Good morning, book people!
Some more whitewashing discussion on The Hunger Games this morning. This post by author Malinda Lo (Ash) makes some great points–Lo discusses color and class, and reading cues for racial background. Here’s the description of Katniss from early in the book:
straight black hair, olive skin [and]… gray eyes
That could definitely be taken as ambiguous, though with that, and the fairness of Katniss’ mother and Prim, I’ve always read her as biracial–particularly since she shares the “Seam look” with the rest of District 12, and her mother and Prim do not. (To my mind, she also identifies more with the Seam than with her family.) Make sure you read the comments on Lo’s post, too.
JJ, an editorial assistant at St. Martin’s, talks about her read of Katniss as white over at Uncreate Conscience. I don’t agree with her whole post, but it is a thoughtful critique worth reading. An important point from the conclusion:
Here’s a question I have about speculative fiction (including science fiction and fantasy): if race is not specifically mentioned, or the world has a different idea of “race” than ours, how does one go about indicating ethnicity? If it’s important to the author that a character in a work of spec fic be of a specific race, how can one indicate that? If ethnicity isn’t important, what can s/he do to change the default assumption of “whiteness”?
At the WSJ, Jeffrey Trachtenberg fills us in on a Random House/THQ Inc. deal. THQ is a developer and publisher of “interactive entertainment software” (read: video games). It’s mostly paid content, so it might be worth stopping by a Starbucks with your laptop/phone/iPad if ebooks and interactive books/games are your cup of tea (or coffee).
Over at Lightning + Lightning Bugs, agent Weronika Janczuk posts more about agents and self-publishing. Some useful commentary, some nice summations. Expect a few more posts like this–as my friend Livia pointed out at our last critique group meeting, a lot of agents were putting out their thoughts about ebooks and self-publishing last week. True, it’s probably not all tied into the Amanda Hocking news, but her St. Martin’s deal has lent a certain amount of legitimacy to self-publishing–legitimacy I think the big houses and agents have been waiting for (but unwilling to bet on) for a while.
Cory Doctorow has a new column up at PW, on the “the Baroque process of getting a book listed on both Lulu and Amazon.” It’s long, but Definitely Worth Reading. If you read only one thing from this list today, make it this piece.
And finally, a bit of fun–bookish webcomic Unshelved reviewed Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan last week. Here’s a snippet; click through for more. (via Scott Westerfeld)Read More
Good morning, book people! I have a critique group meeting this morning, and a yen for chocolate biscuits, so this will be quick–and almost painless.
The interwebs exploded yesterday (the writerly corner of it, anyway) when author Jacqueline Howett responded to a critical review of her book, The Greek Seaman, at BigAl’s Books and Pal’s. Here’s a snippet of one of the comments:
And please follow up now from e-mail.
This is not only discusting and unprofessional on your part, but you really don’t fool me AL.
Who are you any way? Really who are you?
What do we know about you?
You never downloaded another copy you liar!
You never ever returned to me an e-mail
Besides if you want to throw crap at authors you should first ask their permission if they want it stuck up on the internet via e-mail. That debate is high among authors.
Your the target not me!
Now get this review off here!
And, in case you’re curious, here’s her biography, which suggests that large parts of the novel are autobiographical. I suspect this is why Ms. Howett responded so violently.
Also, Joe says he will now be renaming his Nana Mouskouri cover band, The Greek Seaman Train Wreck.
If you have some time to kill, the comments are worth reading–not just for entertainment or as a “not what to do” but because some are genuinely kind and well-thought out notes on dealing with bad reviews.
Of course, the Jacqueline Howett story doesn’t end there–Good Books and Good Wine has the LOLcat version of her comments.
Over at Zazzle, we also have a snake mug… (Not sure why, but WP ate this line originally, so I’ve added the link back in.)
