Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where Young Adult is a Point of View, Not a Reading Level

And now the NEW YORKER is throwing its rumpled hat into the "can YA be literary" debate. And not doing a very remarkable job of it.

In the comments section, the inimitable John Green points to the same argument I always use when someone tries to define YA as any book with a teen protagonist: Well, then, CATCHER IN THE RYE is YA. Funny, that's not where it's shelved. That would also make Brian Malloy's YEAR OF ICE a YA novel (again, not where it's shelved). Jonathan Safran Foer's EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE becomes a middle grade novel with its 9-year-old protagonist. THE LIFE OF PI was released as an adult novel, shelved in the literature section, until someone realized its crossover potential and a YA edition was later released. Would it have received the accolades it did if it had started as YA? (Sadly, probably not, owing to an excess of snobbery.)

How can people accept that adult literature can fall into literary and commercial categories (and Michael Chabon would argue that even that delineation is an atrocity) but refuse to accept that YA can offer the same depth and breadth of character? Is it simply because it's easier to dismiss that which one doesn't understand? (Well, duh, yes.) The problem, as I see it, is that little effort is made to even start to understand. That the entire YA oeuvre has, in many cases, been condemned on a small sampling. That would be like reading one poorly written science fiction novel and condemning the entire genre as a result.

I've given up being outraged when I see people whose alleged education would suggest they know better than to make blanket statements of condemnation based on their peripheral experience with YA novels. It's not worth my time or energy. It's sad, though, when the media feels the need to present only one view point on the subject. And it's always the one with the weakest arguments.

Go fig.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My First FAQ

In desperate need of a blog post that exists purely to spite A.S. King (long story), I thought I'd take a moment to address a few questions that have come my way since taking over here at Flux. It occurred me to that the answers might be of use to people besides the one who asked the questions. Many of these questions are related not just to Flux but to "the biz" in general. Please remember: most of these answers apply to ME. Questions that focus on preference are MY preference and may differ by editor or publishing house. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Let's check the Flux mailbag for some FAQ!

Writermania100 writes: Is there a standard font and format for manuscripts to be submitted to editors and agents?

I think there are a few standards. Double spaced? Absolutely. I don't think I'll find anyone who argues with me on that. Will I banish you to the Total Perspective Vortex for sending me something single spaced? No. (I will WISH I could banish you as I hit Ctrl-A and double space it myself and that will make me start reading your work with my mind in a haze of anger and resentment but I won't banish you.) One inch margins? Yeah, I think that's pretty standard across the board. Fonts? Oy. Some old school editors and agents ask for Courier. Personally, I hate Courier. Dunno why. Just hard on my eyes. I'm very much a Times New Roman guy. (And, yes, if you submit something in Courier, I'll do my Ctrl-A trick and magic it into being TNR.) I encourage people NOT to get creative with fonts. Don't submit your fantasy novel in Olde English font. (Please, for the love of Mike, don't submit ANYTHING in Olde English font.)

YAguy asks: Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to the stuff you read?

Of course I do. The person who tells you they don't is a liar-pants. Will I share them with you? Mmm. I dunno. As soon as I start saying, "I hate when writers do this..." it sends writers in a tizzy, either fumbling to "fix" something in their manuscript or they denounce me as a fool who wouldn't know their brilliant writing if it grew legs, crawled up my arm, and danced the Watusi. I'll say this much: I enjoy logic. I want things to make sense on some level. If your hockey playing, first person boy protagonist is spending WAY too much time cataloging every article of clothing that every character he encounters is wearing ("Todd was standing there in his navy blue, GAP, zip-up pullover, his dark tan Dockers, ankle cut white socks, and brown bowling shoes..."*), I need to know that there's a really good reason this guy is obsessed with fashion**. Otherwise, I'm going to assume you just took a writing class where the importance of concrete details was impressed upon you and you took it a liiiitle too much too heart. Again, will it make me reject you? Probably not. But you can bet any sweet bippy you may have lying around that it WILL come up in my editorial letter. And it will look a lot like this: "Is this really his voice? :-("

SuperAgent29 asks: Are you going to go and change everything that Andrew worked so hard to establish?

This actually is THE most FAQ I have. My somewhat wishy-washy answer thus far has been: I don't see the point in fixing that which isn't broken. That's not to say that I might not explore some new territory (I like to experiment) but I like what Flux is and I like what we're known for. My goal isn't to change and shake things up. My goal is to continue the standards we've tried to maintain since our inception. If that's a little vague and evasive, good. Means I can do whatever I want. :-)

Although I never opened myself up to questions, I find myself getting them. That's cool. Feel free to keep sending and maybe I'll do another of these soon. And not just out of spite.

*= I made this line up. This is not from an actual submission. But it closely approximates one of those moments where I go, "Ummm..." in certain manuscripts.

**=I'm not saying that hockey playing, first person boy protagonists CAN'T be obsessed with fashion. That might actually make for an interesting book. But the observations should be organic to the character. You should assume, for the purposes of this post, that said HPFPBP showed absolutely NO OTHER INTEREST in fashion throughout the book, except when another character would walk through the door and he would interrupt his discussion of Derek Boogaard to go into extended detail on what the character was wearing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bang Head Here

I'm surprised Andrew hasn't piped in on this one yet. Guess it's up to me. Be afraid.

So, yeah, the YA blogosphere nearly caught fire over the last 48 hours or so after this writer made some staggeringly ill-formed blanket judgments about YA as a whole. One of those instances where an entire oeuvre is condemned because someone jumped to rash conclusions based on a limited (and, apparently, ill-chosen) sampling. It's like saying all science fiction sucks based on reading a single STAR WARS novelization.

There are rebuttals, refutals, recriminations, and other re words floating around. It's good to see. Nothing mobilizes the YA world like being dismissed (or the mistaken perception of being dismissed, as novelist Margo Rabb learned a few months ago when she penned a NYT essay that was frequently misunderstood). Colleen Mondor has a wonderful response on Guys Lit Wire. And TadMack sends her thoughts from Glasgow.

