Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Website! (Auto-Redirect)

Hi, Everyone!

You should be taken to my new website in a moment. If you're not, please come visit at



Monday, April 02, 2012

Lucky 13s Blog Post: Writers and their Superstitions

So psyched to have posted over at The Lucky 13s blog today! I'd love it if you'd check out what some of this years debut YA authors have to say about their own, personal writing superstitions. Comments are always appreciated, too!

~ Nicole

Friday, March 30, 2012

Linklove Friday!

Ah, the flu. It'll really take you down a few notches what with the fluid loss and the shivering fever. Then there's Tax Time with all it's required calculations and existential cries of, "Why? Why? Why didn't I keep that receipt?" What was it Jerry Jeff Walker sang? "The only sure thing is taxes and dying..." True, true. Anyway, those are my excuses for being a bit light on the blogging lately. I'm back now, though, and ready for another Linklove Friday!

Speaking of tax time, here's an article about writers and taxes that looks pretty interesting. Researching this issue has already been added to my To Do list for 2012. I'm quite familiar with form Schedule C, since I've had the soap company for so many years, but I've hardly mastered it where author-related expenses are concerned.
And speaking of great lyricists like Jerry Jeff, I recently heard this gorgeous song by Alexi Murdoch while watching the movie Real Steel with one of the testosterone-driven members of my household. While futuristic, boxing robots turned out to be - big surprise - not my thing, the movie was saved for me by  the presence of Hugh Jackman's rippling EVERYTHING and Alexi Murdoch's moody, atmospheric voice. I have subsequently downloaded a bunch of his songs.
Changing subjects completely, this article on modern slave ownership really made me think, not just because the theme of captivity runs through my current WIP, but because I'm always amazed at how advanced humans sometimes think we are as a species, when reality would occasionally show us as just the opposite.
Finally, be sure to check out the awesome, 2013 YA debut author posts over at The Lucky 13s blog! I'll be posting to the blog this coming Monday, and I'd love it if you'd pop on over for a visit.
TGIF, Everyone, and Happy Spring! Here's a peek at some of the newest arrivals here at mi casa:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stages of Writerhood: I want to DO this!

Fresh from Spring Break in the SF Bay Area where time with family and friends helped recharge my battery, I figure now is as good a time as any to start a new weekly blog theme I've been thinking about for some time. Welcome to Stages of Writerhood, in which I'll talk about some of the typical (and maybe not-so-typical) stages folks go through during that process of becoming a Writer with a capital 'W.'

So, I can't pinpoint the exact moment I knew I wanted to be a writer. I do remember my Squash poem ("I used to squish my squash/Now I squash my squash") and Whale Love Story from elementary school earning praise from my teachers, and I do remember proudly showing stories to my parents (who always looked appropriately astonished - even when the stories were undoubtedly less-than-astonishing).

I'm pretty sure, though, that it may have been reading great books that made me want to be a writer - even more so than early praise for my own creations. I was a fairly voracious reader right from the start - ever since I read The Little Engine that Could independently. Horse stories were (natch) always favorites, as were most animal-related stories (Charlotte's Web, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Rain-Cloud Pony, The Yearling, etc.). I read Jim Kjelgaard's Big Red in the third or fourth grade, and I was pretty psyched when I discovered that it was published by Holiday House (the oldest children's book publisher in the country, which will be publishing MY book - BRIANNA ON THE BRINK - next year)!

Here's the thing about reading that had such an influence on me: good books tell the truth in a way that the people and television and societal expectations surrounding us as we grow up don't always do. This was just as true when I was a kid as it is today. It's always been true. It's why the classics are classics, even if they were written hundreds or thousands of years ago. Truth is timeless, and books are a way to capture that truth and present it in a way that is relatable for people of all different eras and walks of life.

