Viewing Blog: The Great Raven, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 592
This is a book review and science fiction blog, for the most part, with the odd convention report and travel notes. And maybe the occasional Celtic goddess, such as the Great Raven...
Statistics for The Great Raven
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 2
My birthday brought me one book from my nephew David. It's a biography of Steve Jobs, written on request by the subject, while he was already dying. He didn't require to be shown the manuscript before publication or to have control over it. He just wanted it written.
I admit it wasn't a book I would have bought for myself, although I quite like biographies, depending on the subject - usually a historical bio of someone dead for a few hundred years, though I have read quite a few of Tolkien and C.S Lewis. But I began reading it yesterday and got through 100 pages. It's a fascinating story. Did you know he was born the same year as Bill Gates? Well, I didn't, and it's a nice way to be able to compare. I hadn't realised he was adopted either, or that he refused ever to meet his biological father, considering his adoptive parents as his real and only ones. Which is nice to know, because he gave them a lot of troubles in his childhood and teens. He wasn't a nice man, but a nice man couldn't have achieved what he did. The nice man he worked with wouldn't have gotten those wonderful computers past the hobbyists. I have left it at my mother's place,to be read in bed while I'm there, as it's a thick, heavy hardcover I can't carry in the train.
And early yesterday morning, when I couldn't sleep, I discovered, to my delight, that Poul Anderson and Gordy Dickson's Hoka stories were available on ebook. If you haven't read them, go get them NOW! The Hokas are a loveable race of ursinoids(think giant teddy bears). They simply adore Earth history and literature and enjoy playing with them. In fact, they live them. A Hoka delegation on Earth are charmed by Don Giovanni and take on all the roles, nearly causing disaster. Another bunch of Hokas become the Space Patrol of a popular children's series. On the planet itself, there are Hoka versions of everything from the French Foreign Legion to Victorian England, including a Hoka Sherlock Holmes. It's all seen from the viewpoint of Alex Jones, a young man given the job of Plenipotentiary, who keeps getting caught up in various Hoka adventures. The one I downloaded first was Earthman's Burden, but I mean to buy the others, Star Prince Charlie and Hoka!
Star Prince Charlie has a Hoka in it, but isn't set on the Hoka homeworld. A young man, Charlie, and his Hoka tutor, who is playing the role of an Oxford don, visit a world with a situation similar to Scotland in the time of Bonnie Prince Charlie and this inspires the Hoka to become a Scottish clansman, with his charge as Bonnie Prince Charlie. Delightful!
Time to arise, eat, clean and prepare classes. Sigh!
And while I was going on about being unable to read anything new while sick, look what was waiting for me when I got home! The lovely Sonia Palmisano, publicity guru at Bloomsbury, seems to get it right, time after time, with my review copies.
Pity that one of the other publishers with which I have had a good relationship - no names! - has started offering Netgalley ARCs only, instead of books you can handle and stroke and then put on the library shelves for the kids to enjoy. I have made it clear in the past that I don't review ebooks. I have my reasons, mainly that I do this to supplement my pitiful library budget - and it seems to me that publishers who want you to publicise their product owe you at least a physical option. I know a lot of reviewers don't mind, but they should at least ask, "Will you take it as ebook or would you prefer print?" and keep a few print copies for stubborn folk like me.
Ah, well, at least when I'm recovered, I can enjoy my lovely Neil Gaiman book for younger readers, review it and then offer it to our students. :-)
My comfort reading varies. Sometimes it's Kerry Greenwood's mysteries which I almost know by heart by now. Sometimes it's Tolkien, because his "beautiful writing" really is beautiful, with its emphasis on characters you care about and journeys that matter and sometimes just the plain joy of a good meal and a pint at the pub or a luxurious bath after a long and dangerous trek.
Right now, it's Terry Pratchett, physical book chosen at random - Carpe Jugulum, the vampire sendup that was having a go at the Ann Rice style of vampire, but which ought to be compulsory reading for anyone who thinks Edward Cullen is a hunk.
Also, I have all four Tiffany Aching books on my iPad and I have just started to reread them from the beginning, with Wee Free Men. There's something wonderful about following Tiffany from the nine year old girl who loves words like sussurus to the young woman who has found her place as witch of the chalk country and, incidentally, got an intelligent boyfriend by the end of the final book.
And having read Nicola Upson's crime novel with Josephine Tey as heroine, I'm back, rereading Daughter Of Time for the umpteenth time.
You can't read new stuff when you're sick and get the best out of it. Well, I can't.
So, off to bed and on with the comfort reading.
Anyone out there got their own favourites in comfort reading?
