Monday, November 29, 2010

First Day

Today I had my first day of work as the Employed Book Lover at HarperCollins…and it went really well.  I couldn’t be happier!

The day started off with some important questions like: If I wore my best two outfits to my two interviews, what do I wear on my first day? The best answer, of course, is to go shopping…which I will absolutely do in due time…but today I wore an old standard.  Looking the part is important!

Thus dressed and a bit sleepy (having had my nerves wake me up at 4am), I headed to the office to arrive at 9am for an orientation.  Learning about the history of the company, some of the benefits and many systems, a fellow newly hired employee and I were able to go to our respective departments.

Sarah and Anne, the two editors whom I am working for, were lovely.  When they showed me my (surprisingly large) desk, there was a card, beautiful tulips, and a lamp they selected for me as my cubicle is a bit on the dark side.  There were also fifteen or so books that Sarah and Anne have worked on awaiting my read.  They promised me a bookshelf, which I know will get filled very quickly!  I also received Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom from the senior vice president, as a welcome to the company gift.  Ursula Nordstrom is a legendary editor who directed Harper’s Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940-1973.

After settling in, I met with Sarah and Anne separately to discuss the books that they’re working on, what needs to be done in the near future, and what tasks I should be performing.  I already have two books to read and one manuscript to read from Sarah, plus one book to read so I can write up a new copy for the reissue and another manuscript to copyedit while reading for Anne!  They’re going to keep me busy, which isn’t a bad thing at all!  I also spent my afternoon doing a few administrative tasks like compiling a calendar with all the important dates, delivering a galley to the managing editorial department, and learning how to use a program which tracks all the books published by HarperCollins.  It was a bit of an information dump- but I know I’ll pick it up soon!

Anne and Sarah also took me out to lunch, which was so sweet…and such a nice welcome to the team.  The others I’ve met in the group- Katherine, Claudia, Molly, and Jen- also seem like the nicest people ever.  I feel very fortunate to not only have landed my dream job in the editorial dept. of a great children’s publishing house, but also to work with smart, kind people.  *Happy dance*

I’ll let you know how the rest of the week and such go!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The holidays are quickly approaching, and Black Friday is this Friday…which means one thing: SHOPPING!

I’ll be the first to admit it: I love shopping.  Books, clothes, random kitchen gadgets that I’ll never need, you name it.  One of the biggest items on everyone’s radar this holiday season are eReaders.  If you’re on the market for one, this list is a really helpful way to make a decision on which eReader is best for you.

I don’t own an eReader.  Not yet, anyways.  I like, okay, love books.  Physical, hold them and smell them and watch them sit prettily on your overflowing bookshelf books.  A friend or family member can’t personalize an eBook.  An author can’t sign an eBook. eBooks don’t have pretty covers.  Most eBooks can’t have special fonts.  As of right now, eBooks just can’t do what physical books can do.

But…and there always is a but…eBooks are great, too.  eBooks are cheaper than physical books.  That means MORE BOOKS- there is nothing more awesome than that! Although, of course, you have to factor in the cost of the eReader.  Depending on your eReader, you can download eBooks anywhere you can get an internet connection.  eBooks only weigh as much as the eReader- a big plus for the girl who has been carrying anywhere from two to six books in her purse for the past three weeks.  This is HUGE for traveling purposes.  And I already exclaimed my joy for borrowing eBooks from the library. 

So there we have it; my list of pros and cons for eBooks and eReaders.   I don’t think Santa is going to be bringing me an eReader this Christmas, but it’s definitely something that’s on my radar for a later date.  What are your thoughts?  Do you own an eReader?  How do you like it? Will you purchase one this holiday season?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Q. What Do You Do With a B.A. in Creative Writing? A. Publishing!

What do you do with a B.A. in English?
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college,
And plenty of knowledge,
Have earned me this useless degree!
I can't pay the bills yet,
‘Cause I have no skills yet,
The world is a big scary place!
But somehow I can't shake,
The feeling I might make,
A difference to the human race!

These lines, from the satiric musical Avenue Q, kind of summed up my life these past few (alright, many) months.  The job hunt is depressing and frustrating, especially in this economy…but I KNEW I was meant to be in publishing.  I KNEW that it had to be children’s books so that I could help inspire kids to love reading.  And I KNEW it was worth the wait- because, ya know, maybe I will be able to make a difference. 

So I am VERY pleased to announce that I am now the Unemployed Book Lover, who has achieved her Book Lover Goal #1.  Yesterday I was hired as editorial assistant for Sarah Shumway and Anne Hoppe at Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins Children’s Books.  I am beyond happy!

