Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Too Late. Just Move On.

I found the article I wanted to write about last week, but it's dated now and blogs are supposed to be cutting edge, right? So forget about it.

Instead, I'll tell you that I've read that S.E. Hinton of The Outsiders fame is supposed to be publishing a book for adults soon. This is probably old news, too, but since I just heard about it it's new news to me. I have never read any of Hinton's books, and watching The Outsiders movie on video is most definitely on my personal Top Ten List of Terrible Experiences. However, Hinton was just a teen when she started publishing, which I certainly respect, and she is wildly popular with young readers, whose opinion I value. So this is newsworthy.

What's more, I have a family member who was a huge, huge Outsiders fan as a sixth grader and for years thereafter. Perhaps this new Hinton book will be waiting for him Christmas morning this year.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Don't Panic!

Yesterday I tried to go out to the garage. The Fed Ex guy had opened the screen door and left a package with my manuscript in it propped against the inner door. This just goes to show that no place is safe. But everything is going to be okay. I didn't have plans this weekend, anyway.

Good News at Your Local Bookstore

It seems as if I've been in a lot of Barnes & Noble and Borders' bookstores this summer where I've been seeing a lot of YA books prominently displayed, as I may have mentioned earlier. This past weekend I was in a Borders in Syracuse, New York where I saw a good sized counter with multiple shelves on each side. Near an entrance, too. The whole thing was covered in YA. And it was almost all hardcover YA. In my experience, this is almost unheard of.

Now there was a lot of those Georgia Nicolson wannabe books that I'm always complaining about--wisemouth girls who keep diaries, hang out with friends, gush over boys, and have loser parents. I am calling them Little Chick Lit. However, I also saw a copy of one of the Adrian Mole books. Before there was Georgia, before there was Bridget, there was Adrian. Read him and see how a diary-type story ought to be written.

Weird News At Your Local Bookstore

At that same Borders I saw a rack of Mensa improve your IQ with puzzles and games books. (The game has not been created that will improve my IQ and since I rarely understand puzzles, they aren't much help to me, either.) In Mensa's defense, these books didn't actually say they were for improving children's IQ's, but they were in the children's section.

Now, most people would take this opportunity to rant about how awful it is to try to manipulate kids' minds. Yeah, yeah, yeah. What I keep thinking, though, is just how smart does a person have to be to get through this life? Isn't there some IQ level after which you're just wasting it?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


I am totally overwhelmed because I was away Saturday and Sunday and fell behind in reading my favorite blogs, my listserv, and my Readerville forums. Actually I signed up for another listserv at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators site, but it functions differently then Child_Lit and I haven't been keeping up with it at all. I'm also having working woman problems--I'm having trouble managing keeping up a house and a writing career. (I consider this a professional problem, which is why I'm mentioning it here.)

As part of the overwhelmed mess I'm in right now I've lost the article I was going to write about today. I also have three manuscripts to read for my writers' group, which meets tomorrow night. I made the mistake of reading my spiritual advisor's (Jane Yolen's)on-line journal. She did, oh, I don't know, forty or fifty things in the last three days.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Deserving of Hype

I've been hearing about Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card for years. It's one of those books I've been meaning to read but wasn't looking forward to for some reason or other.

First off, I need to try to categorize this book because I am obsessive about that. I often see Ender's Game shelved with adult sci-fi, but it's often in the Young Adult section in libraries. Plus I've always heard of it in relation to teenagers. This kind of thing drives me crazy. What the heck is this thing? Well, the ALA maintains a list called Adult Books for Young Adults. I like that phrase. So, after reading Ender's Game, I've decided to classify it as an Adult Book for Young Adults because it doesn't have any YA characters and it deals with political and philosophical questions most real young adults won't find themselves dealing with.

Specifically, Ender's Game involves training brilliant people through game playing for combat in a war to save civilization. Ender Wiggin is believed to have the right combination of intelligence, killer instinct, and empathy to do the job.

Ender is six years old. By the end of the book he's in his early teens, a brilliant soldier who still doesn't get dirty jokes. The book asks questions about childhood and how children should be treated as well as just what a civilization has a right to do in order to defend itself. It's a novel of ideas, something I enjoy running across every now and then.

