May 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Finally Friday! And a beautiful Friday here, so let’s kick the weekend off with some good ol’ fifteen-word book reviews:
2. Emily’s Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
Made me realize there were a few Salems in the US. Some outdated racial awkwardness.
3. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
A romantic comedy with stunningly complex characters. Portia can be cruel, Shylock can be sympathetic.
4. We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
Metafiction for the preschool set, as only Willems can do.
5. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Robin Hood with a kickass lady thief? Teen Annie would have been all over this!
May 17, 2013 § 9 Comments
One step closer to publication–copyedits!
Copyedits are different than the editorial letters you may get from your editor. These all deal with the nitty-gritty of your manuscript–consistent spelling, where the commas should be, if your character is supposed to be going to the moon on a Tuesday or Wednesday, etc. Basically, copyeditors are like Nancy Drews for the book world.
This week I received my copy-edited manuscript from Candlewick and, thankfully, it was a pretty painless process. This is probably helped by the fact that I a) have worked in publishing, so I’m familiar with the process/terms and b) I’m a huge grammar nerd at heart. I feel like copyediting is basically a game in which you have to find all the secret, hidden mistakes. Get all the points with correct grammar!
A few things my copyeditor caught:
When I switched the spelling of one minor character’s last name and then switched it back.
- Missing words in quotes by Amelia Earhart (which is probably why I shouldn’t try to type while holding a book open).
- That if Halloween is on a Sunday, Christmas shouldn’t fall on a Tuesday.
- Missing commas (a comma fan like I am was only too happy to put them in).
- When I try to use words that almost sound like the one I actually meant to use.
I’m so happy that someone went through my manuscript and was able to pick out all these little errors that would have looked so horrific in print. And I’m even more psyched that this means we’ve taken another big step in the editorial process!
May 14, 2013 § 1 Comment
Today in literary history, Virginia Woolf’s classic Mrs. Dalloway was published in 1925. It’s one of my favorite books–the plot is simple, but the writing is so gorgeous. I love how Woolf imbues the everyday with so much meaning. And it makes me feel a deep connection with other people. For example, one part that sticks with me is when Lady Bruton imagines her connection with Richard Dalloway and Hugh Whitbread after they leave her home:
“And they went further and further from her, being attached to her by a thin thread (since they had lunched with her) which would stretch and stretch, get thinner and thinner as they walked across London; as if one’s friends were attached to one’s body, after lunching with them, by a thin thread, which (as she dozed there) became hazy with the sound of bells, striking the hour or ringing to service, as a single spider’s thread is blotted with rain-drops, and, burdened, sags down.”
I love that image so much and I totally feel that when I part from friends. Even though the thread may sag, I love the fact that it’s there at all. We’re deeply and invisibly connected with the people we love.
Buy yourself some flowers today and celebrate Mrs. Dalloway!
(image: Rubin Starset)
May 13, 2013 § 14 Comments
With The Great Gatsby movie out this week, even non-English majors are talking about the book. I was particularly interested in one article about hating the book, even though it’s considered the Great American Novel:
“I find Gatsby aesthetically overrated, psychologically vacant, and morally complacent; I think we kid ourselves about the lessons it contains. None of this would matter much to me if Gatsby were not also sacrosanct. Books being borderline irrelevant in America, one is generally free to dislike them—but not this book.”
Kathryn Schulz goes on to explain why she finds Gatsby lacking, and I can totally see her points, even though I don’t agree. I grew up in a house of Gatsby-haters. When I read the book in eleventh grade, I already knew that everyone in my family thought Gatsby was foolish and Daisy was brainless and the story was pointless. I didn’t expect a lot from the book, but ended up loving it–I thought it was dramatic and shocking and had a powerful ending about how fantasies and goals are so easily destroyed.
Does that mean I went on to change the minds of everyone in my family? Nope. I’m firmly in the camp of You Don’t Have to Love All the “Great” Novels. If you don’t love The Great Gatsby or Pride and Prejudice or Moby Dick, that’s okay. Not every book necessarily connects with every reader, even if it’s beautifully written and revered by lots of very knowledgable people. It’s not a moral failing for not loving a particular book. It just means there are probably other books out there you’ll like more.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try lots of classic novels. Schulz has given Gatsby five tries so far. I think she can cut her losses. A few years ago, I read Anna Karenina because I thought, “Hey, there’s a novel I never had to read in school. People seem to like it?” I spent the whole thing waiting for Anna to get hit by that train. Not the book for me. Sometimes I think maybe I should give it another shot, but there are so many other wonderful books in the world–I think my time is better spent moving onto one of them.
Which “great” novels do you hate?
May 10, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Happy Friday, everyone! It’s almost Mother’s Day, so let’s celebrate early with a few mother-themed fifteen-word book reviews:
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Mrs. Weasley wins Mom of the Year for her line “Not my daughter, you bitch!”
3. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flag
Idgie and Ruth combat racism, serve barbecue in Depression-era Alabama. Read it, immediately started rereading.
4.Matilda by Roald Dahl
Clever Matilda has a heinous family, so she forms a new family with Miss Honey.
5. Grandma Gets Grumpy by Anna Grossnickle Hines
Grandmas get upset sometimes–they were moms once, after all.