June 30, 2008

THE YA Interview: The Cybil Starters @ Cynsations!

Everything you ever wanted to know about Kelly and Anne! And the Cybils, of course.

Reminds me of the papers on Buffy...

Via Mitali's Fire Escape, a Carnival of YA lit -- portraying people of color in SF/F. Some really interesting reading to be had here, and this is, as always, a topic dear to our hearts, as we at the Wonderland tree house feel it's vital to reflect the worlds of young readers in their books.

Don't miss the piece on Jacob Black, the heavily exoticized Quileute character in the Stephanie Meyers' TWILIGHT series -- is he really anything more than a metaphor to Bella Swan (and aaargh-- the name. Beautiful Swan. Is she anything more than a badly cut out paper doll? But that's a post for another day.)? Love the scholarly angle on this one -- reminded me of those thesis papers on Buffy, back in the day (what IS IT with us and vampires?!).

The anti-princess rant from an anti-pink, anti-blonde-Disney-princess role modeling Mom made me smile. However, "I Didn't Get A Heroine" is really ...well, enlightening, to say the least. At least we've now found someone who's read one of the KimaniTRU books and can comment. The words 'graphic' and Street Lit' don't begin to cover it, methinks. The tagline for the KimaniTRU series is "Reflecting your dreams. Your issues. In your voice," and the irony there is very heavy indeed.

A happier discovery is the Virgin Comics graphic PANCHATANTRA: THE TALL TALES OF VISHNU SHARMA, which includes a cameo by a murderous Harry Potter. Heee! Has anyone else read any Virgin graphics? I'll be looking for reviews of this one.

And that's the work avoidance this hour.

Did I not say that I loved StoryCorps?

Winning awards for The Most Hilarious Way To Begin A Monday comes a tale from 94-year-old Betty Jenkins' girlhood.

A bra. A plane. A really, really embarrassing stop in South America.

Don't miss Fuse #8's strangely watchable explorations of LA (Retro Family Fun!) and Jen's awed swag collecting (can't fit the luggage in the trunk anymore because of books? No problemo!). As always, I wonder how publishers can afford to do this kind of thing!?

Happy, Happy Monday.

June 28, 2008

Please See Fact #2...

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming now for a teensy, tiny, microscopic rant.

I would have thought that people would know that just because I have a book out, it doesn't mean my life is suddenly stunningly different, but apparently people don't know that, so you, my reading public, are now eligible, no, gifted to become privy to facts about my life and writing that few people apparently possess.

Fact #1: Writing doesn't make you rich.

(Maybe this should be Fact #2 as well.)
Writing doesn't make you rich. It's a lot of work for a very little money, unless you tickle the public's imagination and catapult to success. And even then, it takes years for you to be able to rely solely on books for your income. Yes, it's true. Years. Really.

Fact #2: I am not rich. If you're eleven and my little sister, or at a career day type of thing or a kid under, say, twenty-one, you can get away with asking me how much money I make. There's generally a free pass for kids, but anyone else, ask this, and know that you have earned my undying enmity. It's not right and it's not polite, but it's true. I'm just saying.

Fact #3: If you owe me money, you should pay me. See Fact #2.

Fact #4: Fact #3 is mostly a joke - I know you'll never pay me. (You Know Who You Are!) The truth is, it's important for we writers and would-be writers to understand that we may really need to keep the day job for awhile. Here's why:

Most authors receive only between 10 - 16% of their total sales. If a publishing house prints 50,000 copies of your book, but only sells 10,000, then you only get 10,000 X $15 (cover price) X .16 (author percentage) = $24,000. If you have an agent -- and mine is worth his weight in platinum -- their fee comes directly off the top.

Take out the taxes, next.

Do you see where this is going? People make more than this working full-time at Starbucks with a whole lot less effort (Not to diss the barrista effort, by any means. Long live barristas. And, okay, maybe you'd only really make bank in a Starbucks in downtown Seattle or something where people really tip, but you get my drift.).

Additionally -- and perhaps most importantly -- from that first year's sales comes your advance - because you've already been paid part of what you earn that first year. The long-play name of the "advance" is "an advance against royalties." Don't forget that! If you make it to Publisher's Lunch with one of their euphonious turns of phrase that means you got a six figure sum for your advance, don't forget that you've just gotten a chunk of your paycheck a little early.

