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  • 2013 is finally here, and you’re ready to take the bull by the horns. You’re juggling resolutions, starting fresh, and vowing to be the best you can be. Yes, 2013 is going to be your year! You’re forgetting something though—your book! You know the one-- that novel that’s been bouncing around inside your head for the past few months.

    You know it’s a great idea, and all you need to do is sit down and write it. 2013 is going to be the year you finally write your masterpiece. Why not? A new year is a great time to start writing a new book, and here are some tips on how to get you started.

  • (Image via Seanmfreese)

    We’re readers. We like books. I think that goes without saying. We also like giving and receiving books as gifts, but those actions bring their own special set of problems. When you pick out a book for yourself, you know what you like and what you’re in the mood to read, but how does that translate into picking books for other people? Conversely, how do your nearest and dearest pick books for you? And (horror!) what happens if you don’t like the book you’re given?

    I’ve received some awesome books as gifts (like Yiddish with Dick and Jane from a friend who knew I was about to start working toward my MA in Jewish Studies). I’ve also received some epic stinkers. Interestingly, both bookish gifts were from the same well-meaning friend. I’ve recommended books to people that they’ve enjoyed (like City and the City) and books they just couldn’t get into (like Perdido Street Station), and both of these recommendations were by the same author and to the same friend.

    So, really, what the heck?

  • Now is the time to meditate on the year past, memories had, friends and family we loved and also missed, the work we did, and time we spent. Now is the time to plan, think of the future, and start again.

    Whether you put down a smoke, pick up a dumbbell, or continue as you were, may your year be pleasant and spirited. Happy New Year, may it be a good one, and just as Tennyson said, here’s to ringing out the false and ringing in the true!

    In the spirit of 2013, here are ten more quotes, some words of wisdom in light of the New Year, from a handful of beloved writers.

  • It should come as no surprise that here at Quirk, we like to read. A lot. I mean, you can't make books if you aren't reading them too, right? Emails are frequently sent around the office about this book or that, and finished books usually end up in our lobby, free to a good home. 

    Below, you'll find some of our favorite reads of the year. Some are new, some aren't. But all of them are great. 

    The Odds by Stewart O'Nan: I've read all of Stewart O'Nan's novels and his latest, The Odds, is one of my favorites. The story concerns a marriage on the brink of collapse; Art and Marion Fowler are unemployed fifty-somethings, drowning in debt and facing foreclosure on their home. In a last-ditch effort to save their marriage, Art plans a second honeymoon at a Niagara Falls casino, where he intends to gamble every last penny of their retirement savings on a "can't-miss" roulette scheme.

    Maybe you have to be married to fully appreciate this book (and the longer you've been married, the more you'll enjoy it). It's a short novel, only 192 pages, and I read the entire book in a single night. The suspense of the final chapters (when Art finally embarks on his roulette scheme) caught me off-guard. I realized I really cared about these characters; I really wanted them to win, even though I knew the odds were stacked against them. The last line is perfect. - Jason Rekulak, Creative Director

    Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You by Dolly Parton: I love Dolly Parton's new book. It's a slim little volume that outlines her philosophy of life, based on her 2009 commencement speech to graduates at the University of Tennessee. But if you haven't read any of Dolly Parton's books yet, I'd have to recommend starting with her 1994 autobiography, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business. It's a great read.

    And her Imagination Library is an excellent charity dedicated to fostering a love of reading among preschool children by mailing them high-quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes. All children deserve books, regardless of their family's income. As Dolly always says, "Never let a rhinestone go unturned." - Margaret McGuire, Editor (@oinkoink)

  • Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation

    Note: In writing this, I realized that I appear on film with 2 of these writers, which is starting to make me wonder if I'm actually a fictional character myself. My girlfriend insists I'm real, but I'm still not entirely convinced, despite the fact that she poked me a lot and it really hurt.

    It’s generally accepted that there’s a fine line between reality and fiction, but sometimes it gets particularly difficult to tell just where that line is -- and these authors don’t help. We’re told not to confuse the artist and the art, that a first-person voice is not necessarily that of the author, that the views and opinions of the characters do not necessarily reflect those of the person that created the characters.

