Saturday, February 13, 2010

Carnival Time

Quite a lengthy Carnival of Children's Literature appeared at Jenny's Wonderland of Books on January 29th. (To give you some idea of where I am in my reading of children's lit blogs. I'm further behind in my other two categories.)

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Roundups For The Littlies

The Reading Tub's Blog has started a monthly carnival of easy readers and short chapter books, which it is calling I Can Read. While at the January post, I learned that the Jean Little Library blog has a post on all the Cybil nominations for easy readers and beginning chapter books with links to reviews.

I became interested in chapter books while I was writing a couple of books for kids in the early grades. It seemed to me that a lot of the books written for younger kids are...well...not terrific. I read a dreadful early reader back in December, as a matter of fact. I was shocked...shocked, I tell you...by how bad it was. On top of that, these easier books don't seem to get a lot of attention from adults. Middle grade and YA are the hip and happening categories, probably because they're closer to what we like to read for ourselves.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Now This Is Important

I am so far behind in my reading of editor and agent blogs that I just this minute learned that Nathan Bransford has revamped his blog. (Yes, that link is dated December 7.) His blog now includes discussion forums, one of them called All Things Procrastination.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

I Love Children. They Are Delicious.

I don't usually read blog reviews, but the title of the book involved in this one at Tea Cozy was just too eye catching. The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children--the title is so brilliant that maybe the author didn't have to do anything else after he came up with that.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Repeat After Me, Class..."Ruritania"

I learned a new word today at The Trease Project. While referring to one of Geoffrey Trease's books, blogger Farah Mendlesohn writes, "This is a ruritania, set in an unknown Latin American country."

I must admit, at first I thought "ruritania" was some kind of typo. But I looked it up and it's for real. As used at The Trease Project, it means a "setting of adventure, romance, and intrigue." It is derived from the name of the setting of some books by Anthony Hope, including The Prisoner of Zenda.

Don't ruritanias appear quite frequently in fantasy novels? I'm thinking of a number of Shannon Hale's books, for instance.

My own favorite ruritania is Moldavia, scene of the Moldavian Massacre on Dynasty.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Now This Is What I Mean When I Say Mixed Reviews Are Important

For years I've been a promoter of true critical discussion in blogs rather than limiting posts to book recommendations. Today I found a perfect illustration for my argument at the Excelsior File. David Elzy did a post on Fartiste by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer with illustrations by Boris Kulikov.

Elzy says right up front that "the book fails me due to a pair of fatal miscalculations." He then goes on to discuss them. However, in doing so he gives us a very good sense of the book's subject matter, which many readers will find...ah...fascinating. The book sounds so...mmm...intriguing...that many readers aren't going to be terribly concerned about the drawbacks Elzy points out. The book may very well be...engaging...enough that they'll seek it out, anyway.

But they can't do that if they've never heard of it. By making Fartiste part of the literary conversation at his blog, Elzy is doing both the book and his readers a favor.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More About One Of My Least Favorite Things

I've been going on about my reservations about book blurbs for years. Nonetheless, I was interested in The Fine Art of Getting Blurbs because I've met the guest blogger, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, and because she mentions something I've only heard about recently--that bookstore buyers care about blurbs.

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Nobody's Getting Rich

Pimp My Novel has an interesting (or, maybe, discouraging) post on the profits on book sales and who gets them. Note that discounting has an impact on royalties.

More recently, the same site did a post on sales and advances relating to children's books. In describing the difference between middle grade and YA fiction, he said, "MG plots tend to center on the protagonist's internal world, whereas YA plots are more complex and are more concerned with the protagonist's effect on his or her external world."

I had never heard that before. I will have to think about it.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

"Lots Of Books With Female Characters Arenít Really About Being Female"

I'm really late with this, I know. This open letter to School Library Journal tickled the edge of my radar for a while but didn't actually make it onto the screen until I was doing some back blog reading during mealtime today. The Spectacle had a good response to the letter author's request of publishers that they crank out more boy books. "I've noticed that lots of books with female characters aren't really about being female," she said. "In fact, in many cases, the main characters could just as easily have been males..."

The idea that a book with a female character should be "about being female" struck me as odd. Call me hormone deficient, but I'm not even sure what that means. I know that in adult fiction you hear of "women's books" and you certainly hear about "women's movies." But that's a marketing thing, isn't it? It's not thematic? How would you phrase a theme relating to a story that's about "being female" or "being male?"

For instance, I'm sure there are many people who think Jane Eyre and Rebecca are women's books. But are they about being female? Or are they about people and situations not being what they appear to be?

And, yes, I tend to fall on the side of those Spectacle post commenters who point out that men have had the bulk of the main roles in fiction for centuries. Be sure to read those comments, by the way. There's lots of discussion about marketing books to girl readers, especially by way of covers, which probably does have an impact on boy readers. But that doesn't mean that there aren't enough boy books.

Hmmm. Perhaps boy books aren't being marketed as aggressively now because of the belief that girls read and thus buy books?