Do you see what I'm getting at? It's not a huge money-maker, at least not without a lot of sweat and consistency, and you really could, with no one checking your grammar or rejecting your turns of phrase or questioning your character's motivation or arguing about the verbosity of your dialogue -- you really could make more money as an office assistant in a really nice law firm with much less aggravation.

People who choose to write do so because they feel a drive to hold something intangible. Though they may never truly catch the fullness of what they long to express, they continue the attempt. It makes, sometimes, for some amazing books.

Don't get me wrong: I love what I do. And if you want to, may you find the courage to write, too. Just understand that it may not be blindingly lucrative, and please be nice to the writers you know, who are sometimes taken for granted as the one in the group who should treat everyone to dinner or coffee because they're "rich."

Please see Fact #2.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

June 27, 2008

Poetry Friday: The Magic of Melody

This week has gone by in a blur. I'm clawing my way out of a major sleep deficit brought on by too many people to see and too many things to do when I was visiting the United States. Changing time zones repeatedly didn't help, and I've been a mess for the past few days -- because it's when you're the most tired that sleep sometimes is elusive. You know how little kids get when they really need a nap? It's not so pretty when a kid does it, and when it's an adult doing the whinging/writhing on the floor, wailing/flailing, drumming heels thing, it's not great either. When you're jet-lagged is not the best time for a visit from the Insomnia Monster, but of course, that's when it comes, and you can only hang on and watch your sanity unravel. Ugh.

At times such as these, music truly soothes some portion of the bêtes savauges, and if it can't put me to sleep, can at least help me to focus on what I need to do, and to relax. The rest and music in this poem spoke to me, and brought to mind slow swirling duets of wind instruments, cool screened porches, hammocks, soft summer evenings and floating in the liquid stream of guitar notes. Here's hoping you find your peaceful place -- and your favorite music -- this weekend.


I am in need of music that would flow

Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,

Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,

With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.

Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,

Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,

A song to fall like water on my head,

And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:

A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool

Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep

To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,

And floats forever in a moon-green pool,

Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

"Sonnet" by Elizabeth Bishop. from The Complete Poems: 1937-1971. © Farrar, Straus & Giroux. More of Ms. Bishop's works can be found here. Poetry Friday comes out swinging this week (check out Guan Daosheng. That woman had chutzpah. And apparently a really nice collection of clay pottery) with Jennie @ Biblio File. Peace to you.

June 26, 2008

Toon Thursday: We're Back, We're Bad.

Since I've been pretty well stuck in a king-sized vat of fiction writing nonproductivity, I bring you this cartoon. Apparently I like to glorify procrastination.

A few promo items which crossed my desk last week: We've talked here before about the awesome Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls which takes place in Portland every summer. Now, get the behind-the-scenes story, as well as advice, lessons, and more, with a new release from Chronicle Books. I like to plug the rock camp--an 11-year-old friend of ours went last summer and loved it. In other news about summer activities, I found out I'll be out of town for this summer's YPulse National Mashup Conference--very disappointing, since it's in San Francisco and sounds like it'll be a great chance to hear about current trends in YA publishing.

Lastly, I've not had a lot of time for blog reading (or blog writing, or blog anything) this past week, but I did run across this fabulous list of Futuristic, Speculative, Science Fiction and Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults on Jen Robinson's Book Page. Right up my alley...which is evidently a scary, disturbing, alien-infested sort of alley.

June 25, 2008

Life Is Like A Box Of... Butterfly Bars?

One of the nicest things that happened to me when I was home was totally and thoroughly unexpected. At the Model Bakery in St. Helena, I ran into a former college professor of mine. Actually, I'm not sure how to refer to her -- I never took a class from her, but the English department at my college was small and homey, and we all knew each other. I was a department reader briefly, but generally worked solely for the ESL program, and the Department Chair in the time I was there. Anyway, I saw this woman, now in her late seventies, and thought, "Ooh, there's Dr. Youngblood!" Only I couldn't remember her last name in time to blurt out a greeting (and I just couldn't bring myself to shriek 'Barbara!' at a woman almost fifty years my senior and a teacher), so I left it to that polite smile-and-nod thing you do when you see someone you almost know.

The friend for whom we were waiting arrived and we launched into conversation, but I kept my eye out for Dr. Youngblood, and when I saw her get up, I smiled again. My friend turned around and called her over -- as the wife of one of my professors, she gets away with the 'Barbara' thing -- and though this lovely woman had no idea who I really was, she said she, too, recognized me right off and asked what I'd been doing with my life.

