Tuesday, March 31, 2009


This will be an unfocused post, since I’m still digging out from weeks of travel.

Bologna was lovely. Vastly more experienced hands than have blogged the show already. Suffice it to say, I had a good time and got excited about several things.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of a quick trip to Omaha to speak to the Nebraska chapter of SCBWI. Thanks to that small but excellent group for being a great audience.

I came back to lots of cool news on the review front. BobVila.com has much love for Chris Monroe’s Monkey with a Tool Belt. And a Wisconsin library has posted this excellent review of Pat Schmatz’s Lambda-nominated YA, Mousetraps.

Coherence to come.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Off to Italy

I'll be in Italy all next for the Bologna Book Fair, so I probably won't post much if at all (though I may Twitter). I'll leave you with this interview with Monkey with a
Tool Belt
author Chris Monroe
at Liz Jone's Books.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Facebook could change things

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, so I thought I’d just get it down now. I’m very interested in the ways youth culture has changed and become more connected (and less local?), particularly as a result of social networks, but I wonder to what extent that culture sees social networks as a broadly applicable tool that they can wield in their interest as opposed to one that’s mostly used to sell things to them or to occupy free time.

Consider: In Minnesota, it seems like every year the legislature debates the start date for schools, especially in years where Labor Day is late. This comes from the tension between schools, who want an earlier start because of testing and other immoveable parts of their calendar, and the tourism industry that relies on seasonal labor, which is often provided by high-school students (they don’t want them all to quit before the make-or-break Labor Day weekend). The debate ends up decided in the legislature, which sets school start dates. As far as I know, this debate never seriously involves one party directly affected by the decision: the teenagers. I’m sure teens have always had opinions about this, but it doesn’t seem like anything has ever mobilized that opinion on a scale that causes anyone to take notice. Fifteen years ago, this cause couldn’t jump from local community to local community fast enough to become a force (remember, this is really only an issue for you for a couple years before you age out). But that was before Facebook.

Imagine: One seventeen-year-old decides that this late school start is a big problem for him and for his immediate friends, and since he knows that the tourism industry almost invariably wins this fight and school will start after Labor Day. So in spring, when media coverage of this heats up, he starts a Facebook group (Minnesota Teens for a Pre-Labor-Day Start or something) and all through the spring and summer, it gathers members and they support each other in the decision  not to work after the last weekend in August. Come August, a few thousand teens (out of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps) actually do quit. School still starts on September 7th, but I bet next spring’s debate will be different.

So, is stuff like this happening?

Fascinating bit of video from SXSW

From GalleyCat.

I think the most interesting thing about this is that it’s taking place at SXSW (South by Southwest), rather than a traditional publishing gathering.

I also find it interesting that even with all the self-publishing tools available, people still wag their fingers at publishers and accuse them of being filters and gatekeepers.  “You’re just a filter. Why do I need you? I can just use Lulu.” There’s no answer to that. If you think the gatekeeper is guarding a gate that has low or no walls on either side, then why are you bothering to lecture him? If you don’t like the filter, then don’t go through the filter.

Monday, March 16, 2009

ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Nominations

Three of ‘em!

Congratulations to Chris Monroe, Anne Bowen and Stephen Gammell, and Gina Capaldi.

(And a side congrats to Robin Friedman, whose Nothing is up for best YA. I edited her at Flux.)

Congratulations, Pat Schmatz

Pat Schmatz's YA Mousetraps is one of six finalists for the 21st Annual Lambda Literary Awards. According to the Lambda Literary Foundation, "the Lambda Literary Awards seek to recognize excellence in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender literature."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: How does the media see children?

Interesting document put out by a UK group on children’s rights and the media. I found this particularly fascinating:

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recently
expressed concern ‘at the general climate of intolerance
and negative public attitudes towards children, especially
adolescents, which appears to exist in the [UK], including
in the media, and may be often the underlying cause of
further infringements of their rights.’ This is the first time
the UN Committee has issued a statement like this to a
Western industrialised nation. It recommended ‘urgent
measures to address the intolerance and inappropriate
characterization of children, especially adolescents, within
the society, including the media…’

Is America much better? We’re fairly obsessed with teen culture when it comes to entertainment, but do we treat actual teenagers very well?

(And you know the US has not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child? We’re not alone, though, thankfully. Among the signatories, Somalia hasn’t ratified either. Apparently this has a little to do with constitutional sovereignty and with Texas’ desire to execute minors.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Liz Burns on ARCs

Here’s part two of Liz Burns’ series of posts for Foreword magazine about ARCs.

Liz interviewed a number of people and I think she does a good job of sorting out what ARCs are supposed to do—and what they’re not supposed to do.

(Part one is here.)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bloggy miscellany for Monday

Abby (the) Librarian has a nice write up of Written in Bone author Sally Walker’s latest event at Anderson’s Bookshop in Illinois. Sounds like a good time was had by all. Over at Market My Words, Shelli has an interview with your truly about the world of online promotion.