reid
“Lights Off” by Lynn Chlumecky

The cast includes Susan Bauchner, Ed Biello, David Ehrlich, Carl Emmons, Emily Flinn, Donna Imbeninato, Ron Kampner, Emma Kessler, Andra Krushenick Kisler, Cher Laston, Joe Laston, Sara Lee, Sara McDougal, Amanda Menard, Cynthia Seckler, Lisa Spencer, Gene Heinrich, Kate O’Neill, Vince Broderick, Betty McCaffrey, F. Brett Cox. Quite a number of these artists, I’m pleased to say, appear in the video above.

The shows’ directors are Jeanne Beckwith, Henry Erickson, Cher Laston, Sara McDougal, and Dvora Zipkin. Crew includes other participants already named and Charles Coburn.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for seniors and students. For reservations, call 802-583-1674. Full information on the performances is available, here, on Valley Players’ Web site. Hope to see you there!

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My Never-Ending Project Is Now Finished

Luc's writing projects

Talk the Talk 2006

My First Published Book–and Publisher Problems
My first published book was Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures, a dictionary of and guide to subculture slang in the U.S., appearing in bookstores in 2006. I received a small advance and an education in traditional publishing. My publisher’s royalty statements tended to be late when they came at all, and they didn’t appear to be very consistent or accurate. Eventually the publisher put out an entire separate printing, a hardcover version, that they neglected to mention to me–or pay me for. I didn’t know about it until I walked into my local bookstore and saw a bunch of copies of my own book. “Hardcover?” I said. “This was never released in hardcover!” Of course, it had been.

I did eventually get paid some of those royalties, but as the book came to the end of its life cycle and it started appearing on bargain tables, I turned my thoughts to rights reversion. Reversion is when a publisher assigns all of the rights for future editions of the book back to the writer, whether due to a prior arrangement, out of the goodness of their hearts, or perhaps as a peace offering to a writer whose book they have published in a separate hardcover edition without his knowledge or permission. Whatever the reason, Kindle books were starting to make a splash, and I wanted to make a proper Kindle edition of Talk the Talk.

The publisher did, kindly enough, agree to revert the rights for the book to me, and I started on an updated edition that I could release in paperback and for Kindle, figuring that I could probably have it out in a month or two.

Out with the old
Two and a half years later, I’m finally finished with that new edition: after a long time spent editing, updating, programming, formatting, checking, and tweaking, and with a cover based on a design very kindly donated by my talented artist cousin Nicholas, I’ve approved the proof, and the book is available for order.

The new edition is Talk the Talk in as ideal a form as I can imagine. The original edition was beautifully designed, with a sort of Soviet Rodeo aesthetic throughout and I thought it was very snazzy, but unfortunately it was also difficult to read and wasteful of space. Because of that design, I had to cut out a lot of material out from the original edition. I was also concerned that it wasn’t too comfortable to read in large sections (for people who wanted to do that), however pretty the design was.

interior of the original 2006 edition

interior of the original 2006 edition

In the new edition, I’ve dispensed with the Soviet Rodeo design (which I probably wouldn’t have had the rights to use anyway) and made the book much clearer and more comfortable to read. I restored a bunch of material that I’d had to cut out of the original, and removed a section the editor had really wanted that I didn’t feel belonged in the book because it was more popular culture than subculture (I’ve made the original version of that section, on hip hop slang, available for free on the book’s Web site at www.subculturetalk.com). I added some new sections on subcultures like geocachers and scrapbookers and painstakingly sourced and included well over a hundred photographs illustrating people, concepts, and items from the many subcultures in the book.

Talk the Talk 2nd editionThe old edition is 5″ x 7″ and 422 pages. The new edition, which I really like, is 5.25″ x 8″ and 620 pages. The ebook is much less expensive than the original, and the paperback costs a little more than the original did.

Shouldn’t I Feel Triumphant Now?
Completing the book doesn’t feel real to me yet. It’s true, I didn’t work consistently the whole two and a half years just on editing, expanding, illustrating, and formatting this book–but I did spend many months at all of that work. Everything took much longer than expected. Once the Kindle eBook was finally ready in January, I figured it would be a walk in the park to use the database system I had created for the book (which automatically managed cross-references, synonyms, indexing, and alphabetization) to output a paperback version. Many, many working hours later, I realized it wasn’t so simple: I needed to spend a lot of time defining and perfecting formatting for all of the different kinds of information in the book, including “see also” terms, synonyms, warning symbols, terms, definitions, examples, photographs, subculture introductions, table of contents, index entries, photo credits, and a lot more. Also, I was very, very picky: I tried to do everything in the best way I could devise.

There had briefly been a Kindle edition of the first edition put out by my original publisher: someone there had apparently forgotten to tell someone else that the rights had reverted to me, and they had just dumped their original layout into a file that made a terrible eBook. I contacted the proper authorities when that appeared and had it taken down, partly because they no longer had a right to publish the book and partly because I thought their electronic version was a mess.