Over the last few years, she has done writers' workshops and more and, with some friends, has set up a wonderful blog called Writer Beware, in which they have exposed some shonky publishers and publishing deals and goodness knows, with so many books being self-published these days, there is a need for this sort of information, though it's not only the self-pub companies or even the small presses that rip off writers. I have been following it out of general interest.
Now, Ann has written this post to announce that her life is coming to an end, with no certainty of how much longer she has. If you have read her work or even have an interest in this subject matter, do wander over and take a look. I've left a comment and so can you, if you like.
We're losing too many wonderful creative people. Fred Pohl, a writer from the Golden Age of spec fic, has just passed away. Mind you, he lived to be 94 and was getting Hugo nominations for his fan writing in recent years! So he was at least using his time well, even if it was just fan writing.
See you beyond the stars, Fred!
Really, if you want to do a birthday meme, this is the wrong time of year. Battles, killings, all sorts of dreadful stuff and boring people who share a birthday with you. September 3, my official birthday, has it all.
But for September 4 I did manage to find two favourite writers - Mary Renault and Joan Aiken. I was delighted.
Mary Renault was the Rosemary Sutcliff of Ancient Greece. She made it feel real, as if you were there, and that included her novels about mythological characters such as Theseus. Evangeline Walton wrote a Theseus novel at around the same time, but it wasn't as good - she was best at Welsh myth. I cried over The King Must Die(which I first read when I was eleven) and The Bull From The Sea. She convinced me that Theseus might have been a real person, and the fantastical elements were limited to his ability to know when an earthquake was about to happen. Even his visit to the underworld was explained as a stroke, after which he can't move properly any more.
Joan Aiken was the kind of writer I have always had a hankering to be - witty, quirky, creating a universe in which of course there are unicorns and the kindergarten class is taught by a fairy and in fact, there are fundraisings for the local retired fairy home. And then there's the Dido Twite series, set in an alternative universe in which the Stuarts still rule England in the nineteenth century and the Hanoverians are always plotting to get in. I have read The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase and The Stolen Lake. In the latter, someone steals the lake into which King Arthur threw Excalibur... No, you have to read it, I won't go into detail. But it's the sort of quirky silliness you'd expect from this author.
So if my birthday is indeed September 4, I am sharing it with at least two wonderful writers.
But I had been attending fewer events anyway in the last few years. I used to take a chance when you could get ten events cheaper, and my membership card for the Australian Society of Authors made it even cheaper. Both options disappeared, though you could still get a bit of a discount as a member of the Victorian Writers Centre(I joined for a couple of years). So I booked events that I was pretty sure I would enjoy. I am a genre fan - history, crime both fiction and true, spec fic. And children's and YA. I'm not into literary fiction or philosophy or the kind of authors everyone has heard of but very few have actually read, the ones who can't actually tell you what their novel is about, just that it's "beautiful writing". Not for me, sorry! For me, beautiful writing has to include a story, and characters I care about, the kind of book I can read for comfort late at night when I can't sleep.
But over the years, they stopped doing the kind of things I might enjoy in the evening. And while there was the occasional children's or YA writer on the weekend, there were not enough to satisfy me, and nearly anything I really wanted to hear was on during the day, during the week, when I was at work. Don't get me wrong - Kim Stanley Robinson spoke a couple of years ago, when Aussiecon was in Melbourne, and as I had whooping cough during the con, I was very glad I had been able to hear him speak at the MWF. Another time I heard Michael Robotham and other crime writers on a weekend panel. (I happened to be sitting next to his wife, who told me she missed his time as a ghostwriter, when she could hear about the celebrities whose "autobiographies" he used to write).
There just wasn't enough of it, and I really loved to go in the evening after work.
Ah, I remember the Harry Potter readings and trivia quizzes and the interview with Graeme Base! I remember going to hear Ben Bova and Robert Jordan slugging it out on stage, and stopping Kerry Greenwood to get my book signed.
Last year I went to one event, I think, and it was free, a book launch by Twelfth Planet Press.
I actually got a phone call from someone in the box office this year, who thought I'd been complaining about the prices on Twitter(I hadn't, though as she was there I did complain about the programming). She assured me you could still get discounts for five events(I think it was about fifty cents an event, or maybe fifty cents altogether.)
And one last complaint, though it's not connected with why I've been missing the Festival: you guys have invited a teenage blogger this year,for heavens' sake, but NEVER me with my ten books, including two Notables. Sigh!
Speaking of road stories, I've finally begun to get stuck into Libba Bray's novel, Going Bovine, which I bought at the Reading Matters conference. It's the story of a boy who has been diagnosed with mad cow disease and is taking a road trip, with a Little Person friend from school, to find a cure which he has been promised by a punk angel. They have several bizarre encounters and I get the feeling it's meant to be a version of Don Quixote... Not sure if it's really YA fiction, though the hero is a teenager. It just has too many references which will go over the heads of many teens. I'll make up my mind when I've finished it; I'm halfway through, having read quite a bit when I woke up at 4.30 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep.
