Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wake Me Up When September Ends

. . . and maybe I'll remember to post these interesting things. Because I haven't been doing much besides working, thinking, and keeping up with friends, this is, I'm afraid, a completely self-absorbed list; but hey, it's my birthday month. (Or you can attribute it to the evil influence of Eat Pray Love, which I'm reading right now and really liking. Here's to women who know what they want and go after it, I say.)

  • Jordan at the Rusty Key kindly interviewed me about working on the Harry Potter books. (Hermione's and my joint Virgoness pleases me deeply.)
  • A picture and one-line quote from me appears in Psychology Today magazine this month! It's as part of their "Person on the Street" feature, which is entirely appropriate, because it came about because of a stroll up my beloved Crosby St. I was walking to work one day, and at the corner of Prince and Crosby, a woman with a clipboard said to me, "Would you like to be in a photoshoot for Psychology Today magazine?" This seemed like a pleasingly random opportunity, so I said yes, answered a question, and posed in a strange position, which is of course the picture they chose for the magazine (in a spread of other people similarly strangely posed). It's not online, I don't think, but if you are exceedingly bored and near a periodicals rack at some point soon, you can look it up. 
  • And Sue Lederman LaNeve talked with me about self-publishing and Second Sight in her Tampa Bay Children's Book Writers and Illustrators newsletter, available here.
  • (I've sold well over half my stock of Second Sight, for the record -- thanks to all of you who have purchased it or helped spread the word!)
  • That interview also contains an announcement of another fun upcoming conference for me -- Florida SCBWI over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, which I am already excited about. Wouldn't you like to spend a three-day weekend in January in Miami talking writing and children's/YA books? I think you would. 
  • If you disliked The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, as I did, you have to read Manohla Dargis's brilliant review of the movie, which is also spot-on for the book. (Thanks to my friend Ronnie Ambrose for introducing me to this review.)
  • Make your own S'mores Pop Tarts! Yum yum yum.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Knock Knock. Who's There? 33 Years. 33 Years Who?


Okay, so that punch line isn't really funny. But 33 years did indeed come knocking for me on Thursday, and in lieu of birthday gifts, I solicited jokes on Twitter, promising one random respondent a copy of Second Sight. Today I compiled all the jokes here and asked for a random number between 1 and 29 on Twitter, and @Knockknockjoan (appropriately enough) replied with "14." So the 14th person on this list won the book -- congratulations, Kerry O'Malley Cerra!

The jokes, for your enjoyment:

  • Heather Hoag --Knock knock... Doctor... hahahahahahahahahhahahah *nerd joke*
  • Mardou Ledger -- Knock knock! Who's there? Says! Says who? Says me, that's who! 
  • Laurie Taddonio -- Where does the king keep his army? Up his sleevy.
  • Joanna Marple -- TEACHER: How many books have you read in your lifetime? PUPIL: I don't know. I'm not dead yet.  
  • Michael Northrop -- Why did the bicycle fall over?
  • Lindsey Billingsley -- Why did the tomato turn red? Because he saw the salad dressing.
  • Sarah Bewley -- A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Why the long face?"
  • gail shepherd -- What is a superhero's favorite part of a joke? The PUNCH line!
  • Emily Chapman -- Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar. One says "I've lost an electron." "Are you sure?" "I'm positive!"
  • Marilee Haynes -- What did the taco say to the burrito? Where have you bean?
  • Karen Rivers -- Q: How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb? A: But why do we have to change it? (stolen from ) Editor's Note (literally): This was especially pertinent as Karen was in the middle of a revision for me when she sent this (which has now been turned in, yay her!). For my own list of writing/editorial lightbulb jokes (with agents in the comments), click here.
  • tk read -- Stephen Hawking’s latest book about anti-gravity is so good - you can’t put it down.
  • Sara Danver -- There are two muffins in an oven. One turns to the other and says man it's hot in here. The other screams Ahh a talking muffin!!
  • Kerry O'Malley Cerra -- Q: What did one hot dog say to the other? A: "Hi, Frank."
  • Kellye Crocker -- What's brown and sticky? A stick!
  • Emily Jones -- What did the hot dog say as he crossed the finish line? I'm the wiener! 
  • Pat Zietlow Miller -- What did the salad say to the refrigerator? "Close the door, I'm dressing!"
  • Kevin Lohman -- If at first you don't succeed, skydiving may not be for you. 
  • Susan Adrian -- Knock knock. Who's there? Interrupting cow. Interrupting co--- MOOOOOOOOO. 
  • D Morrow -- How do you catch a unique rabbit? You 'neak up on it. How do you catch a *tame*, unique rabbit? Da tame way. You 'neak up on it.
  • Christina McTighe -- Have you heard about the new pirate movie coming out? It's rated AAAARRRRGGHHHHHH!!!!
  • Jennifer Clark Estes -- Knock, knock! Who's there? Lettuce. Lettuce who? Lettuce in, it's raining out here!
  • Lindsey Alexander -- Knock, knock. Who's there? To. To who? To WHOM! Happy birthday!
  • Melissa Fox -- Knock knock. Who's there? To. To who? No... To *Whom*. (stolen from )
  • Jess Morrison -- The past, present and future walk into a bar. It was tense.
  • Erin Thomas -- Knock knock - Who's there? - Under - Under who? - Underwear! (It's a hit with the grade 3 crowd)
  • Philipp Goedicke -- Why do elephants lay on their backs with their feet in the air? To trip the birds.
  • Janet Reid -- Q: What is a twack? A: A twack is what a twain wuns on. 
  • Lisa Schroeder -- Knock knock? Who's there? Botany. Botany who? Botany good books lately?
Thanks very much to all the kind joke tellers. And if you kind blog readers have great jokes of your own, I'd love to hear them in the comments!

