Thursday, May 19, 2011

Guest Blogging over at Word Whores today!

Thanks to my dear friend, Allison, I'm guest blogging over at Word Whores today, talking candidly about this week's topic: Perfection.

If you haven't checked out Word Whores yet, in general definitely give it a read. It's a great group of female writers with a lot of smart and fun musings to share!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HUNGER GAMES Film Pic Hits the Web!

The New York Post shared a first glimpse of Jennifer Lawrence all dolled up as Katniss from THE HUNGER GAMES on the cover of Entertainment Weekly:

With production about to kick off in North Carolina, Entertainment Weekly has scored the first look at Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, aka District 12 Tribute, aka The Girl On Fire, aka Mockingjay, aka the biggest hero The Capital never saw coming -- and Jennifer looks every inch the part.

Portions of the first interview where she can freely talk about the role will come out in drips and drabs over the next few days, but for now, this quote is lingering with me:

“I knew that as soon as I said yes [to the role], my life would change. And I walked around an entire day thinking ‘It’s not too late, I could still go back and do indies, I haven’t said yes yet, it’s not too late.’ [But] I love this story and if I had said no, I would regret it every day.”

See the original post HERE

I have to say, for any uncertainty I may have previously had, I suddenly have a very good feeling that this adaptation is going to be A-MAZ-ING!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NYPL Announces iPad App

More and more libraries are slowly working their way into the digital revolution, allowing readers to "check out" eBooks. But the New York Public Library is taking a leap into digital in a very different way: They've created an iPad app.

Felicia Lee of the New York Times tells us more in her online story this morning:
Here an app, there an app, everywhere an apt app. Now, the New York Public Library has created a new iPad app that bring the library’s research collections into “the palms of the public’s hand,” as library officials put it in a statement released Tuesday. “Biblion: The Boundless Library” is the name for a series of apps available on Apple’s tablet computer that highlight different elements in the library’s collection. It was developed by the library and the design firm Potion.

The first edition showcases the library’s 1939-1940 New York World’s fair holdings, which are among the most consulted by researchers. Users will be able to turn over, zoom in and roam through hundreds of items. At the end of this week, the library is putting out an app that lets the public play “Find that Future,” from game designer Jane McGonigal, author of “Reality is Broken.” This summer, look for an app that lets the public reserve books. The new app is available at Apple’s iTunes store. A web version is to be available soon at

See the original post HERE

While I applaud the NYPL for taking such a leap into the digital age, I'm not sure this app is one that would be used by more than academics, researchers, and reporters. I'd be more interested in seeing them do something that reaches general readers, that engages the public in such a way that it makes them want to go to the library and take advantage of its vast catalog.

What do you think? Would you use this app? Why or why not?

RBtL wants to know!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"To Kill a Mockingbird" Gets Some New Buzz From Documentary

Growing up, I read a lot of horrible books. Most of them in school. Sometimes they were "classics" that I just didn't find very interesting; other times I had no idea why I was reading it. (Take Interstellar Pig, for example. Still no clue why we were assigned that.)

But then there were still more times when we'd read a book and it would just click. I'd know exactly why it was significant to society and why it was enjoyable to individuals. One such book remains a favorite of mine to this day: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

I had always hoped to read more from Lee but she never wrote a second book. No one really knows why. Perhaps it was because she tried and failed in private, or maybe she was never inspired to write another, or maybe, maybe it was intentional. Maybe it's the singularity of her amazing work that draws it so much well-deserved attention.

I bring this up because the L.A. Times wrote a great piece last week on the book and the recent documentary "Hey, Boo" by filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy. It's definitely one worth sharing:
Harper Lee was working as an airline reservations agent in New York City, struggling to write a novel tentatively titled "Atticus," when a close friend gave her enough money to take time off and finish her book. Published in 1960 with an initial print run of just 5,000 copies, "To Kill a Mockingbird" became an instant phenomenon: a critically acclaimed bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner, followed by a multiple-Oscar-winning 1962 film featuring the iconic performance of Gregory Peck as courageous Southern lawyer Atticus Finch.

Fifty years and more than 30 million copies of the book later, it's hard to find any American who doesn't know the names Scout, Boo Radley and Atticus. Lee's one and only novel has been translated into 40 languages and is the most widely read book in American high schools. The novel and film are so familiar, in fact, that last month, when the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring Peck, it featured him as he appeared in that Oscar-winning role.

"I can't name another novel that has these kinds of indelible characters, a social statement without being preachy, and good prose," says filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy, whose documentary, "Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird," opens Friday. "It's a book that many people can relate to in many different ways."

Lee "creates a believable fictional landscape that you can go into," adds Charles J. Shields, author of "Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee." "The book asks one of the most important questions facing humans — how to get along with people different from us. It was couched in racial terms back then, but today I believe it's about people who don't believe the same as you — different religious beliefs, gays, straights. There are a lot of things that can be discussed."

