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    Take The Weekly Media News Quiz

    questionmark.gifThink you know your stuff? Are you a real media geek? Then prove it. Take our media news quiz, and test your skill. Then tell everyone how well you did.

  • mediabistro.com’s Weekly Media News quiz
  • Take The Weekly Media News Quiz

    questionmark.gifThink you know your stuff? Are you a real media geek? Then prove it. Take our media news quiz, and test your skill. Then tell everyone how well you did.

  • mediabistro.com’s Weekly Media News quiz
  • Pop Quiz: Tracy Brady

    tracymcardle.jpgThe last interviewee of 2006 has a new book being released next month Real Women Eat Beef (Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press, Jan. 2007). This is her second novel, a comic coming-of-middle-age tale, set in an advertising agency. She would know something about ad agencies: besides being a writer, she McArdle has over thirteen years experience in entertainment, integrated marketing and promotions, working for such companies as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Turner Broadcasting System and Twentieth Century Fox as well as renowned creative advertising agency Arnold Worldwide. You can learn more about her career history here.
    What made you decide to use a pseudonym when you write? [The author's last name is Brady] Why did you choose that one?
    The only reason it is a pseudonym is that it’s my maiden name, and was my name when my short story, HAPPILY NEVER AFTER and my first novel, CONFESSIONS OF A NERVOUS SHIKSA, was published. After I was lucky enough to get my first novel published, I wasn’t about to let readers forget who I was by writing under a new, married name! You know, don’t want those seven fans to have trouble finding me on Amazon….also I had a website, www.tracymcardle.net, which would have been awkward and annoying to change.
    For those new to advertising, what advice would you give those in your character Jill Campbell’s situation–having to promote something they know nothing about, or even repulsed by?
    Read – a lot. And keep an open mind. You never know when something you think is useless information is going to come in handy. You’d be amazed how much information is out there – both within the resources provided to you by your job / company and outside of it. Everything is a learning experience and everything is interesting if you are open to it. Now, if you have a moral dilemma with something you have to work on, that’s a different story, and the best thing to do is be honest – with yourself, then your supervisors, and depending on your relationship with them, the client. Then again, maybe not that last one. Good luck on that.

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    Pop Quiz: Brad Dickson

    BradD.jpgToday’s interviewee has recently published a humor book, Maybe Life’s Just Not That Into You with Howard Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which parodies the self help genre. His job prior to author was pretty interesting, too: was a staff writer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for 14 years. Also I think he looks a little bit like Dexter from “Dexter,” no?
    How did you get your staff writing job at The Tonight Show?
    I was living in my hometown of Omaha around 1990 and Leno was guest hosting for Johnny Carson on Monday nights. Since my grandparents used to live next door to Carson’s parents in a small town in Nebraska I’d been viewing The Tonight Show since I was about five, even though I didn’t get the jokes.
    So I was watching The Tonight Show on a Monday because at the time I didn’t have cable. (I’ve since upgraded and even get premium channels.) And Leno was doing his monologue and I said, “I bet I could write that.” And so I wrote some jokes, and sent ‘em to Jay care of NBC. He called me about a week later and I started selling freelance jokes to him for 50 bucks apiece. Then about a year before Johnny retired I got on Jay’s staff and earned a weekly salary from the network. I held the staff job for 13 years. Basically I was pretty fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. Late night TV jobs are hard to come by, especially if you’re not smart enough to get into Harvard.

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    Pop Quiz: Rex Sorgatz

    rexfimoculous.jpgToday I speak with the founder of “omnivorous culture clearinghouse site Fimoculus and collectively created news-and-chat site MNSpeak” (as described by City Pages.) Inspired by his new list of Best Blogs That You Maybe Aren’t Reading, I wanted to pick his brain a little bit on blogs and how they relate to writers.
    From what you’ve observed, what makes for a good writing/writers blog?
    First, let’s itemize the negative cliches you hear about writers who try to blog: 1) their posts are too long, 2) they don’t update frequently enough, and 3) they treat their blog as a publishing platform rather than an interactive medium.
    I was going to debunk those myths, but it turns out they’re all still true!
    Okay, not always. There’s a new generation of young writers schooled on how interactive media works — those who understand blogging as participatory, anecdotal, and quirky. In the way that good writers are good readers, I suspect too many writers assume they will be good bloggers without first studying the craft.
    Do you blog while on vacation? If not, what do you do for your blog when you have to be away from it? Guest bloggers? Just an away message?
    I’m never really offline and I would never vacation someplace without internet access. In other words, I don’t have a soul and you should never take my advice on blogging. (I once vacationed on Second Life. The locals are authentic, but the food sucks.)
    But seriously, I had to shut down Fimoculous for a couple months last year while I produced a big site for NBC. I just put up a “out to lunch” sign and prayed the fickle public would not forgot me. Of course, they did. But if you have anything worthwhile to say, they’ll eventually find you again — and faster than you imagine.

