inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #76 of 128: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Wed 31 Mar 99 19:20
    
So, Laura, can we talk about your X-Files addiction? Or should we keep
quiet?
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #77 of 128: dragging in Hyperborea (dbdoty) Wed 31 Mar 99 21:48
    
So, with the recognition and success you've achieved, do your publishers
treat you with more respect than the did when you were starting out (and
than they do most of us faceless masses of compter book authors)? Do you
have to complete books in 8-10 weeks?  Do you have more credibility when you
propose something a little different than whatever the publishers percieve
as this month's hot topic (assuming you want to do this)?
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #78 of 128: Undo Influence (mnemonic) Fri 2 Apr 99 00:45
    

Laura explained "X-Files" in a paragraph once -- not only was it funny, but
it actually was helpful as well.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #79 of 128: blather storm (lolly) Fri 2 Apr 99 08:51
    

Oh, Laura, was that yours? I LOVED that, loved it loved it loved it, and
I've seen that show about 2.6 times.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #80 of 128: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 2 Apr 99 08:58
    
Laura... that was up as the featured Words-From-The-WELL post on the home
page once, and is all formatted and stuff, still.  Could we point to it,
again now, huh, could we?
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #81 of 128: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Fri 2 Apr 99 10:22
    

yes, please darling.

Laura, what do you think about Amazon challenging ebay for auctions.  I was
all excited until I went there.  ebay I believe to be a far superior site.

I ask you this because you know everything.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #82 of 128: one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor (mtrbike) Fri 2 Apr 99 11:28
    

Eeek!  Many questions!

I was going to copy-and-paste the X-files thing here, but if there's
a handy link and that would be easier, go for it.  I posted it
in the topic about the X-files movie before it came out, so a lot
of what was funny about it at the time has been explained.

Wel, sort of explained.  Badly explained.  My X-files obsession has
cooled quite a bit this year.  I liked it better when everything was
more mysterious.  Now that we know more of the deep secrets and
they're STUPID they have a harder time holding my interest.  That and
I'm getting a definite phoning-it-in impression from everyone
involved, and that dissapoints me.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #83 of 128: one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor (mtrbike) Fri 2 Apr 99 13:22
    


Re: 77. Do I get more respect from publishers now that I'm a success? 

Well, yes and no. 

First of all, I should note that I've always written for the same
publisher, Sams Publishing, a division of Macmillan Computer
Publishing. So that colors a lot of what I'm about to say.

I do get more respect than when I first started out, absolutely.  My
royalties and advances are way better.  I certainly have no shortage
of work.  I could write computer books year-round if I wanted to --
and I could probably have first choice of the primo topics, the ones
that the publisher is going to put marketing muscle behind.  If I
wanted to write about the sophisticated programming methods of the
southwesterm mongolian tribes using yak entrails and small rocks, I
probably could write about it if I wanted to (although I'm not sure
I'd get much marketing muscle for that one).

On the other hand, computer book publishing still has its rules about
tight deadlines and about series titles, and I'm not exempt from that.
If I wanted to write about yak entrails and rocks, it'd most likely be
Teach Yourself Yak Entrails and Rocks in 21 Days.  I'm known for Teach
Yourself books, so having me continue with that series is considered a
marketing advantage.  And considering the jokes in this topic, that
strategy appears to be working.  :)

Tight deadlines are still expected of me. (For those in the audience,
we're talking 300-500 pages in 2-3 months).  The Perl book was given a
whole lot of leeway because it wasn't really needed right then and
there.  But if I did, say, an Office 2000 book, then no amount of Big
Name Clout would let me bring it in late.  That's just not how it
works (at least, not at Sams).

For my first bunch of books, the tight deadlines weren't that big a
deal.  I have kind of an obsessive personality, so being able to get
DEEP INTO a book and do NOTHING but that book for X amount of time
actually worked really well for me.  But as I get older (ahem) I'm
having more trouble with that system.  Its getting harder to do good
work under those deadlines, its hard on the body (I had very serious
problems with RSI during this last book) and its emotionally hard on
friendships and relationships.  Not to mention the very strong
potential for burnout -- a problem I've been flirting with all too
much over the last few years.

I could solve many of these problems simply by switching publishers.
Not all publishers are quite as series focussed or as deadline
focussed.  But working with Sams all this time has had its advantages
-- not just in having my pick of titles and being able to write about
yak entrails, but also in editorial consistency.  I've worked with
much of the same team since my very first book.  My aquisitions editor
for my first book is now the publisher of an entire division, but he's
still the guy I argue contracts with and send my drafts to (even I
wonder why he still bothers to stay quite so hands on with me when
he's got so much to do).  And I've had the same development and
production editors on most of my books.  That sort of stability is
unheard of in publishing, any publishing.  And its been really good
for me, and one of the major reasons why I haven't gone elsewhere.