Well, everyone at the table flourished their copy of my book. There wasn't much I could do but laugh.

And then, that lovely person just whipped out her notebook and had us read the ISBN number from the back cover of the book to her. She wrote in perfect copperplate on onionskin paper my name, the book title, and a note to herself to order it from the Main Street bookstore. She then left, wishing us a good day.

Twenty minutes later, she was back with celebratory goodies from Woodhouse Chocolates. Napa Valley aficionados know you can drop several hundred dollars on teensy teensy tiny bags of chocolate covered in gold leaf at that store. Our little gifts weren't nearly that much, but they weren't cheap. (Lemon zest and peppercorns in your chocolate bar? But of course!) Obviously, the money isn't remotely the point, nor what we ate. Rather, it was the gesture, and the well-wishing. I was just so touched that someone who barely knew me really, really, really wishes me well, and told me over and over that she was "so proud."

Just remembering that will always be as good as the chocolates.

After a loooooong wait, Inanimate Alice is back!

(Okay, so you already knew that. Give me a break. I've been gone!)

And, if you don't know what the buzz is all about, GO. Look. Read the earlier chapters. This is an interactive digital multimedia tale that's just beyond way cool.

Via SF Signal, Terry Pratchett finally has made the jump to graphics. HarperCollins is producing The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic in one gorgeous book, which is perfect. Pratchett, I think will gain a greater audience from this. But does anyone else think Twoflower looks just a tad like Harry Potter in those glasses!?

I have a lot of respect for the power of story -- I believe unbelievable things happen when we actually listen to each other and hear words in what we believe are the silences of our own experiences. I believe that story can be even found solely in facts -- that the story of the lost kid of Guantanamo will be told and retold, and someday -- may it be soon -- his life will change. Because I believe in the power of stories, I often turn to StoryCorps and listen and laugh -- and cry, usually -- at those 'conversations of a lifetime' which occur when the people there go into the booth in various cities, sit in front of the microphone, and begin to talk.

Dave Eggers is continuing the tradition with Underground America, part of an oral history series published by the San-Francisco-based Voice of Witness project. Eggers is interviewing undocumented workers, and the stories told begin to show us another world some of us might not have imagined. "The point of the series is to illuminate human rights abuses through oral history," Eggers is quoted as saying in the Guardian. These voices aren't often heard, and the undocumented workers aren't all migrant laborers. I love the fact that the word 'undocumented' is challenged early in the book: the book's editor, Orner, says in his introduction: "Of course they have documents: family photos, diplomas, driver's licences, love letters, emails, credit card bills, tax forms, homework, children's drawings." None of us goes through the world 'undocumented,' but it may be that our documents don't matter in some places.

You may not always love Dave Eggers or find his fiction embraceable, but these oral histories -- one telling stories of exonerated prisoners, one made after Katrina, and this most recent one -- are projects worth doing, and stories worth knowing. Well done, Mr. Eggers.

While I was away, the Forest went into leaf. Check out the June Edge of the Forest! And for more endorphines, check out 'that guy Matt' and his latest Happy Dance on Youtube.


June 24, 2008

Around the World and Back

And a happy cool, gray and wet summer day to you!

Catching up on my daily routine, I read the Jon Carroll's recent article in the SF Chronicle and had to smile, albeit grimly. The first time I ever heard about the 'Every Fifteen Minutes' program, it freaked me right out. It's one thing to have kids taken from the classroom all day by someone dressed as the Grim Reaper, as part of an awareness thing that hey, people die when alcohol and driving are involved. But to lie to kids and tell them in all seriousness that one of their own has gone? And then, a couple of hours later say the equivalent of "Psyche! Got you!" --? Is reprehensible. I would be a very, very angry parent if that happened to my kid. And I'd be one pissed off student if it had happened to me. Yet, people do this sort of thing every year. Justified trauma. As Mr. Carroll says, "Have we really forgotten our own teenage years? Grief and death and desperate unhappiness were not strangers to us then. Those dark feelings were fueled in part by a sense of powerlessness." I think young adults already know that crap happens quickly, unexpectedly, daily. That the people you're supposed to trust can play a role in that and fake you out -- is something no one would want to hear.

Oy. Catching up with the Gloucester High School pregnancy story with Liz makes me cringe some more. People ask why I don't have much interest in writing books for adults -- you know, those 'real' books. This is why: people don't respect young adults, take their lives and privacy issues for granted, and generally assume that this is okay. Hello: advocacy, please? Anyone?

