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What warms your heart on a cold day? What warms your heart when the tides of change come crashing in? What warms your heart when the” no’s” become overwhelming? What warms your heart when the crowd scatters and you are “Home Alone”?
I have a whole list of favorite things I like to look at periodically. These are things that Warm My Heart. I found myself smiling and even laughing. They are things I feel that God has blessed me with. When I look at them I see stories! I see people, I see events… and more. Life is so much more than what we see during our day. Life is a tapestry of stories that intertwine and make memories for us. Some are so real we can almost re-live them just recalling them to our memories.
God my Father, Jesus my elder brother, the Holy Spirit my helper.
All my Family
Friends / art friends
Rosie and Violet
Coffee with cream
Odd things for the house
Trip to Maine and beyond
Goat yogurt and blueberries
Colors : purply blue, raspberry, Yaya green
Good movies with popcorn
Breakfast in bed with a good magazine.
a zillion best friends!
the valley between Kenosha and BaileY
a crackling fire in the stove
deep snow and 4wheel drive
My cozy studio
a good book
a comfy chair
writing a story
a bike ride . . …… and today…. Matthew!
Today’s Warm Fuzzy came from a friend. She took this wonderful picture of her son sleeping with my Peepsqueak plush. He is so cute! Matthew is on my list!
What are your favorite things? I am sure mine will grow!!
Jennifer McVeigh's debut novel The Fever Tree, the
epic tale of a British woman embarking on a new life in
nineteenth-century southern Africa, has been critically acclaimed and selected for Richard and Judy's Book Club in March. Here, she reveals her 10 Tips on How to Stay Sane as a Debut Novelist.
Don’t quit your job before you have a book deal. Very sensible advice that I spectacularly failed to follow. I left my job as a literary agent and stepped into the terrifying world of no salary, no professional support and no real hope of achieving what I was setting out to achieve. It was a very rocky ride.
Do join a writing group – they will keep you sane, help you to stay on track, and remind you that there are other people in the world crazy enough to be battling all day with words on paper.
Don’t divulge your plot, or writing problems for that matter, to friends at dinner – they’ll say very unhelpful things like: Isn’t that a bit predictable? How can you not know what’s going to happen at the end? And – most gruelling of all - hasn’t Wilbur Smith written a novel just like that?
When you’re writing sex scenes, don’t imagine your parents looking over your shoulder – a passionate kiss will quickly disintegrate into a prudish peck on the cheek.
Don’t obsess over the perfection of other novels. Read them, learn from them, but don’t let them cast your own into shadow. I always wanted my protagonist to be as dynamic and real as Cathy or Emma, but it wasn’t until I had reached the end of her story that I felt I really knew her.
Don’t let yourself imagine all the unpublished authors in the world being turned down by agents, like the millions of lost souls waiting at the gates of heaven. If you have written something good, then someone will spot it – you just need to have faith and determination.
Don’t be your own judge. After I had written my novel I shelved it in despair, convinced that it was worthless. It was only by some stroke of luck – a chance meeting with a literary agent – that I was convinced to send it out into the world. Thank goodness I did.
Don’t demonise the agents who reject you. More than likely your manuscript fell into the hands of some poor, unpaid 17 year old intern with a hangover, desperately trying to reduce the size of the slush pile. Wait a few months, and send it in again. I was offered representation by an agent who must have afterwards let my manuscript fall into the slush pile. A month later I received an earnest typed letter from the agency: “Dear Miss McVeigh, many thanks for sending in your manuscript. I’m very sorry to inform you that…”
Once you are published - in the interests of sanity – try not to check your Amazon sales rank more than twice (OK – that’s not realistic – perhaps 5 times) a day. If sales are good your publisher will tell you, and a shift from 3050 to 2095 is almost certainly meaningless.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you’ve got one novel behind you, the second will be easier. It won’t. Sweating over a novel is part of what makes it brilliant. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. I do have a very frustrating writer friend who keeps telling me that her second novel is a breeze…
Not in Seattle but wishing you could hear what local teens have to say about this year’s Best Fiction for Young Adults nominations? In Seattle but stuck in another meeting or session on Sunday? Have no fear–you can join the BFYA Teen Feedback Session live blog here or on The Hub!
