January 30, 2012

A Few Notes on Inspiration

Whether you prefer to tap into a sense of inspiration, motivation, or just plain old perspiration (aka Butt In Chair), sometimes it's hard to get started on whatever it is you're supposed to be writing. Excuses flow much more easily than the words of the story you're trying to write, and procrastination becomes a shining beacon, a siren song.

Distraction can take a lot of different forms, but so can inspiration (as these two blog posts by Kate Messner--Part 1 and Part 2--attest). I found a combination of both in this week's announcement of the various YALSA Book Awards.

There were some surprises--such as the fact that I hadn't heard of this year's Printz winner at all (probably because I spent several months of last year in a study cave). Also surprising, but gratifying, was finding out that Susan Cooper won an Edwards Award for her contribution to teen literature in the form of The Dark Is Rising sequence.

I find it hard to put into words the influence these books had on me when I was growing up. I was about 11 or 12 when I first read them, and they both fascinated and scared the pants off me. I was kind of shocked, when I read the press release, to see that they were written in the 1960s and 1970s, because they felt modern when I read them circa 1988-ish. I suppose a better description would be that they had a timeless quality.

I was already interested in things English and Celtic and Arthurian when I read them, but The Dark Is Rising books hooked me, and kind of made me obsessed. (They also gave me more than a few scary nightmares.) Among other things, they were a very large stepping stone on my path to eventually learning Welsh language (which I learned here and here). Also, when I think about iconic children's fantasy, when I think about books that hooked both my heart and my head, that made me believe in magic--the magic of words--I think about these. And I hope someday I'm able to write something that has just a tiny fraction of that magic.

Cheers, Susan Cooper!

January 27, 2012

February Book Lovin'

This year's Cybil's reading had the unexpected reaction of causing a bit of brain atrophy. I was reading frantically right up to the last day, and anxiously pestering the postman, waiting for my next book. I feel like I did only a "meh" job of reading, in the end being unable to gain access to forty of the contenders. Because we have such a doughty crew, though, the books ALL got read by at least two people, but still! I wanted to have done better than I did.

January I took to just relearn to look at words on a page without them swimming around; meanwhile, AF got all thoughty and started rereading Plato's Republic (And today's UNSHELVED is also just for her!!). Now that February is on the horizon, complete with flying dragons, the books are calling us back. February brings with it the read-a-bration that is 28 Days Later, and two blog tours. Look for things to be a little busier around here in the coming days. It's time to set aside the winter blahs and get back to the books!

As I'd thought, Elizabeth Wein's novel Code Name Verity is really, really good... review coming up shortly.

It's always a nail-biter, reviewing a book of someone you know and like, and you just end up doing Liz Burns' patented Hope It Doesn't Suck dance while you read it - fingers tapping, crossed legs swinging, anxiety pouring from every pore.

Of course it didn't suck.

One thing Elizabeth knows how to do (well, she knows how to do more than one thing, but please - this is big) is RESEARCH, research, research. She makes the past come alive, no matter what piece of the past she happens to be into. She immerses herself into her topic - she visited Africa to write her last books -- and she pretty well stayed in WWII era - complete with outfits (dolls!!!), old planes, music, etc. -- to get into character for writing these. (I'd actually like to see what she would do to write a novel set in modern times -- how does one prepare for that?) She is an impeccable historian and her plotting is tight, and ... ah. As I said: review to come.

But, I had to say this: whilst snooping around the web, I found a couple of things that made me laugh -- one was a blog post by someone waiting for their copy of Code Name Verity. They used the 'd' word -- as in debut.

People, people, people.

Google is our friend, all right?
Elizabeth Wein has written SEVERAL other books; please take a moment to check them out, yes? Meanwhile, check THIS out!!

January 26, 2012

Toon Thursday: NEVER Gonna Happen.

This cartoon's not writing-related, really, but I woke up yesterday morning with this one taking shape in my half-awake brain. (So if it's goofy and makes little sense, you can blame it on that. Unfortunately, I have no such handy excuse for the goofiness of any OTHER cartoons.)

Geek Bonus Points if you get the ironic math joke. Happy Thursday!

January 23, 2012

Monday Randomness

After spending much of the weekend reading Plato's Republic, I find my brain has decided to retreat into a tiny corner of my skull and refuses to work any more. And, I'm again pondering blog-related what's-the-point-itis and rethinking what I want to do in my blogging life. So...here are a few links for your amusement while I return to normal. Enjoy.