More information will be forthcoming as I figure out all the details.  And when I start November 29th!  YAY!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fallen Angel Poem

This isn't exactly a fact, but it's cute and creative.  I hope it makes you smile this Friday.


(Thank you to this blog for posting it and this blog for making me aware of it.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mid-Month Update

This month has been a busy, crazy one...and it’s only half over!  Here’s an update on where I stand in completing my Book Lover Goals:

Book Lover Goal #1: Editorial Assistant at a Children’s Book Publishing House
I had TWO interviews last week…my first interviews since August.  Needless to say, I was thrilled.  And they’re both editorial assistant positions; exactly what I’m looking for.  The first was at Random House, working at Knopf Children’s Books.  The second was at HarperCollins, working at Katherine Tegen.  Both positions gave me a take-home writing test in which I need to read a manuscript/short story and provide a reader’s report and flap copy.   That being turned in, I’m anxiously waiting to hear whether I get a second interview…keep your fingers crossed!  Each interview, though, brings me closer and closer to achieving my first Book Lover Goal.

Book Lover Goal #2: Author of MG and YA Novels
I finished writing The Rose of Coracus, which is now in the hands of my trusted readers for their comments.  I’m hoping to revise once more based on their notes and then begin querying after the New Year (AHH!). In the meantime, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo on my new novel, The Lady and the Unicorn’s Lover (I couldn’t resist playing with the title of the famous tapestry).  NaNoWriMo started off great; I wrote 5,000 words in the first three days, keeping on par with the 1667 words a day goal.  I am currently at 5,000 words.  Life aka interviews got in the way of my writing at such a rapid pace.  And although I would have loved to come out of November with a 50,000 word manuscript, I know that The Lady and the Unicorn’s Lover WILL get written eventually…and if I come out of November with a job, it will be even better.

Book Lover Goal #3: Owner of a Bookstore and Bakery
This goal is the one that’s most in the future right now.  I’m okay with that.  Goals #1 and #2 are plenty to focus on right now.  I have been doing quite a bit of baking, though (as always!), and would like to share this seasonally appropriate recipe.  It’s a family favorite and a crowd pleaser.

Pecan Pumpkin Delight

15 oz    canned pumpkin (without spices)
12 oz    evaporated milk
1 c       sugar
3          eggs
1 t        vanilla
1 box    yellow cake mix
1 c        butter, melted
1 ½ c    pecans, slightly chopped
            whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper.  Set aside.   In large bowl, combine pumpkin, milk and sugar.  Beat in eggs and vanilla. Pour in prepared pan.  Sprinkle with dry cake mix and drizzle with butter.  Sprinkle with pecans.  Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Invert onto a large serving platter.  Carefully remove paper or foil. Top with whipped cream if desired.  Enjoy!

So, there we have it…my crazy first couple weeks of November.   We’ll see what the next two bring; sleep and a bit of relaxing, hopefully…and a phone call with a job offer! (Remember: Book Lovers ALWAYS have hope!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

CT Children's Book Fair

Today I attended the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair hosted at UConn. It was a day full of books, books and more books, plus catching up with my sister (who’s a student there)- what more could I ask for?

Waiting for Normal [WAITING FOR NORMAL -LIB] [Library Binding]Dash & Lily's Book of DaresLunch Lady and the Cyborg SubstituteMoon Bear

The highlight of the day was a panel with David Levithan, Eliot Shrefer, Samantha Schutz and Natalie Standiford called “Giving Teens A Voice: Writing and Editing Teen Fiction.”  As someone who is interested in both writing AND editing YA, it couldn’t have been more perfect.  And writer-editor David Levithan is an exemplary model of how to balance both (read more about him here). 

I also got to hear picture book/MG/YA author Leslie Connor talk.  I had just read her novel Waiting For Normal, 
which is excellent, so it was fun to meet her.  She was lovely.  Jarrett Krosoczka, who also crosses from picture book to MG graphic novels was a hilarious presenter and I highly recommend both the picture book he read, Punk Farm, and the Lunch Lady series. More picture book talks were offered by Caldecott winner artist Ed Young (Moon Bear, his latest book is wonderful).  He also taught us Chinese- twenty characters in just a few moments based on another one of his creative books!  Illustrator Andrea Wisnewski also educated audience members about papercutting, a beautiful illustration technique similar to woodcutting.  

Add visits by Clifford, Biscuit and Maisy, a loud puppet show, and buying more books than my budget allows (Crunch by Leslie Connor, The School For Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer, Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and Levithan and Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and Levithan), it was a great day.

CrunchThe School For Dangerous GirlsBoy Meets BoyWill Grayson, Will Grayson 

Looking forward to next year’s!

