Judge by the cover Saturday, Jan 26 2008 

talk_500
Oh, go ahead, you know you want to: judge away!

Is it theatrical? Is it controversial, and therefore banned (fictionally)? Does it make you think of the absolute drama of Drama class? Then by all means, step right this way, and the usher will show you to your seat.

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Talk in paperback Thursday, Jan 24 2008 

…has just been released, from SquareFish! I’m really pleased to see this book (one of my favorites among my novels) in this very affordable format, because this is a book I would love to see used in schools. Freedom — of speech, of belief, of the heart — begins in the mind, and where better to nurture and explore that freedom but in school?

Music vs. words in books Friday, Jan 18 2008 

There’s a great story by Bill Holdship in the current issue of the Metro Times, all about the late, lamented CREEM Magazine.

I’ve written before about my teenage adoration of CREEM – how its humor and attitude soothed my OMG-am-I-the-only-one?! angst and made me laugh until I cried (still does). It wasn’t only about the music, of course, but oh, the music was the beating heart of it.

Now, why is it so difficult to write fiction about music? I realize it’s essentially an experience beyond words, but then, so is smelling a freshly-cut lemon – so are all sense-based experiences – and we seem at least able to approach them literarily, if that’s a word.

But why can I listen to Iggy Pop or Satie (or Iggy Pop and Satie: now there’s a concert I’d pay real money for), be blown away, yet be unable to adequately translate that exhilaration for a reader? Especially in the YA arena, music is not only a soundtrack to everything important, it’s one of the most important things in life, sometimes one of the only things that makes life bearable.

So my question is, not how can I become a better writer-about-music (same way you get to Carnegie Hall), but who out there, especially in YA, is doing it right now? In novels, primarily, but I’d love any pertinent examples.

This is going to be fun Monday, Jan 14 2008 

You know how it is: You read a certain book, you like it a lot, and you think, Maybe I should try to get in touch with the author. This being the 21st century, you hunt up the correct website, you send an email, you say, Hey, it would be cool if you could come and visit my school sometime.

The author reads your email, is impressed by your coolness and your enjoyment of her book, and writes back to say, Hey, I’d love to visit your school. And, because your school is also very cool, the motion is seconded, and carried, by the administration.

And the author makes plans to visit you in February, and looks forward to it a whole lot. The End.

The moral of our story? You never know where a book is going to take you.

Happily collected Wednesday, Jan 9 2008 

I remember this copy, and this day – both were a pleasure. Thank you, Peter Seiruta! And thanks, Cary Loren at the BookBeat, for pointing me Peter’s way.

Brand-new blog Saturday, Jan 5 2008 

I’ve got a new blog happening, that’s all about the novel I’m writing, called Under the Poppy. So come on by, and learn something cool about puppets, or share something cool that you already know – it’s a vast, articulated, sideways world, that universe of performing objects (people count as P.O.s, too). Poke around in the research pile, hear soundtrack snippets, and track the progress of the new book. I plan to post excerpts as well.

BTW, this is not a YA project, as I have mentioned before, so please be aware: mature content.

A pretty damn good working definition of art Friday, Jan 4 2008 

From Dion DiMucci, on NPR’s Fresh Air (12/29/07, if you want to hear the whole thing), talking about the “coffee-colored Cadillac” in the classic song “Nadine”: “I never saw one of those. But I can see it now.”

And isn’t that a great definition of art’s function. I didn’t see that — Alice climbing through a mirror; the monstrous Judge, naked, dancing; Smilla’s big, almost weightless crystals — but I can see it now.

Quote for the New Tuesday, Jan 1 2008 

As read in J.F. Bernard’s Talleyrand: A Biography:

“The plan of the ceremony called next for the oath of allegiance to the nation, the Constitution, and the king. Lafayette was the first to swear, and as he did so, Talleyrand whispered: ‘Pourvu qu’on ne me fasse pas rire’ – ‘Please don’t make me laugh.'”