Sometimes I think we owe these Ann Coulters of YA thanks. (Not Colleen and Tadmack! I mean Caitlin Flanagan and her ilk.) By contributing outlandish opinions, they force us to look at what we do and want to accomplish and really appreciate that we have vision that's not limited by our diminished sense of tolerance. Just like how banning a book is the surest way to watch its numbers rise, poo-pooing YA galvanizes the community.
So go ahead. Turn up your nose, naysayers. That which does not kill us...won't get a second chance to try. BWAH-HAH-HAH!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today I am a man.

Another rite of passage at the helm of Flux: I acquired my first book!

OK, truth be told, I've acquired my first FOUR books. They all sort of happened at once.

It leaves me searching for a metaphor or simile. I want to say I feel like I've inherited this wealth of books (Flux's backlist and everything Andrew acquired for the next year and a half) and now I've got a chance to honor that inheritance by spreading my wings and starting my own--

And it's about there I realize that's a horrible simile. That's not even "first draft" bad. That's "I swear I wasn't on hallucinogens at the time I said it but it would have been nice to be able to claim that because, seriously, there's no justification for anyone who is clear of thought to be stringing that set of words together" bad.

Let's just leave it at this: I'm thrilled. Thrilled that I get to continue working with the authors with whom my esteemed predecessor forged relationships. Thrilled that I've had the pleasure to make a few fun discoveries on my own and add them to my literary harem (and the horrible metaphors continue...Bad editor! Bad!). I should just stop. And I will.

Please join me in welcoming Heath Gibson, Ed Briant, and Karen Kincy to the Flux family! Their stuff made me giddy with happiness and you'll be seeing why in 2010.

Monday, November 17, 2008

We might change the name to "The Star Blog."

Congratulations to Emily Wing Smith whose debut novel, THE WAY HE LIVED, (just out this month), received a starred review in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY!

From the review:

It's a testament to Smith’s skills that although her central character speaks
only through other people’s recollections, his identity emerges distinctly by
the end of the novel, giving the audience enough information to judge his
actions for themselves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lament, Lament, Lament is on fire!

Muchos kudos to Maggie Stiefvater, whose debut LAMENT will be seeing a SECOND starred review in the forthcoming December issue of BOOKLIST. To quote the review:

This beautiful and out-of-theordinary debut novel, with its authentic depiction
of Celtic Faerie lore and dangerous forbidden love in a contemporary American
setting, will appeal to readers of Nancy Werlin’s Impossible and
StephenieMeyer’s Twilight series.

Congrats, Maggie, on Star Deux!

UPDATE: Sorry, make that Star Trois! Maggie's third star just sparkled into existence in the most recent (and sadly last) issue of KLIATT. From the KLIATT review:

Part adventure, part fantasy, and wholly riveting love story, LAMENT will
delight nearly all audiences with its skillful blend of magic and ordinary

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween from Flux!

Halloween is kind of a big deal around these parts. Every department picks a theme and then dresses up accordingly. The acquisitions theme this year was "Famous Felines."

Bonus points if you know who I came as. (Hint: The glasses should be a giveaway.)
Happy Scary Day, y'all!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nosfera 2: Return of the Killer Doubt

Yesterday, I went through my first rite of passage as a new acquiring editor.

I sent out my first rejection letters. They were fairly low trauma* (meaning they went to people who’d submitted picture book or middle grade proposals, neither of which Flux publishes). I’m much more apprehensive about the ones I know I’ll eventually be sending to people writing what we DO publish. Even the most professional writers who know that rejection is part of the game don’t want to hear, “Sorry, not right for us.” Those writers, though, can quickly move on. For people just emerging on to the writing scene (Flux publishes many first time authors), rejection can be harder.

One of the things about rejection is that it can lead to self-doubt which, anyone who’s been writing for awhile will tell you, is a writer’s worst enemy. More than any bad review or scathing critic, self-doubt cripples, inhibits, and decimates. Of course, that’s if you let it. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Often, writers are more than willing to give themselves that consent.

There’s a wonderful musical that just closed on Broadway called [title of show]. (Yes, that’s the title of the show.) It’s a wonderful metafiction about two guys trying to write an original musical. Ultimately, the show stands as a tribute to the creative process and what creative people go through in their varied attempts to do their thang. My favorite song in the show is a number called, “Die, Vampire, Die!” It’s about dealing with doubt, that which is inflicted by others and that which comes from within. A vampire is defined as “any person or thought or feeling that stands between you and your creative self expression.” You can hear the song here.** (Warning: Contains adult content. Despite how unbelievably awesome this song is, I wouldn’t crank up the speakers and play this at work. Unless you wait tables part time at the International House of Curse Words. And even if you did, I doubt you’d have access to a computer so you--... I digress.)

“Die, Vampire, Die!” is my own personal creative anthem. It reminds me that someone who doesn’t like my stuff is just one person and I won’t let the vampires in my head make me think otherwise. The quality I admire most in the writers whose work crosses my desk is their fearlessness. They're not afraid to take risks. Sometimes the risks pay off, sometimes... not so much. BUT they took the risk. They got out the crucifixes and garlic garlands and managed to fend off what I can only imagine was USDA Grade A Prime Vampire Attacks. And that will always get my attention and respect.

I suppose I need a point to this post. OK, try this: a rejection letter is not a permission slip giving you carte blanche to doubt yourself. Maybe you do need another draft to tighten things up. OK, saddle up and do it. You're in this to write, right? Maybe you sent your stuff to the wrong agent/publisher. Move on. You want to find someone as passionate about your stuff as you are. You NEED that. If someone says 'no,' it's a good thing. You don't want your work in the hands of someone who can't get fully behind it. It might take a while to find that 'yes,' (Editorial Ass has an excellent post about that here), but when that happens, you'll be glad you took a stake to those vampires.

*="Oh, sure, Brian. It's low trauma for you. You're not the one getting rejected." But that's my point. It should be low trauma for the person getting rejected as well, to hear that I can't even consider their work because we don't do those kind of books. That's like getting worked up because you took your picture book into McDonald's and asked them to publish it. And then the guy behind the counter said, "We actually don't publish books. Can I get you a combo meal?" These people should bonk themselves playfully on the head and say, "Silly me. Next time, I'll do a little more research and ferret out what kinds of books a publisher does before I send a mass mailing of my manuscript at my own expense."

