Saturday, October 24, 2009

October Girls

The High Test Girls had a good-news/bad-news kind of retreat.

The bad: some got sick, a couple had family issues to deal with, and one had what might have been a deal-breaking setback on a project she's working on.

The good: through it all, the HTGs were incredibly productive. Between them they submitted five picture books, made excellent progress on chapter books, and learned a few things. And as always, they had great conversations about books, caught up on each other's lives, and generally shared the love.

Despite the few bumps along the way, the fourteenth retreat was unequivocally a success, just like the previous thirteen.

Monday, October 19, 2009

On the importance of usage

A little perspective on the relative importance of proper usage, from

Speaking of Cold...

Guy: I have to say, one nice thing about living here is that the winters are so cold that a lot of the homeless people freeze to death. So, you know, there's a lot less of them.
Girl: Dude, it's "fewer". Not "less".

Friday, October 16, 2009

High Test time again!

It's that time of year, and once again the High Test Girls are descending upon New England for a week of writing, drawing, critiquing, and hob-nobbing. Jane Kurtz is in the vanguard this evening, and we'll scoop up most of the rest of 'em tomorrow. It's always great to see them, and this year I'll get the bonus of meeting Jo Stanbridge for the first time.

I don't yet know what everyone is working on, but I do know that Nancy and Franny Billingsley are coming down the stretch on their latest works. For that reason alone this will be a big week, but then it's always a big week. And after 14 retreats, the biggest part of all is the camaraderie.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Controversy, encapsulated

You can't very well choose five books as finalists for the National Book Award without generating some comment. Even the most conservative choices will leave somebody either shocked or disappointed or envious or outraged, or some similarly negative emotion that will inspire them to object, perhaps strenuously. This list was no different. This time the controversy seemed to focus tightly on one title: Stitches, by David Small. Fortunately, Karen Springen has done a nice job of framing the issue for Publisher's Weekly.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This just out -- NBA finalists

Stop me if you've heard this, but the 2009 National Book Award finalists are out! I'm a tad too close to the chair of the Young People's Literature committee to offer commentary, but others in the blogosphere are not so reticent. Take a look at the list if you haven't already, and then start sniffing around your (other) favorite YA blogs to soak in some opinions, or just form your own!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Catching up

It's been a busy late summer and fall. Between the National Book Award judging and her latest work in progress, Nancy has been reading and writing up a storm. She finally has a lull in the action, and recently took advantage of it to enjoy the social side of the book world. We went to the Horn Book awards in Boston on Friday night, and cheered for the winners, especially Tanya Lee Stone, who received an honor for her non-fiction work Almost Astronauts. (Catch the speeches here).

The next day Nancy had a book signing at the Blue Bunny in Dedham. This was ostensibly a working gig, but it felt more like a social occasion. We had lots of nice chats with the gang that was coming up to get their books signed, and even better chats with the folks behind the Blue Bunny, including a verrry good dinner with them at Isabella's in Dedham Square.

This sort of thing is all good for us hangers-on. Nancy does all the work, I get to split the partying...