We’ll be streaming live video from the session, pulling tweets with the #bfya hashtag, polling readers about nominated titles and publishing your comments LIVE. The live blog will start shortly before the session opens at 1:30 PM Pacific, and you can join at any time. You can even log in with your Facebook or Twitter account to include your gravatar with your comments.
If you can’t make the live session, have no fear; the complete session, including video, will be available to replay at your leisure as soon as the live blog closes.
Locus this month has been conducting a poll to find out the "best" science fiction and fantasy novels and short fiction of the 20th and 21st centuries. Though I first suggested on Twitter that I would be filling it all in with Raymond Carver stories, I gave in today at the last minute and instead filled in the poll with some choices other than Carver stories (though I was tempted to put "Why Don't You Dance?" on there, since it has a certain fantasy feel to it, at least to me).
I'll post my choices after the jump here.
Because I did the poll at the last minute, the choices were as much impulsive as rational. I'm not much interested in differentiating science fiction and fantasy, so I paid only the barest attention to categorization. For lengths, I used the lists Locus posted or what I could find on ISFDB, and for the few items not on either, I just relied on my own memory and guessing.
Were I to write the lists now, or tomorrow, or next week, they would be different, both in content and order. Such is the nature of these things. Only a few items are absolute for me (e.g., Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand is the best science fiction novel ever written). Many of the choices are there not because I think they are Eternally & Canonically Important (though many are) but because they remain vivid and powerful reading experiences for me. Also, some things didn't make it on because I would need to reread them to decide — for instance, I couldn't pick one of the novellas from Le Guin's Four Ways to Forgiveness, because though I'm fairly sure one of them belongs on the list, I haven't read the book recently enough to decide between them. M. John Harrison's Viriconium probably belongs on there, too, but I couldn't decide on one of the books in particular, wasn't sure if the big collection would count as a single novel, and in any case had The Course of the Heart on there already (it's another absolute for me — no list of best 20th century fantasy novels is complete without it). And then there are things that probably belong on such a list, but I've never read them, such as Gormenghast. And then there are the obvious items I forgot and will be chastising myself for tomorrow.
Finally, I am perfectly aware that I will be the only person voting for quite a few of these.
(Note: Because I cut-and-pasted these into the Locus poll form, I deliberately removed diacritical marks and any other punctuation that might mess up the tally. And I'm being lazy here and just pasting my master list in.)
20th century science fiction novel 1.Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel R. Delany 2.Ubik by Philip K. Dick 3. 1984 by George Orwell 4. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh 5. 334 by Thomas M. Disch 6. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville 7. Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler 8. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin 9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 10. Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
20th Century Fantasy Novel 1. The Castle by Franz Kafka 2. The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett 3. Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany 4. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee 5. The Course of the Heart by M. John Harrison 6. The Affirmation by Christopher Priest 7. Explosion in a Cathedral by Alejo Carpentier 8. Neveryona by Samuel R. Delany 9. Mickelsson’s Ghosts by John Gardner 10. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
20th Century SF/F Novella 1. The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka 2. Empire Star, by Samuel R. Delany 3. The Stains, by Robert Aickman 4. Great Work of Time, by John Crowley 5. Souls, by Joanna Russ 6. Pastoralia, by George Saunders 7. Pork Pie Hat, by Peter Straub 8. R&R, by Lucius Shepard 9. The King’s Indian: A Tale, by John Gardner 10. Mr. Boy, by James Patrick Kelly
20th Century SF/F Novelette 1. Invaders, by John Kessel 2. The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule, by Lucius Shepard 3. The Asian Shore, by Thomas M. Disch 4. The Hell Screen, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa 5. The Hospice, by Robert Aickman 6. A Little Something for Us Tempunauts, by Philip K. Dick 7. The Juniper Tree, by Peter Straub 8. Solitude, by Ursula K. Le Guin 9. Bloodchild, by Octavia E. Butler 10. Sea Oak, by George Saunders