There are some review copies awaiting their turn, so I'd better get going on those!
Any interesting reading going on out there, readers?
So, after a reread of the Tey novel, I couldn't resist buying the ebook versions of Rosemary Hawley Jarman's classics, The King's Grey Mare and We Speak No Treason. Personally, I think her first novel, We Speak No Treason, is her masterpiece, but I quite like her other Richard novel. I remember my first discovery of Treason, with its simple red and purple covers(it was in two volumes and oddly, the ebook is also two-volume). I was blown away by it. The feel of fifteenth century England was all there - the music, the banners, the clothes, the food, Maydays, the smell of the streets... I've just read the section devoted to a character called only the Maiden, Richard's first girl, the mother of his daughter Katherine - the daughter was real, we just don't know who her mother was, and the author creates a possible one. On a reread, I was thinking, "Aargh! You idiot! Don't spill your guts to the smiling lady in waiting!"
The King's Grey Mare starts as a sort of historical romance and goes on into history. Elizabeth Woodville can't live happily ever after with her John Grey, and after she does what it takes to become Queen of England, knowing what she knows about something really stupid Edward did to get into another woman's pants, Elizabeth can no longer be the heroine of a romance and the book has to be seen from other people's viewpoint. Which may be a flaw, and why it isn't quite as good as the first novel. But it's very readable anyway and I bought that ebook first.
While rereading that one, I went to Project Gutenberg for Sabine Baring-Gould's Curious Myths Of The Middle Ages. I do have that somewhere on my overloaded shelves, but couldn't find it and I wanted to read his version of the story of Melusine, rumoured ancestor of Elizabeth's family. I know it's in there, but can't find it in the ebook! Rats! PG is wonderful, but doesn't always have complete texts.
Still, I also downloaded some of his other books, including what seems to be a collection of short stories about ghosts. There's one amusing one about a ghostly waiter who turns up to collect tips.
I now have Tara Moss's Blood Countess, which I hadn't read, but thought I might enjoy, as I did the sequel. It's sort of Buffy meets The Addams Family. I also have a keynote speech from a Harry Potter conference, The Great Gatsby, Prickle Moon, Longbourn(Pride And Prejudice seen from the viewpoint of the servants) and Shakespeare's Cymbeline.
Review copies to finish and review - stand by.
Meanwhile, I have a lot of reading to do.
The second is The Ink Bridge, which is terribly sad, with a horrible scene in which one of the two young heroes gets his tongue torn out by the Taliban. One of my Year 8 students is reading it now, because she's bingeing on refugee fiction and she's already read the Morris Gleitzmans and the Deborah Ellis and such and the literacy co-ordinator thinks she's ready for something more advanced. Not sure what I'll find for her after this. I'll be interested to hear her opinion on it.
I have not finished Friday Brown, but have it in my bag as I travel to work.
There's something terribly depressing about most of the books in this year's shortlist, actually. And I don't like depressing. There's enough tragedy in the real world as it is without adding it to fiction. Granted, kids sometimes like depressing books - I can remember being asked for one by a student once: "Can you suggest a depressing book, Miss?" I looked at him and when I saw he meant it, I found him a copy of Margaret Clarke's Care Factor Zero. A suicide on the last page, you can't get much more depressing than that!
My students were disappointed that Morris Gleitzman's After didn't make even an Honour Book in the Younger Readers winners. Many of them come from primary school having read Once, Then and sometimes Now and grab this one eagerly to finish off the series; Gleitzman's books are sad, but not depressing. I have read and quite enjoyed Pennies For Hitler, but not, yet, The Children Of The King. One of our students borrowed it, so it's out. I have heard a bit about it, but not got around to reading it. I am sorry to say I'm not a fan of Sonya Hartnett, who is too depressing for my taste. The only book of hers I enjoyed was The Silver Donkey, and that was spoiled for me during a radio interview, when she said that the pilot who told those lovely stories to the children was probably shot for desertion when he got back to England. And she said this is what she tells children on her school visits! In other words, it has to be depressing, even if you don't have that bit in the book itself. And in case you read this, Sonya, and put in a comment, as writers with Google Alert do, there's nothing personal here. I just don't enjoy depressing books and I'm really not into literary fiction. You can't please everybody, eh? ;-)
I know that she has won about a million awards and good luck to her, wish I had even one! I just don't see why some folk can't understand that you can make a serious point using humour, for example Terry Pratchett. Surely we have some local equivalents?
