May 12th, 2013
May 8th, 2013
This Thursday I will come out from the attic and read to a room full of strangers at Behind the Book/One Teen Story’s shindig! One Teen Story and Behind the Book are both entities that are well worth skipping one week’s — let alone a night’s worth of television for. And my terrified butt is a worthy cause too! Come make it less scary, willya? KGB bar at 7 pm. Drinks on me.
[Above: Ionian literary society at Kansas State University, late 1800s]
Matt de la Peña is the author of four critically acclaimed young adult novels: Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, and I Will Save You. He’s also the author of the award-winning picture book, A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis (illustrated by Kadir Nelson). He received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.
Lisa Ko has received fellowships and awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Van Lier Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation, as well as residencies from Ledig House, the Saltonstall Foundation, and the Anderson Center. Her fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Narrative, Brooklyn Review, The Asian Pacific American Journal, and elsewhere. She has taught fiction and nonfiction writing at the City College of New York and is completing a novel, Jackpot.
Lauren Mechling is a features editor at The Wall Street Journal and writes a column for medium.com. She has written or co-written six young-adult books, the most recent of which, My Darklyng, ran as a serialized novel on Slate.com. She recently published a young-adult short story in Rookie magazine and she is at work on a new young-adult novel.
One Teen Story is a literary magazine for young adult readers of every age. Each issue features one amazing short story about the teen experience. One Teen Story is published by One Story, Inc., a nonprofit organization that publishes One Story, the award-winning publication that features the best of today’s literary short fiction.
The Behind the Book Reading Series supports the literacy nonprofit organization, Behind the Book, which gets kids excited about reading by connecting them with contemporary writers and illustrators. Working with low-income students in the 1st-12th grades, Behind the Book brings authors and their books into individual classrooms to build a new generation of readers and writers. Since our founding in 2003, we have worked with 5,400 students and put over 12,000 books in students’ hands and on library shelves.
April 29th, 2013
Come see me and a bunch of other cool people read at Book Court on Saturday at 4. It’s Ruthie Baron’s book release and this event, much like the novel of the hour (how rad is the title “Defriended”?), promises to be great scary fun.
April 13th, 2013
I know, I know, it’s been criminally long, but I have a pretty great excuse: Some creepy hackers locked me out of my website! Possibly ones related to the ones who started sending spam from my Twitter account but we will never know. I will spare you the anxiety this all caused, as I’m just delighted to be here now.
Here’s the thing I wanted to tell you (and even the hackers): I’ve started writing an every-other-weekly column for Medium, a new website that was founded by a couple of the Twitter creators and is a patchwork quilt of things to read, for people who love words and ideas and might be in the mood for something slightly more substantial than bizarro tweet.
All to day, if you want to read a feed full of things like
“Duking it out with my new bestie @swagawaga #toddoldham #DWTSfever”
“MT @ScaryGuy: People who are in favor of gun control are simply misplacing their real fears”
then don’t bother with Medium. But if you’d like to learn about the Best Book You’ve Never Read, the Soul Food War or Sidebar Guy, have at it.
PS That said, I am kind of in love with this Twitter account, whose sole purpose is to alert folks when they type “sneak peak” instead of the correct “sneak peek.”
March 24th, 2013
It is with great delight that I report a short story I wrote was just published in Rookie, Tavi’s wonderful magazine. It’s my first time writing from a boy’s point of view and, come to think of it, my first published short story.
The link is here. I hope you love it.
March 19th, 2013
My spiel was rather long. I will keep my recap brief.
1. Travel writing needn’t be a fluffy dispatch from a tropical island full of rich people and exotic monkeys. In fact, it’s pretty much any type of writing so long as a sense of place plays a role in it. This can be a memoir of a particularly brutal subway ride, so long as you convey what the subway smelled like (bonus points if you do a little research and tell us a bit about the city’s entire underground infrastructure, just to help locate us on the map). A history of your block, leading up to what’s on it today would count, too.
The only thing I would rule out is a snatch of dialogue where setting is not mentioned at all and the characters might as well be in outer space, Zanzibar or Alabama. Unless it’s clearly set in 1965, in which case it’s time travel, and that totally qualifies!
2. To my mind, the best travel writing has both a sense of a quest, and a sense of tension. When I travel, I read a book on a beach and eat club sandwiches. This is not something I would want to read about (and this is why I do not get up to writing many travel stories). I like stories where a writer is ready to go to an unknown place and work hard to discover something, or try to accomplish something that’s specific to the place. Looking for the best street pretzels in New York. Learning how to play shuffleboard in Florida. Going on every single ride at Great Adventure in one afternoon. If there are troubles along the way, all the better (for the reader)!
3. You don’t need to go anywhere to get started on travel writing. You can write a mini memoir. These can be the most beautiful and hilarious types of travel writing. Close your eyes and think of all the trips you’ve taken. One of them must stick out for being amazing or dreadful. Maybe your mother lost the car key and you were stuck at the Ikea parking lot for an afternoon. Or perhaps you were at summer camp and a ghost crawled into your bunk–you’re sure of it. These are travel stories! And I bet they’re better than any description of lolling near the villa on a white sand beach.