Reading what I knew to be the truth was a powerful experience for a girl growing up in 1970's and 80's America, where the sexual revolution was still fairly young and accepted female roles were still fairly set in stone. Just as there is for girls today, there was a LOT of pressure to think, look and act a certain way. And while I was lucky to be raised in a solidly middle-class family and with nature's gorgeousness all around, those things didn't protect me from all the pressure and confusion and doubt that are so often a part of adolescence. What did protect me was books - especially books featuring young girls who thought outside the box and lived their lives in ways I hadn't ever considered possible. Amelia Bedelia was an early favorite, as was Emily from the Clifford books.

Of course, it wasn't long before I moved on to Judy Blume's Blubber and Thomas Rockwell's How to Eat Fried Worms among so many other wonderful books for pre-adolescents in that very rich era of children's literature. More than anything, it was those books that planted the seeds, that made me realize those worlds had been created by actual human beings like myself. The books I read as a girl growing up in 1970's and 80's America made me think to myself (quietly at first, and then louder and louder until I was speaking it), "I want to DO this!"

I'd be interested to know from other writers what it was that made you realize you wanted to write, too!

Look for a new "Stages of Writerhood" post every Monday right here! Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Linklove Friday

The kids and I have been traveling this week, which means this Linklove Friday may be a bit less book-centric than usual. Since we flew out of Vegas this time, what better way to start things off than with the magnificent Bellagio fountains? I've seen them many times, but it was super special to witness the kids' first viewing.

Of course, the evening wouldn't have been complete without treating ourselves to some divine gelato and pastries at the Jean Philippe Patisserie (which was featured just a few nights later on one of those great cake wars-type shows).

We've had all sorts of fun visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, even though it's been raining almost non-stop since we arrived. A highlight was taking the Golden Gate Ferry into the city, where we hung out in the marketplace (home to the Cowgirl Creamery and Book Passage SF among other great stores and restaurants). We also, visited Ghirardelli Square - for the chocolate and the amazing Salvador Dali and Joan Miro originals on display at the galleries.

I also discovered an amazing store in San Rafael called Liquid, which reminds me of a funky but upscale Haight-Ashbury shop north of the Bridge. Love it!

Oh! Amy McCulloch has a great blog post up today over at The Lucky 13s blog. It's all about novel superstitions, so go check it out.

Like all good things, though, Spring Break must end, and it'll be back to work in just a few days.

Have a sensational weekend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

my remissness...remissity? remissiation?

Oh, whatever. I've been remiss, okay? Remiss in posting to the blog, remiss in tweets, etc.

I have an excuse though. Having recently finished up a round of edits, I'm taking some (well-deserved, in my opinion) chillaxin' time with kids and other animals family members.

I will do my best to have a Linklove post up this Friday, though, m'kay?

Friday, March 02, 2012

Linklove Friday!

Howdy, and TGIF!

What are you reading on this #fridayreads? I've been reading the seminal (ironic term for writing that helped found modern feminism) poems and stories of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, including "The Yellow Wallpaper" (click on the link to read the story in its entirety!), which is beautifully rendered and perfectly Poe-esque. Written in 1892 - right around the time my grandfather was born! - the story is shocking in it's modern description of a bright woman's losing battle with what seems clearly to be a major bout of post-partum depression. Not a light read for sure, but  definitely well worth it.

Okay, let me just say, "WANT." These prom photos taken by Mary Ellen Marks are a must have for someone like me, who has been spending tons of time lately trying to document some of the rituals of teendom via fiction. I'm going to try to find this in a local bookstore this weekend during my  rare hours of down time.

Speaking of writers and images, here's a great article for any author who has not yet created a Facebook fan/author page. It's such an easy process, and one I've just gone through to get my own page up. I'd love it if you "liked" me here!

I'm sorry, but who doesn't love flying babies?  I sure do, and so will you when you check out "The Flying Series" by Rachel Hulin.

Finally, it was a sad, sad day this week when The Monkees' Davy Jones left us to smack his tambourine with that psychedelic backdrop in the sky behind him. Here he is on the Brady Bunch - in one of the defining t.v. scenes of my childhood. Admittedly, the music producer creeps me out a little, but I personally aspire to the sound guy's mellow vibe. Of course, this is the episode in which, having been platonically kissed by Davy Jones after he escorted her to her junior high prom, Marsha vowed to never to wash her cheek again. Ew? Maybe, but also understandable, considering what an utter little dreamboat he was.