And that discussion has meaning no matter the age of the reader. In fact, Murphy, an independent writer-producer who had an Emmy Award-winning career at CBS News, decided to pursue a film about Lee and her book after rereading it as an adult.

That experience, she says, "made a greater impression on me than my adolescent reading. I went exploring to see what I could find out about the novel, the novelist and its impact. And I explored the context in which it was published. The book spoke to me more about conscience and integrity this time than it had before. I began to see the story [for the film] was the novel, the novel was the phenomenon. The novel could be the story, not the novelist."


Read the rest of the piece HERE

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Expecting an Unexpected Film Adaptation

With Mother's Day just behind us, a headline caught my eye over at Publisher Marketplace today: "Improbable 'What to Expect' Movie Sets Mothers Day 2012 Release."

Me: Wha? That's insane! How the heck are they going to--

Then I clicked on the link and went over to the article at

Me: *pause* ...oh.

It seems Hollywood (Lionsgate and Phoenix Pictures, to be exact) is doing something a little different in May 2012: adapting the uber-bestselling What to Expect When Your Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, et al. into a film.

The beloved nonfiction pregnancy book has been initially adapted by "Whip It!" author Shauna Cross, a choice that I personally find quite intriguing. I loved "Whip It!" (it is also one of the few instances when I like a movie better than its literary counterpart) and Cross certainly has a voice for the screen. I guess I just didn't expect such a serious and time-honored subject to be given the wit and snark that Cross is sure to bring to the script.

But, alas, my assumptions are wrong--this movie is intended to be a comedy. Another surprising, but thought-provoking choice.

So far, Cameron Diaz is the only star even potentially attached to the project that I can find and is set to take on the lead role. She's not my fave but it'll be a kind of part for her so interesting nonetheless.


Monday, May 9, 2011

An Inside Look at Writers' Homes

I'll admit it...I'm a sucker for visiting famous authors' homes.

When I was in Paris, what was one of my top five things I wanted to do? See Victor Hugo's house.

When I was in Key West? Go to Hemingway's famed home and garden. (Pic of me in his garden, right).

Lucky for me, The Huffington Post ran a piece from Flavorwire last Thursday (I know, I know, I'm behind...again) taking its readers inside the walls of just these kinds of houses:

Last month, The New York Times ran a slideshow of Norman Mailer’s Brooklyn Heights apartment, which will be up for sale shortly. This got us thinking about our favorite authors, where they lived, and how much our environment shapes our work. (If it does, then we’re really in trouble, since we mostly write in a dark Brooklyn apartment with neighbors who smoke packs of cigarettes and scream at their children in languages we don’t understand.) A.N. Devers, a literary pilgrim, commissioned Michael Fusco and Emma Straub to make great, inexpensive posters of authors’ domiciles — from Emily Dickinson’s homestead to Zora Neale Hurston’s modest bungalow — and they are available here. If you’re interested in a writer’s first person account of her tour of famous authors’ homes, then check out A Skeptic’s Guide to Writers’ Houses by Anne Trubek. Click through now to take a virtual tour of some of our favorite writers’ residences.

Truman Capote in his Brooklyn Heights apartment

Slim Aarons took this photo (left) of Truman Capote in 1958, when the author was in his thirties. His penchant for all things kitsch is on display, but the silk wall hanging for whatever reason just kills us. You can view more of Aarons’ photos at Photographers Gallery.

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s desk in his apartment in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Our favorite Slavophile lived at this address during the last years of his life, when he was writing The Brothers Karamazov. The apartment was turned into a museum in the late 1990s, so fans can head over to Vladimirskaya/Dostoyevskaya metro and run their hands across the woodwork or try to create a distraction so they can sit at his desk, pretending they too have a glorious beard and intense, world-weary eyes from years of political exile. (Right, Image courtesy of the University of Washington Libraries.)

Agatha Christie’s English summer home

The BBC features images of it pre-renovation here (left), while the Telegraph has some illuminating photos here.

Agatha Christie bought Greenway, a Georgian mansion on the southern tip of England, in the late 1930s. At the time, Christie bought the mansion and 33-acre property for £6,000, and then had an architect renovate it, reportedly telling him, “I want a big bath and I need a ledge because I like to eat apples.”

See the original Flavorwire post HERE

The article also showcases the homes of Norman Mailer, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Yukio Mishima, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and more.

Friday, May 6, 2011

New Digital Initiative Launched by 3 of Big 6: Bookish

The PR Newswire announced another big publishing venture this morning, funded by three of the big 6 in the book biz: Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group (USA), and Simon & Schuster.