20th Century SF/F Short Story 1. A Country Doctor, by Franz Kafka 2. Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, by Jorge Luis Borges 3. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, by Ursula K. Le Guin 4. Day Million, by Frederik Pohl 5. The School, by Donald Barthelme 6. Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light!, by Raccoona Sheldon 7. Or All the Seas with Oysters, by Avram Davidson 8. The Terminal Beach, by J.G. Ballard 9. Abominable, by Carol Emshwiller 10. One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts, by Shirley Jackson
21st Century SF Novel 1. Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon 2. Light by M. John Harrison 3. Liberation by Brian Francis Slattery 4. Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders by Samuel R. Delany 5. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
21st Century Fantasy Novel 1. Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer 2. The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia 3. The City & The City by China Mieville 4. Oh Pure & Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet 5. One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak
21st Century SF/F Novella 1. Tainaron, by Leena Krohn 2. A Crowd of Bone, by Greer Gilman 3. Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link 4. Near Zennor, by Elizabeth Hand 5. Memorare, by Gene Wolfe
21st Century SF/F Novelette 1. Stone Animals, by Kelly Link 2. Only Partly Here, by Lucius Shepard 3. Yellow Card Man, by Paolo Bacigalupi 4. The Empire of Ice Cream, by Jeffrey Ford 5. Revenge of the Calico Cat, by Stepan Chapman
21st Century SF/F Short Story 1. There’s a Hole in the City, by Richard Bowes 2. Cold Fires, by M. Rickert 3. Abraham Lincoln Has Been Shot, by Daniel Alarcon 4. Delhi, by Vandana Singh 5. Safe Passage, by Ramona Ausubel
When I started this blog - back in the Cretaceous period - I was not the only contributor. I was also clueless as to how one goes about announcing that this post or that were written by someone else. Blog posts that mention textbooks, school, Oriental Medicine - all with authority - were written by some of my very good friends.
This was in the percolating stage of blogdom before a purpose and direction were more fully formed. Oh wait, that's still now.
I just feel the need to let the wider readership know that a lot of the posts herein during year one and two are not mine. So don't be confused. I was not working in a library, going to school, practicing Oriental Medicine in three different states all at the same time. I am awesome, truly, but not....spoiler alert...I am not a superhero. Sigh.
Read Ann M. Martin's latest yesterday. Ten Good and Bad Things about My Life (So Far). I liked it. So in honor of that book here is my list of 10 good and bad things about my life today.
1. It is pouring down rain. Good & Bad 2. I am still in my pjs. Good 3. It is after 12 noon. Good! But also bad 4. My office is a mess Bad. 5. I need to exercise. ??? !!! 6. I am not a superhero. Thank goodness! No pressure. 7. Some people do not know #6. ;) they are very demanding. 8. I do not practice Oriental Medicine Probably good! 9. I do not have a pet. Good - no work Bad - pets are sweet! 10. I have to go to the drs. with Dad Good, someone has to. Bad, I want a healthy Dad
Tomorrow, I will review Ten Good and Bad Things About my Life (So Far). We've come a long way since The Babysitters' Club (a fun series indeed!)
Teens Top Ten is all about teen choice! Get your teen readers to vote for their favorite books from this year’s list of nominated titles. The resulting Teens Top Ten will be announced during Teen Read Week. The nominated books are posted at ala.org/teenstopten. There is an annotated nominations list as well as tips for promoting the Teens Top Ten to teen readers. Please encourage the use of #TTT12 on Twitter when promoting Teens Top Ten and please help us get the word out!
The Teens Top Ten is part of an ongoing project that connects teen book groups with publishers of young adult books. The publishers provide advance reader copies to selected teen book groups and the teens evaluate the books and provide feedback to the publishers. These same teen book groups create the voting list for Teens Top Ten by nominating their favorite titles published in the previous year.
More information, including a list of the rockstar Teens Top Ten book groups, may be found at ala.org/teenstopten. Voting is open from August 15th through September 15th, so encourage your teens to vote before it’s too late!
Posted on behalf of Kristen Thorp, TTT Committee member 2012-2014
At other places around the internet, there is listing going on. I can't resist a good list. Though neither of these two listing events is one I was invited to join, both made me think, "What would I put on such a list?" (Lists are fiercely contagious.) 1. Sight & Sound Every ten years, starting in 1952, Sight & Sound has polled a bunch of movie reviewers and directors to come up with a list of "10 best films of all time". It's an impossible thing to do, of course, but the results are fascinating (particularly the individual ones — see, for instance, Catherine Breillat, Michael Haneke, Bruce LaBruce, and Laura Mulvey). Rumor has it the poll for 2012 will be announced very soon.