Have a great weekend, Everyone, and keep on daydream believin'!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Scottsdale All-Arabian Horse Show 2012

So, I love my Arabian horses. I've mentioned this, right? I love 'em when they're all slicked out and shiny in the middle of summer, and I love 'em when they're in woolly mammoth mode in February:

Know what else I love about February? The Scottsdale Arabian show, which takes place each year just a couple hours south of where I live. Scottsdale is *the* event in the Arabian horse show world, and it draws exhibitors from all over the globe - Qatar, Argentina, name it. This past weekend I made the trek with a girlfriend and four kids between us. It was about 80 degrees in the sunshine down in the Valley, and I'm pretty sure my winter-white legs (oh, what am I talking about - my legs are always pale as a snake's belly) blinded a few horses and spectators.

I love that there's something for everyone - English events, Western events, and don't even get me started on the shopping. From handmade bosals to diamond necklaces, it's all there.

Of course, the Senior Champion mare and stallion halter classes were a highlight. I was so impressed by the depth of quality in all classes we watched. It was awesome.

And no matter what you may think about halter showing in general or certain handlers in particular, there is no denying that this horse is exquisite. He's Aria Impresario, handled by David Boggs, and you horsey folks can check out his pedigree here. He went champion Senior stallion, and watching him take charge of the arena with his gorgeous, free movement (somebody get me a dressage saddle, quick!) brought tears to my eyes.

The kids and I already can't wait 'til next year!

Friday, February 24, 2012

LinkLove Friday!

First, on this Linklove Friday, I'd like to say how thrilled I am to be a part of The Lucky 13s - a group of authors with debut YA and other children's novels coming out in 2013. Woot!

I love what Natalie Whipple has to say about this sold-but-not-yet-on-the-shelves state in this blog post.

I'm super excited to be heading down, once again, to the Scottsdale All-Arabian Show with a friend and our kids. I've gone to this show for years & years (and even showed there, which was a blast!).

Are you on Twitter? Are you following me? If not, please do! I'm @Nicole_McInnes.

I'm also on Goodreads - and I'd love to see you there!

Have a great weekend, Everyone.


Monday, February 20, 2012

My Very Glamorous Author Photo Shoot

Okay, so I'm super excited that I have a book coming out next year. But when I realized I had to start coming up with other things besides decent writing - things like an official author photo, I started to get a little nervous.

Honestly, there are few things I despise more than having my picture taken. For some reason I always end up looking like a cross between Sally Field's version of Sybil and the last dog in this picture currently going around the Internet

Still, I had a photographer, I had makeup on, and I had a decent location. It was a blustery day, snowing on and off. This was a bummer because of the billowy summer clothes I was wearing, but it was also a good thing, because there was some beautiful, natural light going on (and I really wanted an outdoor setting for my official author photo). Here's the short, 9-shot version of how it went (as opposed to the unabridged 87-shot version):

1. First, an appeal to the Heavens: "Please don't let this be like all the other times I've had my picture taken. Please?"

2. I think it's super important to joke around a little before a shoot. You know, to lighten things up. I'm not sure my photographer agreed. "Okay, so wait wait wait. I have this reeeeally funny joke. What do you get when you cross a duck and a lawn mower..."

3. It wasn't long before I started to feel very nostalgic about the whole thing, even though it wasn't yet over: "Paw? I really want to be a perfeshunal writer someday. Paw??"

4. What? The photographer's yelling at me to get my act together because he's freezing his @$$ off? "Yessir! Whatever you say sir!"

5. "Look at my gums! Aren't they the pinkest, shiniest gums you've ever seen?!?"

6.   "F*@#$#%  it's cold out here":

7. Okay, I can do this. Breathe, Nicole:
But wait. I feel a change coming over me. A hunger. A sudden, insatiable appetite for...


