Coloring books have always been smiled on as quiet fun in church — but I think this is the first time the Catholic Church has put out one… and it’s on how to be safe… at church. I don’t know how to feel about that. I just… don’t.

The Herald-Mail reports that Twilight is going to be adapted to film, followed by its sequels. Should be interesting to see who plays Edward, and how they figure out that whole shiny-granite skin thing. Hm.

The best movie news of today, however, comes from Bottom Shelf Books where Minh shares the director’s comments from Disney’s Ratatouille. The artistic vision — the rodent inspiration! The… complete and utter randomness! It’ll make you smile.

LIVEbrary: In Your Face!

Via PR maven Rachelle Matherne, it’s the LIVEbrary Media Awareness Program!

Annick Press has begun an ambitious new online program for grades 4 – 8 – middle school and junior high schools students, teachers, librarians and homeschoolers called the “LIVEbrary.” The two-year program is funded by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

The first season begins October 15 with a 5-week program on Media Awareness. Among others, it features media literacy pioneer Shari Graydon, author of “Made You Look” and “In Your Face,” books that challenge kids to become aware of how advertisers try to manipulate them. (Now that’s just a smart idea.)

The Series Librarian for the LIVEbrary program is Gary Price, editor of and director of information technology for Internet search engine,

For teachers and homeschools, the LIVEbrary publishes a lesson plan each week that includes a reading, discussion questions, an assignment, and a quiz. Students can participate through the LIVEbrary Blog, email, and/or live chat. (Live chats are every Thursday afternoon from 2-3 pm ET, and are provided with assistance from Skype Technologies, makers of the popular SKYPE Internet phone software, which means that it’s either free or really inexpensive – also a great thing for schools!!)

Teachers, librarians, parents and homeschoolers must register in advance to participate in the LIVEbrary. More information, including registration, instructions, and a complete schedule are available at the LIVEbrary Blog or via email from LIVEbrary_AT_annickpress_DOT_com.

FYI, writers: Like many other Canadian presses, Annick Press publishes Canadian authors and illustrators only. However, if you’re a Canadian in search of a publishing home, they do post submission guidelines here.

It’s the National Book Awards Finalists…

Young People’s Literature

* Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown)
* Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One (Atheneum)
* M. Sindy Felin, Touching Snow (Atheneum)
* Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic)
* Sara Zarr, Story of a Girl (Little, Brown)
So much awesomeness, it’s hard to know who to cheer. Go everybody!

It's the National Book Awards Finalists…

Young People’s Literature

* Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown)
* Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One (Atheneum)
* M. Sindy Felin, Touching Snow (Atheneum)
* Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic)
* Sara Zarr, Story of a Girl (Little, Brown)
So much awesomeness, it’s hard to know who to cheer. Go everybody!

This is NOT about Mr. Potter.

This is about… the power of words. Characters. Universes.
And the power of imagination.

Does a story have to be steeped in magic to be magical?

As the coundown to Harry winds down, the UK’s psychologists are getting ready for… grief counseling.

What do you think of that?

Herein may lie the major differences between UK and US cultures. People here are excited, but there is this sense that children are meant to be excited, and there is a high degree of sarcasm and annoyance from some sectors because excitement over a mere children’s book – a book of time wasting fantasy, is seen as unseemly at best (and satanic at worse. And sue-worthy at very worst. Sigh.) Undoubtedly, there are those same attitudes in the UK, but along with their wholesale embracing of costuming and launch parties, they’re calling in more therapists – the largest UK bookstore chain is funding an emergency counseling line. They know characters will die, and children will be saddened, and they feel that children are important enough to care.

I am moving to such a… different place.

Viva las Divas!

Book Divas, the Sinuate Media owned marketing website is announcing their upcoming author visits. Hobson Brown, Taylor Materne and Caroline Says, authors of the YA novel The Upper Class will be on hand for a week long blog tour and people will be able to discuss and anticipate their novel, which is being released the first of September of this year. Current guest author is the great E.Lockhart, on hand until July 23rd. Other guest authors have included Cecil Castelucci, David Levithan, and John Green.

While you might mistake this as just another publishing-linked marketing blog full of hot-author-of-the-bestseller-list interviews and such, I was pleased to see that Book Divas is a bit more. Sure, HarperCollins has signed on for three additional Author Visits for 2007, and they pay, of course, but ten percent of the proceeds from all author visits go towards Book Divas’ ‘Writing Star’ scholarship fund! The scholarship fund will assist in sending one high school senior with the intent in majoring in Writing or English to college in the fall of 2008. Which is why the site also has great links to things like grammar help, book discussions, reviews and writing tips. Future English Major Divas, unite!

