Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday Afternoon Roundup

  • Alvina has a wonderful post on her editorial process over on Blue Rose Girls. If you want to know the kind of work a good editor puts in on a novel, check it out.
  • The Children's Book Bloggers' Drinks Night on Thursday was a smashing success, with thirty-something people happily talking work, writing, books, and the business. (I was also delightfully surprised by a visit from my college Quiz Bowl coach, Eric Hillemann, who was in town for archives research.) Look for another Drinks Night (or should we call it "the Happy Bunnies Hour"?) in a month or two.
  • Speaking of Eric, I'm now reading Brainiac by Ken Jennings, the guy who won 74 games in a row on Jeopardy! a few years ago. The book is terrific -- a Word Freak for trivia hounds, well-written, substantive, and funny -- and it has a whole chapter on Eric and the Carleton Quiz Bowl team (winners of the 1999 NAQT undergraduate championship, thank you very much).
  • I bought five books at stoop sales this morning: Longitude by Dava Sobel, which I've heard much praised; Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, a Resolution Book for this year; V. by Thomas Pynchon, because I was thinking of having Pynchon on my Resolution list for next year; The Big Love by Sarah Dunn, which is hands-down the funniest and truest chick-lit novel I've ever read, and which I already own but I bought again because I lent my copy to someone and I can't remember who and even if I get it back, it's good to have an extra copy to lend out; and Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian, which ditto (except replacing "hands-down the funniest and truest chick-lit novel" with "the first book in a series I love madly").
  • Phrase Origin of the Day: The term "hands-down" comes from horse racing, where "A hands-down victory is one that is so assured that a jockey can drop his hands and relax his grip on the reins as he approaches the line." (Courtesy of this.)
  • Open House New York has its annual tour weekend next week. In years past I've climbed to the top of the Grand Army Plaza arch in Brooklyn and the Jefferson Market Library water tower in Greenwich Village; both of those options are available again this year, alongside mansions, museums, and multiple other fascinating architectural sites.
  • Finally, an instruction from the Oklahoma Library Association (courtesy Bullfrog): "Read, Y'All!"


  1. Since it's Saturday afternoon roundup....
    I finally saw "Little Miss Sunshine". You recommended it months ago!
    I loved it. Thanks for spreading the good word.
    I think anyone working in children's lit would enjoy it.

  2. Hi, Irene--Why do you think children's writers would like that movie? Just curious; haven't seen it.

  3. Ooops! I didn’t expect a question. But, since you asked….
    I loved Little Miss Sunshine. My reasons are random. And for the record, my opinion does not match my husband’s. Here goes…

    How loud did you scream when you sold your first manuscript? Did you scream into your pillow? [I loved this reference from Marilyn when she sold her illustrations.] Olive’s scream was amazing when she was invited to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.

    Or… turn back the clock to before the first manuscript sale. Now…
    Imagine getting Olive’s phone call—of course it’s a top editor at a major publishing house inviting you to pitch your story at an acquisition meeting. The publishing house is 1,000 miles away and you have to be there tomorrow. Unfortunately, you have two little kids, a new puppy, three goldfish, a part time job, a cranky mother-in-law, busy body neighbors, no money, a broken printer and a computer smeared with peanut butter. Oh… one more tiny wee thing… you haven’t quite finished Chapter Twenty. Can you get it together to get to New York City? What if the goldfish die enroute? Kids get the flu? Husband stops talking to you? You arrive at the meeting, a tad late, finding the room filled with competing manuscripts written by best selling authors and famous celebrities. You wipe the peanut butter off your pages and read your children’s very favorite bedtime story. It suddenly seems simple next to the other projects. Or… maybe it’s fabulous. Either way, your family loves you.

    I liked the quirky characters in Little Miss Sunshine. The dad was trying so hard to sell his book/mission. His agent wasn’t very helpful. Teenage Dwayne was out there. Grandpa. Uncle. Mom was frazzled. And Olive was oblivious, taking everything in stride. “How much can I spend for breakfast?” she asks her mom at the diner. “I’m a dancer,” she told the judge. “My grandpa’s in the trunk.” It cracked me up.

    There were a few things I questioned about the plot, one being the lack of tears for Grandpa’s …. [can’t spoil it for the readers who haven’t seen the movie].

    Most importantly, this movie was a first for its writers. Woohoo! And it was produced for Sundance, on a small budget. To me, that’s the movie’s magic and the inspiration for writers.
    ***And of course… Olive wears red cowboy boots, like Kevin Henkes’ Lilly.

  4. I've been reading this blog for a while. These are my favorite comments so far.

  5. Cheryl! I'll be curious to read what you think about "V" I've never been able to get into Pynchon. (Although I did like "Crying of Lot 49")

    We too have a "lending library" of titles that we just have to share. "The Heart of Emerson's Journals", "Applied Art" by Pedro Lemos and "An Incomplete Education" are on the top of the most lent out.

    Happy reading,


  6. Just a quick correction there, Cheryl. The tower at Jefferson Market (my old branch) hasn't a drop in it. It was built originally to spot fires in Greenwich Village. Though I like the idea of a water tower suspended precariously above a library. Gives the whole enterprise a note of suspense.

  7. Ha! Betsy, you're right -- I was conflating the two sites I visited that day: the Jefferson Market Library Tower in Greenwich Village, and the Highbridge Water Tower in Washington Heights. Mea culpa.

  8. I'm also reading Brainiac (and Prisoner of Trebekistan, another excellent book for word hounds, by Bob Harris). On your recommendation, I just put Big Love on my list.

    Just finished Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, which was fabulous, and now I can't wait for So Totally Emily Ebers!

  9. Trivia hounds, not word hounds, that should've said.

    And I thought of you when reading the chapter on the Carleton quiz team.

  10. V. by Thomas Pynchon, because I was thinking of having Pynchon on my Resolution list for next year

    but...but...I thought you were going to be my Gravity's Rainbow buddy!