Camille has ruined my life by teaching me to play Pollack. Thanks, BookMoot. With a TracBall, this is a wicked good time waster.

A friend noted, after reading my novel, that "you'll have to deal with a father in fiction at some point." Hah! I think that'll have to be my fourth book, as books 1-3 are pretty kid/grandma/non-Dad oriented. However! Susan Taylor Brown is rounding up the Fathers in Literature for the June Carnival of Children's Books, so head over to see who's talking book-Dad dudes.

The Interview Maven is herself interviewed! No, I don't mean Little Willow, although I noted her interview with Beth Kephart a while back. No, I mean, Miss Cynthia, who is interviewed at Shrinking Violets. Cynthia Leitich Smith seems to know everyone and talk books with anyone, and she's got that Texas friendliness thing going for her, too. Cynthia says this of blogging: "I enjoy the blogs as a way of "pajama outreach"--you don't have to put on dry-clean-only clothes and get in the car/plane to do it. But it's a personal choice. If you feel burdened by the idea of blogging, then you don't have to (and probably shouldn't). Put the energy into something that feeds you instead." This is an interesting interview, thanks Violets.

"Won't You Be My Neighbor?" in the NY Times this past weekend made me cheer. What would it take to get to know your neighbors? Writers tend to live introverted, quiet lives, but this writer decided to make a change. Hat tip to mental_floss for the link.

June 20, 2008

A Sad Day for Independent Bookstores


Berkeley CA, June 20, 2008 –

After 52 years, Cody's Books will shut its doors effective June 20, 2008. The Berkeley bookstore has been a beacon to readers and writers throughout the nation and across the world. Founded by Fred and Pat Cody in 1956, Cody's has been a Berkeley institution and a pioneer in the book business, helping to establish such innovations as quality paperbacks and in-store author readings. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Cody's was a landmark of the Free Speech movement and was a home away from home for innumerable authors, poets and readers.

The Board of Directors of Cody's Books made this difficult decision after years of financial distress and declining sales.

According to Cody's president, Hiroshi Kagawa, "[It] is a heartbreaking moment…in the spring of 2005 when I learned about the financial crisis facing Cody's, I was excited to save the store from bankruptcy. Unfortunately, my current business is not strong enough or rich enough to support Cody's. Of course, the store has been suffering from low sales and the deficit exceeds our ability to service it."

"When I met Cody's 25 years ago, I was a freelance journalist, enraptured by its books and atmosphere. It means so much to me and I apologize to the people who have supported Cody's for not being able to keep this landmark independent bookstore open. Cody's is my treasure and more than that, Cody's is a real friend of Berkeley community and will be missed."

Cody's would like to thank all of our loyal customers for their years of patronage.

For further information contact:

Mindy Galoob, General Manager at mindy@codysbooks.com

June 19, 2008

Like Sands Thru the Hourglass...

...so are the days of my alleged "vacation." ((Hat tip to Bogenfreud for the hourglass picture.)

I've already semi-whined that going Home is NOT going on Vacation, and my recent days have been filled with fun (and sometimes tedious) family obligations. Sunday we leave to make the twenty-three hour trek back to the UK, and it's a little horrible to say that it will be a RELIEF to get back. For one thing, I'm pretty sure I gained twenty pounds, hitting the guacamole. (But oh -- the sad lack in Scotland! That, and jack cheese and root beer have been things I've had to enjoy at least once to make sure I know I'm home!) For another thing, I'm beginning to miss my desk. I don't know how rock star writers like Laurie Halse Anderson can do it -- running around speaking to schools, doing book events, attending conferences and smiling -- but I can't even think straight lately, and I might do something truly odd if I don't have some quiet time pretty soon. As it is, I've taken to hiding in my room and jotting things down on the back of envelopes. It's writer desperation.

I have been doing teensy bookish things. I've met with book people at various independent bookstores (shout out to the nice people at Copperfield's Sebastopol! Whoo!), I've been interviewed in an airport (which taught me that a writer really never does know the answer to the question, "why should we buy this book?" Um... because my Mom said it's cute? So far that's not convincing anyone.), I've had friends accost total strangers and show them my book -- and have those strangers in turn stare at me... stare at the book... back and forth... (I kind of think that because I was going to get my hair done, and I looked like I'd been rolled down a hill in a log the strangers in question were amazed I could read and write, much less write a book...)