Friday, November 12, 2010

eBooks and an Awesome Building

Because I spend so much time around books, I’m constantly discovering new and fun facts about books.  But try as I might, I can’t always find a way to turn those tidbits into a full blog post.  Therefore, I am introducing FUN FACT FRIDAYS, during which I will share any interesting book related discovery from the past week.   Here my are my two for this week:

* Perhaps I’m behind the times, but did you know that you can borrow eBooks from the library? I was in a bit of a snag last weekend- I needed to read some books to prep for my interview on Tuesday but the library was closed by the time I could reach it on Saturday, closed on Sunday, and I didn’t have a means to get to the library on Monday.  I really didn’t want to go buy the books (not to mention it’s a 25 minute drive to my nearest bookstore in CT-I know, it’s a travesty).  Anyways, so I had this problem and was fiddling around with the NYPL website and I discovered eBooks!  The two books that I wanted to read, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and Hoot by Carl Hiaasen were there and I downloaded them onto my computer within seconds.  Of course, not all books are available in eBook form and you have to read them on your computer screen (eye strain-yuck!), but when you’re in a bind like I am (or just lazy), being able to borrow eBooks from the library is pretty darn AMAZING!

* The Random House building in NYC is designed with a short tower, three tall towers, and then another short tower- 3 books between two bookends!  How cool is that?  The picture book Skyscraper by Susan E. Goodman and photographed by Michael Doolittle has a good picture of the creative design if you can’t get to NYC and see it yourself.

Hope you find these fun facts interesting…there will be more next week!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Maps

In between ‘finishing’ The Rose of Coracus and beginning my next manuscript, I took a break to reconsider the world in which my novels are set: the kingdom of Harren.  I had done this before, right when I started writing these novels (at age 14).  I have maps, family trees, complicated documents outlining the form of government, type of religion, the history of noble families. Having visual aids is key.  Planning is important.  Being organized is important. I’m good at all those things.  So, just because I have always found it intriguing to see how authors work and plan while they’re writing (have you ever seen J.K. Rowling’s impossible-to-read-script listing Hogwarts students and outlining the plot?), I figured I’d share two of the maps I’ve made with you.  

Are these maps interesting? Insightful? Strange?  I'm not quite sure (and I'm sorry they're so small)...but they're definitely helpful when I'm working on my stories!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Author Talks

I think I got spoiled when I was at Hamilton.  Okay, I know I was spoiled…but I’m just talking about one specific part of my Hamilton experience here: author talks.   As a creative writing major I was required to attend a certain amount of author talks every year, but now more than ever I’m realizing how lucky I was to hear Jayne Anne Phillips, Kelly Cherry and Margaret Atwood speak (and that was just during my senior year!).  And not only did these wonderful women read from whatever book they were promoting, but they took the time to talk about their craft, how they got where they are, and answer questions from us budding writers.  Each night was special and enlightening…not to mention Margaret Atwood was a hoot!

Nearly every author talk I’ve gone to outside of Hamilton has been less than special and enlightening, because all the author does is read from his/her book.  Yes, it was interesting to hear Suzanne Collins read Mockingjay in an Appalachian twang…but I can read those words for myself.  Or go out and buy the audio book.  What I can’t recreate on my own is a moment when the author gives insightful or practical advice and lets their readers really get to know them.  This seems to only happen in magazines or PR interviews…why not during author talks as well, when the author has the opportunity to talk directly to his/her readers?

I don’t want to completely knock authors talks.  Not one bit.  I am so lucky to be in New York City where I’ve been able to hear the likes of David Sedaris and Kate DiCamillo (And for the record, Kate DiCamillo is the exception to the rule.  Her talk promoting Bink and Gollie was the best I’ve heard in a very long time.  She was hilarious and managed to answer every question in a way that appealed to both the kids and the adults in the audience.  Go Kate! More author talks should be like hers.).  Most people don’t have that opportunity.  Yet, I want to make the most of those opportunities….so, authors, please add a little more of a personal touch to your talks and I’ll be right in the front row, a happy camper.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reading Roundup

Here's this month's list:

Betrayal by Lee Nichols
I read this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) so I really can’t say much about it.  But it’s the sequel to Deception (see my thoughts on Deception here) and it’s awesome.   Read it when it comes out in March.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
I BOUGHT this based on knowing only two things: 1) That the cover is absolutely stunning.  It’s shiny and creepy and looks like it’s straight from a movie. And 2) That the book is about a changeling.  That’s it. Like most popular YA, I thought it was going to be about a girl and include a love story.  (Side note: There are so many YA Paranormal Romances right now that B&N actually reorganized their store to reflect that!).  But I was wrong.  But it was still great.  The Replacement is actually narrated by a BOY.  *Gasp* And he’s the changeling.  There’s a bit of a love story, but it’s really not the focus.  The brother/sister relationship and family dynamics take the front stage.  The underworld Brenna Yovanoff created is unique, and a bit all over the place, but really intriguing.  Overall, this book was refreshingly different.

