Category Archives: news

This week in writing… politics edition

The ultimate literature/politics mashup: Animal Farm

I happen to love it when politics and literature meet, but sometimes, it’s a bit too much, and the mash-up is painful, like this week when racist Hunger Games movie-goers let their nastiness all hang out on Twitter. It’s a sad, sad world we live in where that can still happen in 2012.

There are a few overviews of the Bologna Book fair, including this one from Publishing Perspectives which seems to say that YA is becoming a hard sell. Big surprise, the field is flooded! And then there’s this one from Publisher’s Weekly where they’re looking for the next big thing. (Right here, folks. I’m right here.)

Harry Potter was released as an ebook this week, and demand for it crashed the Kindle website. Nook users (Hi! Me!) were fine. Which tells you something about Kindle vs. Nook. But there’s something else there of note: the Kindle and Nook sites weren’t actually selling the books, they were referring them to J.K. Rowling’s site, Pottermore, which is a huge game-changer in the ebook sales landscape because it’s pulling sales from Amazon and B&N (because, let’s face it, she can!) and cutting them down a peg. In this Shatzkin Files post, the implications for other publishing houses is discussed.

A lot of library politicking news this week too… an Ohio county gives OverDrive a $10M loan when the libraries there have been facing cutbacks. They plan on building a global headquarters with two basketball courts…. while the library gets… that’s right. Nothing.

How libraries are still relevant in a digital age (you don’t need to convince me, I’m there at least twice a week).

And author John Green takes on the library/publishing houses issue with this post on how libraries and ebook piracy are NOT THE SAME.

School Library Journal has a list of the best reads of 2012 for kids.

If you’re a children’s illustrator, editor Harold Underdown is running a competition of sorts on his Facebook page. You create a banner for his timeline, and if he chooses it, he’ll put it up for a week along with an article about you on his page. A great way to get some exposure.

Finally, this week we lost a great poet, Adrienne Rich. Diving into The Wreck still haunts me. I don’t even have appropriate words to send off such a literary great, so instead, here’s the poet in her own words.


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Thank you, racists

So Suzanne Collins fooled you into caring about black people. What a bitch! I mean, you only cared about Rue and Thresh’s death because you thought they were white, albeit dark-skinned white, but certainly NOT BLACK!!! (Even though their descriptions are pretty explicit in the book.) The horror! It’s as if black people had, I don’t know, feelings. Or MATTERED. As for those Hollywood assholes casting Lenny Kravitz as Cinna! How dare they? He certainly wasn’t described as black in the book! He’s one of the best characters so of course he shouldn’t be black. Black characters can only be the bad guys, or have crappy roles.

It’s the reason it’s perfectly  acceptable for kids like Trayvon Martin to be shot dead in the street with a bag of skittles. He couldn’t possibly be doing anything good. Just look at his skin. AND he was wearing a hoodie! Did you know that he was  suspended from school once and that he was giving the man who shot him attitude? It’s a wonder he wasn’t killed sooner. Right?

Thanks racists, for reminding the rest of us that hatred is alive and well, not just in a set-in-their-ways older population who grew up surrounded by separation, but also in a young, tech-savvy generation who are supposed to be more connected to a wider, and more inclusive world.

It’s good to know what you think.


Racist Hunger Games Fans Are Very Disappointed

Witnesses in Trayvon Martin Death Heard Cries Before Shot

Reflecting on the Trayvon Martin Tragedy (letters to the editor)

What Everyone Needs to Know About the Smear Campaign Against Trayvon Martin



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Last week in writing… late edition

So I got knocked out by a stomach bug last week, and the weekly roundup is late. You’ll forgive me though, won’t you? Let’s get to it.

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair was on this week, and many people turned out for the international event. Keynote addresses were on the topic of digital books in the hands of kids, including discussions of apps vs. ebooks.

At Bologna, the first Ragazzi Digital Award was given out to e-Toiles Editions for Dans Mon Reve (In My Dreams). So many publishers competed for the award that it’s clear, ebooks and apps are only going to get bigger and better.

Over at Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog, there are plenty of interviews from Bologna participants. Enjoy.

Speaking of kids… this has nothing to do with publishing, but everything to do with the way kids learn, so I thought I’d share… Why Bilinguals are Smarter.

If you’re writing for teens, you might be interested in this article about how they communicate. Do you know how to use a smartphone? Because your character probably does.