Ooh, had you heard about David Lassman, the director of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, who, as an experiment, took a mishmash of Austen chapters and passed them off as a book of his own work? He was shocked to find that most of the publishers to whom he sent the work didn’t recognize Austen’s voice – or some almost word-for-word theft of the first lines from Pride & Prejudice. (Oh, NEVER has such a case been made for people to read the book. Ignore Colin Firth. He’s not the best bit.) “It’s interesting that there are these filters that stop work getting through,” said another British Austen specialist. “Clearly clerks and office staff are rejecting these manuscripts offhand.”

I’m guessing that the expectation is that people are going to read this and blush with shame — and I would agree — for the Pride & Prejudice lines, at least, editors employed in a publishing office should feel at least a moment’s chagrin. But 19th century literature as a whole has a distinctive voice and feel of… dense antiquity. I’m sure many people sat and tried to dash through those first few paragraphs and said, “Wait. I’m not hooked by the first three pages. What is this tripe?” The rules have simply changed – whether for better or for worse is another question, and unless all publishing company mail room personnel and editorial assistants are now required to be English majors with a specialization in 19th c. lit, and/or British & American Literature as I was, and not, maybe, people just in need of work, or even marketing majors (which seems to largely be the trend), the shame-on-you finger-shaking here seems a bit… off. Thoughts?

Oh, hm. Apparently the New York Times has erred in treating the Deathly Hallows as just another book and have reviewed it before its release. Note: the SECOND link which includes the word ‘reviewed’ goes to that, if you don’t want to read about the book until you read the book: Don’t. Click. It. Though JK Rowling is apparently stormily displeased, most people can make the decision: to read or not to read. And look! The sky is still blue. (!)

As readers kick around the idea of what to do after the PotterPallooza, NPR has come up with a few suggestions. I’m sure there are others — I have heard tantalizing things about The Spellbook of Listen Taylor and quite a few new things to which I am looking forward. What’s on your ‘Gotta have it’ TBR stack?

When MotherReader does something, she does it WHOLEheartedly. We had a ‘Tell an Author/Illustrator You Care’ DAY, and she’s managed to bring the love for a full week. That’s totally one of my fave things about her. (She calls it an obsessive personality thing — I say, “Nah!”) Over at the site, she’s had a lot of love over the past few days, and has ended with an author interview with Caroline Hickey, and a contest to get a copy of the fabulous sounding book, Cassie Was Here. Go on over and find out how to get in the running!

And now, back to work: two more chapters of the expansion/revision and then… weeks of packing. Incidentally, if any of you know what to do on a six hour layover in Chicago at Union Station between four and ten p.m., let me know some ideas!)

Two Last Thoughts (From my last two brain cells)

Well, the good news is that I’ve only got two more chapters left in the Almighty Brain Consuming Expansion & Revision job. YAAAY! The bad news is that I have two brain cells left rubbing together. However, rubbing together, my brain cells have managed to produce a spark, so I shall point you to these bloggerly goodnesses with its feeble flickering flame:

Journalist Anastasia Goodstein, usually found on Ypulse, guest wrote a piece for The Huffington Post on young adults and their lack of news savvy. She cites Al Gore’s CurrentTV as a potential means to reaching this hard-to-reach demographic, and joins Harvard’s JKF School of Government in bemoaning the fact that fewer of the 13-20 demographic read the paper and are only interested in “soft news” like celebrity deaths and the imprisonment of certain famous-for-being-famous anorexics who shall not be named. I am always interested in the idea that young adults know less than ever before, when they have more access to information of all kinds — if they want it. They… don’t. At least not in the way it is aimed at them, flung at their heads, peppered at their ears, and heavily sugared up, dumbed down, and laced with entertainment and flashing lights (aka breathless, CNN moment-by-moment celebrity news: “She’s got her hairdresser with her… yes, that’s her stylist… and she’s… walking through the front gates of the minimum security facility where she has languished this last week… yes, she’s walking… and she’s out! Skinny Blonde Hotel Heiress Type is free!”) If young adults don’t watch the news it’s because the REAL entertainment stuff — stuff actually intended to be entertainment — is a lot more …um, entertaining.

I dunno — I read the comics for most of my life and drew cartoon bubbles on the Sears models in their bras until I was WELL into high school and should have been busily reading the Wall Street Journal, apparently. So, if a lot of young people don’t read the paper seriously … should the adults who do read the newspaper seriously worry? What about you and the newspaper? At what age do you figure people they supposed to start? It seems like this endless hand-wringing is another excuse for someone to start marketing yet another product/service/program to young adults… because, cynic that I am, I have a hard time with the idea that all of these people are worrying that young adults aren’t getting enough information to make “informed life choices.” I’m not sure I buy that at all.

