Monday, November 29, 2010

Some Public Speaking Tips from a Shy Person Who Has Learned to Love Public Speaking

Some Tips for the Days Leading up to the Speech
  • PREPARE, PREPARE, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Nothing is more important than this and nothing will make more of a difference. I try to have my speech written at least a few days before I'm giving the speech, and if possible, a week or two.  This gives me lots of time to practice speaking it aloud. With each practice run, I revise the speech a little. And with each practice run, the speech becomes part of my speaking memory and my muscle memory.  I know from experience that if you have practiced often, calmly in your kitchen, the way you want to say a speech, then on the day of the speech, you can shake and jitter your way through that entire speech and still have it come out sounding the way you practiced it, so much so that people will come up to you afterward and tell you that they wished they could be so calm and composed while giving a speech.  (You should probably try not to burst into hysterical laughter when someone says this to you.) So. PREPARE and PRACTICE. Your speech will become an act your body knows how to pull off no matter how you feel.  (And you'll be less nervous, too, because you'll feel prepared!)
  • Don't underestimate the time it'll take you to write the speech.  In my experience, a 60-minute speech is 30-40 pages long and takes me a good week to write. A 15-minute speech is about eight pages long and takes me a good two days.
  • Think about the speeches you've heard and liked.  Why did you like them?  For me, it's often as much to do with the presentation as with the information.  If I'm talked to, my attention is engaged, but if I'm read to, my mind starts to wander. So -- try to keep a conversational tone.  When I write a speech, I write the "hms" and "like, whatevers," and "sos" and "anyways" into the speech wherever they fall naturally -- all the little things that make it sound like conversation (and that you'd probably be taught never EVER to say, were you taking a public speaking class!). When I'm practicing and giving the speech, my actual "hms" and "likes" and so on don't necessarily happen in the same places as I've written them, but their presence in the written speech reminds me of the tone I'm going for.  I don't care how scared to death I am -- I don't want to sound stiff while I'm speaking -- I want to sound like a person who's alive and relaxed!
  • Along the same lines, I write little silly notes to myself, in pen, in the margins of my speech.  Things like, "RELAX" or "PAY ATTENTION" or "SLOW DOWN HERE" or "DON'T SOUND ANGRY HERE" or whatever note will remind me of the tone I'm going for at any particular point.  I see the notes in my peripheral vision, and they help me.
  • Trust that the speech will be more interesting to other people than it is to you.  Other people?  Have not written your novel.  (Or whatever.)  So ignore the voices telling you that this story of how you wrote your novel is going to bore your audience to tears.  If they write novels, they'll probably find a lot to relate to.  And if they don't write novels, they may just find it fascinating.
  • Try to remind yourself that how you feel as you contemplate speech-giving in the days leading up to the speech -- nauseated, doomed, and hiding under the covers -- is NOT how you will feel while you're giving the speech. How you feel in the hours leading up to the speech -- jumping at every sound, jittery and wild-eyed ^_^ -- is not how you'll feel while you're giving the speech, either.  Once you get started, you're going to be JUST FINE.  And if you're not (for example, sometimes it takes me 10 minutes to relax into a speech, and if it's a 12-minute speech, that means I'm a nervous wreck for most of the speech) -- your preparation will pull you through.  This speech will not kill you!  I swear! 
 Some Tips for Speech Day
  • Bring a pen (or some such -- a flag? a plant? ^_^) to the podium and hold it.  Try to remember to gesticulate with it.  Having relaxed hands, and moving around a little, will help you to relax.  For me, the pen is a reminder of this.
  • As you're standing there giving your speech -- don't miss your own speech.  PAY ATTENTION to your own words.  Act like you're really into what you're saying, even if all you are is scared.  A couple of margin notes I write all over my speech: "PAY ATTENTION" and "HEAR WHAT YOU ARE SAYING."
  • If, like I do, you have a soft voice, let it be soft.  The mike is there for a reason; it will project your voice; and you'll be calmer if you aren't trying to force your voice to a volume it wasn't made for. 
  • Forgive yourself.  You don't have to be brilliant.  You don't have to win the prize for public speaking.  You've probably been asked to speak because the people in this audience are already primed to like you.  Most audiences are generous and kind and want you to do well, and they aren't going to think badly of you if you seem a little nervous.  Do whatever you can to get some perspective.  Think of how big the earth is and how little and unimportant your speech is in the grand scheme of things.  Imagine that someone you love who is a calming influence is holding your hand.  BREATHE.  Here is a piece of advice a friend gave me once before a big trip in which I was going to give a lot of presentations and was scared to death (I blogged this once before, in another post about dealing with appearance anxiety):  "Throw pleasing everyone out the window. Throw pleasing anyone out the window. Just do things for yourself. Just be you. There is no way on earth that just being you is not enough -- just being you is galaxies more than enough."
The more you do this, the easier it gets.  One day, you may discover that you kind of, sort of love it. 