A few critics I follow have released their lists: Roger Ebert, Richard Brody, Steven Shaviro. Perhaps the most interesting approach among the released lists so far is that of Ignatiy Vishnavetsky, who decided to deal with the impossibility of such a list by randomizing it. He wrote over 90 titles on slips of paper, put them in a bowl, and pulled out 10, ranking them in the order he drew them out. "This method," he asserts, "is as good as anyone else's."
This approach appeals to me, and so I followed the procedure Kevin B. Lee suggests in his post about Vishnavetsky's method. I couldn't stop with 90 movies, though, so I made a (still incomplete, as lists always are) list of 150, alphabetized the titles, and numbered them. I then got 10 random numbers from Random.org and matched up the movies to them.
The numbers were 75, 113, 96, 56, 70, 33, 132, 105, 91, 4.
Here's the resulting list, with directors' names in parentheses.
Manhunter (Mann) Rules of the Game (Renoir) Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks) Happy Together (Wong) Lodger, The (Hitchcock) Children of Men (Cuarón) Third Generation, The (Fassbender) Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki) Night of the Living Dead (Romero) After Life (Kore-eda)
Great films, all. I didn't run into a strange random event, such as Vishnavetsky's ending up with three movies from 1981 on his list or Kevin B. Lee's having three Chinese-language movies on his. I'm more surprised by the balance of it: half of the movies on my list are in a language other than English, they cover a range of decades, and they have both the absolute classics (e.g. Rules of the Game) and others more idiosyncratic or personal to my tastes.
There are some narrownesses: the movies are all directed by men and there's only one silent movie. The dominance of male directors on the list replicates the dominance of men on my big list and in the history of filmmaking, alas. The lack of silent movies is not from lack of trying on my part — on the big list, there are three by Fritz Lang alone (M, Metropolis, and Spies; I should probably also have included Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler and Die Nibelungen). But the statisti
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I just got back from a much-needed vacation to Oregon, and it’s a great place to visit. I spent half of my time in Portland and the other half in Newport, a coastal town. Of course, it was hot and sunny in Portland and rained the entire time I was at the beach, but that’s the Pacific Northwest for you. While I declined my husband’s offer to visit the beautiful Central Library in downtown Portland — we were on an epicurean tour at the time, and the promise of drinkable chocolate is much sweeter than visiting somewhere that will make me feel like I’m at work — I couldn’t seem to distance myself from books or YALSA.
Apparently, it’s a sin to visit Portland without going to the ginormous Powell’s City of Books. This is perhaps the bookstore to end all bookstores. Not only does this four-story building, containing over a million books, take up an entire city block, it is so big that it has a separate building to house its computer, science, math, & technology books. Wandering around was fun, but I since I rarely buy books, I went over to the YA section to compare the selection to my library’s (I’d call it about even). Imagine my surprise when I saw a huge shelf marker for Franny Billingsley’s Chime and others, advertising that they were on the 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list. I was pleased; that’s not the kind of thing you usually see in bookstores (ahem, B&N, ahem). So, YALSA, you have been spotted out in the wild.
As a side note, if you want to take a vacation in a place that is all about books, stay at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, OR. Each room is themed with a different author: Seuss, Rowling, Tolkien, and so many others. It even has its own library for their guests on the top floor facing the ocean, though watch out — it may make your fingers itch with the need to alphabetize, and with all of the peace and quiet (no internet, TV, or phones) you may find yourself finishing all of the books you brought with you and have nothing left for the plane ride home!
Title: YALSA’s Teen Book Finder Cost: Free Platform: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later
This week YALSA launched the Teen Book Finder app. It’s a resource for librarians, teens, parents, and others to carry around in a pocket in order to have quick and easy access to information from all of YALSA’s lists and awards. You can see how the app works in this screencast.
In the spring issue of YALS, you’ll find an easy-to-reference listing of all the YALSA award winners and book and media lists announced at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Since ebooks are on the rise, I thought I’d take a look at which of the winners are currently available as ebooks and which are available for libraries on OverDrive.