I have known some of the CBCA judges and have nothing but respect for the job they do. I doubt if I could read hundreds of books in the time they get, write reports for them all and make a shortlist. And I can't deny their good taste in giving two of my books Notables. ;-) (Of course, I would have preferred a shortlisting...)But I don't often understand what they have in mind when they choose. Sometimes they get it beautifully right, others...I disagree with them. And the beautiful In The Beech Forest didn't make it for the Crichtons or even get a Notable. Why? There is a report, but you have to buy it and that's something I haven't had time to do; if it was available in a bookshop I would, but I was never even able to get it at the Children's Book Week Fair when it was going.
I haven't had time even to do my annual Book Week trivia quiz, as I have to finish applications for a student scholarship that has to be in this week, so I will have a small Book Club party at lunchtime today.
What do you think of this year's list?
Author Title Publisher
WINNER Lanagan, Margo Sea Hearts Allen & Unwin
HONOUR Grant, Neil The Ink Bridge Allen & Unwin
HONOUR Wakefield, Vikki Friday Brown Text Publishing
Younger Readers Book of the Year 2013
NOTE: These books are intended for independent younger readers
Author Title Publisher
WINNER Hartnett, Sonya The Children of the King Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
HONOUR French, Jackie Pennies for Hitler Angus & Robertson Harper Collins Publishers
HONOUR Millard, Glenda
Ill. Stephen Michael King The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk ABC Books, HarperCollins
Early Childhood Book of the Year 2013
NOTE: Intended for children in the pre-reading to early reading stages
Author Title Publisher
WINNER Allen, Emma
Ill. Freya Blackwood The Terrible Suitcase Omnibus Books, Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia
HONOUR Cox, Tania
Ill. Karen Blair With Nan Windy Hollow Books
HONOUR Dubosarsky, Ursula
Ill. Andrew Joyner Too Many Elephants in This House Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Picture Book of the Year 2013
NOTE: Intended for an audience ranging from birth to 18 years. Some books may be for mature readers
Author Title Publisher
WINNER Brooks, Ron
Julie Hunt The Coat Allen & Unwin
HONOUR Gordon, Gus Herman and Rosie Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
HONOUR Lester, Alison Sophie Scott Goes South Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Eve Pownall Book of the Year 2013
NOTE: Intended for an audience ranging from birth to 18 years. Some books may be for mature readers
Author Title Publisher
WINNER Weidenbach, Kristin
Ill. Ide, Timothy Tom the Outback Mailman Lothian Children’s Books, Hachette Australia
HONOUR Kerin, Jackie
Ill. Gouldthorpe, Peter Lyrebird! A True Story Museum Victoria
HONOUR Murray, Kirsty Topsy-turvy World: How Australian Animals Puzzled Early Explorers National Library of Australia
I went out to the station with one of my colleagues, Janis, to pick up our guest with his box of books for sale. He had decided to come early, to make sure of not being late, I suppose.
When we returned to school, we had a bit of time to talk and wander around, but then I had a literacy class, to which I took him, leaving the staff member supervising the students whose teachers were away to organise the library setup, since the library was full of reading students. We were having Years 8 and 9, as Year 10 was doing two excursions this week and couldn't afford to take more time out of class, and I didn't want to make the poor guy speak to almost the whole school. The students would have to sit on the floor, as we don't have enough seats for everyone, so it was only going to take a few minutes to set up.
In Literacy, Will chatted with my tiny class and helped one of the girls with her word list. Of course, the girls were charmed with him.
This charm continued on into recess. I'd been about to take him for a cuppa before his speaking session, but the door opened and Book Club and their boyfriends walked in. Emily had read and loved The First Third, a semi-autobiographical novel which featured Will's grandmother as a character. Imagine her thrill when his phone rang and it was Will's Yiayia! He turned it on speakerphone and she said hullo to them.
Recess ended, the speech began and he managed to charm a whole two year levels with his funny stories about how he sold his first book, what it was about, and his new one, which has several scenes inspired by real-life happenings. The first one, Loathing Lola, was a sharp commentary on reality TV shows and this, he told them, was ironic in light of the fact that he later worked for Big Brother.
I bribed the listeners to ask questions by offering to buy two books for those Will thought best - it can be hard to get questions started, but once one or two people have asked, others follow and it happened this time too. I bribe kids the same way when I do talks.
Then Will went to sign books and some mini-posters I had made up for those who couldn't afford to buy the books; there were some left over afterwards, which I gave him for his next school. We took lots of photos of kids getting stuff signed and asking questions. Emily was delighted with her inscription as "the President of the Yiayia fan club".