Maybe it’s not the kids you can’t quite peg. Maybe it’s that unusual color. Merriam Webster has you covered with the top ten unusual colors.

Do you habitually underline sentences in everything you read? Then you have something in common with Jhumpa Lahiri, who says that opening sentences are like handshakes, or embraces. So true!

I’ve been planning to read the book MWF Seeking BFF. But now that I know it started as a blog, I’m even more intrigued. Here’s a post on the author’s advice for building your own blog.

There are so many books being made into movies this year. The New York Public Library has a list of them all.

IBBY announces the winners of the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award. Sheesh! More books to read!

Who doesn’t like a good writing competition? Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers announces a writing competition in conjunction with their 2012 conference. You have until April 20 to enter. Sharpen that prose!

And finally, author Brian Yansky wonders, do we need talent?


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This week in writing… deep breath edition

(I’m not feeling great this week guys, so this is a short one.)

Siva on a lotus stalk (via Wikimedia Commons)

The publishing world is still in turmoil, tectonic-plate upheaval, according to one author, and the rest of us are just trying to ride things out, holding on for dear lives. I think we all need to take a deep breath before we go on, because it’s getting nasty out there.

First up, is the news that the Department of Justice is going to sue 5 publishers and Apple over ebook price-fixing. There are many, many reports about what’s going on. Porter Anderson over at Jane Friedman’s blog has a summary of who said what, with links, and Nathan Bransford explains what it all means.

Kiana Davenport, who went from being a Big 6 author, to self-publishing, to Amazon’s new publishing arm. For her efforts, Davenport has been fired by her publisher, and called all kinds of names by former friends, including “slut.” Her graceful explanation of what transpired is here.

She isn’t the only author who is clamoring to find a foothold in the midst of all this craziness. With the field flooded, the trick now is for authors to reach readers who are bombarded with the availability of books. Goodreads’ CEO Otis Chandler discusses how books get a foothold in today’s market.

Now if you want to do the opposite of Ms. Davenport and move from self-pubbed to traditional, agent Sara Megibow has some advice for you.

With all the talk about ebook rights, and DRM management, and how much publishers should make, and how much libraries should pay, etc. etc., it seems that people have forgotten that piracy helped to build the New York publishing industry. Did you know that? I did not. Poor Charles Dickens!

Think social networking is a pain and you want to quit? Before you do, consider a recent finding that social networks boosted the creativity of these 3 notoriously reclusive artists. Of course, the optimal word here is “moderate” so maybe you do want to drop a few hundred twitter follows, just for your sanity.


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This week in writing… birthday edition

Wednesday was World Read Aloud Day, organized and sponsored by the folks at Lit World. I heard about it a couple of weeks back, and volunteered to be a part of it, not just because I love books and reading aloud, but also because it fell on my birthday. Since I had a rough year last year, this seemed like a great, productive way to celebrate. You can find pictures of the event on Lit World’s Facebook page.

Editor Molly O’Neill and agent Michael Bourret discuss what’s good in Middle Grade fiction.

Several children’s book illustrators have been tapped to add art to the subway. It almost makes me want a job in the city again.

Author Catherine Stine has tips for newbie writers, and describes her own path to publication. (Hint: indie and traditional publishing doesn’t have to be an either or.)

A creator of ebooks says that ebooks are bad for your children. Think it’s a trick? Nope. But they make a case for the kind of ebooks that might be better for kids and the kind that might not be. (Guess which kind they make.)

Agree or not, children’s apps are the wave of the future. Here’s a rundown of the kids’ app market.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children also has an article this week about technology and your preschooler.

Maybe you’re new to Twitter, or you haven’t figured it out yet. This Mediabistro post has tons of tips on what to do and not to do as you build your social platform.

Over at Atticus books, they’re discussing whether Amazon is the end of literary culture. A librarian, a bookseller, and a writer weigh in.

On Jane Friedman’s blog, Seth Godin discusses the future of publishing…. again.

If your publishing dreams include working  for a major publishing house (or even a small one), read this article.

Think librarians are backing down about ebook pricing? They aren’t. Thank goodness! There was a bit of a lively debate about this on my Facebook page earlier this week between an editor and a librarian. Both with excellent points, coming from different sides of the issue. The editor’s point: the publishers need to cover costs and are trying to figure out how to deal with the electronic revolution, and the prices will likely change as they do. The librarian’s point: all libraries want to do is serve their patrons and give them the publisher’s books. Where do authors stand? This author thinks that publishers should give libraries a break. They’re getting beaten up enough as it is. Any other authors out there want to weigh in?