  • If you're interested in writing for educational publishers and live in...er...Central California, there's a seminar by writer Christine Peterson on March 3rd in Bakersfield. Why Bakersfield? I dunno. I liked the sound of it until I saw it would be a 3-hour drive (each way), so I am unlikely to attend, but for those who live a little closer, check out this link. For those of you on the opposite side of the country, in April our blog bud Mitali Perkins is leading a Highlights workshop on Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice.
  • Also, in an e-mail to the Kidlitosphere Yahoo Group, author Martha Brockenbrough says: "YALSA reached out to authors, asking us to sign a petition that asks for school libraries for every child in America. They are in need of almost 15,000 more signatures. If you feel so inclined, might you write a blog post about what school libraries meant to you, to your kids, or to kids you know?" Here's the petition--they still need signatures, but I agree with Martha that a heartfelt blog post might also be in order. I know I spent a ton of time in the school library, not just browsing books, but studying and being a tutor. (Weirdly, I was a chemistry tutor. Go figure.) My middle school library was where I first checked out and read Ursula LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea. I even remember the two librarians there: Mrs. DeLeon, who was the mom of a girl in my class, and Mrs. Y, who had a long and unpronounceable last name. As an adult and as a writer I've had some amazing school library experiences, too, talking to kids in book clubs and creative writing clubs and just regular kids. I can't imagine a world without school libraries. If you feel the same, go sign the petition! And if you write a blog post, let Martha know for her roundup.
  • Lastly, I'm proud to say that my advice, such as it is, has been included in Katie Davis's new e-book, How to Promote Your Children's Book. Katie does the podcast Brain Burps About Books and her book is an amazing collection of first-hand marketing information from the likes of Our Jane, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Liz Garton Scanlon, and plenty of others. I know I'm going to find it useful, and I'm happy to give it a plug!

January 19, 2012

Thursday Review: PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ by A.S. King

What really happened to Charlie Kahn? He was Vera Dietz' best friend, but now he's dead, and Vera knows more than she's telling. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (author of Dust of 100 Dogs, reviewed here) was a 2010 Cybils nominee.

Reader Gut Reaction: This one was gripping as well as heartbreaking. What do you do when your best friend is in trouble? What if he's your EX-best friend? Alternating between past and present, eventually the two strands of the story come together in a way that's both shocking and satisfying. This one had me thinking about the story long after I was done; had me wondering what I'd do if someone close to me was in a terrifying situation and I had to make a tough choice about whether to try to help or take the seemingly simpler route of putting my head in the sand.

Concerning Character: Vera Dietz is a relatable character with multiple issues to deal with—not only her betrayal by Charlie, but also the absence of her mother and the fact that she's trying to live down an embarrassing secret about her family. She WANTS to be ignored. Especially after what happened to Charlie. But the side characters are well developed, too—most notably Charlie, shown to us in flashbacks, who suffers from even more horrifying and emotionally damaging issues; and Vera's father, who has struggles of his own. All of the main figures in this book are hurting in some way or another. Those who are able to reach out to others when they can't cope alone, the ones who stop ignoring their own pain and their own damaged selves, are the ones who can finally move forward and grow. But if you ignore the warning signs, it might take a shocking wake-up call to provide enough impetus to make a real change.

Recommended for Fans Of...: Stories about coping with changing relationships and overcoming the baggage of the past, like Melina Marchetta's The Piper's Son (reviewed here) and The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston (reviewed here).

Themes & Things: Growth as a human being, of course, is one of the overarching themes of the book. A part of that growth is learning to deal with one's conscience, one's regrets, and coming to terms with what you know you should do even when it seems impossibly hard. This is also a book about what happens when abuse is allowed to become a pattern and take its toll unchecked. The idea of closure is also an important one in the story—when less tangible wounds go unhealed, that too takes its toll.

Review Copy Source: Library.

Authorial Asides: A.S. King keeps a blog here, and she also tweets.

Cover Chatter: I think this one has a really awesome cover. Just sayin'.

You can find Please Ignore Vera Dietz at an independent bookstore near you!

January 17, 2012

Glad-Making Bits of News...

Welcome to the third week in the first month of the new year!