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fanfiction And Literary Mash-ups

Liz Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy is the co-author (with Carlie Weber) of When Harry Met Bella, in this month's School Library Journal. They discuss writing fanfiction and using it with student writers.

At one point, they talk about the difference between fanfiction and works like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Wouldn't you know it, just yesterday I read an interesting post at Storytellersunplugged called Pride and Prejudice and Bitching and Moaning on those types of books, too. The author, Richard Dansky, says such works, which he calls "literary mash-ups," have received some of the same criticism Liz and Carlie write about when describing fanfiction.

Training Report: Well, today I went to one of those strange, crowded pharmacies that sell equipment rather than drugs to purchase a cam walker boot for a family member. Sure hope I can use that in a book because otherwise today was pretty much a bust workwise.

I might be able to use the pharmacy.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is Social Networking Replacing Anything Or Just Doing Its Own Thing?

Becky Levine had an interesting post at her blog a couple of weeks ago on whether or not Facebook and Twitter will replace author websites and blogs. What was particularly interesting was that some of her commenters didn't seem that enthused for seeing that happen.

I am all about communication. Social networking sites like Facebook may be fine for socializing, but I don't see the kind of quick communication happening on Facebook pages that happens on a well-done website. When I want information on authors new to me, I want to immediately find links that will take me to a page describing their work, a link to a page describing their background, and a link to a page describing their appearances. I want neat, orderly information that I can get to quickly. If I don't find it, I leave.

Look at the difference between Meg Cabot's Facebook page and her website. Now, maybe if I signed up for Facebook, I could get more content about her. But I don't have to do anything to get a whole lot of content from her website. If I am a brand new Cabot reader who has been living in a cave for the last decade, I can find out about her books, I can read her bio, I can see what's new in her work life, and I can find out how to buy her books. If the information isn't actually on the homepage, a link is there that will take me to what I want to know. Her website can grab me and pull me in with facts, facts, facts.

I think part of the reason people want to move away from websites is that for most of us websites are difficult to create and maintain. You may need a computer guy to do it for you. Money will often change hands. Blogs are much easier. Companies provide a sort of template and usually don't even charge for it. But I've said it before and I'll say it again--blogs are not websites! They serve a different function! They are about personality. Websites are about information.

From what I understand, Facebook is pretty easy to use, too. But it still seems to serve a different function. It's called a social networking site. Social. Websites, on the other hand, are informational.

Twitter appears to try to merge the personality of a blog with the social networking of something like Facebook. That's fine if you like that sort of thing, but does Twitter offer the information traditionally found at websites? Can a reader of a 140 character tweet immediately find information about authors' books? If not, then Twitter isn't replacing websites. I can see why writers might like it because if you do have a following, you can remind them you exist all day long. But that means its function is different from a website's function.

Different is totally fine. Different doesn't mean replace, though.

Besides, some people think Twitter is for old people. I don't know why. Maybe the theory is the elderly have attention spans that will only hold up for 140 characters.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

But Development Is Hard. And Vast.

Editor A.Victoria Mixon guest blogs for Nathan Bransford with a post called Everything You Need To Know About Writing a Novel, in 1000 Words. She begins with a discussion of plot, I'm assuming because plot is so gawdawful.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

"Serious Vampire/Faerie/Zombie Fatigue"

Yeah, we're all feeling it. Especially regarding faeries.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Deserving Books

I don't know if the Virginia Quarterly Review blog post Does Every Book Deserve A Review? answers the question it raises in its title. So I will. Or I'll sort of answer it.

Certain books "deserve" a review whether or not they meet someone's standard for goodness, so to speak. They do not have to be wonderful to deserve a review. They deserve to be reviewed even if they can't be highly recommended.

Why?

1. Because the authors have a distinguished body of work. Even if they've written something that isn't up to their usual standards, their books should be of interest to the reading public--especially, if, say, the book is a miss because the authors were trying something new. The effort is worthy of being part of the literary discussion. Books written by people like M.T. Anderson, Neil Gaiman, and Lynne Rae Perkins deserve a review.

2. Because the authors have written books in the past that have had some kind of impact on popular culture. Whatever anyone thinks of Stephanie Meyer as a writer, her books have had a big impact on the reading public. Her next few books deserve a review.

3. Because the subject matter is significant in some way. This could mean being significant in a narrow field, even if not significant to the general public. Nature magazines will review significant environmental books, for instance, that general review publications might not. Same for history magazines, food magazines, and on and on.

4. Because the authors have tried to do something different--breaking out of a genre, breaking away from a fad, etc. For instance, somebody, sometime, somewhere is going to write the book that starts to lead readers away from rich-girl-gone-bad stories. That book deserves to be reviewed!

All these kinds of books deserve to be reviewed. Or perhaps a better way of putting it would be that they deserve to be discussed.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Has A Video Camera And Knows How To Use It

I've been vaguely aware of Tina Nichols Coury's blog, Tales from the Rushmore Kid, for a while. I find Tina a bit intimidating because 1. She can pull off this hat. I am 5'3" on my very best days. I gave up trying to wear hats long ago. 2. She has started using a video camera at her blog. Here is a very nicely done interview with Dutton editor Steve Meltzer.

