I enjoyed Jonathan Safer Foer's Thanksgiving essay in Parade Magazine (yes, I read Parade Magazine). His family has this great tradition of placing a small pile of unpopped corn kernels at each place setting. Over the course of dinner, everyone, at the their own pace, moves the kernels to the middle of the table one by one, symbolizing all the different things large and small they have to be grateful for.
I love deadlines, I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. I can't remember who said that, but it's so true!
I didn't have a deadline with Light Years, so that fact that I took 5 years to write it is no big deal. But High Dive, well, I missed my deadline on that one. By a year. Twice.
So it's a very big deal that I turned in my new manuscript not just on time, but early! Yes folks, Kindred is in my editor's hot little hands and you'll be able to read it yourselves Spring, 2011.
I know, I know, it sounds crazy. The book's all written, the hard part's done. But there's cover design, layout, advance reader galleys to print and send out, there's a ton of out of sight work that has to be done, so there's nothing to do but be patient. Those who know me know that I am not a patient person, but in the meantime, I'll be hard at work on another novel and if there's anything juicy, like a cover, to share, I promise I will.
I'm doing something a bit differently today, delegating blogging to another author. (Does that mean I'm in management now?) Cindy Hudson wrote a book on how to start mother-daughter book clubs. I love this idea. My mom and I are always sharing books and we usually have very different thoughts on them. It's interesting how someone I'm so close to can see the same book in such a different light.
Cindy offered to tell you guys a bit about what inspired her to write a book on mother-daughter book clubs and maybe, inspire you to start one of your own. So, without further ado, here's she is.
More later, Tammar
There’s no shortage of advice to moms on how to stay close to their daughters as they grow. You can find it in popular magazines, books on parenting and through multiple online resources. Yet, with all the suggestions you’ll find, none may be simpler than discussing books you read together.
How can reading books together bring you closer to each other? Books open up worlds of thought and information you may not be exposed to in your daily life. Books let you broach topics that may otherwise be too embarrassing to bring up on your own. They also lay out the whole of human experience—what it means to be a friend, part of a family, or even a citizen of a country.
Some of the best discussions I’ve had with my daughters, who are now 18 and 15, have been while we were reading books for our mother-daughter book clubs. Often we read aloud to each other, so we talk about what’s happening on the page while we read. We talk about it again at our book group meetings, where we get to hear other moms and other daughters weigh in with their opinions.
Over the years we’ve broached many topics that we may not have otherwise. Some of them have been historical, as when we read Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang on the Chinese Cultural Revolution and Zlata’s Diary about a young girl’s life in war-torn Sarajevo. We’ve talked about friendships and blossoming romance, such as that in Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, and Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. We discussed living with personal tragedy when we read Light Years by Tammar Stein and Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Together we have laughed and cried and puzzled over hatred, racism, sexism, and the ethics of cloning humans. We learned about our country’s history, and political as well as historical situations in other countries around the world. We talked about what these things mean to us, and every time we did we revealed ourselves to each other, something that’s often difficult to do in parent-child relationships.
Yes, staying close to your daughter through the years is more a combination of actions as opposed to just one thing alone. But you’ll never be sorry you spent time searching for common ground within the pages of a book.
Cindy Hudson is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press, October 2009). She is a mother-daughter book club consultant, journalist, and editor. Hudson has more than twenty years of experience as a marketing and public relations professional. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two daughters. Visit her online at www.motherdaughterbookclub.com and www.motherdaughterbookclub.wordpress.com.
This weekend I attended the St. Petersburg Reading Festival for the first time as an attendee instead of a speaker. It was great to listen to fellow novelists speak about their work and never stress out that no one would show up to my event. Which is usually how I spend the time leading up to a talk. So far that only happened once. Okay, three people showed up. But two of them were friends of mine, so they don't count. And the other person just wanted to know what my agent's name was and didn't care about my book. So he doesn't count either.
But I digress. During the question/answer session with Jamie Ford (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet) the woman behind me stands up and asks: I'm an English teacher. I teach seniors. How can I get them interested in writing?
Jamie Ford answers: You have to get them reading. I know you don't have a lot of leeway in your curriculum, but having everyone read the Scarlett Letter (great novel, by the way) won't get them excited. Have them read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and you'll have a reader for life.
How cool is that? I was just thinking that it was the greatest book ever and here, Jamie Ford agreed! I was so excited. This English teacher had never heard of it, so I wrote it down on a piece of paper and gave it to her. I never told her that I write for young adults too, 'cause I like to stay undercover when out in the civilian population. But my estimation of Jamie Ford just jumped through the roof. Clearly, he's a fine writer and an excellent judge of books.
I just finished reading the best book of the year. You should know that I read a lot of books. A LOT. I review some for the St. Pete Times, but most I just devour in privacy, kind of like binging on chocolate, except I've been doing it since I could read. (And it's a big reason I'm a writer, but I digress.)
Some books I read and I can't figure out what the fuss is about. I mean, really, are people blind?
Some books I read and I can't figure out why no one else seems to be reading it? I mean, really, are people blind?
And then, in rare cases (such as this one) I read a book that everyone has been gushing over and I am blown away. Seriously, I felt like the top of my head exploded, it's that good. I read it in one day. Couldn't sleep that night thinking about it. And the next morning, I picked it up to read it again. It's the holy grail of books. It's why I read. To find treasures like this to savor...okay, to stuff my face in but then start over again, slowly this time--which is why books are way better than cake, because you CAN have them and eat them too, whatever that means.
So now I have you on tether hooks...Drum roll please! The best book of the year is:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
I will not tell you what it is about. I just want you to run out, buy a copy, and without reading the back flap, without knowing what it's about, just jump in and read it. Make sure you've got a few spare hours, though. Because you will be useless to the world. Senseless. Lost in the this other world, in Katniss's fight to survive, to know who to trust, to try and live so she came return her beloved sister, Prim and her sexy, tough hunting partner Gale (who might be more than that). But first she has to live through the diabolical Hunger Games. There are 24 contestants. Only one will live.
First of all, happy hurricane season to you all! Even before the official June 1 start, we had a little bugger jump the gun: a tropical storm in the Atlantic that didn't make landfall. It's been quiet so far, nothing like two years ago when Hurricane Barry arrived in Florida June 2, as if it could read the freakin' calendar and didn't want to miss out on the party. But still, the weather report gets an extra special listen from now until November.
This is my third hurricane season in Florida. The first two have been relatively quiet, but there's something unnerving to that yearly ritual of going to Costco to buy supplies. Water, instant oatmeal, energy bars, canned goods, all sorts of electricity-free goodies to keep us alive should a Big One hit. It makes me realize how much we take for granted. Laundry machines for clothes. Clean safe water--hot when want it hot, cold when we want it cold. And of course, the biggie: a house to keep you safe from the big, bad world. I guess it's good to think about these things once a year.
In other, slightly less grim news, I am hard at work on the edits for my third novel. I don't like to talk about works in progress, it's very bad luck. So I'll post more about it when the pub date gets closer and my part of it is finished. But I will say this, I think it's got the best opening line of any of my books...
So there I was, strolling through my local Border's, when what do I see??? Light Years on the top shelf of Best Books of 2008! How cool is that? I was totally blown away and yes, I'm a dork for taking a picture, but still. It was so exciting to see my little book up there I just couldn't resist.