Thew edition, however, has been available for Kindle since January, and the paperback went up for sale today; it will start appearing on Amazon next week.

It’s Hard to Stick With Hard Work
I tried starting several new projects while working on this book, but after a short time on each I always forced myself to stop and go back to finishing Talk the Talk. After all, the book was already “finished,” money lying on the table ready for me to scoop it up–at least, that was the idea. In any case, if I’m going to commit to a project, it doesn’t make sense for me start conflicting projects, no matter how appealing they may be, and no matter how much drudgery needs to go into the current project. Trying to do two such projects at once would only delay both of them. Still, from all of my other writing during this period I now have two mostly-completed non-fiction books in progress, a novel I started and set aside, and many completed short projects (flash fiction, short stories, and plays), some of which were published or produced in this period. I also published a collection of science fiction and fantasy short-short stories called Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories and a previously completed novel set in my native Vermont, Family Skulls.

Was This a Good Choice?
I’m proud I stuck with Talk the Talk, but it may have been stupid to do so. After all, the amount of work I had to put into the new edition was hugely more than I expected. I’ll have to sell at least a thousand copies to be adequately compensated for all the time I put into just this edition, and that’s getting nothing yet for the value of the book as it existed in the first edition.

When I started, I can’t imagine how I could have known how much labor was going to have to go into releasing this second edition. Given what I didn’t know, the choice to go ahead was obvious. If I had known the amount of work involved, I’m not sure I would have proceeded. Fortunately, I can enjoy having the book out in this form now regardless of how much time and effort it took.

Will I Be Able to Sell It On My Own?
I do have a promotion plan, one that’s quite different from what I’ve done with other books to which I own all rights, but it’s kind of hit-or-miss: it might bring many, many new readers or fail utterly. After all, I don’t have the ins that my previous publisher has. If you have any recommendations for reviewers, magazines, Web sites, or radio shows that might enjoy the book, please comment or contact me through the contact form. If the book gets extra exposure because of you, I’ll send you a free, signed copy.

interior spread from a digital proof of the 2nd edition

interior spread from a digital proof of the 2nd edition – click to enlarge

To my great frustration, the original publisher never sent the book to any reviewers or promoted it as anything other than a writer’s reference. It is a useful reference for writers, but I’d argue that it has even greater value as a surprise-packed thing to browse through for fun; Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing.net agreed, calling it “The kind of quirky thing that is endlessly fascinating and full of odd insights into worlds you never suspected existed.” Still, they did get it into bookstores and offer it through their book club, and by my best guess (recall that the royalty statements had some problems, so I will never know for sure) they probably sold about 10,000 copies–no amazing feat, but the book earned a good deal more than its advance, even though by my reckoning they never paid me some of the money I was due.

What have I gained?
I think there’s some real benefit in having seen the project through to the end, even if the payoffs turn out to be greatly diminished (they might) and although the work was many times longer and harder than I had planned or expected (which it certainly was). What I’ve learned through years of studying motivation and productivity has paid off well in helping me finish this project, and now I can reap whatever rewards may come: I know that I’ve persevered and conquered a difficult task. I know that this strange and arguably fascinating little book won’t vanish, out of print and inaccessible. I can even hope that the book finds a real audience–whether of original readers who want the updated and improved edition, new folks who never saw the original, or both–and that it will actually start helping support my family, as the small advance I received from the original publisher did in 2005 and 2006.

Most amazingly to me, I can now move ahead to my next book project with a clear conscience. Ironically, it’s very likely that finishing these next two nonfiction books, which are each probably somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 complete, will take less time for both together than Talk the Talk: The Slang of 67 American Subcultures, 2nd edition did for the one book. Heck, I probably could have completed a couple of novels in the time it took to revise and put out this book, especially since I could only work in certain situations due to the need to use the database I’d set up. The idea of just writing in a Word Processor is intoxicating–although both of the non-fiction books, as with most of my large non-fiction projects, are in Scrivener, which is not quite as accessible as, say, Google Docs.

It’s strange that completing a major project should feel more like something I need to recover from than something to celebrate. Still, maybe I’ll start connecting with some new readers, in which case there may be a celebration after all, a little further down the line.

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Belatedly: Free Audio of My Tall Tale “Tornado on Fire” at Escape Pod

Luc's writing projects

Escape Pod

Escape Pod

I hadn’t actually realized this when it went live, but my short tall tale “Tornado on Fire” is up on the SF and Fantasy audio site Escape Pod: http://escapepod.org/2012/11/29/ep372-flash-collection/ , read with admirable twang and charm by Mur Lafferty.

There are actual tornadoes on fire, though they’re not quite as described in the story. If you’re interested, check this out:

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Just Released: The Expanded, Illustrated 2nd Edition of Talk the Talk: The Slang of 67 American Subcultures

Luc's writing projects

About two and a half years ago, when I set about putting together a Kindle edition of my 2006 book Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures, I thought I was looking at a couple of week’s work in whatever time I could spare. It turns out that updating my term database with the original edition improvements, adding three new subcultures, putting in multiple photographs for every subculture, editing, adding some terms that didn’t fit in the first edition, and otherwise preparing this new edition have taken … well, two and a half years. Yet I think it was worth it! Check it out here.

