For every hit, there has to be a sequel. The Great Tumblr Book Search is back and the search for the next big humor book is on!
Last year, Chronicle Books partnered with Tumblr on the first-annual Great Tumblr Book Search. The winning Tumblr was Sh*t Rough Drafts by Paul Laudiero. Chronicle offered Laudiero a publishing contract and now Sh*t Rough Draftsthe book is coming to a bookstore near you on April 15th. And YOU could be next!
How to Enter:
Use Tumblr to explain your humor book idea. Then our editors will judge the entries and choose a grand-prize winner whose idea will be considered for publication. You may use an existing Tumblr or create a new Tumblr to illustrate your book idea. Just make us laugh!
To enter, tag a post “TumblrBookSearch” and include:
1) The title of your humor book
2) A written synopsis of your idea (200 words or less)
3) Examples of the book’s concept (can be photos, animated gifs, artwork, video, text, or any media supported by Tumblr)
Then, hop over here to give us your basic contact information and the link to your post.
Encouraging signs are emerging in the independent bookstore marketplace. Some stores had record selling days during 2013 holiday shopping. Author Sherman Alexie initiated a program, Indies First, that by all accounts was wildly successful connecting authors with their local bookstores as “booksellers for a day”. Candlewick Press and the American Booksellers Association are sponsoring Find Waldo Local for the third year this coming July, a program that connects independent bookstores with other local independent businesses in communities across the country. American Express has Small Business Saturday the day after Black Friday in which customers are rewarded for shopping locally. There are buy local campaigns in many cities. The word is getting through to consumers that they have a choice in the ways they can spend their money, and that by supporting local businesses they are strengthening their communities.
Within the industry, what are ways that we further extend the connections that make independent bookselling strong? Author and University Press of Mississippi Assistant Director, Steve Yates, and one of my favorite booksellers, Laura Weeks of Lorelei Books in Vicksburg, Mississippi, share insights and welcome discussion about building the connections within the publishing industry that will keep the market viable for authors, booksellers, and readers.
The rapid changes in the bookselling industry present an opportunity industry insiders to gain better insight into how our actions affect one another. When a bookseller tells the territory sales representative, ”I’ll order your publisher’s books through my distributor.”, does that differ from a customer telling a bookseller, “I’ll order the books I discovered in your bookstore on Amazon?” How about writers, who in an attempt to promote their work on their websites, link to Amazon as a “where to buy” source with nary a mention of other options, like Indiebound.org or “You can also find my books at your neighborhood bookstore!” My posit is that these actions do not reflect malice, just a lack of awareness of impact on friends in the industry. How can publishers, writers, and booksellers best work together to ensure a thriving brick-and-mortar bookselling industry?
New sales data shows the difference in indie v. Amazon shoppers isn’t fiction. 27% of indie buyers go for narrative nonfict (v. 22% amazon)
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a group of state schools superintendents Friday that he found it “fascinating” that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards has come from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”
There’s this funny thing that happens when you become a mom. Every kid is suddenly your kid. You wince when a baby cries, when another kid falls on the playground. Your heart breaks when you read the newspaper, every day. You can’t read certain books, watch certain movies or shows. And you start having a lot of pesky opinions about things—like, say, education policy. And not just for your own kid.
And then someone stands up to defend policy and he wants the criticism against it to sound ridiculous, so he ascribes it to moms. Specially white suburban moms—and we know how THEY all are—who want their little Timmy to look brilliant. (Apparently moms who live in the city or are of color don’t have the same concerns.)
Yeah, we moms—I would posit that this includes moms regardless of place of residence or color— want our kids to be brilliant, though perhaps in not the sense of the word he means. At least we want our child to be given every chance to have the brilliance—emotional, creative, empathetic, intellectual, or whatever other form this brilliance takes— inside him nurtured. And we want it for other kids too. We have this weird idea that an educational system should value our kids as individuals rather than bits of data. And we have this funny opinion that standards and testing and everything else that privileges surface learning over critical thinking and creativity and empathy and the skill of and hunger for learning itself isn’t the best way to foster brilliance in our children. We are skeptical of guys like this ignoring the concerns of the educators who have devoted themselves to taking care of our kids, and deeply skeptical of policies that turn our kids into numbers, try to quantify achievement, and impose one size fits all systems on our schools crafted by the boneheads who think this sort of thing is a good idea in the first place.
Why exactly do we talk about moms this way? There’s soccer moms, mommy porn, mom jeans, and Mommy bloggers (the 21st Century equivalent of a damned mob of scribbling women.) And in this case the word “mom” is being used, essentially, as a cheap slur—a signifier for someone who we all agree is petty and silly, someone who can and should be ignored.
