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February 2009
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April 2009

Battles on Battles

Oh, I love a nice drag-out fight. And a nice literary discussion. And a book battle!

Here are two links if you like those things too:

The Tea Cozy discussion of the Disreputable History's Morning News zombie round is very good. 

The brackets are up for the SLJ Battle of the Kids Books, and Disreputable History squares off against We are the Ship. 

In other news, since you all said you wanted to hear about the writing life on this blog:
I am drinking a peach smoothie. 
I am at my desk.
I am not writing today but dealing with administrative nonsense (missing 1099; school visit schedules; some charity stuff; backed up email). 
I am kind of stuck on Roo4 but there is an amusing scene in which Ruby talks to a mailbox. 
It is due all too soon. 
The How to Be Bad paperback comes out end of April. 
I have some video I should edit from our tour (a year ago, practically!) but iMovie 09 is not my friend and also I am lazy. 
I am having fun on Twitter. 
I am reading The Graveyard Book and trying to learn from its awesomeness. 


Book Maven Meme

It has been a while since I've done a meme!  (Okay. Not that long. but hey. I am procrastinating!)

Here is the "Book Maven" meme. Repost and answer! (If it amuses you.)

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Charles Dickens. For my grad school orals, I read 9 Dickens novels in a single summer.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I own several beautifully illustrated editions. 

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
No. But I noticed it. 

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
I am NOT in love with Edward Cullen. I can tell you that. I have no interest in any guy who speeds on the freeway when another person asks him to slow down, or watches someone sleep when she tells him not to. That is seriously creepy. Also: my idea of a lover is not someone who is better looking than me, 100 years more experienced than me,  better educated and with super powers. My idea of a lover is someone who is genuinely an equal. 

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
Pride and Prejudice. 

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
I tried to organize a fifth grade production of Peter Pan, from Barrie's original script. 

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
I didn't finish it and I'm not going to slag it here. 

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon. 

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
David Copperfield. It is freaking awesome and hilarious and emotional and outrageous. But I am not tagging anyone, specifically. And it is, like 800 pages. 

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
Can dead people win? Iris Murdoch. 

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
I would stand on line for The Alienist. The book is by Caleb Carr. 
I wouldn't mind The Secret History, either. Book by Donna Tartt. 
But really? They will never make it, ever. But Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn. 

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie? 
Oh, they are doing that all the time. I don't need to tell you.
I am enjoying the posters for the Nora Roberts series on TV. I will tell you that. 
Jerry O'Connell. Shirtless and sincere!  
(I have never read Nora Roberts. Her books may be awesomeness incarnate. But hello!  To the posters!)

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I have many but most of them I no longer recall.
Last week, I dreamed I went to a community theater production of Twilight. Edward was played by a replacement actor. He was 35 and balding, but did a good job. The production had been running so long there were only a few people in the theater. I was writing an article on it for some internet magazine. 
During pauses in the action, the actors occasionally broke character to chat with the audience. The girl playing Bella was applying to colleges and asked my advice. Afterward, I saw the Edward actor at the bus stop. We chatted a little. It was only then that I saw he was bald. He wore a hat when he was being Edward. 
Analyze as you will. 
I know you probably have a lot to say....

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
Well. I just checked out YUM-O by Rachel Ray from the library. 

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
I have read Moby Dick. I have read most of Gravity's Rainbow. I have read The Waves. 
I am glad I am not in graduate school any more.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
Hm. I have seen a fair amount of Shakespeare but nothing particularly obscure, I don't think. I've seen multiple Tempests, multiple Midsummers, a few Macbeths, Hamlet, Merchant, Winter's Tale, -- oh, I know!
I saw this all rap version of A Comedy of Errors. It had only four people in it. It was FAB.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I cannot generalize. I like Rousseau. I don't much care for Stendahl. 
I like Chekov. Tolstoy is kinda meh. 

18) Roth or Updike?
Men concerned with manly manly things. 
Like those in the next several questions (until 21). 
But Roth. Because he wrote a book where someone is turned into a GIANT BREAST. And the book is from his (its) point of view! 

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
I love that guy. 
THe essay about the boil in When You are Engulfed in Flames is so brilliant and touching. Also the one about his old lady neighbor. And the one about getting lost in the zoo and being unable to find Hugh. 
He is really a master essayist. Not just funny. 

