Announcements, Admonitions, and Happinesses for the Past Two Weeks

  • The next Kidlit Drink Night will be Monday, April 14, at Sweet & Vicious in Soho, starting at 6:30 p.m. It's been a while since we've gotten together, so I hope you'll all come out and chat.
  • Love YA lit? Want to share the love? Then you should participate in the Readergirlz' Operation Teen Book Drop.
  • Also, most of the late February/March/early April SQUIDs have now been answered. For those of you interested in statistics, I had 53 submissions, of which 37 are being returned now (some with notes); I'll reread the remaining 16 this week and also probably return the majority of them, I must say. (No offense, simply the way it goes.) I didn't notice any dominant trend or recurring plot motifs this month, but I did receive one submission that I am going to use as an object lesson: a didactic picture-book manuscript against nose-picking, written in not-very-good rhyme. First of all, this reminded me that I need to change my "no scatology" policy in my guidelines to "no bodily humor," because ewww -- not my thing. Second, if you're tempted to write a bodily-humor picture-book manuscript, think about what would have to go on the cover. This one would have required us to show a little kid with his finger up his nose. That is not attractive to book buyers. Third, if you write in rhyme (and it's a good guideline even if you don't), ALWAYS, ALWAYS, have a person who is not you and who has never read the manuscript before read it aloud to you, and listen carefully to how the meter runs and the beats fall. If the manuscript does not sound the same as when you heard it in your head, take it back and revise further before you submit it anywhere. Fourth, if you have to include the word "did" to make a line work, as in "The squid swam the current / The squid swam the shore / The squid hit the beach / And up that squid did soar!" -- you're cheating, forcing your rhyme, and you can't do that more than once a manuscript. Go forth and sin no more.
  • I just recently re-found these wonderful Zadie Smith essays I've mentioned before, and they are 900% worth reading if you love thinking theoretically about reading and writing: "Love, Actually," about E. M. Forster, reading for love, and ethics in literature (the guiding light of my talk "Morals, Muddles, and Making It Through"); and "Fail Better" and "Read Better," a two-part essay on the responsibilities of writers and of critics.
  • The Happiness of the Past Week: It's true that I've never met a carb that I didn't like, but recently I've been spending a lot of time with a carb I love. Rice? It takes too long. Potatoes? Feh. No, my new pure-grain passion is quick-cooking, sweet-tasting, low in fat, and fun to say. It is

It's wonderful with mix-ins, like my favorite Curried Couscous Salad, but I even like it nearly plain -- one night I made up a cup, sprinkled lemon-pepper seasoning on it, and ate it as a late-night snack. (Hint for New Yorkers: You can buy big bags of it cheap at the Indian grocery on 1st Avenue between 5th and 6th Sts.) Yay couscous!
  • It does not involve couscous, but I'm also very fond of this recipe for acorn squash. (Actually, as you might be able to tell, what I'm really fond of is any recipe involving apples and dried cranberries.) Yum.
  • The Happiness of Two Weeks Ago: I don't talk about my family very much, beyond our kookiness with the Frog, because (1) it's not really the Internet's business and (2) much of what I could say might sound like bragging. But to go ahead and brag -- dang, I have a great family, from my cousins in Ithaca who came down a couple weeks ago, to everyone I saw in Missouri when I went home for Easter (especially my parents and sister and brother-in-law and grandfather), to those cousins and aunts and uncles scattered around the Midwest who I don't see often enough. . . . They're all funny and smart and affectionate and great conversationalists; not perfect, as no family is, but good people who are always there for me. So the Happiness of that past week and many weeks is

My Family!!!

  • Many of my fond family memories revolve around sporting events -- attending Ray-Pec sporting events, watching Chiefs games while reading the Star on Sunday afternoons -- and we've been KU basketball fans since the start of the Roy Williams era. So go Jayhawks! Defeat Memphis!
  • And in more hometown sports news, the usually hapless Royals are on top of the AL Central. Go Royals! Defeat those smug bastard Yankees!