Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The End of the Novel Live!

From Shelf Awareness, because they do a better wrap up of this event that I could:

As we reported last week
over the course of six days, live and online, 36 Northwest authors wrote
a novel. It was completed Saturday evening and will be published as an
e-book by Open Road Integrated Media. Fans watched the novel being
written--and, in one case, drawn--added their comments in person and via
live chat, and had a grand time bidding during various auctions. Over
72,000 words were typed (the goal was 50,000), and thousands of online
viewers spent 165,000 minutes watching The Novel! Live!
http://news.shelf-awareness.com/ct.jsp?uz3642037Biz10133129 unfold. While most viewers were from the
U.S., there were also hundreds from Australia, Canada, the U.K., India,
the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Austria, New Zealand and Spain. And even
better, nearly $10,000 was raised for literacy (hint: you can still
donate http://news.shelf-awareness.com/ct.jsp?uz3642037Biz10133130 and
push that number over $10K).

We checked with one of the instigators of this project, author Jennie
Shortridge, and asked her for statistics of the kind we are really
interested in:

* Most words typed: Mary Guterson: 4,560
* Least swearing in text: Suzanne Selfors: 0 curse words
* Most breaks from writing: Erik Larson: 2; he also wins for most coffee
consumed, 4 cups
* Most freakish and horrifying incident for an author: a stuck "delete"
key during Jarret Middleton's turn at bat--it cost him five paragraphs
of text (which he replaced overnight, so he gets the best-natured author
award as well)
* Most remote author contribution: Kit Bakke from Shanghai
* Most valiant effort by an author: Maria Dahvana Headley, who typed via
Gmail chat from her sickbed with a 102-degree fever
* Best channeling of a non-human character: Stephanie Kallos, who wrote
from a crow's point of view
* Highest bid for an auction item: $450 for the name of the
protagonist's long-lost father, online from Isabella in New York
* Mostly unlikely auction item: a replica of Habib the crow, who dangled
above the stage on the last day, went for $100. (We sent a volunteer out
into the streets of Capitol Hill Saturday morning to find a crow, and
after no luck at various stores, actually encountered a man with a fake
crow on Pine Street, and haggled him down from $60 to $30). Runners-up:
plastic skulls named for dead authors, which brought in as much as $40
each in online auctions, and many signed (and re-signed) books
* Longest distances traveled by authors to participate: Jamie Ford from
Montana and Mary Guterson from Los Angeles
* Longest distance traveled by a volunteer to participate: aspiring
19-year-old author Rachel Kelly from Gresham, Ore.

Erik Larson and auctioneer John Roderick, lead singer and guitarist in
the band The Long Winters.

Most costume changes by an author: 4 by Susan Wiggs, who morphed from
Viking princess to pajama-ed author to sequined goddess to queen of
hearts during her two-hour stint
* Most catch-up sleep required by organizing Seattle7Writers' members: a
tie between Garth Stein and Jennie Shortridge

Check out The Novel! Live! http://news.shelf-awareness.com/ct.jsp?uz3642037Biz10133131 and
watch the book being created. Congratulations to everyone who made this
happen with such enthusiasm and panache, from the writers to the
volunteers to the food suppliers to the fans, and to Hugo House for
providing a cozy venue (and a bar).--Marilyn Dahl

Monday, October 18, 2010

So True!

This is from Shelf Awareness today:

NBA Judge: Books Are 'Joyful Things to Behold'

"I am holding books in my hands, in my lap, all day long--joyful things
to behold, to hold onto--hefty and crisp. Even the uncorrected galleys
have weight--the smell of paper and words.... One day I look at the pile
and imagine they are all electronic books. Electronic books are
eligible; it's possible I could be reading on a Kindle or a Nook or the
poetically named Sony PRS-700. All this reading could be on a gray
screen; I could be clicking buttons instead of turning pages. In the
bookless future a few of these books predict, there would be no boxes,
no piles....

"I would, of course, have gone mad, thrown the little plastic thing out
the window long ago. The real glory of all these books is simply that
they exist. They will endure in the world as solid things. I love the
piles--the teetering, heavy, uneven piles, the cumbersome crowding of
books thick and thin. These are piles of piled-up things, sculptured
objects taking up room. No gray screen can honor the way font shape and
space are designed to convey thought. Books inhabit the world in a way
not unlike the way you and I do."

--Sallie Tisdale in her Oregonian
article,"Duty as a judge for the National Book Awards requires a bit of

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Novel Live!

My Facebook friend Jennie Shortridge is one of the instigators of this very cool art project--I wish I could support the Novel Live crew financially, but I can promote their drive to obtain money for literacy. Go Seattle7!
The following is from Shelf Awareness:
The Novel! Live!

Starting yesterday morning, October 11, in a "stunning,
never-before-attempted marathon of literary wonder," 36 Northwest
authors began writing a novel that will be completed in just six days.
The story will take on 36 different lives during the week, reflecting
each author's unique sensibilities. David Lasky will draw his section.
During his slot, Kevin O'Brien will be killing off a character, whose
name Nancy Pearl auctioned off at the Sunday kick-off party at Elliott
Bay Books. Susan Wiggs is writing the ending, so someone will fall in
love (or at least get laid).

Fans can watch and cheer on favorite authors like Garth Stein, Jamie
Ford, Elizabeth George, Erica Bauermeister, Jennie Shortridge, Erik
Larson (and others) as they take their turns at the keyboard at
Seattle's Hugo House (complete with happy hours and drink specials).
Yesterday kicked off with Jennie Shortridge (When She Flew
) on a stage,
screen to her left, ample coffee and water to her right, and an
audience. The authors have a story map and an individual goal, but it
was up to Jennie to set it all in motion. And while she typed, the
audience called out suggestions. Early on, she asked the audience for
help with teenage Alexis's skin tone.