To have the Secretary of Education reduce and deride the concerns of parents who happen to be female is appalling. To have him imply that only white moms are so invested in their children’s education is deeply problematic. To have him take the voices of all of the educators and parents and scholars who have raised concerns about Common Core and silence them by using “moms” as a straw man, to have him take the word “mom” and use it as something to devalue and sneer at for political gain and to is disturbing at every level.
I would say that a person who would use women in this way does not belong in the job.
”IF only one could clear out one’s mind and heart as ruthlessly as one did one’s wardrobe,” Belinda Bede muses toward the end of Some Tame Gazelle. But, of course, one can’t, and her words sum up her situation in Barbara Pym’s first novel, originally published in England in 1950 but not previously issued here. Belinda is a spinster in her mid-50’s who since college has been fruitlessly in love with Henry Hoccleve, now an archdeacon and the vicar of her local church. Miss Pym doesn’t treat Belinda’s thought as a summation; it’s just a single sentence dropped into the middle of a conversation with her sister, Harriet, about whether or not to get rid of an old green dress. All the big moments in this novel are like that - quiet, offhand realizations presented without a trace of bravado, as if they were accidents. They astonish only when one steps away from them and sees how deftly they are woven into and illuminate the uneventful surface of the narrative. A big scene, confrontation, consummation of any kind - all are unthinkable. Yet Miss Pym’s restraint isn’t an evasion but precisely the point. — Michael Gorra, The New York Times, July 31, 1983
I rarely reread books. Considering that I usually have a big stack of books in my To Be Read pile, and nine thousand books I Should Have Already Read, I’m lucky to read as many books as I do.
Except, I’ve been in a reading slump nearly this entire year. Everything I’ve read as been a struggle. My heart and mind have been traumatized this year by two deaths in the family, an aged mother to care for, a son in his senior year in high school, and new job responsibilities. My reading has suffered.
I’m taking steps to heal in many ways. Recently on Twitter there was a mention of an author favorite of mine, Barbara Pym. Barbara Pym! I discovered her first as a young bookseller in the early ‘80’s, when her books were being reprinted in paperback editions. I read every one. I ordered them all in hardcover to keep in my library. Several of us at the bookstore wrote to her estate and a received a wonderful reply that made us ridiculously happy.
With this social media mention, I went online to the Barbara Pym Society website and started poking around. I found this lovely reprint Finding a Voice, from a BBC radio talk by Ms. Pym. It didn’t take long for me to decide it was time to revisit these works. In two and a half weeks, I’ve read five books.
I just open a book and start reading. I don’t refresh my memory at all, because honestly, after 30 years, I don’t remember the plots or specific characters of any of these novels. What does remain, is the delight I experienced while reading them. I remembered how I loved references to a main character one one book, now a minor or off screen character in another one. Or, one would make a cameo appearance in the life of a current main character in a subsequent book as if these character’s lives were evolving although their novel may have ended. I decided my strategy for rereading would be to read them in the order they were written. When I finish one, I search on the internet (which didn’t exist in the early ‘80’s as it is certainly experienced today), for reviews, blog posts or discussion papers about the book on the Pym website. My own book club of one, and the rest of the world that has enjoyed her books.
“A sentence, a paragraph, a turn of phrase will just make you want to stand up and crow with delight, It just grips you with its charm and its wit, and it’s full of the trivial material of everyday life. What they wore and ate, what you see protruding from the string bag as they walked on the street, the book they have open when eating at Lyons…’’, Laura Shapiro, The Boston Globe, March 2013.
To my great relief, I am reading again. I am reading for my own enjoyment rather than as a job requirement. I am reading and it is healing. I read about characters who are people living ordinary lives and what means they use to sustain them though their circumstances in life. Whether that may be the greater or lesser Victorian poets, village life of jumble sales and Evensong, the various facilities of tea pouring, meals, spinsters, vicars, anthropologists, sisters, companions, Oxford students and dons, suitability debates, love in multiple permutations, or life in academia, these books resonate around relationships.
MAYOTTE MAGNUS/THE BARBARA PYM SOCIETY
Ms. Pym’s sardonic wit, delightful and incisive observations about human beings and the situations in which they find themselves is comforting at a time when I perceive my own life in many of these same ways. Ms. Pym’s unusual publishing story, which is particularly interesting, offers much to consider.
In the early ‘80’s I was a young twenty-something at the start of a book selling and publishing career. Now, I’m a experienced publishing professional in my, ahem, later years. Not perhaps too unlike a character in one of Pym’s novels. Yet, at both stages of my life these books have found me at a good time. I invite you to let Barbara Pym find you, too. Now, on to A Glass of Blessings.
