Category Archives: Other

Are your hands bleeding yet? NaNoWriMo is here!

All right kids, we’re already 19 hours in. What are your word counts? Do you have your plot planned out yet? Where is your extra stash of pencils? Do you have a back-up hard drive in case your first one goes out? Do you have a back-up computer in case your first one gets eaten?! Where are your USB drives?! Is this the chair you’re going to sit in for the next thirty days?! THERE IS NO TIME!

National Novel Writing Month is upon us! Thirty whole days of writing, getting writer’s block, being tempted to start over, a little binge drinking, a little crying, a lot of panicking, repeat daily. Ok, not really. But some of those are true for at least some of us in this room. I’m starting on time this year, and I’m going to do my best with the help of some of my writing buddies. Last year I was not successful in making the 50,000 word count, but here’s to a month of trying my damnedest. You may be asking some questions like “Oh no! If you’re doing Nano, when are you going to finish all your debut reviews/read other things/play video games/rake your yard/(insert other thing I still have to do this year here)?” I have asked myself these same questions, and I have decided that I don’t have time to answer them because seriously guys did you know that the month is already starting and for realsies THERE IS NO TIME!

So, if you’ve got NaNoWriMo on the brain this month, head on over to nanowrimo.org and feel free to look me up: solitarysumire. We can laugh and cry and write together!

Onward!

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2012 Debut Author Challenge

Welcome to 2012! (Yes, yes, it’s February, I know.)

I’ve got plenty of resolutions for this year that probably won’t come to fruition, but one that I’m pretty excited about is my first time participating in the 2012 Debut Author Challenge!

The goals of the challenge are very simple: read and review twelve YA books by debuting authors in the year 2012. There are many things that I’m going to have trouble remembering to do this year, but reading is not going to be one of them. So look forward to some updates on my challenge throughout the year, and as always, feel free to read and comment along with me! There are much worse things you could be doing this year than supporting some up and coming novelists, some of whom might become your favorite new authors.

While I don’t know all the books I plan to read for this challenge, I do have a few in mind. I have been awaiting Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass (or Queen of Glass, as it was called on FictionPress) for quite some time. It was a so exciting to hear that this wonderfully talented writer was able to rise from internet obscurity to being one of the most read stories on the web, and from there straight to a book deal.  And even though it’s a second Cinderella story that I’ll be reading this year, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is in my hands as we speak. Look for a post about how cool this book is coming soon! Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard has been on my to-read list for awhile, thanks to a recommendation from my friend Caitlin. The Selection by Kiera Cass looks like it could be really interesting, and I’ll try not to compare it to Princess Academy by Shannon Hale right off the bat. And lastly, Gravity by Melissa West looks pretty good.

People who read my blog might look at it and say, “Is all you read YA?” The answer is, well, kind of. After four years in college and a B.A in English, I read so many classics that I’ve come to crave newfangled YA novels like two-year-olds crave basically everything. So, yeah. Maybe some of you know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, if you would like to learn more about the challenge, just head over to The Story Siren. You too can read books like a crazy person! Yay!

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Life as a publishing intern: Part 1

So I’m procrastinating on my NaNoWriMo piece, and I was just thinking how I haven’t said a whole lot on here about my current experience as a nonprofit publishing intern, and this is maybe info that will be interesting/helpful to anyone who is really interested in the field.

When I started this blog, I was on the staff of our university’s undergraduate literary magazine. After much deliberation on other subjects, I had finally decided to pursue my degree in English (because it was the only thing I really like AND was really good at) even though I knew it might not lead me to the best paid jobs in the world. So I had joined the school lit mag as an attempt to see how I could connect my love of books with an actual career. On the magazine, I served as the head of development and finance. For anyone who does not live or work in nonprofit-land, “development” might be a broad and unknown term. Basically it translates to developing the press’ support with both individual giving and other kinds of fundraising so that the press has the ability to keep growing and publishing good work. Fundraising is a big part of development, but there are many different faucets to it that don’t include going house to house asking if people would like to buy some chocolate or wrapping paper.

