Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Trivia Answers

It seems I managed to stump everyone with number 4... and reader Sarah is the only one who correctly answered 1! I thought that one was a gimme. Here are the answers:

1. "Love and other indoor sports" STARRING SALLY J FREEDMAN AS HERSELF

2. Sir Puss FIFTEEN

3. The Bobwhites TRIXIE BELDEN

4. "...knowing there will be a hickey there tomorrow to remember him by..." THIS PLACE HAS NO ATMOSPHERE

5. astral projection STRANGER WITH MY FACE

Number 4 is a Paula Danziger book that I was in looooove with when I was about 10 or 11. It's good. Read it.

Thanks for playing!!!

*caroline hickey

Kidlit Trivia!

Just for fun because it's Thanksgiving week, can any of our readers identify which popular children's books the following quotes/characters/themes come from? (Hint: These are books from our generation!)

1. "Love and other indoor sports"

2. Sir Puss

3. The Bobwhites

4. "...knowing there will be a hickey there tomorrow to remember him by..."

5. astral projection

No Googling! You have to recognize these by sight. Post your answers in the comments, and if you have some trivia questions of your own, please feel free to include them!

*caroline hickey

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Let's Hear from the Readers

Very often the popularity and sales of a children's book is determined by adults -- librarians, reviewers, marketing teams, salespeople, etc. So I really love reading reviews of kids' books that are actually written by kids. There are a few sites that I check out regularly for kids' book reviews, such as Kidsreads.com, Teenreads.com, and Spaghetti Book Club, and I just found this new one from National Geographic Kids.

Reading these reviews remind me of the mindset of my audience, and that very often adult reviewers are just trying to sound important. Here's a line from this new site about a pretty fabulous book called Shug by our own Jenny Han:
The author described things very well so I could see how everything looked.

Sounds trivial, but I remember feeling exactly the same way when I was 10 or 11. I didn't want to have to guess how characters and places and whatnot looked, I wanted to be told!

So the next time you read an adult review that talks about pacing, or secondary characters or this or that, think about what your intended readers think of the book. Because that's what matters.

*caroline hickey

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Secret Reads

There's a great post over on Shannon Hale's blog comparing fine works of literature with mass market paperbacks. Can one call the former "good books," and the latter "bad books"? Do both have a place on our night stand? Is reading meant to be for enlightenment only, or for pleasure as well? And if so, why are we occasionally embarrassed to be seen reading some of our favorite things?

I confess that I love People magazine. And Us Weekly. I don't subscribe, or buy them regularly, but if I'm laying on the beach or getting a pedicure or just need a break from life, I buy a copy and spend a delightful half hour reading drivel. Occasionally someone will see me with a copy and ask why I don't read more highbrow mags, since I'm a writer and all that. Like I should only read The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly.

I think it's a big wide world and there's room for all kinds of writing, all kinds of books, and all kinds of magazines. Shannon's post reminds me a lot of that interview on WBUR that Siobhan posted where the interviewer attacks Gossip Girls having never read it or bothering to think that while it may not be Newbery or Printz material, it sells hundreds of thousands of copies, which means it has hundreds of thousands of readers.

Read what you want, I say. Potato, Pa-tah-toe.

*caroline hickey

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hello, I'm Debbie Downer

There's a great quote by Katharine Hepburn that really sums up how I'm feeling about my writing right now:

I think most of the people involved in any art always secretly wonder whether they are really there because they're good or there because they're lucky.

I've been doing a decent job of finding an hour each day to work on my manuscript. The problem is, I just can't settle on the right direction to take it. I've been brainstorming ideas, doing little experimental outlines, and typing notes to remind my fingers how to work. But nothing interesting is coming out. I don't know if the problem is that I'm just too tired at the moment to be creative, or if the manuscript is so flawed I need to put it away for awhile, or if I'm psyching myself out because I'm not ready to start writing again.

If you've read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, you'll know what I mean when I say the radio station KFKD is playing in my head.

(See? I'm a real Debbie Downer today. Maybe it's the weather. Or that I've been up since 5:30am. In any case, I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to throw a tomato at me.)

*caroline hickey