**=And if you have any interest in theatre at all, I highly recommend the cast recording for [title of show]. There are many other wonderful numbers pertaining to the aspirations of creative people.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bunnies! Bunnies! It must be bunnies!*

This via Leila over at Bookshelves of Doom: a mother in Oregon is challenging a high school that keeps The Book of Bunny Suicides on their shelves. The mother has checked the book out of the school, is refusing to return it, and threatening to burn it.

Says Taffy Anderson, the mother: “It is a comic book, but that’s not funny. Not at all,” Anderson said. “I don’t care if your kid is 16, 17, 18. It’s wrong.” (Emphasis mine.)

This is what I ultimately find disturbing about any attempt to ban books: an overdeveloped need to protect everyone else. She's not protecting her kid; she's protecting your kid. Isn't that kind? I respect and defend a parent's right to say to their own offspring, "No, Johnny, I don't want you reading that." But when that parent decides that nobody's child should read that... that's where there's a problem.

I'm reminded of an incident three years ago where the head of a private school in Texas had the guts to return a three million dollar donation when the previously announced gift suddenly came with strings attached: the donor wanted Anne Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" removed from the library. The YA community rallied and many authors donated signed copies of their books to the school as a show of support. That incident started ASIF (Authors Support Intellectual Freedom), an online community of primarily YA authors speaking out against censorship.

The upside to the Bunny Suicides saga? (Because, you know, there's always an upside.) The school has been inundated with offers to replace the book (as well as other challenged books). Oddly enough, I really hope her 13-year-old son who attends that school is 100% behind his mom's decision to challenge the book. If not, he could be in for some major hazing. (Although the fact that HE'S the one who checked it out of the library in the first place suggests to me he might not be on board with Mom's crusade.)

*=Bonus points if you sang along with the title of the post.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Mr. O'Reilly: If the good Lord had wanted us to worry, he would have given us something to worry about.

Basil: He has! My wife!

Sorry, I can't hear "Cybil" without thinking of everyone's favorite fishwife, Sybil Fawlty.

But today, I'm talking about the Cybils, the children's and young adult blogger's literary award, and the fact that NINE Flux titles have been nominated for the Cybil awards in the Young Adult and Fantasy/Sci Fi category. The Flux nominees are:

Fantasy/Sci Fi
Dead Girl Walking by Linda Singleton
Lament:The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

Young Adult
Jump the Cracks by Stacy DeKeyser
Swimming with the Sharks by Debbie Reed Fischer
My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson
Girl, Hero by Carrie Jones
Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape) by Carrie Jones
Everything You Want by Barbara Shoup
The Shape of Water by Anne Spollen

The long list for each category is very impressive and I know the judges will have their work cut out for them. It's great to see our authors in such fine company.

And now the countless hours of reading begin for many eager bloggers across the country/world. Maybe the Cybils could find a sponsor in Visine...

Monday, October 13, 2008

LAMENT is seeing stars!

Congratulations to Maggie Stiefvater whose debut novel, LAMENT: THE FAERIE QUEEN'S DECEPTION, just got a starred review in Publishers Weekly. A quote from the review:

"YA readers searching for faerie stories will be happy to find this debut novel, an accomplished take on well-loved themes.... Stiefvater brings to her story several layers of romance, a knowledge of Irish music and a talent for
plot twists. She is also unafraid of taking plot developments to their logical outcomes, even when they mar the characters' happiness. Vibrant and potent, her
writing will hook genre fans. "

The "she is unafraid" line is one of my favorites. As you can imagine, having just started in this position, my every waking hour is spent reading every single Flux book that I either didn't work on as a publicist or that we've acquired for future publication. With every book and manuscript I read, I'm gaining familiarity with the scope of our authors and when I started reading Maggie, the word "fearless" was one of the first to pop into my brain. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Write What You...? No.

Over on Nathan Bransford's blog,* Nathan asks readers to share their traumas by listing the worst writing advice they were ever given. There are definitely some doozies. But the thing about writing advice is it's often hard to see when you're getting the bad stuff. (When are you getting the bad stuff? When it's treated as an absolute.) What I've discovered is that sometimes good advice is confused for bad, largely because it gets lost in translation.

"Write what you know."

One of the oldest, if not THE oldest, bits of sage advice around. Some people hear this and they nod, closing their eyes to indicate deep understanding. Others rebel and say, "If we only wrote what we knew, we wouldn't have books like LORD OF THE RINGS or books that deal with experiences no human has had."

This is a good example of what is ultimately a very good bit of advice that, without follow through (or in the hands of the wrong instructor) can go very, very wrong. It's advice that should come with a warning label: You must be this introspective to use this mantra. It's advice that some writers take to one extreme (limiting their repetoire to only writing stories with an autobiographical protagonist who does exceedingly boring things) or the other (the aforementioned "But we wouldn't have LOTR!"). Every day across the world, writing teachers unleash these four words once every six minutes** but it's the excellent writing teachers who lend it a bit of context and explain HOW to use the advice.

Here's the secret: it's not literal. "Write what you know" does not mean limit yourself to the mundane things you encounter on a day to day basis. It's a plea to funnel your experiences, your thoughts, and all the little lessons you've accumulated in life into the worlds and characters you create to lend them that ring of familiarity. Readers love to be swept away in imagination but there's always that bit that pleads, "Give me something I can relate to." No, no one I know has ever been to wizarding school. That's not what J. K. Rowling knew either (so she made it up...shocking, I know). BUT, as Harry grew older and struggled with his growing attraction to girls and the awkwardness of often being branded an outsider, well, Jo just didn't pull that out of a pointed hat. She wrote what she knew about and used it to give her characters depths and feelings. Write what you know isn't about plot, it's about character and soul and those bizarre little quirks that motivate us, for good or bad. It's about articulating your curiosity, your heartbreak, and that which gives you fever.

It's a fact: books infused with our own personal truths are better. (Prove me wrong. I dare ya.)The best plot in the world won't be sustained by cardboard characters spouting cliches. Depth comes from complexities, contradictions, and drive that can only be conveyed with self-examination and a willingness to bare the results. This holds true whether your story is a heart-wrenching, teen angst-ridden drama or a light, funny beach read. And if possible, I think this holds even more true for the fiction we label YA. As Barbara Shoup once told me: "Teens have amazing crap detectors." If you're not writing what you know in a YA book, you'll get called on it.
Every time.