9. I am SO outta here:

Amazingly, I survived. Not sure about the photographer, though. Last time I saw him, he was running through the woods grabbing his skull and screaming something about the Zombie Apocalypse. (??)

I'll be sharing the chosen photo here (don't worry - it's not one of these) when it's all cropped and purty.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Publishers Marketplace & Yours Truly

Young Adult
Nicole McInnes's BRIANNA ON THE BRINK, in which a 16 year-old finds herself lost, alone, and pregnant after a one-night-stand (let's just say it's complicated), and just when she's got nowhere left to turn, help arrives from the one person who is closest to her big mistake, but will leave her forced to choose between clinging to the ledge of fear and abandonment - or jumping into the unknown where a second chance at hope might just be waiting, to Sylvie Frank at Holiday House, for publication in Fall 2013, by Stacey Glick at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).

Monday, February 06, 2012

As I posted on Facebook earlier today: "Felt a little guilty yesterday eating delicious Game Day chicken wings while looking out the window at the friends' flock of beloved hens. Didn't stop me from nomming, though." That mostly sums up the day. We were invited to watch the Super Bowl with a great group of friends, all of us most interested in the commercials and Madge's performance (since none of us really had a team in the game - when the Niners lost the playoff, I sort of lost interest). I thought Madonna did a great job, though she has definitely slowed down a bit in the 20 years it's been since I saw her live. Then again, we'd all be so lucky to have her moves and her presence at 53. As far as her guest singers, it would have been out of character for M.I.A. NOT to have caused a bit of controversy with her red undies and hand gesture, imo, and Ms. Minaj was as cartoon-like and goofy as expected.

Favorite commercial? The Becks. Hand's down.

On Saturday, I had the double-treat of writing and riding. It started with a screenplay-writing workshop with David Seals (member of our local writers' group and author of Pow Wow Highway, the movie version of which was produced by George Harrison!). Afterward, I met a new friend for a long trail ride in the snowy woods. It's always nice to meet a fellow Arabian enthusiast here in Quarter Horse country - especially one who has a senior gelding like I do. The horses got along great, and we riders agreed it was like Grandpa's Day Out. Maybe next time we'll treat them to a round of bingo afterward.

I have not forgotten about the exciting news I'm planning to announce soon, but it's not...quite...time...yet.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Linklove Friday!

There's a bag of Valentine m&ms and a bowl of multi-grain hot cereal - both staring me down, competing for my affection as I post this week's Linklove. The m&ms will win. The m&ms always win, because it is in no way shape or form a level playing field.

But it's okay, because there have been stressors in my life lately that made me lose my appetite, and I'm not at all okay with that, because I love food and I know there's something seriously wrong when I don't feel like eating. It's all good though, and the stressors have (for the most part) worked themselves out.
Wait. I know - I'll eat the m&ms and then chase them with the healthy multi-grain cereal. They'll cancel each other out, right?

Topping the list of links you should check out (especially those of you who love your alone time as I do) is this great article from Scientific American on why solitude is "a crucial (and underrated) ingredient for creativity." Introverts Unite! (Plus, how adorable & pretty is the author in question? Cute as a bug, I tell ya.)
The ebook vs. traditional ("legacy" being the new buzzword) publishing debate rages on over at GalleyCat where publishing insider Jamie Raab added her pennies to the increasingly popular notion that the publishing industry is the Evil Empire.
This looks like an awesome show, but I'll have to wait for the DVDs, since we don't have satellite 
Finally, the scary-brilliant Margaret Cho (who writes how I want to write and who (I think) has an uncanny ability to show us ourselves from unexpected perspectives) had these thoughts on bikes and life.
That's it for this week, Folks. TGIF, and have a great weekend!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Conditioning for the Older Horse, Part I

photo credit: andreavallejos via photopin cc

With 4-H season looming and all the unusually beautiful weather we've been having here in the mountains for January, I thought I'd talk about something other than writing for a change. The fact that I've been able to ride on a fairly regular basis this early in the new year is pretty cool, though I'm not quite sure what to think about the horses losing their winter coats so early. We'll see how they feel come the next zero-degree blizzard. Fortunately, Zzari has his blankie to keep him warm, though Bearkhat has to tough it out a bit more, grizzled old mountain pony that he is.

