Good morning, book people! I’m at a Starbucks working this morning, soaking up the yuppie-artistic vibe of Harvard Square. How about you?
In slightly sad Peta & Joe news this morning, I had an epiphany: We have lived in the US so long that Starbucks has become a way of measurement for us. Over the weekend, I had a rather heavy parcel of papers to mail–43 oz’ worth. Joe’s response? “Wow, that’s more than two ventis! Or almost a trenta and an half!”
And now for something completely different…
First up, literary agency Dystel & Goderich is entering the e-publishing game–sort of. Rather than becoming a publisher (as a few other agencies are doing), they will:
facilitate e-publishing for those of clients who decide that they want to go this route, after consultation and strategizing about whether they should try traditional publishing first or perhaps simply set aside the current book and move on to the next. (via @lkblackburne)
Next on the docket, YA Highway has an excellent post on “building a heart bridge” to your reader. It’s a great follow-up to #YAsaves. Very quick read, but long-lingering thoughts.
Stuck for time to write this summer? Over at Literary Rambles, Casey shares how she’s carving out time to write over the break. She also has a great-looking book giveaway. Head on over to win a copy of:
- Lauren Oliver’s Delirium
- Kimberly Sterling’s Desires of the Dead
- Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss
- Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Queen
…by becoming a follower (of Casey’s blog, though I love followers/subscribers too!) and leave a comment before July 9th.
Over at Pub Rants, Agent Kristin Nelson has a quick read on riding the cultural zeitgeist–when agents start seeing submissions that aren’t on-trend, but center on a certain theme anyway. Are they seeing the birth of a trend? Maybe.
Finally, NPR has an interesting read on using computers as part of classroom learning. I find this particularly intriguing since the kidlet is learning to count with an iPhone app we play together-he simply can’t get enough of it, and he’s really glomming onto the concept of numbers (eight is his favorite). (via Scholastic’s On Our Minds)
And for some Monday morning fun (which I could use, since web goblins ate half this post the first time around), The Onion, America’s finest news source, is lobbying for an #onionpulitzer. There are lots of great videos of support on YouTube already, here are two I particularly love: Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Coraline) and Ricky Gervais (The Office, Extras). Two more I’d love to see? Old Spice Man Isaiah Mustafa and George Takei (preferably together).
On children: “Is it wrong that I just want to have one of these to grow up and resent me?” ~ Liz Lemon
Rain patters outside our window, its scent lingering at the edges of the room. In the center, toys–trucks mostly–curl around our ottomans and errant goldfish, lost in an imaginary wooden sea. A stuffed bear with blue, slightly pocked fur, sprawls across a quilted book, glaring accusingly.
The bear, I know, is right. I should be tidying up, flinging toys into the giant Tonka truck toy box, sweeping up crumbs, folding the blankets that collect around me every time I sit down. Even in summer, I am always cold, goosebumps tingling on my skin at the slightest breeze. Instead, I lounge around, eating ice cream, pretending the chaos scrawled across my house is non-existent, the by-product of an over-active imagination.
It’s funny how mummy guilt spreads beyond basic child care: I know my child is fed, clothed, mostly bathed, and happy. Mold is not growing on our walls; spores are not lingering in the cupboard beneath the kitchen sink. We do not live in a House episode. But the crumbs and clutter nag at me, even when I’m so tired my feet are swollen, my legs and back ache, and the thought of getting up, even for chocolate or a searingly hot bath, makes my whole body sag with exhaustion. Still, the guilt spills over into sleep, work, and play so that the simplicity of curling up with a bowl of ice cream becomes something overwrought (overwritten?), almost overwhelming.
Mummy guilt, I suppose, is about choice. Or rather, it’s about choice, where there is, for the most part, no real wrong choice. Sure, there are times when the laundry absolutely, positively must be done–especially since I’ve culled my wardrobe so that I have only around two weeks’ worth of clothes. And, as much as I might want to, I can’t simply hide dirty dishes in the oven or toss makeshift rugs over the toys and goldfish slowly taking over my living room. But, for the most part, there is nothing wrong with choosing to rest–or better yet, write–instead of sweeping up once in a while. (Or more often than not. They’re really the same thing.)