And welcome, all 156+ of you who have delurked and are participating in the Comment Challenge with Lee Wind & Mother Reader this month. I have to admit that I don't particulate in the Comment Challenge - mainly because I'm a regular Chatty Catrina in terms of blogs, and I routinely comment more than five times a day. (I have more than a hundred blogs I visit regularly on my Reader.) I am a person who's not on FB or any other social media, though, so it's easier for me to read what people are writing, and comment there. (I think blogging will always be Just About My Speed. Just don't ask me to talk to five people in a room in public.)

It's always nice to get comments from new people. We have a dedicated group of "followers" on our Blogger site, but we also know that beyond those hundred plus folks are those who follow on Readers, those who pop up when others direct them this way, and those who never comment at all, but who are a part of our silent friend group. We're glad to hang with all of you in a Shrinking Violet-y sort of quiet, holding-up-the-walls way, or in a chatty, we-know-you're-there fashion.

Greg Pincus, blogging at social media blog The Happy Accident, has as primer on commenting, to help with the challenge this month. And we must give full props to Lee for the hilarious Blogging Vacuum Diva. I laugh every time I see her. (Randomly: I found a link to a most hilarious Ed DeCaria poem, Who Is This Woman, And Why Is She Trying to Kiss Me whilst reading the comments from Greg's post. I laughed right out loud - it's so my entire childhood in a few short stanzas. See what commenting can do for you?)

Last week, I got THIS BOOK in the mail. (Why, yes, I AM special!) I know that many of my friends in the U.S. have been awaiting this snippet of historical fiction eagerly, and would have dived right in.

It's a book written by a friend - ample reason again to dive right in!

Instead, I sat and sort of looked at it with horrified fascination. It is Going To Be Scary. I knew this because I knew the topic of the book...

I read the first chapter and hyperventilated. Bargaining! For the return of clothing!!! SCARYNAZIS.

Yes. I am a scaredy-cat. Five words in, you know our heroine has already been captured by the Axis in WWII and Further Bad Things Will Commence.

This book is KILLING ME. And yet, I keep picking it up and reading chunks, when I fully intend to just move it to another spot on my desk. Yikes. It's addictive.

Out Feb. 6 - Stay tuned for the review.

(Also: I LOVE this cover. But the other cover, with the hands tied together... oh. Oh, oh, oh... poignant and scary and gorgeous. Must have been so hard to choose.)

CONNIE WILLIS, author of fifteen novels and over fifty short stories and novellas, is the Grand Master of science fiction. We knew that. But, she's just been awarded this officially, as winner of the 2011 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. You'll recall our 2007 interview with her. Or, maybe you won't. Maybe you've never yet read a Willis book. Well - do. Her hallmark talent is writing on brilliant science fiction topics, and bringing the reader along so that they, too, feel smart, and in on the joke and all the brainy stuff. She writes strong, smart female characters who don't take themselves too seriously; there's a touch of humor in her stories, and she's very, very good indeed. She's also gracious to answer questions from random bloggers. Well done, Grand Master Connie!

The Brown Bookshelf has officially announced their line-up for this year's 28 Days Later campaign, highlighting the books of African American authors, in honor of Black History Month. I always like to peruse the names - and note how many of them are utterly new to me. I did a happy dance for Malorie Blackman -- I've enjoyed discovering her books here in the UK. But, Debbi Chocolate? Really? I am ENVIOUS of that name for all kinds of reasons. As spokeswoman Paula says, "The Brown Bookshelf is the place to hit for any reader, parent, teacher or librarian looking for great books by and about people of color. Tell a friend to tell a friend to come back every single day in February..." Please support the work of these five doughty bloggers who do their best to shine a light on African American literature each year.

Please go over and join the discussion on YA speculative fiction, featuring our blogosphere babes Tarie Sabado, Gwenda Bond, and one of our fave YA spec fic authors, Malinda Lo, too.

The conversation at SF Signal tends to be dominated by ...science fiction aficionados. Obviously. They tend to be male and perhaps not as informed on YA stuff as we tend to be in our blogosphere, so please, please, please go over and show your support and welcome some fresh new ideas as our 'spheres overlap. (I'm thinking of the thread on appreciating the place of romance in YA spec fic for young girls - it's not all Twilight, my peoples! I don't care for Twilight especially myself, but I will throw elbows and hip-check you across the room so that others get to read it if they want to, all right???) I'm so excited that a mainstream SF site is talking about the great big elephant in the room: specifically marketed young adult lit in the subgenre of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction, and I hope that hearing from such intelligent and cool people will help to sort of ease the "Ugh!" factor that a lot of the aficinado set feels when faced with the whole YA SFF thing (I mean, we have UN-IRONIC nail polish that goes with our books and movies now. How scary-cool are we??).