The truth is, it was the Will Kostakis fan club. The boys enjoyed, but the girls were the ones who hovered around him like flies to honey. There were definitely a few jealous boyfriends! ;-)
I had ordered lunch from the canteen, as we have a canteen that produces a very good salad roll with fresh tiger bread and the lady had done up a lovely platter of fruit. Will chatted happily with staff, then we saw him off at the station; he was going to see his publishers that afternoon with hopes of a new novel to come.
I will look forward to reading it and so will my students. Thanks again for coming, Will!
Today my school will be honoured by a visit from young writer Will Kostakis, who is in town launching his new book and offered to visit us. Two of my book clubbers, Priyanka and Emily, are reading his novels. I've bought three copies of The First Third, the new one, in preparation for the demand I'll have after his talk, and Literacy may buy some for their program.
Both girls are, so far, enjoying his books. Emily said, "Goodness, there are a lot of Greek words in it!" Of course there are, since the book is, in many ways, about being Greek, as well as about family. I'm not Greek, but I recognised the family relationships, though I admit I don't have a gay brother and have never known my grandmother. But the family closeness is very recognisable.
Priyanka is liking Loathing Lola, the book written when the author was a teenager. I liked it too, and said so at the time it came out(see my post, some time in October 2007). It was funny and serious at once and showed a wisdom you wouldn't have expected from a boy of that age, whom you would expect to be wanting to be on a reality show himself rather than sending them up.
Anyway, let's see how he goes with our students. I've ordered lunch from the canteen and bought a small edible gift for our guest, which will be presented by two students, along with a card. The press will be attending. Well, there will be a photographer from one local paper, anyway, and another said I could supply them with a photo and a press release. The camera is in my bag, as I can't get a good shot with my iPad or my phone, alas, and the school camera keeps dying on you after a few shots, even with a new battery.
I have let the students know he's coming and will be bringing books for sale. Some of them should be able to afford it and for the rest I've made up mini-posters to be signed; if you put them on school books and diaries, that makes great publicity for the author.
Hopefully, a great day!
Display Comments Add a Comment
Flora's comfortable life is turned upside down when a hospital visit thrusts her into the realities of World War 1. She is soon transporting injured soldiers and helping out exhausted nurses – managing to fall in love along the way.
As Flora battles to save lives and find her own, a tragic misunderstanding changes everything"
I have a confession to make: I tend to get Pamela Rushby confused with her fellow historical novelist Jackie French, who has written novels set around the same period - for example, A Rose For The Anzac Boys is also set during the Great War, but in France, with some girls setting up a canteen for passing , often wounded, soldiers. It's good to see historical fiction by these veteran writers, even though it's difficult to persuade teens to read straight historical fiction as opposed to historical fantasy. (Right now, one of our students is reading Rushby's enjoyable Vietnam War novel, When The Hipchicks Went To War, because "I LOVE the 60s and 70s!" It isn't often, though.)
Flora is a decent young woman, perhaps a bit modern in her outlook on such issues as racism, but then, as an archaeologist's daughter who has been coming to Egypt for years, she has come to know and respect the Egyptians who work for her father and make arrangements for him.
A fascinating look at a period of history many modern teens probably don't know much about. The injuries are horrific; there's no attempt to fudge this. Also, it isn't often that we hear about war from the female viewpoint, except for those at home. The heroine isn't a nurse, despite the image on the gorgeous Grant Gittus cover, so it's different again.
Well worth a read as an extra while teaching Australian History, or just to get kids interested in historical fiction. You can confidently offer it to young Jackie French fans who want to read more.
Suitable for girls from early to middle secondary school.
Ford Street Publishing has an impressive array of published work, some by new writers, quite a lot by veterans like Ms Rushby, Dianne Bates, even a reprint of Isobelle Carmody's Greylands. Small press or no, it has become a respected publisher in this country and deserving of support. Here's the website:
Even big name writers still get rejection slips sometimes. I have just learned this about a writer I admire. Of course, they will almost certainly sell it elsewhere. And at least one writer friend of mine was working on a series when the last couple of volumes were turned down. Another had her whole series published, but they were not a huge success and she never sold another thing, as far as I know.
I wonder if it makes me feel better or worse about having a full time day job and having to fit my writing in where I can, to know that no matter how far you've come you can still be pushed back.
Deep down, I suspect we all say to ourselves, It won't happen to me! or at least, Let's sell this book first and worry later. We have to, and develop a thick skin, or how would we ever write again?
After selling four short stories last year, I had three rejections in a row. One of them deserved it, as I had written it in a rush to meet a deadline. The other two were for a good story which I will try elsewhere. And I know I will sell it eventually, which keeps me going. My novel was rejected by every major publisher in the country before the sudden sale to a publisher who'd originally had to reject it. My story in Mythic Resonance had been rejected years ago, before finding its perfect home.
