R.L. Stine – Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Read Him

I recently stumbled across this short, brief interview with children’s horror writer R.L. Stine. These are two excerpts from the interview I want to keep/remember:

When you write, for example, about a hideous mask that the heroine can’t take off, are you writing about some deeper theme?

I didn’t really think of that. When my son was little, he was trying on a green Frankenstein mask and he was pulling it down over his face and he couldn’t get it off. And he was tugging, tugging. I thought, “What a great idea for a story.” I should’ve helped him. I wasn’t a good parent that day.

I love his commentary, “I wasn’t a good parent that day.” We all have those moments.

What do kids say when they write to you?

That’s one of the best parts of writing for kids. I get wonderful mail, tons and tons. Here’s a couple classic letters:

“Dear R.L. Stine, I really love your books but can you answer one question, why don’t the endings make any sense?”

“Dear R.L. Stine, I’m huge fan of your books. Your friends and family are proud of you, no matter what anybody says.”

“Dear R.L. Stine, I’ve read 40 of your books and I think they’re really boring.”

That’s my favorite.

Kids are hilarious.

FURIOUSLY HAPPY. And scared. And back to happy again.

I can add nothing poignant to this post. But you should read it.

The Bloggess

If you’ve been here long enough you know I’ve been working on my second book for the last three years.  I’ve carried it with me every day, adding a paragraph here, deleting another there, reworking a sentence for the eleventieth time because I want it to be perfect, always feeling like a loser because Stephen King and cocaine set unrealistic expectations about how easy it should be to write a book.  If you know me in real life you’ve seen me lugging around a giant manuscript and scribbling furiously in it when inspiration strikes.  You may have asked me why I don’t just use a laptop and then nodded in what you hoped passed for understanding when I explained that I was afraid I’d lose everything I’ve written when the robot revolution happens and computers become self-aware and refuse to humor me anymore because I wasted their potential watching videos of baby hedgehogs in bathtubs.

When I was deciding…

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Dreams & Demons & Other Normal Teen Nonsense

Sappy movies based on fairy tales tell us that our dreams really can come true, if we are very good little boys and girls, and we want them badly enough. But what if you wanted your dreams badly enough to summon a demon? This idea provides the backdrop for Kerstin Gier’s Dream a Little Dream, the first book of the Silver Trilogy.

Personally, I think this is a terrible cover. & why are you showing me the protagonist's face? That's what I have this little thing called "imagination" for...

Personally, I think this is a terrible cover. & why are you showing me the protagonist’s face? That’s what I have this little thing called “imagination” for…

Olivia and her sister are constantly having to move for their somewhat selfish mother, a traveling professor, whose most recent gig is at Oxford. Arriving from the airport to discover their mother has been getting bizz-ay (bom chicka wow-wow) in their absence with an older, balding gentleman, while they’ve been in Switzerland enjoying stinky cheeses with their dad, Olivia and Mia are, to say the least, not happy about it. The book reads quickly and easily, but it’s just a bit bland. Bland The storyline’s actually not that bad. Liv moves to London, and meets a group of super hot upperclassmen who are just normal popular guys. You know, good at basketball, flirting/teasing/ignoring all the girls, and, oh yeah, getting drunk and summoning demons. You know, just boring, normal activities that teenage boys engage in.

...no big thing

…no big thing

Protagonist Liv is really annoying. Although she’s supposed to be a teenager, she often talks like a middle-aged woman. She fits in well with this demon circle because she can access this funky dream hallway and she’s never held hands with a boy, much less had sex with him.

Briefly seen in this other cover version, which I like much better, and hope they use.

The dream hallway: briefly seen in this other cover version, which I like much better, and hope they use.

The virginal aspect, while a common theme in at least literary demonic rites (I’ll be honest, I’m not very knowledgeable about real ones), also really annoyed me. I don’t have a problem with a girl waiting to have sex, but I also don’t have a problem with a girl having sex. This aspect of the book felt a bit slut-shaming to me, which I did not appreciate. Our protagonist is not a “good” girl because she’s never been kissed before; she’s a girl who still pretends boys have cooties. Again, this is fine, it just doesn’t make her a better person than a girl who likes to go on dates and kiss her lipstick off.

