No Comments »

May 8th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Urban Life & New York City

Video Trailer for Thomas Kunkel’s new Joseph Mitchell bio, w/Images of NY Harbor

Good 3 min video trailer for Thomas Kunkel's new Joseph Mitchel bio. Great images of NY harbor: http://t.co/ycFwj41KJy

— Philip Turner (@philipsturner) May 8, 2015

Tags: , ,

No Comments »

May 5th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Technology, Science & Computers

Editing SMARTS Made Me Smarter; Reading it May Do the Same for You

Excited to note publication for all my readers here of a new nonfiction book I edited in manuscript, SMARTS: The Boundary-busting Story of Intelligence. It’s by the award-winning science writer and talented narrative journalist Elaine Dewar. A more expansive subtitle appears on the half-title page in the printed book the author just sent me:

Computing slime moulds, political primates, masterful plants, altruistic robots, amoeba machines, high IQ chips, philosophers of mind using screwdrivers,
signals, spies, the brilliant life and mysterious death of Alan Turing, and the boundary-busting story of intelligence.

An intellectually stimulating aspect of this edit was discovering that, in astonishing variety of ways, as Dewar writes, “the process of natural selection can lead to the evolution of adaptive behaviors.” I learned that these creative adaptations occur in even the most primitive life forms, such as the slime moulds referred to above. Even more startling are neural networks, a product of artificial intelligence, whose development Dewar chronicles.

“A neural network is a radically simplified computer version of the real thing. Real neurons build physical connections to neighbor neurons which link together in a network as they receive and send electrochemical signals back and forth. The more neuronal connections, and the greater the intensity of these interactions between neighbors, the stronger the information bond between them: thus, we learn. Neural network-style computation enables modern computers to learn by changing or weighting the frequency of interactions between one part of a network and another.”  

Dewar earlier wrote BONES: Discovering the First Americans, on the ancient peopling of the Americas, and THE SECOND TREE: Clones, Chimeras and Quests for Immortality, a kind of nonfiction version of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel ORYX AND CRAKE. I published both those nonfiction books when I was with Carroll & Graf last decade, after they had been edited and published in Canada, where Dewar lives. Suffice to say, I relished the chance to finally edit one of her manuscripts!

While each of the earlier books dealt to a large extent with the human past, here Dewar—who in the course of writing SMARTS visited with and interviewed a dozen or more top thinkers, inventors, and scientists working in the Smart realm—synthesizes their work, boldly imagining where research and emerging technology may take intelligence in the years and decades to come.

SMARTS is published by a new company called Debonaire Books, and is available via this link in a quality paperback edition and as an ebook. I’m tickled to have a copy of the quality paperback, shown below, and especially excited that during a visit to Toronto later this month I’ll be attending a party to launch the book. Here’s what it looks like:

Tags: , , ,

No Comments »

January 24th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Personal history, Family, Friends; Philip Turner Book Productions; Philip Turner's Books & Writing

Glad to Be Part of Publishers Weekly’s Coverage on Post-Corporate Life in the Book World

I’m glad to be one of three editors featured in a Publishers Weekly article about how editorial professionals with long careers in-house have re-made themselves post-corporate life. The other editors are Pat Mulcahy and Joan Hilty. It’s up online today, and will be a spread with photos in the magazine’s print issue on Monday. I’ll scan a copy of the print story to share on this blog when I get a print copy, but meantime here is a link to the story, headlined “Publishing, After a Life in Publishing.” In particular, I was happy to explain to PW reporter Calvin Reid the role that my blogs have played in my post-corporate career, which Calvin characterized it this way: “He launched a blog, the Great Gray Bridge, on his website, philipsturner.com, and got his first job, ‘by word of mouth.’ He credits the blog and his writing with bringing in work. ‘People come to my blog and find out that I’m offering editorial services,’ he said.”

Also very glad my author client Mike Orenduff and his superb six-book POT THIEF mystery series are both mentioned in the article, along with a mention of Open Road Integrated Media, the company where I licensed the books in 2013, to editors Tina Pohlman and Philip Rappaport. Until I get the print issue, Below are scanned images of each of the story’s three pages, and then a screenshot of the online story’s first six paragraphs. Please note I submitted three corrections for the story that have been input on the online version.