Septimus Heap the book series will soon be — Septimus Heap, the Warner Brothers film. Well, for all of you fans of the series, begin crossing your fingers now. With the debacle that the movie formerly known as The Dark Is Rising, but which I will now call The Stench Is Rising has become, actual fans — that is, people who have read the books? Will need all the universe’s assistance they can get to have a movie in anywise remotely resembling the book that they loved and read. WHY. CAN’T. MOVIE. DIRECTORS. COMPREHEND. BOOKS?!

All right, I can tell the lights from ye olde brain cells are starting to spit sparks and die out. I’m sure I’ll have more cynical observations tomorrow. Until then…

Because I Have *SO* Much Time To Waste

Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!

AHHH! I’m a teacher. A TEACHER!!!

Actually, this is the teacher from the Potter movies whom I love the best; I adore her as a frosty, snippish character – with a warm heart but a penchant for detail. And, I’ve been called the b-word as well as frosty and snippish before. I recall one of my students telling me once that “All you have to do is look at me, and I feel stupid!”


Thanks to ol’ Gilderoy Weasley over at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy for the fun.

Three Cheers

Cheer #1: Susan at ChickenSpaghetti shares that the fifth grade girls who wrote Deal With It! Powerful Words from Smart, Young Women, will be touring and signing in NYC in the next weeks. It’s just such an awesome win-win: money for their school’s visiting author account, and proving once again that FIFTH GRADE GIRLS CAN ROCK THE WORLD! I cannot wait to get this book!

Cheer #2: Litbloggers have been likened unto a spreading scourge of maggots; isolated, inexperienced, disenfranchised, resentful conspiracy theorists, wasting everyone’s time. Since we’re all maggots anyway, we should wear our maggotiness (maggoty-ness?) with pride. Thanks to Big A little a for the amusing link.

Cheer #3: Whether one of joy or fear, I’m not sure, but I let out a little squeal when I read that one of my favorite series is approaching moviedom: via Bookmoot, it’s Jeanne DuPrau’s City of Ember. Bill Murray is already a part of the cast.

I’m… something! I think kind of excited, in a way. But you know me and books-into-movies. Cross fingers that it isn’t ruined…

My nephew was due yesterday, and he hasn’t yet appeared… and we’re having a heat wave. I’m betting he’ll be along right when I’m posting the stuff for the Summer Blog Blast Tour on Saturday night! Don’t forget to tune in Sunday!

Happy Weekend!

Winding Up for the Pitch

Well, my mother always said it took 21 days to start a good habit (Truthfully, the number was kind of random, I think, but since my mother said it, we shall pretend that it Proceedeth from the Mouth of God like all good girls should), so HipWriterMama‘s 7 Day or 30 Day Challenge inspiration is right on the mark. I wish I could be counted upon to actually DO something for thirty days – but I know I’d better not commit to anything at the moment. I will, however, take a minute to celebrate that I am halfway finished with the last page of my work-in-progress! I am completely relieved.

And also completely in shock.

You know, you read all of these author interviews and stuff, and you hear them say that it sometimes takes them a year to write a novel. (And then you read those other ones that say the author dumped the whole thing out in six months. And then you’re tempted to injure someone.) You think, “A YEAR!?” and you sort of — panic. A year. Twelve months. Fifty-two weeks. Three hundred and sixty five days. Gosh, that seems like such a long time. But truthfully, it’s not. Especially given that most of us don’t do one thing for a whole year, it can be a very short time indeed.

Since June 28th of last year, when I started this current work-in-progress, I have a.) finished a second draft of one novel, b.) the first draft of another, and c.) with constant editing, am now just finishing the FirstSecond draft of this one. (Sometimes I write in FirstSecond, that is, I am unable to write in a straight line, and am constantly course-correcting along the way. You’d think this would mean my agent had less to make red marks on in my manuscripts. It does mean that — I mean, I guess the manuscript is better than it would have been if I hadn’t made any changes, but he still has comments to make. Many, many comments. He has to get paid for something, and he wouldn’t have a job if I were perfect. Right? Oh, just nod your head.) I’ve also submitted a short story every week for our Flickr Fiction project, I’ve entered three contests, one of which is for a Mustard… romance novel (oh, you MUST visit this contest – it’s so awful it’s funny), interviewed seven authors ( The Summer Blog Blast Tour, Coming Soon to a Blogosphere Near You – countdown to June 18!), not to mention written thousands of emails and hundreds of personal journal entries.

This has been a weirdly busy writing year. Granted, the last two weeks of writing have felt like where most of the time from the whole year has settled, but I believe I will be done tomorrow! And when I get there, I will enjoy it. I will sit down and savor the newest Carnival. I will check out Sparrow’s Blog, and read her book, I will read some of the hilarious sounding book recommendations that have come my way. I’ll take a hard look at the big picture (and groan) and enjoy catching up on all I’ve missed.

For a day.

Then, I’ll join the Hip People and get on with the next challenge. Maybe it’ll take me 365 instead of 30, but I’m sure I’ll get there. Eventually.