And then there’s the flip side: Writing guilt. Writing guilt is similar to mummy guilt, though without the lovely reading snuggles, or a happy “Ma! Ma!” to come home to. In some ways, I think writing guilt is more insidious, because there’s no concrete reason to write. It’s not like bathing, or eating, or breathing. Except that it is–like breathing, I mean, if most people didn’t understand why breathing is necessary.
I have a feeling there was once a point to this post, but I’m not entirely sure what it was–except that perhaps it’s an attempt to assuage my writing guilt and my mummy guilt at the same time. Is that possible?
Ask the ice cream.Read More
Good morning, book people! It’s been hectic around our house lately, hence the intermittent blogging. I’ll be keeping up the coffee breaks (I love writing these) this week, and should get back to the 5 day a week schedule next week.
Excitement this morning! Jennifer Egan has won the Pulitzer for fiction with her novel, A Visit From The Goon Squad. Although the book is technically adult–it appears to be a collection of short stories–it has a couple of kidlit elements, and there’s an extract available over at the Guardian’s children’s book site. The extract is a short story formatted as a Power Point slideshow, and definitely worth checking out. (And I’ll have more on Egan and using technology in books sometime soon.)
Next up, a useful critique from ex-agent Nathan Bransford. More interesting than the critique, though, are his thoughts on learning to trust yourself as a writer. I’ve struggled with this on an off (particularly so when I’m sending out queries), as have most writers I know. And I can’t help but wonder if perhaps it’s part of the process of tapping into our own unique skills. What do you think?
Over on Tumblr, my friend and former bookseller Melanie has started up blog, Yay Kidlit! Go give it some love–she has some great links and book coverish posts already, including a (perhaps more realistic) cover for Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach which did actually make me laugh out loud.
In some heartening Hunger Games news, the actors cast to play Rue and Thresh have been announced–and they’re actually POC. Granted, the movie probably couldn’t have weathered the backlash if the studio had cast white actors for the two roles, but it’s nice to see them sticking to the ethnicities in the book this time around. Congrats to Dayo Okeniyi (Thresh) and Amandla Stenberg (Rue)!
Not exactly kidlit related, but The Economist has a great, well written, and thoughtful piece on two books about Pakistan, “an important but confusing country which has been driven, partly by American intervention, into strange ways.” Although I don’t read much outside of YA and kidlit these days, I’ve always had a soft spot for books about Pakistan and India, since large parts of my family history are rooted there. Are your reading tastes ever influenced by your family history?
Also at The Economist, Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson has been accused–by CBS News–of “fabricating some of his stirring tales.” Three Cups of Tea was a best seller and is now a picture book.
And finally, some sad geek news - Elizabeth Sladen, better known as the Doctor’s companion, Sarah Jane Smith, has died. She was the star of a surprisingly good Doctor Who spinoff for kids, The Sarah Jane Adventures.Read More
Good morning, book people! I’m sorry for the impromptu coffee break hiatus–my computer’s hard disk died last Wednesday. I have a new disk now, though, and thanks to my time capsule restoration, everything is as it should be. Which means we can start gearing up for Easter! I’ll have an Easter book list up later this week.
First up, at io9 author Robin Hobb, aka Megan Lindholm, aka Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden writes about how she ended up with her two pseudonyms–and the distinct authorial personalities that go with them.
Over at The Shatzkin Files, Mike talks about why it might be hard to find a public library 15 years from now. Long, but thoughtful and worth reading, particularly if you’re just getting into the digital game.
Over at Kris Writes, Kristine Katherine Rusch continues her Business Rusch series with this post on e-book royalties. Again, (very) long, but even if you’re not in e-book publishing right now, this is worth a look, as it highlights several key issues within the industry writers need to be aware of. (via @lkblackburne)
At The Wall Street Journal, Claire Messud reflects on the importance of finding a character’s true name. This, I can relate to–I often start with a place holder name, then write around until I find what I’m looking for. Name dictionaries and googling do not work for me; I need to come to my name organically, the way I need to come to my writing organically. (I am not a planner. I am dependent on lists in my everyday life; in my writing one, I’m dependent on my own particular brand of scattered focus.) Read more about Messud here.
In last week’s Independent, Boyd Tonkin wonders what it takes for a book to make history. Is it controversy? Writing? The author? Or the ‘ideological “grand narrative”‘?