Readers of this blog, please note, I submitted three corrections for the story that have been input on the online version. For the record, they are: 1) In the 4th paragraph, while I was first “executive editor” at Carroll & Graf, I was “editor-in-chief” my last couple years there. 2) In the 5th paragraph, the author of the POT THIEF series is “J. Michael Orenduff” (not J. Michale Orendoff). 3) In the 14th paragraph, the correct quote about my writing is that I found I had the “psychic elbow room” to write, not “psychic space.”
 PW Turner Jan 23, 2015

Tags: , , , , ,

No Comments »

December 17th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Media, Blogging, Internet

Editorial Humor for Hump Day, Only This is No Joke

Graeme Reynolds' blogA fussy and censorious reader objected to the use of hyphenated words in High Moor II: Moonstruck, a novel for sale on Amazon written by UK author Graeme Reynolds. Amazon, which likes to trumpet how customer-focused they are, jumped at the complaint and ran a spell check on the book. Finding more than 100 hyphenated words in the 90,000 word ms, which they apparently found excessive, they instructed Reynolds to re-edit the Kindle edition of the book, lest it be removed from sale. Not surprisingly, Reynolds was gobsmacked at the absurdity of the situation. He blogged about it in a post titled Hyphen Hate: When Amazon Went to War Against Punctuation (screenshot at left). The book was indeed removed from sale, and the post drew more than 300,000 readers to his site. Amazon evidently thought better of their decision—or didn’t want more negative publicity—and they reinstated Reynolds’ novel. Via this link you can listen to an interview with the author on CBC’s As it Happens, and ponder Amazon’s ridiculous policies.High Moor II

Tags: , , , ,

No Comments »

December 14th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Philip Turner Book Productions

Michael Dirda ♥s “The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure”

Readers of this blog may recall I’ve posted occasionally about The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure, a new anthology I sold to Pegasus Books as literary agent. The last time I wrote about it, Oct 10, it had just received two excellent pre-publication reviews, from Publishers Weekly and AuthorLink. Now the book is out and available in bookstores and it continues to draw praise, the latest coming from Michael Dirda, a critic whose literary recommendations I’ve enjoyed for many years. Offering his annual roundup of gift books for the holidays, Dirda tendered this brief encomium:

The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure (Pegasus, $24.95), selected and edited by Lawrence Ellsworth. Captain Blood, Zorro, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Brigadier Gerard, Robin Hood; stories with titles such as “Pirate’s Gold” and “The Queen’s Rose”—this is just the gift for, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s words, “the boy who’s half a man, OR the man who’s half a boy.”Dirda gift books

In the early 2000s, Dirda moderated a weekly online chat on washingtonpost.com in which he consistently offered erudite yet accessible book chat. I rarely missed one of them, and would often print out the whole chat to keep as a reference. In that forum, Dirda distinguished himself as the least snobbish of critics. No matter what readers might throw at him—whether asking about James Joyce, John Milton, or nearly forgotten authors of genre fiction—he always made smart and generous comments. He’s also an author, with several books to his name, two of which I’ve enjoyed (pictured below). It’s fun to have a book be included in Michael Dirda’s gift suggestions, so if you’re looking for a book for a certain kind of reader, someone who relishes pirate lore, swordplay, movies like “Captain Blood,” “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” and “Zorro,” the seafaring novels of Patrick O’Brian, and the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser, The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure is sure to strike the right chord. You can buy it via this Amazon link, where it is currently riding high as their #1 bestseller among anthologies of historical fiction.

Tags: ,

No Comments »

December 1st, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Philip Turner Book Productions; Philip Turner's Books & Writing; Publishing & Bookselling

Happy to Be Part of Blurb, Platform Connecting Writers with Quality Editorial Services

Glad to be a collaborator with Blurb, a new Web space where writers can find editors to help them hone their work, and other publishing services, including design. There’s a nice, clean look to editors’ profiles, like mine linked to here, and shown in the screenshot of it below. If you’re an author looking for editorial help, or know a writer who is, please have a look and get in touch.PST Blurb profile

Tags: ,

No Comments »

November 10th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Urban Life & New York City

The Sound of a Poet’s Voice

Dylan ThomasDylan Thomas, Collected PoemsI was fortunate to attend an event remembering Dylan Thomas on the 61st anniversary of his death, November 9, hosted by my friend Peter Schulman and New Directions, Thomas’s longtime publisher. Pictures, reportage, and links at my Storify post and below.

