More People, More Stories for the Elusive Listener

Ahh, another gem for the introvert writer: Slate’s Interviews: 50 Cents. The tagline says, “Interviews come along all the time… all you have to do, is wait.” NPR’s Alex Chadwick is laid back and funny, just letting people approach him and …talk. And people are wonderful, in their difference — sad, tipsy, poignant, thoughtful, pathetic, amusing — as different as fingerprints and autumn leaves. I love to observe them and hear their stories. Check it out!

Via Original Content — a gorgeous new edition of Our Anne!

This and That

A little note to all of us writers who blog from Jeff Vandermeer. In this piece, the bit about “balance” stands out strongly to me! Don’t let the Web suck up all your time… (*ahem* Note to self.)
I’m completely late on this rejoicing, but Lucia will be the next girl who hears dragons. How cool. (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to The Girl Who Heard Dragons by Ann McCafferty, only Lucia reads dragons.)

Via Galleycat, New York independent book sellers are banding together to strengthen their position. Cooperating may recreate indies as a force with which to be reckoned, something that many writers would love to see.

And speaking of independents, here’s big news: my favorite is no more. Readers and writers will welcome its new incarnation, Its new name reflects individuality and uniqueness and also gives it a sense of hipness and fun. Yay, local bookstores! Yay, indies!

Over the weekend, Mitali quietly posted that Rickshaw Girl has been included in a list of 25 Notable Books for a Global Society. I am really pleased for her.

Have you heard the buzz at Shrinking Violets? Mary Hershey is celebrating the launch of her new book, Ten Lucky Things That Have Happened To Me Since I Nearly Got Hit By Lightning (!! that title!) by inviting family and friends to buy a gift card from a local independent bookseller and to donate it to Girls, Inc so that it can be used to get a copy to a kid who wouldn’t otherwise have spending money for that. What a great — and philanthropic — idea.

Kelly and I have had a good old-fashioned, stomping, screaming tantrum that though both of us are in the same country, we aren’t going to manage to get together while she’s in Scotland! Boo! Hiss! The new plan is for us to get together in Iowa between snowstorms the next time I’m in the U.S. – we’ll see how well that goes.


Treasures from All Over

There’s a television show in the UK called “Are You Smarter than an 5th Grader” or something like that — I’ve never watched it because I have a sister in the sixth grade who assures me that the answer to that is an unequivocal “No.” I’m cheered by the fact that she’s still not smarter than eighth graders in 1895. Via the mental_floss blog, we’re privileged to see the 1895 final exam presented to 8th-graders in Salina, Kansas… and boy howdy are those questions hard. FIVE HOURS were allowed for the final test. Five.

Remember that many young adults decided to teach school after graduating from the 8th grade in those days — and honestly, if they know how to respond to such questions as:

A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold? 3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

… then they had the chops to at least teach fifth graders… check out the whole exam here.

Imagine treasure-hunting with your granddad — looking for old cannon balls on a site of a battlefield — and actually finding treasure. Nine year old Alex found 4,600 silver coins dating from the 13th century — then archaeologists uncovered almost three thousand more. Hands down, best day out with Granddad, EVER.

Via the Guardian blogShakespeare is being revised — again — into “yoofspeak.” “Dere was somefing minging in de state of Denmark.” Okay, so it’s accessible to some — readable, even, if you’re in the know, but the beauty and power of the original language is what makes Shakespeare, isn’t it? This isn’t an issue for some, because the language tripped them up… Once again, people use the argument that if the Bard were writing now, he’d be writing in “the vernacular” as it were — but whose? I dunno. I find this a bit patronizing. We’re assuming that people who don’t choose to participate in the dominate culture only don’t because they can’t? Hm.

“Smart, funny and cheery, Meyer does not seem noticeably undead in person.” Not “noticeably.” Well, that’s a relief, anyway.

Time Magazine is trying to figure out just what the heck is up with Stephanie Meyers — how did this 34-year-old observant stay-at-home Mormon mother and housewife turn into a woman being hailed as the next JK Rowling? Seriously, HOW did this happen?! Hat tip to Original Content for the link.

May looks to be a month stuffed with all kinds of fun, games, blog blasts, contests, fluffy bunnies and chickies and …vampires. Don’t forget it’s also National Independent Bookseller Month — if you haven’t dropped off the name of your favorite Indie to the ladies at Shrinking Violets, DO SO NOW!

Link Sprinkling

Via the Guardian blog, comes news of news that Random House has jumped onto the bandwagon, and will “read and consider highly rated Top Ten Chart stories on YouWriteOn from April to September in 2008.” The site began in 2006 with the idea of helping new writers develop their talents; the site’s affiliated literary agents include Curtis Brown and The Christopher Little Literary Agency agent of J.K Rowling, of course.

While this development is met with quite a lot of writerly hysteria from some quarters, the more cynical among us wonder if this is just for show. We’ve read just this week at Galleycat about real writers being rejected by fake editors. It’s hard to suddenly believe in a kinder, gentler publishing world… but maybe…

This weeks SF Chronicle has some great YA kid reviews, including two books I’m dying to read: How I Saved My Father’s Life (And Ruined Everything Else) and Lesley M. M. Blume’s Tennyson, as well as a slew of nonfiction, which is good to see. (There really seems to be more nonfiction …visible this year already. Hurray for that!) My favorite things are the book blurbs, though. Yay for kids responding to literature!

“We didn’t buy any Anne dolls or cookbooks, nor did we visit the “Green Gables” facsimile farmhouse, which – judging from online accounts of it – is as complete as Sherlock Holmes’s digs on Baker Street, containing everything from the slate Anne broke over Gilbert Blythe’s head to her wardrobe of puffed-sleeve dresses to the brooch she was accused, wrongly, of losing. There’s even a pretend Matthew who gives you drives around the property, though he’s not described as running to hide out in the barn at the approach of lady visitors, as the real Matthew would have done.”

