Do you restrict your kids’ reading?

The tote bag haul wasn't too shabby either.

The tote bag haul from BEA wasn’t too shabby either.

After my first ever visit to BEA  last week, I picked up the kids and announced that I had a lot of books for them. Cue applause. No really, there was actual applause. As soon as we got home, my daughter spread out all the books on the living room floor, counted them up, and announced, “You only got 16!” That was around 3:15pm. By 10pm when I called lights out, she had already finished two novels. NOVELS. And in between, she had to do homework, violin practice, have dinner, and shower. So she’s a reader. My son…well, he’s getting there.

So when my daughter asked to borrow my copy of The Fault In Our Stars, you’d think I just handed it over without a second thought. Nope. She’s 11, and I think that’s just not appropriate for her. “But some of my friends in class are reading it.” Still nope. And then I wondered if I was like one of those hey let’s ban all the books! kinds of parents, and if this is how it starts–by deciding that it’s not appropriate for my kid, and therefore not appropriate for any of them. I suggested she read the signed copy of Seeing Red that I procured from Kathy Erskine just for her. (Kathy even sent stickers.) The poor kid just looked disappointed, which is when I relented, but with one caveat. “If you read anything that you don’t understand and want to talk about it, you let me know,” I said. Her eyes went wide, but she walked away looking very pleased with herself.

The jury is still out on this one. I mean if she came and asked me to read Lolita, would I let her? Clearly I’m a wuss when it comes to my kids and books, so yeah, probably. Besides, I think that some of that stuff is going to go right over her head. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Book banning makes me want to dance.

It’s banned books week. And thank goodness. Everything that is horrible, morally lacking, and unfit for human eyeballs is listed pretty much everywhere this week so I can find them! Ah, freedom. It smells like old library. I’m so grateful for book banning and challenging, I can’t even tell you. You’ve probably already heard about how Rainbow Rowell was disinvited to a school district to talk about her novel, Eleanor and Park. I might not have heard of Eleanor and Park if it wasn’t for that. And now I can buy the book. Here! Stuff like this keeps happening, right? And usually backfires, showing people like me what they should be reading, giving authors loads of press, and showing the world who the morons are and how they find new ways to couch their censorship talk.

But probably my favorite, favorite thing about censorship is how much it reminds me of Footloose. Can you ever get enough of Kevin Bacon dancing? I know I can’t. So the next time someone bans a book, do like Kevin Bacon. Dance in the headlights…all the way to the bookstore.

Go here for all your banned books week activities. Enjoy.

This week in writing… banned edition

It’s banned books week. Have you read any filthy, smutty, morally offensive literature this year? You should. Really. Need a list? Here you go. You probably think that the authors despise having their books banned. Not so. Not always, anyway. Sometimes they rather enjoy it. Here are some of the more amusing quotes from banned authors. I happen to love the one by Justin Richardson. Though that Maurice Sendak interview is one of my favorite things of all time.

(Don’t go away, there’s more news after the ‘toon.)

[The image comes from Goodwill Librarian on Facebook.]

An easy way to circumvent people who find literature objectionable is to put it all on ebooks. (Not really something I’m suggesting, just a nice segue.) Speaking of ebooks… (see what I did there?) Digital book sales continue to climb according to BookStats. By how much? In 2010 ebook sales represented 6.7% of trade sales. In 2011, it’s 16%. Wow. Many authors are jumping on that bandwagon, but interestingly, some are established authors. Michael Thomas Ford, author of over 60 books is going indie for his next novel, and to do so he’s raising money through an Indiegogo campaign. Check it out. Only contributors are going to get this limited edition book, so if you want it… pony up. I love this idea.

Someone just discovered that 55% of YA sales are from adults who buy it for themselves. (Those of us who have been buying YA and aren’t under 18 have this to say: honey, this is not news.) Speaking of childish, ever wondered what would have happened to Disney’s evil villains if they’d actually won? Yeah me neither. But someone did. Enjoy it before Disney’s lawyers pull it off the web.

And I just found this awesome video of authors talking about their banned books.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

This week in writing… poetry & letters edition

It’s National Poetry Month! Spring is in the air, and everyone’s inspired. I wish I could put a poem here, but I suck at that, so let’s just dig in…

Jane Yolen has tips on writing poetry over at Katie Davis’ blog.

On April 21st, the Postal Service will honor 20th century poets with their own stamps!

The 2012 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award winner and honoree has been announced.

Maybe you’re just looking for the best prose out there… Bank Street has you covered with the best books of 2012 from infant to YA.

Over in the UK, the Roald Dahl museum has now opened up an exhibit that includes his writing hut. Man, I want one of those!

Have you seen this letter from Kurt Vonnegut to the head of a school board who ordered his books to be burned in the school furnace?

In news of nicer letters, there’s this book of letters C.S. Lewis wrote to children.