I found the book a little demanding of the reader. It requires some commitment to get through it. This isn't a criticism by any means. Commitment is a good thing. I'm just pointing out that it isn't a quick read. (At least for me. More serious sci-fi fans may feel differently.) The climax had a bit of a twist and not the twist I was expecting. (This is good, too.) The ending seemed a little rushed and got into religion a bit, which always tends to mystify me. But it left an opening for a sequel and I think there have been seven Ender books altogether.

There are 2,049 reader reviews of Ender's Game at Amazon. A stunning tribute. I so hope there will be a movie.

Friday, August 20, 2004

My Old Boyfriend

When I was in second grade I had a wicked crush on Peter Pan. I don't mean the Mary Martin Peter Pan of the Disney play. I mean the true, blue Peter Pan of the play itself. I recall reading it in a big book at school. Or maybe I read a narrative version that Barrie published a number of years after he wrote the play. Anyway, a girl who lived next door to me would leave me notes claiming they were from Peter and that he lived in the woods behind our house.

Wow, talk about heartbreak when I learned the truth.

All this came to mind because I just read that a hospital charity that holds the copyright to Peter Pan is looking for an author to write a sequel. I'm sure there will be plenty of people who will feel that tampering with a classic is some kind of crime. I, however, definitely look forward to reading more about my old flame.

Now I Get It

Judith Ridge of the Misrule blog wrote to let me know that Eoin Colfer pronounces his first name Owen--which I guess is how all people named Eoin pronounce it. Thank goodness she tipped me off because my guess would have been Ian.

Judith's timing couldn't have been better because I just started reading Colfer's second Artemis Fowl book this evening. I began it a few hours after finishing another book about a brilliant child, Ender's Game.

I'm going to have to pull my thoughts together about old Ender before I tell you anything about that experience.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

What is Ender's Game?

I finally got hold of a copy of Ender's Game, but I haven't finished reading it. I am, however, intrigued. More to come.

I am still addicted to Jane Yolen's journal. She never talks about killing a couple of hours on-line reading blogs and listservs the way I just did.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Two Lists I'm Not On

Children's Literature has released its Choice List of 2004. I'm not on it. Anywhere.

And the Young Adult Library Services Association has a list called Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Life Long Learners that doesn't include me, either. Actually the YALSA has a lot of lists. You won't find my name on any of them.

Hey, but I'm mature! I'm bringing these worthy organizations to your attention anyway.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

But Isn't This About Adults?

"It's time for parents, educators and cultural critics alike to face the facts of our own making. Today's educational and professional realities don't foster the reflective context that enables students to become broad and patient readers."

So says Nancy Schnog in a Washington Post article entitled Reading? Oh, Sure. Just Give Them a Sec. I totally agree. Reading takes time, it takes solitude. The adult world doesn't believe kids should have either of those things. They should be doing things and being with people. Personally, I don't think we have any business complaining that kids don't read given the lifestyle we've imposed upon them.

However, Ms. Schnog's article was written in response to the National Endowment for the Arts study that indicated that Americans are reading less. That study was done on information collected from the census. Kids do not fill out census forms. Adults do. Ms. Schnog explains why kids aren't reading, but what about the adults who the NEA study actually studies? Hey, they're grown-ups. No one is making them go to dance class, Sunday school, Scouts, skating lessons, a different sporting event for every season AND volunteer to do good works and extra credit reports. What's the grown-ups' problem?

The Buzz at Child Lit

Child Lit is all agog over an article in the new issue of Harper that's supposed to be a downer about YA lit. However, no one has actually been able to find the magazine. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Of Course He's Going to Live to the Seventh Book

J.K. Rowling is playing the sneak peak game again and giving out bits of information about what's coming up in her Harry Potter books. Surprise! He's going to live to make it into the seventh book. Well, I guess she could have written a seventh book without him, but what would she have called it? Harry Potter in the Great Hereafter?

She's still sort of threatening to kill him off. I wouldn't mind seeing him go, myself, but I think all these little coming attraction talks Rowling gives between books are cheap marketing stunts. The woman's as good at pr as she is at writing.

Yeah, I know. I'm a witch.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

I Went to the Movies Last Night...

...and what did I see but The Village. I went because the controversy regarding whether or not M. Night Shyamalon ripped off a YA book from 1995 got me all psyched to see the movie. Once again, I am not revealing the name of the book because I've read it. If you have read it, knowing that it shares some plot elements with The Village will ruin the movie for you. Since the movie has some big gaps in logic, anyway, I don't want to make anyone's viewing experience any worse then it needs to be.