We never create in a vacuum... our creations go out and collide with other people's viewpoints and expectations, and are seen in a way we could never foresee. It's amazing how that works. A friend told me her daughter took my book to the beach, and considered it The Perfect Beach Read. This made me oddly happy.

Funny things you don't find out from just reading the news -- one of the American Girl books has been made into a film! I found that out by walking past a theater, and I'm sure you all already knew! However, NPR already has a review!

A few other things that stuck out to me in my blog perusing --

Tamora Pierce shows off the new cover for Bloodhound, the sequel to Terrier... nice.

Sara's putting us all to shame by actually publicly listing her summer goals. Do I even have those?

Finally, Sarah Aronson gives some excellent advice to writers on how to take advice -- some of us have a hard time hearing what people say about our work, and it IS hard to take and give criticism. A must-read for people in writing groups.

My time here in the U.S. is running out, and I'm feeling a mix of frantic, saddened, exhausted and relieved. This busy snippet of summer is soon going to give way to the cooler, slower life in the UK. We'll be back up to our usual speed hopefully by next week. Hope these hot -- or rainy -- summer days find you doing well.


Toon Hiatus...and Other Excuses

No, I haven't disappeared, nor have I quit the toon business, but I've been extraordinarily busy this week with unexpected last-minute projects, and random social engagements, and other stuff that seemed to converge into about a ten-day period. So, my apologies for the lack of content.

On the other hand, I've been writing quite a bit--started an exciting revision of one of my YA novels, and was commissioned to write a profile article for a local magazine, so there IS writing-related activity going on. I swear.

June 16, 2008

Ohhh, Save Me, You Big Strong Hunk of Man-Flesh!!

I'm sorry, but sarcasm seems to be an integral element of my personality.

If you haven't been following the fabulous (IMHO) new blog Guys Lit Wire, then you must go check out the discussion on whether teen boys NEED weak female characters in their books in order to grow up...uh...well, to grow up like Glenn Beck, evidently. Check out the video clip--an interview with author Ted Bell--and then don't miss the discussion taking place in the comments.

I'm totally behind on other blog-reading, as I'm sure you've noticed, but a couple of other tidbits have crossed my path today--a Twisted/Speak book trailer contest via Little Willow, and some musings on the elusive nature of inspiration entitled My Wife Is Ruining My Dreams: 9 Wonderful Years Not Good For Writing from a very amusing writer friend.

What have I been doing other than blogging? Well, I had a wonderfully fun day hanging out with TadMack and the Mr., eating and chatting and wandering around the East Bay (and shopping, which we both hate, but misery loves company). There are even some entertaining pictures of us posing with TadMack's recently released book, though I may have to promise to crop out everything but me and the novel before I'm allowed to post any of them...

Tasty Magical Treats

A frog princess instead of a frog prince—now that's refreshing. An ancient dragon that lives in an American river, called up by the lonely notes of a young man’s flute; a quilt that holds the entire night sky, a world of its own; mortals ruined by a mere glimpse of faerie—all pure magic. Magic in the Mirrorstone is a collection of fantasy short stories that includes well-known YA authors such as Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Tiffany Trent, and Cecil Castellucci as well as some names I didn't recognize.

A few of the new names (new to me, anyway) are going onto my to-read list now, after discovering their work in this rather eclectic but overall quite good compilation of stories. Though there were a few in here that didn’t really grab me, I’d recommend this one to fantasy fans who are looking for something a little different. It’s like one of those dessert trays they bring around in restaurants—maybe you just aren’t that fond of carrot cake or pecan pie, but why not take a little taste of them anyway, as long as it’s sitting in front of you? Humanity cannot subsist on chocolate mousse alone. Give this book of fantastical treats a try. You just might discover something new and tasty.

June 12, 2008

Shopping, Politics and Joyriding

There should be a sonic boom (or an ultrasonic tango?) around Berkeley sometime today as A. Fortis and I get together and exchange a ton of books and catch up from our eight month+ separation. Even though we converse almost daily (unless her brain is being sucked from her body with nineteen million other projects) we haven't gotten together for coffee in ages, and we've never attempted to shop together. This is historical: we both hate shopping. I'm not sure who thought the hate would be better doubled, but we're going to whine and drag our feet through retail establishments together. If we're very good, we may allow ourselves frozen mocha drinks periodically...