Tina also does Writing Tips of the Day. Here's one with Jane Yolen, who used to be my on-line mentor. It was a very one-sided relationship since she didn't know about it. The writing tip she gave Tina was very interesting. Not the part about applying your butt to the chair. I've heard that before. I've probably read of Jane saying it before since she was, you know, my on-line mentor. No, I meant the story she told about her husband's explanation for why he was such a successful birder. It was so...metaphorical. Yes! Yes! You have to go where the words are--I mean the birds are!

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Reason To Love The Internet

I swear, I was doing legitmate research when I found Literary Rejections on Display. I'm on the fence as to whether or not I should add this to my list of favorites.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Catching Up

This interview with Gail Carson Levine at A Pen and a Nest is interesting because I heard her speak a couple of years ago at a literary event, and I've read a couple of her books. I'm always more interested in reading about authors I've seen in the flesh or whose work I've read. What makes it really interesting, though, is that it focuses on one specific thing--where and when Carson Levine works. I liked narrowing the info down like that. The link came from Cynsations.

I read HipWriterMama's interview with Jo Knowles because I met Jo in a parking lot a couple of months ago. This interview is part of the Summer Blog Blast Tour, which I almost missed altogether this year.

Oh, look, Jo is also interviewed at lectitans. Another Summer Blog Blast Tour event.

Oz and Ends
provides us with a short history of miracle technologies.

And here we've got an interview with S.E. Hinton at Nathan Bransford's blog. Best bits: "I think I've tried every writing process there is, trying to find an easy way to write a novel. If I do find it, I'll publish it and retire." "How interesting can a person be who spends a lot of her working hours staring out a window?" I haven't met Hinton, and I haven't read any of her books. I do have a family member who was obsessed with The Outsiders when he was a teenager, though.

Training Report: Two and a half segments today, and thoughts for another. Put two little stickies up on the monitor saying "self-control" and "fragmented." Have done nothing for me so far.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Writing And Identity

Nathan Bransford has a post up called Writing as an Identity in which he argues that writers shouldn't be wrapping up their identity, their sense of self, in being a writer. When writers begin to identify themselves as writers, when they treat it as something more than just fun, they "begin to wrap up their identity with the publication process, the rejections become personal, and a judgment on a book becomes intertwined, in the writer's eye, with a judgment of self."

Now, he's probably right about people taking rejection too personally. However, nowhere in his post does he mention that people in other fields identify with their work. In skimming the 432 comments to his post, I didn't see anyone else bringing it up, either.

They may have been totally focused on writers being some kind of special artist different from the rest of the world. But we're not. We're like many other people in many other fields of work who get a sense of identity from what they do every day of their lives. That's not a bad thing. If anything, it's a good thing.

I'm not talking about workaholics who wreck other aspects of their lives. That's not the same thing at all. I'm talking about people who live their lives with a certain sense of purpose or live their lives in a particular way because they are engineers, nurses, or teachers, to name the professions I'm most familiar with in my personal life. They think a certain way and respond to situations in a certain way because of their training and the way they've spent so much of their work lives.

I think people are lucky if they're in a line of work that fits their psyche so well that they identify with it and are engineers or health care professionals or teachers or...writers.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

We're Not The Center Of The Universe

Agent Kristin of Pub Rants has an interesting post on specific kidlit titles in the U.S. vs. the UK.

She also has a post on What UK Children's Editors Want.

Training Report: Two uninspired segments for the 365 Story Project. Some modest desk cleaning. However, my desk doesn't get anywhere near as horrible as it used to because I bought some horizontal files that look very much like this. The beauty of these things is that you can keep just as much garbage on your desk as you ever did, but it's organized so you are tricked into thinking your desk is clean.

That is important writing how-to knowledge that I'm passing on here. How to keep your desk from overwhelming you.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Not To Be Confused With...

ShelfTalker: A Children's Bookseller's Blog

The Shelf Talker

ShelfTalker is a member of the kidlitosphere. The Shelf Talker is "a weekly rundown of news, gossip and recommendations from and about authors on tour."

There just aren't that many names out there.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Blomance And Training

By way of Jen Robinson's Book Page, I found The Trouble With Blogging at Sarah Miller: Reading, Writing, Musing...".

Sarah raises a couple of interesting "con" points in her discussion of the pros and cons of blogging. For one thing, she wonders if the kidlitosphere is less dynamic than it used to be. Personally, I think that what has happened over time is that we've become less wild and woolly. Kidlit blogs are no longer a ground-breaking idea. The frontier aspect is gone. What's more, when the kidlitosphere first began to explode, there was a lot of excitement because bloggers were finding each other. Let's call it...blomance. Now we've all known each other for a while. We know what to expect from each other. But we're missing the wildness of our youth.

The second interesting point Sarah makes is about how fragmenting the number of Internet opportunties have become and what a problem that is for writers. (Probably for people in other fields, too.) Blogging and social networking do take time from a writer's work, and then if you're keeping journals of some kind, as Sarah mentions, that's another activity that takes from the big writing project.