My wonderful gelding Zzari (who I've owned/been owned by since he was three) just turned 26. While this isn't considered ancient for an Arabian, he's definitely no spring chicken anymore, and there are certain things I have to take into account when it comes to riding and conditioning.

For one thing, those joints aren't as young as they once were, especially for a horse I used to ride in 50-mile endurance races, over downed trees in the forest and even over a cross-country course or two (in addition to the regular dressage training we did for years). I'm lucky in that Zzari has remained completely sound throughout the time I've had him (save for one temporarily bowed tendon due to a run-in with a pipe corral), but now that he's a senior, I'm not taking any chances.

I don't feed him much differently than I used to (a bit more Equine Senior every day, maybe), and he's not ridden too differently either (though his workload has definitely tapered off in recent years). One thing I do make sure to do is a long, slow warm-up and a long, slow cool-down each time I ride him - especially when it's colder out and he's wearing his winter long-undie fur coat. In fact, it's safe to say I generally don't work him up to a sweat in the winter at all. The days are too short for a proper cool-down after an afternoon ride, and you never know when an icy wind is going to kick up around here.

In a later post I'll get more into what we've specifically been doing this year so far and what we're looking at for the spring and summer months as far as workload and competition.

In the meantime, for any horsey folks reading this, what are you and your four-leggeds up to this winter?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Linklove Friday!

TGIF, Everyone! Our weather here in Northern AZ is actually bordering on otherworldly at this point. And while it's lovely to see people walking around in t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops in late January, it's not so lovely to watch the news stories about how our water situation will not be looking good this summer unless we get some serious precip. Still, we'll be out and about enjoying the gloriousness this weekend.

The Internet was abuzz with some great stuff this past week, including this article for aspiring authors from Rachelle Gardner on just who does all that book marketing anyway.

Shannon Hale's thoughts on an incendiary article about the readers (and writers) of young adult (YA) fiction - lowbrow or highbrow, depending on your POV - got things cooking among folks who love this genre. Here's a link to the original article that got the whole thing started. Ironically, it just makes me want to read Walter Dean Myers.

On the lighter side, if all blog posts went like this one from childrens writer/illustrator Marty Kelley, I truly would never ever get anything done:

Finally, our house would be a not-quite-as-funny place without the Bad Kitty books to entertain us. So, I thoroughly enjoyed GalleyCat's interview with Bad Kitty author Nick Bruel. I hope you do, too. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Exercise to Synthesize

January has been such a mixed bag! Exciting things are happening in my life and in the lives of several people I know right now. At the same time, though, there have been some serious stressors this month. I'll share more in the near future, but suffice it to say I've been busy, busy, busy, practically tied to my desk chair at the computer day in/day out for hours on end, and I need to get away - even if it's only to the gym so I can synthesize all this information.

Last year I was walking some foster dogs through town with the gal who runs our local (and awesome - you should totally support it) dog rescue. We walked past a pickup truck and nearly jumped out of our collective skin when a couple dogs in the bed of the truck lunged and barked ferociously at us. The poor fosters were quaking, delicate anti-social souls they were, but my friend the Rescue Lady just marched straight ahead and told them, "Shake it off, girls. Just shake it off."

That's exactly what I feel the need to do right now - just "shake off" all the tension and excitement and settle into life in a new and different way. Maybe yoga, Zumba or Nia would do the trick. Time to check the gym's schedule.

What do you do to regain balance in your life when it all starts to be a bit much?

Monday, January 23, 2012

I got nuthin' today.

Here. Have a clean chicken.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Linklove Friday!

TGIF, and welcome to another Linklove Friday where I post links to various stuff of interest I've found online during the week!

