Category Archives: fun

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Clubbing for change

 

As longtime readers of our blog know, we have an office book club that meets once every couple of months.  I’ve also mentioned a time or twenty that I’m a member of a neighborhood book club in my town.  Clearly, I’m a fan of book clubs—and not just because of the wonderful marriage they broker between literature and wine.  I find that I learn a great deal from the opinions of other readers.  Even when I am convinced that they are tragically wrong in those opinions (Sharon Pelletier and Michael Bourret’s wrongheadedness about The Goldfinch comes to mind), the points of view expressed generally reveal something new and different (about the work, about the person championing it) to me.   Books are the most efficient and effective repositories of ideas mankind has ever come up with, in my opinion, and only good things can come from people discussing those ideas in a respectful* and thoughtful way.

Which is why I’m so excited about Emma Watson’s feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf.  In an era when there seems to be a great deal of ambivalence, at best, and disdain, at worst, for feminism, I think Ms. Watson’s mission is excellent.  For all the important gains the founding mothers of the feminist movement achieved (our own Phyllis Chesler among them), we still have a long way to go in attaining equality and, in many cultures, basic human rights for women.

How cool is it that Hermione Granger’s alter ego is spearheading this movement?  I’m totally fangurling!

Hermione reading

 

*Not always the case at DGLM gatherings, I confess.

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Happy holidays, book lovers!

I’ve been sitting here all day thinking about what I could offer as a holiday gift to readers. Some insight into the publication process? Helpful writing tips for the winter break? What I’m looking for in 2016? Well, more on that last one in January, but right now, as I’m scrambling to wrap things up before taking off for Maine with the in-laws, my brain is pretty much fried to a crisp. And I’m sure tonight’s DGLM holiday party won’t help…

So, thank goodness for Buzzfeed! Yes, even though we’ve all seen and heard things like this a zillion times, there’s nothing like a good assortment of gifs to fill a reader with good cheer. And when I saw what Mr. Bean was reading in #6, I just had to share. Happy holidays, y’all, and have fun making a dent in your reading pile over the break—I know I will!

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Career moves

Despite the fact that we publishing people love nothing more than to whine about how miserable our jobs are (the endless reading, the rants from angry authors who, after seeing your edits, just know you don’t get their particular brand of genius, the bureaucratic Everest climb that negotiating a contract and then prying the advance money from a publisher entails, the Miranda Priestly type bosses who make Steve Jobs seem like a soft touch, etc.), relatively speaking we do pretty interesting, engaged and engaging work.  In fact, the reason I’ve stuck with my first job out of grad school for a couple of decades now is because it’s always interesting, always challenging, (almost) always satisfying, and never, say what you will, boring.

And yet, who hasn’t fantasized about a whole other career?  Given my fascination with disease and gross bodily functions (ask any of my colleagues about my detailed descriptions of snot when I have a cold), I probably would’ve been a doctor if my math grades had been better (I suspect that getting the right dosage of medicine in a patient is key in effective treatment).  And being the kind of reader who immerses herself in engrossing narratives, I’ve had many opportunities over the years to fantasize about other, more exciting professions.  After reading Andy Weir’s The Martian recently, I wondered if NASA has any plans to send a literary agent into space and, if so, where would I sign up for training.

Given the foregoing, this infographic from Adzuna.co.uk which was picked up by GalleyCat delighted me to no end.  So many career options, so little time!

Fictional-Jobs

What’s your most coveted fictional job—wizard, international man/woman of mystery, treasure hunter, Jedi knight?

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Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Now that the holidays are upon us, not only am I excited to mingle with family and eat an unnatural amount of food, but also start on the imposing tower of “books to read” I’ve had building up for months.

