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Books Read in 2010

9 Jan

1. Claudette Colvin by Phillip Hoose
2. Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor
3. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
4. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
5. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley
6. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World by Bryan Lee O’Malley
7. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
8. Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O’Malley
9. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together by Bryan Lee O’Malley
10. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
11. Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe by Bryan Lee O’Malley
12. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
13. Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour by Bryan Lee O’Malley
14. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
15. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
16. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
17. Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
18. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
19. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
20. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley
21. Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill
22. Divergent by Veronica Roth
23. Sleepwalk with Me by Mike Birbiglia
24. Winter Dreams, Christmas Love by Mary Francis Shura

I don’t keep track of how many manuscripts I read for work, or how many times I read each draft of ones that I’m editing, but it’s pretty safe to say that I read Entwined, A Touch Mortal, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Mistwood, Nightspell, and The Seventh Level several times each!

I received 383 manuscript submissions, 177 of which were agented. Most of the rest were from writers who attended conferences I spoke at.

It’s Banned Books Week

28 Sep

Lots of posts are up around the internet this week, which is our designated time to celebrate the freedom to read whatever we want and to think for ourselves, and to talk about all the things we discover in books, and what thoughts they inspire.

For instance, you could go over to the Greenwillow blog for a short video from Chris Crutcher, who knows a thing or two about having books challenged in schools and libraries. You could follow the #speakloudly conversation on twitter or visit SpeakLoudly.org, where teachers, librarians, bloggers, and authors (including Greenwillow’s own David Macinnis Gill) are speaking out against censorhip. You can go to BannedBooksWeek.org to see a map of all the reported challenges in the US between 2007 and 2010.

And you can visit the amazing Leah Clifford’s blog for the reminder that everyone is allowed to Speak Loudly, even those we don’t necessarily agree with, and the also fantastic Veronica Roth’s blog for another thoughtful perspective.

What do I think about during Banned Books Week? I think about how lucky I am to have grown up in a house where reading was encouraged. No, more than encouraged. Both of my parents are readers, though we have pretty different tastes. So there was always room for reading in my home. Curled up on the couch, in my room, at the kitchen table, in the yard, in the car, at my grandparents’, on vacations, even while we waited to be seated when we went out to dinner. Every week, I got $5 after piano lessons in the mall music store and went directly to the Walden books to spend it.

And despite having two overprotective parents (Seriously. I’ve never had a broken bone–no, not even a finger or toe–or stitches, or anything.), I was always, always allowed to read whatever I wanted. Because my parents knew that books open up the world. And they knew that they were raising good kids who would ask them questions when they needed to. They knew that discussion was better than taking something away.

I have learned so much, throughout my life, from books that are frequently challenged. From A Wrinkle in Time, I learned that science is incredible and that family never lets you down; from Bridge to Terabithia, I saw how important imagination and friendship is, and one way to cope when a loved one is lost; from Of Mice and Men that you really do have to be careful if you don’t know your own strength and you’re holding something cuddly; from A Light in the Attic that I loved poetry; and so much more.

That’s what I want to celebrate during Banned Books Week: that every child, teenager, parent, librarian, and teacher can choose to read the books that speak to them, and that they want to speak about.

And that authors will have the freedom to keep writing the books that we all need.

I am all over the internets, recently.

10 Aug

Many ideas for posts have been percolating recently, but while I get those together, why don’t you check out what I’ve been doing in other places around the intertubes?

First off, I’m participating this week in Write On Con, a FREE online conference that began today and ends Thursday. Today, the first vlog I ever did went up, featuring me, editor Molly O’Neill, and agent Holly Root. We busted some publishing myths. And looked longingly at cookies in front of us on the table. I was also a panelist in a live chat with agents Elana Roth and Kathleen Ortiz and publicist Paul Samuelson.

I also have been doing a lot of urban exploring this summer, largely because I have a Key to the City. And I blogged about that over on the Greenwillow blog last week, so you can read more about it and see lots of pictures there!

And I’ve been editing some things. Things that knock my socks off. Like maybe this and this. And some others that aren’t yet linkable, but just you wait and see!

Find me over here today.

24 Jun

For the Greenwillow Blog today, I wrote about how I got to Greenwillow.

You can find it over here.

Where I’ve Been

13 Jun

I’m embarrassed how neglectful I’ve been to this blog, lately. But I have good excuses, I swear!

I was acquiring a new sister:

High-five for wedding success!

And then one of my best friends got married, too:

All the Dickinson alumni at Deb's wedding!

Other exciting things were happening, too, though. Like Leah Cypess’s debut novel, Mistwood, was published.

And so was Jody Feldman’s second novel, The Seventh Level.

And I was busy at work on some fantastic novels that you’ll be able to read in 2011. (Or maybe later this fall, if you’re lucky enough to get an ARC.) I’ll be telling you more about those at a later date.

Happy summer!

