Friday, December 31, 2010


Here is a confession and a resolution wrapped into one: I have not written or edited a single word in any story of mine since the second weekend in November.   *GASP*

No, seriously, this is bad.  Life got in the way.  And granted, I’ve accomplished a lot and I can be very grateful for that this year: I’ve gotten both a job and an apartment, plus traveled to CT/NH for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’ve been busy and understandably so. 

Understandable, yes.  Acceptable, no. 

Why? Because it’s SOOOOO easy to make up excuses as to why you can’t get something done.  This applies to everyone and anything: it could be doing the laundry, going to the gym, or calling a long lost friend.   But I cannot let life and excuses get in my way of writing.  I will not.

When I have a routine (like I did over the summer and part of the fall), my writing went wonderfully.  It was more fun than work.  I was productive and creative and I looked forward to my moments I had set aside to write.  I respected this time just as if it was written in my planner and unrescheduleable. I wouldn’t schedule a doctor’s or hair appointment in the morning.  My family respected this time too; my mom knew that I couldn’t go shopping with her before noon on the weekend because I was writing; I made plans around my designated writing time.  This worked.  Really well. 

So, my resolution for 2011 is to set up a special writing time again and not let anything- social events, my boyfriend making me a three course meal (*hint* starting and ending with dessert, please *hint*), napping, etc. - to get in the way.  I know that with a full time job I won’t have as much time to write as I did when I was basically doing nothing over the summer, but…

Starting January 1st, I WILL WRITE REGULARLY.  

Got it? I hope you guys will help keep me on track ;-) 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!


It’s the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
everyone was stirring, even the mouse. 

It’s just one o’clock and everyone's here,
sharing wrapped presents and good Christmas cheer.

I’ll be with family, and hope you are too,
Merry Christmas to all, you, you and you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Literary Gift Ideas

Need a last minute present?  There’s plenty of literary options, other than books- although those should obviously be high on your list!

For Hunger Games fans, check out this slideshow from EW highlighting the best themed gifts:,,20317203_20449625_20888216,00.html

Or, for the more paranormal romance interested teen, get a bite out of this: and

And, if you want to get into the Christmas spirit by being charitable and spreading the joy of reading, Room to Read has a great program.

Hope this ideas were inspiring- or if you were good and got your shopping down in August- at least interesting.  I know I have my eye on some Hunger Games paraphernalia for a future purchase! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Countdown

Fact: There are only eight days until Christmas.  Seven if you start celebrating like my family on the 24th.  That’s ONE WEEK!

For the time being, I won’t go into how awesome Christmas is or my favorite Christmas traditions.  Those can be saved for later.  Right now, here’s a Christmas book countdown…seven books for seven more days!

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.
(PB) The Christmas book of all Christmas books.  A few years ago my mom gave my sister and I each a silver bell ornament to remind us to always feel the magic of the season.  Can you still hear it ringing?

 (PB) Jan Brett’s illustrations are so fantastically detailed.  And while The Mitten might be a better known (and classic) children’s book, I always related to the protagonist in this one.

(PB) A family favorite that has inspired several movies and even a popular song, you have to love the Grinch…and the lesson both he and the Whos in Whoville learn.

The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden and Barbara Cooney
(PB) A sweet story about wishing, dreaming and belonging.  Plus the doll in the story is really pretty; perfect for my (non-so-inner) girly girl-ness.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
 (MG) It takes a family of unruly children to teach the (religious) meaning of Christmas in this book, which has a special importance to me as the first play I was ever in was an adaptation of this classic.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
(YA) I have to admit, I haven’t quite read this one yet (because I’m in NYC and left it in CT…boo), but how can you not like a teenage love story set in Manhattan during Christmas time? Next year it will be the first holiday book I read!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
(Adult) Although Scrooge may be an old man, the lesson he learns is one every teen should know…so they don’t end up having three ghosts visit them on Christmas Eve!   And besides, the
beloved Muppets version of this classic definitely appeals to kids…and adults!