There are solutions to that problem. The one Sarah is trying is to take a break from blogging for a while. My solution is that I've made the decision that I won't do social networking.

Why am I sticking with blogging instead? In addition to believing that it has helped market my writing, I'm continue to blog because it is writing. I've been listening to Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In that book, Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in any field. By that he does not mean 10,000 hours cranking out manuscripts that are immediately embraced by publishers and turned into books. He means 10,000 hours of grunt work, rehearsal time, practice, study, and learning the ropes before you get to the point of succeeding in a field.

That just happens to fit in very nicely with the training model I've been thinking about in relation to writing. You never stop training, you never stop honing your skills, you always expect that you need to improve the most elementary things you know about your field. Training is and always will be a part of your life, you train for the sake of training, you train because you want to train.

Blogging is nonfiction writing, and I'm interested in writing nonfiction. Blogging, therefore, is part of my training.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Looking For Undiscovered Gems

Sheila Ruth at Wands and Worlds is looking for undiscovered gems in a bestseller world. You can go over and post a comment about "your favorite children's or YA books published in 2008that were not widely buzzed, reviewed, or awarded."

Sheila's blog post is similar to one I did last week. She, however, is going to do something proactive about the situation. She's planning to compile a list of 2008's overlooked treasures.

Today's Training Report: One 365 Story Project piece, and I finished the long bio for the website press kit. I found doing that pretty boring. I certainly don't mind talking about myself (hence the blog), but in this particular case it was all stuff that I, myself, had heard before. And sometimes written before in various ways for a variety of different press releases over the years. The idea, though, is that this superbio will be used by others writing press releases about my appearances at their schools, etc. At the very least, it should be easier for me to write them if I have to with this thing at my website for me to crib from. I had to keep reminding myself that I've been wanting to do this press kit thing for a month or two. So while I was bored today, I now feel a sense of accomplishment. Not the kind of accomplishment I would have felt if I'd done the equivalent number of pages of an essay or short story, but accomplishment nonetheless. I mustn't allow myself to become too attached to any one kind of accomplishment. Ommmm.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Big News From ShelfTalker

When I said earlier this week that I was having trouble finding blogging booksellers, I'd forgotten all about ShelfTalker, which is, indeed, "A Children's Bookseller's Blog." If I ever actually blushed, my face would be quite red because I was just blogging about ShelfTalker, myself, a couple of weeks ago.

And I'm going to blog about it again today because there's big happenings over there. A couple of new booksellers (at least new for ShelfTalker) are going to be taking over blogging duties at that site. Elizabeth Bluemle and Josie Leavitt of The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont (right on Rte. 7, folks) start posting on Monday.

I enjoyed Alison Morris's reign at ShelfTalker. But it appears that she'll be guest blogging, so we won't have to do without her entirely.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Some Bloggy Bits

Through the March Carnival of Children's Literature at Jenny's Wonderland of Books, I learned that James Joyce wrote a children's book. (Submitted to the Carnival by Book, Booker, Bookest.) I wonder if it includes any epiphanies?

In Hardcover versus Paperback Redux, Justine Larbalestier talks about the difference in sales for a couple of her books. Read and think.

Check out the new blog The Kids' Book Corner from independent bookseller Suzanna Hermans. I know there must be blogs out there from booksellers, but I was having trouble finding any last summer. Another country heard from!

Today's Training Report: One piece for the 365 Story Project. Filled out a form giving permission for the use of a photo that makes me look much younger. Just barely began to research some more markets for short stories and essays.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sending You To Another Blog

I just did some catching up with Shelftalker and found three particularly interesting posts.

Adult Authors + Kid Lit = Often Imperfect Fit?

Awards That Went to the Wrong Books.

And the post that really raked in the reader comments? Who Are Your Literary Crushes. Notice the votes for Harriet Vane. Barf.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

A Joy To Read

I have to admit that sometimes I will pass on reading a blog post that strikes me as overly long. (What is "overly long," you may ask? I don't know, but I recognize it when I see it.) So you can imagine how attracted I was to this post from Nathan Branford-Literary Agent.

And I will quit writing now to avoid making this an overly long post.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Now This Is What Blogs Should Do

Though I read Sherlock Holmes when I was a teenager, as an adult I'm no longer sure what the attraction is for young readers, particularly young readers today. I'm intrigued by all the references I see to him in books for kids, since I always wonder if the child readers get them.

Therefore, I was very interested to read about Laurie R. King's Mary Russell books, which deal with a fifteen-year-old girl who becomes an apprentice to Sherlock Holmes, at Jen Robinson's Book Page. This series appears to have been around for more than a decade. While I do believe I've heard of the first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, I've missed reading any of these things. It looks as if they cover a favorite period of mine, World War I and the post-war era, and I'm interested for that reason alone.

Now these are not YA novels, though they have that fifteen-year-old main character. I often find myself drawn to adult fiction with teen or child protagonists (I'm reading The Dead Father's Club now), and I like looking for adult books that might work for younger readers. King's publicist told Jen Robinson that the Mary Russell books have always had cross-over appeal for teenage readers and Jen says, "mysteries are often bridge books by which teens first dip into adult fiction." I would agree with that. So now I've got another reason to be interested.