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    Pop Quiz: Doug Gordon

    douggordon2.jpgToday we chat with an author who took an event that many men go through–getting married–and turned it into a book and the happy position as being a wedding expert. In addition to writing The Engaged Groom, Doug is also a television producer and writer whose work includes Modern Marvels for The History Channel, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for ABC, and shows for Vh1 and Court TV.
    How did you organize the actual writing of The Engaged Groom, in terms of when was research, when was writing, and what order you wrote in?
    I had received a lot of helpful feedback and advice from my agent about my proposal before it was sent around to different publishing houses, so I had a fairly solid base from which to begin writing. But I had a fairly limited amount of time. The book sold in April 2005, and HarperCollins wanted the book out by the very beginning of 2006. By the time the contract was signed and I met with my editor, I only had about eight weeks before the manuscript was due. So my organization, in terms of research, was simple: write until something needs research. Once I got to a part of the book that required more information than merely what I could describe from my personal experience, I stopped and dug around. For example, I had a part in my proposal that said I would include a list of where and when to get a marriage license in each state. I didn’t think about it again until that part of the book needed to be written, so I stopped writing, went online, picked up the phone, and did my research. Then it was on to the next part.
    The only advance planning I did in terms of research was for the
    parts of the book for which I knew I wanted stories other than my
    own. I posted questions on my blog and solicited answers from
    readers. It’s how I got so many great perspectives from women about
    strip clubs for my chapter on bachelor parties, and it also yielded
    one of the better stories I received about a worst-case scenario
    involving a no-show photographer. The questions turned into nice
    conversations with my readers and I was able to learn a lot from what
    they had to say.

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    Pop Quiz: Mark St. Amant

    STAMANT_AUTHOR_PIC.jpgToday I chat with Mark St. Amant, who has been gaining fans with his combination of memoir and sportswriting with his book Committed: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie and also the recently release Just Kick It: Tales of an Underdog, Over-Age, Out-of-Place Semi-Pro Football Player
    Any advice on writing about sports in order to make it appealing to as many readers as possible? Include a prison-style post-game shower scene. Oh, I’m kidding. Settle down. No, first, I made sure not to re-cap every single play of every single game. That could have gotten real boring, real fast, turning every game chapter into a ten-page newspaper box score. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. That said, I also had to detail at least some part of every game – this was about a football season, after all, and lest we forget, football games happen during football season — so what worked for me was simply highlighting the big scoring drives, the big defensive stops, the major coaching moves and key plays, etc., and (hopefully) helping the reader feel like he or she is actually at the game. But more than that, I focused on the plays that correlated best with/best exemplified traits or personalities of the individual players/characters, or helped perpetuate any running story lines, what have you. So, while it is a sports book, admittedly, the story goes beyond mere sports or games, and I always tried to make it more about the men playing in the games than about the games themselves. And that’s what, I’ve been told, makes Just Kick It an atypical “sports book” – because it focuses as much, if not more, on the relationships between the “characters”/players and on their off-the-field lives as it does on the game of football itself.

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    Pop Quiz: Mike Daisey

    mikedaisey.jpg
    Today I chat with Mike Daisey, a monologuist who is currently performing his Frey and Leroy-inspired piece “TRUTH {the heart is a million little pieces above all things}” at Ars Nova. He is also a commentator for National Public Radio’s Day To Day, a contributor to the New York Times Magazine, WIRED, Slate, Salon, and his writing appears in the anthology The Best Tech Writing 2006. His first book, 21 Dog Years: A Cubedweller’s Tale, was published by the Free Press.
    How is writing a monologue different from writing a personal essay?
    It’s very different for me, as I don’t write anything down, and create the monologues anew each night from a rough outline. This makes the monologues actually live the way stories do in the real world, and evolve in a natural way from telling to telling, which is highly different than the prescribed, timeless and (to me) rather dead world of text. The monologues are full of possibility and change–essays are fixed once written until revised, and can never be changed while being read. It’s a very challenging form, but one that offers discoveries that I believe most theatrical forms are incapable of–it can be simultaneously extremely structured and chimerical, and ultimately most closely captures the narrative process at work in the human mind.

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    Pop Quiz: Mike Perry

    mikeperryandtruck.jpg
    Today I chat with writer, humorist, speaker, wearer-of-many hats Mike Perry, whose memoir Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time was a bestseller. His next book, Truck: A Love Story will be available soon.
    Do you plan to continue writing memoir/nonfiction? Do you worry at all about running out of material as you go along?
    I freelance full time, so nonfiction seems to be the natural course if one hopes to keep the lights on, but it’s OK because I never tire of the genre. Plus, I’m not sure I have the chops to be a novelist. And my poetry (currently inactive and worth negative ten cents) tends to blow the breaker on the dreck-o-meter. I don’t worry about running out of material (in part because I write mainly on the topic of my own incompetence) (a deep well indeed), but I worry constantly that one day readers are going to wake up to the fact that I as a person I am a mediocre stumblebum and they should be reading someone
    smarter. This level of paranoia enhances productivity.

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