Tags: , , ,

No Comments »

October 13th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Bicycling; Books & Writing; Urban Life & New York City

Autumn and the Little Red Lighthouse Festival 2014, an Ideal Combination

Brisk winds and the aftermath of a rainy Friday night didn’t dampen the fun at the 22nd annual Little Red Lighthouse Festival this past Saturday, held on the grounds under the George Washington Bridge, aka the great gray bridge, near the Little Red Lighthouse, the last beacon light to shine in Manhattan. I have written about the landmark several times in recent years, including after I attended last year’s fall festival. The Parks Dept opens the lighthouse to visitors on these occasions, allowing New Yorkers to fully appreciate this splendid example of maritime architecture. After I toured the lighthouse last year, I wrote about its history and the children’s book that improbably helped to keep it standing on the shore of the Hudson: LRLH books

“If you’ve never had a close-up view of [the George Washington Bridge and the Little Red Lighthouse] and aren’t certain where they are or how to see them for yourself, we’re talking about upper Manhattan on the island’s west side roughly level with what would be West 178th Street and the Hudson River. I get there on my bike, pedaling on good pavement alongside the river most of the way from my neighborhood around West 100th Street and Riverside Drive. The area can also be reached from Washington Heights, near 181st Street, and in both cases it’s accessible to walkers as well as cyclists. The forty-foot tall lighthouse–whose exterior is dotted with porthole windows and decked out in bright red enameled paint with a white cone and clear glass at the top–sits below the lower deck of the bridge, close to the monumental steel foot of the span’s eastern arch. According to a NYC Parks Dept web page, the two structures became most indelibly linked in the public imagination in the early 1940s, and even earlier in the city’s maritime history. Here’s a lightly edited version of the Parks Dept. article:

‘In the early 20th century, barge captains carrying goods up and down the Hudson demanded a brighter beacon. The [lighthouse] had been erected on Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1880, where it used a 1,000 pound fog signal and flashing red light to guide ships through the night. It became obsolete and was dismantled [but not destroyed or discarded] in 1917. In 1921, the U.S. Coast Guard reconstructed this lighthouse on Jeffrey’s Hook [future site of the George Washington Bridge] in an attempt to improve navigational aids on the Hudson River. Run by a part-time keeper and furnished with a battery-powered lamp and a fog bell, the lighthouse, then known as Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse [the name since the early 1800s for the shelf of Manhattan schist that juts out in to the river right there], was an important guide to river travelers for ten years. The George Washington Bridge opened in 1931, and the brighter lights of the bridge again made the lighthouse obsolete. In 1948, the Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse, and its lamp was extinguished.

‘The Coast Guard planned to auction off the lighthouse, but an outpouring of support for the beacon helped save it. The outcry from the public was prompted by the children’s book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, written by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward in 1942. In the popular book, the Little Red Lighthouse is happy and content until a great bridge is built over it. In the end, the lighthouse learns that it still has an important job to do and that there is still a place in the world for an old lighthouse. The classic tale captured the imaginations of children and adults, many of whom wrote letters and sent money to help save the icon from the auction block.’

The Parks’ web page adds that in 1951 the Coast Guard gave the lighthouse and grounds to the City, and in 1979 the Little Red Lighthouse was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places. Refurbishments took place in 1986, when on the 65th anniversary the concrete foundation was restored, and in 2000 when it was repainted, true to its original shade of red.

In a real sense, the persistence of the lighthouse on the Manhattan shoreline is a product of one of the first episodes of “historic preservation” in the modern history of New York City. Too often, the city and posterity have been the loser in those battles, such as what occurred in 1963, when–unaccountably to current-day New Yorkers–the old Penn Station was torn down.”

I will add that it’s a great time for parks and historic sites in New York City, with such projects as the ongoing restoration of High Bridge, the footbridge that’s connected the Bronx and Manhattan since 1842, though it’s been derelict and off-limits to hikers for many years. Also heartening was the news last week that more than $130 million will be spent to upgrade and renovate thirty-five NYC parks that have historically been neglected, even while better known parks, like Central Park and Prospect Park, garner lots of resources.

I didn’t enter the Little Red Lighthouse on Saturday, as the line was long and I was glad to let others see it for the first time. I was just happy to walk the grounds and stop at the booths of several upper Manhattan organizations and businesses. Among these was the NYC Parks Dept, which sent several urban rangers to staff an information table; Summer on the Hudson, @summeronthehudson on Twitter, whose director Zhen Heinemann was on hand making sure everything ran smoothly; Word Up Books, “a completely volunteer run community bookshop,  and arts space in Washington Heights,” on Amsterdam Ave at 165th Street, near the Morris-Jumel Mansion, the oldest wooden structure in Manhattan, built in 1765; graphic artist Norman Ibarra, who was selling a handsome poster he’s designed, printed on quality paper, that shows the seven lighthouses along the Hudson River, upstate from Athens and Saugerties south toward Manhattan and Jersey City; the National Lighthouse Museum, near the Staten Island Ferry terminal, whose representatives told me about the hoped-for restoration of the Old Orchard Beach lighthouse, wrecked during Hurricane Sandy; and Anthi’s Greek Specialities, a food vendor that was selling tasty spinach pie and baklava. Along with the above Facebook post I sent out that afternoon, I took lots of pictures during the festivities. Here are the best of them.

Tags: , , , ,