Field Trip Friday: July 31, 2015

The Week In Writing

- The Manuscript Wishlist gets a facelift. If you're looking to build a list of agents to query, it's a good place to start!

- Beloved SFF author Ursula Le Guin debuts an online fiction workshop

The Week In Reading

- West Ashley High bans Courtney Summer's Some Girls Are and sparks an outcry. 

- Tumblr users speculate, 'how would Harry Potter be different if a Slytherin took Cedric Diggory's narrative place?'

- Naomi Novak recommends five books about monsters over at

- Bookriot gives you nine diverse fantasy books to challenge your idea of fantasy.

The Week In Other Stuff

- Our own Sarah Enni interviewed Sarah McCarry for her FirstDraft podcast series. It's pretty cool!


Field Trip Friday: July 27, 2015

Apologies, everyone! I was a huge failure this week & I am indeed posting Field Trip Friday on..the following Monday. It'll be a brief one, but it's here! --Kaitlin

The Week In Writing

- Author Janice Hardy talks about the problems with using flash forwards as opening scenes. 

The Week In Reading

- An interview with President Jimmy Carter and author Jacqueline Woodson.

- Looking to try a new genre? The B&N blog has a list of 16 gateway YA reads by genre.

The Week In Publishing

- The forthcoming book Dumplin' by Julie Murphy is in the works as a movie with Disney.

- Controversial Harper Lee release Go Set A Watchman sold more copies in its first week than any book since Dan Brown's 2009 The Lost Symbol. 

The Week In Other Stuff

- This is pretty awesome; described as "friendship bracelets that teach girls how to code."

- In sad news, Bobbi Kristina Brown died this weekend, at age 22. 

- New York Magazine ran a powerful article featuring stories from 35 women assaulted by Bill Cosby.

- A new study found that men who harass women online are literally losers. Which is probably not news to women who are harassed by men online. 

- This Jezebel article is not joking: it will ruin Love Actually for you. You've been warned.


Field Trip Friday: July 17, 2015

The Big News This Week

Harper published GO SET A WATCHMAN, a book written by Harper Lee, who wrote the classic TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. It is unclear whether GSaW was a first draft of MOCKINGBIRD, or a sequel, or whether Lee wanted the book to be published at all. Many are upset at the new book's portrayal of beloved character Atticus Finch as a racist.

The Week In Writing

- Justina Ireland wrote a moving blog post about the frustrations of being a minority in an MFA program. "It is condensing every microaggression you have had to endure for the past twenty years, distilling them into a bitter cocktail that you must drink again and again and again, sometimes only realizing after the fact that you swallowed poison," she writes. "I have never, ever, been so consistently injured by something I chose to do voluntarily. Never." (More from Justina in the next section as well.)

- What are your goals? No--specifically. Name them. In a post that will make you rethink keeping a Captain's Log (um duh, that sounds awesome) The Science of Us discusses the power of writing down your goals.

The Week In Reading

- Recent reviews of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new book, BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, in the Economist and New York Times have spurred a debate on reviews of literature written by and about Black Americans. "These reviews are not just about Coates’ book. They speak to the larger issue of quality, of what dictates excellence and who it is in our society that gets to declare something good or bad," Justina Ireland writes in BookRiot. "It speaks to issues of diversity and representation and to the bleak statistics surrounding traditionally published books featuring protagonists of color."

- Speaking of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, BookRiot examines whether or not the book should be considered YA.

The Week In Other Stuff

Sports world was killin' it this week, guys!

- The ESPY Awards (like the Oscars for sports) this week honored Caitlyn Jenner, who recently came out as transgender, with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. In an emotional speech, Jenner called for more tolerance and acceptance of the transgender community (get your tissues ready):

- Serena Williams is arguably (inarguably) America's greatest athlete, a claim she underscored by winning Wimbeldon this year -- her fourth straight major win, and a feat called the Serena Slam. Even J.K. Rowling got in the mix to say Serena deserves more respect. Thankfully Serena was shaking off the haters, dancing with fellow champion Novak Djokovic to 'Night Fever' at the victory dinner. Observe, replicate, repeat:

The Week In Random

- THE TWILIGHT MINI MOVIES ARE HERE. Don't mind us while we rewatch the first one over and over afterward.

- Mhairi Black is the youngest MP in the UK's House of Commons, at 20 years old. She used her maiden speech to scathingly rebuke the current government, like a badass. "We now have one of the most uncaring, uncompromising, and out of touch governments that the UK has seen since Margaret Thatcher." Watch:

Field Trip Friday: July 10, 2015


'Tis the dog days of summer, and we hope you're having a great one, so far!