Bookish is a new digital initiative that hopes to be "the new digital destination for readers" (PR Newswire). Scheduled to launch this summer, Bookish will be an online space where readers can come to not only buy books, but also give and get recommendations to one another, as well as receive entertaining and educational book content. The project is being headed by a team of media, digital, and tech-savvy veterans from a variety of industries:

NEW YORK, May 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Bookish (, a new digital platform for readers, is set to launch this summer it was announced today. Backed by Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group (USA), and Simon & Schuster, Bookish has been designed to provide readers -- from the most casual to the most dedicated -- with a personalized experience connecting them with their favorite authors and books through original editorial features, unique tools and more. The AOL Huffington Post Media Group is partnering with the site to engage users with Bookish content across the network's wide range of destination sites; AOL will provide advertising sales support for the new venture.

Editorially independent, Bookish will be a place for readers to find great content about books and authors from a variety of publishers. Bookish will highlight a wide range of genres and allow readers to find their next book as well as recommend books to each other.

New media veteran Paulo Lemgruber is leading the effort as Bookish's CEO. Previously, Lemgruber developed and ran digital businesses for Comcast and Reed Elsevier. Also part of the Bookish team is Charlie Rogers, who will serve as Editor-in-Chief. Prior to becoming part of Bookish, Rogers was Editor-in-Chief, Digital Media at NBC Universal and worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and The Paris Review. Technology efforts will be directed by Bookish Chief Technology Officer Andy Parsons, who previously served as CTO for and Digital Railroad, Inc., as well as Director of Software Development at Juice Software. Bookish's Director of Product in charge of the user experience is Brad Dickason who previously sold a company, Giant Realm, to Burst Media and then served as their Director, Creative Products and Services. He is also a former competitive video gamer.

"Bookish enjoys the support of significant, established players in the publishing and online space. Nobody is more intimately familiar with the multitude of elements that make a book appealing than its publisher," explained Lemgruber. "In addition to working with Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group (USA) and Simon & Schuster, we look forward to working with the entire publishing and book-selling community to make Bookish an exciting destination that will delight readers. We are also thrilled to work closely with AOL Huffington Post Media Group to tap into its groundbreaking ability to start real-time conversations around content and partnering with AOL on our advertising sales effort."

Said Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of AOL Huffington Post Media Group, "As a lifelong book lover -- and reading evangelist -- I'm always on the lookout for innovative ways to get people excited about books, to remind them why they are so important, and to spark a thousand conversations around big issues, fun ideas and great writing. That's why we're delighted to be working with Bookish -- and to use our multimedia, social, and community engagement tools to help connect our readers with authors and their books. And we'll highlight this content through our entire network and hyperlocal sites."

Designed to answer the question "What should I read next?" as well as to deepen the reading experience around books, authors and genres, Bookish will feature exclusive content covering a wide selection of titles and formats. It will also offer readers the convenience of purchasing print and digital books directly or through other retailers. Bookish is dedicated to working closely with book retailers, and in the coming weeks will reach out to explore ways to complement the retailers' efforts and enhance all reader experiences.

"We've assembled an incredibly entrepreneurial and dynamic team at Bookish that embraces the most cutting-edge trends in publishing and technology," says Lemgruber. "With our team's startup expertise and credentials, as well as our ability to leverage the knowledge of publishers, retailers and authors, Bookish is innately positioned to fuel people's passion for books."

Read the original post HERE

I'm interested to see what the industry response is to this one. While some people are sure to find it innovative and exciting (my personal take), others (possibly booksellers in the majority) are bound to be just a tiny bit peeved.

Don't get me wrong, I love bookstores and it saddens me more than I can say every time one closes. I even had a dream of owning a store myself one day, a dream that I've come to recognize as increasingly unrealistic in today's (and tomorrow's) marketplace. How I see it is that in this constantly evolving industry, we all have to find new ways to keep fostering a love of reading, no matter how it's done.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Love of Reading Pouring Out Overseas

The death of Osama Bin Laden has been on everyone's minds this week at one point or another. The incident has also sparked a lot of recognition for the U.S. Military, of course. One way this recognition has been communicated is through the encouragement of donations to our troops overseas, whether it be monetary, letters, supplies, or even books.

I've donated books in the past to the troops through Operation Paperback, but there are a number of great organizations that will help you to send books overseas.

GalleyCat did a nice round-up earlier this week:
As the world comes to terms with the death of Osama bin Laden, we should all take a few minutes to remember American soldiers serving overseas. We’ve collected seven different ways you can share books with our troops.

1. E-Books for Troops will help you share your used Kindle with our troops overseas.

2. Operation Warrior Library connects writers with military personnel.

3. Books for Soldiers mails books to troops.

4. Operation Paperback sends paperbacks overseas.

5. Books-a-Million will let you select and purchase Books for Troops in a special program.

6. Operation eBook Drop focuses on eBooks.

7. Follow this Google search to find many more options for sharing books with soldiers.

See the original post HERE