She decided on "latte creamy."

The she wanted to set the tone for a mortuary visit:

"If it's any time except August or September, it's pretty much rain."

"Yeah, we must have rain."

At 10:40, she wondered why she ever threw in a pirate named Ursula.

"If Alexis is wearing a black wool sweater, does she go to a Catholic

"She might."

"St. Joe's!"

Later, in an on-line chat, someone mentioned that Jennie had awesome
command of the backspace key.

"Fig Newtons?"

"In Seattle it should be Fig Newmans."

A bit after 11, Jennie needed a lifeline, so she called author Marisa de
los Santos for help: "I introduced a crow--do I keep it?" Yes. "I need a
name for the mother." Edith.

Authors Denise Banker and Joyce Yarrow synopsized Jennie's story for the
next writer, Teri Hein, who took over at noon. Go to The Novel! Live!
for more information and to
watch the novel progress as it streams live with an author cam, chat and
words flowing (and backing up) across a page. If you've ever wondered
how an author actually writes, here it is in all its flow and pause,
inspiration and staring at the screen. Watch this space for more
coverage of the event as it unfolds, with happy hour updates and more.

Net proceeds (including the character names auction and very nice
T-shirts) from The Novel! Live! http://news.shelf-awareness.com/ct.jsp?uz3642037Biz10107487
go to Seattle Arts & Lectures http://news.shelf-awareness.com/ct.jsp?uz3642037Biz10107488' Writers in the
Schools program, which places professional local writers in public
classrooms to spark interest and develop skills in reading and writing,
and to 826 Seattle http://news.shelf-awareness.com/ct.jsp?uz3642037Biz10107489, a nonprofit writing and
tutoring center dedicated to helping kids ages six to 18 improve their
writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Mapping of Love and Death/An Irish Country Village

My husband has complained that I haven't thanked him on my blog yet for bringing me some lovely ARCs from work, including this copy of Jacqueline Winspear's "The Mapping of Love and Death" her latest Maisie Dobbs mystery.
So, thank you, my beloved, for keeping me supplied with my favorite addiction, books. And happy 13th anniversary of our wedding on October 5, 1997 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle!
The Mapping of Love and Death is the 7th Maisie Dobbs mystery, set in post WW1 England, and following the progress of a young woman who worked as a maid for a member of the gentry, and when she was discovered reading in the mansion library, was sent to college by these wealthy folk (to Girton), then tutored by a retired gentleman spy (or whatever they call the members of the British version of the CIA) and then turned loose to found her own private detective agency.
But Maisie is not Sherlock Holmes, she's been shell-shocked during her turn as a nurse on the battlefields of Europe, and she has watched the man she loved die from injuries sustained during the war. Maisie's got the advantage of having a gypsy grandmother who endowed her with something of a 'sixth sense' about feelings and things that might happen, but she mainly relies on her intellect and her friend and colleague Billy, who was a sapper during the war, to solve her cases.
The Mapping of Love and Death finds Maisie out to solve the mystery of what happened to a young American cartographer/surveyor whose bones were discovered 15 years after the war, along with letters he wrote to a mysterious nurse with whom he fell in love. Add to this the wealthy parents, one of whom is an English ex-patriot, and the illness and death of Maurice, the aforementioned gentleman spy and Maisie's mentor, and you have a book filled with emotional, poignant moments.
One of the things I like best about Maisie Dobbs mysteries is that Maisie always ends up better off than she started out at the beginning of the novel. Unlike Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden or Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse, both of whom get beat up and nearly killed in every single novel, Winspear seems to have a heart when it comes to Maisie and her life, and the reader can always exult at the end of the book, knowing that Maisie will go on and help others and become happier as each day passes. Winspear's prose is always clean and straightforward, and her plots march briskly along, never lagging in sentimentality or excessive narration. Her characters are rock solid and riveting, and I always find myself wishing I'd lived back in the 20s and 30s in England so I could meet someone like Maisie and sit down to tea with her and Billy, of course. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys smart heroines and zippy mysteries grounded in historical fact. A solid A!
An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor is the sequel to An Irish Country Doctor, a book that takes place in the village of Ballybucklebo in Northern Ireland.
These are feel-good novels along the lines of Gervaise Phinn's books or James Herriott's series, All Creatures Great and Small. This series follows young Dr Barry Laverty as he works through his residency under a small country general practitioner, Dr Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, who is quite a character.The village is also full of characters, from the puffed up, rude mayor to the doctors housekeeper/cook, who is called "Kinky" Kincaid and who makes tremendous dinners and prescient pronouncements for the doctors. In this installment of the series, Dr Barry is under a cloud of suspicion as a hypochondriac patient of his dies, and the locals all wonder whether he's a good physician or not. Dr Barry is also falling in love with a local gal who wants to become an engineer, and will have to go away to school in England for three years if she wins a scholarship. There are also the two elderly oddball residents who finally tie the knot after years of yearning for one another, but being unable to fulfill their love because the gentlemans home had no roof. Now the town has pitched in and fixed his home, and the couple can marry and live happily ever after.
Taylor's Irish Country books take place in the 60s, so times are simpler and the mores and values are more straightforward, however, the under current of sexism and anti-choice nonsense can get a bit irritating for the modern female reader. Still, the prose is sweet and comfortable, the characters charming and the situations fascinating, so it's well worth the occaisional irritant to read the books. I look forward to the next book in the series, An Irish Country Christmas. I just have to bring more books into Baker Street Books in Black Diamond (he doesn't accept hardbacks and is very choosy about which paperbacks he will accept) so I can build up enough credit to afford a copy. I'd recommend this book to anyone who appreciates Ireland and its history, and to those who liked Phinns and Herriotts series. A solid B+ to this engaging series of novels.