Monday, May 31, 2004


I've actually been doing a little reading of a journalistic nature lately. The May 27th edition of The New York Times (the Technology section, no less) carried an article entitled ForSome,The Blogging Never Stops. It's all about people who are obsessed with their blogs, update them several times a day, work on them while they're on vacation, etc. etc. Yeah, I know, that is totally not me. But since I have been writing about my blog lately, I saw a connection. Of sorts.

The April 19th issue of Newsweek ran a short article that caught my eye. Probably because it was in one of those little colored boxes. So I cut it out and left it on my desk where I found it last week. Okay, enough build up. It was called "Will Chopra, Like, Sell?" Deepak Chopra has written a book called Fire in the Heart: A Spiritual Guide for Teens. Now, of course, I have heard of Deepak Chopra, but even after going to his website I can't figure out what exactly he does. Other than spiritual stuff, I guess. And the only info I can find about Fire in the Heart is located at sites that are selling it. I can't find any independent reviews right now.

But none of that really matters, because what really interests me about Fire in the Heart is that it's part of what I'm thinking of as a mini-phenomena--successful writers of adult self-help books moving into a teen market. You have your Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul books (a whole series) and your Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens books. I'm assuming there are more of these sorts of titles because I'm one of those people who always seems to know only about the tip of the iceberg, if you can follow that analogy.

I haven't read these books, and I'm not knocking them. I read my share of the old self-help volumes, too. I'm particularly partial to books on creativity and how to blog more and faster. I mean write more and faster. I just find it interesting that this is happening. Everyone seems to want to write for young people these days...actors, singers, self-help authors.

What does it all mean?

Friday, May 28, 2004

What is This Thing, Anyway?

While cleaning my desk, I found a copy of The Horn Book, the January/February issue, I believe. While thumbing through it to make sure I'd read the thing, I found that not only had I read it, I had marked part of an article that referred to a new literary journal for young adults. Rush Hour is edited by Michael Cart, a name that often turns up when the subject of YA fiction is being discussed.

Rush Hour is supposed to come out twice a year with themed issues. The first one is Sin, the second Bad Boys. I have to say, I love those titles.

What is confusing me a little is that I usually think of literary journals as being, well, literary journals. I usually think of them as collections of writing that are published by a separate independent company that specializes in doing just that. These journals are published by Random House, a book publishing company. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just think of a book publishing company as publishing individual books that take time to put together, not journals that come out twice a year.

Clearly, I need to free up my mind.

Actually, it makes a certain amount of sense for a publishing company to publish a journal. The things frequently cost as much as a high-quality paperback and usually look like one, too. And new publications of all kinds are very risky businesses because it costs so much to pay authors, editors, printing costs, etc., for a journal no one knows anything about and thus aren't likely to buy. A publishing company has a lot more money to play with and can take the risk.

Still, if I take my Barnes & Noble gift card to the store where will I find Rush Hour? Displayed with the journals and magazines or on the shelves with the books? Where will I find it in the library?

Oh, I'm just nitpicking. I'll let you know where I find Rush Hour.

By the way, this article says that Michael Cart has more than 10,000 books and papers. I am so lazy. My first thought when I read that was "How does he take care of all those things?"

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

What I Did This Morning

I am obsessed with the blog this week, as I sort of suggested in yesterday's post. This morning I did an Internet search of children's literature blogs. I didn't find a whole lot, which doesn't mean there aren't more out there, just that I didn't find them.

I found Kids Lit Books and More for Kids and Teens, Mrs. Rabbitt's Bookbag, and Books and Reading: Reading Motivation, Book Lists, Collection Development. All three sites appear to be maintained by librarians. I also found Children's Booklog. Sorry, I just can't make the link work. However, it's connected to a big site called About that I can connect to. I don't totally understand what it's about, but there it is. And Achockablog is a site from the United Kingdom, also connected to About.

Now, there may be blogs at individual children's authors sites that didn't show up on my search. My blog didn't show up, after all. But, otherwise, that's all I could find.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Blog Universe

I've been mentioned in someone else's blog! How cool is that? Karin (pronounced "car in") Gillespie also has a website and a book, Bet Your Bottom Dollar, coming out through Simon and Schuster this summer. She's not a kidlit person, but I'm mentioning her in Original Content, anyway, because Karin has a good book-and-author-type blog, and I'm in a blog mindset the last few days.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Totally Believable To Me

I finally finished reading M. T. Anderson's satire Feed, which I thought was fantastic. Anderson has created a well-defined world and populated it with some believable, complex characters. And there's lots of other clever stuff, too.

Can you believe that Gail, who hardly ever likes anything, is raving like this? Or, at least, raving in the good sense of the word?

Of course, I personally believe that the commercial world we live in now is already trying to control our minds so the basic premise of Anderson's story, to me, is just a logical extension of what is already going on. I thought that having the characters lose their flesh and hair was a little over the top, though. I agree that the environment is adversely affected by our mass consumerism and that will affect our health. But for the book's sake I think sticking to just the consumer stuff would have been plenty.