    But then sometimes, the person who created the characters is a character, and then things just get all like super confusing and meta-heady-wackiness ensues and you’re not really sure where one thing starts and the other begins. And so without any further ado, I present to you 6 real-life authors who are also fictional (by their own pens, no less).

    Jason Schwartzman as (fictional) Jonathan Ames

    Jonathan Ames: Jonathan Ames the writer first appeared on the literary scene in 1989 in his debut novel I Pass Like Night, which recounts the narrator’s various sexual exploits in ways both shocking and hilarious. Some of these encounters are later recounted (albeit with some differences) in his debut graphic novel The Alcoholic, which explicitly features a protagonist named Jonathan A, who is also a novelist.

    Later, Jonathan Ames (the writer) created a TV show called Bored To Death (based on his own short story of the same name) which focuses on the misadventures of a novelist-turned-amateur-detective named Jonathan Ames, whose debut novel is called I Pass Like Night (also you can totally see me in the Season 2 finale at the Brooklyn Comic-Con). As Ames himself has said in many interviews, “Whenever I wrote fiction, people always seemed to think that what I wrote was true, that it was entirely autobiographical. And when I would write non-fiction, they often accused me of exaggeration and fictionalization...so I decided to give it a try and thoroughly confuse my few readers.”

    And I think he has succeeded at that.

    Kurt Vonnegut: Much of Vonnegut’s work features, or at least alludes to, a fictional sci-fi writer named Kilgore Trout, who is generally believed to be a fictional image of Vonnegut himself. But then sometimes Vonnegut himself also ends up in his own stories -- occasionally even accompanied by Kilgore Trout. He appears as a character in the novel Breakfast of Champions, observing and even interacting with several other fictional characters in the story.

    But it’s Vonnegut’s final novel, TimeQuake, where things get trippy. As explained in the first chapter of the book, the original idea for the novel TimeQuake was that the universe began to momentarily shrink, but then changed its mind, forcing everyone to re-live the last 10 years (give or take) of their lives, precisely as they happened the first time. According to Vonnegut, he had some difficulty turning this into an actual interesting narrative, so the idea was scrapped, and the book that ultimately became TimeQuake was a combination of autobiographical anecdotes, and elements of what would have been his original intended story (with Vonnegut essentially telling readers what would have happened in the book he was trying to write).

    However, Vonnegut still recounts the autobiographical parts of the book in terms of the timequake from the original plot -- rather than simply recounting memories of the last ten years, he tells these personal stories in terms of having re-lived them on autopilot, thanks to the effects of the fictional timequake. And so, one presume that while the stories themselves are non-fictional, the timequake itself was a piece of fiction...or was it? (Image via Letters Of Note).

  • Since its inception, rock and roll has always had a unique relationship with fiction and pop culture.

    From Elvis’s famed white fringe jumpsuit, aping the Captain Marvel comic book, to the great rock operas and concept albums such as The Who’s Tommy, or David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from Mars, and to the modern-day “jukebox musicals” that line the streets of Broadway and beyond, the link between rock and roll music and both literary and genre fictions are undeniable. Even heavy metal, and its various subgenres, has often been obsessed with the imagery of horror stories and fantasy.

    As such, it’s only fair that fiction started taking its cues from rock and roll. Below, you’ll find some of my personal favorite fictional bands (some of whom may or may have broken their way through page/screen and found a way into our own reality).

    The Archies: This one is way too many levels of meta. The Archies were a garage band formed by the cast members of the cartoon The Archie Show, which in turn was an adaptation of the long-running comic book series Archie. The songs, which featured heavily into many episodes of the cartoon series (but also the comic book, don’t forget), where actually written and performed by Ron Dante and Andy Kim, who themselves were neither cartoon nor comic book characters but rather real live flesh-and-blood human beings (weird, right?). Are you still with me? Good.

    The Archies -- under the guise of Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, and Jughead Jones -- scored a number of Top 40 hits, including “Sugar, Sugar,” which was named the Billboard #1 song of the year in 1969, and still remains a popular icon of 60s bubblegum pop. How many other fictional bands can make a claim like that? Also check out this fantastic cover of “Sugar, Sugar” by Mary Lou Lord and Semisonic.

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