 

Talk the Talk: The Slang of 67 American Subcultures

 

I was very pleased to find that no significant corrections were required from the original edition. Despite my careful research, I had half expected the day after the original book’s release to be deluged with telephone calls by irate members of the subcultures I’ve documented correcting my facts–but there weren’t any, then or since.

My favorite credibility moment came when a blog post upbraided me for using the term “shank” to refer to a cell-made prison weapon instead of what the post’s author (who like me, has not served time) put forth as the proper term, “shiv.” I didn’t have to defend my research, though: an actual former inmate commented on the post instead, saying that “shiv” was a popular media term, but the word that was really used “inside” was “shank.”

Regardless, whether you check the book out to browse the new photographs of all the unexplored corners of American culture, to test your knowledge of carnival slang (the public radio show Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me used the original edition to do this to guest Julia Sweeney back in 2006), to come up to speed on Renaissance Faire or snowboarding slang, or to just enjoy the range of words model rocketry enthusiasts use when they talk about things blowing up, there’s likely to be something of interest to practically any culture afficianado in what BoingBoing! called “the kind of quirky thing that is endlessly fascinating and full of odd insights into worlds you never suspected existed.”

If you’re interested in a review copy, whether for publication or simply for your blog, Amazon, or Goodreads, etc., please use the contact form here on my Web page.

The print edition should be released next month.

(By the way, astute readers may have noticed that I mention adding three subcultures, but the number listed on the cover only increased from 65 to 67. That’s because hip-hop slang, which to my way of thinking is much too widely used to be considered subculture speak, was removed from the new volume. Instead, I made it available for free on Talk the Talk‘s Web site at www.subculturetalk.com.)

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Four Days Left to Win a Kindle Fire HD

Luc's writing projects

If you haven’t yet entered the Kindle Books on Fire giveaway at www.kindlebooksonfire.com, you can get in just under the wire for a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD loaded with books. To enter, go to the contest Web page, choose the three books from the listing there that most appeal to you, then post the titles of your choices using Facebook, Twitter, our contest Web page, or all three. We’ll choose the winners on New Year’s Day. Full details are on the Kindle Books on Fire Web page, but the short version is that it’s easy to enter and free.

Our first prize winner will be chosen in a random drawing from all qualified entries and will receive a new Kindle Fire HD and all thirteen of the science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction books from the contest page. Ten second prize winners will each receive the three eBooks they chose from the contest list when they entered.

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We’re Giving Away a New Kindle Fire HD and 13 Engrossing eBooks

Luc's writing projects

I joined up with five other authors  (Judson Roberts, Ruth Nestvold, Del Law, William Hertling, and Annie Bellet) to start a contest that runs all this month. First prize is a brand spankin’ new Kindle Fire HD with 13 eBook novels and collections of science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. There are also 10 second prizes of three eBooks from your choice of those 13.

You can enter the contest up to once each (so a total maximum of three entries) through Twitter, Facebook, and on our contest Web page by simply listing the three books that most interest you from the list. You can enter and get all the details here.

Contest books include my own Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories and my novel of Vermont backwoods magic, Family Skulls. Some of the other books are William Hertling’s two futuristic AI novels, Judson Roberts’ deeply researched and action-drive Viking trilogy, Del Law’s unique and engaging fantasy novel of humans and non-humans in overlapping worlds, Annie Bellet’s novel of crime in fantasy city called Pyrrh, and Ruth Nestvold’s Arthurian Romance-Adventure novels.

Winners will be announced on New Year’s Day, 2013. Enjoy, and good luck!

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Watch online: The Discovery of Fire (and Other Bad Ideas)

Luc's writing projects

In August 2011, my short play “The Discovery of Fire (and Other Bad Ideas)” was performed for the first time in Waitsfield, Vermont’s Valley Players theater as part of the 4th Annual Vermont Playwrights’ Circle TenFest of short plays. After a bit of a delay, it’s now available to watch on YouTube.

In “The Discovery of Fire,” a tribe of cavepeople try to come to grips with a freakish new phenomenon discovered by their tribesmate, Bluk.

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Free Historical Fantasy Novelette Wed-Thu: The Violin-Maker’s Wife

Luc's writing projects

Some time back, my friend Maya Lassiter and I participated in a Codex collaborative story contest and created a historical fantasy story about deadly lights plaguing a small family in post-Civil War Missouri. Even after the story won the contest, we revised and rewrote and rewrote and revised, finally settling on a version that satisfied us both.

Today and tomorrow (Wednesday through Thursday, November 7th and 8th), our e-novelette “The Violin Maker’s Wife” will be available free on Amazon.com: click here to get it.

If you do get and read the story, we’d be very interested in hearing what you think! Comment here or post a review on Amazon.

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