Counting the winners and honors of the awards (except for Odyssey) and the top ten books on the Best Fiction, Quick Picks, and Popular Paperback lists, we end up with 50 unique titles. Of those, 37 are available as ebooks that can be purchased through the usual channels including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Google Books. The only titles that aren’t available electronically are non-fiction titles, graphic novels, and older fiction titles. Of the 37 ebooks, 20 are available for libraries to lend in OverDrive, according to their search engine.
As the ebook market continues to grow, I expect we will see more backlist titles become available, while full-color ereaders and tablet computers will allow graphic-intensive books to be offered electronically. Whether or not more ebooks will be available for library lending, however, remains to be seen. I hope that next year, more of the award-winning and noteworthy books honored by YALSA will be available to as many readers as possible in their desired reading format.
Available as an ebook
Available on OverDrive
Big Girl Small
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Jo Ann Beard
Little, Brown & Company
The Lover’s Dictionary
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens
The Night Circus
Ready Player One
Robopocalypse: A Novel
Daniel H. Wilson
Salvage the Bones
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures
In February, I posted about changes that were made to YALSA’s website that required a login to reach the selected lists and awards. I explained the rationale and indicated that there would be refinements in the process.
There have been refinements, but we haven’t done a very good job of sharing that information with you, so I want to apologize for that lack of timely communication and try to remedy it now.
First of all, I do apologize for the early glitches and for the unfriendliness of ALA’s web interface. It can be very discouraging to click on a link that says “login” and immediately get an “access denied” message. However, if you just click on the ALA login link in the upper right corner of the screen, all will be well.
Second, the award and list content other than the lists themselves is now outside the login area. If you click on “Book Awards and Book/Media Lists” on the homepage, you get a drop-down menu. This menu includes links to selection and award list contacts. If you click on an individual award, like the Michael L. Printz Award or the Odyssey Award, you are taken to a page that includes policies and procedures and a link to the form for submitting suggested titles.
Third, the form for nonmembers to fill out has been streamlined. When anyone fills out the form (which now requires only name, email address, and two questions) they receive an automated email response that gives them links to bookmark so that they don’t need to fill out the form more than once. We have contacted the developer of the form module we use and requested that it be updated so that if you fill out the form once, you are automatically directed to the content, but we don’t have that functionality yet.
Members who want to access the lists on reference desk computers or other non-personal computers and don’t want to login with personal information can also bookmark the links for the lists and awards. These URLs are now posted in the “Members Only” section of the website.
Fourth, several people have raised the question about whether it is worth it to ask for this information. The answer is we’re not sure yet, but we think it might be. We have collected more than 16,000 email addresses since mid-February. We have used these addresses to encourage people to participate in the Tweet Your Senator campaign and virtual library legislative day (1,600 people requested more info on advocacy), for member recruitment, and to advertise subscriptions to YALS (4,000 asked for information on buying YALSA publications), deriving lists from areas of interest that people marked.
Keep in mind that addresses are not shared outside of YALSA, and anyone who doesn’t want to receive any further email from YALSA need only say so.
Fifth, some members have indicated that they are against this change because they feel that YALSA is restricting or putting up barriers to information. In fact, YALSA is doing the same thing that most of you do every day in your own libraries. If I want to access my local library’s databases from home, I have to put in my library card number and PIN. I don’t regard that as the library putting up barriers to my access. I recognize that the library needs to collect statistics about database use and they use those statistics to help justify the work they do and the cost of the databases. YALSA, like libraries, is in the business of sharing information, but, as with libraries, that information is not really free. (See Fiscal Officer Penny Johnson’s blog post for more details about the costs of YALSA’s “free” resources.) In fact, for most libraries, I can’t use the databases at all if I don’t have a library card; YALSA is offering its resources free for simply signing in with an email address.
I hope these comments help members understand better the rationale
I am hard at work on Act 1 of a new story that I am jokingly calling SHARKS.
I have roughly plotted out the story for Acts 1-3, and am now getting serious about Act 1, using two strategies:
Lists Help Me Plot
Creating lists is a helpful way for me to explore possible scenes and remind myself what needs to be included. My first list is a rough idea of the scenes that need to be included in the first act.
I need a scene that:
captures interest, while introducing the setting and main characters, A and B
sets up a minor conflict, a sort of running gag
A meets C and the result is joining a club
set up another subplot, one with parents
Club goes on outing which reveals a global danger to A
A and B try to warn someone about the danger, but are rebuffed
A and B are determined to save the world, even if the world doesn’t want to be saved
Does this list seem unfocused and boring to you? It does to me. But it’s a start. These ARE the scenes that I need, but I need to inject conflict and put more at stake in each one. And listing is a help here, too.