Fundraising isn’t something one often thinks about when deciding to pursue a career in publishing. When you think of publishing, sometimes you think of publicity or marketing, but mostly you think about editing. The work of editor is an extremely fundamental part of the whole, but my time at the lit mag showed me that there is a lot more that has to get done besides editing. Someone has to design the cover, someone has to plan the launch party, someone has to distribute the product, someone has to run ads in the newspaper. If you’re nonprofit, someone has to apply for grants, and send out letters, and plan events. Someone has to deal with the printer, and do the taxes, and turn in expense sheets. There is a lot of diversity in the the realm of publishing that you don’t necessarily know about until you get there.

When our finished product came in (which for us was about 1700 magazines the size of a chapbook), I had this overwhelming sense that this was what I wanted. There is nothing quite like opening a brand new book out of the box, opening the inside cover and seeing your name in it, and knowing that you helped make it. Even if you didn’t design the pages or write the stories. So after I graduated from college, I started pursuing some internships in the Minneapolis area.

Something to know about the publishing industry before you look for internships: everyone thinks you have to go to New York. This really isn’t the case. Any large city will have publishing options if you get creative. Maybe Random House doesn’t have an office down the street from you, but have you looked into children’s publishers? Newspapers? Journals? Online? Nonprofit? How about your local university press? There are many options for those of us who don’t live in the Big Apple and maybe don’t really plan to. (Not that there’s anything wrong with NY-but I am a Minnesota girl).

So after about 9 months of applying to places and getting turned down, I finally scored an internship with a nice nonprofit publisher in Minneapolis this September. My first piece of advice to anyone trying to get an internship in publishing relates to my first point: don’t automatically go for editing. If you are set on editing, by all means, apply for these positions. But keep in mind that there are other departments in every publishing house. Some of these may be less competitive than strictly editorial internships, and usually have some different skill sets that they are looking for. And besides, you might end up liking another type of work better.

I am a development intern, and I help the development department with their day-to-day operations, as well as with some special events and projects. I do very intern-y type work like using the copier, but I also help with the planning and running of a variety of events, from private author readings to large public events. I help maintain our press’ contact database, I research funding opportunities, and I send out a lot of letters. I also get to meet a lot of interesting people, and I have the chance to talk about my favorite books and why I like them.

Oh yeah, and I get to meet authors. (Not that I’m bragging, or anything.)

So feel free to ask me any questions about my experience so far, and I will continue to update as my internship progresses. In the mean time, I have a lot of NaNo to catch up on. Yikes.

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Hunker down and write: NaNoWriMo is here!

OK kids, it’s that time of year again. Get out your pens and paper, laptops, desktops, typewriters, napkins, crayons, inkwells and papyrus. Grab a chisel and a big flat rock. No matter how you do it, National Novel Writing Month is upon us! And with 50,000 words to write in just 30 days, quite frankly, we don’t have much time to be picky.

From November 1st to November 30th: that’s how long you have to write a novel. Have you always wanted to write something big, but never had the motivation to get down to it? Head over to nanowrimo.org and join the frenzy. Just create an account, give a title and synopsis to your novel (it can be changed at any time) and you’re off. You can write on whatever you want: word processors, notebooks, old dishrags, it doesn’t matter. All you have to do is count and record your growing word count on the website. On the website you’ll also find some great creative help, from writing prompts to forums, and plot swaps to fun things to procrastinate with!

This will be the first year I am participating in semi-earnest; in the past I have urged my friends on with unleashed enthusiasm, but never quite gotten to the table myself. It’s day two; I have zero words written (though at least a couple in my brain, for now) and I really don’t have much of a concrete clue of what I’m writing. But why the hell not, right?

Feel free to add me as a buddy, I use the same username. We can write (and procrastinate, and panic, and maybe even sob a little bit) together!

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Food Culture Post! -and you know we like the foodz.

I wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight the blog of a friend of mine- consider this one of my posts pertaining to life outside the universe of books. Beth has been a friend of mine since way back when, and by “way back when,” I am of course referring to the high school marching band days. But we are all grown up now (she more so than I) and finally delving into the deep reaches of the real world. Beth graduated from the U with me with a major in psychology, but you’ll have to check out her blog to know how she threw herself into the foray of baking.

I came to know Beth’s exemplary baking prowess while we lived as roommates for a couple years during college. There was always some sort of baked good sitting on our counter: cookies, pies, cakes, torte, brownies, banana bread, more banana bread, muffins, truffles…Oh man, Beth, MAKE MORE TRUFFLES! She would stress bake to get away from homework, and it wasn’t uncommon to see her up at 10pm starting up a batch of bread.