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Why Do So Few Blacks Study Creative Writing?" by Cornelius Eady

For the last couple of years, I've been involved in a conversation on and off the blog about the representation of people of color in the publishing industry. This poem was posted earlier this year by the indispensable Ta-Nehisi Coates, and it more than anything else I've read or heard on this subject drove home to me the need for books that speak one's own language, where no translation is necessary, where one's life doesn't have to be justified or explained. 

Why Do So Few Blacks Study Creative Writing?
by Cornelius Eady

Always the same, sweet hurt,
The understanding that settles in the eyes
Sooner or later, at the end of class,
In the silence pooling in the room.
Sooner or later it comes to this,

You stand face to face with your
Younger face and you have to answer
A student, a young woman this time,

And you're alone in the class room
Or in your office, a day or so later,
And she has to know, if all music
Begins equal, why this poem of hers
Needed a passport, a glossary,

A disclaimer. It was as if I were...
What? Talking for the first time?
Giving yourself up? Away?
There are worlds, and there are worlds,
She reminds you. She needs to know
What's wrong with me? and you want

To crowbar or spade her hurt
To the air. You want photosynthesis
To break it down to an organic language.
You want to shake I hear you
Into her ear, armor her life

With permission. Really, what
Can I say? That if she chooses
To remain here the term
Neighborhood will always have
A foreign stress, that there
Will always be the moment

The small, hard details
Of your life will be made
To circle their wagons?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Oh, My Poor, Lovely, Ever So Neglected Blog . . .

. . . I have been thinking about you, I promise. But I also have been traveling and editing and knitting, some of these things simultaneously. I spent nearly three weeks on the West Coast, the last one inadvertently, thanks to Tropical Storm Irene. I became an aunt to a darling future star for Manchester United, which is ironic, because at present his name most famously belongs to a cricket player. I completed the baby blanket I have been knitting since 2006, and strained my wrist kayaking while singing Broadway showtunes. (Long story.) I reviewed and personally critiqued one hundred and fifty-three queries -- yes, 153 -- in connection with the webinar I did back in June. I visited two different music museums. I finished both A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin, with great satisfaction, and three other books besides, with only medium satisfaction comparatively, but still pleasure. I wrote four editorial letters in the week before I left, and one more during my Irene-enforced vacation. I ate at the best Thai restaurant in Los Angeles, or maybe the United States. I lost my wallet and iPod on a plane, and one of my books was named an Entertainment Weekly Must List pick, and another is featured on the Kirkus website this week. And I boogie boarded successfully.

Those are all the verbs of my last month or so, and some of the nouns too; but the reason I stayed away from you, dear blog, had to do with the adjectives . . . "Tired" and "talked-out" to some extent, thanks to all the crazy work of this year, and especially the week prior to vacation; and "emotional" about things that were none of your business. (Nyah, nyah, nyah, blog, I have things I don't tell you!) . . . And those things also made me feel tired and talked-out. One of the perils of being an editor, or perhaps just of modern life, is that one's judgmental antennae can be up all the time, weighing how something is done, to what ends, whether those ends are worth the effort, whether the "how" is the best method for reaching them, and then figuring out how best to communicate those judgments in the appropriate forum, if one should, because one has so many forums to be judgmental. (Wittily and briefly for Twitter? At great length in a letter or blog post?) I did not entirely succeed in turning off these antennae during my vacation, and as a result, I remained tired and talked-out in my head, and not so much wanting to put that talk down in pixels . . .

But it feels good to write here, Brooklyn Arden dear, and stretch these familiar muscles. I do hope to return again soon. I have new books to tell you about, and some thoughts on this devastating but oh-so-true Onion article, and those 153 critiques plus the article made me want to do a series delving into the nature of bad prose (not that all of the critiques were bad by any means). I promise nothing, because that merely sets me up for failure, but I'm thinking about you, and wishing we could spend more time together. The fall is always my time for new beginnings:  Here's to trying.