There are a couple of new ventures to report. The people behind One Story have now launched a new magazine, One Teen Story for older readers. They are now accepting short stories for their first year of publication. Also, author Marissa Moss is launching her own publishing company, Creston Books.

Dahl in his Writing Hut

Just as the DOJ, Apple and the big 6 start making decisions about their suit, Amazon cuts ebook prices. This will further separate them from the pack, and put them firmly ahead of their competition. I wonder what Barnes & Noble’s response will be, if any. (Oh wait. They’ve updated their Simple Touch with a GlowLight. OK, that’s a handy feature, but is that enough?) Meanwhile, in the Department of Justice suit, three are settling while three more are standing up to fight, saying that there was no collusion on their part to set the prices of ebooks. And on the other end of the spectrum, the ebook version of J.K. Rowling’s new adult novel will be priced at about $20. What the muggle?

With all the fur and feathers flying, some publishers are trying to squeeze out Amazon by not signing contracts with them. (How do we feel about this, authors?)

If you think that ebook pricing doesn’t affect you because you’re only a reader, you’re mistaken.  A consumer advocate group has calculated that the pricing fix will actually cost each of us about $200 more this year. I know what you’re thinking. You’re just going to get your ebooks from the library. Well hold that thought. Libraries and publishers are still fighting. In fact a group of 25 libraries in Connecticut recently voted to boycott Random House.

Bah humbug, you say? Who cares about ereaders and ebooks you say? Well, it seems that people who use electronic devices to read, read more than those who only read on print. I bet the divide will keep growing.

[Roald Dahl image from BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/walesarts/2011/09/roald_dahl_day_events.html]

Thursday Mashup

Yeah. I know. Let’s just get to it, shall we?

The biggest publishing shocker for me last week was the news that Umberto Eco isn’t well read, and says that you don’t need to be either. Who’s worried about book sales? Not him, apparently.

And I bet his writing space doesn’t look like this either. (That’s super cute, right? via @MisaBuckley.)

But if you do like reading, and you want to do it on an eReader, the big news was Kobo’s new eInk display with touch screen and not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble released yet another eReader called the Simple Touch Reader that has the same capabilities. While Kindle is still maintaining their lead in the eReader industry, I don’t think they’ll have that hold for long, and the news is that they’re now looking to make Android devices to keep up  with everyone else. Let me just say now that whoever makes a color eInk display is going to CLEAN UP.

In more Barnes & Noble news, they’ve now moved into craft sales, which is good news for this blog, as I can now get my knitting supplies and my books in one cart. Yay!

And in more eReader news, at least one university is opting for eReader texts instead of all those bulky textbooks, which is the best application for this technology.

If you want to know how much an eBook should cost, you gotta go to Mike, who breaks down the economics and the dilemma on both sides: “obviously many readers feel that the prices [of eBooks] are outrageous and unjustified. How do greedy authors sleep at night? To be honest, having unhappy readers causes us some sleepless nights. Worrying about paying the rent if ebooks were priced as low as readers want causes even more sleepless nights. So, the gentle reader may rest assured that authors are, indeed, losing sleep!”

If you’re wondering how to create a writing platform, YA Fantasy Guide has the answers because as they say, “You need to get yourself out there in your field before you submit your work. Great writing, original stories, and platforms are sure fire ways to create a successful writing career for yourself. ”

And speaking of careers, two full-time writers reveal how they do it. And yes, those fantasy advances are hysterical. Though if you can’t decide if you should jump in, you need to ask yourself if writing is a calling or a career. Your mindset may have more to do with your success or failure than you think. Author Edward Nawotka says that for writers, “The sense that writing as a calling can sustain them, but thinking of writing as a career can armor you against the vagaries of this unpredictable business.”

Finally in the writing as profession category is this Writer Unboxed post about what you can expect as a professional writer and how to separate the fantasy from the reality. “How does it look when you project the image of your professional writer self into the future five years, or ten?”

For those of us who are well on our way to super stardom, you need to beware of the contract. J.D. Sawyer ( who is not a lawyer) wants you to think about your rights over the long term on dodgy clauses. “It’s situations like this that underline the unequal bargaining muscle that publishers (of all media) bring to the table. But there is something you can do to equalize that balance: When faced with a clause like this, say “no.” Period.”

There’s a new “boyz” magazine in town. And that’s great. Unless mis-spellings bother you.

See if you live in one of the most well-read cities in the U.S. (I don’t.)

Books are still being banned. Seriously? Yes. Sadly.

What some of us think of self-published books, and how to overcome that prejudice.

Last week was also BEA, so there’s some news on that front. Like Google abandoning their ebook store. Why? Read here. And the American Booksellers Association on the fate of indie bookstores: “There is nothing like browsing in a physical bookstore. That is something you can’t replace.”

And finally, we lose the divine Ms O. and all her lovely influence on the world of books, and also, libraries. Bye Oprah!