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Stephen King Sells Film Rights to Teens for One Dollar

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Editor's Note:

Also in your Signature Need-to-Know: Writers respond to Trump’s attempt to redefine gender, and Dear Abby learns exactly what’s in a name.

Talk about encouraging young artists: Stephen King just sold the film rights to his short story “Stationary Bike” (from the Just After Sunset collection) to a couple of teenagers for just one dollar. This is part of a program on King’s website called “Dollar Babies,” which offers up some of his smaller and less popular works to aspiring filmmakers, including stories from older collections like Night Shift and Skeleton Crew. You never know which of these dollar deals could end up making a splash on the festival circuit, potentially making someone’s career. So dive in, auteurs! As The AV Club points out reassuringly, “Nothing you make will be as bad as the Dark Tower movie.”

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Dear Abby’s advice has sustained Americans for decades, but when she blows it, she blows it really hard. In a recent column, she advised an Indian family to lean toward more Americanized names for their children, warning against those which are “difficult to pronounce and spell.” Professor Simran Jeet Singh was among the many who took Abby to task, pointing out the racism and xenophobia in her response, and as a result many came forward to share stories about their family names. (And as a few others pointed out, “Abigail” is a Hebrew name.)

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“The Sunburnt Country,” a new essay by Madeleine Watts in The Believer, tackles health, history, Australian identity, and the author’s own family, all under the banner of one topic: sun exposure. Before anyone understood the risks involved with sunbathing, Europeans settling in desert climates built a national identity out of cultivating that “healthy glow,” establishing a hierarchy based on skin color that proved lethal to generations of sunburnt Australians. Watts winds these historical and sociological details into an enthralling personal narrative that speaks to her discomfort with being a product of this society, which has endangered her own health in the long run.

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Everyone dreams of being a famous author, but do you have the constitution to confront a truly unnecessary social media furor, which could arise at literally any moment? V. E. Schwab found herself thus embattled when Tor Books selectively quoted one of her interviews, unintentionally obscuring a point the author had been trying to make about queer visibility in literature. The out-of-context quote elicited surprise and anger, which Schwab then had to quell with a clarification of her original point – that’s probably time she’d rather have spent working on her book. (Since then, she’s embarked on a monthlong self-imposed Twitter break to make sure her creative goals are met.)

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Does worrying about publication kill your creativity? That’s Crystal Hana Kim’s theory, and in a piece for LitHub the If You Leave Me author answers ten questions about the writing process that may put certain parts of your mind at ease, perhaps even allaying your fears about finally joining a writing group.  She also suggests hobbies to keep writers busy when they aren’t actively busting their brains on a manuscript: “Any sort of activity that uses your hands. I like pottery — throwing clay on the wheel and forming a physical object that has immediate use is so pleasurable after being stuck in my head all day.”

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This week, the Trump administration revealed its plan to define gender by arbitrary and completely unscientific standards, legally defining transgender people out of existence. The pushback from LGBTQ people and allies has been heartening, but it needs to keep growing in order to protect the privacy of all Americans. Writing for LitHub, Veronica Scott Esposito shares her reaction to these troubling developments, beginning with the fears she had to confront in order to begin her own transition. “Not long after that I began making long-needed improvements in my life, and I now have the healthiest lifestyle at any point of my entire life,” she writes. “My mental health has improved greatly, I eat healthier than ever before, I care more about myself, I am taking charge of parts of my life that I neglected for years, and I have stronger, more rewarding relationships. Best of all, a lifelong sense of unease, anger, and melancholy has entirely left me.” While everyone’s experience is different, Esposito counters the myth that many regret their choice to transition, pointing out how low those numbers really are: “Is there any other major life decision that only one percent of people regret?”

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Gender Outlaw author Kate Bornstein has a stirring message for those who are miserable at the prospect of defending themselves against heightened scrutiny on the basis of gender. Beginning with a history of the terms “gender” and “sex” as we’ve come to understand them, Bornstein points in a Rolling Stone op-ed that “there are more of ‘us’ than there are of ‘them.'” While transgender people themselves make up a relatively small percentage of the populace, people from many different groups, such as ethnic minorities, have run up against the limitations society imposes on gender. Finding common ground with each other may not always be easy, but Bornstein helps illustrate how the histories of all marginalized groups are more alike than different.

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The votes are in, and PBS has declared To Kill A Mockingbird the winner in their contest to America’s best-loved  novel. The other finalists shouldn’t be too surprising: Outlander, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Pride and Prejudice, and The Lord of the Rings. While not terribly scientific, these picks seem to confirm that on average, Americans are most comfortable reading at about an eighth-grade level – but the best way for someone to improve their literacy is to establish a habit of independent reading, and the full list of books ranked in PBS’s vote encompass enough variety in terms of length, challenge, and age-level to serve as a bridge to more complex reading adventures. (Take all the time you need to train up to Dune, which placed at number thirty-five.)

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Shakespeare will always be a relevant source to cite when parsing geopolitical events, but it’s rarely executed as humorously as this headline on a parody news site: Lady Macbeth’s account of the death of King Duncan is ‘credible and believable’ insists Donald Trump. Was this penned in response to the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month, or is it just a broader comment on the way this administration conducts itself on a day-to-day basis? Either way, we can’t help but feel the bard is chuckling from beyond the grave at lines like these: “The U.S. Government, which is currently in negotiations to sell Scotland 100 groats-worth of chainmail, spears, and crossbows, has confirmed that it has spoken to Lady Macbeth and fully backs her narrative.”

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When you get around to rewatching “Blade Runner 2049,” you’ll want this video in your memory bank. Last week, the company that provided key visual effects for the film released a reel showing before-and-after shots of certain locations. While the filmmakers relied on practical effects and miniatures wherever possible, the amount of gloss and detail added via digital wizardry is fascinating to observe – a reminder that we’re already living in the future, and dates like 2049 no longer sound as terribly far away as they used to. Enjoy below!