Meanwhile, the literary world is all agog -- that politics has intruded there once again. Yes, I'm sure you've heard by now that the McCain presidency is clinched -- if his daughter has her way, and if seven-year-olds have a heavy influence on the way their parent's vote. There's going to be yet another children's book published by someone who feels a burning need to communicate with our nation's youth... about her father. Twenty-three year old Meghan McCain hopes to "offer children the unique opportunity to see the character building events that happened over his lifetime, experiences that led up to his current bid to become the future president of the United States." Of course, that the book release is slated to coincide with the Republican National Convention, well, that's just a lovely coincidence. Icing on the cake, as it were.

Should we expect a Democratic Party children's book next week? Or is it still okay to just write political books for adults?

The day my book debuted, I found a link to its eBook version, which cost almost the same as the print version of the book. The Monkey Speaks is talking about eBooks for young adult books, and whether or not this is a viable literature form for YA libraries. I still agree with Ray Bradbury; they will never replace books. Hat tip to Alli @ Ypulse for the link.

Favorite story of the day: Paris or Bust. Hopefully you're not quite as bored with summer just yet!

June 10, 2008

Book Birthing Day

Opened up my email this morning, and the first thing I saw was a celebratory note from Jama at Alphabet Soup, whose soup of the day made me smile. An e-card full of anagrams -- crazy ones, I wish you could see them -- came from Little Willow. (And I agree, LW -- Ultrasonic Tango could quite possibly be the coolest anagram of 'congratulations' ever!) Finally, I received notes from all the Poetry, who know what it means to have worked really hard, be neurotic about what you've come up with, but throw it out there anyway.

Yep, my first major published work, A LA CARTE, begins to be uncrated from cardboard to land on bookstore shelves, and my sincere thanks to everyone who has been so encouraging and supportive. You guys are amazing. Kirkus Reviews said, Davis’s debut offering is as delightful and fulfilling as the handwritten recipes-in-progress included at the end of each chapter. More importantly, my Mom said, "Oh, hon, that's really cute."

Really, it's almost exactly what Kirkus said.

PS -- Jackie, now I'll *never* forget your birthday. Have a happy, you teapot loving, crossword doing, crazy person, you!

Cool Authors, Hot Tips

Thanks to Sandra at Toasted Coconut Media who gave us the heads up on this little clip featuring Scott Westerfeld, Jane O'Connor (author of the Fancy Nancy books), and MAC, whose middle grade graphic Anna Smudge: Professional Shrink stole the show at the NY Comic Con. (More about The Professionals here.)

Summer reading incentives always amuse me because I was the type of kid who wanted to be left alone to read, but wasn't allowed to -- but I know some in the YA crowd who'd really rather be working and making bank and socializing in the evening than reading. Anyone got more ideas for them?

June 09, 2008

Controversy in the Blogosphere...Or, Blogoversy in the Kidlitosphere. Or--never mind.

There ain't room in this town fer the both of us. So I challenges ye--dueling blog posts at forty paces. Ready...aim...

Well, I didn't really want to post about the discussion going on about a site called Kidzbookbuzz.com, and the ensuing hubbub about whether it's right or wrong to offer a pay-to-play blog tour service, whether it's right or wrong to compensate bloggers, what it means for the overall perception of blog tours and the kidlitosphere, etc. etc. I don't want to get up on my soap box. Some feel that the blogosphere thrives on controversy, but I'm strictly conflict-avoidant over here.

But. Having said that, I wanted to say a few things anyway. I think there's room in the kidlitosphere for different types of blog tours, pay-to-play or not, as long as all parties--especially authors and their publicists--are clear on who is offering exactly what. The kidlitosphere continues to grow and change, and it can be difficult to keep up with the netiquette associated with reviews, interviews, and ARCs, but hopefully we can all continue to behave professionally without losing that informal sense of community and fun that we know and love.

It was mentioned on one blog that the SBBT/WBBT have an exclusivity about them, and I wanted to say that I haven't felt that--I feel like the event is special, but I don't feel like I'm part of a special group. Finding Wonderland sort of got involved in it by being in the right place at the right time. The small size of the group, to me, doesn't connote exclusivity. In fact, I find the size to be comfortable and unintimidating. I feel like there's more room for everyone's individuality as bloggers to really blossom and be appreciated. I might feel differently if there were fifteen, or twenty, or fifty interviews a day.

