Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I’m back. It was a quick trip, full of wonderful things, and I’ll sort them out in due course, but let’s start with the simplest of pleasures: good Neapolitan pizza with creative local ingredients (squash blossoms and roasted zucchini in this case).


Thanks, Two Amys Pizza, for an excellent culinary coda to my ALA. (The cognoscenti among you may fault this crust for lacking any blackened bits or bubbles. I did get there early, so the oven probably wasn’t perfectly hot. I think they deserve a pass—especially since they had Bell’s on draft).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The voice of the author

Author Steve Brezenoff recorded a short podcast with Authors on Tour at BEA, and it just went live. He does a great job of explaining the title of the novel—something that always seems to escape me when I have to do it. Enjoy:

Download this MP3 - (Right Click)

Local indie bookselling institution Magers & Quinn are also hosting Steve’s launch party for the book at the end of September, so, if you’re so inclined, you can hear more from Steve live and in person.

The other two Lab Rat* releases this fall  are also coming soon to the auditory sphere—though not in the authors’ voices. Blythe Woolston’s The Freak Observer and Ilsa Bick’s Draw the Dark will be available on Audible  this fall. Congrats!


*Yes, Carolrhoda Lab authors are now officially Lab Rats.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blythe before Bloomsday

Author Blythe Woolston must have read my mind (she tends to do this) before her recent blog post about Ulysses and censorship.

I make a habit of a halfhearted effort at rereading Ulysses every June 16. Well, I peruse more than re-read, I guess. I might dip in at File:Revolutionary Joyce.jpgLe0pold Bloom in his outhouse (shocking!) or maybe even Molly Bloom’s soliloquy(nowadays titillating only to scholars, I suspect), and if I do, I will chuckle that this book was at the center of a landmark indecency case 77 years ago. The idea of this book giving popular offense seems so quaint and silly now.

But I shouldn’t let the folly of censorship past make me giggle so much that I fail to be outraged at censorship present. (Look no farther than Liz Burn’s blog if you need an example.)

Thanks, Blythe, for the reminder. To paraphrase Judge Woolsey’s ruling on Ulysses, while the effect of censorship on readers undoubtedly is somewhat emetic, nowhere does it tend to be funny.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sneaky Sheep Web Comic 4

Turns out that spelling is all that stands between sheep and world domination.


Click through for the whole strip…

Samantha Bee of the Daily Show on her adolescence

Best observation of the adolescent condition I’ve heard in a while (heard her read it on Fresh Air):

“Hitting puberty excavated a wellspring of evilimage energy in me that led me to the discovery that my parents were  vulnerable and had made mistakes that could be exploited in an interesting way. Hating them with the white-hot wrath of a middle-class teenager was a full-time job I took very seriously. But at least when I was solely occupied with giving my parents stress-related ulcers, I had a sense of self-preservation about me--a shrewdness.”

 -from I Know I Am but What Are You? by Samantha Bee

I would go so far as to say that it is impossible to write great YA without addressing the vulnerabilities and mistakes of adults in some way (I’ll now be proved wrong by the very next submission I get, but I’m going to say it anyway).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wabi Sabi

Fall books are trickling in from the printer, so the small of ink, paper, and glue are think around the office (not really, but don’t spoil my image). If you work on books, the arrival of long wished-for final copies is not exactly unalloyed joy. Finished books mean the permanent record is set, with no more tinkering or last looks. And mistakes, tiny and not so tiny, are almost inevitable. The vast majority of the time, readers will never notice them. But we do, and for this reason I very rarely reread a finished copy. In fact, when I had to reread The Absolute Value of –1 for our BEA event, I read an ARC instead of the final copy I had in my office. The final copy was still too fresh to be read without anxiety. (Plus I already knew there had been one error unrelated to the text in the final book’s printing, so my nerves were really frazzled.)

What made me think about this was waking up to the news of an umpire’s blown call ruining a perfect game in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs.

I hope a few people sympathize with Jim Joyce, the ump who missed the call at first base in Detroit last night. I know I do (and not just because his namesake is a great author of un-umpire-able books). This is the nightmare scenario for an editor. Not catching an author’s error is one thing, but introducing error into the text is another vastly more horrible thing. Like umpiring, editing should be something invisible to readers.

Editors and umpires are in a weird position. We are, ostensibly, the guardians of a book’s or a game’s perfection, but we also know better than anyone who enjoys a book or a game that such perfection is unattainable and that the very attempt brings the risk of exposure. But we try all the same.

So here’s hoping for no blown calls this fall. (And, for the moment, I think I’m for instant replay in baseball.)