Thursday, July 26, 2007

I am sorry for whining about riding the bus

I would like to apologize to my parents for years of complaining about how I got to school.

Yes, these children in China have to take cross a river, via zip line, to get to school. Follow the link for more pictures. Kind of adds a new wrinkle to the old "uphill both ways in the snow" story, doesn't it?

Until I was 16, I rode the big yellow bus to high school. When I got my license, I was allowed to drive my father to his office in the morning and then continue on to school with the car (and my younger brother). And then of course I had to pick my dad up after work. Today, I'm not seeing why this arrangement was worth the trouble, but at the time, being the proud "owner" of a car for seven hours every day was a great big deal. I can say that the arrangement taught me a lot about gas mileage and the true meaning of "empty." I always managed to leave my father with a quarter teaspoon of gas. I don't think I ever paid for gas until I was twenty. He also had the habit of emptying the change in his pockets into the compartment in the door, and that change bought many a Taco Bell bean burrito.

So, anyone have a good high school commute story?

Kidlitosphere Conference

Looking for an excuse to visit Chicago this October? Well, here it is.

Author and blogger Robin Brande is putting this together, and it looks like it could be really interesting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What do you do when you're not writing?

Of course, no one writes all the time, and lots of authors have other careers, even hobbies. But I think Alex Richards may be the only author I know whose preferred leisure activity makes writing books for teenagers seem pretty sensible. You see, Alex makes amateur zombie movies in New York City with several friends under the banner of Potato Riot Films. And I think you should all watch a couple. (The Seance features Alex in two roles and she gets strangled, but The Experiment and its sequel really show her emotional range. And she gets strangled.)

Warning: "Amateur" does not mean they don't have fairly gruesome brain-eating special effects.

So, what do you do when you're not writing?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Interview with a Book-Trailer Director

Last week, I posted a fan-created video for Laurie Faria Stolarz's Blue is for Nightmares. Since then, I've had a chance to correspond with the video's creator, Madison of M2 Productions (check out her other videos, too). Our short but interesting exchange is below:

AK: First off, can you tell us a little about yourself?

M2: Believe it or not, I'm sixteen years old. I attend the local high school and work as a clerk at the local library. On the side I love to make videos, like the Blue is for Nightmares preview that I recently posted on YouTube. You can find all my videos that I've created there. I also enjoy creating art, any kind. This can include paintings, drawings, stories, and even videos.

AK: You not only made an awesome video for Blue is for Nightmares, but you’ve made a video for the soon to be released Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer—which presumably you haven’t read yet—and for a couple other books. Could you tell me a little about why you make these videos? What made you start? Were you inspired by a video someone else made?

M2: Well, I'm not quite sure exactly how I became interested in video making. Both my parents work in television, directing the news or making commercials. For some reason, I absolutely adore movies. There's just something about them that makes me feel all excited. When I first started making videos, they were just fun ones about my friends and myself. Then I began to see other people's videos on the web, and I guess they inspired me. Another thing that could be the main reason for me making these videos, is the story on which the movie is based. Without books like Blue is for Nightmares or Eclipse, these videos wouldn't have been made. I feel that creating videos is something that I will be doing for life. Why? Because I love it.

AK: How do you do it?

M2: When I start making a video I almost have a system right from the beginning. I always choose the music first. Music is the greatest key to movie making. It adds emotion to moving pictures on screen. What else can do that? But overall I guess it usually depends on the sort of impact I want people to have when they watch it. I want them to be on the edge of their seat, or by the end of the video, really wanting to pick up that book and read it. If the music and the pictures/film are well put together it can have this effect on a person every time they watch it.

AK: What kind of computer system do you use?

M2: For some reason that question makes me laugh. See, my editing system is nothing but a cheap program that came with my computer: Windows Movie Maker. It's not much, but I'm able to make videos and post them on YouTube. I've always wanted a better system, but for now I spend my time admiring the one my dad uses at his work. It gets the job done and something is better than nothing

AK: What’s the key to a good book video?

M2: Like I just said above, it's the hope that the video will have a great enough impact on the people who watch it, so they will go and want to read that book. Just like a movie trailer, it has to leave the viewer wanting more. It's like going to the movie theater. I never want to miss the previews because that's I exactly what I am trying to do with my videos on YouTube. It draws you into the story, before you've even seen the movie or read the book.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Author Appreciation

Emily at WhimsyBooks has a great idea: Tell and Author You Care Day. So . . .

