Friday, October 31, 2014

Jack London Letter Found In Connecticut Library

Here's some local literary news I missed: A 1905 letter Jack London wrote to his publisher was found in a copy of White Fang among some "rare books in a storage closet" at the Pequot Library in Southington, Connecticut. The book had belonged to the publisher, George Brett, who had a connection to the library.

Either I had to read London's To Build a Fire, or one of my kids did. I recall it being kind of grim. I listened to an audio book of The Call of the Wild and rather liked it, but I was trapped in a car.

Nonetheless, a 100+ year old letter just found in a book... That's worth noting.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

November Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

Lots happening with children's/YA lit in Connecticut this month, particularly because of the Connecticut Children's Book Fair. Plus Jeff Kinney is going to be here for a weekend. And there's a Fancy Nancy author appearance. Keep reading.

Sat., Nov. 8, Jeff Kinney, R. J. Julia Bookseller event at the Madison Congregational Church, Madison  Ticketed event. Times between 5:30 and 7:00 PM will be assigned to ticket holders.

Sat., Nov. 8, Norah Raleigh Baskin, Anika Denise, Christopher Denise, Anna Dewdney, Chris Grabenstein, Natalie Lloyd, Jean Marzollo, Barbara McClintock, Florence Minor, Wendell Minor, Pat Schories, Kevin Sherry, Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, Connecticut Children's Book Fair, Storrs Check link for schedule

Sun., Nov. 9, Patrick Henry Bass, Jerry Craft, Jane Dyer, Jeff Kinney, Caragh O'Brien, Dan Poblocki, Judy Schachner, Lauren Tarshis, Len Vlahos, Connecticut Children's Book Fair, Storrs Check link for schedule

Fri., Nov. 14, Leslie Bulion, "Talk of the Towns," Indian Springs Golf Course, Middlefield Doors open at 6:30, Event runs from 7:00 to 9:00 PM with four speakers 

Fri., Nov. 14, Chris Van Allsburg, R. J. Julia Bookseller, Madison 5:30 PM Pre-register

Sat., Nov. 15, Patricia Dunn, Elm Street Books, New Canaan  Noon to 12:30 PM

Tues., Nov. 18, Victoria Kann, Barnes and Noble, Westport 6:00 PM

Wed., Nov. 19, Jane O'Connor, Pequot Library, Southport 4:30 to 6:00 PM

Sat., Nov. 29, Jan Brett, R.J. Julia event at IKEA, New Haven 10 AM Event free, purchase of The Animals' Santa from R.J. Julia or at the event required for admission to the book-signing line.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I Did Some Reading For Halloween

I'm not big on reading holiday books these days. I'll often think that it would be nice to read something related to Christmas during December, but my mind runs to things like Hogfather and I never get around to reading even those. I ended up reading Zeke Meeks vs the Horrendous Halloween by D.L. Green with illustrations by Josh Alves because I heard on Facebook yesterday that the eBook edition was on sale for 99 cents. I love an eBook sale and Zeke Meeks is a series for young readers, something I was interested in a few years ago.

And thus I read a Halloween book.

ZM vs the Horrendous Halloween is a book for kids in the early grades. It involves a realistic story about one thing after another going wrong for Zeke on his big day, Halloween. Nothing is random here. Everything that's brought up about a character is used at some point. There is a dry, sly humor that works and good use of recurring material. I'm thinking, for instance, of the Princess Sing-Along lyrics, which I liked from the very beginning. "Don't feel that you have to change. It's okay to act real strange." 

Zeke Meeks vs. the Horrendous Halloween was quite a nice Halloween surprise because it's different from so many of the other books for this age group I've seen, books that didn't involve any kind of intelligible story because of the random action, characters, and so-called humor. If The Horrendous Halloween is representative of the rest of the series, other Zeke Meeks are worth giving a try.

Regarding the eBook edition: Some eBooks with illustrations don't translate terrifically to the eBook format. This one was just fine. The 99 cent sale is supposed to be continuing this week, though I don't know when the week ends. 