Are you making these grammar mistakes? I see a lot of these from some of my novice clients. This handy guide will help you avoid them.

And finally, last week, The Book People held a conference where they discussed if publishers are still necessary. Author Anthony Horowitz has the abbreviated notes here.

In honor of World Read Aloud Day, and because it’s a big favorite at my house, here’s a short clip of Lane Smith’s It’s a Book! Enjoy!


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This week in writing… show me some love edition

Fuzzy love

Agent Rachelle Gardner asks if you know what business you’re in, with good points about businesses like Kodak failing because they didn’t  respond to changes in their industry. Take note, publishers.

If you’re interested in illustrating, here’s a look at what a real illustrator does for a living. And she doesn’t even have an agent yet! For more on how illustrations make it into books, Harold Underdown has a great excerpt from his Idiot’s Guide to Children’s Publishing.

Brian Selznick talks about how his Caldecott-winning book became Scorscese’s Hugo.

Maybe it’s not Scorscese you’re after. But do you know what it takes to launch a book? Tips from publicist Arielle Ford.

So you’re done with the book, but nobody knows about it. Where oh where do you promote? Here’s a list of websites to help you.

If you’re having trouble with your story ending, or you wonder what other authors have done that works, you don’t need to go searching through the library stacks. Literary consultant, Constance Fowland has made a list of picture books by their unique endings, like twist endings, or surprise endings. The list itself almost has no end…

Despite all the sturm und drang over Amazon, there are a lot of authors who want to use their publishing arm. Of course, whether or not that’s a good thing depends on what you want out of it. One of my online writer pals had to pull copies of her book from Nook and other sources because she’s an Amazon Kindle Select author. Because she chose to release the book as a serial, she has to send the next installments to her non-Kindle customers for free. So she’s losing money there. Another author, Derek Haines did a KDP Select Experiment, and everybody’s chiming in on whether it’s a good deal or not. So head on over and check it out for yourself.

Royal love

Shelf Awareness is showing some love to one of the greats in children’s book editing: Ursula Nordstrom. The brief reminder includes my favorite quote in all of publishing: “I had to get back to my desk to publish some more good books for bad children.” I wish I could have met her.

Also via Shelf Awareness: bookstore sales fell in December last year. Is that because of all the Borders closings? Probably.

The Atlantic Wire rounds out some publishing news here. Among them, the surprising news that Barnes & Noble has a new backer: Fidelity Investments. I’m sure lots of people love that news. And while it is good news for B&N, it’s still not enough to concern Amazon. Another interesting piece in there: how to rock a pseudonym.

Are you ready to show some books a little love? World Read Aloud Day is coming on March 7th (which also happens to be my birthday).
They’re getting ready for it at Books of Wonder in Manhattan, and you can find out more about the event here.

And the always fabulous SCBWI is showing midlist authors some love with a new grant. Man, I’d love to be nominated. Not hinting. Just saying.

UPDATE: I neglected to add last week’s event in celebration of the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle In Time, one of the greatest YA books ever written, which very nearly did not get published. Talk about love. How much do people love Wrinkle and L’Engle? Loads.

And though I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day (my husband’s a lucky guy), I could not resist the photos I pasted in this post. But the best valentine ever? The video below. It’s nominated for an Oscar in the best animated short category, and it’s spectacular. Enjoy!

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Ode to Giants

I’m not a big football fan. (My friends are now choking with laughter.) OK. I hardly know anything about sports. But I couldn’t resist watching the superbowl last night with the kids, and trying to explain as well as I could what was going on. In the last seconds of the game, with the fate of both teams hinging on one catch, we were all riveted. We didn’t need to know all the technical stuff, or what happened before, or who was playing, or what the stats were. We were just waiting for the result of that last play. And when it came, we yelled with joy. And we’re not even fans!

Now, that’s entertainment.

Congrats, Giants.


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Once upon…

What is it about fairy tales? They capture the imagination, keep us guessing, appeal to our sense of hope. I love fairy tales. I own the complete Grimm’s and Andersen, and occasionally fairy tales appear on my doorstep. Ever heard of a mini-series called The 10th Kingdom? I own it on DVD. Even my scientist crush, Albert Einstein once said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” So in the fall when ABC announced they were doing a series called Once Upon a Time, you’d think I’d have programmed my DVR instantly. I didn’t.