But truly, there has to be room out there for a variety of individual visions about this type of project. Just like there needs to be (and is) room out there for individual authors' visions as realized in their stories. It's not a bad metaphor--sometimes the world of published authors can seem, to a non-published author, like an exclusive club, a clique that we (and by "we" I mean "me) are longing to break into but are waiting for...well, the right place at the right time.

I want to conclude on a positive note about the SBBT/WBBT, an inspirational moment from this past week that really made us very glad that we've been participating, and makes me feel like we're all doing the right thing in our own unique ways (okay, sorry, that was sort of barf-inducing, but you know what I mean). Last week TadMack and I were contacted by someone putting together a scholarly book of interviews with Sherman Alexie, and asked if we'd be willing to include our WBBT interview. How cool is that? And how lame am I for saying "how cool is that"? Please don't answer the second question.

{EDIT} - Tad here, putting in my two centavos. I'm really chuffed about the Alexie book inclusion, too. What an honor!! We're really excited that our little corner of the blogosphere was able to honor someone of Mr. Alexie's status, and for someone else to feel that our interaction with him is something to be shared. From this, we can only hope more people pick up his books!

And that's what it's about -- the books.

I wanted to really respond to some of the book buddies I've met through participation in Poetry Friday and others who aren't part of the group -- Guys, this isn't meant to shut you out! I promise we're not thinking you're "unclean," and this isn't some hideous trip back to high school -- we're not working to exclude. Blog tours are huge unwieldy beasts -- if you could only see how much darned WORK it is to just organize the people who ARE in SBBT/WBBT... it's a massive effort, a drain of time and resources. It seems sad to distance from the group because that activity is full. PLEASE join in the One Shot World Tours and Under Radar Reads promotions that take place the first Monday of the month. All of the crazy stuff we do and Chasing Ray organizes are about BOOKS and spreading the love -- not about exclusivity or stats. Please come and join in -- there's never enough voices and hands connecting kids and young adults with great books.

Thanks, A.F., for posting about this.

June 06, 2008

News of the Weird

Since a.fortis has ably taken on Poetry Friday, I'm just passing through with a few links while my brain rests. It seemed a good idea at the time to a.) move and b.) three days later, hop on a plane to the U.S. while there are still a few boxes to be unpacked! And, I'm a little tired today from what was supposed to be a forty five minute sprint - across - the - airport - to - a - connecting - flight in Minneapolis, which the freakish electrical storm turned into a three and a half hour layover, forty minutes of which was spent stranded on the runway in an un-air-conditioned metal tube while lightning struck nearby (!!!).

However! All whining aside, I am a.) in Cali b.) have eaten guacamole, hummus and fresh fruit for two meals now and c.) have two boxes of author copies of my books. (Eeek. What now, book people?)

Life is good.

Don't miss the Horn Book podcast with that gorgeous gentleman, Richard Peck. Oh, and some other people are going to be talking, too. (Oh, hush. We all have our literary crushes.)

Liz does some deep thinking on age banding, which is quite a hot topic in my corner of the woods right now. I'm really glad that so many librarians are just saying "What a blasted minute." Or, in shorthand, "No."

I love, love, LOVE Annaka's Diary. Why have a pet rock when you can just have some that grow? How could we use these for some nefarious, Kiki-Strikesque scheme?

Gwenda would make a very poor 30's wife. How do you rate? I am, of course, poor, scoring a mere twenty-six points. Drat that red nail polish and those pajamas!

This blog joins blog tours for free -- because we like the books we're talking about. Publishers and authors who pass along their books to us have no guarantee that we'll review them, but when we do, we do so because we like to share the love we've got for a particular book -- it's ALL ABOUT THE BOOKS. Colleen at Chasing Ray talks about some of what serious lovers of blogging and literature DON'T do, for any price.

Those participating in 48 Hour Book Challenge, I'm gonna miss you, but you only get one time to watch your only niece graduate from high school. Have a great time, y'all!

Late-ish, but still POETRY FRIDAY

I've always loved e.e. cummings, particularly when I was a teenager, and during a certain period he was a big influence on some of the (mostly awful) poetry I wrote. I'm not writing much poetry these days, but it's hard not to be inspired by the way he made the familiarities of our old language seem new, different, and young. So here's to youth, and poetry, and love, with a sonnet from old e.e.:

you shall above all things be glad and young
For if you're young,whatever life you wear

it will become you;and if you are glad
whatever's living will yourself become.
Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need:
i can entirely her only love

whose any mystery makes every man's
flesh put space on;and his mind take off time

that you should ever think,may god forbid
and (in his mercy) your true lover spare:
for that way knowledge lies,the foetal grave
called progress,and negation's dead undoom.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

The last two lines get me every time. I also love "the foetal grave called progress"--whew. For more e.e. cummings, visit American Poems.