Good luck :o)

(Oh! And for those of you who weren't blog reading during the holiday weekend: I posted my Walden Award remarks and they are here.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Some Yackety-Yacking for Thanksgiving

I wanted to share my acceptance remarks from the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award reception on Monday, but decided to backdate them so they're linkable but won't monopolize your blog readers. My remarks are here. It's basically a short speech about some of the place Fire came from. Also, Blogger, I am not impressed with your jump breaks. Readers, if you thought you saw a rawther long post from me on Tuesday and then it disappeared, I'm sorry about that, it was an experiment gone wrong. Curses!  But.  Hope y'all like the speech.

Also, I wish everyone celebrating Thanksgiving today a peaceful and stress-free time.  One thing I do: every year, I try to buy nothing on Friday.  Turns out that the Friday after Thanksgiving is a really lovely day not to go into any stores.  Try it!  It might be for you.  Actively choosing not to shop on Black Friday makes me feel centered.  Unless I've forgotten to do my grocery shopping beforehand, in which case, it makes me feel hungry, and I venture out. :o)

Monday, November 22, 2010

ALAN, Plus the World's Best Stage Directions

This morning I board a plane for Orlando, and late this afternoon, I'll be at NCTE-ALAN, receiving the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for Fire. My parents will be there, and also secret codename: Cordelia! How nice that this event is taking place near a branch of my family!

The other day, in my post about my editor, I mentioned that good editing is invisible, like the world's best stage directions. Giving credit where credit is due: that was my friend Becca's analogy, not mine. And one of the reasons I liked it so much when she said it is that I've recently been encountering what just might be the world's best -- or, at least, the world's most entertaining -- stage directions. Where? In the plays of J.M. Barrie.

Imagine, as a set designer, being given this:
"There is a piece of carpet that has been beaten into nothingness, but is still a carpet, there is a hearth-rug of brilliant rags that is probably gratified when your toes catch in it and you are hurled against the wall." (A Kiss for Cinderella, Act II)
Or this:
"She leaves many things lying about; one could deduce the shape of her from studying that corner of the sofa which is her favourite seat, and all her garments grow so like her that her wardrobes are full of herself hanging on nails or folded away in drawers. The pictures on her wall in time take on a resemblance to her or hers though they may be meant to represent a waterfall, every present given to her assumes some characteristic of the donor, and no doubt the necktie she is at present knitting will soon be able to pass as the person for whom it is being knit." (Mary Rose, Act I)
Or imagine the set designer and the actor reading this together:
"We had hankered after giving MR. BODIE many rows of books, but were well aware that he would get only blocks of wood so cleverly painted to look like books that they would deceive everyone except the audience. Everything may be real on the stage except the books. So there are only a few magazines in the studio (and very likely when the curtain rings up it will be found that they are painted too). But MR. BODIE was a reader; he had books in another room, and the careworn actor who plays him must suggest this by his manner." (A Kiss for Cinderella, Act I)
Got that, careworn actor? Your manner must suggest that there are books in the other room. !!

A couple other stage directions that crack me up:
"A bearded person wearing the overalls of a seafaring man lurches down the street and enters the emporium. Have we seen him before? Who can this hairy monster be?" (A Kiss for Cinderella, Act II. The joke is that the seafaring man is the policeman, whom we've already met, in disguise -- and this is how Barrie tells us. Nowhere does Barrie state explicitly that the seafaring man is to be played by the policeman.)