I love it when blogs intrigue me with talk of books that I've missed somehow. Good work, Jen.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Here's What Caught My Eye

A couple of things that caught my eye while I was catching up on blog reading:

the excelsior file has a really interesting post on a children's picture book version of an adult book about homelessness by Paul Auster. Doesn't the idea of picture book versions of adult novels sound promising? I mean, you could go anywhere with this.

Colleen at Chasing Ray did an all things Alice post. I now know the sequel to Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars is out. I seem to have missed that.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Micro-blogging? Slow Blogging?

Nathan Bransford has a guest blogger writing about 21 Things an Author Can Do With Twitter. In the post, she refers to Twitter as a micro-blogging site.

Twitter has been discussed a great deal recently at one of my listservs. It's supposed to help people stay connected by answering the question What are you doing? Over and over again, I guess. I haven't given my cell phone number to most of my relatives because I don't want people bothering me when I'm away from home. I don't use an answering machine hoping that if people can't reach me, they won't call back. Someone wants to know what I'm doing? All day long? That's stalking!!!

On a related subject, I just got through reading an article on slow blogging (thank you, Susan), which appears to be just the opposite of micro-blogging. In fact, the author of the slow blogging article talks about a professor who gave up his blog because it was exhausting. He now "fires off short, pithy comments on Twitter." (Isn't exhausting to be doing that all day long?) He has another blog for "in-depth thought."

The idea being, I guess, that a blog appears in-depth compared to a micro-blog.

The so-called slow blogging movement appears to be about using blog technology to publish anything at all whenever the urge strikes. It sounds as if some people are using blogs as writers' journals.

Though, really, haven't people been maintaining personal blogs under those kinds of conditions right along? Is there really any new movement here?

I don't feel that I'm a slow blogger. I won't read long blog posts, and I don't expect anyone to read one of mine. On the other hand, I've heard that with Twitter you're supposed to be limited to messages of 140 characters. Come on! My grocery lists are longer than that.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

They Did It Again

Finding Wonderland has another great interview up, this time with M.T. Anderson.

M.T. Anderson struggles with plot! I struggle with plot!

I think what makes this interview, as well as the one Finding Wonderland did with D. M. Cornish, so good is that both authors only use their first two initials.

Sorry. I couldn't resist pointing out the obvious.

No, what I think makes these interviews so good is that both authors write books that require intense world building and both authors seem to have a pretty good understanding of their process in doing that. I was just explaining to someone this evening that when I first started publishing, I didn't know what the heck process was. These guys really have a good grasp of what they do and how they do it.

In addition, the interviewers are writers who also are well informed about their subjects' work. They have a good grasp of what writers do and how they do it and can apply that knowledge to specific books.

The end result is good reading.

This interview is part of the 2008 Winter Blog Blast Tour, which is enormous and impressive and far more than I can hope to read.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Basic Black And White

A commentor on yesterday's post noted that you don't see a lot of black and white picture books even though black and white is good for you. While checking to see if yesterday's book Cat and Fish by Curtis and Grant had received much Internet buzz when it was published in '05, I found a pixie stix post on "books that do awesome things with black and white illustration." Included is the sequel to Cat and Fish, Cat and Fish Go To See.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

The Painting The Wild Frontier Conclusion

The Painting the Wild Frontier blog tour concludes today at Chicken Spaghetti. In case you missed Friday's stop, it was at One Book Two Book.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yoga And Writing

Cynsations has a post up with Shana Burg on how yoga has helped her writing. She says, "In yoga, they say what you learn "on the mat" applies to life. If you learn to focus intensely on the mat, you can take that skill into your everyday life. If you develop persistence on the mat, that transfers too."

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Graphic Novels Are For Kids! Like Dead Dogs!

Oz and Ends has another post on graphic novels, this time on Laika, another Cybils nominee from last year. In it, J.L. Bell says, "...in our culture the comics format lowers the perceived age of a book's readership."

Discuss among yourselves.

Be sure to read the comments about YA and graphic novels.

Yeah, and I agree with all those who would like to be spared another story about a dead dog.

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Well, I'm Not Doing NaNoWri Mo This Year, So...

...I guess I'll do the The Comment Challenge.

I've done National Novel Writing Month a couple of times. Enjoyed it. Felt I made some progress. But I stopped because a family member said, "Ah...How is National Novel Writing Month any different than every other month of your life? Isn't writing every day what you're supposed to be doing, anyway?"

Which is true. I'm supposed to be NaNoWriMoing all the time.

So, anyway, while everyone else is all psyched up for National Novel Writing Month, I'll be spending my time sprinkling my thoughts across the Internet.

And I'm hoping to see a lot more comments here this month.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Informed Outsider And Painting The Wild Frontier

Be sure to check out Mitali Perkin's interview with Susanna Reich, Art and the Informed Outsider. They discuss biographers as "informed outsiders." I was particularly interested in Susanna's answer to the question that begins "When considering heroic artists and writers in the past, how do you study their lives without using twenty-first century eyes to judge their choices...?"