Not advocating changing for a guy; just saying that both Sandys are equally lovely.

Not advocating changing for a guy; just saying that both Sandys are equally lovely.

The book picks up in the last twenty pages or so, ending on a cliffhanger that can be seen from a mile away, but resolving the main mystery rather nicely (except for further madonna-whore complex bullshit). The entire book, the protagonist has been fighting the idea of the existence of demons while simultaneously being able to invade the dreams of others via the dream hallway, so how do we reconcile this? Well, it’s not entirely reconciled, because this is a series, after all, and Gier has to keep you reading. Still, the ending was a bit above the rest of the book.

cliffhanger

On my arbitrary scale of book ratings, I give this book: melted ice cream. It’s okay, and I’ll still read it, but it’s not as delicious and far more messy than I would prefer.

Meh. It's okay.

Meh. It’s okay.

5 tips for conducting an interview with someone you care about, using StoryCorps’ new app

Pretty Cool; StoryCorps has an app, and shares tips for interviewing.

TED Blog

Anybody with a smartphone can now be a part of the StoryCorps movement. As TED Prize Winner Dave Isay reveals in today’s talk, you no longer have to travel to a StoryCorps mobile booth to capture an interview with a friend, family member or stranger because StoryCorps has created an app, available free to the public. Now, if you can find a quiet place and 45 minutes, you can interview someone whose story has never been heard and immediately upload the discussion to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

When Isay announced his wish at TED2015 last week, the TED community responded enthusiastically, noting that the app could be used to change the narrative of post-conflict zones, honor an entire generation’s stories on a national holiday like Veterans Day, and so much more. The app itself is easy to use, with step-by-step guidance on how to pick…

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On Definitions & Decisions

I recently read a post pondering how to define a writer, which, to me, appears to actually be considering the definition of an author. A writer is a person who writes, whether those words create drivel or the most glorious sentences ever placed on paper or computer screen. To me, that is all a writer is, though, to be fair, there are certainly qualifying adjectives that can be used to differentiate those who write well from those who write…less well.

#diplomatic

#diplomatic

Yet the idea of exploring what it means to be an author intrigues me. With the e-book industry, with website platforms such as Amazon and iTunes, it seems that it is becoming ever easier to become published. Previously, I would have said that was all it took to become an author – become published. Yet traditionally, there has been a distinction between the traditionally published and the self-published.

divide

Is this still the case? I heard an NPR segment that discussed the lack of stigma and sometimes higher pay that comes with self-publishing, as opposed to traditional publishing, which is more difficult if you’re not a celebrity or already well-established author.

The face of a NYT bestseller.

The face of a NYT bestseller.

A well written piece of writing is a well written piece of writing. Yet sifting through the published and the self-published pieces to find these well written pieces can be a significant challenge.

You CAN find good writing, but it can be a lot of work.

You CAN find good writing, but it can be a lot of work.

If you really want to share your writing with the world, theoretically, it is more likely to be received well if you are able to go the traditional publishing route. Traditional publishing means that you have people who are already familiar with, and fans of, your work (agent, editor, publishing house, etc.). Traditional publishing also means that the publishing house will solicit feedback via issuing ARCs, alerting the reading community through Twitter and newsletters, etc.

For the elderly and the publishing peeps. Oh, and me.

For the elderly and the publishing peeps. Oh, and me.

Yet is this really still the case? If you are not a celebrity, or already an established author, how difficult is it to even get a traditional publishing contract? And with the ever-changing media climate, if you are able to get a traditional publishing contract, how likely is it that a traditional publishing house will use its resources for your book? I have heard rumors that the book tour, and likelihood that a publisher will push your book hard in terms of media, etc., are currently much less likely than in prior years.

book tour

So if you decide to eschew the traditional publishing route in favor self publishing, is this a better alternative? With self-publishing, you know all of the marketing is up to you. Yet you don’t have the contacts that someone established in the traditional publishing community will have, nor do you have the experience with regards to pricing, book covers, book titles, etc. Are you giving yourself more work, or saving yourself from over-reliance, and likely, a lot of rejection? Are you making your writing career more difficult, or taking it into your own hands, with the potential failure AND potential success entirely yours?

