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Showing posts from January, 2009

Love and Sympathy

My thoughts tonight are with the friends and family of librarians Kathy Krasniewicz and Kate McClelland, who were killed in a hit-and-run accident on their way to the airport after leaving ALA on Wednesday.  I never had the good fortune to meet Kate, but was lucky enough to have dinner with Kathy and a group of other librarians at ALA Anaheim last summer.  Kathy was a delight; I wish I'd gotten to know her better.  It's clear from the outpouring of grief in the blogosphere that these ladies were too good for words, and will be terribly missed.

Poor Old Wapping

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So, I've been reading Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart mysteries (and loving them, especially The Shadow in the North.) However, this passage in The Ruby in the Smoke startled me:

Beyond the Tower of London, between St. Katharine’s Docks and Shadwell New Basin, lies the area known as Wapping: a district of docks and warehouses, of crumbling tenements and rat-haunted alleys, of narrow streets where the only doors are at second-floor level, surmounted by crude projecting beams and ropes and pulleys. The blind brick walls at pavement level and the brutal-looking apparatus above give the place the air of some hideous dungeon from a nightmare, while the light, filtered and dulled by the grime in the air, seems to come from a long way off – as if through a high window set with bars.
Oh, dearie me! I lived in Wapping for four months, and apparently I should be glad that the year was 2004 rather than Sally Lockhart's 1872! When I was there, it was the cutest place ever! I could, …

Row, Row, Row Your Boat Gently Down the Stream

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This Monday post comes to you a bit later than usual -- firstly, because it's ALA award day, and I wanted to be able to link to the 2009 Caldecott, Printz, Newbery, et al winners; and secondly, because I wanted a little time to reflect.
Warm congratulations to all those who won awards and honors. Here's the list. I'm particularly thrilled that Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road won the Printz Award, which recognizes excellence in literature written for young adults. Jellicoe Road is a marvelous, complicated, sad, hopeful book. Well chosen, Printz committee! And The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart is a Printz Honor book -- yay! And I'd be raving about the other Printz books, as well, no doubt, except that I just haven't read them yet. :o)
Also, a very special congratulations to Elizabeth C. Bunce, author of A Curse Dark as Gold, the winner of the ALA's new Morris Award, which honors a book for teens written by a first-time auth…

Even Better Than Aretha Franklin's Hat

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I grew up in a house where a lot of classical music was played, and a lot of SesameStreet was watched. I bet I heard the traditional Shaker tune "Simple Gifts" before I could even talk, thanks to Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring;" I've kind of idolized violinist Itzhak Perlman ever since I saw him on my black-and-white TV; and, well, I've posted before about what I think of Yo-Yo Ma. So, aside from the actual fact of Barack Obama becoming President (and George Bush going away), can you guess what part of Tuesday's inauguration I liked best? That's right, even more than Aretha Franklin's hat, or Joe Biden's smileyoucouldseefromthemoon, or even Obama saying stuff like, "We will restore science to its rightful place," and, "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- AND NON-BELIEVERS!" (Okay, no, he didn't actually scream that last part, but my non-believing soul screamed out "THANK YOU&…

This American Life; Also, a Prayer

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Do you listen to the NPR show This American Life? It's my favorite radio show ever. I turn down invitations if they cut into my weekend routine of drinking a cup of tea and listening to This American Life. It's hard to describe the show -- the people at the show themselves admit this -- but they do a pretty good job here. And some popular episodes are available for your listening pleasure here.
A few weekends ago, the episode was about numbers being used in places where numbers maybe shouldn't be used. For example, some folks tried to quantify what makes likable songs likable, and what makes unlikable songs unlikable, by taking a survey of what instruments, voices, and genres of songs people like and dislike most. Then, they combined all the most-liked sounds to create a song everyone should like, and all the least-liked sounds to create a song no one should like. The "good" song turned out to be rather bland and unlistenable. The BAD song, on the other ha…

"Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togefer today. Mawage, that bwessed awangement, that dweam wifin a dweam..."

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(From The Princess Bride ^_^)
Today I'm answering FAQs about marriage. (That dweam wifin a dweam.)

