Out loud, or Read to me, please Friday, Apr 23 2010 

Why is it that when we grow up, people stop reading aloud to each other? Is it that the pleasure of reading to yourself is assumed to be greater than that of being read to? Two different facets of the same jewel … Poetry, especially – if the reader is a good one – oh, poetry is so juicy when it’s read out loud. Or Green Eggs and Ham. Or Shakespeare: make mine Macbeth! The scene where he wigs out at the banquet! Read to someone today, or better yet, get someone to read to you.

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Love > fear Tuesday, Apr 20 2010 

How proud these students’ parents and teachers and friends must be. What a perfect response.

What makes a character real? Wednesday, Apr 14 2010 

This is well-said

“How is it that fictional characters made of words typed on paper become real in a reader’s mind? How does that alchemy happen? I’m always surprised each time it happens for me – when I realize that I have fully accepted a character I’m reading, that I’ve made that little leap of faith that allows me not to question the artifice that is fiction but to surrender to the invention. I know that fiction is not ‘real’, that the characters I’m reading don’t exist. But they have become real for me, and so are as real as my dreams are, as real as my thoughts.”

— and without that alchemical leap, how can the novel go as deep as it needs to, how can the reader access everything that a story can be?

Now think of all the characters who are real to you, friends to you, really.  Does it make sense to think that that leap of spirit, between the “real” and the reader, is made half-way by the character and half-way by us, when we read?  Why some books come alive for you, and others leave you cold … after a certain level of communicative skill is reached (by writer and reader), whether it’s Heathcliff or Smilla or Josef K. or the Poky Little Puppy who speaks to you most intimately, depends as much on you as on any of them. Affinity is mysterious as breathing, and as natural.

Lynda Barry, YA goddess Thursday, Apr 8 2010 

Please, very smart and excellent media specialists, invite Lynda Barry, who knows everything there is to know about being young, fierce, wild, and clean of heart, to come and talk to your kids about writing and drawing pictures and why doing both can save you.  I recommend her work all the time to both young readers and those who want to write YA, because she knows

Under the Poppy onstage! Sunday, Apr 4 2010 

I’m elated to be able to announce that the stage adaptation of my novel Under the Poppy has found its theatrical home: at the Chrysler Black Box Theatre at the Detroit Opera House, home of the Michigan Opera Theatre.  To be able to present our production in a venue like this – as the chandeliers sway below, and downtown winks from the windows – is a total thrill.  And for a first-time playwright, watching my story come to life in such a wonderful space … well, you can imagine.  Cartwheels!


From one, two, … fifteen writers, to another Friday, Apr 2 2010 

The daunting nudity of the page, the impersonal rejection, the yards upon yards of dead trees on the shelf – or. say, the digital avalanche.  And all you want to do is … write.

These people offer a map of the territory, bearing in mind that the way is, by definition, different for everybody: what helps me go may do the same for you, or may not.  But it’s always enlightening, and heartening, to consider another’s process, and see that if our struggles differ, the struggle doesn’t.  Write on.

The April fools Thursday, Apr 1 2010 

Oh, the ones who told us what we never thought we’d hear, who gave us what we didn’t know we needed, who made our eyes go wide, who made us furious until we understood.  The ones who helped us learn such excellent new bad habits.  The ones who laughed at what no one else thought was funny, who made inappropriate jokes, who showed us that gallantry smiles even in – especially in – terrible places.

The ones who picked us up at the airport at 5:30 AM, who cheered us on, who bought the T-shirt, who read all the way to the end and said, “It’s brilliant!”  And meant it.

The ones who never, ever said “But why would you want to?”

Remember to give some love, today, to those people in your life who are, or were, to you what no one else could be: the fabulous April Fools, who do it all with such panache, every single day of the year.

Worth 1000 words? Oh yeah. Tuesday, Mar 23 2010 

Every book needs its cover: to display the face of the prose to the world, to nudge or tweak the curious buyer. This is the glorious cover for my novel due out in October 2010, Under the Poppy. It was created by Base Art Company, and to say that I’m over the moon would be an understatement.

What the best cover art does is combine artistry with subtlety, to display  the meaning and idea of the book, rather than flatly illustrate a scene, which is so much harder than it sounds.

I’ve had some amazing covers thanks to Rick Lieder, to wit, Kissing the Bee and The Blue Mirror, two of my favorites.

There have also been disasters – none of them were my YAs, let’s leave it at that – but yargh.

Breakfast at MRA Sunday, Mar 21 2010 

An 8 AM breakfast, amazing company – educators laugh a LOT, did you know that? – and a chance to talk about why middle schoolers are rad and how reading resembles deep sea diving … Here’s me and my table mates at the MRA breakfast, at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit, on a grey spring morning. We had a rockin’ time; wish you were there.

Awash in unhealthy excitement Friday, Mar 19 2010 

The Little Professor is busily corrupting students, what with all that distempered excitement and those dangerous cravings, and I must heartily concur and add warnings of my own: Once you start reading a really excellent novel, you might as well kiss your dull-minded, content-to-be-bored life goodbye, and become forever the trembling slave of pleasures unknown.  Like what just happened to me with Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith.  I mean for god’s sake, people, I lost uncounted hours reveling in bad new words and whiplash plotting and ladies’ prisons and it got so bad, why, I almost forgot to take my Flintstones Chewable Morphine!

So beware.

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