Also: new blog alert! I'm a big fan of The Enchanted Inkpot but am glad to hear about The League of Extraordinary Writers, which is focused on dystopia, and The Interagalactic Academy which is hopefully going to fill the space that The Spectacle used to fill for me.

O, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea!
And love is a thing that can never go wrong,
And it's Tuesday already!

Have a happy week.

With apologies to Dorothy Parker.

January 16, 2012

Bits and Bobs: The Power of Words, The Art of Books

Holly Cupala is one of our longtime author friends and blog buds, as well as a kindred spirit, so we're happy to help plug her newest book, Don't Breathe A Word, which is already getting some great buzz. Not only that, ten percent of the author proceeds go toward Hope for Sexually Exploited Girls. All of those are reasons why I was happy to do my part to help get the word out, along with numerous other amazing (far more amazing than me!) YA authors, as part of this YouTube video on how Words Have Power:

I can only wish I was less dorktacular in this video, but I hope my words and everyone's still ring true. I was thrilled to be a part of it and join Justina Chen, Melissa Walker, Stephanie Kuehnert, Beth Kephart, Denise Jaden, Lish McBride, Lisa Schroeder, Cynthia Jaynes, Tara Kelly, Joelle Anthony, Stasia Ward Kehoe, Janet S. Fox, Tina Ferraro, and Janet Lee Carey in such a worthwhile endeavor. Thanks, Holly, and congrats on your latest!

Need motivation, but the shoulds and the expectations keep bogging you down? Dear Sugar says, don't write "like a man." Don't write "like a woman." Write like a motherfucker. (I would say Pardon my French, but it isn't MY French. I'm just quoting. Plus Tanita sent it to me in the first place.)

If that's not working for you, here are some pretty pictures.

More wild, gorgeous repurposed books are in the slideshow accompanying this Sydney Morning Herald article. (Link via Jim at This Into That, whose work is mentioned in the article.)

January 13, 2012

Writers' Rites: On Motivation

"BIC. Butt In Chair. There is no other single thing that will help you more to become a writer. William Faulkner said: 'I write only when I’m inspired. Fortunately I’m inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.' BIC." ~ Our Lady Jane

Happy New Year, again - I took a little hiatus from having a brain for awhile, but it's mostly back in working order, so here I am.

I don't remember who said it, but it's one of those jokes of which I can only remember the punchline - or the sort-of punchline. Basically what the joke was saying is that it's a bullpuckey kind of job that we have, where we can check out of it because we lack motivation. That's just not an excuse that anyone else can have.

Judge: I'm sorry, this case is going to have to go back on the docket. I'm just not feeling moved to pass sentence right now.

Obstetrician: Chica, you're gonna have to just hold all that in, because I am so not motivated to deliver your child today.

Policeman (over the crackling of the radio): Meh. Another call. Whatever. The Muse of the law enforcement just isn't whispering to me today.

Teachers: I'm not feeling it today, kids. Just color for awhile or whatever. I'm going to stretch out and read.

(Oh, wait. That last one did happen a couple of times while I was teaching. Never to me, of course.)

You see what I mean? It's kind of ...well, bull, as I said. You're a writer if you write, and if you don't write... well, you're kind of like those knitters who still call themselves that, and haven't picked up a pair of needles in ten years, yet still have skeins of yarn in a box somewhere. We call those folks people who need to declutter and donate some stuff. (And if this is you, please: don't make the scary people from Clean House have to come and see you, all right?)

Wait - I saw that flinch. Don't think I'm coming at you with judgment -- Oh, my goodness, I am not. I am coming at you from a seat on the couch next to you, wherein I have whined to myself that I am not motivated and this doesn't feel like anything but the most grinding of work, and what was I thinking, hoping I could come up with anything sharp and fresh and new, but which is turning out to be stupid nattering, and shouldn't I get a real job, one which will help pay for the roof and put my metaphorical kids through college, and one which will allow me to respect myself, and not be at the mercy of strangers and -- gah! -- critics for the rest of my life. I am coming at you from the place of being a writer in a funk, but we both know that if we stay here for too long, that "unmotivated" thing will twist us into someone we are not meant to be.

'Cause, here's the thing. We have the motivation. We do. Without motivation and will and the ability to put sentences on paper, we wouldn't be writers. And we are.

What we're lacking isn't motivation and the murmuring of the muse.
What is lacking is the courage to just get on with it.