Even selling your book, however, doesn't always mean massive sales. Crime Time, which should have sold massively, hasn't earned back its advance because of the difficulty of selling children's non fiction in the shops, unless your name is Terry Deary. Australian Standing Orders didn't want it, as they rarely take non fiction. I haven't heard of any Ford Street books sold by Scholastic Book Club. That would have sold it all right! On the other hand, Your Cat Could Be A Spy sold out, but most were Book Club sales and those don't pay much. So I never got any royalties for it. Ah, well, it's still available on POD so it might sell yet.
And yet, my education books are still selling, though overseas. My archaeology book is still bringing in royalties after about ten years. I recently found a child's review of it online! Who would have thought an education book could get a rave review? :)
So writing is one of those things like music and acting and other arts that might work out and might not, no matter who you are. You just have to develop the thick skin necessary to a writer, no matter how well known you are.
There are some writers following this blog. Want to comment on your own experiences with rejection slips?
I'm a teacher-librarian, part of a dying species since some idiot in the government some years ago decided that state school principals should have the power to decide what to do with the school budget and all it gave them was the power to decide where to make cuts. Don't get me started on the unforgivable nature of turning a public service into a business!
But sometimes, even now, I get a thrill.
My book clubbers have the chance to provide reader responses to manuscripts for Allen and Unwin. This is something I do wearing my library hat. One manuscript was returned unread by a student for whom it had seemed a good idea at the time, something her friends were doing(they all read theirs). It was the first time this has happened on my watch and I felt bad about it. I won't name the author here, for confidentiality reasons, but it's someone well-known and wonderful, who wrote the only class novel my Year 11 class never complained about having to read.
However, my class is doing Literature Circles(a sort of Book Club for the classroom) with another class at the moment and one group had finished reading a book by this author. They had LOVED it, though not the ending(Later I may see if I can arrange an interview with this author and they can ask him themselves about the ending).
What to do with them while the rest of the class finishes? I had an idea. As a test run, I printed off copies of the first three chapters of the neglected manuscript for them - I will do more if they want it - and asked if they'd be interested in reading a book by this author that isn't yet published. Would they? Is the Pope a Catholic?
This week, they not only read some more, they broke out the Literature Circles roles and began to discuss it!
How cool is that, eh? My role as a teacher librarian crossing over with my role as a classroom teacher and a bunch of kids doing something they found exciting.
I nearly cried for joy.
But I had someone else in mind, someone whose writing had not only given a lot of children and teens great pleasure, but who had persuaded adults to read children's books and see how good they are. I meant J.K. Rowling, of course, and I posted about it, and alas, hardly anyone read it at the time, so if you want to read a great post on this subject, check out my archives for this date in 2012.
So tonight, as my last post for July, I will use other things that happened in July. There are plenty of them, but I will skip the disasters and the battles and just mention a couple of book-related incidents.
According to Wikipedia, in 1703, poor Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, journalist and spy, got into trouble for writing something satirical and was put into the pillory, where normally people were pelted with disgusting stuff, but he was pelted with flowers! Nice to know he had fans in his lifetime, though while I was researching him for my children's book on spies, Your Cat Could Be A Spy, I read that he spent a lot of time running away from his creditors and when he died, nobody bothered to turn up to the funeral. Still, he was quite a character, and I have no trouble imagining him writing things that the powers that be didn't like!
A sad thing that happened on July 31 in this century was the death of Poul Anderson, spec fic writer extraordinaire. I love his books. I have found, over the years, that whatever I was in the mood for, he'd written a book about it, whether it was SF, high fantasy, humour, space opera, adventure, romance. And he was a top filker, too. And big in the SCA. I discovered him in my twenties and have never lost my love for his work, though some books are better than others, but hey, when you write as many novels and short stories as he did some are bound to be better than others.
So, hurray for July 31!
Anyone else got a bookish July 31 event?
Here's another tribute to a woman of science mentioned in my second book, Rosalind Franklin, the radio crystallographer without whose work we might have been talking about the triple helix of DNA.
Some years ago, I was researching my second book, Potions To Pulsars:Women doing science, written for Allen And Unwin's True Stories series. It wasn't easy to find books about women scientists in those days, and the Internet was in its early days, no Google or Wikipedia to help. The books were there if you knew how to look for them, though, and I was a librarian, so I did. I found a wonderful book called Hypatia's Heritage and used it as a base to look up some of the women in there, and their biographies led to others... One of these days, I will do a post about my adventures researching this book.
This is a woman of whose existence I didn't know until I started looking for women in science. It's not surprising. She isn't mentioned much in the general history of science. When we hear about the discovery of DNA it's the men who are mentioned, Watson, Crick and Wilkins. They survived her(she died of cancer at only 37) and got the Nobel Prize for it and she was relegated to a footnote in history. Even recently, an Austalian newspaper had an article about the discovery of DNA that didn't so much as mention her.