"A woman of 35 comes forward. She is dejected, thin-lipped, and unlovable." (A Kiss for Cinderella, Act II)

"MRS. MORLAND knows everything about her husband except that she does nearly all his work for him. She really does not know this." (Mary Rose, Act I)

"MR. AMY is even more sociable than MR. MORLAND; he is reputed to know everyone in the county, and has several times fallen off his horse because he will salute all passers-by." (Mary Rose, Act I)
All of these fabulous and beautifully-written stage directions are invisible to the play's audience. The lesson to be learned here: if you're going to a J.M. Barrie play, it will only enhance your experience to read the play as well -- these plays are SO meant to be read in addition to being watched!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Let's Raise a Glass to Quiet Geniuses

My editor has a particular Grace that I'm often aware of, but can never quite quantify. Here's an example of how it manifests: I send her an email about how I cannot possibly write the book, the book is too much of a mess for me to wrap my head around, the book is eating my brains, I cannot even bear to look at the book, the book is haunting me, the book is threatening me, I am a disgrace, my life as a writer is over, I'm going to take a boat to Antarctica and prostrate myself on a glacier and wait to die like that guy in "To Build a Fire," except not really like him, because at least he was trying to build a fire.

My editor will wait a few beats. Then, she'll send me a very calm email in which she will (1) not point out that I am being melodramatic and maudlin, (2) not tell me to get over myself, (3) not tell me to please stop sending her ridiculous emails because she is an extremely busy person and doesn't have time for this, and (4) gently suggest that I perform a particular task. For example, she'll write, what if I made a chapter map of the book so far, so that I can have all the plot points written down neatly to refer to as I reconsider the overall structure?

"It is impossible!" I will write to her. "Didn't you see March of the Penguins? I will die on a glacier and my egg will never hatch! Fine," I'll mutter. "Fine! I'll make a stupid chapter map! No one understands my pain!" I'll climb into bed in my flannel pajamas with tea and tissues and my laptop and my manuscript and the most depressing music ever, and I'll force myself to start the damn chapter map.

You know what happens next? It will turn out that making a chapter map is a fairly mindless activity that doesn't require an emotional investment. This means that I'm able to start it, and continue it, and really get into it, despite being anxious, worried, and emotionally exhausted. But it's also an activity that (sneakily) gets me back into the book, the very book that I couldn't bear to touch just moments before. And once I'm inside the book but not consumed by all that bad feeling... I start to be able to see the structure... I start to realize that maybe it's not too big to wrap my brains around... I start to be able to ask myself questions. "Wait. What if I were able to get from Point A to Point B in some simpler way, without that big tangle of confusion? Wait. What if I could remove this entire subplot? Hang on, what if the relationship between Character A and Character B were more joking than antagonistic? Might that clear up that thing that isn't working with Plot Point X? Ooo! I can't wait til I have time to think about this more! Ooo! I... maybe... just possibly... maybe I can do this?"

One could almost forget that it was my editor's gentle hand that nudged me in the direction that saved me. My editor? She knows how to do her job.

Editors, in general, work quietly, behind the scenes, and consequently do not get enough credit. And they get more than their fair share of criticism. How often do you hear someone say, "That book really could have used better editing"? I hear it all the time, and always think to myself, Really? How do you know it wasn't the fault of a stubborn writer? An editor might know what's right for the book, but she can't make the writer do it. And when a book is beautifully edited, no one knows, because it's invisible to the audience, like the world's best stage directions.

Today I'd like to say a special thank you to my editor for the beautiful work she does. She knows how to find the best in me as a writer, and that is a rare and precious gift.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hard Things

Writing is really, really hard right now. I am in a vortex of doubt and I am clinging to a mustard seed.

Writers out there, don't let go of that mustard seed; don't let go of that teeny, tiny shred of faith. I know what you're going through. I know how hard it is, and I know how courageous you are. You can do so much more than you think you can. It never ceases to amaze me but it's true: that teeny little seed of faith is all you need to get yourself through. Just DON'T LET GO.

(Here is the pep talk I wrote for National Novel Writing Month last year, about self-doubt and fear. And here is a longish post I wrote once about fear -- and trapezing, so be warned, there's a trapezing photo there.)

On the subject of making oneself vulnerable, stripping oneself down, sad and difficult things -- everyone needs to go to this section of Regina Spektor's myspace page, click play, and listen to the song "Samson." It's just beautiful. Thank you to my friend Marie for introducing me to this song. The first time I listened to it, I purchased it before it was even done playing. Here's a page that has some nice comments from people expressing what they think the song is about. I'm not sure why I can't stop listening to it at the moment, but as long as it's helping, I'm going to keep listening.

Welcome, welcome back into the world, Aung San Suu Kyi. When I saw the news, I couldn't believe my eyes. You make me believe in impossible things; you give me strength. I dearly hope that all the complicated things you're working for -- including the release of the other jailed political prisoners in Burma -- begin to happen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Few More Things I Love...