The best writing advice I ever got? It's not so much advice but it's a quote I keep near my computer that I look to whenever I get stuck.

"You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment."
--Annie Dillard

To me, it says everything I hope to get across when I write and what I hope to see when I read the works of others. "Show me what astonishes/surprises/confuses you." If your characters are astonished, they have to deal with that. And THAT'S where the heart of your story comes from.

Look closely at what Dillard's saying. YOUR astonishment. It has nothing to do with wizarding schools and spaceships and yet everything to do with it. Because, in the end, writing what you don't know should always be informed by what you do know.

*=Do you read Nathan's blog? You should.

**=Totally made-up stat.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ahoy, Mateys! Sneak peeks of DUST OF 100 DOGS begin to arrive!

Although A.S. King's debut novel, THE DUST OF 100 DOGS, won't be released until February, it's already enjoying some fab pre-pub buzz (that's industry talk for "it's getting a nice amount of attention that one hopes will translate into interest in the book upon its release").

First, it got some great endorsements from a cadre of amazingYA authors: Lisa McMann, Heather Brewer, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, and Carrie Jones.

Then there was the shout out from Alison Morris on her PW blog, Shelf Talker, where she admired the cover (which was then admired by others).

Now, the inimitable Leila over at Bookshelves of Doom has chimed in with her thoughts. To quote Leila: "The Dust of 100 Dogs is entertaining, multi-layered, smart and definitely gripping...."

But my favorite part of Leila's review is where she questions whether or not this is YA. Anyone who pays attention to industry trades or even articles in the New York Times knows that this can be a dicey topic. Where does the Y in YA begin and end? The good news is that EVERYONE has an opinion on the matter, which leads to some great chatter on the matter. (My opinion? I adhere to Flux's credo--YA is a point of view, not a reading level.)

Again, to quote Leila: "The subject matter doesn't pertain to my YA or not YA question -- there's no topic here that I haven't found in other YA books -- it's the tone and the perspective(s). Then again, the genre is constantly evolving and expanding. Maybe in the future the line between YA and adult will get more and more blurred. I'd like that. "

I'd like that too.

Friday, October 3, 2008

In today's news: Nothing

Actually, there is something. Robin Friedman's Nothing is getting some great coverage! You may have seen the CBS Early Show spot on "Man-orexia." Now check out this from the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Or this from the Warren (NJ) Reporter.

Congrats, Robin!

Band Book Week

Sorry I'm a little late coming to the party. In the hullaballoo of taking over the new position, I'd almost missed all the wonderful press about Band Book Week. It's so great that the blogging community has come together to celebrate and note this often neglected subgenre of YA lit.

Flux is proud to offer two stellar entries in this field: BAND GEEK LOVE by Josie Bloss which was a summer reading favorite for band campers all across the country. (Fret not, Bloss fans, a sequel IS on the way...) And we've also got the recently released BUSTED: CONFESSIONS OF AN ACCIDENTAL PLAYER by debut novelist Antony John which features band geek Kevin Mopsely who stands to rocket to A-list popularity status at school...provided he can supply the senior class guys with an accurate catalog of all the senior girls' measurements.

I hope when you settle in to pay deference to Band Book Week, you'll consider picking up one of these...

....Wait, what?...

...Two Ns? Really? Man, homophones suck...

Never mind.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The New Guy Card

"Last night, I played poker with a deck of tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died."
--Steven Wright

You know what the best part of any new job is? It's not the smell of a freshly cleaned desk. It's not the many congratulations and warm fuzzies you get as you start. It's the fact that you get to be stupid.

New jobs allow you to be a card-carrying idiot for about three months. IT'S GREAT!

"Why didn't you get me that proposal?"

"Oh, sorry. Didn't know it was due. I'm still new to this."

I'm a reasonably intelligent person. I've got a couple degrees. I understood and laughed at all the jokes on FRASIER. But getting permission to drop the facade and just screw up is a lot like exhaling after holding your breath for, like, a year.

Right now, many of you are thinking, "Yes, but do we WANT a moron at the Flux helm?"

Hakuna matata. The New Guy card is, as I suggested, a short term reprieve. And just because I've got an excuse to make mistakes as I sift through files and e-mails and manuscripts doesn't mean I WILL mess up. But let's agree that anything new has a learning curve and I expect to be playing the New Guy card for at least a few weeks, if not the full 3 month period. (Why three months? I dunno. In my experience, that's usually the time it takes to feel really comfortable in the new skin. We'll see.)
I can see I'm instilling you with oodles of confidence. Buck up, campers! I don't know about you but I'm here to have some fun. Anyone care to join me?

Saturday, September 27, 2008


This is my last post, and I'm happy to turn it over to Brian. You're in good hands (he's a MUCH better blogger). All Flux authors should have received an email, but if you haven't for some reason, know how much I've enjoyed working with you and how grateful I am for the experience. Keep in touch.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The New News

Following the last announcement, I am very please to make this announcement: Flux has a new editor.

Next Monday, Brian Farrey will take over for me and begin acquiring books for Flux. Many of you know Brian as Flux's senior publicist, and in that role he has been instrumental in what we've done so far with Flux. Aside from his work at Flux, Brian is a dedicated connoisseur of YA literature, and he recently earned his MFA in creative writing with an emphasis on the genre.

Suffice it to say that I am thrilled with this choice. I think Flux is in very good hands for a successful future and I know I will follow with great interest what Brian and all of you do in the coming years.

Stay tuned for more details.

-AK (still in charge for 72 more hours)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kinda Cool

Sales figures aren't something I dwell on a lot here,  but I do think this little fact is fascinating and heartening. One of the major chains has sold over 1,500 copies of our edition of Marilyn Sachs The Fat Girl in the last eight months--and over 400 copies last week alone.

The Fat Girl was first published over twenty years ago and had been out of print for a while when I read a post of Roger Sutton's blog, where he mentioned Sachs' novel. We've now had it back in print for a little over 18 months, and while Stephanie Meyer needn't worry, I am very pleased to see several thousand copies of the book have reached readers and the book is enjoying healthy success in this second go-around.