Bravery has to be among the top qualities that Kate DiCamillo possesses. It takes courage for children to live their own lives everyday, since many find themselves in families of emotional turmoil. Oftentimes, adults tiptoe around issues of life’s experiences, protecting children’s hearts and minds from the stress of dealing with realities that might be too much to bear. Children have little control over their circumstances or possess well-developed filters to navigate through the world’s noise or family upheaval. Sometimes emotional trauma can originate in the family itself. Kate DiCamillo bravely engages children in her books with honesty, respect, and a brazen truth about the realities of their emotional lives.
“It’s not possible to alarm me,” said Flora. “I’m a cynic. Nothing in human nature surprises a cynic.”
In Flora & Ulysses, we have Flora, a daughter of divorce, living with a mother preoccupied with her own work and emotionally absent. The mother seemingly values more highly a lamp than her own daughter. Her father is an accountant who wears a suit and tie and a hat with a brim even on Saturdays in the summertime. Flora has fond memories of the time spent together with her father reading his favorite comic, complete with an excellent parakeet imitation.
Kate spells it out. Flora’s mother says Flora is lonely, she spends far too much time reading comics, and she is alone a lot. But Flora’s mother is very busy with her novel writing and she’s worried that all the reading has made Flora strange.
There is William, the nephew of the neighbor, who is temporarily blind induced by trauma, who is staying with his aunt for the summer. William puts his issues right out there. “I prefer to be called William Spiver. It distinguishes me from the multiplicity of Williams in the world… It’s a pleasure to meet you, whoever you are. I would shake your hand, but as I said, I think I’m bleeding. Also, I’m blind.”
And, of course, there is Ulysses, the squirrel, who’s unusual circumstance brings this whole comic into play, causing a little girl to implement a belief system that she knows in her heart to be true, but she has to work to bring forth in her life.
“… Flora’s heart leaped up high inside of her in a hopeful and extremely uncynical kind of way. She closed her eyes. Don’t hope, she told her heart. Do not hope; instead, observe.”
It is surprising that her mother is the villain that is ultimately redeemed. Not so surprising that the the two children rescue each other. “… drowning people were desperate, out of their minds with fear. In their panic, they could pull you, the rescuer, under, if you weren’t careful. So Flora held on tightly to William Spiver.”
While reading Flora & Ulysses, I sensed echos of Because of Winn-Dixie, another DiCamillo book, wherein a motley crew of characters brought together by an animal, learn to navigate the sensitivities of emotional wounds. Because of Winn-Dixie is a realistic novel for middle-graders and gave hope to the heartbroken. In Flora & Ulysses, we have a squirrel as a superhero, championed by a young girl who bravely hopes and observes, and becomes a superhero in her own life.
This is a book for upper elementary readers, cloaked as a comic sketch with graphic novel illustrations. The trim size of 6 x 8, short chapter lengths with descriptively leading titles, comic fonts, and healthy doses of slapstick, will engage the intended audience and entertain them while braving the difficult emotional realities that many of them may face. The vocabulary is vigorous, the style is varied, and the novel is steeped in the essence of DiCamillo herself. Filled with bravery, humor, poetry, undertanding and heroism, Flora & Ulysses might be the bridge fans of Mercy Watson and Bink & Gollie chapter books use to get to Because of Winn-Dixie and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
Unwrap this marvelous new kit and embark on an unforgettable adventure of self-discovery, with the help of Peter H. Reynolds’ classic book The Dot, The Blank Book, and a set of beautiful watercolor pencils.
Start by reading The Dot for inspiration. An enchanting invitation to self-expression, The Dot is the beloved story of a reluctant student who discovers that being an artist is simply a matter of making a mark and seeing where it takes you.
Next, invite your own inner artist to come out to play with the help of The Blank Book (a hardcover book that is completely blank, just waiting for your creations), and playful watercolor pencils.
Dear Teresa, I've couldn't help but noticing your support for the indie publishers. I am one such publisher, or rather a self-publisher believing her book should be a happy exception to the rule. If you consider it for a review, I'd love to mail you the e-book file in the format of your choice. It's a quirky fantasy with a strong young heroine and a cast of otherworldly characters, beautifully illustrated with original watercolors. Warm holiday wishes to you and your family!
Thank you for your note. My apologies for the delayed reply. A clarification: I represent traditional print book publishers and indie booksellers. Best of luck to you with your book. I am unable to do any freelance reviewing at this time due to the considerable workload I have already. — Teresa