Scene 1: Introduce A and B and the outcome is that they don’t like each other.
A good opening strategy is to introduce two characters with a minor conflict that creates a distance between them. I know these guys must work together closely, which means they can’t get along smoothly, there must be conflict. OK. What sort of conflict? For me, that can depend greatly on setting. So, I create a list of possible settings; the general setting is Seattle and Puget Sound, but I need to know a specific setting for a scene, which is grounded in a particular place with particular actions.
On a ferry
Bike rental shop
Discussions with Myself Help Me Plot
Which brings me to the second strategy, and that is a discussion with myself about these options. Some of this is internal, but some of it is actually typing the conversation with myself. How do I know what I think until I write it?
Here’s an example of what I might write to myself:
I’m thinking the coffee shop is a good idea. A comes in and B is working there.
Immediate questions: How old is A? Is this a MG or a YA? If a MG, can he be wondering around on his own and ordering 5 cups of coffee? Teen, yes. 12 yo? Not so sure. This story isn’t YA, though, so it needs to be definitely MG. So the coffee shop must be very close to his grandparent’s house. And he’ll need a steady income, an allowance or something, or he can’t buy that much coffee.
If I use the coffee shop for the opening scene, it is 3 blocks from A’s grandparent’s house; he gets a generous allowance from his parents (Dad is Dr., mom is ambassador, so they can afford this). His first week in the Seattle area, it is plausible for him to become so enamored with coffee that he orders five cups in one morning; that also set up conflict with grandparents for later because he will be wide awake all night. The time change from his move, combined with caffeine could heat things up. I like this possible cause-effect relationship between scenes.
On the other hand, do I want school scenes or not? If so, I need to introduce it early: which is more important to the overall story, a coffee shop or a school yard. Can I reuse the coffee obsession later and have the coffee shop come back? Maybe the “club” meeting can take place in
Shortly after Midwinter, YALSA published its selected lists, signaling the end of one committee year and the beginning of another. Last year I served on AmazingAudiobooks, and as I take over as chair and gear up for a second year, I’m finding myself reflecting on last year and what I’ve learned.
I learned a lot about audiobooks. Over the course of the year, I listened to audiobooks in the car, at the gym, during lunch, while getting dressed in the morning, while making meals, while doing housework, and while sitting on the couch feeling like maybe I would never finish all of the listening that I needed to do (look at all of the titles we received last year!). But all of that listening helped me develop a more sophisticated sense of what makes a good or poor audiobook (you don’t always like something, even if it’s really good).
I learned a lot about how other people listen to audiobooks. We discussed titles online over the year, but the majority of our discussion happened during meetings at Annual and Midwinter. Everyone brings different experiences, backgrounds, and preferences to their listening, and it was interesting to hear what others heard that I didn’t or what was important to them (I don’t think I really appreciated the value of pacing until these discussions). This has helped me become better at listeners’ advisory and I feel much better equipped to put good audiobooks in the right hands.
I learned a lot about myself and how I work. I think Amazing Audios is a good first selection committee because you know how much time you need to spend listening every day. While you can’t speed read an audiobook the way you might a print book if you were on BFYA, you also don’t encounter titles that take you an unexpectedly
long time to get through. Knowing how many hours I needed to spend listening every day meant I became more organized with how I used my time and how I fit that listening in–and when to stop listening and do something else.
Now that I’m beginning my term as chair, I’m learning even more. A selection committee chair has all of the responsibilities of a committee member (meaning I’m still on the hook for lots and lots of listening!), but there are other responsibilities like communicating with publishers, communicating with committee members,
setting up the behind-the-scenes stuff like where our discussions take place and creating instructions for committee members to review their assigned titles (I like this especially because I like organizing), requesting meetings at Annual and Midwinter, calling for field nominations, reporting on our progress to the Board, creating a monthly list of nominated titles, and, eventually, finalizing our annotated list and turning it in. I’m sure there are a lot of other things I have yet to discover, too!