The Tory Widow by Christine Blevins
This is a historical romance repped by the wonderful people at NC, so I read it to get a better feel for what they represent.   Taking place in New York City during the Revolutionary War, it was interesting to read how the Tory Widow, Anne, flipped flopped from Tory (because of her husband) to patriot (when the rebels take over) to Tory (when NYC becomes the British headquarters) to patriot again (her true feelings).  It’s definitely a story of one woman’s survival.  Yet, for a historical romance I wanted…well…more romance.  This novel focused almost exclusively on the historical elements and battles (a bit too much for my tastes even though I minored in history), rather than on the relationship between Anne and Jack.  Read for the historical bits, not for a romance.

Ender’s Game by Orsen Scott Card
I try to stay away from science fiction.  Yet, my non-novel-reading-boyfriend was so adamant that I read Ender’s Game that he bought it for me.  And, as much as I hate to give him the opportunity for an “I-told-you-so” moment, I devoured the novel.  It was fantastic.   Although clearly science fiction, Ender is such a fascinating yet somehow relatable character that you emphasize with him…even thought you’re not being trained as the only hope to save humanity.  And the twist at the end is SO GOOD.  It could have been a cheap “and then he woke up” moment that writers are told to avoid, but instead, it resonates so well, both with Ender and the reader.  The following wrap-up was a bit lengthy and seemed only to be setting up for the sequels.  I hate when books do that so obviously.  When I complained about that to my boyfriend, he was surprised to be reminded all the falling action was in Ender’s Game at all.  Overall, though, I’d recommend this book for all those people who think Sci-Fi is not for them.  I’m starting to reconsider it.

The Thief and The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
A Newbery honor book, The Thief kind of starts off the same way Disney’s Aladdin does: King’s advisor gets a street rat to steal something from an enchanted cave.  While Aladdin goes off exploring whole new worlds with Princess Jasmine, the quest to steal a special stone is the focus of The Thief. The twist at the end is fantastic.  It came out of nowhere yet it didn’t feel like a cheap trick…Gen’s character is just that great.  The story is continued in The Queen of Attolia, which wasn’t quite as good, but did introduce two strong female characters, competing queens, into the male dominated story, which was much appreciated.  I look forward to continuing the story in The King of Attolia and A Conspiracy of Kings (which is already getting award buzz).

And that's my October nine full manuscripts.

Monday, November 1, 2010

National Novel Writing Month

This November I am going to participate in National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo entails pledging to write a full 50,000 word manuscript in one month, from 11/1-11/30.   Does that sound crazy? YES YES YES.

It’s 1,666⅔ words a day.  And that doesn’t even include days when you’re too busy to write (most days I work and holidays when I’m with family).  But that’s the point.  NaNoWritMo encourages writers to find time to write, no matter what.  They have a quite humorous ‘advice column’: “Suggest to your housemates that if they take care of chores during November, you'll cover the following two months. Make sure you're not signed up for soccer game snack-duty, volunteering in the neighborhood—any helpful or productive task that isn't writing your novel—until November is past.”

They also suggest you just write, not edit.  How could you find time to write 50,000 words and then edit them to 50,000 quality words? The point is quantity, over quality.  After all, they tell you December is for editing.  Luckily for me, this part of the deal won’t be difficult to adjust to.  Normally I do write first, edit later.  But the sheer quantity before editing?  I normally do a couple chapters at a time, not the whole manuscript. We shall see.

The whole concept of NaNoWriMo is ridiculous.  I’ve heard of it before and have always scoffed.  Yet…why not participate in an event that will encourage me to write as much as humanly possible?  I’m at the perfect writing point to participate: I just gave The Rose of Coracus away for reader’s critiques, so I need to let it go for the time being.  No need to nitpick before receiving feedback.  So, in order to take my mind away from that manuscript and move on, I need to start another one.  What better way to begin a manuscript than by working on it as much as possible this month?

Will I reach 50,000 words?  I’m not sure.  I don’t think it really matters if I do.  What matters is that this upcoming month I’m going to be writing, writing, writing and hopefully getting one step closer to achieving Book Lover Goal #2. 

And if the dishes pile up in the sink or if I’m wearing three-week-old laundry, I’m sorry.  December is the month for cleanliness and hygiene.  And editing.