I'm not saying this to highlight any remarkable perceptiveness on my part. It was a pretty simple deal. I liked the book, thought we could sell it, and there was space on our list. What I do think is interesting is that I have never heard a word from a reader about this book being dated (remember, it's over 20 years old) or irrelevant. All we did was update the cover and add a brief note from Marilyn. The readers did the rest.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Lots of good news for Lament, but you should go to Maggie's blog to see it because Maggie's blog has talking octopi and mine does not.

Children's authors and inadequacy

I'm halfway through an interesting biography of Margaret Wise Brown and I just read this article in the Times on Maurice Sendak. (And for good measure, throw in the Margo Rabb Times piece from earlier this year.) All of this has inadequacy and failure on my mind. Here's a bit from the Sendak article:
... he is plagued by the question that has repeatedly been asked about Norman Rockwell: was he a great artist or a mere illustrator?

“Mere illustrator,” he said, repeating the phrase with contempt. It’s not that Mr. Sendak, who has illustrated more than 100 books, including many he wrote, is angry that people question Rockwell’s talent; rather, he fears he has not risen above the “mere illustrator” label himself.
Similarly, Wise Brown was tormented by the sense that her work for children was not valuable and that she should strive to write for adults. (There' are long discussion of the book she worked on "with" Gertrude Stein and of her relationship with the poet and actress Michael Strange that are particularly fascinating on this point.)

I don't think this sense of writing the wrong thing or of writing in a less valuable genre is unique to children's book authors at all, but it does seem to have a unique character. (Am I correct in observing that some authors of adult "genre fiction," especially sci-fi, have a protective chip-on-the-shoulder underappreciated attitude? I am not being critical--just an observation.)


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The News

As many of you have heard by now, I am leaving Flux and Llewellyn on September 26 to take the editorial directorship of Carolrhoda, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group in Minneapolis, where I will be acquiring children's books of all sorts for all ages (including YA). I do this with a good deal of sadness because my time working at Flux (and keeping this blog) has been the most rewarding of my career, but this new challenge is very exciting and offers me unique opportunities. I simply cannot pass it up (and yes, I will continue to blog. After Sept. 26, go here for details.).

I have tried to send an email to all Flux authors, but inevitably somebody will get missed or Spam filtered, so please do give me a call if you have questions or concerns. I look forward to speaking with as many of you as possible.

Thanks so much to all of you who made this such a great three years. Please keep in touch.

Monday, September 8, 2008

That new Google Browser

No, I'm not going to geek out on you (though I could). But even if you're not interested in Google's Chrome, it's worth checking out the comic famed comics artist Scott McCloud created to explain the thing. (New York Times article here.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Readers' Rants just posted a delightful review of S.T. Underdahl's Remember This.
"A heartbreaking, fabulous family novel. Bring your tissues."

Good notices for LAMENT

LamentMaggie's book is just now heading out of the warehouse, and we're hearing good things. Like this, from Book Divas.

" I was not able to put the book down until I read the final page."

Or this from Readers' Rants.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Jump the CracksSchool Library Journal just posted a very positive review of Stacy DeKeyser's YA debut, Jump the Cracks.
"DeKeyser accurately describes the thought process that Victoria goes through as she comes to the realization of what she's done. While at the heart of her choices is her anger over her parents' divorce, the author does not oversimplify the situation. Teens are sure to find this an interesting read."

Friday, August 29, 2008

More cover love

An interview with Emily Wing Smith

The Way He LivedWhen a book design is finished and we find we've got extra pages in the last signature, Production Editor Sandy, Designer Steff, Marketing People, and I talk about how we can fill them. More often then not, we end up doing an interview or perhaps discussion questions, and more often than not, I get to do the interviewing. Most recently, Steff finished the design for The Way He Lived, and I sent Emily six questions. Her answers are, as I expected, very thoughtful, but I thought her answer to my last question was particularly worth sharing early.

AK: The young adult genre has gotten a lot of attention lately, and there's a lot of discussion about what makes a book "YA," as opposed to "adult." In your mind, what makes this book YA?

EWS: I didn’t give any thought to whether or not my book would be young adult. I’ve wanted to write young adult fiction since the time I was a young adult myself. I read YA literature in junior high and high school, studied YA literature in college, and specialized in YA literature in graduate school. I feel the same way a lot of YA authors feel: that in my heart, I will forever be seventeen years old.

My own feelings aside, however, I think The Way He Lived is a young adult book because of its tone. While many books for adults feature young adult characters, adult books generally have the tone of “look at what I’ve learned.” The tone in my book (and I think this is true of young adult books in general) is “learn with me.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An Imprint-Wide Blush

PW Blogger Allison Morris has an absolutely awesome post at "ShelfTalker: A Children's Bookseller's Blog" about our covers, wherein she gives a gold star for "producing some designs that are a little bit different and a lot teen-friendly." She says tons of nice things about a variety of our covers, so please head on over.

Anne Spollen on Writing and Being Written To

Anne Spollen writes some of my favorite sentences (I suspect she'd never write that blog title) and then goes on to combine them into some of my favorite books. Her latest blog post talks a little about her process. This alone is interesting enough, but she also touches a little on the writing that her books begets--the fan and "other" mail. Very amusing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Maggie Stiefvater on Seven Impossible Things

Seven Imp has a brief but wide-ranging interview with the multi-talented Maggie Stiefvater. Check it out.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Carrie Jones doubles up in SLJ

Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape)In the magazine, there's a fine review for Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape):
"....This is a thoughtful and often humorous read, and while there are almost too many different issues going on here (teen pregnancy, physical abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, gay bashing, life-threatening allergic reactions), Jones manages to make it all work. Her descriptions of life in a small town where everyone knows your business are spot-on, as are her depictions of high school. An occasional character is over-the-top, but Belle herself is a likable, believable character whose emotional crises will resonate with teens."
Meanwhile, over at SLJTeen, they've reviewed Girl, Hero very favorably. You must read the whole thing because it's a good, thoughtful review from an actual teen reader, but this part is particularly interesting:

Girl, HeroI was really nervous picking up this book because Carrie Jones’ previous novels, Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend (Flux, 2007) and Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape) (Flux, 2008) are my two favorite books in the world. I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading this book and found a fresh, new voice jumping off of the page at me. There were still some familiar elements of Carrie Jones’ other books, like the bits about sexuality, Amnesty International, and Students for Social Justice, but it was enough of a new story that those elements didn’t bug me too much. One thing that was a bit disappointing was the fact that Lili has a cat named Muffin, and so does the character Belle Philbrick from Tips … It doesn’t seem creative at all. Even though Muffin is only mentioned one time in “Girl, Hero” that I can remember, names should always be changed when you write another book that isn’t part of a series.