So take a moment to relax away from the got-to-find-the-perfect-gift-and-fit-in-all-these-holiday-parties-and-cooking-baking-and-decorating-andeverything-else to sit down by the fireplace with a cup of cocoa and start reading one of these books, or your own favorite.  The season really is magical.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jane!

At the Royal Crescent in Bath

Today is Jane Austen’s birthday.  And what most of you don’t know is that I’m kind of obsessed with her.   I took an entire semester long class on her six major works, saw all the sights from Persuasion and Northanger Abbey when I visited Bath, England (specifically to see all the ‘Jane’ sights) and even visited one of her homes in the village of Chawton.  I’m rapidly becoming a Janeite.  
With Jane at her house, now museum

The wit, humor and tender moments of her novels- from the perennial choice Pride and Prejudice to my forgotten favorite Mansfield Park- should make Jane an author on everyone’s to-be-read-list.

Playing dress-up.  Ouch, corsets!

Of interest, for those as obsessed with Jane as I am, is this article from Associated Press.  Turns out, Jane may have had a helping hand with polishing her prose and punctuation.   Yet, the dialogue and drama are all hers…and after all, what is an editor good for anyways? :-)

 So, on this 235th anniversary of Jane Austen’s birth pick up that classic you’ve never gotten around to reading, drool over Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the BBC’s superb (6 hour long!) adaptation (or Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility or even Clueless, the modern adaptation of Emma), or, heck, book that trip to England!  Celebrate Jane in style!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trends in Children's Books

As the year draws to a close, everyone is naming their "Top Ten" for 2010.  I'm sick of them.  After the first few, the following lists were repetitive and predictable.  Of more interest is Scholastic's "Top Ten" trends in Children's Books for 2010, which helps give the rational for books that have made others' "Top Ten" lists, as well as help those in the industry see where we've come from...and where we're going for 2011 (so exciting!).

From Scholastic:

Drawing on their experience distributing books from all children's publishers through their school book clubs and book fairs, Scholastic's editors created a list of  ten trends from the year in children's books. President of Scholastic Book Clubs Judy Newman remarks in the release, "We've seen some exciting innovation in children's publishing in 2010, including new formats and platforms for storytelling that are helping more and more kids become book lovers. At the same time, we're seeing a rejuvenation of some classic genres, which I think is evidence of the timeless power that stories and characters have on the lives of children."

1. The expanding Young Adult audience

2. The year of dystopian fiction

3. Mythology-based fantasy (Percy Jackson followed by series like The Kane Chronicles, Lost Heroes of Olympus and Goddess Girls)

4. Multimedia series (The 39 Clues, Skeleton Creek, The Search for WondLa)

5. A focus on popular characters - from all media

6. The shift to 25 to 30 percent fewer new picture books, with characters like Pinkalicious, Splat Cat and Brown Bear, Brown Bear showing up in Beginning Reader books

7. The return to humor

8. The rise of the diary and journal format (The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dear Dumb Diary, Dork Diaries, The Popularity Papers, and Big Nate)

9. Special-needs protagonists

10. Paranormal romance beyond vampires (Linger and Shiver, Beautiful Creatures, Immortal, and Prophesy of the Sisters)

Most of the books I've read this year can fall into one of these categories or another; all of my favorites definitely can.  I can't wait to see where the trends take us next year...I'm looking forward to more dystopian (Divergent, hello!), curious to see how long paranormal romance lasts (and what creatures we fall in love with next) and praying that somehow historical fiction comes back!  We shall see!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Literary Agency v. Publishing House