...because, well, they just keep rolling in, and I don't feel like waiting for my Monday post.
  • This cartoon, starring a little fellow many of us know and love. (Look at the cartoon before you click to the little fellow.) Thanks, C.
  • Dance sequences filmed atop moving trains. (From the 1998 movie Dil Se, directed by Mani Ratnam, shot by cinematographer Santosh Sivan, choreographed by Farah Khan, danced by Malaika Arora, Shah Rukh Khan, and team, to the song "Chaiyya Chaiyya.") I find myself hoping that Patrick Swayze saw this before he died. Dirty Dancing fans, don't you think he would have appreciated it?
Have a good weekend, everyone.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Few Things I Love

  • "So, I started hanging out with Rayanne Graff. Just for fun. Just because it seemed like if I didn't I would -- DIE, or something." I love the way the TV show My So-Called Life begins. It's a lesson in writing, actually: Angela is already breaking away from her best friend, Sharon; she's already started hanging out with Rayanne. The show plops us directly into the middle of Angela's new friends, new confusion and new experimentation, Rayanne's dangerous messy life, and Sharon's pain -- rather than showing us the drawn-out saga of Angela and Sharon happy together, then Rayanne luring Angela, then Angela and Sharon splitting up. Writing lesson: jump right into it. Start with the action, start with the meat of the matter, and let any necessary explanations trickle out as you move forward. (For the record, these are not my original thoughts. Thanks to Becca and Jess for the conversation we had about this -- I can't remember which of you pointed out how great it is that it starts this way.)
  • Something Apocalytica said to me the other day about things. Here (with apologies to A. the F.) is some truly dreadful paraphrasing: "Almost every present you've ever given me has broken. I could be frustrated about it and wonder what the hell is going on, but then I realize that it means I've been using the presents. When you love things, you use them, and when you use them, eventually they wear out or get dropped or whatever. Realizing that makes it feel okay that they're broken now." This... was one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me about my presents. :o) And it's true, and I feel that way about stuff, too. Things break. It's the nature of things. It's partly what makes them so precious, and it's okay.
  • This line in the acknowledgments at the end of Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green: "We acknowledge that being the person God made you cannot separate you from God's love." This is the best and simplest argument I have ever seen to counter all the people who use God to back up their acts of homophobia and other kinds of intolerance.
  • "I guess I don't believe these things can ever be easy, although I also don't see why they have to be hard." I love the high school, and the world, inside the book Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. I kept reading this book and thinking, "This isn't realistic. I wish it were. This isn't realistic. I wish it were." Then, finally, I decided to let the book be what it was. In the end, it made me cry and cry. Tony made me cry. I thought a lot about the book's dedication and the placement of the acknowledgments -- both are at the book's beginning -- because they reveal that the book was partly inspired by Patty Griffin's song, "Tony." I'm very familiar with that song -- it might be the most-played Patty Griffin song on my iPod, and Patty Griffin is one of my most-played artists -- so (Spoilers for the book, sort of? If you want to go into the book cold with no expectations, do not read the rest of this bullet point! I think? This spoiler warning feels more complicated than they usually do! Aargh! Do whatever you damn well please! But personally, I recommend listening to the song "Tony," reading the book, and only then reading the rest of this paragraph. But DON'T BLAME ME if you wish you hadn't!) knowing that the book related somehow to the song made me a teeny bit scared to read the book. It made me enter the book with expectations. In the end, I'm glad that this happened, and I'm glad the careful reader knows about the song before starting the book. Because I love the way the book and the song work together (and apart), and I love that I had "Tony" as an earworm as I read. (If you're curious about the song, I'll link to a live performance of it, but with the warning that it is about a gay boy who commits suicide. Here it is.) *is slightly relieved that this mess of a bullet point has come to its end* -- But one last thing: I am going to buy this book, and I'm going to lend it to Apocalyptica and codename: Cordelia. And maybe it'll come back torn, stained, and chewed on (um, that last by my nieces, not by either of my sisters) but that's okay. That's what happens to the precious things that you use. See? This post has (sappy) themes!
  • The man I saw the other day at 4:59pm, frantically running up Trowbridge Street, his arms full of books. (He was running toward the library, which was about to close.)
  • Sandra McDonald's latest scifi story, Drag Queen Astronaut. I dare you to click on that link, read the first two paragraphs, and not continue through to the end. Go ahead, I dare you!