Spoiler status:ALL of these questions contain Graceling spoilers, which is why I'm separating this paragraph from the questions themselves with a delightful picture of my youngest fan, whose name is Callum. If you don't want to know what happens in Graceling, STOP READING!
CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!

IF YOU'RE STILL READING, YOU'D BETTER BE IN THE MOOD FOR GRACELING SPOILERS!!!!
(Okay, yes, I take spoilers more seriously than perhaps is necessary. ^_^)
1. Will Katsa and Po ever get married? I never, ever discuss future plot things, except with my editor, my agent, and my official First Readers. This is partly because (1) until a first draft is written, I need to be free to have it to myself, without the interference of anyone else -- without the pressure of other people's questions, worries, opinions, or expectations. It needs to be my book and only my book, my busine…

In Which I Use One of My Favorite Words. Thrice.

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Writers are different. Some have a lot of looseness and need to apply discipline. Others have a lot of discipline and need to make allowances for looseness. I am definitely the latter.
I'm a worker. My danger is always that I will push too hard and not take enough breaks. I have to remind myself of things like patience; I get frustrated when it takes a long time or when it feels like I'm getting nowhere; I fight with my writing. I get angry; I hate it; I want to DEFENESTRATE it. I can't understand why it's so hard, or why I even bother; I can't understand why the words don't just come!
But that's the thing: you can have all the discipline in the world, but that won't make the words come. You can't just sit down knowing, "Today I'm going to begin Chapter 12," because maybe your eye will catch something problematic in Chapter 10, and six hours later you'll look up and take a breath and realize you haven't written a word of …

A Favorite Poem of 2008

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I use the Women Artists Datebook, and one of my quiet January pleasures is closing up last year's datebook and opening my new one. I transfer birthdays; I fill in travel plans; I take stock of the things I know about the year ahead. I also look over all the art and quotes and poems in the old datebook. I never love all the poems, but there's always one that knocks my socks off. Here's the poem I loved most in my datebook in 2008:
Soup and Bread
by Diane Swan

Christopher's girlfriend
has a green cockatiel
and he tells the family at dinner
that cuttlebone-- what the bird
sharpens its beak on--
comes from a squid.
I am startled. He knows more
than I have told him.

One lunchtime years ago
he called me an instructicon
and often I did talk
as if my children were tall glass vases
formed to contain my twigs of trivia,
long branches of perennial wisdom.
What I wanted, though I didn't know it then,
was that clean clothes, knowledge,
bread, everything good
would come to them through me.

Now t…

Cybils, Segueing to Australia, la la la

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Graceling is a finalist for the Cybils, the children's and YA bloggers' literary awards, in the Fantasy/SF category ^_^. Check out all the categories and all the finalists here. I haven't read most of the other finalists (yet!!), but those I have read happen to be among my favorite reads of the year, and I recommend them highly -- see below. Links are to their Amazon descriptions. Oh, and I don't include The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins below, because I've only just started reading it, but I will say that at 25 pages in, I have already laughed, cried, AND screamed out in surprise. So, um, it's safe to say that I have high expectations of enjoying that one :o)
The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski



The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas



A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce



The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart



Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta




Jellicoe Road reminds me of the disproportionate amount of Australian literature I've …

It's a New Year, and Fear Is a Friend Who's Misunderstood

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Here's a fabulous slideshow of New Year celebrations around the world.
And now, the New Year's Meme. (Thanks, Jess!)
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Good grief. SO MANY THINGS. I guess the biggest thing, encompassing most of the other things, is that I published my first book. But I also contributed to a political campaign, re-read almost all the Lord Peter Wimsey books, and bought a slow-cooker, all for the first time.
2. What are your New Year's resolutions for 2009? I'm going to spend January mulling this over, and will post about it once I've worked it out. I love the New Year; I love taking stock of time and how one fits into it; I love realistic and heartfelt resolutions. So. More to come.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Several people. And any minute now, one more is going to drop!! :o)

4. Did anyone close to you die? No.
5. What countries did you visit? I didn't leave the USA in 2008. However, while on an ill-fated tri…