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Monday, June 27, 2011

Choices, choices

We decided not to get This Weeks Special Flavors.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Are you insanely gifted?

Whether yes or no -- you may want to check out this great book trailer by my pal, Dan Elish!

I can't wait to read it...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Aunt Ronnie's blog

The best burritos I ever made were for a Cook-Off competition at my Aunt Ronnie's house.

Aunt Ronnie is, among other things, bitingly funny, a formidably talented cook, a fiery intellectual, and a generously loving aunt and friend. Also, she writes really well. I read her blog all the time and suggest you do too -- and not just because my now-famous burritos are the featured attraction today...


Turns out maybe I have been revising too much?

I don't care if my books are considered "literary" fiction, though I do kind of hate the "YA" designation -- my characters at ages 14-16 may not know everything about themselves but one thing they are all pretty certain about is that they are NOT young ADULTS.

Maybe people in the book world realize that and that's why we don't say Young Adult anymore; we say YA. Which maybe just means YA now, kind of like we're all cool Canadians ironically questioning (Why, eh?) or like the SATs. SATs stopped meaning Scholastic Aptitude Tests a few years ago when everybody had to agree the tests didn't test aptitude. So then SAT was retrodefined and suddenly stood for Scholastic Achievement Tests, but then people were like, wait, do these tests actually gauge scholastic achievement? Urgh! So everybody gave up and said, okay fine, it means SATs. SAT stands for SAT and just shut up and sharpen your number 2 pencils, wouldja, ya smartalec kid thinking you're smarter than other people?

I'm actually not a big fan of the "Middle Grade" designation either, which to me sounds more like a type of gas somewhere between Regular and Premium ("fill it up please with the Middle Grade") or a porn category ("No, Aunt Tillie, what I write isn't really Hard Core; well, no, not exactly soft focus romantic either; kind of, well, Middle Grade.") Or, most devastatingly, it sounds like a value judgement -- like, at a dinner party if Jonathan Franzen started declaiming about how what he writes is firmly in the High Art Literary Tradition, and then the host turned to me and said, "Hey Rachel! Are your books in the High Art Literary Tradition, too? Or do you write a bunch of crap just to kill trees and brain cells?" I would have to mumble, well, neither I suppose, my stuff is more, um, middle grade.

Okay, well, maybe that's fair, on second thought. Because that is totally what I would say whether I happened to be writing for kids or not.

Because while I think it's important to write the best sentences you possibly can, and to revise them as much as necessary until they are as good as you can make them (and please, no hiding behind well it's just for kids, doesn't matter if I don't get the exact right word YES IT DOES MATTER!) your words and sentences and characters and most importantly your stories should be sharp and fine and exactly right, whether your intended reader is 10 or 50, a pimply ninth grader or a gorgeous brilliant New Yorker Editor -- I also think it sucks to be a pompous ass.

Rachel Vail

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Catching up

Has your summer started yet? Or are you still finishing up with school, work, etc?

We're hanging out with pals here... enjoying the city...
And the country...

And the longer days...And then, also, getting down to work.

Any wonderful plans for the summer?

I am going to write a book, exercise every day, have fun with friends and family, sit in some cafes, send out books to the WINNERS of the DRAWINGS, and maybe learn to waterski.

Well, those are my goals. Not sure I will achieve all of them. Feeling pretty confident about the cafes and the fun, though... and I WILL get to the post office very soon...

How about you? What do YOU want to do this summer?

Rachel Vail