I for one was glad to see Muffin reappear in another book, but apparently that was less okay than I thought. Authors, be aware.

Girl, Hero also got some nice coverage in a PW article about epistolary novels:

Another fictional letter writer is the protagonist of Girl, Hero by Carrie Jones, due in August from Flux. At school, Lily is searching for a way to fit in yet still be herself, while at home she must deal with a needy mother and a traumatized older sister. Struggling to find someone to believe in, Lily pens letters to her hero, the late John Wayne, a strategy that helps her find the hero inside herself.

Librarilly Blond on Nothing

NothingCarlie Webber of Librarilly Blonde has a cool post on boy eating disorder books, featuring Robin Friedman's Nothing. In the comments, Little Willow points out the title coincidence between the two books. (Two points to anyone but Brian Farrey who can find the other packaging related coincidence associated with Robin's book.)

Early Praise for The Way He Lived

I am immodestly excited to be publishing Emily Wing Smith. Her debut novel is incredibly brave and unique--and fortunately I'm not the only one who thinks so. In addition to the excellent endorsement from Sara Zarr, award winning author Ellen Wittlinger sent this: "A compelling account of the ways in which grief weaves through and changes the lives of six teens. Compassionate and heartfelt." All true. It's an amazing book.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm back

I was on vacation, and now I'm not. Expect a big review round-up post soon, since there was tons of excitement while I was gone.

Meanwhile, allow me a moment of self-promotion. I'm teaching a class this fall at the wonderful Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. It's called "Revising the Young Adult Novel." If you're in the area, you can come hear more about it next Tuesday, at the open house.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kudos confirmed for Spollen and Shoup

Librarian and blogger Lisa Chellman has a clever take on blog reviewing. She writes: 'These days, I choose the vast majority of my books based on blog recommendations—i.e., books that have probably been reviewed multiple times on various widely read blogs. I feel like I'd just be saying, "Ditto, ditto, ditto."' So she's posting some of her recent reading and her favorites reviews for them, including the Shape of Water and Everything You Want.

Everything You Want"[Everything You Want] about each character searching out what they truly want in spite of—rather than because of—the new money in their lives. For Emma, a college freshman who's never dated (her closest experience hither-to resulted in her getting punched in the face), it's about groping her way into the future and, she hopes, finding love along the way—universal themes in spite of extraordinary circumstances. Also, did I mention that much of the dialogue is downright hilarious?"

Shape of Water
"I wasn't sure what to expect. And even if I'd been told what to expect, I don't think it would have prepared me for what I found. To say that this book is about grief and moving beyond grief isn't sufficient. It took me by surprise with its strangeness and beauty and glimpses of humor amid the darkness."


The Fictionistas blog is interviewing all the finalist for the Romance Writers of America's YA RITA award. It's a diverse group of authors and books, so do check it out, and Flux's own Simone Elkeles is one of the five, so check on Friday for her interview.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Great notices for Nothing

NothingRobin Friedman's Nothing probably managed to do something no other book has done before. She got reviewed in the Huffington Post and Guys Lit Wire on the same day. The HuffPo article is by journalist and mental health advocate Tom Davis, who suffered from bulimia as a young man and is Robin's inspiration for the story. Davis writes:

"When I first told Robin about my history, I could see her connecting in a way that displayed a combination of humility, empathy and sympathy -- a rare trait for anybody in a society that's too busy to communicate in ways that are more complex than a one-sentence e-mail.

"Robin, in fact, is on a short list of people in my life who, I believe, can connect with people on an emotionally deep level. She has a sincerity -- as well as a raw and honest, but affecting laugh -- that can put the most unrefined person at ease."

I've had a chance to talk to Tom briefly and his commitment to this issue is impressive. It's not often that I get to interact with a book, its author, and her inspiration all at once, so this has been a particularly exciting book for me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bloggy kudos for Debbie Reed Fischer

image The blog Reading Keeps Me Sane recently reviewed an advance copy of Debbie Fischer's Swimming with the Sharks.

Overall the book is brilliant. The ending was scintillating. I loved the book in the end. It was just hard to finish reading it, but I'm really happy I did. Debbie Reed Fischer is an excellent writing. She's going to be a huge Young Adult Fiction writer in the future. I can't wait to read her first book, Braless in Wonderland which came out this past April.

Debbie is a member of the Class of 2K8 author's group. I contributed a little backstory on Debbie's path to publication for their blog. I think they're posting it this week.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A couple of excellent notices for Girl, Hero

Librarian Nan Hoekstra has a nice review on her blog, and PW featured Carrie's third novel in an article called "Letter-Laced Fiction."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Attention All Bloggers

I'm composing this using a free piece of Microsoft software called Windows Live Writer. It's a standalone editor that can post to most major blog platforms (I use Blogger) and I'm pretty sure it's awesome (not as awesome Henry, built still pretty awesome). Here's just a few bells and whistles: It supports drag and drop pictures and allows you to resize them intelligently. You can customize the border width. And, when you grab an image that's a link, like from Amazon or your dear publisher's web site, it grabs2009 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market) the link, too (click the CWIM cover image). All of this with no coding. The editor detects your blog's layout, so the layout you see as you compose is what you get--you can even preview it in full context. It's got a tool for tables, video, maps, and people are writing plugins for it, so it's expanding all the time. Basically, it seems like Word, but for blogging. If you're running Windows and you blog, then I'm pretty sure this will save you time. Get it free.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Writing and categories

The Margo Rabb piece in the New York times has engendered a lot of interesting discussion, but I'm a little uncomfortable with the degree to which writers are allowing the book business's categories to dictate their conception of a book's worth. Obviously, I believe in young adult fiction as a category in a certain extent. I believe it's a useful way to corral certain books in a bookstore or library, and I believe that, as a genre, it provides a useful rough set of boundaries. And that's all, really. Artistic achievement and the writer's craft are completely separate from this.