I’ve gotten a little sick and tired of shows where ethnic characters are by-standers, or non-existent, and by all evidence, this was going to be the same. Granted, fairy tales of the European variety don’t have ethnic characters because that’s a fact of geography. And for whatever reason, fairy tales from other cultures never seem to make the cut. (I am, right now, working to bring some more color to the fairy tale scene.) But I could only resist for so long, especially since friends of mine kept talking about how great the show is.

So on Sunday, I went to ABC’s site and I watched the pilot.

And then I watched the first episode.

And then I went on a few different websites trying to figure out where the  costumer for Mary Margaret/Snow White got that white lace shirt she was wearing.

(Did I mention that Snow White is my favorite fairy tale?)

And then I read some fan comments on blogs.

And then I decided to pace myself.

So I didn’t watch another episode until last night.

And now I’m trying to figure out how long I should wait  to watch another episode.

Which means I’ve fallen for a show I said I wasn’t going to watch, and probably shouldn’t because my main reason still applies.

But I love all things fairy tale, because in fairy tales we get the riddle: Why are grandmother’s eyes so big? Will he find the true owner of the shoe? Who does that frog think he is?

Since the writers of Once are upholding the rules: Will the citizens of Storybrooke ever find their way back into the forest?

I’ll be watching to find out.


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This week in writing… big banana edition

There was a whole lot of big-name action this week. Did you hear about the Amazon/Goodreads thing? Wow. And then Stephen Colbert interviewed Maurice Sendak. And Apple got a bunch of educational publishers to a table to discuss THE FUTURE. It’s enough to make a girl’s head spin. So let’s get to it.

Amazon decided to throw its weight around this week by asking Goodreads to remove all their book data that came directly from Amazon. Authors were in a panic on Tuesday when they realized they had to rescue their books, thinking that Goodreads was targeting indie authors. Not so. Even I got a notice from Goodreads to rescue one of my non-fiction titles. Not cool, Amazon.

Did you know that McGraw-Hill and Apple were partners? Me either. But the iBooks 2 app is still a bit of a head-scratcher for MGH, so on Thursday there was a sit-down to figure it all out.

Everyone loves Seuss. How’d he get his start again? Right. Mulberry Street.

Want your characters to feel more real? This post teaches you the tricks to “deep POV” even for 3rd person.

How do books get on the bestseller lists? And how do I get mine on there!!!

Do you read every day? You don’t? Then maybe you shouldn’t be a writer.

Something else for writers to aspire to aside from the pleasure of having your story reach so many people, is the possibility of some awesome digs. Check out these writer estates.

And as if the houses weren’t enough, maybe you just want your prose to inspire a cool tattoo.

Yesterday, Lee and Low announced that they had acquired Children’s Book Press with this tweet: @LEEandLOW: BIG news: We’ve acquired Children’s Book Press. Lee and Low is moving steadily into the big time. We’re just glad they got CBP and not Amazon. Yikes!

And one of my favorite tv personalities talks to one of my favorite authors. That sound you hear is my head exploding.

And here’s part 2:

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Rescue that book!

There was an uproar on Tuesday as authors realized that some of their books on Goodreads was going to be deleted from the network’s database. The books in question were all listed from At first, indie authors were concerned that Goodreads might be targeting them specifically, but later in the day, Goodreads customer support revealed that it was Amazon themselves who were requesting the change, and their deadline to have book data off the Goodreads site was January 30. Goodreads urged their members to rescue books by inputting book information from sources other than Amazon.  Affected books have a message asking someone to rescue them on the pages with their descriptions. I mistakenly thought this was strictly and ebook thing, but yesterday I got an email from Goodreads that one of my titles, Being a Leader and Making Decisions, was also going to be taken off the site. For most books, authors can simply give an alternate source of information. But what about books that are being distributed solely on Kindles? Well, they’re screwed.

So why is Amazon doing this? It’s hard to say for sure, but I think it’s because Goodreads sells books, so they are competition, and as a social networking site, Goodreads and Amazon’s Shelfari are in direct competition.

Amazon’s a big company so they can throw their weight around. But is it wise to piss off authors? Some think they may have a class-action lawsuit on their hands.

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