Wow, I didn't mean for this to turn out quite so long.  Self-indulgent
R Us.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #84 of 128: one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor (mtrbike) Fri 2 Apr 99 14:13
    

Re: 81.  Pfft.  I don't know *everything*.  Geography.  I really suck
at geography.  
</kidding>

I've only poked my head into the new Amazon auctions twice now.  The
"seeding" of the auctions by commercial stores irritates me.  I'm
aware of why Amazon did it that way, so that the auctions woulnd't be
totally empty when they started, but still, it puts the emphasis on
the "charter merchants," and I think that's a bad idea.  There's a
reason I prefer Ebay over the other auction sites like Onsale, and
that's because of the informal bazaar feeling to it, like its
person-to-person, and that you really can find some sort of treasure
there for $1.25.  When its businesses offering auctions, there isn't
that feel.  Its more slick.  I think that's a mistake on Amazon's
part.

The site's a whole lot faster than Ebay -- the lists of items just pop
right up onto the screen.  But I don't know how much of that is the
fact that Ebay has a gazillion items for bid and Amazon has a relative
few.  Amazon's is also a nicer design, IMHO.

I'm not sure I'll do any bidding -- I had to give up my Ebay habit.
It was too obsessive.  

Will Amazon kill Ebay?  Its hard to say.  Right now, no way.  Not the
same personality at all, and EBay's strength is its cult of
personality.  But if Amazon can attract some of the ebay feel over
time, and rely less on "charter merchants", then we'll see.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #85 of 128: Martha Soukup (soukup) Fri 2 Apr 99 17:01
    
Well, I just bought an autographed baseball from a commercial outfit selling
them on eBay.  Still, I know what you mean.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #86 of 128: one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor (mtrbike) Fri 2 Apr 99 17:57
    

I could have sworn I had a sentence in there about how I know Ebay has
plenty of businesses selling stuff, but it still doesn't "feel" as
commercial.  Huh.  Musta got lost in editing.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #87 of 128: Martha Soukup (soukup) Fri 2 Apr 99 19:23
    
Maybe I read too fast.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #88 of 128: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Fri 2 Apr 99 20:39
    


but it is true.  ebay has a bazaar quality, you can always find something
amazing, and I do love the hilarious spelling I have found on more than one
occasion.

Here's my big ebay tip:  Never surf stoned.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #89 of 128: Martha Soukup (soukup) Fri 2 Apr 99 20:50
    
Dude.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #90 of 128: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 2 Apr 99 21:26
    
Heh.

<www.well.com/conf/bestofwell/061998.html> is the fabulous x-files recap.
Originally in the movies conference. On the inside, that's now at
<video.665.13>
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #91 of 128: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Mon 5 Apr 99 13:41
    

It makes me understand everything, that recap.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #92 of 128: canonical didactic bananahead (peoples) Wed 7 Apr 99 06:20
    
Laura, back in '95, vrml was being touted -- at least by some -- as the wave
of the future for cyberspace. Four years later, interest in it seems to have
waned to almost nothing.

Is vrml dead? If so, what do you think has replaced it in terms of the hot
new item?
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #93 of 128: Taht's two different books: (af) Wed 7 Apr 99 18:34
    
Teach Yourself to Become a Millionaire in a Week.    Yes!
Teach Yourself, in a Week, to Become a Millionaire.  umm... 
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #94 of 128: impoverished intervallic palette (castle) Thu 8 Apr 99 14:07
    

I want the one that teaches you how to do it in a week.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #95 of 128: one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor (mtrbike) Thu 8 Apr 99 18:06
    

I still don't know how to do that. :)

Re VRML.  I never really followed VRML much, so I coulnd't tell you 
if its dead or dying or as much alive as it ever was.  It never
really caught on to the web at large.  The impression I got --
from the outside, and not paying that close attention -- was that
there were many big plans for VRML, but that it got bogged down
in committee.  But if there's anyone else out there who'd like to
post about the status of VRML, by all means, hijack the topic.  

What's the new hot thing?  We've ceased to have new hot things, thank
god.  For a while there a new hot thing was coming along every few
months and it was impossible to keep up.  Right now I'm figuring I'd
be really happy if I could write a single web page in plain old HTML
that would look roughly the same across browsers.  Even THATs
apparently too hard to do without worrying about the new hot thing.  
grumble.

If we're talking new hot technology in general -- anything open source.
MP3.  Palmpilots.  
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #96 of 128: Erik Van Thienen (levant) Fri 9 Apr 99 07:42
    
What about XML?
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #97 of 128: one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor (mtrbike) Fri 9 Apr 99 10:31
    

Oh yeah, XML.  I always forget about XML.  Shows you what a thrilling
technology it is. :)
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #98 of 128: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Fri 9 Apr 99 13:00
    

what is it?
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #99 of 128: Joe Cottonwood (joecot) Fri 9 Apr 99 17:22
    
Why is HTML so writer-unfriendly?  It just turns all your careful formatting
into mush.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #100 of 128: hoofprints d' (satyr) Fri 9 Apr 99 18:03
    
Lemme try answering that question about XML...

XML allows you to create your own tags, by some means of defining them
sufficiently that the browser at the other end can figure out what you
mean.  I gather this is a task made easier by virtue of HTML being an
offshoot of SGML, which is all about explicit definitions of markup tag
sets.

Do I _really_ understand any of this?  Only barely.
  

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