"That's why I work so hard. I want things to be better." ~Samantha Garvey
This teen girl gives me hope for the future of our world.

While more and more information is being put out there about what it's like for an author to walk the road to publication, I don't think there can ever be too much of it. Veronica Roth's "A Peek Behind the PublishingCurtain" is a must-read for all aspiring authors.

In eBook news, there's a good article in the Altlantic about the ins and outs of ebook lending and what it might mean for the publishing industry. The comments are just as informative as the actual article, in my opinion.
Finally, Volkswagen's SuperBowl commercial has been "leaked." I know, I know. It makes me a minion of corporate advertising culture to help spread their ad, but come on! The At-At dog at the end kills me!
Have a great weekend, Everyone!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No Fat Chicks?

I spent the past few days reading Carolyn Mackler's The Earth, My Butt, & Other Big Round Things, and, as I posted on Twitter, this book is pure YA (young adult) genius. Why? Well, for one thing, Mackler takes on body issues, sexuality and dysfunctional family dynamics in a way that really hits home. Who among us (young, old, male, female) hasn't wished there was something we could change about our physical person or lamented the fact that our family isn't perfect?

In Virginia Shreves I found a character I could root for whether she was in full-on self-destructive mode or fighting her way out of that dark place where her best never seemed good enough and the mirror was her worst enemy. The book was laugh-out-loud funny in some places and heartwrenching in others. So, read it! It will make you want to give yourself and your BFF a huge hug. Mackler's newest book, co-written by Jay Asher (author of Thirteen Reasons Why) is out, and I can't wait to read that one next.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Linklove Friday!

TGIF, Folks. It's all about the tweets this week on Linklove Friday. Here are some cool links mined from the Twitterverse:

First, this: I walked into our local Barnes & Noble last weekend to kill some time and ended up meeting and chatting with Debra Beck, teen mentor and author of My Feet Aren't Ugly. It was so neat to meet an author who's out there walking her talk, and I was so impressed I bought two copies. Girl power!
Next, if you're a reader and/or a writer, Indiebound is a great place to buy & promote books. Check it out!

Anne Trubek has a great piece in the NY Times about why authors tweet. While I honestly used to think "Who cares?", I'm starting to understand and enjoy the whole Twitter thang.
Comedian Margaret Cho lit the Twitterverse on fire a bit when she posted this response to someone who unfollowed her. It left me feeling awed, fortunate and, truthfully, a bit scared.

Also (and this is not Twitter-related), I love this song by Christina Perri. Just found out it was used in the latest Twilight movie, so it looks like I'm not one of the first to discover it. Darn!
Looks like we have another unseasonably glorious, sunny weekend ahead of us here in Northern AZ, and I plan to enjoy the heck out of it. You all do the same, wherever you are.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Planted Passion

Thanks to a freakishly warm January and a friend who graciously shared her bounty of fall-planting bulbs at Christmas time, I found myself outside at sunset last night with a couple of my favorite people on earth, all of us feverishly getting those tulips and paperwhites into the ground.

Watching my son wield the shovel reminded me of a conversation I recently had with a student about how one of the neat things about being an adult is looking back on childhood and realizing how the seeds for what we love to do (or wish we were doing) now were so often planted during those tender years. I can remember clearly, for example, how much I loved to write and illustrate stories, poems, radio scripts and anything else that could be brought to life on the page. I could sit for hours writing, drawing and losing all track of the time-space continuum as I composed my masterworks. Here's a sampling that found publication in Ms. Rowe's Book of Second Grade Poetry at Sleepy Hollow School:
I used to squish my squash.
Now I squash my squash.
I know, right? The genius made itself known early.
Now that I have a tween and an almost-tween of my own, I tell my kids to nurture the seeds of things that bring them joy - things that, when they're doing them, make everything else disappear, time, space and worldly problems included. Not that those problems will go away, and not that we won't regularly have to do things we don't want to do (root canals and bill paying, anyone?). But I firmly believe that letting the seeds of dreams and calling and vocation dry up and die before they have a chance to take root can make it exponentially harder to face the sometimes harsh realities of life. It's why my kids no doubt get sick of me telling them, "Don't lose your passion - and if you do, work like heck to get it back again!"