2009 Reading, by the numbers

4 Jan

Books read (for pleasure, not work!) in 2009:

1. The Woman Who Rides like a Man by Tamora Pierce

2. Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

4. Asta in the Wings by Jan Elizabeth Watson

5. What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

6. Paper Towns by John Green

7. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

8. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

9. Fire by Kristin Cashore

10. Hate List by Jennifer Brown

11. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

12. Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

13. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

14. The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen

15. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

16. The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L. J. Smith

17. Winter Dreams, Christmas Love by Mary Francis Shura

And that’s it. Which is less than half of what I read last year. Five were re-reads, so twelve were new to me. And only one grown-up book! You might ask why the number went down so drastically. Well, my submissions went up pretty drastically this year. Those numbers?

I counted 427 manuscripts in my submissions log for this year. (Of those, 196 were agented, and most of the rest were from writers who attended conferences at which I spoke.) Thank the technology gods for my Sony Reader!

Thinking about the Centuries

19 Oct

One of my favorite books is Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. I’ve read it many times, but the first time, I borrowed it from a friend in the third grade. She had a hardcover edition that was oversized. The cover shows us Mary in a yellow coat looking over her shoulder while pulling back a wall of ivy. I remember resting it on my lap while I read it. It had heft and weight and smelled of paper and ink and a little of my friend’s house. Even now, though I don’t have a copy of that exact edition, it’s part of how the story lives in my mind whenever I think of it or reread it.

And I thought of that reading experience this weekend after walking through some of the exhibits at the Morgan Library. The museum has a fantastic, if small, exhibit on Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, which includes original art and handwritten original manuscripts. (Undeniably amazing.) But it also has a Gutenberg Bible, letters and original manuscript pages from the likes of Dickens, Eliot, and Hemingway, and a number of illuminated prayer books and bibles. At the end of the summer, I also went to an illuminated manuscript exhibit at the Met which blew my mind a little bit.

Standing in front of a book that’s a thousand years old–a thousand years old–with an eReader and a blackberry in my bag made my brain want to implode. That’s a millenia of ways to read all within a few square feet. And those centuries-old books are so full of craft. People spent years and years perfecting their skills to make those books. The calligraphy, the artwork, the bookbinding, papermaking . . . it’s a work of art. One that you can tell a person, or many people, put care and attention and love into. All books are works of art, even today. Care goes into the choosing of typeface, the layout, design, presentation. Every single detail is taken into account.

The lack of physical presence is one of my worries about ebooks. And that’s not to say that I don’t like ebooks, or digital books, or whatever is currently developing. I think it’s exciting and interesting and part of the future of reading. But have we figured out the craft of creating them yet? Right now, they seem more about convenience and availability, not design or art. A good story is a good story no matter how it’s presented, but a good package makes the reading experience even better. None of the digital readers are what I’d call beautiful yet. (Ok, maybe the iPhone is the exception here.) But I think we’ll get there, so that reading a digital book has the same physical presence, evokes the same sensory memory that reading The Secret Garden–and so many other books–has always had for me.

I donated a critique for a good cause–bid now!

26 Jun

Author Cynthea Liu is auctioning off critiques and gift packages from editors, agents, and authors in celebration of her forthcoming book. The money raised will go to Tulakes Elementary School in Oklahoma.

My listing is here. And you can go to Cynthea’s website for many, many more, including Greenwillow authors Kelly Milner Halls (a nonfiction critique) and Chris Crutcher (a Crutcher prize pack).

A-twitter

17 Mar

Over the weekend, I became fascinated by the reactions to the panel on book publishing at South by Southwest. It seems to have caused quite the uproar. Here are a few of the reactions that caught my eye:

http://www.williamaicher.com/2009/03/16/really-new-think-for-old-publishers/
http://yodiwan.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/the-art-of-the-conversation-a-la-sxsw/
http://booksquare.com/new-think-not-so-much/
http://medialoper.com/hot-topics/print/traditional-publishers-crash-and-burn-at-sxsw/

They all bring up interesting and valuable points. Yet, everything seems to focus more on the marketing and selling of the books, rather than their creation. Obviously marketing and selling are important, and I’m interested in both of those things. But frankly, what I’d love to hear and talk more about is how finding and creating stories is evolving. Yes, the new media is connecting books and authors and readers, which is essentially the business of publishing, and we need to explore it more and never stop exploring and pushing boundaries.

But how do editors and authors use all of this new available stuff before there’s a finished product? After all, editors aren’t gatekeepers. Ok, sure, we have to say “no” to things, but that isn’t what we like doing. We like saying yes. We like finding an author, a voice, a story that completely blows us away. I want to be able to help give kids and teens stories that help them live, and think, and cope, and laugh, and have opinions, and make choices. I want to find writers who have meaningful things to say and to help them say it and put it out in the world in the best possible way. I want to help them make their ideas and words shine. I want to read good books. Whatever formats “book” comes to mean. That’s why I wanted to be an editor, and why I love being one, and I think that passion and a critical eye are always going to be valuable commodities.

The stories that I find sparkling and brilliant might not be the same ones another editor is attracted to. And I might not connect with one that another editor finds irresistible. But we’re all working to get the stories we believe in out there, because there are so many different readers in the world. Are new media tools best used by us to find the writers we connect with, too, then?

The conversations about “new think” have mostly revolved around adult book publishing, but I’d love to see more about children’s and YA publishing. After all, that audience is the one that’s truly going to bring in the next era of reading, aren’t they?

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