Being on Amazing Audiobooks has been a great experience. I’ve learned a lot about audiobooks, about myself, and about YALSA. I’ve grown as a listener, an organizer, and a librarian. I’m so thankful that I was given this opportunity, and I can’t wait to share our final list with you next year!
The other day I was happily typing away, making great progress on a side-story that I had been working on intermittently for months. In the midst of typing, the entire document suddenly turned into asterisks. Every single word magically poofed into an asterisk before my eyes! My story was completely destroyed within a millisecond.
I tried everything I could possibly think of to bring it back, but the document had already been auto-saved and my attempts were useless. Unfortunately, I had not saved this particular story on my trusty flash drive (which I normally do, but since it was a side-story, I didn't bother) and was not connected to my Apple Time Capsule, so all of my hard work is literally gone forever.
My world is crushed. :( I'd gotten way more attached to this side story than expected.
The program I was using is the 2011 Microsoft Word, which I chose to use because it is practical and efficient for my business as an author. Upon doing research, I found that the mysterious "asterisk attack" was a bug within the MS Word application. Supposedly, the bug has been fixed and can now be prevented with a simple software update. I am skeptical.
The good news is that I have found an awesome program called, Scrivener - a word processing program made specifically for writers by Apple. I may just have to give all of my stories a new home. :)
I am sharing this with you as a reminder to always back up and save your work in multiple formats, regardless of how big, small or seemingly unimportant. Technology is wonderful, but it can seriously backfire on you.
Lesson of the day: Never forget to back up your work!!!
Here are 6 ways to protect your precious documents:
1. Frequently save to a flash drive
2. Print hard copies
3. Email document to self or someone trustworthy
4. Back up on an external hard drive, Time Capsule, etc.
5. Create multiple saved versions on your computer
6. Regularly update software
Have you ever had technology backfire on you? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic.
It’s almost time for Battle of the Books again at my daughter’s school, and the requisite reading list has come home.
I always like seeing it. For as much as I like to think that I’m on top of kids books and have read what’s worth reading, there are always a few titles on the list that are either entirely new to me or that are classics I shamefully realize I’ve never read before.
This year, entries in the “I’ve never heard of it before” category were:
Scared Stiff by Edgar Award winner Willo Davis Roberts and Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop.
I’m normally not a mystery fan, but I really enjoyed Scared Stiff. It’s more a family drama about love and loss than it is a traditional who-dunnit mystery. I read it in one sitting, and I think most middle-grade kids could do the same.
Castle in the Attic is next on my to-read list, but based on a quick scan, my guess is I’ll like it too.
On the “I can’t believe I never read this before” list are:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (I know, I know. I feel terrible admitting I didn’t read this earlier. In my defense, I remember looking briefly at it in middle school and then putting it down.) Also on my never-before-read list was Meet Addy: An American Girl. I know the American Girl books are very popular, but I’d sort of avoided them on principle.
Well, I adored A Wrinkle in Time. Adored it. Probably more than I would have had I read it in middle school. Now, it makes me want to reread Rebecca Stead’s Newbery winner When You Reach Me, which refers to Wrinkle a lot.
And, I liked Addy more than I had expected to. It’s a good, historical fiction book that is not just a vehicle for doll sales. For what it’s worth, my daughter read Addy first of all the books on the list and then went for Love, Ruby Lavender.
Long-time favorites that I was happy to see on the list included:
Anne of Green Gables and Clementine and Love, Ruby Lavender. Not to mention Boxes for Katje, Because of Winn-Dixie and Number the Stars. I have fond memories of reading and re-reading most of these.
Gilbert Blythe! Melba Jean! India Opal Buloni! Sugar, soap and tulip bulbs! And the beautiful scene in Clementine where she realizes her parents really aren’t planning on giving her away! It still makes me tear up every time.
With the help of a very friendly and patient youth librarian, my daughter and I requested all the titles we didn’t already have and now every day a few more arrive. Which means we’ll have plenty of reading material for the forseeable future.
Here’s the complete list in case your to-be-read list needs a few more titles.
The Wish Giver: Three Tales of Coven Tree by Bill Brittain.