So, in the spirit of giving thanks, I figured it would be appropriate to share a few things that I am thankful for as a book lover:

  • I’m thankful for family and friends that love and support me in everything I do.
  • I am thankful for the cool and grey days that make me want to curl up in my blanket with a nice cup of hot cocoa and my favorite book.
  • I’m thankful for libraries in general, but most especially thankful for this wonderful library in Dryden that has challenged kids to read up to 1,000 books before kindergarten. 1,000! I find it very encouraging, and I’m so proud of all the little ones taking on the challenge. Like the good doctor said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”—Dr. Seuss
  • The Hunger Games: MockingJay, part 2. I have purposely waited to see the final installment of the movies based on Suzanne Collins’ books this Thanksgiving weekend, mainly to keep up with the tradition of watching the movies with my sister, who introduced me to the series in the first place. Yes, Tolu, thank you for literally shoving the book in my face.
  • Ali Benjamin. I read her debut The Thing about Jellyfish for book club, fell in love, and now I eagerly await her next work.
  • Every Friends Thanksgiving episode.
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  • Starbucks’s Caramel Brulee Frappuccino. I don’t even like coffee, but this is stuff is pretty good (It’s the sugar!!). Pair it with a witty YA romance and your afternoon is completely made.
  • Etsy.com for making my Christmas shopping easy. With its cool and unique merchandise, you are sure to find just the right gift for your book loving/creative friends this holiday season.

And finally, I am thankful for DGLM and all you wonderful readers. Please share what you are thankful for, and I hope everyone has a fun, safe and relaxing Thanksgiving weekend!!

 

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What’s in a name?

As it turns out, a lot.  Because titles can’t be copyrighted, same or similar ones pop up with surprising regularity despite best efforts by authors, agents, publishers, filmmakers, and playwrights to come up with something original.  That, of course, is not always a bad thing, as evidenced by this report from Galleycat.  A. J. Waines’ Girl on a Train is benefiting from the confusion of readers who were looking to buy Paula Hawkins’ bestseller The Girl on the Train.  The sales of Waines’ book have spiked and some readers don’t seem to mind the mix-up as they enjoyed their reading experience.

We spend a lot of time giving feedback to our authors on titles and it’s never not tough.  A good title resonates with a book buyer.  It makes you either “get” the category/subject matter immediately or it puzzles you enough that it makes you want to find out more.  It’s either straightforward and catchy or confusingly oblique but still memorable.  Depending on the category you are working in, a strong title can go a long way in helping to market the book.  And really, anything goes—Cryptonomicon, anyone?—as long as it’s intriguing in the right way to the right group of readers.

But while everyone tries to be unique, duplicates and triplicates abound.  Even after searching Amazon for similar titles in your category, there’s no guarantee that the same one won’t pop up in another genre.  Case in point (one is a novel from DGLM client Libby Cudmore due out in 2016; one is a memoir from 2010):

Big Rewind

Hey, a good title is a good title is a good title.  As long as you’re not intentionally trying to draw readers away from another author’s work by using their title, no harm no foul (at least as far as copyright law is concerned).

What books can you think of that share same/similar titles?

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Books on the move

If you’re reading an agency blog, you probably have a reasonably good idea how a book goes from your brain to the bookshelf, but have you ever wondered about the process a book takes as it travels through the library system?  I can’t say I really did until I saw this fun piece from the New York Times, but I enjoyed getting to know the journey.  I remember when news broke of the NYPL’s Super Sorter (that’s probably not what they call it), and I’ve always been intrigued.  A friend of mine works for NYPL in Long Island City—albeit as an archivist, not a book sorter.  I wonder if she can get me into the sorting room.

If you’re not excited yet, try picturing the book version of this classic Sesame Street segment at the Crayola Factory.

 

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My dearest, Angelica

11822302_1189555777737964_6537270592173409997_nAs you’ve likely gathered if you’ve spoken to me in the last month, I am obsessed with the musical Hamilton.  I haven’t even seen it yet (less than 4 weeks away now!), but I’ve been listening to the cast recording near constantly for weeks. There are a million small moments I adore, but the one that really sold Hamilton to the grammar pedant in me was when Angelica Schuyler inquires about the placement of a comma, hoping it’s an indication that her brother-in-law Alexander Hamilton is secretly as in love with her as she is with him. That Schuyler not only noticed Hamilton’s comma use (apparently this moment is drawn from a real letter where the reverse is true), but assumes it was a coded message of love is what pleases me most. I mean, sure, it would be a bad idea to have a secret affair with your sister’s husband or your wife’s sister, but that would be a grammar nerd love I could get behind.