A Comparison Between My Roles at the Literary Agency and the Publishing House


Editorial Assistant
Slightly more than nothing
3 days/week 10-5
5 days/week 9-5/6
(I was told by my editors to “leave early while I can…cause it won’t last!)
The joy of helping authors get published.  A stocked candy jar.  Help networking/finding a job. (Thanks again, ladies!)
The joy of seeing a book transform from manuscript to finished novel.  A kitchen with hot chocolate and tea packets. Health benefits. Paid vacation. 401K.  Office supplies.  NYC discounts. Free books.
The office
A small, homey suite with several offices near Penn Station.  Comfy chairs and a ‘special’ red couch.
HUGE 30+ floor office building in Midtown, right outside of Rockefeller Center.  My floor, the 18th, has probably 15-20 offices on the perimeter with a sea of 20-30 cubes in the middle.
My space
A large round table shared with the other interns.
A surprisingly large cubicle next to the copy machines. It’s a bit dark, but my bosses got me a lamp.  There is plenty of room to store things (aka M&Ms and Cheez-its).  I’ve been promised a bookshelf-which is good, I’m already running out of room for all the books I’ve accumulated.
Fellow Employees
8 or so regularly in the office, plus 3 or so interns.  Several more work from home.  They’re great people.
7 people on the KT team, within a much larger Children’s group, within a much much larger company.  They’re great people.
“Average” Day
Read manuscripts by unpublished authors and decide if they’re worthy of representation; Read manuscripts by clients and write up reader’s reports to help them prepare their manuscript for submission to a publishing house.
Read manuscripts by signed authors and write up reader’s reports to help them write even awesomer books; Copyedit manuscripts; Write up cover copy (the material on the covers of books, including the back blurb); Circulate materials and review manuscripts and covers with various departments.
Relationship with the rest of publishing
Love/Hate relationship with authors and editors.  Need them…but sometimes they can be frustrating!
Love/Hate relationship with authors and agents.  Need them…but sometimes they can be frustrating!

So there you have it!  It’s not quite a fair assessment of a literary agency verses a publishing house.  After all, I was only an intern at FP-NC…if I had been an agent, I would have been paid (again, just slightly more than nothing) and had my own desk…starting out in both aspects of publishing are pretty similar.   You have to love it because you’ll work hard with few rewards.  But it is sooooo worth it.  Just think of those kids at a bookstore picking up a book they’re dying to read! *smiles* I’ve always known that I wanted to be on the publishing house side of things, but that’s completely a personal choice…there are so many cool things going on everywhere!

P.S. This week I almost reached my unspoken goal of having readers from at least one country on every continent (Thanks, South Africa!)- I'm still working on Antartica, but I'm not holding my breath.  I would like to encourage anyone who's reading this blog to become a follower and provide me feedback in the comments sections!  Thanks!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Fact: Having a full time job, searching for an apartment, and holiday preparations are exhausting.  

Tune in tomorrow for a longer post.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reading Roundup

I was supposed to do NaNoWriMo in November; instead I ended up reading.  A lot.

DUST by Joan Francis Turner
This book was our October pick for the FP-NC Book Club.  We thought the zombie characters were seasonally appropriate. The hook is great: narrated by a zombie, her brother sets into motion a disease that is wiping out both humans and zombies.  The execution, however, falls flat.  The zombies were boring and gross, not exciting and creepy.  The disgusting descriptions were the first thing that turned me off to this book, but the plot also lacked tension to keep me reading.  I’m told that this novel isn’t representative of all zombie books (this was the first I’ve ever read), so next up is Brains by Robin Becker, supposedly a much better choice.

I read these two books for work prior to reading the third book’s manuscript.  Appealing to the same audience as Artemis Fowl and Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief, these books about an adventurous foursome of monster-fighting Templar Knight students has the awesome addition of being set in a steampunk world.  For those unfamiliar with steampunk, it’s this fantastic and increasingly popular concept that basically takes a Victorian view of the future (think Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) and applies it today.  Women wear corsets, men have pocket watches, the machines have lots of intricate mechanical parts.   The unique world in which the Grey Griffins conquer evil (they even have to fight off “Clockworks”) makes this series really special.