Okay, here is my spin on the movie/book controversy: Yes, there is a similar basic plot. However, Shyamalon adds a couple of romances while the author of the YA book adds a sinister plot. And Shyamalon romanticizes the behavior of some of the characters while the author of the YA book holds them responsible for their actions.

I think the similarity could easily just be a coincidence. For one thing, how expensive could it have been to have bought the rights to this YA book? The book did okay, but we're not talking Harry Potter, here. Why would someone with as big a name as Shyamalon risk all this hassle by ripping off a book he could have easily bought the film rights for? It doesn't make sense.

But then, this is the guy who had a blind girl fight a bad guy in the woods and win. So...

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I Can't Wait to Get Back to the Library...

...so I can take out the next Artemis Fowl book. I definitely enjoyed the first one. Oh, the author is Eoin Colfer. If I ever meet him in the flesh, I'll have to call him Mr. Colfer, because I don't have a clue how to pronounce Eoin. Well, I have a clue, but not a very good one.

Somehow I got the impression that Artemis Fowl is a Harry Potter wannabe. Not at all. The two books are very different, and, personally, I like Artemis much better. I think the story is much more unique, and Colfer tells it without stripping any forests of their trees.

It's great to have a series I actually like. I guess I shouldn't say that since I've only read the first book. Okay, it's great to have a series I hope I'm going to like.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Two New KidLit Blogs

When I did a search for children's literature blogs last spring I didn't come up with many. In less then a week I've run across two new ones through the listserv, Child_Lit

The Misrule Blog comes from Australia. Entries appear to start at the beginning of June of this year. It's part of the Misrule: Home of Australian Children's Books On-line website maintained by Judith Ridge.

A lot of good kids' books have come out of Australia over the years, and in today's entry Misrule mentions an author I've enjoyed in the past--Judith Clarke. I'm a fan of her book, The Heroic Life of Al Capsella. Misrule says Clare has a new book out called Kalpana's Dream and that it includes a "professionally irresponsible English teacher and (GET THIS!) her vampire boyfriend."

Book Kitten is another blog that appears to be quite new. Oops. I just found the archives. It goes back to November, 2003. It's maintained by a librarian here in the states whose name I can no longer find right now. While it doesn't appear to be dedicated just to kidlit, there's a lot of kidlit stuff there.

Both these blogs have pictures, and they are set up so that readers can comment on individual posts. They make me feel like a poor relation. I will have to see what I can do to jazz my blog up.

Friday, August 06, 2004

In the News

About Me

First off, I mailed my manuscript out yesterday morning. So you won't have to hear any more about my fourth draft. However, it shouldn't be long at all before you have to listen to me complain about the fifth one.

About Cornelia Funke

In an article about Cornelia Funke in The Guardian Kate Kellaway reports that Funke plans to extend Inkheart into a trilogy. This was interesting news since some people think the original book was plenty long enough. Kellaway also says that the book has been optioned by the studio that made Lord of the Rings, and that while Funke was imagining Mo, the father in the story, she was picturing Brendan Fraser.
I always thought of Mo as being older with less hair.

Ah, Now the Movie's Ruined

I read at a couple of different blogs that some folks believe that M. Night Shyamalan's The Village is a whole lot like a certain YA novel from a few years back. I'm not mentioning the novel or posting any links so that the movie won't be ruined for you the way it has been for me because I've read the book!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Almost There, Folks

I worked all day Sunday revising a chapter. That means I worked all weekend. Unheard of for me! Then I worked all day yesterday revising the last two chapters. Then I worked from around 11 AM this morning re-revising the last chapter and spellchecking and word counting and printing. Now I'm in the midst of putting everything in order and writing up little tags to stick here and there throughout the manuscript for my editor. Then I have to writer her a letter, which I've actually started because I worked on it as ideas came to me during the revision process.

I know there are some copy editing errors. I hope I can find them. And I want to add something about the main character's height somewhere. And maybe change the last paragraph.

I hope to mail this out tomorrow afternoon.

At this point in a project I get really excited about finishing. Not because oh, boy I've written a book, but because oh, boy we'll have clean, folded, and ironed clothes soon. We'll have food soon--in this case, tomorrow afternoon. I hope. Soon I can work on that essay I started nearly two years ago and update my website. There's lots to look forward to at this point.

Oh, I've been collecting lots of neat blog ideas this weekend. I can look forward to writing about them soon.

Jane Yolen updated her journal. She's distressed because she thinks she's not working hard enough. Yeah, Jane.