How easy is it to say that we're too tired, too busy, too stressed to finish a story? How simple are the distractions of Dancing With the Stars or the Food Channel, or the sudden need to have a clean house or to pet the cat so you can get started with work?

...How hard is it to actually look at what we're writing, and know that it's not working, not one word of it, and to delete the whole file and start again?

Yeah. Sometimes, it's like that.

The thing is, nobody is going to give the time or attention span to do the work that you want to do. No one is going to give you the clarity and the focus and the plot. You have to really work for it. You're going to have to sweat and sit down and say things out loud and mutter to yourself; stand up and shadowbox or shuffle your feet to make sure you've got the movements right. You're going to have to suffer and bite down and maybe bleed.

Writing is sometimes work - more work than any of us want to admit. It's a pain. It's singing this writing song louder than the other little neurotic tunes playing in your head. It's bouncing in your chair when your butt-glue (thank you, Yat Yee) comes unstuck, and having to hold yourself there by bracing your feet.

And then, after all of that, your end result might be mediocre or even awful. You might find your creation laughable. You might be shocked. You might be deeply disappointed, as the wonderful Ira Glass says, but you'll have proven something -- to yourself, and to the watching world. You can write. You can finish. You did it once. You'll do it again. And, as your good taste and your love of story will still exist, you'll do it better the next time.

So, from my position next to you on the couch - perhaps let's call it the Whining Couch - I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. What I'm telling you is this: we're all on the same couch. The springs poke into our bums and the stuffing is leaking out, and we're all here, at one time or another. I'm sitting here, looking over at you, and deciding that I'm going to stop looking at the output or plot brilliance of other writers, and mind my own keyboard. I'm going to stop waiting for lightning to strike, and I'm going to strap down my own cold, unwieldy prose, and hit the switch and make my own magic. I'm going to let loose the leash on my motivation, let go of the tether to caution and safety and --

jump -

January 12, 2012

Toon Thursday: Revenge of the Pie Chart

It's the first shiny new Toon Thursday of the New Year. How 'bout them apples? (Um, no pie-related pun intended there...)

There are certainly myriad others I haven't listed here, such as the all-important "so you'll have something to show for all those hours you spent sitting at the computer surfing Twitter" and "so you'll have something to tell your nosy relatives during holiday get-togethers," but I particularly like these. May we all find our sources of writerly motivation during the new year...

January 09, 2012

Monday PREview: FRIENDS WITH BOYS by Faith Erin Hicks

Liked 2011 Cybils nominee Anya's Ghost (reviewed here)? Then I highly recommend checking out First Second's new title Friends With Boys. It's also a story about fitting in at school and in your own family, and, hey—it's also got a ghost! Friends With Boys will be available at the end of next month, and I was thrilled to get to read an advance copy and give it a little buzz. I'm happy to see First Second and other GN publishers stepping in to fill the niche that I'd hoped DC's short-lived Minx imprint would fulfill: graphic novels that appeal to teen girls but aren't "girly."

Reader Gut Reaction: With a quick, engaging storytelling style that's well-suited to a manga-influenced page format, Faith Erin Hicks has created a story that highlights classic themes like fitting in at a new school, making friends, appreciating your family for who they are, and learning that you don't have to struggle through life alone. The great balance of laugh-out-loud humor and relatable high-school angst, along with a fun cast of characters and just a touch of mystery and hijinks, made this one hard to put down.

Concerning Character: The main character, Maggie, lives in a house full of boys—three older brothers and her dad—but things are about to get even crazier. After being homeschooled for years, she's about to start (GASP) high school. She doesn't know anyone at school or have much contact with people besides her brothers, but despite being nervous, she meets friendly, endearingly goofy punky chick Lucy and her brother Alistair, and they quickly become friends. But they've got a few secrets, especially Alistair—and, of course, there are plenty of pre-existing tensions and social dramas that Maggie has no inkling of, having been homeschooled until now. Even her brothers have their own issues. But so does Maggie...and that's where the ghost comes in.

Quiet and thoughtful, I found Maggie an easy character to relate to, even though my experience with homeschooling is pretty limited. After all, we've all (mostly) faced the first day of high school, and whether you're new or not, it's nervewracking even if you're excited. She's also a really good-hearted person--she tries her best to be open and friendly, and she doesn't judge people by appearance alone.