I quipped in an email to a colleague that "the book industry screws artists in lots of ways, but I’m beginning to think the greatest crime it’s perpetrated is forcing writers to accept its convenient marketing categories as meaningful to the value of their work."

Actually, I think it takes two to perpetrate this particular travesty. Novelists have to take the categories seriously. I will acknowledge that it would require a naive view of human nature to expect authors to be completely uninterested in how their publishers and readers categorize their work, but I think it takes a similarly naive view of the history of the novel itself to get overly involved in the fine points of contemporary commercial characterization of their work. A novelist's contemporaries are often extraordinarily bad judges of what a novel is. From its birth, the novel--especially in English--was seen as a trivial, second class form. Most novel writing was popular, disposable entertainment. Even into the 20th century, the book business proved wildly inconsistent in its initial characterization of books, from their content to their permanence, sometimes to the author's financial advantage.

Many of my authors know that Nabokov is my go-to example for a lot of things, and this is no exception. The first American editors to read Lolita in manuscript were sure they and the author would go to jail if the book were published. Their attitudes only softened slightly after the book was released by a French publisher with a reputation for erotica (a certain court ruling also helped).

An article in the Boston Globe by Harvard Prof. Leland de la Durantaye from three years ago sums it up nicely:
'Lolita appeared in two pale green volumes from the Paris-based Olympia Press in September 1955. Few readers took notice of the foreign publication until December, when Graham Greene, writing in the London Sunday Times, included the book by the virtually unknown Nabokov in his list of the three best he had read that year. John Gordon, a conservative Scottish editor, examined the unexpected entry in Graham's list and shortly thereafter denounced it in the Sunday Express as "the filthiest book I have ever read," adding that it was "sheer unrestrained pornography." Sales soared, interest increased, and when, after much fearful hesitation on the part of publishers, the work was published in an American edition in 1958, it spent six months as No. 1 on the bestseller charts.'

So, which was more important to the book's success? It's legitimization by Greene or its vilification by Gordon. Or both? I tend to think the controversy--is it art, is it porn?--was the important factor. Nabokov, who outwardly scorned concerning himself with an audience any larger than his one ideal reader, seems to have been reasonably and pragmatically content to tolerate the mischaracterization and occasional abuse (see movie tie-in cover) of his book in the popular imagination, as long as a core of readers (eventually a very, very large core) understood its genius, and as long as he was comfortably compensated for that popular success (which he was, Lolita the book and movie that followed allowed him to quit teaching and live comfortably in Montreux, Switzerland for the rest of his life).

I can't guarantee anyone caught up in the is-it-YA,is-it-adult? controversies a comfortable existence in a Swiss hotel, but I'm having a hard time seeing how it's a bad thing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Margo Rabb on YA in the Grey Lady

Margo Rabb's Cures for Heartbreak was one of the books that got me through torturous jury duty a year ago. Check out her essay in the Times on YA. Good stuff. (Thanks A.S. King for sending the link.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

"So clearly a teenager"

No, this isn't a foreign policy blog, but I do think this story on All Things Considered from a couple days ago about interrogation at Guantanamo is more than a little interesting as an example of cultural perception of "teenagerness." The reporter, Tom Gjelten, makes a really interesting observation at about 2:30 into the clip:
"To me this is so clearly a teenager being interrogated. I mean, how many times have you spoken to your own teenage kids this way..."
It's not so clearly a "child," but a teenager. He's recognizing something universal. For me, one of the strongest indicators of YA in fiction is what Gjelten is picking up on: an unbearable tension created by a young person in an adult situation (in this case a situation that no adult would handle well, either). This is why I think of YA as a genre.

(Interesting to note that they got lots of letters about that comment. The ones they read vigorously disagreed.)

A little plug

Alice Pope just announced at her blog that the 2009 CWIM (Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Marketplace)
is now available. Aside from it being a lovely shade of lavender, it contains articles by people like author Cynthia Leitich Smith and editor Allyn Johnston, and there are interviews with Sherman Alexie, Cecil Castelluci, and Scotwesterfled, among others. And I wrote an article, too, wherein I manage to discuss the medieval world view, John Cougar Mellencamp, Nirvana, Peter Cameron, and Lorrie Moore. I did mention this was a plug, right?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wish You Were Here at Chasing Ray

Wish You Were Here

Quoth Colleen:

"I often write about how it is hard to review teen books as an adult - you just don't think like a teenager anymore so sometimes adult reviewers can get frustrated by how teenagers act. Barbara Shoup's Wish You Were Here is so pitch perfect though, that as the child of divorced parents whose mother remarried when I was a teen....well let me just say this woman knows of what she writes. She nails so much of the frustration of that situation; it is eerie. Flux has reissued the book (it came out in May) and I'm so happy with it - expect more in my August column."

I'm so happy to see reviews like this for Wish You Were Here and for Marilyn Sachs' The Fat Girl, which we also rereleased a while ago. There is a great deal of interesting YA by active authors languishing out of print. I firmly believe that teen readers aren't bothered by "contemporary" stories set a decade or two in the past.

Okay, this is new

LamentMaggie Stiefvater, author of the forthcoming Lament, is also a painter and a prolific blogger. So, she's combining these talents to create something she's calling Teaser Tuesday. And it apparently involves bears. Maybe she should explain.

I wracked my brains to think of ways to talk more about [Lament] in the upcoming weeks (okay, not really. Really I just drank some sweet tea and listened to some City Sleeps and decided I like to draw bears doing funny things), and I decided that what I want to do is feature a teaser from LAMENT every Tuesday from now until its release.

Yeah, that didn't help me much either, so maybe you should just go look.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another good notice for Girl, Hero

Girl, Hero
Charlotte's Library has a great entry about Girl, Hero, in which she identifies a little-recognized benefit of Carrie's novels:

"That being said, here’s another reason why I am going to try to get my
boys to read the works of Carrie Jones. She writes the nicest high
school boys ever (in this book, it’s Paolo, who’s cool and sweet and
understanding), and I want my sons to be that nice too."

