Inner Minx and Little Minx

Last weekend, while I was playing tennis, the Inner Minx gave birth to the Little Minx, a blog featuring "stories for those with a short attention span". I bookmarked the first offering to read when I had some leisure — just now, in fact.

The Heart of Quetzalcoatl is a haunting piece of fantasy writing that I highly recommend reading. I hope that the Little Minx will feature more writing, and soon. This author has talent. (Read her poems and humour on her main blog).

Thank you, Minx, for sharing the story. Keep writing.

Minx said…

Thank you, tis a mere trifle!

8:20 PM

Maxine said…

My pleasure, it was a very good read!

9:34 PM

Nature content matters

Content Matters is Barry Glaubert’s blog for "occasional ruminations on the convergence of content and technology". Barry has been posting a series on "The 50 content companies that matter", and the other week he chose Nature (Nature Publishing Group to be more accurate). So I thought I’d share Barry’s views with any Petrona readers who might be interested.

As Barry says, "Nature is part of the Nature Publishing Group (NPG), a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd. While many of the companies profiled on this blog are early stage, Nature dates back to 1869. With 400 employees, NPG publishes sixteen journals and four clinical practice titles." He goes on to highlight Connotea, with its recently launched community wiki pages (I have just started to play around with these, so do visit my Connotea wiki!)

To quote Barry: "But, Connotea is hardly the only forward-thinking solution from Nature. They have been early adopters of RSS and podcasting, and have even launched a mashup of Avian flu reports with Google Earth. A number of Nature writers and management have blogs, as does even the CEO of parent company Macmillan." The NPG blogs are currently the blog, which is a very active forum for reader comments on Nature’s daily, free, online, science news service; Nascent (Timo Hannay’s web publishing development blog); Free Association (Nature Genetics blog); Action Potential (Nature Neuroscience blog, which has been rather quiet recently); and The Sceptical Chymist (a strangely titled chemical biology blog). The CEO’s blog referred to above is called CharkBlog. I’m not going to provide links to all these, as they can all be accessed via Nature’s website at

Barry finishes up by mentioning the Open Access movement, and concludes: "In a market where a few large companies control access to much of the critical information, Nature is a shining star for their flexibility, their willingness to test new technologies and their efforts to keep the ‘community’ in scientific community. " Thanks, Barry!

Many of Barry’s other featured companies in his series are business-information rather than publishing companies. But I think his listings are worth a look; among those featured of which I have some personal knowledge are Flickr, Linkedin, Public Library of Science, Delicious, SixApart and Wikipedia.

Online books and a mystery site

I’ve posted before about the website Associated Content, from the point of view of writing for them and getting paid for it. Since then I attempted to sign up, but flunked out as I was alarmed by their apparently stringent rights agreement. Seemed to me that if you sign up and write a piece for them, they can then do anything they like with it and, by contrast, you can’t post it anywhere yourself, or have anything else to do with it. I sent them an email to ask them to clarify, but not surprisingly have not had a response.

That story aside, Associated Content has a useful page about free online reading. I am not a fan of online reading, I prefer to read anything at more than a few pages in length in print rather than on screen. But if you are broke and/or don’t mind online reading, the AC page links to some useful portals, for example Gutenberg, University of Pennsylvania and Questia, where you can read online books or find out whether a book you want to read is available online in full-text. Google book search is not on the list, nor does there seem to be a text ad to it 😉

One of the recommended sites is I went to take a look at that as it bills itself as "Online mysteries, mystery games, mystery books and resources. For everyone who enjoys a mystery… "

My verdict: the site seems a great resource if you are interested in crime fiction, but it is not primarily a source of free online reading of mystery books. There are links to some stories online, for example Sherlock Holmes, but the site is mainly an online magazine. One resource on the site that looks very good is Mystery Books & Resources : "Uncover mystery book picks and authors by genre, and thoughts and perspective from today’s mystery authors." There is a long list of articles, many of which look to be excellent — one is by Jodi Compton, for example, who is a very good author based on the two books she has written so far. There are also articles by Laurie R. King, Lisa Gardner, Lawrence Block, an interview with Margaret Maron, and many others.

On this same link, there is a list of just about all the classic as well as current popular crime-fiction authors, each with a link to a page about their books — blurbs, author biographies and purchase options. Together with resources (eg awards), puzzles, games, etc, this site seems a brilliant one. It is now listed on Connotea Detective. (Not quite sure how I managed to miss listing it thus far.)

Paperback colours

Continuing to enjoy the luxury of a bank-holiday Monday in the UK, and a bit of "through the day" posting, here is a post on Paperback Writer that is perfect for Jenny (my daughter that is, not Jenny D, though I don’t know whether or not Jenny D is colour-centric). The posting is a list of ten links to sites about various aspects of colour.

Paperback Writer has found most of these links via The Generator Blog , so I went over to have a look at that, and find that it is "not about those machines used to change mechanical energy into electrical energy. It’s about software that creates software. Software to play around and have fun with." (Malcolm will be pleased that he’s still in a job, then — which is to find out how muscle crossbridges convert chemical into mechanical energy.) The Generator Blog looks fabulous — full of lovely widgets, logos and gadgets that you can use to pretty up your site — random cat-name generator, famous logo generator, flip-flop squirrel generator — you get it. I now realise where quite a few of the cute pictures and cartoons I’ve seen come from!

A useful post on Paperback Writer that has nothing to do with generating blog titles or suchlike is "Know thy industry", which dissects out the six "major publishers" for all those of us who might avail ourselves of their services one of these days. PBW defines "major publishers" as "who does the most business and can potentially pay me the most money for what I write."

So far as I am aware from my own knowledge acquired from who knows where over the years, PBW is spot on with the first three in the list: Bertelsmann, CBS Corp. and Holtzbrinck (nowadays my own employer since its purchase of Macmillan just over 5 years ago). Next are Lagadere, Pearson, News Corp. (Rupert Murdoch). PBW provides useful links to these publishers’ websites and lists a few of their better known imprints.

Witches and confessions

Macbeth cannot hold a candle to my favourite three witches in the world. Two of them are fictional: Hermione Grainger and Ginny Weasley. The third is very real: the Wicked Witch of Publishing, who is currently featuring on her blog a characteristically excellent post about her experiences in a cigar bar with Ron Hogan.

The posting covers a range of issues, which I’m glad to say the Witch will discuss in more detail in future, but I was struck by one comment she made, on the Kaavya Viswanathan affair. All the blogs have been buzzing with this story for the past week or more, and I for one find these obsessive chewings-over of the unfortunate or the thoughtless completely missable. However, one can always rely on The Wicked Witch not to follow the crowd: she has her own take on it, in feeling sorry for the "Indian princess" because, for the rest of her life, Kaavya V. will be associated in people’s minds with this event. The Witch specifies Ted Kennedy in this context, but she could also have included James Frey, P G Wodehouse, Bill Clinton — people who, whatever else they do in life, will always be associated with one foolish act. Of course, this also happens to people when something happens to them that is completely outside their control. Life is tough.

Changing the subject to something more upbeat, Ron Hogan’s partner in GalleyCat is the wonderful Sarah Weinman, who has posted on her blog Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind a link to a picture of herself at the recent Edgars. She looks absolutely lovely – I am sure she is too modest to ascribe all the credit to the photographer. The next posting on Confessions is Sarah’s weekend round up of literary links to the weekend papers. You could spend the weekend just reading that one set of links.