Autumn begins

The equinox is as good a time as any to turn over a new (orange-colored) leaf and make promises to oneself. For me, these promises require more diligence with my writing and reading, whether for work or for myself.

So far, I’m doing well work-wise, but that’s fairly easy. One of my courses is on multicultural literature for children, reading books from all over the map: two fantasies from India and China, a graphic novel set in Libya and Syria, picture books about the refugee experience, and novels set in Jamaica, on a Native American reservation, and in the Detroit home of Haitian immigrants.

This syllabus came together well before the 2016 US election, and I can’t help wishing that current politics hadn’t made the course’s topic so relevant, but my students (a multicultural group themselves) have jumped right in and are already finding ways to include one or two of the books in their own teaching.

Meanwhile, in the realm of reading-for-pleasure, books are moving quickly from the TBR stack to the D&D stack. Here’s a sampling:

Denton Little’s Deathdate, by Lance Rubin. In Denton’s world, everyone knows what day they’ll die, but not the exact moment or the means. We meet Denton the night before his deathdate, just before he attends his own funeral. This novel begins like Chris Crutcher’s Deadline — funny, quirky, narrated by a smart young man — but quickly shifts into a weirdness gear that’s funny, quirky, and mysterious, with plot twists that sent me spinning. The sequel is out, and I’m eager to read it.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Because it was about time I read it. Not a comfortable book, but clearly an important one. Still.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (part of my all-series-all-of-the-time challenge for 2017). Doug Adam’s trilogy, now maxed out at 6 volumes, still entertains, even after a tenth reading. But this time around Zaphod Beeblebrox bears an uncomfortably close resemblance to #45 — same MO, same reasoning (perhaps I flatter both with this word), same egomania morphing into megalomania. Could I be the only one to have noticed this? But somehow, Adams gives me hope. The universe will survive.

The Conch Bearer, the first installment in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s trilogy, and set in modern-day India (also, one of the books for my multicultural lit course). It’s Lost Horizons meets Harry Potter. Fun, magical, with so many references to Indian food that I want to get out my rice and lentils and fill my kitchen with the aromas of cumin, chili and cilantro. I just finished the series’ second book and am diving into the third. A fun read, for the history (Book 2 involves some time travel) as well as the fantasy.

Chimaera, arch detail

The Evil Wizard Smallbone, by Delia Sherman. If you haven’t read this book, get it now and read it. Funny, shiver-inducing (it takes place in Maine during a hard winter), and filled to the brim with books — the hero takes refuge in a bookstore called “Evil Wizard Books” in a town where everyone’s last name is “Smallbone”. You can’t get better than that.

And now to my writing: over the summer I had two nibbles from agents about my latest completed manuscript, but no bites. The nibbles, however, are encouraging; I feel I’m getting closer to finding a home for that project, so submissions continue. It’s time, however, to begin prep for NaNo 2017, and I can’t decide what to do: Dig out an old historical fiction MS that needs reworking to get it out before a 2021 centenary? or get back to the sequel to KM? or work more on that massive project set in the Middle Ages? I’ll keep you posted.

From OIF at ALA

As for this blog, my “new leaf” includes writing more frequent posts. A week from tomorrow, I start the Author Takeover Event on Saguaro Books’ Facebook page, and I hope a few of you find your way there (2 pm NYC time). Learn more about Saguaro’s authors and their books, ask some questions, play a game or two — win prizes!

Next week is also Banned Books Week, so visit your local library or small bookstore, find a banned book to read, and take a selfie of yourself finishing it. Post it on my Facebook page, with #IReadBannedBooks, and I’ll send you an image you can print up to make a one-of-a-kind bookmark. Again, you can’t get better than that.

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