Recommended for Fans Of...: School stories with plenty of humor, like Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol (reviewed here), The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci (reviewed here), Americus by MK Reed and Jonathan Hill (reviewed here), and Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (reviewed here).

Themes & Things: The more general theme of fitting in at the beginning of high school is nicely underscored by Maggie's more unusual story of starting public school after being homeschooled by her mother for all of her school career prior. I like the fact that this is a story homeschooled kids will relate to, as well as kids with a more traditional school experience. Family, too, forms a big part of this story—coping with the loss of a family member and the complex and ever-changing sibling relationships that occur when you're a girl with three older brothers. Friendships—looking beyond appearances to the person inside—always a good theme. Also, forgiveness comes up again and again, in big ways as well as little ones; sometimes people act like doofuses and you have to learn when it's better to forgive and let go than to hold a grudge.

Authorial Asides: Friends With Boys was released as a webcomic, too, and you can read parts of it online there.

Review Copy Source: First Second (publisher)

You can pre-order Friends With Boys at an independent bookstore near you!

January 05, 2012

A New Year's Link Roundup and A Bright Idea

While Tanita braces herself against a brisk Scottish wind, and while I wait for my library holds to come in (Cybils graphic novels shortlist; woo hoo!) I've been accumulating a small collection of interesting links and tidbits from around the Kidlitosphere. Hope you enjoy!
  • First, are you ready for the 2012 Comment Challenge? MotherReader and Lee Wind are once again encouraging all of us to spend a month trying to leave five comments per day on blogs around the kidlitosphere and beyond. The jump-starting of our good blogger habits kicks off tomorrow. I'm not sure yet whether, or to what extent, I'll be able to commit to participating, but I know I've already been trying to poke my head up a bit more than usual, and I do plan to continue that good behavior. :) Anyway, if you want to officially sign up, check MotherReader tomorrow.
  • Via Leila at Bookshelves of Doom, I found a link to Lizzie Stark's hilarious post on If Famous Writers Had Written Twilight. For instance, Annie Proulx might've written a story that went something like this: "Edward and Jacob defy society’s expectations up in the mountains." OODLES more in the comments to the original post.
  • On Fuse #8, Betsy Bird speculates on which children's literary conferences she'd attend If She Were a Rich Girl, and I sulk, having discovered several more new conferences I won't be able to afford to go to. 
  • Of course you all know this already, but Walter Dean Myers has been named the next Ambassador for Young People's Literature and has chosen the platform "Reading Is Not Optional." Not much to say other than bravo!
  • AbeBooks highlights major literary events of 2011, including the death of Ms. Diana Wynne Jones and the demise of Borders.
  • And, last but not least, a fascinating story from the intersection of literature and science--after 150 years, a Penn State anthropologist may have deciphered the mysterious cause of death of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Oh, one more thing--and this is especially for all you Cybils Round 1 folks wondering what to do with the ARCs or review copies you might not have space for: the ARCs Float On effort is a searchable database that helps match bloggers with teachers looking to augment their classroom libraries. Why not send your post-Cybils stash to a needy teacher? If that doesn't work out, ARCs Float On's host site Reach A Reader has a great list of links to other ways to help and places to donate. Think of it as Boxing Day for books!

*Bright Idea Time* In fact, maybe that's something the Kidlitosphere should institute...Book Boxing Day, during which bloggers commit to boxing up one average-sized file box of books and donating it to their chosen location--a library, a teacher, even some lucky reader! Look, we get LOTS of books in the mail, and we BUY lots of books on top of that (c'mon, you know you do). Filling (or nearly-filling) a file box per year, or even every other year, shouldn't be a problem, should it? And it would make a fun blogosphere-wide event. What do you all think? Let me know in the comments. Or let me know if my bright idea is already being implemented somewhere by someone, so I can slink off in embarrassed silence. Thank you kindly!

January 04, 2012

Why, yes. It is windy in Scotland.

But, I'm still alive. Thanks to those of you who asked.

January 02, 2012

Drum Roll...

It's a New Year, and you all should know what that means by now.

Yep, the Cybils shortlists have been announced! After all of the amazingly hard work reading, rehashing, and winnowing, the Round 1 judges (including our own Tanita) have come up with their picks for the most kid-friendly and blogger-approved titles of 2011 in a dizzying array of genres. Go check it out.

And now, my work as a Round 2 judge will begin. (I can hardly wait. I already read two of the finalists earlier in the year, and I know the rest will be just as awesome.)

Happy New Year, everyone!