In other book news…
Mike Shatzkin has a post on ebook bestsellers that’s worth reading. It’s long, but talks financials, distribution, and bookstore placement. One quick aside though–Mike says,
Now the paradigm has changed. The default front table is the choice of titles on the screen that comes up first when a store’s program is opened. That’s almost always that retailer’s bestsellers (and, as far as I can tell, it isn’t customized for me at any of these retailers; you or my wife would see the same default screen that I would.)
I haven’t bought anything from B&N online in a long time, but I do know Amazon has customized front pages with recommendations based on my book-buying history. (And a lot of my recs are ebooks, since I read a lot on the kindle.) More thoughts on this post later.
And now, about those chocolate biscuits…Read More
Good morning, book people! I’m wrapping up a big writing project today & Mir & I are properly recovered now (thanks to a series of naps), so I’ll be back to some semblance of normality on the interwebs this week.
Sad news this morning–children’s novelist Diana Wynne Jones died early Saturday morning (UK time). If you haven’t read one of her novels, you need to get out your kindle/nook, or head down to the bookstore today. My favorites (so far)–How’s Moving Castle (different, and better than, the movie), and the Chrestomanci series, particularly The Charmed Lives of Christopher Chant.) There aren’t really words to describe this post about Diana (and if you have ever read her, you know that she is Diana, because reading her is like reading an old friend) by Neil Gaiman, except to say it made me cry.
Emma Bull over at Tor.com also remembers Diana, a woman who,
“told stories the way some people eat ice cream: eagerly, with delight and no self-consciousness. She told them about her family in a way that made them familiar characters in my imaginary world, and she talked about her characters as if they were family.” (via Neil Gaiman)
Here’s a full obituary about Diana from The Guardian, with all the concrete details that entails. It’s a marvelous and detailed essay by Christopher Priest, though, so go here rather than Wikipedia if you’ve never read Diana/want to know more.
Sometime soon–perhaps this week, perhaps next–I’ll post about Diana’s books, and why I love them. She has a new book coming out, Earwig and the Witch, in the UK and Japan, later this year.
The Rejectionist has a short post (as in 100 words sort of short) on qualities that do not a strong female character make. It’s a blitzingly short read, but an essential one.
“Amanda has created such a fresh, unique, fabulous world, and I am absolutely dead set on bringing it to the screen without compromising any of that,” Ms. Tatchell said by telephone from Vancouver, Canada.
The three novels — “Switched,” “Torn” and “Ascend” — follow an emotionally damaged high school girl, Wendy Everly, who realizes that she may not be human. With the help of a boy, Finn Holmes, she discovers the mysterious world of Trylle, which is populated by beautiful trolls.
I’ve heard a bit of griping about Amanda Hocking’s success, so here are a couple of things to remember about her–yes, she’s sold a million copies over nine novels. And yes, she’s made around two million dollars. But she has put in a lot of work, and has hired freelance editors for her books. So while she may’ve been on-trend with her novels, there’s definitely more to her success than that.
And finally, an interview with Diana, and a study project. I love the opening to this first one–the way she says, “Do come in,” makes me feel like I’m cracking a new novel.
On the Miyazaki adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle (spoilers)
Diana Wynne Jones author study, by Raarbecca, part of a school project. See if you catch the snippet of Howl’s Moving Castle soundtrack a couple of minutes in.
ETA 9:58am: US details for Earwig & the WitchRead More
Good morning, book people! I can’t believe how sunny it is this morning–could Spring really be heading our way? I hope so! And not just because it’s pretty and I detest the cold, but because my poor kidlet has his first ear infection, and could really use some extended strollin’ time by the river. There’s nothing quite like sauntering along the Charles chatting to the geese and picking wild irises with a snuggly kidlet.
Lots of things I’m reading today, so let’s get started!
First, an oldie (in internet time) but a goodie–Henry Sene Yee, the Creative director at Picador, walks us through the design of a book cover. The cover in question? Wesley Stace’s Charles Jessold, Considered As A Murderer. It’s a striking design, so head on over to learn how it came to be.
