Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seattle's Not Only in the Superbowl, We're a City of Literature, too!

 So with the wonderful news that the Seattle Seahawks are playing in the Superbowl this Sunday, you would think that most Seattlites couldn't be happier or more proud of their city. You'd be wrong. The massive number of bibliophiles that this city holds have made a play for Seattle to be a City of Literature, and they've won, thank heavens! I couldn't be happier to be living in a place where books are so revered and the printed word so important to citizens of the Emerald City. From the fabulous Shelf Awareness comes this announcement:

Seattle City Council Approves City of Literature Bid,
Yesterday the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to support
Seattle's bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature. Seattle would be
only the second U.S. City of Literature, after Iowa City, Iowa. There
are six other Cities of Literature around the world: Edinburgh,
Scotland, Dublin, Ireland, Reykjavik, Iceland, Norwich, England, Krakow,
Poland, and Melbourne, Australia.

The Stranger reported that council member Nick Licata, who introduced
the resolution, praised local author Ryan Boudinot for accumulating a
long list of sponsors for the bid, including the American Booksellers
Association, the American Library Association, the Academy of American
Poets and Nancy Pearl. Licata said, in part, that the designation of
Seattle as a City of Literature would help "Seattle's readers and
writers to engage more deeply
in the world's literary traditions," and "for our city to contribute to
a community of creative cities around the globe."

Boudinot will soon travel to several Cities of Literature in Europe,
seeking their support. In March, he will submit the application, which
will include written and video testimony. The public will be allowed to
comment and participate in the process.

YAY! The Wizard of Oz would make a great TV drama! And I am not just saying that because Seattle is called the Emerald City!

NBC has given a 10-episode order to Emerald City
a Wizard of Oz-themed drama described as "a modern and dark reimagining
of the classic tale of Oz in the vein of Game Of Thrones, drawing upon
stories from [L. Frank] Baum's original 14 books that include lethal
warriors, competing kingdoms, and the infamous wizard as we've never
seen him before. A head-strong 20-year-old Dorothy Gale is unwittingly
sent on an eye-opening journey that thrusts her into the center of an
epic and bloody battle for the control of Oz," Deadline.com reported.

 The Winter Institute for the ABA was held in Seattle this past weekend, and some of my favorite Seattle 7 writers were on hand to talk to participants about literacy and writing.

WI9: The Seattle7, Reading and Writing Radicals
While the original Seattle Seven were charged in the early 1970s with
"conspiracy to incite riots," at yesterday's WI breakfast, six members
of the Seattle7Writers group demonstrated what might be called
"conspiracy to incite reading."

Now an incorporated nonprofit that has raised some $50,000 for literacy
and other causes at events that always include an indie bookstore or
library, the group got its start with monthly meetings dubbed "Wine and
Whine"--authors gathering to support each other as much as to gripe. But
soon, founders Garth Stein (way before indie booksellers made his The
Art of Racing in the Rain a huge bestseller) and Jennie Shortridge
(whose new book, Love, Water Memory, is just out in paper from Gallery)
realized they could pool their power toward the common goal of the
continued growth of writing and reading in the Northwest.

Even though the group now includes more than 60 authors, they kept the
name Seattle7 to both reflect their beginnings as a handful of writers
and as homage to the radical '70s group with ties to the Weather

"As authors, we tend to be cave dwellers," said Stein, "but we are all
part of the same ecosystem and we realize that we all have to take care
of each other and energize each other. It there are no readers, then it
doesn't matter how good our stores and our libraries are."

To promote writing and reading, the Seattle7 stages unusual and fun
events, such as its writing marathon in 2010, in which 36 authors joined
forces to write a single novel, through 65,000 live-streaming hours. The
result was The Novel Life, published as an e-book and paperback by Open

Participating author Carol Cassella, whose new novel, Gemini will be
published in March by S&S, called the live writing experience
"terrifying." Bestselling author Elizabeth George said she expected the
event to be surreal but it turned out to be fun. Of course, as Stein
pointed out, adding booze made it even more fun. Caffeine helps, too.

Fun with the purpose of connecting writing to readers is what Seattle7
is all about, and it is a concept Shortridge said she hoped would become
a national movement where authors team with their libraries and
booksellers in ways that suit their regions.

Casella credited indie booksellers with making the selling of books more
pleasurable than she expected. As a relative newcomer to the Seattle7
and to writing, former lawyer Deb Caletti (He's Gone, Bantam; The Story
of Us, S&S) said she was happy to discover that the reports of the
demise of independent bookselling were greatly exaggerated.

Tara Conklin (The House Girl, Morrow) said the human connection that
booksellers create between author and reader was especially vital to her
when she was starting out. "I could name names," she said of the
booksellers who handsold her books. "It's corny, but your love matters,"
she said.

There were lot of questions about the details of getting such groups
started in other communities during the q&a. Shortridge outlined the
Seattle7's criteria for author members: traditionally published by a
large or indie press (not self-published); having a means of outreach to
the world (i.e., willingness to get out of their caves); and a
generosity of spirit. Stein added that authors needed to get their
publishers to sign on to donating books for their fundraisers.

A bookseller suggested one more criterium: that members not link solely
to their Amazon page on their websites. Stein, who lists only IndieBound
on his site, promised it would be an item taken up at the next
Seattle7Writers board meeting. How's that for radical? --Bridget
 I am very excited about this adaptation of The Dovekeepers, which was a fascinating book by Alice Hoffman that I read last year. I just hope that they don't make it too much like a romance novel, because it is the story of the brave Jewish people of Massada.
Ann Peacock (The Chronicles of Narnia, Nights In Rodanthe) will adapt
Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers
for Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (The Bible). Deadline.com reported that
the four-hour miniseries about the Siege of Masada will air on CBS in

"We felt [the book] was best served if the screenplay came through the
heart of a strong woman and Peacock is such a woman," said Downey. "I
met her right before Christmas; she came to our house in Malibu and I
sat down with her and she clearly loved the book. Her book had Post-its
sticking out from a hundred different pages where she'd lovingly made
notes. She said whether she was brought on board or not, she was forever
changed from having read the book and I was elated, because I could not
put this book down when I first read it. I was like a woman who had
fallen in love--I was hungry, turning pages, staying up later than I
should have, in the absence of being able to pick it up the next day
missing the book. When I was finished I missed the characters, longed
for the characters--they got under my skin."

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