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Time Management Tuesday: Multi-tasking With Podcasts

Multi-tasking doesn't have a great reputation anymore. Some would suggest we stop doing it right now. I'm definitely not a fan.

Except when it comes to listening to podcasts.

I can't imagine sitting and listening to a podcast. Unless there's some fantastic footage, I can't even imagine sitting and watching a lot of those videos people make where they just look into a camera and talk. Talk? I can't imagine sitting and watching a Tedtalk.

But I can listen to all those things while I'm working in the kitchen. And I'm one of those people who will work in a kitchen for hours on a weekend, a weekend that is pretty much lost to other kinds of work. But if I can suck in writing- and reading-information while making bread, baking cookies, roasting asparagus, or any of the other things you might find me doing on a Sunday, we're talking a massive two-fer.

Yes, there is a wealth of info in oral form out there, but who has time to just sit in a chair and listen to it? Listen to it while you're doing other things. I have a Facebook friend who listens to podcasts on an iPhone while he's stacking wood. I have my laptop set up on the kitchen counter.

My most recent podcast listening experience was an interview with Joanna Penn. I've gotten some good ideas from Penn, one of which I may be discussing here later this week. Other podcast options:

Any other podcast suggestions for busy writers who want to listen while they're not at their workstations?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Was "Cress" Worth Paying A Fine For?

It most definitely was.

Cress is the third in The Lunar Chronicles, which began with Cinder, a book I definitely enjoyed. Scarlet I wasn't quite so taken with. I'm back on board with Cress, though.

What Cress does really well is get readers into the story without leaving them mystified because this is part three of a serial and who remembers what happened in part two? Book One was a clear and clever Cyber Cinderella story. Book Two was an intriguing take on Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, but connecting it to Cinder's story a little awkwardly. The awkwardness is gone in Book Three.

Cress is a techie Rapunzel figure, trapped on a satellite for years doing the evil queens bidding. She is also an inexperienced romantic who believes the space cowboy she ends up leaving the satellite with is the hero of her dreams. It makes sense that she gets pulled into Cinder's scooby gang, which is plotting to save a Prince Charming from having to marry an evil Moon Queen who is planning to...

That's enough.

There's some romance going on in these books. It's pretty clear to me that all kinds of couples are going to come out of these Chronicles. I don't usually care for romance. But there are clever things going on with these people. Cress, for instance, is such an over-the-top sucker for romance and the object of her affections is so bad-boy questionable that there is almost a little parody going on there.

This is a serial, and I do wish I'd been able to read them in a binge instead of over a few years. That's pretty much my only complaint at this point.

Cress is a Cybils nominee in the YA Speculative Fiction category.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Still Reading

No, I'm not incredibly slow. Nor am I bored to death with CressAu contraire. It's just that I do do other things.

Coming up soon on my reading radar: Cybils nominees.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why I've Got To Read, Read, Read "Cress" By Marissa Meyer

I was hit with a warning a couple of days ago from my library letting me know that the copy of Cress by Marissa Meyer that I'm reading was almost due. I finally got around this morning to renewing it on-line, but no luck. There's a hold on it. I'm at least two-thirds of the way through, so I'm going to bite the bullet, get hustling with my reading, and pay whatever fine I need to pay.

Why am I telling you this instead of writing what some might consider a real blog post? Well, I think it's very significant that someone wants this book. We don't have anyone beating a path to the YA section's door at our library. Until recently, we were still using one of those stamp-the-book systems for letting people know due dates. What that meant was that anyone could check the popularity of a book. I would take out new YA books, read them, see them back on the new books shelf, and there they'd stay. So I'd take a look at the date stamps. There wouldn't be any other than mine. Time would pass, and I'd look again. There'd be one. Maybe, but sometimes not.

So, yes, I think it's very significant that someone wants to read Cress badly enough to take it from me, when so many other books I've read were of no interest.

And now I must go get that book and get cracking with my reading. Time is money. Seriously.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What? There's A Percy Jackson Problem?

