Happy World Read Aloud Day!
Happy World Read Aloud Day! This is a global literacy movement, celebrating the right to read. It's for children, teens, and adults. I'll be celebrating today by Skype visiting in some classrooms, reading a story from a favorite author of mine (Ray Bradbury) and talking books! But ANYONE can celebrate; it's easy!
Grab a book, find an audience, and read out loud! You can read to a younger kid, a friend, a family member --even someone far away on Skype, like I'm doing today.
At least 793 million people worldwide remain illiterate. If you are interested in learning more about why, or taking more steps to combat this problem, check out some of these websites:
Global Literacy Foundation
International Reading Foundation
If you or your class did something to celebrate World Read Aloud Day, I'd really love to hear about it! Just drop a note in the comments section!
Labels: global literacy, World Read Aloud Day
Remembering Ned Vizzini and "Strike a Chord"
One of the perks to my gig as Fiction Editor at YARN is working with some established authors. We approach published YA authors routinely and ask if we can shake a story out of them. Or an essay. Or a poem. It's wonderful to publish teenage and emerging writers alongside big-name authors, and YARN is the only YA lit mag that does this.
Last Spring, we caught a big one: Ned Vizzini
. I remember dancing around the kitchen and crowing about how I'd get to work with Ned Vizzini!!
(While my husband, who is not knee-deep n the trenches of YA-land, stared at me blankly: Who?
) I loved Ned's 2006 novel, It's Kind of a Funny Story,
amazed by the power of its voice. I was also excited about his upcoming House of Secrets
series with Chris Columbus, which in a few short years my own son might be ready to read.
Ned had written a short story for adults, called "Strike a Chord," which he thought might work for YARN. The characters were a bit old for our market (twenties) but Kerri Majors, Lourdes Keochgerien and I thought it could be reworked and the characters aged down a little. That voice -- that voice -- we wanted that voice! And the theme of the story -- finding just one good idea, and finding space to create your art even under constraining circumstances -- we were sure that would resonate with our teen readers. (Not to mention our adult readers! Don't we all just crave one good idea?
I passed along our suggestions for how the story might work for YARN. Ned was more than willing to roll up his sleeves and give it a go. He took some of our suggestions and ran with them, and then came up with other clever solutions we hadn't dreamed of. The best of the original story was preserved, now pitch-perfect for YA readers. We did a round or two of light edits and published "Strike a Chord" in April.
I never met Ned in person, but in our email correspondence I was struck by his kindness, his creative energy, his willingness to see his story in new ways. As a big-name author he could have had a big attitude, and he simply didn't. When I contacted him several weeks ago about an SCBWI Magazine Award nomination, he responded right away (as always), saying how honored he was that we thought of him. I could not have imagined the extent to which he still struggled from depression, or that a few weeks later he would take his own life.
Based on the volume of lovely tributes to Ned Vizzini that are zipping around the internet in the wake of his passing this week, my experience is very typical. (My favorite tribute is this one by my friend Kristen Kittsche
r, who did meet him it's a really great story of Ned's generosity toward fellow writers, especially debut authors).
In case you missed it the first time around, I'd like to share with you Ned's story for YARN, "Strike a Chord,"
and I hope it strikes a chord with you too.
PS. Depression is a real illness, for which there is help. We all have something important to offer the world. If you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed, reach out to someone. Know the signs of depression and please seek help if you need it. Reach out. If you are in crisis, or need help finding a therapist, visit the website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or You Matter (for young adults), or call them at 1-800-273-TALK.
Labels: Ned Vizzini, Strike a Chord, YARN
I'm so excited to have new bookmarks for LATITUDE ZERO! These were designed by Renee Combs
. If you're an author looking for any graphic design work, swing by her website and check out her samples!
And if you're a book blogger or librarian, and would like me to send you some bookmarks for a swag giveaway or anything, please email me; I'm more than happy to mail some! (I mean, otherwise I'm just sitting here with hundreds of bookmarks!)
Labels: graphic designers for authors, Latitude Zero, Latitude Zero bookmarks, Renee Combs Designs
ARCs of LATITUDE ZERO!
ARCs of LATITUDE ZERO are here! My editor snapped this picture of them shrouded in mystery, beneath racing numbers that show the publication date. (Many thanks to the talented Renee Combs
for designing the numbers!)
|ARCs at the starting line! On your marks, get set . . . |
These galley copies are now starting their journey out into the world, making their way to reviewers and to booksellers. As a writer, this is the part where it can feel hard to let go. It's scary -- there are still some corrections to be made, proof pages to review. But it's exciting, too. The book looks and feels like a real book, as opposed to a mess of papers and Post-its and computer files. It's time to let go and let it find its readers. I hope it is well-stretched and hydrated. I wish it well.