So naturally when I saw this Buzzfeed list of grammar tweets in PW Daily, I clicked on over. These people are using the internet for its true purpose: bonding with their fellow nerds. Grammar pedants of Twitter, I salute you!

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Work spaces

My son’s orchestra teacher sent him home with an assignment this past weekend: Film your practice space and tell me why it inspires you or helps you focus while you practice.  The resulting two-minute video showed my son leading a very limited tour of one corner of our den where his viola and guitar lessons and practices routinely take place.   Showing his teacher that the area was comfortable, brightly lit, teeming with musical instruments (my husband is a guitar collector), with enough room for his music stand, not to mention  easy access for our nosy standard poodle to hang out, earned him an A.  The point of the exercise, I believe, was to make kids aware that where they practice their instruments affects how much and how well they do it.

Given that I’ve spent most of my life looking for that perfect work space for my at-home reading and editing, I found this assignment charming.  My ideal situation would be a quiet, well-lit room, with little to no through-traffic, a comfortable chair—with ottoman for stretching out—a nice side table to stack papers and nearby shelves to keep supplies at easy reach.  The most important thing about this platonic ideal of a work space would be nothing that could create a distraction from the task at hand.  In my H.G. Wells moments, I envision some kind of force field that completely neutralizes iPads, Kindles, iPhones, laptops, televisions, etc., while in the room—basically the room equivalent of noise cancelling headphones.

My reality is a corner of my living room or my bedroom with multiple, every few minutes, interruptions from my husband looking for something only I know where he put, my son listening to the baseball game (or Sponge Bob) loudly nearby, the dog needing to be let out every time someone walks past our house so she can bark at them and then ask to be let back into the house again, my parents calling, texts making my iPhone buzz…. You get the idea.

And this is just me trying to edit, not write.  Which is why I really enjoyed this piece by Victoria Patterson in The Millions.  There’s nothing new about the need writers have for a space conducive to their writing—just ask Virginia Woolf—but these days, when our attentions are so under siege, it’s especially important to find that one place you can get down to the business of creativity.

What’s your writing space like?

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Read, and then read again, and then read more

So what are you doing tomorrow?  If you’re reading this agency website, chances are the answer is reading.  But today’s particular tomorrow is special: it’s Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon.  What is a read-a-thon, you ask?  Well it’s an event and a  challenge, so to speak, to read as much as you can alongside other reading enthusiasts and talk about it as you go.  There are all kinds of ways you can participate, via blogs and social media and Goodreads, and you can sign up as a reader to show your participation, as well as cheerleaders who encourage the readers along, and various people running the show from bloggers hosting mini-challenges to prize donors and more.  The very thorough website linked above has all the fun details!

Reading is so often seen as a solitary activity, but those of us in publishing know that reading is also one of the best sources of bonding out there. Why not dedicate yourself to reading tomorrow?  You might make new friends or win a fun prize.  And even if you don’t—even if you don’t sign up for the actual read-a-thon—there aren’t many better ways to spend your Saturday!

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A truth acknowledged

The first time I read Pride and Prejudice I was smitten by Austen’s acerbic wit, her depiction of a woman with a mind (and sense of humor) of her own, her good humored (and, okay, sometimes a little bitter) skewering of Regency mores, her prose, her storytelling, and, okay, yeah, the most swoonworthy hero ever.    Over the years, my affection for the book has not waned.  If anything I appreciate its subtleties and charms more than ever before.  And, I get why  the novel has become the prototype of the modern romance novel.  It’s a formula that never gets old: Independent minded attractive female meets disdainful but hot male  and a battle of wits ensues; sparks fly, love blossoms, marriage results.

But, is the formula overused?  Is it time to step back from the P&P retreads?  Should we leave Lizzie and Darcy alone for a while to enjoy the glories of Pemberley without fear of encroaching rodents?  Can we agree that guinea pigs and Austen is just a “No”?

Really.  Despite what Sharon Pelletier may or may not say publicly, just no.

Are you with me blog readers?