In The Percy Jackson Problem in The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead discusses the old "so-long-as-the-kiddies-are-reading-they-will-move-on-and-up" strategy vs. the old "you-can't-start-'em-on-Shakespeare-too-young" theory. According to Mead, Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books fall into the first category. Ouch.

Mead finishes her essay speculating about what will happen if reading books like Percy Jackson doesn't lead to young minds moving onward and upward to eagerly sucking up the Assigned Book List. "What if instead of urging them on to more challenging adventures on other, potentially perilous literary shores, it makes young readers hungry only for more of the palatable same?"

I have no problem with palatable. We live in a free country, kids! Go rogue with your reading!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Time Management Tuesday: We're Three-fourths Of The Way Through The Year. Time For Another Check On Goals And Objectives

At the half-year point in June, I felt I'd done better than I expected to on this year's goals and objectives. At that time, I determined which goals I wanted to focus on for the rest of the year. Not so happy about how that's been going.

My plans in June for the rest of the year:
  • Goal 3. Finish a draft of the mummy book, I hope by September when I go on vacation. That's been a disaster, in large part because I became obsessed with a short piece I was working on in August (Goal 2), have been planning for an appearance I might be making in November, and working on another project.
  • Goal 2. Write short pieces. Anything. Yes, I did complete one short piece. May have spent too much time on it, in fact.
  • Goal 4.  Make submissions. I hope of some of the short pieces from Goal 2.Yes, I made a submission
  • Goal 5. Work on community building. See how things go with the writers' group, and it would be terrific if I could find a workshop or other program for later this year. This is the goal I've done the most on, but that also meant spending the most time on it, too. It's a goal that doesn't produce real work. I made three appearances this summer, that involved some rubbing of shoulders, and I'm very happy so far with the writers' group I've joined.
  • Goal 6. Continue marketing Saving the Planet & Stuff eBook. A contact I made this summer led to yesterday's review at Reduced Footprints, and I have some more leads for contacts.
Well, let's get a little Zenny here and remember that these past few months are in the past, and I need to think about the present. What can I do with the rest of my year?

  • Goal 1. Finish the revision of The Fletcher Farm Body I did finish this earlier this year, but guess what? I'm revising it again. This time I'm concentrating on making sure that scenes either advance the story or reveal new information and that chapters involve a change. (I got this idea from Rachel Aaron's 2,000 to 10,000.) Yes, I've become obsessed with this book, just as I was obsessed with the flash story I was working on in August.
  • Goal 4. Make submissions. I'd like to work on submitting some of the work I've already completed, so I'll focus on trying to match new marketing possibilities with manuscripts on hand.
  • Goal 5. Continue to work on community building Continue the Connecticut Children's Lit Calendar, try to cover the Connecticut Children's Book Fair for my blog, I have created a new author talk that I may be presenting next month, attend my shiny new writers' group, continue to build my Twitter following.
  • Goal 6. Continue marketing Saving the Planet & Stuff eBook I do have some ideas for contacts.

So three-quarters of the year is gone, and while I've been working away, really, I have,  I've wandered off goal. A bit. Some. Should I just give in to the What-the-Hell-Effect and spend the rest of the year lying in bed reading, which I kind of desperately want to do? No, I should not!  I have two and a half months left. That's a lot of units of time.

This Week's Most Interesting Ditched Item


Sorry I haven't uploaded the picture, but I had a great one of a twin mattress and spring set in the back of a pickup truck. I would have sent those things out of here at some point, but maybe not this month. Thank goodness for the purge.

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Planet" Reviewed At Reduce Footprints

Saving the Planet & Stuff is reviewed today at Reduce Footprints, a blog dedicated to researching and sharing information about easy ways to do positive things for the Earth. My favorite line--"The story is also wonderful for adults, of all ages, as it touches on the challenges of living life as a "greenie", in a fun and interesting way."

Notice that blogger Cyndi runs a couple of activities designed to build the green community.