Divergent (ARC 5/1) by Veronica Roth
This book is going to be big.  Very BIG.  A dystopian thriller that is going to ride the The Hunger Games wave (I, for one, never would have picked up a dystopian novel prior to reading Suzanne Collins’ series this summer) Roth’s debut novel is so much more than a copycat.  It is fantastic.  The main character, Tris, is so relatable and the world she lives in is fantastic.  There are only two questions: which faction are you…and how long are we going to have to wait for the sequel? (My answers: Amity and far too long).  Read it when it comes out in May.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
I’ve wanted to read this for forever and there’s no question why it won the Newbery Medal this year.  It is fantastic.  Miranda, a twelve year old in late 1970’s Manhattan, is such an insightful narrator.  When her best friend Sal decides they shouldn’t be friends anymore, she befriends other students while helping her mom prepare for a TV game show.  Then she begins to receive mysterious notes whose author knows waaaaaaay more about her future than could be possible.  When one of her new friends begins to talk about time travel, Miranda realizes that her relationship with her friend Sal and the others in her neighborhood isn’t quite what it seems.  The concluding twist is mind reeling.  I didn’t see it coming at all, and yet, it makes complete sense.   A highly recommended read.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen I’m really beginning to love middle grade.  And not just any middle grade, but boy middle grade.  This really came as a surprise to me, yet, when reading high quality novels like this Newbery Honor book, I shouldn’t have been.  Hoot is a sweet coming of age story in which a Roy encounters a mysterious boy who is pulling creative pranks trying to prevent a pancake house being build on top of burrowing owl tunnels.  Roy joins in the efforts while at the same time dealing with school bullies.  In the end, Roy learns that good decision-making means listening to his head and his heart.  Although the story is sweet, the action, mystery and various amphibians and reptiles definitely make this book appealing to boys.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
I really love fairytale retellings, and this one didn’t disappoint.  Building on Hansel and Gretel as well as several other fairytales that I was unfamiliar with (there was a discussion on SLJ questioning if being familiar with the original Grimm tales was necessary-it’s not), the stories are fantastic, mostly due to the delightfully intrusive narrator.   The narrator repeatedly butts into the story, promising blood and gore; overall, the stories aren’t that scary, but the narrator’s comments build anticipation and will keep readers interested and the creative rewrites don’t disappoint.

This illustrated middle grade book reminded me of Charlotte’s Web in some ways; perhaps because there just aren’t enough illustrated novels out there anymore (except those of the Wimpy Kid variety).  The story of Celeste the mouse is really sweet and the added touch of John James Audubon and his young apprentice learning to draw plants and animals gives the story some added depth (thanks in part to the historical note at the end).  The gentle black and white illustrations are the strongest point for this novel.

Waiting For Normal by Leslie Conner
All Addie wants in this middle grade novel is a normal, united family, which she gets with her ex-stepfather and half sisters.  Yet those visits are painfully brief and all she has is a mother who leaves her on her own for days on end, a grandfather who can’t deal with her mother anymore, and an assortment of quirky friends at the nearby gas station who try to do the best they can by her.  A pro at taking care of herself, Addie eventually gets into a situation where she just can’t…but luckily, those in her community step.  This story has been told before, but the characters are so intriguing, it’s definitely worth reading.

At the CT Children’s Book Fair on November 14th, I had the opportunity to meet Leslie.  She was so kind, and a unique presenter.  I’m looking forward to reading her next MG novel, Crunch.

 Maygk (Septimus Heap, Vol. 1) by Angie Sage
This is a wonderfully whimsical fantasy story for middle graders who enjoy reading lengthy stories.   Following the adventures of the Heap family, who have unknowingly raised the princess of the realm, Maygk will appeal to both boys and girls.  Fantastic characters, daring adventures, playful and dark magic, plus a talking rat make up this first book in the popular series.  I loved the narrative style; the vocabulary and turns of phrase had me laughing out loud. 

Gone by Michael Grant
This is the first in a series; I was hooked by the second page.  What would you do if all the adults disappeared, you developed special powers, and the animals were mutating?  This is just what Sam and his friends have to deal with…while also battling the students from the private school in town determined to rule.  By the end of the book, Sam has discovered what made the world change…but can he figure out how to make everything turn back to normal?  That is a question for the several sequels that follow.  Gone was one of the first dystopian novels, and is more appealing to male readers than most; fans of Stephan King should pick this up.

Madapple by Christina Meldrum
The most prevalent thought I had while reading this book was just how much research the author must have had to do.  Centered on sixteen-year-old Aslaug around the time of the death of her mother, Meldrum paints a vivid picture of the clash between magic, religion and mainstream society, with a whole lot of botany and history thrown in.   The alternating chapters between Aslaug’s life and the court case several years later, which hints at just enough events to keep the reader curious, keeps the pacing up and the story intriguing.   This book is a great example of YA/adult crossover potential; I already recommended it to my mom.