Tomorrow I'll be talking history with Susanna Reich here at Original Content.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Day Two For PTWF

Tina Nichols Coury hosts Day 2 of the Painting the Wild Frontier blog tour at Tales from the Rushmore Kid.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Let's Look At Some Graphic Novel Posts

For the last few weeks I've been staying on task with writing much better than usual because I've been trying to treat it as a practice and think of myself as in training. While I have no problem blowing off work to zone out on the Internet, it seems that I can take training far more seriously. I've been staying away from the computer card games for a couple of weeks now.

The unfortunate flipside of this is that while I'm working better, I'm not able to keep up as well with all the blogs I follow or my listservs. So today I'm going to try to do a round-up of posts I've been missing on the graphic novels nominated for a Cybil.

Both Pink Me and A Fuse #8 Production reviewed Chiggers by Hope Larson.

Parenthetical.net reviewed Magic Trixie by Jill Thompson.

Parenthetical.net also reviewed Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale.

Sam at Parenthetical.net has been incredibly busy, also reviewing In the Small by Michael Hague.

And then Oz and Ends has a post on Camp Babymouse, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, which was a Cybil nominee in 2007.

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Painting The Wild Frontier Blog Tour, Day One

Becky's Book Reviews is the first stop for Susanna Reich's Painting The Wild Frontier blog tour. Notice the question "What do you love about writing?" In her answer, Susanna talks about sound, which I found interesting.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What Other Authors Are Saying

I fell behind in reading my author blogs. I've just had to gorge. Some interesting bits I picked up:

I'm sure many people read Justine Larbalestier's blog for her Ozie voice. Voice gets old for me. I read her because she periodically has very true things to say about the writing life. For instance, her recent post Money, writers don't have none, Part the Millioneth. Read it and be assured, she's not exaggerating. I met a couple of writers last month who had been published with big-time publishers. One of them said she wanted to make sure that her writing career didn't end up costing her family money. The other said her goal was that her writing pay for itself.

Justine also had a post on YA celebrity fairies. I am not included in this list because 1. I am not a YA celebrity and 2. I hate fairies. Unless, of course, they are drunken, Scottish, punk rockers. If I ever had a fairy, it had better be a heavy drinking punk rocker. And I believe I would like to substitute French Canadian for Scottish, since I can actually understand a French Canadian accent more easily than a Scottish one, drunk or sober.

Mitali Perkins has a very interesting post called Should Authors Describe a Character's Race? This is something I've actually thought about. I imagine many writers have.

Becky Levine writes about something I struggle with regularly, First Drafts: Fantastic or Just Fast? I also struggle with fifth, sixth, and seventh drafts.

Sam Riddleburger talks about the misunderstanding relating to the phrase "write what you know" in Harry Potter and the Good/Bad Writing Advice.

And, finally, I'm afraid I understand all too well how Chris Barton's kids feel about book festivals. Yeah, guys, all too often I end up feeling I'd rather be home reading.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reading About Marketing Depletes My Energy

I've been feeling much more on top of things since I've moved to Google Reader and can categorize my blogs. I read one category of blogs one day, another category another...You get the system.

Nonetheless, I did fall behind recently, and I just spent a nice chunk of time wading through the category I call "Editors and Agents." My Editors and Agents category has only three blogs in it, and still by the time I finished reading all the back posts about selling yourself to an agent--searching for agents, what agents are looking for in first chapters, cover letters, and on and on and on I felt my blood slowing in my veins.

Pub Rants linked to a post in Ally's Diary in which author Ally Carter talks about being asked The Wrong Questions at a couple of writers' conferences she attended this summer. It seems to me that a lot of the questions she was asked related, one way or another, to...marketing!

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Friday, August 01, 2008

You Can Read About Me All Over Again

This month's Carnival of Children's Literature is up at Read. Imagine. Talk. Among the offerings you'll find there is Jen Robinson's interview with me for my Three Robbers Blog Tour. So you can read it all over again!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A New Organizational Plan

I've spent parts of the last three evenings rolling over the thirty-two or three blogs I try to read into Google Reader. (Please, don't anyone tell me there was an easy way to do this because I'm done.) I'm hoping that this will be the device that creates some kind of organizational turning point in my life because Google Reader allows me to organize my blogs by subject, which my former blog reader didn't. So tonight I read agent/editor/marketing blogs.

Some interesting tidbits:

Agent Kristin at Pub Rants reminds writers not to mistake voice for character development. Personally, I think that's a common mistake in YA.

Nathan Bransford tests the waters regarding the phrase coming of age. I won't say that I would never write a coming- of-age novel, but if I ever describe a book I've written as a coming-of-age novel, please, someone take me out and shoot me.

As a result of finally getting to spend some time with the agent/editor (well, mostly agent) blogs I've been trying to follow, I've decided I want to drop one of them. (Neither of the ones I mention here.) Now I just have to figure out how to do that on Google Reader.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Bet You Didn't Think I Had Anything More To Say.