4. If you reach out to an editor, well. . . that’s a whole other post.
*They meet up every week! I don’t even do groceries that regularly!
March 18th, 2013
Jason Molina, you were a good man.
March 10th, 2013
I know that I was supposed to jump straight to the Ruth Bader Ginsburg profile, but it was the piece on insomnia in the latest New Yorker that caught my attention. Hello! I thought. This is going to solve everything! I will no longer squander $40 on items at Sephora that promise to give the illusion of eight hours’ sleep (and only last three applications). No more NyQuil hangovers. No more passing out at 9:57 p.m. at parties. Parties of which I am the host.
The piece started off on fascinating footing, introducing us to the first sleep disorder researcher on earth: one Nathaniel Kleitman, who was born in (what is now) Moldovia in 1895 and eventually ended up in Chicago studying sleep science.
In one of Kleitman’s first experiments, he kept half a dozen young men awake for days at a stretch, then ran them through a battery of physical and psychological tests. Frequently, he used himself as a subject. As a participant in the sleep-deprivation experiment, Kleitman stayed awake longer than anyone else—a hundred and fifteen hours straight. At one point, exhausted and apparently hallucinating, he declared, apropos of nothing in particular, “It is because they are against the system.” (Asked what he meant, he said he’d been under the impression that he was “having a heated argument with the observer on the subject of labor unions.”) In another self-administered experiment, Kleitman spent six weeks underground, in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, trying to live according to a twenty-eight-hour day. (He found that he could not.)
Each of us has an internal clock, or, to use Roenneberg’s term, a “chronotype.” Either we’re inclined to go to bed early and wake up at dawn, in which case we’re “larks,” or we like to stay up late and get up later, which makes us “owls.” . . . During the week, everyone is expected to get to the office more or less at the same time—let’s say 9 A.M. This suits larks just fine. Owls know they ought to go to bed at a reasonable time, but they can’t—they’re owls. So they end up having to get up one, two, or, in extreme cases, three hours earlier than their internal clock would dictate. . . For larks, the problem is reversed. Social life is arranged so that it’s hard to have one unless you stay out late on Friday and Saturday nights. But, even when larks have partied till 3 A.M., they can’t sleep in the following day—they’re larks. So they stagger through until Monday, when they can finally get some rest.
Here’s hoping Monday is this lark’s lucky day. . .
February 28th, 2013
Have been rereading Before She Met Me by Julian Barnes, the best route I can find to transport myself to a party in early-eighties London. This is Barnes before he became consumed with mortality, when he was goofing around like the best of them.
How delicious is this bit? How impossible would it be not to find this character, whom I imagine to be a cross between Jack Black and just about any sexy-and-he-knows-it character utterly, un-turn-downably charming? (P.S. He also happens to fart a lot, and to seductive effect. Julian Barnes, you are a rock star.)
The cigarette trick had started as a joky short-cut to character. Jack’s beard grew wirily enough for him to park a Galoise in it safely, at a point halfway along the jawbone. If he was chatting up a girl at a party, he’d go off to fetch some drinks and free his hands by tucking his lighted cigarette into his beard (sometimes he would light one specially to set up the effect). On his return, a cheeky blur of bonhomie, he’d adopt one of three courses, depending on his appraisal of the girl. If she seemed sophisticated, or acute, or even just alert, he’d casually extract the cigarette and go on smoking (this established him, he assured Graham, as ‘a bit of an original’). If she seemed dim or shy or charmproof, he’d leave the cigarette in there for a minute or two, talk about a book–though never one of his own–and then ask for a smoke (this proved him to be ‘one of those clever, absentminded writers with his head in the clouds’). If he couldn’t fathom her at all, or thought she was crazy, or was quite drunk himself, he’d simply leave the cigarette until it smouldered its way down to his beard, then look puzzled and ask, ‘Can you smell something burning around here?’ (this established him as ‘really a terrific character, a bit wild, probably a bit self-destructive, you know, like real artists but so interesting’).
February 14th, 2013
Unbelievable. Is your book meant to be a spoof? In that case it’s hilarious. I’m sorry but you have won the stupidest boo of the year award.
Sent from my iPad
2. On Feb 13, 2013, at 10:07 PM, —– <—@—.com> wrote:
Dear —–,Yes, in part, my book is meant to be a satire. But regardless, your unkind words have hurt me deeply. If that was your intention, you have succeeded. I am so sorry that you didn’t like —–. In order to achieve closure for both of us, I suggest you send me proof of purchase and an address and I will refund the money you spent on my novel. Perhaps you don’t understand how mean and hurtful your words are. I further suggest you tell a friend or family member what you’ve done, so that you may discuss your intentions and the effect they have, with the hope that you discover a more peaceful way to communicate in future.Sincerely,—–
3. On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 9:30 AM, —– <—–@gmail.com> wrote:I’m so sorry. If it is a satire its brilliant. Please forgive me. Lately the writers that get onto the media, magazines, Forbes, Atlantic, have no business being there and it was driving me up the wall and I took it out on you. I a truly sorry. I should have known it was a satire. I’m in Manila and ts like I have a bird’s eye view of America and I do not want to return. The level of intellect has sunk t the gutter. Again, forgive me.Yours,
Sent from my iPad
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