Monday, July 18, 2011

HOLLYWOOD!!!

I'm planning my trip here:




We're staying in a beachfront condo here:




And visiting all the sites like this one:




This one:




And this one:




I'm looking for HELP! Any tips for things to do and see while we're there? Best ways to get around? Is traffic horrendous between Hermosa Beach and L.A.? (Yes, I realize it's a little bit of a hike but I fell in love with the condo where we're staying!) Should we do the Los Angeles Go Pass or not? Where are the must-eat restaurants??? Must-see places?


This is my dream trip -- something I've been wanting to do since I was 8 (no exaggeration!). Any tips would be VERY appreciated!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Lighter Side of YA

After reading Elle Strauss's blog on dark, edgy Young Adult novels Monday, I was curious about this Wall Street Journal article that has everyone in an uproar. In the article, which can be read here, a book reviewer asks why young adult novels have gotten so dark and edgy. And what is the impact on today's teen readers?


Strauss is faced with the same dilemma as many of us. What if we don't write "dark and edgy?" What then? For me, the choice was to head over to middle grade, but not everyone wants to write for the younger audiences. I would venture a guess, though, that this is an issue that faces writers of commercial fiction in many genres. Romance, for instance, has headed to the dark side as well. Vampires, death, darkness...never have we been so interested in entertaining ourselves with things so bleak.


However, young adult is different. These are our kids that are being targeted with this. And it isn't limited to the paranormal. Publishers believe teens want to read about suicide, incest, abuse, rape... And the truth is, publishers may be right. They keep a close watch on what is selling, and I'm sure they do market research to determine what teens want to read.


The WSJ didn't question what teens wanted to read. In fact, the article's writer took us back through the history of dark teen books -- all the way back to The Outsiders. However, I think many of us agree that YA had some much lighter times as well. Perhaps teens were entertaining ourselves with Lois Duncan's story about students who accidentally kill their teacher, but we were also enjoying the sweet teen romances of the time.




There's no denying darker, edgier books dominate the YA market these days. But, to quote Elle's overall question...is there room for something not-so-edgy? Can someone who writes books for teens that aren't doom and gloom make it in this market?


Lighthearted teen books ARE being published. The proof, below, in pictures:










But we all know Elle's question is an important one. Is there room for new YA authors who write the lighter stuff? Should an author give into the trend and risk losing her voice...or buck the trend and hope to somehow squeeze into the market writing the books she wants?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Library Books for Your Kindle?

I think I must be one of the last Americans to use the library system. Not just for books, but for DVDs...




...and CDs and audiobooks. As a member of the library system, I also get 5 free mp3 downloads a week via Sony's Freegal service:




All kinds of cool. But one thing I've found problematic is downloading e-books to my iPhone.


It's not like I have some obscure phone that nobody in the world supports. The iPhone4 is THE cell phone. I have the Kindle app on it, so I should be able to read library books without going through an obstacle course to get there.


Currently, I have to use an app called Bluefire to get the books. I go to the library's website, sort through the very clunky lists of e-books (most of which are unavailable because they're checked out), download the book to my computer, then go find a particular kind of file and add it to a section in iTunes where I tell my computer what to sync to my iPhone. Seven days later my book has expired.


No, you didn't read that incorrectly. SEVEN DAYS to read a book. Okay, so I can read most books in seven days, but that's still a lot of pressure. What if I have a busy week? What if I'm in the middle of another book I want to finish up first? Why can't I have it for three weeks like normal books?


Needless to say, the recent news that library books will be available for Kindle later this year put me over the moon. If I can send it to my phone's Kindle app the way I send books on Amazon.com to it, I'll never read a paper book again. Of course, according to the news stories I'm reading, checkout will only be for 7-14 days, but maybe they'll let us renew?


THIS is the future of the American library system, folks. Libraries are becoming more and more electronic. If the Kindle deal applies to the Nashville library system, I'll officially have a library membership I actively use, while never setting foot in an actual library.


I'll go for that!