Monday, November 8, 2010

And Then, South Bend

In my signing line at Saint Mary's College, a few people expressed surprise that I'd come to South Bend to do an event. The explanation is simple: I have family there. And family tradition: a LOT of people in my paternal family are alums of Notre Dame or Saint Mary's, and a few of them work there. We've actually been planning this event for some time. It even turned into a mini-reunion, with my parents and a few other family members coming to join us :).

Join us to do what? Go to a Notre Dame football game, of course. I won't get into my feelings about college football, which are complicated, nor will I get into my feelings about Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish, which are beyond complicated -- instead, I'll merely report that surrounded by enthusiastic loved ones and by random strangers screaming "Go Irish!," I felt very... well, Irish. And I cheered loudly for Notre Dame, despite all my threats beforehand to cheer for the other team, whoever they might be. (They were Tulsa, and they won.)

ANYWAY. It was a wonderful few days in South Bend with family, and, hey, I love the Notre Dame marching band. They're BIG (24 trombones) and they're GOOD, and when they performed a rendition of "New York, New York" at halftime and arranged themselves to spell out "I [shamrock] NY," I was so happy, because I DO [shamrock] NY!

At my event, I had the rare pleasure of family members in the audience. Including one guy who was climbing around taking pictures: my cousin, Matt Cashore, photographer (and pilot), who kindly gave me permission to display a few of the results here. Click to enbiggen.

Here I am yackety-yacking.

And taking a question.

And signing books.

And here are two of the attendees, my cousin, secret codename: Myrtle the Spinach-Loving Turtle and my cousin, secret codename: Cutie McCutiepants.

And that was my visit to South Bend! Thanks to Ted Billy, my Aunt Adaline, and everyone else at Saint Mary's who made this event possible. It was tons of fun.

Before I go -- Yay, Massachusetts voters, for our response to ballot questions 2 and 3. Also, I forgot to say last week: Good luck, NaNoWriMo writers! NEVER SURRENDER!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First, Chicago

I've been to many, many art museums, in many different cities, so when people kept telling me that I had to go to the Art Institute while I was in Chicago, part of me kept thinking, Really? Is that really what I want to do with my teeny bit of free time? Wow, I'm so glad I did. I decided just to wander, rather than trying to aim for specific things, because I didn't have a lot of time and running around museums just to see the most famous stuff doesn't really appeal to me. My wanderings, unavoidably, brought me to the main staircase, which is itself an exhibit. A contemporary Indian artist named Jitish Kallat has installed an artwork called "Public Notice 3" along the risers of the 118 steps of the Grand Staircase (this picture explains what I mean). It's the text of a speech about religious tolerance, an actual speech that was delivered by Swami Vivekananda in Chicago on September 11, 1893, 108 years before the 2001 attacks. The speech is beautiful. It's also short, and you can read it here. It's about how all religions lead to the same place and all religions are true, so let's have some tolerance and respect, and let's knock it off with the fanaticism. The words of the speech glow in lights on the risers, displayed in the colors of the alert system of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the whole effect is chilling and hopeful and sad at the same time. The staircase is worth the price of admission. Here's are some other photos of the exhibit, and here's more info about the whats and whys.

I also stumbled across an exhibit of children's book art, which was frankly kind of heartbreaking. Why? Because though publishers do the best they can at reproducing illustrations, sometimes, when you're actually standing in front of the original art, the difference is shocking. In particular, the original paintings from Timothy Basil Ering's The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone on exhibit were extraordinary -- I thought they stole the show -- and while the picture book is beautiful, it doesn't even begin to capture those paintings. I suppose this is often the case with all kinds of reproductions, and I'm just super-lucky that I had the chance to see these originals. Kudos to the Institute for hanging so many of the paintings low to the ground.

A couple other things I did with my teeny bit of free time: I went to the bean in Millennium Park, which is this wonderful silver, mirrored bean-shaped sculpture that reflects the sky, the skyline, and you, all distorted and beautiful and funny. I also went the the Tribune Tower and looked at all the unmatching bricks -- because when this building was built, correspondents for the Chicago Tribune collected bricks and stones from historically important sites all over the world and brought them to Chicago, so that they could be incorporated into the building's structure. Today, they're labeled, and if you walk around the building, you can see stones from the Taj Mahal, the Vatican, the Great Pyramid, the Parthenon, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, Angkor Wat, etc., etc. It's really cool.