Don't get crumbs in your books!

The blog, titled “Heavenly Buns: The Evolution of a Bakery” follows her adventures in baking, and she bakes all sorts of deliciousness. I find it particularly interesting, because even though I’ve seen about a billion episodes of “Cake Boss” and the like, it always blows my mind to see someone produce beautiful cakes and pastries without the help of industrial grade appliances and new-fangled tools. Beth manages to make this stuff out of the tiny kitchen in her efficiency apartment with ingredients purchased from local stores. I won’t be surprised if someday she has her own cookbook. (I’ll publish it Beth, I swear!)

So, check out the blog, http://heavenlybuns.blogspot.com/. You can also find it by clicking on the link under “solitarysumire recommends” on the right.

MUFFINS!

P.S. I made these muffins out of a box, and they were tasty, yet nothing like a Beth-made muffin. Beth, will you please make me some more muffins?

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Books: An Arts and Crafts Project

Finally, a kind of artsy thing that I can actually do. I may be the most uncoordinated person when it comes to painting, sculpting, drawing, and every other hands-on craft out there, but I managed to summon enough dexterity to make this super cool little journal this week:

Sorry the picture's a little blurry...did not have good light at the time...

Okay, so maybe it’s not the best looking book ever, but hey, I made it! This week, at the library where I work, we had a staff motivation day full of different seminars that you could take for fun and learning. I got to take the book binding class, taught by the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. They’re a non-profit organization located in the Open Book by the Metrodome, and they teach all kinds of classes on different types of binding, screen printing, letterpress, and other book-related art. This was a fairly simple project, but it was a lot of fun and I’m thinking about taking a class or two.

Here’s their website: http://www.mnbookarts.org/

The Minnesota Center for Book Arts is in Minnesota, of course, but I’m sure there’s a place to learn this type of craft in a city near you. Just think: from now on you could make all your own writing journals!

A look at the binding.

What do you think, does this look fun or what?

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Why We Study Humanities

While I was studying during my final semester of college this winter, a teacher posed an interesting essay question that was the focus of our final paper for the class. We had talked on and off in class (Modern Literature, Theory and Criticism-I’m an English major) about the problems affecting the Humanities departments in schools, particularly university settings. We were talking about this in the midst of the tuition protests in England and a college in New York having cut its whole language repertoire. It’s scary to think about, but that kind of mindset towards the Humanities is spreading like wildfire, and it might not be long before things like history, literature, language, music, religion, women’s and minorities studies are pitched out to make room for “better” disciplines like science and math.

This is totally not to say that there is no merit in studying sciences and maths. That would be a ridiculous statement. What I’m arguing is that it’s equally as ridiculous to think that we could get rid of the human disciplines.  But it’s so hard to stand up for Humanities, because it’s difficult to put our fingers on just one thing and say “Look, this right here is what we do for the world.” The work that we do in these departments is often subtle and takes many years to permeate society. On the other hand, sometimes the effect is fairly swift. Think about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Common Sense, and other books and articles that have prompted more or less immediate historical impact. And more than anything, I think that the Humanities have truly taken to heart the importance of inter-departmental studies. Just look at your local university’s CLA class list and you’ll be amazed at the things you can study that could belong to four different departments.

In literature and literary criticism in particular, there is the option to converse with authors who have come before you. If you look at something like the post colonial movement you can see that social change lies in authors looking at the novels that have come before, and seeing who and what has been left out in that point of view. Then they change it by writing their own novel that poses something different, and new classics become part of the curriculum for millions of students.

Now, people may argue here that the writing of books has nothing to do with the study of books, which is a wrong assumption. Many authors study creative writing in school, as well as artists studying art and dancers studying dance.

I think that Humanities also have the same ability to study the universal as well as the individual, just like the sciences. We question why the canon stays the way it is, why people keep coming back to the same ideas over and over. What resonates in these stories in people for centuries, and what does that say about us? We also look at the peculiarities of individual cultures, and individuals in each culture. We study ideas from, languages and literature from around the world.

And, I’m sorry, in this rapidly shrinking world, who really thinks that understanding other languages isn’t worth it? Really?

Anyway, this is just a small portion of the discussion we had in class (the views here were expressed by others as well as myself). Basically, I hope we can stand up to whatever the money-gobbling people of the world have in store for the Humanities.

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