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."