At Kidlit, Agent Mary Kole has a quick post on the difference between proposals and querying with a complete manuscript–and why debut fiction authors need to the do latter.Read More
Cover Notes is a new series I’ll be running every Monday. Rather than focusing on covers of books I’ve read, I’ll be writing about books I’ve never read and recording my first impressions of their covers. Each book will also have an Embarrassment Factor of between zero & five, with zero meaning “a totally awesome cover I want to write fan mail about” and five meaning “I’m ashamed to be seen with this in public.”
Today’s Cover Notes post is a little different–I was busy over the weekend, and didn’t spend much time at the bookstore. So this post is based on a cover randomly picked from the “Inspired From Your Browsing History” section on the front page of Amazon.
Things I love about the cover: The colors. They’re so bold and strong without being garish and I love the way the stripes play off each other, and the starry background. I also love how plain and unassuming the title font is–it doesn’t take away from the claymation style illustration at all, but actually almost enhances it. And the curl of the dragon’s tail! So adorable! Perhaps best of all, though, is the way both dragon and child seem to be realizing they can trust each other…
Things I’m not so hot on: The stars may be a teensy bit too big, but I’m actually not sure about that. I’m hesitant to pick at this cover at all–it’s very whimsical and kid-like, and the kind of art I’d actually love to hang above my desk.
What I think it’s about: Hard call! Based on the “50 years in print” sticker, this is probably a classic, though I’m kind of behind on American classics! Anyway, I’m guessing it’s a collection of fairy tales loosely based on some existing fairy tales. The story is probably tied together by the boy’s search for something–perhaps something tangible, but something emotional, too. I don’t get a sense of specifics from this one at all, though.
Cover art by: Ruth Chrisman Gannett
Embarrassment factor: 0. I have no problem being seen with very kid-like books in public. I once had a little girl run up and tell me she loved the Katie Kazoo I was reading; another once asked me if I was really reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, just like she was. (And yes, I was–it’s one of my favorite books.)
The Jacket Blurb
My Father’s Dragon–a favorite of young readers since the 1940s and a Newbery honor book–captures the nonsensical logic of childhood in an amusingly deadpan fashion. The story begins when Elmer Elevator (the narrator’s father as a boy) runs away with an old alley cat to rescue a flying baby dragon being exploited on a faraway island. With the help of two dozen pink lollipops, rubber bands, chewing gum, and a fine-toothed comb, Elmer disarms the fiercest of beasts on Wild Island. The quirky, comical adventure ends with a heroic denouement: the freeing of the dragon. Abundant black-and-white lithographs by Ruth Chrisman Gannett (the author’s stepmother) add an evocative, lighthearted mood to an already enchanting story. Author Ruth Stiles Gannett’s stand-alone sequel, Elmer and the Dragon, and her third volume, The Dragons of Blueland both received starred reviews in School Library Journal and are as fresh and original as her first. (Ages 4 to 8)–Amazon
Overall: So, so wrong! Well, half wrong. I did get boy and dragon and searching, sort of. It sounds like an absolutely enchanting book, though, and one we might start reading at bed time.
Have you read Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon?Read More
Good morning book people! It’s grey out this morning, which is actually a good thing–it’ll make it easier for me to stay inside and catch up on work today! That, and the Mir-Cat and I are sick. Why is it that mummies must always catch whatever their kids have?
This morning, I’m all about the flashbacks–there’s so much great stuff out there that was popular last year or the year before, and has faded a bit, even though it’s still very relevant today. And so, without further ado…
First up, author Marianna Baer has an absolutely brilliant post on sex scenes in YA over at A Crowe’s Nest. It’s full of examples and insight, and is never condescending. A must-read.
Over at Forever Young Adult, the most swoon-worthy YA couples of all time. A couple of my favorites made it in here–Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables), and Macy and Wes (The Truth About Forever).
Another oldie but goodie–an interview with Printz award winner and Australia icon Melina Marchetta, over at YA Highway. Marchetta is a fixture in Australia; her debut novel, Looking for Alibrandi, is on reading lists all over the country.
And finally, back to Marianna again–using a couple of Sarah Dessen novels, Marianna explores how to get the most out of introducing a new character with dialogue, action, and internal monologue. I love this post, and have it bookmarked for my own future reference.
I’ll (most likely) be back later with a Cover Notes post. Have a great day, everyone!Read More