Friday, March 30, 2012

The Hunger Games

Yesterday afternoon I went to see “The Hunger Games.” I had enjoyed the novels tremendously, and just about every review of the movie version has been positive, so I had high hopes.

The theater was populated by two dozen humans and three glowing smartphones. (Why do they hold the phones UP while using them? You’d think they would be discrete enough to put them in their laps. Snort, grumble, gnash. I am becoming Andy Rooney.) Shortly after the film started I moved to one of the front rows so that I wouldn’t be irritated by the texting activities. I got a sore neck, but was able to immerse myself in the Games without further distractions.

Rock-face Peeta
First, let me say that I did not get up and walk down the hall to watch “John Carter of Mars,” which was my fallback strategy if THG didn’t work out. “The Hunger Games” is eminently watchable. Jennifer Lawrence did a fabulous job—almost (but not quite) as good as she did in “Winter’s Bone.” The film’s pacing is breathtaking (like the book), and the movie is, technically, nearly flawless. As a movieization of a novel, it succeeds admirably.

But as a movie? Well, it reminded me of the first two Harry Potter movies. It reminded me of the first Twilight movie. It felt soulless, like a very well done paint-by-numbers version of the Mona Lisa. I left the theater feeling sated, but mildly dissatisfied.

I’m wondering how well it worked for people who never read the book.

Note: I am not always disappointed by movie adaptations of books that I have read. A couple of months ago I saw the U.S. movie version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I loved it. I also liked “No Country for Old Men,” and the third Harry Potter movie.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Elves (or UPS) Left a Present at My Door

There are several rewarding moments that come in the book-making process. The moment when you know your early scribblings are sufficient to build a novel upon. The completion of the first draft. The completion of drafts two, three, four, and so on. The acceptance letter. The check. The first look at cover art. The first advance reading copy. The first positive pre-publication reviews. The first bound book. Showing it to your dog. And then, always momentous, a big brown box appears on the front steps. What could it be?

Official pub date for The Obsidian Blade is April 10, two weeks from the date of this post. On April 14, I'll be doing my first signing, at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis. There will be chickens and other beasts in attendance. Then, that evening, I'll be at the Minnesota Book Awards Gala in St. Paul, where I get to hang out with my fellow book award finalists and a bunch of other book lovers.

If you can't make it to either of those events, I'll be at St. Paul's The Red Balloon Bookshop on Friday, May 11th.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hole in the Sky Book Trailer

Hole in the Sky is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel set in the near future, after a virulent strain of influenza has wiped out more than 99% of the human race. Michelle Lane, the organizer of Cavalcade of Authors (scroll down to see my post about the fabulous event) and her husband made this cool video about the book. Thanks, Michelle!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where the Heck is Lake Agassiz?

Until a few months ago, I had no idea. But thanks to Minnesota's Legacy Amendment, I have become educated. Ten thousand years ago Lake Agassiz covered an area about the size of Hudson Bay (that's BIG) reaching from Minnesota to the Northwest Territories. It's present-day remnants include the still-enormous Lake Winnipeg and several tens of thousands of smaller lakes.

What does that have to do with the Legacy Amendment? Well, the amendment has, among other things, designated funding so that our library systems can bring authors into the smaller outstate libraries and schools. So this week I'll be visiting six libraries in the Lake Agassiz Regional Library System. 

If you live anywhere near what used to be the southern shore of Lake Agassiz, please stop by one of the libraries and say hello! I'll be in Ada, Moorhead, Hawley, Crookston, Climax, and Hendrum.  All the visits will take place on Wednesday and Thursday. For details on times, etc., click here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I'm Back

You didn't know I was gone? Well, I was. I've been in Washington, in the Tri-Cities of Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland, on the Columbia River. I was one of twelve(!) authors presenting to 650(!) teens at the Cavalcade of Authors.

It was an amazing experience, and probably the most well-organized events I've ever experienced. The Cavalcade, founded by the redoubtable Michelle Lane and co-chaired by Leslie Olds, has been going and growing for several years now, and this was the biggest one yet. Next year, I am told, it'll be even bigger!

It was wonderful meeting all the other authors—Frank Beddor, Royce Buckingham, Janet Lee Carey, Alex Flinn, Colleen Houck, Blake Nelson, Ridley Pearson, Alexander Gordon Smith, Vivian Vande Velde, Robin Wasserman, and Jim Whiting. But the best part was meeting the teens, every one of whom had read books by at least four of the authors. They kept us on our toes with many thoughtful, interesting, and often startling questions.

Here's a photo I shot from the stage during the closing Q&A session.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Editing in the Digital Age

I know that some of you are writers who have not yet been published, so I thought you might be interested in what line editing looks like circa 2012.  Here I have reproduced the first two pages of the What Boys Really Want manuscript with line edits from David Levithan, and my responses. I love working this way, with lots of room for comments and changes. Sometimes a manuscript will go through several rounds of changes, with all of the interactions recorded.

(Click to enlarge)