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

21) Austen or Eliot?
Austen. But I like Eliot, too. I just, you know, SUFFERED through Adam Bede, so I am not sure I forgive her. 
Austen never, ever, ever, makes anyone suffer for even a minute. She is sheer joy. 

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I have a doctorate in English literature and have never read Ulysses. 

23) What is your favorite novel? 
I can really only answer this moment to moment. I have new favorites all the time.  But I will mention a book I haven't mentioned in this Q&A so far, that I loved dearly and wish more people would read: The Spell Book of Listen Taylor, by Jaclyn Moriarty. 

24) Play?
I am most influenced by Dark Ride, by Len Jenkin. 

25) Poem?
Stuff by Ogden Nash. 

26) Essay?
"A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," by David Foster Wallace. But also see the Eggers/Sedaris answer, above. 

27) Short Story?
"Uncle Fred Flits By" by PG Wodehouse is pretty awesome. 

28) Work of nonfiction?
I was very influenced by The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf and I think anyone under the age of 40 should read it. But my favorite is An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks. 

29) Who is your favorite writer?
I can't pick. All those mentioned above thrill me. Also Michael Chabon. Francesca Lia Block. Edith Wharton. E.M Forster. I could go on and on.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Am I really going to get that snarky? I probably haven't read him. 

31) What is your desert island book?
The Jeeves Omnibus, by P.G. Wodehouse. 

32) And... what are you reading right now?
Population 485 by Michael Perry.  Rumpole Rests His Case by John Mortimer. A couple back issues of Gourmet. The issue of Entertainment Weekly with Paul Rudd on the cover. Maryrose Wood's new book in manuscript. Dirty Sugar Cookies by Ayun Halliday.  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. 
I like to have a lot of things in rotation....

Teen Author Festival

The Teen Author Festival was awesome!  The big signing at Books of Wonder was tremendous fun, and I'm so pleased so many of you came out to see us. I had a blast -- though I also felt nervous. It was my first event in a long time. 

Here are some photos of Tiger Beat, the all YA author band that played at Books of Wonder. 
Libba Bray on vocals, Barnaby Miller on drums (where is the dude's website? can't find), Dan Ehrenhaft on guitar, Natalie Standiford on base.  David Levithan and Rachel Cohn were the opening act, reading bits of their work that had to do with music. And sometimes reading in German -- which neither of them speak.


Libba can really sing. (That's her on the right in the picture at left), Rachel next to her) She wore a hotsy leather jacket and red converse. They started of with Superstition, and the set included I Want Candy and Dear Prudence. We demanded an encore, but they said they didn't know any more songs. 

TigerBeat4 Natalie looks like a rock star. And plays like one too.

Jennifer Weiner is interesting. Juvenilia. Boringness of my day.

Interesting article by Jennifer Weiner  on the subject of weighty manly-type fiction versus "chick lit" or even serious literature about traditionally female issues.  All apropos of the Tea Cozy discussion  and the Morning News Tournament of Books judgement and commentary.

In other news, the NYC Teen Literature Festival starts today!  I am hoping to go to the Juvenilia Smackdown and find out what Justine Larbalestier  and friends  were like as actual teens. Details on the Justine link. 

And since y'all asked for actual details of life as a writer, and I haven't delivered any such thing on this blog for AGES, here is the mundanity:

I am in a coffee shop. I have a bran muffin and a decaf coffee. THere is a dude next to me doing his taxes, and a school crossing guard with a book of word searches. The barista is wearing a red ski hat and a t-shirt circa 90's grunge. I am supposed to be writing Roo 4, and so far I have about 23,000 words. I keep re-arranging the scenes, though. I am perhaps a bit stalled. 
I would really like to crawl back home to bed for a few hours, then read the new Maryrose Wood book in manuscript. (Nananana -- but I don't have time to read it!!)
But I will stay here and force myself to write -- because that is how it's done. Put your butt on the couch and open the file. 

Teen Author Festival

The First-Ever Teen Author Festival begins on Monday. 

I will be at the big Books of Wonder signing and hopefully at the NYPL Best Stuff for the Teenage. 
As an audience member, I'm hoping to go to many other things. 

Libba Bray is going to sing, y'all. LIke, in a kind of a band. Tiger Beat, the first all-YA band. 
 I think this is not anything that can be missed if you can conceivably get there.