Today's Poetry Friday is hosted at Sarah Reinhard's blog. I'm already enjoying it, especially Jama Rattigan's wonderful reminder of the accidental poetry of George W. Bush.

Also, one last link for today--if you've missed the discussion about pay-to-play blog tours, get caught up at Chasing Ray. Interesting stuff.

June 05, 2008

Toon Thursday: Revision Fixation

I haven't gotten much writing done this week, but I've been a drawin' machine--besides Toon Thursday, I managed to find time to work on my new painting as well as participate in Art By Committee. Fun, fun!! Speaking of art, Americans for the Arts has released a new series of public service announcements encouraging parents to "feed their kids the arts." Ad campaigns like this are more important than ever, methinks.

In other arts news, the discussion over age-ranged books in the UK has been sparking a lot of controversy on both sides of the Atlantic. There's been an interesting discussion about it on one of the bloggers' listservs, and it seems that many of us agree that it's all too easy to cross the fine line between age recommendations and prescriptiveness or even censorship.

Planning to be in the San Francisco Bay Area tomorrow? Melissa Marr, author of Wicked Lovely, is doing a reading at one of my favorite bookstores, Cody's Books in Berkeley. (Brought to you by 3 Evil Cousins, which is a blog name I absolutely LOVE.) I'm not likely to make it, since I just drove into Berkeley yesterday with my husband for our anniversary, but...we'll see.

Have You Heard?

Just cruising by with a quick WOO HOO! -- I just heard via the Horn Book e-newsletter that there's a sequel to 2007 Cybils SF/Fantasy nominee The New Policeman by Kate Thompson. It's called The Last of the High Kings and I can't wait to read it. Did I mention Woo Hoo?

June 03, 2008

No, I "aten't dead"

... just laying low for a bit. Still, wanted to pop in and say HUZZAH about Guys Lit Wire, and note its total coolness quotient. I hope GLW gets TONS of traffic from real live guys -- some interesting stuff up there already.

Also, I want to make sure everyone drives by the Tollbooth this week. Yesterday, one of the bloggers began talking with those who were involved in the new anthology Through the Wardrobe which is a wonderful Narnia themed anthology, and the ever fabulous ELIZABETH WEIN is stopping by there today to be interviewed and talk about writing. People, the women can WRITE like wow and gee golly, so writers, take note! (More importantly, readers take note!) I just found out I've been to the church where she rings bells in Dunkeld, too. I feel almost special!

Apparently, Kindle isn't looking like the flash in the pan that many thought it was. According to the Guardian, Kindle is responsible already for 6% of ebooksales to Amazon's Kindle users. This makes me wonder if and when writers are going to be actually making money on electronic rights. So far, it's not a right that is on paper contract with most major publishing houses, and so it's a non-issue. My agent says that agents, like the publishing houses, tend to act as a group, and "no one is dealing with those rights yet," so the only one benefiting is, of course, Amazon. Whatever. I'm with Mr. B.

The futurist writer Ray Bradbury, author of the sci-fi classic Farenheit 451, told a convention lunch before BookExpo: "There is no future for ebooks because they are not books."

Just when you thought the world couldn't get any weirder: Gordon Brown gets to be in a comic book.

Hope all is well with you as June takes off and hurtles you toward the summertime!

June 02, 2008

Guys Lit Wire Blasts Off!

If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, today was the official launch date for a brand-new group blog effort, Guys Lit Wire--specifically aimed at finding quality literature for teenage guys (or anyone with an inner teenage guy!). The site's been kicked off with a few great posts for the first day, including a review of sci-fi classic The Land that Time Forgot. I've been working on the design of the site and some of the graphics, too, which has been a lot of fun. Go check it out, and then help spread the word!

The new issue of Readergirlz is all about Laurie Halse Anderson's Prom, and TadMack and I were excited to contribute to Little Willow's Prom roundtable (see if you can guess which pic is a. fortis...). And, if you can't get enough of the prom, don't miss this great episode of This American Life from NPR last week.