The research was happening at the same time - a cousin of hers who wrote her bio said that as an American, Watson would have been used to the US system, in which there was plenty of money for research, so you could compete with other labs, while in England, with far less money, you didn't waste it on doing the same stuff as someone else. In this case, they were getting it wrong and her notes were shared with Watson and Crick by her colleague Maurice Wilkins, enabling them to correct their mistakes and rush into print. She, on the other hand, was too careful, wanting to be sure of getting it right, so she lost out.
I have heard that when they got their Nobel Prize, only Wilkins mentioned her.
But today is her birthday, a reason to celebrate. If she was alive today, she would be 93. Happy birthday, Rosalind Franklin!
|Rosalind Franklin. Creative Commons image|
But this isn't what is about to happen here! Young Aussie writer Will Kostakis has just had another book published! I was the first to give a positive review(or maybe even the first review?) to his first novel, Loathing Lola, published when he was only nineteen. It was a delightful, funny and clever look at the cult of celebrity and especially celebrity of reality TV shows, in which the teenage heroine suddenly finds she has a lot of friends when she is chosen to be the star of a new reality show. Her idea is to be a role model for younger kids, but the producers have different plans. This was not only a wonderful novel in its own right, but impressive that a boy with no sisters could get into the mind of a young woman so well.
Now Will is back, with The First Third, a novel that I think is even better than the first. This one is closer to home for him, about a Greek boy and his family, and it's funny, sad, warm and charming, all at once, and says things about family. I received a copy at the Reading Matters conference and the author has kindly agreed to an interview, which I will prepare shortly. It's nicely appropriate, too, that the cover comment should be by Melina Marchetta, whose first novel, Looking For Alibrandi was also about multicultural family issues, but also, like Will, was an author whose second novel (Saving Francesca) came out several years after her first.
Please get a life. You have no friends or you wouldn't waste your time and everybody else's trying to get into people's accounts. If you're that good with computers, do something useful and help people in your lives to solve problems. You might actually make some friends then - not the online kind you meet on Facebook, but real people who might be willing to hang out with you, instead of disrupting other people's lives just because you can't make a go of your own.
Or turn off your computers altogether and get out into the fresh air. Play sport. Go for a walk. Join a club. You never know, you might make some real friends, even fix their computer problems and get their respect and admiration instead of their anger and hatred.
Again I have had to change my password, this time to block some loser in South America. Get a life, kid, whoever you are. You couldn't possibly have anything against me, you don't even know me, and there's no money in it, as there is for spammers. You just want to show off how smart you are.
You aren't. You're just a total, complete loser. Grow up!
And having wasted a morning fixing things up, I will go and do some real-life stuff. With real friends, the kind you don't have.
A cranky author.
But out of curiosity, I decided to look up some of the others.
Here's the link to a site I found, with that information on it:
Ulp! Margo Lanagan, Felicity Pulman, Ruth Starke, Meredith Costain,
Tor Roxburgh, Merrilee Moss, and possibly fantasy novelist Karen Miller,
or at least someone with that name.
I remember at the time wondering if I could find a market there,
but I've never been much good at a romance story, as opposed to having
romance in a story that was mainly something else.
There's a special talent to writing romance, especially for teens.
You have to be good with story, good with capturing readers' attention
and have to remember what it feels like to fancy that boy at that age,
but also be good with the fantasy elements, whether it's a vampire romance
or one set in the real world. Nobody seriously believes that the
rock star/famous athlete/ whatever will really fall in love with me, Gemma in Year 11,
but it's fun to pretend and a good romance can help you.
It's nice, though, that the publishers who did Dolly Fiction
and, more recently, Girlfriend Fiction, took it seriously enough
to make sure they had top class writers doing these books.
It would have been easy enough to cash in by hiring just anyone,
but good writers meant a series that could be respected and that
school libraries would be happy to buy, and that perhaps
the young readers would read those writers' other books
(Girlfriend Fiction does books under the authors' real names).
I think a course in romance writing will help me with my writing in general. Watch this space.
|Book by Linda Hallan aka Tor Roxburgh|
In case you aren't familiar with the play, it's set during the Salem witch trials, but it's really a comment on the dreadful political witch hunts of Miller's own time, when it wasn't enough to confess to being a Communist, you had to dob in someone else. The wonderful Howard Fast spent time in jail, where he wrote Spartacus, and when the movie was made, the script writer was Dalton Trumbo, one of those who had been blacklisted, though some had gone on writing behind "fronts"(there's a Woody Allen film of that name, in which he's a front for blacklisted writers). This was, I think, the first time he'd written under his own name since the blacklisting began. And it was because Kirk Douglas, the producer, basically said,"Stuff that!" and insisted on using his name.