After seven days of interviews for the A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers Blog Tour, I didn't think I had any more to say about...anything. But Cheryl Rainfield came up with some fascinating new questions, and I started yakking away again. Among the topics discussed in this interview: writing humor and whether or not the Internet is being used to promote books to kids.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wow. This Is A Hot Button Issue This Year.

Why No YA Books on High School Summer Reading Lists? contains Shelftalker's thoughts on summer reading lists.

And Bibliovore has a little reading list rant, too.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Kidlit Goings-On--Summer Reading Lists

Sometime during the last couple of weeks I read--somewhere--that it's one of life's little oddities that when adults think of summer reading, they think of light, fluffy, escapist stuff while kids think of YIKES! Summer Reading Lists! Don't go into the library alone!!! I do wish I could remember who pointed that out to me because it is so true. The summer reading columns for adults in the mainstream press are so...um...Well, let's just say they make it appear as if once the temperature goes up, human IQ goes down. The summer reading columns for children in the mainstream press don't exist--unless you live in England, or Canada. (Thanks to Kelly for those two links.

Where was I? Yes. Summer reading lists. Jennifer Robinson, Sarah at the Reading Zone, and The Book Whisperer all discuss the hellaciousness of summer reading lists.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Carnival News

The latest Carnival of Children's Literature is up at Here in the Bonny Glen. Two posts that popped out at me:

Into the Wardrobe's interview with Katie Davis. I met Katie very briefly--just long enough to shake hands--last month.

In Need of Chocolate's post on Gone-Away Lake, which I read a couple of months ago.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Still Working On The Summer Blog Blast Tour

If, like me, you can only just keep your head above water in terms of reading blogs, you may not have finished with last week's Summer Blog Blast Tour. If you're trying to figure out which ones to catch up on, you might try Liz B.'s interview with D. L. Garfinkle at A Chair, A Fireplace & Tea Cozy. Garfinkle has a new series of chapter books coming out, starting in June.


Also, Betsy at Fuse #8 did an interview with Adam Rex, which is of interest to me because I've just started reading his The True Meaning of Smekday. I'm rather enjoying it, and I'm going to hold off reading the Fuse interview until after I've finished.

By the way, did anyone go to the Smekday site I just linked to? If so, what did you think? I have to say, if I hadn't been reading the book, I don't think it would tell me much. It's clever and all, but I don't think it would encourage me to seek out the book. That would be too bad, because so far it's quite good.

Any other thoughts?

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Ah, What We Learn On Blog Blast Tours

Finding Wonderland has a Summber Blog Blast Tour post with Varian Johnson, whose day job is civil engineer.

I've known a number of civil engineers over the years. I don't know where they got the reputation for being mild-mannered. In my experience, these people are wild. In a very subtle way.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Summer Blog Blast Tour

A Summer Blog Blast Tour got started on Monday, so I'm well behind on reading for that. I'm never able to keep up with these sorts of things, let alone catch up. But I'll point you to whatever posts I manage to hit.

For instance, I have read Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast's interview with David Almond. Almond wrote Skellig, which I remember fondly from my first 48 Hour Book Challenge.

And I have a whole new take on Laurie Halse Anderson as a result of reading Writing and Ruminating's interview with her. I think of Speak and Prom when I think of Anderson, but Writing and Ruminating focused on her historical novels and historical nonfiction, which includes two picture books. Anderson appears to have an incredible work ethic, so I must hate her. But I'm also going to have go out and read some of her historical books.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Interview With Cecilia Yung

I wish I had time to read all the interviews at Cynsations. In fact, I'm hoping to go back and read some of them during my reading month. (Which should be coming up soon because I'm almost finished cleaning my desk!) But today I made time to read Cynthia Leitich Smith's interview with Cecilia Yung because I heard Yung speak at an event at UConn quite a few years ago. She was speaking about picture books, and it was at that point that I realized that they aren't easy to write.

In the interview, Yung says: "I look at websites regularly (at least a few times a week) to find artists, to keep tabs on the competition, and even to look at other work by artists I am currently working with to find solutions to problems."

I found this interesting because I've seen some illustrator websites that I thought were surprisingly weak. They have pages with nothing but "Work in Progress" in them--and for a long, long time. Or it's clear that the sites aren't updated regularly. Or some illustrators don't have sites at all, just a few images up at their agent's site or at an on-line gallery. I'm always surprised when people who are clearly into visuals don't take advantage of the visual opportunities on the Internet.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

February's Carnival

Yeah, you read that headline correctly. I'm just getting around to visiting the February Carnival of Children's Literature at Picture Book of the Day, and I'm already hearing rumblings about a March Carnival going up soon.

February's carnival seemed notable to me because of the big chunk of writery posts. There were also a lot of blogs represented that were new to me. I particularly liked LizJonesBooks' contribution on graphic novels.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

I Am So Overwhelmed And This Isn't Helping

I've been having trouble keeping up with my blog reading for a long, long time now. For a while there I was trying to monitor maybe around 40 blogs, some daily, some weekly. Since before Christmas I've barely been skimming just a few of them.