2013_Entrepreneur_Quote

I don’t know. I can see pros and cons in both instances, and don’t currently have anything I have written that is worth publishing, so I don’t have to make a decision. What are your thoughts?

Just Sold My Childhood for $5

Remember when I wrote about my odd, embarrassing obsession with Christopher Pike when I was a teenager?

Because I’m, like, growing up and shit, but more because I’m moving across the country at the end of this summer, I sold almost my entire Pike collection.

read it like its 1999

This was the right move.

Yet I couldn’t help but feel a pang of regret as the kid who responded to my ad pulled a five dollar bill out of his wallet, took the box full of books from me, and walked away, all with an exchange of less than 10 words. It would have been ridiculous for me to haul that box across the country with me, but at the same time, how do you say goodbye to a book?

Never-say-goodbye

Part of me wanted to interrogate the kid – make sure he would be a decent foster parent.

ridiculous

Yet true.

Care to share your own rites of passage? The wonderful, the maudlin, the bittersweet – all are welcome!

Psychological Thrilla, Not Plain Vanilla – You Should Read This Book

I just read the review copy I have of How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (fairly late, since the book was released in October 2013), and my initial reaction? Wow. A very good wow.

good wifeHow to be a Good Wife is the title of a nonfiction book Marta was gifted by her mother-in-law on her wedding day. She has lived by the directions in this book for years, and knows every word by heart. But lately, Marta’s not as happy in her marriage as she was at the beginning.

Or was she ever happy in her marriage?

You see, Marta’s been seeing things.

Her husband claims she hallucinates without her pills, and she hasn’t been taking her pills. With her son grown, at his own apartment relatively far away, it’s only Marta and her husband Hector in the house now. & Marta is ready to see what happens when she does not take her pills…

This book was great. I devoured it; if I wasn’t so set on actually passing the courses I’m taking this semester, I might not have stopped reading to come up for air. I like books with unreliable narrators. Can I believe what I’m being told? How objective are the other people interacting with the narrator?

I know what my opinion is of the veracity of Marta’s conclusion about her marriage, but one of the best things about this book is that it could be interpreted in many different ways. Or at least, in two.

I don’t want to give too much detail regarding the book, but I will say I really, really enjoyed it. 4.5 out of 5 stars – and the loss of half a star is really simply because I don’t think I will read it again.

Chapman has a spare style of prose, which I found delightful. I like prose that sparkles in its’ simplicity, that feels like stepping on fresh, crisp snow. This book talked about potential insanity in a way that was easily comprehended, which is a very difficult thing to do. This novel is Chapman’s debut, and it was a great first book. I will definitely be on the lookout for any future work of hers that is released.

You should read this book.

Please, recommend a book you have enjoyed in the comments below!

Please, recommend a book you have enjoyed in the comments below!

New Name, Same Me

So… not sure if anyone cares, but I recently changed my online name, and realized that might cause some confusion.

84kb cropped version

You might be asking why I would do a thing like this. A name, after all, does not always smell as sweet.

Hey bae, I got you this stink flower.

Hey bae, I got you this stink flower.

And “writingmom2013” was truly inspired.

ca_eureka

*sigh* Okay, listen. I can tell you the truth, right? I mean, this is just a conversation between two rational adults, who don’t let illogical emotions rule their actions. Who choose the course of action that is best for everyone, even if it’s not some romantic ideal – right?

I feel like I've heard this before...

I feel like I’ve heard this before…

Just kidding.

phew

The truth is, I was just sick of the number in my name. I mean, who wants to be dated, right?

After all, a lady never reveals her age...

After all, a lady never reveals her age…

And so, to make a long story short:

too late

too late

My handle is now “literatemama.” What do you think? Like? Dislike? Want to comment on something random and completely unrelated?

You know what they say... there is no such thing as a bad comment. #pleasecomment

You know what they say… there is no such thing as a bad comment. #pleasecomment

Winter Poetry

“You don’t really need your toes,

that’s why I froze

them,” says the Snow.

“It is so nice,

to become ice,

and trip you so,”

continues Snow.

“I think that you

look good in hues

of purple and blue.”

You realize

with watering eyes

that Snow was true

when you

remove your gloves.

“Don’t you worry;

you’ll only see

much more of me,”

Snow giggles out.

It is, after all, only January.