True, but why, if Carrie is capable of such great boys (and she is), is her one super-bad boy named Andrew?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Review Avalanche

Kirkus reviews for Girl, Hero and Robin Friedman's Nothing just showed up on the interwebs. Both very positive.
"Parker's negative body image and need for control will be familiar to teen readers, but the callous dismissal of his few attempts to discuss his worries says worlds about social expectations for teen boys."
Girl, Hero
In a quirky but deliberate voice both serious and funny, Lily navigates her complicated life by writing to John Wayne. ... [R]eaders will respond to the self-aware but vulnerable Lily as she grows over time into her own unique hero."

And then Midwest Book Review has a review of our paperback of Barbara Shoup's Wish You Were Here.

“WISH YOU WERE HERE is a deftly composed coming-of-age tale, sure to pleaseWish You Were Here young adult readers.”

A great endorsement for Lament

LamentMaggie Stiefvater's Lament is a couple months away, still, but early praise keeps coming in, this time from none other than Cynthia Leitich Smith, author most recently of Tantalize (which should be out in paper any minute) and keeper of the indispensable Cynsations blog.

"Chock-full of the fierce and the fey, Maggie Stiefvater's Lament is musical, magical, and practically radiating romance. A blood-fresh reinvention of old traditions, perfect for engaging sharp minds and poetic hearts." Tantalize Cover

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Kliatt on Wildewood and Band Geek Love

KLIATT has two excellent reviews for Flux books in its most recent issue: Band Geek Love's heroine, Ellie, is "refreshingly real and honest" (despite the fact that you often want to strangle her), and Into the Wildewood Into the Wildewoodis "a mixture of Clueless and The Two Towers that somehow melds them with style. Summers's book will attract new fantasy recruits and diehard fans."

Band Geek Love

A great review for Girl, Hero

Girl, Hero
The ALAN review has an awesome review of Carrie's novel. A highlight:

'Readers will find secret comfort in Liliana’s
so-absurd-it-must-be-true story, noticing specks of their own lives scattered here and there, specks they do not want anyone to know about, specks that make them who they are. Liliana’s story will empower
readers, reminding them of their ability to overcome anything, as long
as they first tip their hat and whisper “saddle up.”'

Couldn't agree more.

Heads Up

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Building for the Teenage

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Center for Environmental Structure Series)In a previous life I worked at a company that published books about home improvement and design, and I was very interested in residential architectural stuff. I stumbled on to a book called A Pattern Language by an architect and Berkeley professor named Christopher Alexander and several collaborators. It's a fascinating book about the ways humans divide up the spaces they live in, from a planetary scale to a room scale. The "patterns" of the book are archetypal design challenges that the authors have identified and solutions to those challenges that the author propose. I think the book is fascinating to anyone who occupies space (and that would be everyone), but for the purposes of this blog, I think the two patterns that directly address teenage life are very interesting.

Pattern 84 is called Teenage Society. Here's the problem:
"Teenage is the time of passage between childhood and adulthood. In traditional societies, this passage is accompanied by rites which suit the psychological demands of the transition. But in modern society the 'high school' fails entirely to provide this passage."

And here's a taste of the solution:

"We believe that teenagers in a town, boys and girls from age 12 to 18, should be encouraged to form a miniature society, in which they are as differentiated, and as mutually responsible, as the adults in full scale society . . . . Therefore: Replace the 'high school' with an institution which is actually a model of adult society. . . ."

Here's the other teenage pattern, number 154 Teenager's Cottage:

"If a teenager's place in the home does not reflect his need for a measure of independence, he will be locked in conflict with his family."

There solution is what they call the "teenage cottage." The whole description of how they conceive the space is really interesting to me. They see space as a way to help a teenager redefine their connection to the family--still connected, but also independent. Here's the solution:

"To mark a child's coming of age, transform his place in the home into a kind of cottage that expresses in a physical way the beginnings of independence. Keep the cottage attached to the home, but make it a distinctly visible bulge, far away from the master bedroom, with a private entrance, perhaps its own roof."
The authors are confident of the archetypal nature of all the problems they identify, but they rate their solutions on a zero-to-three scale to measure how elemental they believe their solutions are--whether they believe there are solutions to the problem that don't incorporate elements of their solution (scoring a zero) or they believe no solution is possible without incorporating theirs (a three). Both of these score a zero. Interesting.

Their first pattern-solution pair seems like Lord of the Flies to me, but I find the second really interesting. I'm sure you could find dozens of examples of this in practice in YA novels and teen TV. (Anybody else thinking of that Beach Boys song, "In My Room"?)

Friday, July 4, 2008

This is a first . . .

Josie Bloss marked the release of her new novel in a way that's completely Band Geek Lovenovel (sorry) to me. Yep, she got a tattoo. This got me thinking, has anyone else done something interesting to personally commemorate a first novel?

When we were picking a logo for Flux a few years ago, I said it had to be cool enough for me to get it tattoed somewhere, but I only got as far as the Sharpie prototype.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Amen, Cory Doctorow

I haven't read Little Brother yet, but I will soon. If I needed any additional incentive, there's Cory's excellent column in Locus. He writes "There's a consequentiality to writing for young people that makes it immensely satisfying."

'Writing for young people is really exciting. As one YA writer told me,
"Adolescence is a series of brave, irreversible decisions." One day,
you're someone who's never told a lie of consequence; the next day you
have, and you can never go back. One day, you're someone who's never
done anything noble for a friend, the next day you have, and you can
never go back. Is it any wonder that young people experience a
camaraderie as intense as combat-buddies? Is it any wonder that the
parts of our brain that govern risk-assessment don't fully develop
until adulthood? Who would take such brave chances, such existential
risks, if she or he had a fully functional risk-assessment system?'


The only tiny criticism I have isn't even really a criticism. I would just add that in no way is his thesis limited to sci-fi--Doctorow's subgenre (yes, subgenre) of choice. What he says applies broadly to any kind of YA writing.

Josie Bloss at The StorySiren

Band Geek Love Josie Bloss' Band Geek Love is in stores now and Josie is blogging about her inspiration for the book over The Story Siren. Have a look. (Personally, I can affirm band-camp tunnel vision, although I was never farseeing or reflective enough to write any of it down. Though, I can say such was my love for band camp--Akers Hall at Michigan State in August, sigh!--that I actually went back as a counselor the summer after I graduated. Bizarre indeed.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More. A.S. King

The always insightful A.S. King is blogging over at MysticLit. Check it out.