Over at Forever Young Adult, a drinking game to make the I Am Number Four movie more bearable. I haven’t seen the flick yet, but a drinking game in lieu of a movie review? Hmm…
Also at FYA, a return to Avonlea (see what I did there? And I’ve only had four hours sleep!) with a review of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne’s House of Dreams, in which Gilbert & Anne finally get it together. Definitely worth reading if you’ve ever been irritated by heroines giving up their dreams and settling down. (Also, I loved this book.) Thanks to @MelanieCordova, YA reader extraordinaire, for the tip off to FYA.
Getting back to covers–Melissa Walker, one of the totally awesome Readergirlz has the inside scoop on the cover design for Gwendolyn Heasley’s Where I Belong, which drops later this month.
The Shelf Elf (I <3 her header elf!) has a most excellent, thoughtful review of Gennifer Choldenko’s No Passengers Beyond This Point.
Have you read I Am Number Four yet? Seen the movie? Bought the t-shirt? What are you reading this morning?Read More
Good morning, book people! The snow is back in Cambridge, and we’re holed up with hot coffee and a snuggly kidlet this Presidents’ Day. How about you?
So this is not really six links–I think it’s closer to ten. But that’s just because I give value for your blog buck, and also because I feel bad counting anything that doesn’t get it’s own separate paragraph. So, without further ado…
Over at SLJ’s A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy Liz explains how one of the YALSA awards, the Morris, works, and asks if the use of a shortlist [builds] excitement the way, say, that the Oscars build excitement?” Quick note: I am in favor of shortlists, and think they actually benefit the authors because booksellers can make sure books are in stock ahead of the awards. Without a shortlist, sleepers like this year’s Newbery, Clare Vanderpool’s Moon Over Manifest can take a while to get onto shelves, and that can translate into lost sales. More thoughts later this week.
Have you worked out your BookPrint yet? The folks at Scholastic are helping readers connect by asking them to “share the five books that most influenced you.” Although I’m signed up, I’m still trying to figure out what those books are! There are some great names in the system already–including Oprah, Alice Walker (!), and Marian Wright Edelman. There are also some fun polls to play with (Which classic romantic hero would you rather attend a ball with?). And over at OOM, bookseller Michael walks us through how he worked out his own BookPrint. More on this later in the week, too.
If you’ve ever felt belittled for writing genre fiction, you need to read this post by Harry Connolly over at Charlie’s Diary. Harry is writing specifically about the science fiction and fantasy divide (aka the SF/F snobfest, and I say that as someone with a science degree) but the post smack of familiarity for those of us in the YA trenches, too. Perhaps we should all send the link to Martin Amis.
The Guardian has a truly excellent piece on emulating great authors to learn how to write, or how to write better, complete with reading list!. This is how I learned to write; in high school, one of my teachers had us borrow voices for a whole semester. Without that grounding, I’m not sure I’d have developed my own voice properly, or love writing quite so much.
Also at The Guardian, John Dugdale tells us the most borrowed library books of 2010. No surprises in the kidlit list, but it’s nice to see Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton still making the grade.
And finally, back to Charlie’s Diary for an overview of how the publishing industry is structured. It’s wry, and worth reading. It’s also part of a series, which I’m still reading, but definitely recommend. Just follow the hyper-breadcrumbs.
Update: Fascinating read via @JasonAshlock. Is Borders Guilty as Charged? Phillip Downer, former CEO of Borders UK, walks us through Borders’ blunders, one by one.
I’ll be back later with the first post in a new series, Cover Notes.
What are you reading this morning?
Image Credit: brew books, via flickr.Read More
Last Saturday, agent Kathleen Ortiz (@KOrtizzle) posted the results of a Twitter challenge–singer-songwriter Brittney (@Brittneygirl) asked for topics to write about, promising to come up with a song about said topics in just ten minutes. The topics?
YA erotica + Mango the cat + King Henry and his wives.
Here are the incredibly awesome results. As @KOrtizzle says, this deserves to go viral. So repost, retweet, and have at it!
eta: Brittney’s twitter id.Read More