And, finally, I imagine some readers will be disappointed with how Titus, our narrator, treats Violet when she is sick. (Someone I know who has read the book referred to him as "a puke," though believably so.)His behavior isn't pretty. However, I think it is realistic about how hard it is for a young person to deal with this kind of situation. The things he says to her are all things that must go through the minds of many young people. Plus, he is part of a group of kids who aren't noteworthy for their depth and strength of character.

In spite of the sickness and skin disappearing from peoples' bodies, there is a lot of clever, sophisticated humor in this book. I liked it so much, I'm going to give one of Anderson's earlier books, Burger Wuss, a try.

Friday, May 21, 2004

I'm Cleaning My Desk Again!

On Feb. 14, 2003 I did a blog on Reading Rants, which is a site of book lists for teens on various subjects. I had stumbled upon the site, which is how I find most places on the Web, made a copy of one of the lists, and left it floating around my desk for who knows how long. Then, when I stumbled upon that, I wrote a blog about it.

Well, folks, I've done it again. I made a hard copy of a Reading Rants' list called Reality Bytes: Non-fiction about teens, for teens, which I thought looked interesting, and left it floating around my desk. Now, I'm only a week or two behind on life--well, probably a month to be honest--and can take a few minutes to clean my desk and I found the hard copy. So now you're hearing about. Really, I would read some of these books if I had the time. How's that for a recommendation!

Here is something interesting and timely I found at the Reading Rants site today: Joss Whedon of Buffy and Angel fame has written a graphic novel called Fray, which is about a futuristic slayer, of course.

I would have loved to have linked to something about Joss Whedon, but I couldn't find an official site for either him or his production company. I found masses of fan stuff for him, but what to choose? what to choose? I think it's great that a writer is getting so much attention and is so loved but in my experience this kind of stuff just doesn't happen to writers. Which leads me to wonder if Whedon doesn't have some connection to that circle of evil dudes Angel and his team took out on the series finale Wednesday night.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

And What Did You Get For Mother's Day?

Okay, here I go talking about one of my kids again. I'd just like to point out that I've been keeping this blog for a couple of years, and I've only mentioned the little dears twice. Maybe three times.

The day before Mother's Day, Little Dear II, went to a used book sale, something he's very fond of doing. (In fact, this afternoon he's off to a going-out-of-business sale for a used bookstore.) Anyway, the day before Mother's Day, he buys me my Mother's Day present at this booksale. I should have been kicking his backside for waiting until the last minute, but he did buy me something cool.

What he got me was The Children's First Reader by Ellen M. Cyr. I've found very little on Cyr on-line, though she is supposed to be one of the first women involved with writing an instructional book for children, and eventually she had a line of them known as Cyr Readers. My particular book is dated 1893 and has one torn page.

I also have a reproduction set of McGuffy Readers that I received for Christmas years ago. I thought I was going to read them, but, guess what? I didn't. I'm hoping for a better fate for my new book from my son. I'm leaving it floating around the living room and sunroom hoping I'll read it.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

A True Story

I make a big point of not talking about my family in this blog, but I have a story I think is so neat that I'm going to make an exception. Here it is:

I was talking to my son on the phone a few weeks ago. Sometimes we can talk on the phone for forty minutes or so. This was not one of those times. I was almost ready to sign off when I asked, "What are you reading in your lit class?" (Aside: Though I have a college age son, I, myself, am really young and cool. You will have to trust me on this one.) He says, "We just read "Feed." I say, "You mean Feed F E E D? Does it have a picture of a bald guy from the back on the cover." He said, "Yes. I have a signed copy." I said, "I can't believe it! I've wanted to read that for a couple of years, but our library doesn't have it and I'm too cheap to buy it. Did you like it?" He said, "I liked it the best of the books we've read." And I said, "You know it's YA?" And he said, "Yes." Then I said, "How did you end up with a signed copy?" And he said, "The author came to our class." And I'm screaming into the phone.

My son was home last weekend, and now I'm reading his book. I'll have more to say about this later.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Strange New World

It has been so long since I've posted that my host has totally changed its format. I have only the vaguest idea what I'm doing here folks.

The draft I was revising since the beginning of February went out in the mail last Friday. I won't go into what happens to me during the last few weeks I'm working on a revision except to say it ain't pretty. Among other things I have to finally become so focused to get it done that I just have to ignore most everything else in my life. Now I'm so far behind with my living I don't know where to begin. Plus there's all these new work projects I want to get started on.

Perhaps I should begin by cleaning my desk.

This morning I did do something new and positive. I registered this weblog with a site called Globe of Blogs, which should bring it to the attention of more readers. I am confident that something will come of it since, to my knowledge, only one person has ever read Original Content. Only one more person has to see it, and I'll have a one hundred percent increase in readership.