I suppose I should mention that I also did some FUN FUN events? :o) The Chicago Public Library is kind of amazing, to be honest, and I'm endlessly grateful for having the chance to blather and meet people and talk about books. THANK YOU to everyone.

A couple final delightful things about Chicago: because it's right on Lake Michigan, the skies at sunset are gorgeous, in that way that skies only ever are around water. Also? The city architecture really is beautiful to look at, walk through, drive through. Also? My hotel was right across the street from a magnificent cupcake store called More.

I fell in love with this city and will definitely go back there someday.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This Week's Monday Post Is Brought to You by (Voting) Tuesday...

... or something.

Vote! Vote! Vote!

So. I have things to blog about Chicago and South Bend, but I'm waiting for a photo, plus, I don't have the brain space at the moment. The reason I don't have the brain space is that, as always upon returning home after a trip, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. My email is overflowing; my snail mail is overflowing; my un-unpacked suitcase is overflowing; my laundry hamper is overflowing; my to-do list is overflowing.... pretty much the only thing that's not overflowing is my refrigerator, which is completely empty. Sigh.... a gal could get stressed out. (And hungry.)

This is why instead of trying to blog about something that takes brains, I'm going to sit here on the couch in my flannel pjs, eat some chocolate, and tell you the library books I have out right now, because even though my library shelf is also overflowing, its overflowingness is of a kind that makes me happy.

All of these are either books that were recommended to me by someone with good taste OR things I saw at the library that looked intriguing, so consider them all recommendations. Ready? I'll link to Amazon descriptions, so if something catches your eye you can go learn more:

  • The Children's Book, by A. S. Byatt -- recommended to me by several people. The reviews have been mixed, but, being Byatt, it's bound to be complex and full of stuff to think about, plus, it's so beautiful!
  • Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson -- I've been meaning to reread this one and was reminded by the recent media kerfuffle.
  • Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan -- a friend of mine ADORES this book and it's about time I read it.
  • Men Giving Money, Women Yelling: Intersecting Stories, by Alice Mattison -- I love intersecting stories, and a friend raved about these ones.
  • The Virginian, by Owen Wister -- I... have a feeling this might be one of the ones that goes back to the library unread. Supposed to be a great Western classic, but you might remember how excited I am NOT about Westerns, plus, it's really long, and I'm going to die someday.
  • Shane, by Jack Schaefer -- loved this one in high school, but... ditto. Not sure why I have it, to be honest.
  • The Potter's Field (a Brother Cadfael mystery), by Ellis Peters -- I just can't get enough of this 12th Century monk who solves murder mysteries. I haven't looked too closely at this one, but I'm guessing some innocent passerby discovers a body in a potter's field. It's kind of amazing how many murders there are in and around the abbey.
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather -- this is a book with Western themes that I might actually read.
  • Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi -- comes highly recommended by Rebecca Rabinowitz, who calls it "Ripping scifi with fantastic world-building. Also, interracial protagonist of color surrounded by supporting characters of color." I am kind of beyond myself with excitement about this one and just need to find the TIME.
  • Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes -- all I know is that it's about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans and came recommended by many people, and I will be reading it soon.
  • Invitation to the Game, by Monica Hughes -- I actually know next to nothing about this, but I really liked her book Keeper of the Isis Light. Also recommended by RR, with one reservation.
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan -- a friend practically hopped when she recommended this one to me, which is impressive, as she was sitting on my couch at the time, just exactly where I am right now. In fact, experimentally, I have just tried practically hopping, and have not met with success. So. Obviously the moral of this story is that we should all read this book.
  • Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild -- this will be a reread. Loved this one when I was a kid.
  • King Dork, by Frank Portman -- also recommended by a friend, though I'll be going into it cold -- don't have the foggiest notion what it's about.
  • Report to the Men's Club and Other Stories, by Carol Emshwiller -- fantastic stories from a writer I've heard of a million times but have never got around to reading.


DVDs (I usually get my DVDs from Netflix, but I think I mentioned that the library had a Bollywood display up the other day? All of the following are Bollywood movies, in Hindi with English subtitles, and all star a certain person but NOTICE THAT AS PROMISED I AM NOT MENTIONING ANY NAMES)
  • Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, directed by Karan Johar.
  • Baazigar, directed by Abbas-Mustan.
  • Om Shanti Om, directed by Farah Khan, who directed Main Hoon Na, which I loved. (I'm particularly happy when I discover a female director whose work I love.)

Well, that's it for today. Better get back to trying to organize things around here. And then go to the grocery store and also VOTE.