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).
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’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! Mir and I are still sick, but we’re over the worst of it. How are you doing? We’re tricycling (I know, I’m sorry, but he’s cute, okay?) around the interwebs this morning–there’s a lot of interesting stuff to read.
The Guardian’s Robert Crum blogs about conservative politico (and Education Secretary) Michael Gove’s new stance that UK children should be reading 50 books a year. The statement has excited a lot of debate in the UK, and authors such as Phiilip Pullman and Anthony Browne have come out against it. The Guardian also asks–which 50 books should kids be reading?
I’m a little torn over this. I hate the idea of forced literature, but I do think kids–think everybody, really–should read more. Incentives to read, like the prizes offered at our school as part of the MS Read-a-Thon charity drive (people sponsor you to read x number of books in a given time) really only work for the readers. (And some of us are ineligible–I was miles ahead of my class, reading around four books a week, so they took me out of the running.) Gove’s idea might be a bit off the rails, but at least it’s doing something: making us talk about reading.
The Google Book Settlement has been rejected! True, a lot of people probably saw this coming, but it’s still big news. Wired has a pretty clear rundown on what the settlement terms were, and the result.
Next up, at The New York Times, a piece on using Theatron, a VR program, to help students stage virtual productions of Shakespeare and more. The Theatron website is a bit of a mess, but it looks like a fun program to work with, and much more enlightening than the 30 minute claymation versions of The Tempest and Macbeth we had to watch in school.
Also at The NYT, David Greenberg on why last chapters so often suck disappoint. Do not fear, though–your last chapter probably does not suck. Greenberg is writing specifically about books “aspiring to analyze a social or political problem.” These aren’t alien concepts to kidlit, but the scope is definitely different. Useful reading, though.
Over at The WSJ, Meghan Cox Gurdon on children’s books set behind the Iron Curtain and writes a thoughtful review of Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray. YA & kidlit people definitely need to read this.
Now that we know Jennifer Lawrence will be playing Katniss in The Hunger Games movies, speculation is wide-open about who’ll play Peeta. People has a quick rundown of the contenders so far. Please, please, please, people, don’t let it be the kid from Glee! Also, does seeing the double “e” in Peeta make anyone else want coffee?
A lot to read at The Shatzkin Files today, but both of these are worth the time. First up, Mike on what Barry Eisler’s decision to turn down a $500,000 advance means. One point not raised, that I’m curious about–how much did Eisler’s CIA background–probably a promoter’s dream–skew the publisher’s offer?
Mike’s second post is also self-promoting–he’s announcing a partnership with Michael Cader, Publishers Launch Conferences, which will “deliver live events…on publishing and digital change.” This post isn’t as concrete as the first, but it’s a good look at how some of the top digital books folks are thinking–and monetizing–so if you have the time, do read it.
Eric at Pimp My Novel has a rerun of a post on publishing myths, but it’s still a great post, so head on over.
ETA, 9:36 am: Michael Gove is Education Secretary.Read More
Good morning, book people! It’s daylight savings in Massachusetts now – and this is the second day we’ve slept in! Of course, it can’t all be blamed on daylight savings–there were several hours’ worth of screaming toddler, too. And now for something completely different…
Author Maureen Johnson ran a hugely successful campaign–over $14,000 worth of successful–to raise money for disaster relief in Japan this weekend. Although her campaign is now closed, you can still donate to Shelterbox. Never heard of Shelterbox? Here’s why they’re awesome:
We respond instantly to natural and manmade disasters by delivering boxes of aid to those who are most in need. Each box supplies an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless.
In January The Hunger Games movie was given a release date–and now it may have its lead actress. Variety is reporting that Lionsgate is close to reaching a deal with blonde-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned actress Jennifer Lawrence. I’ve written about why The Hunger Games needs an actress who’s closer to Katniss in terms of physical description in the past–and I stand by that now. Lawrence may be a skilled actress, but casting someone who’s clearly not “olive-skinned” to play Katniss is a Big Deal. Why? From my original piece (at PopMatters):
Although physical description is, generally speaking, a less-significant detail, Katniss’ status as a non-white heroine is important because she’s that rare commodity: a big time, mainstream non-white heroine.
Over at the Blue Rose Girls, a bit of fun - pictures from a children’s book bar! The murals are by Ludwig Bemelmans, the original illustrator for the Madeline books. I love Madeline – and the pics are definitely worth a look.
At The Guardian, David Barnett fills us in on the latest genre wars – as in last year’s Franzenfreude, the fracas is all about marginalization. Author Stephen Hunt is accusing the BBC of bias against his genre, science fiction. He’s taken his crusade one step further, though, and has launched a petition for one genre “to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.” Do you think SF (and its counterpart, F) are marginalized?
Graham Moore at The NYT has a review of Death Cloud, Andrew Lane’s attempt “to update and adapt Sherlock Holmes for a new generation, much the way Guy Ritchie has done with a swashbuckling Sherlock on screen.” The book follows 14 year old Sherlock, and sounds like a fun read. (I’ve read the entire Holmes series several times over, and will definitely be picking this up.)
And finally, at The WSJ, Helen Schulman writes about the process of constructing a novel: Write. Rewrite. Obsess. Repeat. Go read it now, especially if you’ve ever tottered at the edge of the Great and Terrible Abyss of Writerly Indecision.
And that’s all for now! I’ll be back later with the next installment of Cover Notes.Read More