What do you think about this? Were the seeds of what you love to do as an adult planted in childhood? Have you ever lost your dreams and subsequently had to track them down, grab them by the scruff of their necks and haul them home?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Top Tens

One of the links I posted last Friday was to a compilation of various authors' Top Ten favorite books. It got me to thinking of what I would consider my top ten list works of fiction and poetry, and I decided they are as follows (in no particular order)

What does your list look like?

Friday, January 06, 2012

Linklove Friday!

There was some good stuff for readers and writers posted online during the past week or two. I'd like to share it here for the inaugural Linklove Friday!

To start off, Susan Dennard had a great post on her blog about fulfilling reader expectations for a compelling story
Then there was Chuck Wendig's (rather colorfully-stated) 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing, which was tweeted by the awesome Sara Zarr
My friend (and another great writer) T. Greenwood, shared the Writers Store's "Don't Break the Chain" Calendar (and so far I haven't broken it - yay me!). It's free and downloadable, so what are you waiting for?
A former student, Chad S., from a Literature/Short Story course (one of my favorites to teach) sent a link to this article in the Paris Review about what happened when a teenage punk kid contacted several of the"biggee" writers of his day (i.e. Kerouac, Ayn Rand, Ralph Ellison, Ray Bradbury ) asking them to take part in his homemade survey. The fact that they responded at all is pretty amazing to me; the fact that so many of the responses were clearly time consuming is hard to even believe. But then, it was a different era in written communication.
Finally, there's this great list of authors and their top 10 favorite books. It was interesting to see some of the classics (i.e. Madame Bovary) make it onto so many lists.
Have a great weekend, Everyone!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Pre-pubescent Reads

My son, (aka The Reader) walked toward my car from the school bus yesterday afternoon holding a book up for me to see. "Guess what our class started reading today?" One look at the sepia-toned greasers on the cover, and I knew it was S.E. Hinton's classic The Outsiders (which I last read in middle school, too). I have only vague memories of the movie, with its pre-Brat Pack cast including Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze and C. Thomas Howell (who my friends and I once shamelessly stalked via a contact address published by Tiger Beat Magazine. Strangely, he never replied). 

Anyway, over the years I've heard many people (usually guys) cite The Outsiders as their all-time favorite classic young adult novel. Mine? I'd probably have to go with Judy Blume's various books including Forever (which, if not my favorite, is at least among the most memorable reads of my youth). I'll never forget standing outside my elementary school and begging the older girls to let me see what was in the book they were passing around that was making them giggle and blush and clap their hands over their mouths. When the book was finally passed my way and I read THAT passage (on p.81 in the old edition, according to this Blume fan)...well, let's just say it was my original OMG moment, decades before OMG even existed. Girls of the 70's, you know what I'm talking about.
So, what's your all-time favorite (or most memorable) YA novel?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Being the Owl in 2012

This morning, while pondering a recent visit to the incredibly cool Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, I asked myself, "Self? Who are you going to be this year? The Great Horned Owl or the kangarooo rat?"

I'm not dissing any particular species, mind you. Kangaroo rats are adaptable, resourceful and just plain adorable critters. Unfortunately, they also tend to get eaten by bigger, faster and equally resourceful critters on a regular basis. Just sayin'. (I snapped the photo of the owl in the pic above, by the way, during one of his training sessions).

Owls amaze me. They're sleek, powerful, intelligent and attuned. Plus, my kids inform me that their necks are actually a type of ball-and-socket joint that allows their heads to rotate as they do (can this be true??). 

On Friday I'll be posting some links that have struck me this past week as great ways to Be the Owl in life which, for me, means loving, mothering, writing, teaching, staying present and noticing the details. What does Being the Owl (or the Thunder, or the Catalytic Converter or the ________ (insert favorite representational metaphor here) mean to you?