This Week in Writing

Agent Kristin Nelson breaks down the anatomy of a query rejection.

Julie and Kat Zhang tag teamed to bring you two posts about productivity on Pub(lishing) Crawl, this week.

19th Century French author Balzac supposedly drank 50 cups of coffee a day. These might have been his thoughts after each cup.

This Week in Reading

Ken Kalfu brings us the ethical quandaries of book buying in a world of (too?) many books and the desire to support indie bookstores.

At BookRiot, Kelly Jensen assess the way fat characters are and aren't written about in YA lit, and what can be done to improve representation.

The Guardian has an exclusive peek at the first chapter of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman.

This Week in Publishing

Ever wondered how and why a publisher decides to acquire a book? Jane Friedman walks us through P&L.

Which publishers and journals are participating in Lee and Low's diversity survey...and which are not (plus how you can encourage them to join).

YALSA brings us a recap of the ALA Author Coffee Klatch. (Hi, our lovely Stephanie Kuehn!)

"I just did an online interview for a foreign magazine. One of the questions was: 'Aren't you afraid of getting fat?'" British author Joanne Harris highlights the continued sexism in the publishing industry.

This Week in the Random

Stephen King has a Thing of Evil.

The Magic Chocolate Flower Dessert. I'd tap that.

Field Trip Friday: July 3, 2015


Hello friends. It's a holiday weekend and I'm STILL recovering from the awesomeness that was this year's ALA conference, so we're keeping this short and sweet today.

Speaking of's a great roundup of photos from the weekend. And if you haven't read Dan Santat's Caldecott acceptance speech, it's a beauty.

Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. There was a lot of Amazon talk this week. I haven't delved deeply into any of it, but apparently Amazon knows who your friends don't go writing reviews for them. They also know how much of your ebooks you've read, and plan to pay authors in their KDP subscription program accordingly. There will also be a forthcoming shift in the way Amazon reviews are weighted.

Frustrated about not being able to express your excitement!!!!! in the middle of a sentence? Here's a new punctuation mark for you.

Some nifty book-themed lockers, which are much cooler than the beige ones I remember.

Maria of Sesame Street is saying goodbye after 44 years.

We always think we're right, don't we? Here's your reminder to always, always consider the possibility that you just might be wrong.

The Girl Scouts are awesome.

Kingsley the Sun may not be the weirdest mascot ever (that's Speedy, the Evergreen Geoduck), but he's up there.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??? Horror struck this week when the NY Times suggested peas in the guacamole.

The best ever: Stephen Colbert interviewing Eminem on cable access television.

Sir Nicholas Winton died this week at the age of 106. He is remembered for rescuing 669 children from the Holocaust.

Happy Fourth!

Why Writing A Book is Not like Having a Baby

I have always used that time-honored metaphor of birth and babies to describe writing a book. 

That is, until I got pregnant. 

The thing is, I still think it's a pretty good metaphor. The roller coaster emotions and the hard work involved in writing a book go hand-in-hand with the ups and downs of pregnancy, too. I have probably cried more over my manuscript than I have over this unborn child in my uterus. 

However, there are some misconceptions in the book-baby metaphor that, as a person currently gestating a baby-baby as well as a book-baby, I must address.

1.) You're never going to accidentally have a book-baby. 

Dear writer, I am sorry, but you're not going to stumble into a finished manuscript in the same way you might skip a day of birth control and find yourself with an infant. The only way you can conceive a whole book is to sit down, day after day, and work. 

2.) Your book-baby probably won't adhere to deadlines. 

Not that baby-babies do either - but writing a book is even less certain than gestating a baby. Sure, there are premies that are born at 7 months, or 8; but generally, most infants take 9 months to cook. With books, there are no rules. Don't let anyone tell you differently. You might write a full first draft in five weeks; or, it might take you ten years. Just because your manuscript is approaching its tenth trimester doesn't mean you've failed as a writer. This book will be born when its ready. 

3.) Sometimes it's lonelier to mother a book-baby than a baby-baby.

I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by support in my pregnancy. My husband, my parents, my in-laws, my midwife - they have all showered me with love, advice, and much-needed rest when I'm too stubborn to ask for it myself. But, sometimes, writing a book is not like that. Writing a book means that people will ask why you must spend so much time with your baby, why you need rest and quiet, why you have a routine that you have to safeguard against all others. It's hard, but people won't necessarily understand why it's hard.

So do your best to surround yourself with supporters. Find family and friends and writing groups that encourage your alone time, and believe in your book-baby. Track down a "doctor" who will monitor your book-baby's growth. 

What are some other good metaphors, besides the "book-baby," that describe the writing process? Any ideas?