Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Frequently Answered Questions

Algae & Saving the Planet Redux: Carlin and Ghostsniper
The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages … And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are! ....We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Maybe a little Styrofoam … The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. George Carlin: “We’re so self-important.”

"Almost exactly 9 years ago me and one other guy built with our own hands the very building I am sitting in right now. To do this meant to first clear about 60'x60' of heavily wooded land. After clearing and grading there was not a blade of grass left standing.

"Now, 9 years later, the building is showing a little wear and tear and there are 30' tall sycamore, tulipwood, and a few other types of trees on 3 sides of it that weren't there before and nobody planted them there.

"How did they get there?

"If you look close at the white lap siding on the north side of the building you will see a slight greenish hue, what is that? It is algae that I didn't clean off this summer like I normally do ever summer. If I never clean that algae off it will continue to accumulate and eventually the siding will succumb to it. The algae will consume the siding and everything it encounters. It's what algae does.

"In time those 30' trees will grow to be 80' tall and then die and some will fall on this building unless they are maintained some how. If they fall on the building it will continue to succumb to natures journey. Just like everything else does.

"All human activity on earth is merely a very thin film on the surface with almost no impact over the whole.

"People have difficulty grasping this concept because of their inability to weigh the scale of the thing as it is compared to the puny nothingness that occupies most of their daily worthless lives.

"All things will pass eventually except the earth, it is here for good and always will be here, doing what it has done for billions of years.

"That's it's purpose, it's reason for being. It is what it is, as they say.

"It is nothing but bare arrogant narcissism for anyone to believe they will have any effect at all on anything to do with this enormous and unbelievably old earth.

"It just ain't gonna happen.

"No matter what humans do to this earth, within that thin surface film, can be considered just moving the furniture around in the living room as it has no effect on the larger picture. Or maybe even just wiping the dust off the end tables in the living room. It won't change the whole neighborhood let along the city, country, or gasp, the earth itself.

"When you see people like Gates and Branson go on and on with their silliness consider the scale and then laugh loudly and openly in their direction then go on about your merry way safe in the knowledge that the earth you have always known will always be right where it always has been and always will be.

"In the end the earth will be here, but the humans may not as they may get wiped off that siding with the algae, as they deserve."

Posted by: ghostsniper The Top 40: Bill Gates and Richard Branson

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Dec 13, 2015 1:05 PM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Van der Leun's 330 Word Guide to Writing Book Proposals


Once upon a time in a land far, far away, I was a book editor (200 titles), a magazine editor (1,000 + articles) and, briefly, a literary agent. During that time I saw proposals and manuscripts without number. Most failed to even engage my attention because they failed to tell me what I, as an editor, really needed to know.

When I became an agent I developed the following document for my clients who were having trouble writing a simple proposal. Typically, they'd get bogged down in creating a long, drawn out monster that was too turgid and too worked over to be of use.

A writer new to the game of publishing (and it is a game and a clumsy and ugly one) would always spend far too much time getting to yes or no. My writers would have a lot to say about their subjects and they seemed to feel that by saying a lot in the proposal they were improving their odds. Wrong. Less is more in this game, trust me.

And besides, a proposal is just that. A proposal. There's no sense in investing a huge amount of time in something that isn't going to be published and for which a writer is not going to be paid.

Contract first. Book second. Hear me now or hear me later after you've wasted a year or more of your life.

At any rate, I had an email exchange today with a writer who is struggling with the proposal. I sent that writer this document I dredged up from the depths of my back-up hard drive. It struck me that it might be of use to other suffering writers. And so, here it is.

Some may scoff and say that "books are over," but don't you believe it. The plain fact is that even now, in the ever so advanced 21st century, if the human race really values knowledge, books are where we put it.

The 330 Word Book Proposal Schematic in 5 Parts

1) What the Book is About (1 -2 Pages)

Start with the title and subtitle. Make these two elements as attention grabbing as possible. They will be the "handle" the editor uses for pitching the book to the acquisition committee.

Single-spaced, this section sets out the condensed form of the book. Think of it as expanded jacket copy.

What's it about? What's its point of view. What is the arc and shape of the book? What patterns will it reveal? How will it educate, illuminate, amuse or inspire? Why is the book important now?

Function: This section gives the acquiring editor reasons for recommending the book for publication.

2) Chapter by Chapter Outline of the Book

Each chapter is given a title and then one or two paragraphs that set out what will be covered in the chapter when written.

Function: The allows the editor understand the structure of the book.

3) Sample Chapter

Pick one chapter from the outline and write it start to finish.

Function: This allows the editor to know how the author will write the book and, indeed, if the author can in fact write.

4) Core Market for the Book (1 Page)

Who is going to buy the book?

Who are the people who will be interested in the book?

Be fairly specific here. It's not a "There are 300 million people in the United States and they all eat, therefore my cook book...." argument. Editors want to have some idea of the "hard-core" market of buyers' the people who have to have it.

Indicate other similar and/or complimentary books and influential magazine / web articles on the subject.

Function: Helps the editor identify and quantify the possible market for the book.

5) Why the Author is Qualified to Write This Book. (1 Page)

Why you? What are the author's particular qualifications for writing this book? Include degrees, writing experience, web credentials, background.

Function: Allows the editor to know that the author has the expertise to write the book.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 27, 2010 12:39 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Memorial Day Planting Project at White House


Posted by Vanderleun at May 22, 2009 3:28 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gay Is Busting Our All O-O-Ver....!

The semi-pro gay outer (Republican Gays Only) David Corn continues to promote his "List of Gays to Be Outed Agenda" with

Copies of The List (see below) have been sent by gay politicos to a variety of social conservative groups that look to the Republican Party to make their religious right dreams come true.
I must admit that it was only recently that I thought of Corn as a man more fit than any other to fly the Rainbow flag from the top of his pole; of a man ready to fight the good fight for gay freedom, gay justice, gay marriage, and the gay American way. This latest obsession of his to make sure

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 6, 2006 1:06 PM |  Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Site Notes

WHEN SOMETHING CAN GO WRONG it usually waits until you are in no position to fix it. That's what been happening here for a week or so. But I think that it is, for the moment, corrected. Thanks for your patience.

What went wrong with the site? In the end, it was obvious. Well, it was obvious once it became obvious. It was about space, or rather the lack of it. Of course, I'd always thought space was infinite. Silly me.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 16, 2006 6:11 AM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On the Consumption of Scarce Resources in the Democratic Party

"The problem with having Kerry lingering around the party like an old rejected boy friend who still thinks he has a chance is the effort it takes to shoo him away. ... Why even worry about Kerry, I asked a Democratic friend yesterday. "He takes up oxygen," was the answer. "
-- Mickey Kaus

And besides, just how much room is there in a political oxygen tent in the ICU?

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 11, 2005 12:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
American Values According To Google

The things Americans were interested in
during last month as reflected in Google
search requests. Compiled by
Google Press Center: Zeitgeist

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 20, 2004 8:52 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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