A box of ARCs arrived at my house this weekend, too, and here's what they look like without the racing numbers:
|Latitude Zero ARCs! Looking like a real book!|
I'm so happy with the book design -- it's so creative! The designer, Kate Renner, superimposed a bike wheel on the cover. The crowd scene in Quito, Ecuador conveys and mystery and international intrigue. Kate also turned the book spine into a road, reflecting the book's bike racing context. You can't see it well in this picture, but black pages divide the book into Parts 1 and 2, resembling the equatorial line that is also a significant part of the story. There are lots of other cool things in the book design, from how the pages numbers are laid out to a recurring graphic on the bottom of the page. Book design is a fascinating art, and I'm just in awe of all the attention to detail.
Here are some scenes of what the book looked like before galleys -- you can see that it's come a long way!
|Winter 2012-13: a book in process!|
|A draft in process - aerial view|
|Latitude Zero climbing the walls! (This is a system of matching scenes to settings)|
|LATITUDE ZERO creeps into my husband's shopping list! (I get a lot of ideas on the whiteboard in our kitchen)|
|LATITUDE ZERO at the beach! I keep 6-8 notebooks per novel; here's a working notebook plus manuscript pages in revision.|
|LATITUDE ZERO on a family vacation! (Loose leaf pages on a windy beach not so practical....)|
|An early manuscript draft of LATITUDE ZERO - a year ago just the sight of these stacked-up pages was a huge thrill!|
Labels: ARCs, galleys, Latitude Zero, the publishing process, the writing process
LATITUDE ZERO cover reveal!
I am thrilled to announce that my second novel, LATITUDE ZERO (Viking/Penguin), is now available for pre-order
Three key ingredients in the new book: Bike racing. Ecuador. A mysterious death.
I'd say more, but I'm going to turn it over to the lovely Tara Gonzalez ,who is revealing the cover and the summary today at her excellent YA book blog, Hobbitsies
. She's also giving away one pre-order of the book!
For those of you who've supported me on the writing journey of this book, and perhaps even kept up with my (sporadic) blog posts while I was busy writing this past year, thank you!
Please join me on the race to release day!
Labels: cover reveal, Hobbitsies blog, Latitude Zero, pre-order giveaway
Boston Teen Author Festival
|I'm on the far left, back row, apparently plotting my next move...|
Last weekend, I was thrilled to be a part of the second annual Boston Teen Author Festival
, held at the Cambridge Public Library. Twenty-two YA authors from New England took part in panel discussions, a spirited full-group Q&A session with organizer Renee Combs, plenty of time to meet and mingle in the halls, and book signing.
The best part of this day-long, high-energy event? Meeting so many actual teen READERS! I was so impressed by the distances some people had traveled (or that some supportive parents had driven!) to get to this event. I met an aspiring writer from New Hampshire, two devoted readers from Connecticut, and many others.
I got to speak on the "Uncover the Mystery" panel with a great group of partners-in-crime in the mystery writing business! We talked about planning (and planting) clues in advance versus letting the story unfold, raising the stakes for young sleuths, writing for younger versus older readers on the YA spectrum, and many other topics.
|Our dazzling Emerson College moderator! Plus myself, Jack Farraiolo, and Jack's Edgar Award|
|More partners in crime: panelists Kathryn Burak, Erin Dionne, and Marissa Doyle|
I loved hearing about everyone's processes, and our interrogators -- I mean, audience members -- asked some pretty sharp questions.
Afterward, I got a close-up look at Jack Farraiolo's Edgar Award. These are like the Oscars for mystery writers, so it was pretty exciting to see one so close -- especially since it wasn't exactly what I expected!
|This is a replica of Edgar Allen Poe's head, and an actual, non-replica of an Edgar Award|
Moments after the above picture was taken I ended up spilling my coffee perilously close to Jack's Edgar. Fortunately I had my trusty Tokyo Heist crime scene tape to block off the scene of the crime while it was cleaned up for the next panel.
|Crime scene tape. I never travel without it!|
We ended the day with a big Rockettes-style song and dance number that brought the house down:
|Um, okay, no. Actually we were all pretty tired. Maybe the song and dance number next year.|
I want give a HUGE thanks to Renee Combs, Marissa Finkelstein, Ashley Alongi, Kylie Brien, and all the other Emerson College alumni and students who put this together, as well as the Cambridge Public Library. We are so rich in writers, readers, and libraries in New England, and this festival was a great celebration of all that!
(And thank you Ashley Alongi and others for the photos -- all pictures here were
borrowed from BTAF).
Labels: Boston Teen Author Festival 2013, Cambridge Public Library, Edgar Awards
I love this cover and title spoof of Tokyo Heist, courtesy of the Boston Teen Author Festival
! (Which is coming up fast -- 9/21, at the Cambridge Public Library!)
Also . . . the mystery blog where I'm known to lurk, Sleuths Spies & Alibis, is coming out of summer dormancy and celebrating our two-year blogaversary with SLEUTHAPALOOZA
-- a month-long giveaway, and a chance to win a 12-book prize pack! Great chance to build your collection of YA and MG mysteries and thrillers -- and the perfect prize for librarians or teachers!Swing by and enter, before October 10, or please help us spread the word!
Labels: Boston Teen Author Festival 2013, Tokyo Heist cover spoof