Another awesome Canadian author, Margaret Atwood gives Anne-with-an-e a send up in the Guardian. The ‘Annery’ as she calls the hoopla for the 100th year anniversary, is indeed well in hand. I’ve lost my ancient copy of my Anne somewhere (my copy was from the 50’s and is probably in my parent’s house, camouflaged among all the others from that era) but I’m quite tempted to see if I can’t find another thrift story copy somewhere and reread it. (Hmm. Another Big Read idea. Sorry, Leila. Maybe I could join you on one you’re DOING instead of continually suggesting them? I’m getting there!)

Don’t miss our buddy Cynthia’s awesome link round-up and giveaways, including talk about two sequels I’ve been looking forward to — the second Hallowmere novel and the newest Melissa Marr, Ink Exchange. And YIKES, there’s a third Hallowmere coming. I’m already falling behind!!!!

And finally, in the CUTE OVERLOAD category from Mangesh at mental_bloss, an article about an elephant who… went to film school. BBC1 will be broadcasting the amazing, stupendous and awesome footage pretty soon. (I love mental_floss’s blog, can you tell? Where else do you find out that it was Grace Slick singing to you all those times on Sesame Street!?)

Whizzing By…

I don’t usually do weekend posts, but Cynsations had such a great series of links I had to point them out.

First, Cynthia introduces us to David Gill’s Thunder Chikin, and a revision story. Since that’s where the Wonderland duo is right now — smack ‘dab in the midst of revisions — this was Must Read Bloggage. Writer Gill is amusing — mentioning at one point that he thought the line-edits from his editors were light because there wasn’t much work to do. And then he finds out he’s …wrong. The less said sometimes, the more work. D’oh! But he keeps at it, and FIFTEEN PASSES LATER, ladies and gents, he’s done. FIFTEEN. (Keep that number in mind, you nameless media twerps who think writing children’s lit is easy.) The last line of his revision post is the best —

“… the writer starts the neglected laundry, speaks to the attention-starved children, cleans the grungy bathroom, and goes in search of a bowl of praline pecan ice cream and a really big spoon.”

That was a great chuckle for today, and you can’t help but love the title of his work in progress: Soul Enchilada. Definitely one to watch!

And whoa, am I late to discovering the group of Vermont MFA authors writing at Through the Tollbooth or what? Cynthia links to a really great discussion on sexuality in YA lit (including an interview with Tanya Lee Stone and a link to her 2006 VOYA article, The Power of Sex in YA Literature). Tollbooth has recently concluded a discussion on YA violence as well. I’m glad that it wasn’t just sex that was explored, since with young adults the complaint is usually that authors are rewriting Sex in the City with adolescents. I’ve had conversations with a number of my fellow blogger/writers on those topics, and my favorite response has been from the stalwart few who prefer to not have an opinion, but to allow the actions of the characters to serve the plot. Admittedly, I find it difficult to be that courageous. What, I find myself worrying, would my mother think? A rule of thumb for me is to write something I would have been allowed to read when I was a kid — and I know that varies for everyone!

Anyway, some great, intelligent conversations have gone on in the blogosphere, so if you’re a little sick from eating the heads off of numerous chocolate bunnies, these great thoughts will provide a needed antidote.



Justine: I’m always irritated when people tell me I’m just like one of my characters. Which happens rarely (fortunately) for the people who say it ’cause I usually hit them. Even though violence is wrong.

I’ve been lurking on a site called Fantasy Magazine and was rewarded with another great interview – between Justine Larbalestier and Ekaterina Sedia, whose The Secret History of Moscow looks really intriguing (Her next book, The Alchemy of Stone comes out in June 2008). Their fascinating conversation is funny (it is two writers, and one of them Justine Larbalestier, after all), informative and intriguing. They talk about what it’s like to be writers in America coming, as they do, from other cultures and countries, how their readers react to them as immigrants, the stereotypes about Russia and Australia and the ones they’ve found out about the U.S., too. Did I say ‘fascinating?’ I meant it.

Paging through a bit of news, I came across this bit of graphic novel. It’s in German, and yes, it’s an historical graphic novel intended for German kids. According to the article in the Guardian, “In Germany, which this week marks the 75th anniversary of Hitler’s elevation to German chancellor, many fear that young people are disinterested in or misinformed about this important chapter of history.” Seventy-five years ago the insanity began. Though none of us were even born then, can you imagine the Holocaust ever going out of the public memory, ever being just a bump on the road of history? Never, never, never, never, never. In the words of Maya Angelou, History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

From our mouths to God’s ear.

A Valentine’s Gift For All of You

I can’t even tell you how much I wish I could afford to get this charm for all of you, who, like me, write and sometimes struggle with the motivation and the reminder that THIS is the most important thing you’ve lined up to do today. Not the laundry. Not the making of the bed. Not even the creation of the balanced meal. This: your thing you do. That’s most important.

Butt in Chair. Hands on Keyboard.

Live it like you mean it!

(Via Smart B’s/Trashy B’s)

A Valentine's Gift For All of You

I can’t even tell you how much I wish I could afford to get this charm for all of you, who, like me, write and sometimes struggle with the motivation and the reminder that THIS is the most important thing you’ve lined up to do today. Not the laundry. Not the making of the bed. Not even the creation of the balanced meal. This: your thing you do. That’s most important.

Butt in Chair. Hands on Keyboard.

Live it like you mean it!

(Via Smart B’s/Trashy B’s)