Dear Flux authors,

Thanks for making my job and this imprint possible. You're the best.


(Click the picture for full size.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Excellent review for Carrie Jones

The Web site Mombians is featuring a review of Carrie Jones' Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend. The review originally appeared in GLBT New England newspaper Bay Windows.

It's a a positive and very perceptive review with a perspective on the book that's a bit different than what we typically hear from the kidlit review crowd. I really like her last paragraph:
"Read it and enjoy, then get your local library and high school to stock it. It may help open hearts and minds in a way that mandatory diversity seminars can’t. More than that, though, it’s also just an insightful, funny read about first love and first heartbreak. All of us, gay, straight, bi, and questioning, can relate to that."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Blue is for Nightmares video

This one is stunning.


She's got a way with pictures

I have to put in a plug for Alex Richard's blog and this post in particular. You can write "this book was Murder, She Wrote meets One Tree Hill" and it's arched eyebrow inducing, certainly. But if you actually show pictures, too . . . . Well, the mind reels.

A curious kind of library challenge

Bookshelves of Doom recently covered the story of the woman in West Palm Beach Florida who challenged 80 books in her son's high school library. It's actually a fairly positive story according to this article, since the challenges were rebuffed initially and now on various appeals, but what I find really striking is how she went about finding books to challenge. No, she didn't stumble upon any of them in her son's school bag. Instead, she got geeky.
Lopez said the book challenges stemmed from a basic interest in the types of books in her sons' school libraries.

So, she went to the computerized card catalogue and typed in the keywords "homosexuality," "abortion" and "atheism." She was shocked by the dozens of titles that popped up.

Of course she hasn't read any of these books--and that's not uncommon--but the fact that she used the card catalog's keyword search functionality for the express purpose of finding stuff to remove from that very catalog strikes me as a particularly bizarre abuse of the library.

I'd also be really interested to know if she took the time to cull from her list any books that might have expressed viewpoints she agreed with on her three sacred subjects (or does she like to mix Stalinism with her fundamentalism by denying the existence of the topics entirely?).

I've been thinking about this for while today, and I wonder if it might be interesting for librarians to fight keywords with keywords, as it were. Why not do a book promotion (because promotion is the opposite of suppression) based on sets of keywords? We could even stick to the Bible. How about "peace, justice, and mercy" or "poverty, love, and forgiveness" to start? They're straight out of the Sermon on the Mount, after all . (Funny, I couldn't find the part where Jesus talks about homosexuality.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back in April I posted about the fan fiction video posted on YouTube by one of Laurie Faria Stolarz's readers. Well, that young auteur seems to have inspired another. YouTuber nelly2440 has created "Pink is for Promises."

Interestingly, Pink is for Promises was the working title of Laurie's third novel (Silver is for Secrets) and it was advertised as Pink is for Promises in the first printing of White is for Magic and as a result Laurie has been explaining for years about what happened to Pink. Well, now she's got another answer.

Love for Or Not

Brian Mandabach's excellent debut novel Or Not is a few months from hitting the shelves, but we've been hearing good things for a while from his students who've read the manuscript. Now we're hearing from his fellow authors. John Nichols wrote:

"Cassie Sullivan [the novel's protagonist] is a lovely kid, aware of the earth and how to save it, but nobody’s listening. Cassie’s voice is funny, angry, sad, sarcastic, and perplexed as she struggles to find her own identity. And to find hope for the future despite all the yahoos surrounding her. You will laugh, you will weep, and you’ll really enjoy this delightful and poignant novel about a kooky idealist who refuses to give up as she grows up."

This is a particularly cool blurb for this book because not only is Nichols an eminent novelist of the Southwest and author of the acclaimed The Milagro Beanfield War, but he was, as far as I can tell, a friend and associate of one of Cassie's favorite authors (and mine and I suspect Brian's at that age): Edward Abbey. Abbey is dead, so this is as close as Cassie (and Brian) will get to an endorsement from him. It might even be enough for Cassie to forgive Mr. Nichols for calling her a "lovely kid."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

New books!

It's July and a young adult's thoughts naturally turn to summer internships or to the end of the world as we know it. Either way, Flux has you covered.

Alex Richard's first novel, Back Talk, is officially available. You only wish you could land an internship like this one.

And, of course, Canadian provocateur Tim Carter has unleashed his apocalyptic demons in Epoch. Fans of a certain boy wizard will find this one to be a nice palatte cleanser (and when you meet the demons, you'll know what I mean by "cleanse") before July 21st's big to-do.