 Add 9 manuscripts into the mix, and I feel like all I did this month was read...not that I'm complaining! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bookstore Day

The fun fact for this Friday is…tomorrow is Take Your Child To A Bookstore Day. 

How great of a day is that?  Bookstores are the best place ever (especially if they have a café that makes warm chocolate chip cookies).  Each and every time I walk into one, I want to smell the books, pick up a new one (or a trusty favorite), and sit in a corner and never leave.  Alas, that is not always possible…but visiting for an hour or so and basking in the wonder that is a bookstore absolutely is.  And sharing that special place with a kid- even better!  For more information about the day, click here.

And just because kids aren’t the only ones who should have fun tomorrow, check out this awesome list from Lonely Planet:

The 10 Greatest Bookstores in the World

1. City Lights Books (San Francisco, CA)
2. Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
3. Livraria Lello (Porto, Portugal)
4. Shakespeare & Company (Paris, France)
5. Daunt Books (London, England)
6. Another Country (Berlin, Germany)
7. The Bookworm (Beijing, China)
8. Selexyz Dominicanen (Maastricht, Netherlands)
9. Bookabar (Rome, Italy)
10. Atlantis Books (Santorini, Greece)

Unfortunately, I haven’t been to any of these…yet.  I can’t believe there isn’t one in New York (The Strand? Books of Wonder? Come on, Lonely Planet!), but even more so, I can’t believe that I lived in London for five months and never made it to their bookstore!  I guess this list really is just an excuse to go and travel…for bookstore comparison purposes, of course!

I hope you make it to a bookstore tomorrow- and bring your kids, siblings, friend of a friend’s cousin, or whoever else you want to share the wonder of a bookstore with!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Best Children's Books of 2010

As the year winds down (when did it become December!?), I would like to share with you Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of 2010 list.  Just like my last book list, I bolded the books I’ve read, and starred my favorites. 

Picture Books:

Shark vs. Train-Chris Barton, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld
There's Going to Be a Baby-John Burningham, illus. by Helen Oxenbury
Farm-Elisha Cooper
The Boss Baby-Marla Frazee
Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring-Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illus. by Brian Floca
The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy)-Barbara Kerley, illus. by Edwin Fotheringham
Bunny Days-Tao Nyeu
The Chicken Thief-Béatrice Rodriguez
Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors-Joyce Sidman, illus. by Beckie Prange
Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse-Marilyn Singer, illus. by Josée Masse
It's a Book-Lane Smith*
A Sick Day for Amos McGee-Philip C. Stead, illus. by Erin E. Stead
The Quiet Book-Deborah Underwood, illus. by Renata Liwska
City Dog, Country Frog-Mo Willems, illus. by Jon J Muth
Knuffle Bunny Free-Mo Willems
Art and Max-David Wiesner
Ship Breaker-Paolo Bacigalupe
Cosmic-Frank Cottrell Boyce
Mockingjay-Suzanne Collins*
Matched-Ally Condie
Bink and Gollie-Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illus. by Tony Fucile
Incarceron-Catherine Fisher
A Tale Dark and Grimm-Adam Gidwitz
Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same!-Grace Lin
Finnikin of the Rock-Melina Marchetta
The Death-Defying Pepper Roux-Geraldine McCaughrean
Trash-Andy Mulligan
Monsters of Men-Patrick Ness
Before I Fall-Lauren Oliver
Heart of a Samurai-Margi Preus
Octavia Boone's Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything-Rebecca Rupp
The Cardturner-Louis Sachar
Revolver-Marcus Sedgwick
The Marbury Lens-Andrew Smith
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors-Francisco X. Stork
Nothing-Janne Teller
Countdown-Deborah Wiles
One Crazy Summer-Rita Williams-Garcia

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group-Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World-Sid Fleischman
The War to End All Wars: World War I-Russell Freedman

Happy reading- this list should last you (and me!) far into 2011!