Just now as I was barely skimming Bookmoot, I learned about the Pulse Blogfest. Simon & Shuster is doing a two-week blog-o-rama featuring a long, long list of its authors responding in a blog-like way to specific questions. There's a part of me that feels that this is just a company taking a method bloggers created to market its own product. There's also a part of me that wants to see what the questions will be and what the various authors will have to say.

Realistically speaking, I don't have much hope of doing that.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Carbon-based Vs. On-line Book Discussions

Leila at bookshelves of doom is running a discussion of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier at her website. She's calling it The Big Read.

I am so excited.

Years ago--and I mean years ago--a friend and I started a book club at our local library. Forgive me if I'm repeating myself, but we're not exactly a big reading town. As a result, most months we had three to five people show up. Five, in fact, was a crowd.

During the first few years, it didn't matter what we read, we always ended up talking about religion and sex. But after that, we deteriorated into the stereotypical joke book club. After a usually pretty weak ten or fifteen minute discussion of the book, the next hour and a half was spent talking about our kids and the awful things that were going on at the schools in town. Frequently only one or two people would have read the whole book. We'd often select some heavy titles-- nineteenth century novels, for instance--that took a lot of time to read, then we'd get to the meeting and find that only one other person had bothered.

The group meets to this day. You've got to hand it to the people who stuck with it. As I said, they don't get a lot of support. But I'm not there. The separation wasn't ugly, though. I managed to do one of those "It's not you, it's me" things. And, actually, it was.

After that I attached myself to a few on-line book discussions. Many were jut as bad as the real world book groups. But when you get a good on-line discussion, it is fantastic.

The first time it was good for me with an on-line group was at Readerville where the YA Forum discussed Jane Eyre. I had read Jane Eyre as a teenager and really wasn't all that impressed. But the discussion at Readerville made me a Jane fan. Some of the posters were graduate students who had studied the book and they brought wonderful stuff to the table.

The beauty of an on-line discussion, I found, was that you could mull over what others said and respond at your leisure. An extended book discussion allows for thought. Thinking adds a great dimension to talking.

Later, another group did a discussion of a Chuck Palahniuk book that was led by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. The discussion was supposed to last a month, and she kept it going until the very last day. It was great.

Those were peak experiences, of course. Not all discussions will be that great. Even the citizens of Readerville couldn't pull off a good conversation every time. And listserv discussions, in particular, tend to peter out fast.

But when an on-line discussion is good, it is very good. I have great hopes for the Big Read of Rebecca. If you have any interest in that bizarre little classic, head over to bookshelves of doom and check out what's happening.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Finale

I am having to clear out some of the blogs on my own personal blog roll because I don't have time to go to all of them. (I suspect this is happening to a lot of people. The number of bloggers increased astronomically or exponentially or something these past two or three years, and now there are probably more blogs than there are people to read them.) While doing so I found that I fell...ah...a month and a half behind reading Mark Peter Hughes Lemonade Mouth Across America blog.

In short, the Hughes family has been home since August 25th. Now Hughes, who quit his day job last March, is a stay-at-home parent and writer whose wife is working outside the home. This scenario calls out for a memoir and/or movie a la A Year in Provence, only with lots of sitting in front of a computer screen reading about Anna Nicole Smith, Brittany Spears, and the inquest on the Princess of Wales.

Oh. Wait. That's my literary year.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

What's Going On Out There

I'd like to take a look at the 12th Carnival of Children's Literature, but I feel that first I should mention The Edge of the Forest, which I actually did visit soon after it was published. (Last week, I think. But what is time, anyway?)

I was particularly interested in the What's In Their Backpack? feature, which this month was an interview with Elizabeth Bluemla of The Flying Pig Bookstore. Pay particular attention to what she (and interviewer Kim Winters) have to say about teen readers and problem novels. (Then you might want to visit the open discussion at YA Cafe again to see what those people have to say about what teens would like to see in their books.)

I checked out Pam Coughlin's how-to article Be a B-List Blogger. Pam notes that the best blogs update several times a day. This kind of freaked me out because I'm already snowed under with Internet reading, and most of the thirty blogs I visit nearly every day update only once in twenty-four hours.

I'd like to get started reading Margo Rabb's blog tour because I kind of knew her when we both hung out at Readerville. But I tend to avoid reading interviews and even long reviews unless I've read the book the author is promoting or that is being reviewed because I just don't have time. There's a interview with M.T. Anderson floating around the kidlitosphere that I would like to read because I'm a Lederhosen fan. (Octavian who?) I still haven't read 7 Imps' interview with Susan Thomsen, and now they've got one with Jen Robinson I'm not going to be able to get to for a while. (I knew she was an engineer, by the way.)

I've started using JacketFlap's personalized blogreader hoping I could save time by just going to the blogs JacketFlap tells me have updated since the last time I was there. But I don't actually trust JacketFlap. What if it's wrong, and I miss something?

Part of what I like about blogs is that the bloggers preread articles and books I wouldn't find on my own and tip me off about which things I should be looking into. Now I need someone to preread my blogs for me.

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