When I was at high school, we did a production of The Crucible in which I played Elizabeth Proctor. I sort of spoiled it for myself by going to the library to research the actual story of the Salem witch trials and finding that John Proctor, the hero of this play, couldn't possibly have had an affair with Abigail Williams unless he was a truly sick man, as she was eleven at the time, so his motivation would have been different. His children were older than in the play and one was tortured with him. Oh, and Elizabeth, the wife with whom he reconciles so dramatically at the end, was cut out of his will.
Oh, well. As a piece of drama, with a bit of license, it is wonderful. I can't wait!
The thing is, it was a similar process, but not the same. I had to do my own layout and that just involved making it look as nice as possible, and neat. No InDesign or any such thing. And even with all the care I took, there were typos, and my choice was to fix them with liquid paper, making it messy, retyping the whole page with the potential for more errors or leaving it as was. Not a problem now. The authors were mostly invited, as I knew they could do what I needed, and their "payment" was a contributor's copy. When it was time to print, I had help from a friend who did photocopying for a living and an overseas friend who got a master copy and printed it for me and sold it there, refusing so much as a single cent towards her dealer's table.
With this one, I am learning as I go. The stories have, so far, been mostly taken from slush, though I did ask to see a story by someone who writes the kind of fiction I needed for balance, but didn't have at the time. She is currently rewriting and has a friend who is one of Australia's best writers in that area to help, but it's a good story and will work. Our slush wrangler, Lucy, has been kindly sending me stories that have just made it to the slushpool with good scores and kept in mind the balance I needed.
And you do need balance - fantasy, SF, horror, though as I'm not a horror fan I have gone for stuff that is not too gruesome - it won't be shortlisted for the Stokers, but it will fit nicely. You need some poetry - I have three poems, one space-y, one fantasy and one Steampunky.
I am being careful with the SF. My knowledge of science is limited to what I read in New Scientist and what I read when I was researching my book on women in science. My physics knowledge is almost nonexistent! But fortunately, we do have some members of ASIM who do science for a living. I got one very beautiful story that depended on physics for its premise and, just in case, sent it on to a member who knows more than I do. He came back with a report that said there were some glaring errors. Turns out the author knew, but hadn't been able to think of any other way to express it. He thought of something else, went back and fixed it. And it's now, I think, ready to publish!
With standard mediaeval fantasy I'm on safer ground, as history is something I know better, or at least know how to look up, but I didn't have any - none that I wanted to publish, anyway.
I'm just a small way into the editing and have discovered we have some first sales here. ASIM loves first sales. It will be nice to see how these writers go in future, or if they will even come back to us when they're getting paid more than we can. Some do. In Australia, anyway, there are a lot of well known writers who do small press.
Only a few thousand words more to buy!
I will have to decide which of the stories I have to use as the basis for a cover and which artist I will ask to do it. There are some wonderful artists out there and we have some of them on our books. Which to ask?
A long way to go yet!
Hi lovely readers. This morning I got the following email from Sophie Masson, author of so many wonderful fairy tale books (some reviewed on this blog), this time producing a children's picture book which contains two Russian fairy tales:
Dear everyoneYou'll see there's lots of possibilities for contributing, but basically a $25 contribution is a pre-order for the book. But even if you don't contribute(and I totally understand if you don't want to!) I hope you might be able to tell lots of people about it through your personal contacts and social media contacts.This is to let you know about an exciting new adventure which I'm embarking on with two artist friends: illustrator David Allan and illustrator/designer Fiona McDonald(yes, at whose gallery we had the expo and launch). We have started a very small picture book publishing house called Christmas Press(print books, not e-books), and are preparing our launch title: Two Trickster Tales from Russia, featuring my retellings of the lively, funny folk tales Masha and the Bear and the Rooster with the Golden Crest, illustrated by David Allan in classic Russian-inspired style and beautifully designed by Fiona McDonald.We're going to be printing a limited edition of 500 softcover books, in full colour, with an Australian printer, and plan to publish in October. And we have just started a 'crowdfunding' campaign for the book to help with printing costs. The way it works is people directly contribute to the campaign through its Indiegogo page: http://igg.me/at/
christmaspress/x/3485227 and hitting whatever amount and perk appeals to you.
Thanks so much for reading this!Best wishesSophie
I'm not sure what the deal is for overseas, but if you live outside Australia and your mouth is watering at the sight of this, it should be worth emailing Sophie Masson to ask about postage.
The style rather reminds me, not only of Russian art, but of the Victorian/Edwardian English artist Walter Crane. Take a look:
View Next 25 Posts