Earlier this week, the Best Fiction For Young Adults committee members received an unexpected email from our diligent chair informing us of a YALSA policy we had been neglecting. Evidently, selection committee members are not permitted to nominate from pre-publication copies of books, but must read and evaluate only the finished final product. I, for one, was surprised, since I have done pretty much all of my nominating from galleys and ARCs. In fact, I had been viewing it as my responsibility to stay ahead of the publishing curve, trying to read ahead books that may not come out for a few months. And this information came to me on the same day as an ARC for the new Corey Doctorow book Pirate Cinema, a book I was really looking forward to reading and evaluating.
Although this thankfully won’t erase nominations that are already in, I got to thinking about the reasons for this policy and its possible effects. Most of the ARCs I have encountered differ only slightly from the finished books. A notation of “Artwork TK” or a mis-drawn graph here and there, maybe a missing author’s bio, but if the book isn’t heavily illustrated, nothing major. But when I think of the electronic galleys I have been reading, I have to say that the difference between that and the finished product is huge. Formatting matters for your experience of a book, and having random page numbers in the middle of paragraphs is distracting at best.
What about cover art? I know the old adage, but the marketing of a book can be another crucial part of the experience. Many ARCs come with no cover art, or a version that is extremely different from the ultimate design. Look at the nominee The Difference Between You and Me by Madeline George. This is the ARC cover, and here is the final version. Somewhat different feeling, I’d say. Although I don’t know what the ARC cover looked like on nominee Planesrunner by Ian McDonald, the hard sci fi cover design doesn’t really reflect the broad appeal of this adventure. How much does the design of the book color our reading of it? Enough to disqualify a book we would otherwise nominate, or vice versa?
Publishers clearly think that the ARCs and galleys they make available are in good enough shape for the industry. This is how titles get pull quotes, reviews in major journals, and interest prior to release. There’s the fun that many of us, committee or not, have trying to get ARCs at various conferences where there is a publisher presence. I’m fortunate to live in a major city with access to multiple excellent library networks, and since I live on the East coast, publishers are better about sending me boxes of books for consideration regularly. But for some of my co-committee members, sites like NetGalley are the best way for them to get access to enough titles quickly enough to do the volume of reading required to do this job properly. Even for me, having electronic galleys available means I can have one book on the go on my phone and iPad and another in a physical copy, allowing me to squeeze in reading at random moments. However, ARCs aren’t generally available to teens, who are the ultimate audience for these books, and whose feedback the committee really values. I’m going out of my way to solicit reviews of eligible titles from my students, and the teen feedback sessions at Midwinter and Annual are the most important three hours of ALA. If we nominate something that won’t be available to teens for
For those of you who don’t already know, the Collaborative Summer Library Program‘s teen theme for 2012 is “Own the Night”, which calls to mind all manner of creepy, fun programs. Also, a lot of the books on this year’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list lend themselves to these creepy, fun ideas. Here are two “Own the Night” themed programs for the 2012 BFYA pick, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.
Anna Dressed in Blood is the story of Cas Lowood, a boy who hunts and kills ghosts. He meets the ghost of Anna, a girl who was brutally murdered in 1958 and who kills anyone who sets foot in her home. Oddly enough, the two spare each other, but why? This book is great for the ghosts and scary stories portions of the “Own the Night” theme. One program idea for this book would be to invite your local paranormal society to the library to discuss ghost hunting tips, tricks, and safety. I have worked with my local paranormal society, and they were great! They even brought in equpipment to demonstrate and asked the teens to debunk “ghost photos”. It was a blast, and since Cas is a ghost hunter, it ties in perfectly with the book.
Another good program for this book would be to have a local story teller come in and share local ghost stories and urban legends. You could also share these stories yourself or compile handouts of local ghost stories and legends and have the teens share them with each other. Sit in a circle, dim the lights, hand out a flashlight to anyone that is telling a story. Have them hold it under their faces to give them a gruesome look. Then, serve everyone fake smores by spreading chocolate icing and marshmallow fluff onto graham crackers. (I wish I could take credit for this, but the idea actually came from Jennifer Hopwood who presented at the Florida Library Youth Program’s Summer Workshop.) Now, you have the perfect campfire tales program in the library, combining two “Own the Night” themes: camping and scary stories. This program also ties in with Anna Dressed in Blood because Cas gathers all of his information about the ghosts that he hunts through the urban legends that his classmates share.
Hope you have some spooky fun! Tune in next month for Mad Science with Victor Frankenstein in This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel.