Archive for February, 2023

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

An Interview with Megan Frazer Blakemore

LibraryThing is very pleased to sit down this month with children’s author, middle-school librarian and former LibraryThing employee Megan Frazer Blakemore, whose newest middle-grade fantasy, Princess of the Wild Sea, was published in January by Bloomsbury Books. A Junior Library Guild Selection, this story of a young princess raised in isolation as the result of a curse placed upon her has earned starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

Princess of the Wild Sea has been described as a loose adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. Why do you think that fairy-tales are such a popular jumping-off point in children’s fiction? What is it about Sleeping Beauty specifically that led you to choose it as a framework for your story?

As a writer, I think it’s fun to play with existing tropes and the expectations of genres. When your audience is children, their knowledge of these expectations is, naturally, limited. Fairy tales offer a way to play that children can understand and appreciate. This generation of kids is not only aware of fairy tales, but also retellings and fractured fairy tales, so they are primed for this kind of story.

As for why Sleeping Beauty, this story has always been one that frustrates me. The titular princess has so little agency and, in many versions, is the victim of extreme violence. I wanted to give her more power and choice. This also gave me a chance to think about who gets to be the hero of stories and what it even means to be a hero. These are the types of questions I like to grapple with with students, so it all came together.

As a middle-school librarian, you are well acquainted with your audience and their reading habits. What are the unique challenges and rewards of writing for a younger audience?

Because I have so much experience with kids, I know what they are capable of. Kids like to think about big questions. They like to be challenged. It’s my job to create the framework that allows them to do this. As I mentioned above, young readers are still learning the conventions of genre and storytelling. This can be a challenge because you want to make sure they can understand what you’re doing, but it’s also one of the rewards: I get to introduce kids to this world. I get to invite them into the land of literature. That’s a responsibility I take very seriously both as a writer and a librarian.

Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Do you start with a story idea, a character, a scene? How do you go about constructing your story?

I once heard Sharon Creech speak and she talked about how stories come from a collision of ideas, and I think that is true for me as well. Sometimes I will notice something out and about in the world and it will get my wheels spinning, but it almost always has to rub up against something else. In this case, I had this image in my head of a girl running across an island. I don’t know where it came from, but I liked the idea of a story about a girl who was the only child on an island, surrounded by grown-ups. At the same time, I was teaching a course on Children’s Literature at Maine College of Art. We did a whole unit on fairy tales and I was totally immersed in them. My thoughts on Sleeping Beauty rubbed against this idea of a girl on the island, and the story started to come together.

I tend to write what some people call a “discovery draft.” I am figuring out the story as I go. In this case, I definitely took some wrong turns. At about a third of the way in, I cut nearly half of what I had written and went in another direction. It was not as difficult a decision as it sounds—I knew I had taken the story in a direction that wouldn’t work and had to go back.

The revision process is where I really construct the story. I take a look at what I have and decide what I need to do to shape it into something that is actually book-like. I write outlines, make plans, and write multiple drafts until I feel it’s ready to be shared. It’s probably not the most efficient process, but, so far, it works for me.

What is your favorite scene in Princess of the Wild Sea, and why?

Because this is a fantasy novel, there is a lot of magic. I had a lot of fun writing those more whimsical magical scenes. It’s a chance to revel in joy and wonder. My favorite might be a scene that takes place on the night of Princess Harbor Rose’s birthday. Her magical aunts come together to make a beautiful, magical celebration for her. I really wanted to show how much her world is grounded in love so that when that world is threatened, the stakes feel really high.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

If you look at my LibraryThing shelves, you’ll see I have a lot on my “Read but unowned” shelf. That’s because I get a lot of my books from libraries. My bookshelves at home almost serve as snapshots of my reading life. I still have a lot of books from college when I studied Medieval and Renaissance literature. I have research and theory books from when I was getting my MLS. My husband and I together have just about every book Stephen King has written since we both spent our teen years reading him. I mostly read fiction, but I also really enjoy nonfiction, especially deep dives into subjects I’ve never really thought about before. And, of course, there’s a lot of children’s literature.

By the way, I really love the Charts and Graphs feature on LibraryThing as a way to visualize my reading. My Dewey one is definitely 800-heavy, but the genre one shows more diversity. I used tags to take a snapshot of my 2022 reading, and I’m excited to see how that changes over time.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

My reading tastes tend to be a little all over the place. I read a lot of middle grade and young adult because of my job as a librarian and because of what I write. I just read a fun rom-com, Better than the Movies by Lynn Painter. If you like romantic comedy movies and the fake dating trope, this is a good choice. Now I’m reading Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe.

I’ve been recommending When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill to anyone who will listen. I love books where big magic intersects with our mundane world, and it doesn’t get much bigger than thousands of women suddenly turning into dragons. I think Barnhill did such an amazing job of crafting this story around the rage that so many of us have been feeling these past few years.

Labels: author interview, interview

Wednesday, February 15th, 2023

Come Join the 2023 Valentine Hunt!

It’s February 14th, and that means the return of our annual Valentine Hunt!

We’ve scattered a collection of hearts around the site, and it’s up to you to try and find them all.

  • Decipher the clues and visit the corresponding LibraryThing pages to find a heart. Each clue points to a specific page right here on LibraryThing. Remember, they are not necessarily work pages!
  • If there’s a heart on a page, you’ll see a banner at the top of the page.
  • You have two weeks to find all the hearts (until 11:59pm EST, Tuesday February 28th).
  • Come brag about your collection of hearts (and get hints) on Talk.

Win prizes:

  • Any member who finds at least two hearts will be
    awarded a heart badge Badge ().
  • Members who find all 14 hearts will be entered into a drawing for one of five LibraryThing (or TinyCat) coaster sets and stickers. We’ll announce winners at the end of the hunt.

P.S. Thanks to conceptDawg for the swan illustration!

Labels: events

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

February 2023 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the February 2023 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 156 books this month, and a grand total of 2,970 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Friday, February 24th at 6PM EST.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to Canada, the US, Australia, Greece, Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, the UK, Sweden, Germany and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

He Said He Would Be LateKünstlers in ParadiseIron WidowWindswept WaySTFU: The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut in an Endlessly Noisy WorldCounter AttackThe Last Saxon KingBlind TrustThere's a Monster in the Kitchen!Wandering SoulsDisplay: Appearance, Posture and Behaviour in the Animal KingdomThe Vanishing at Castle MoreauHector Fox and the Map of MysteryBenjamin Banneker and Us: Eleven Generations of an American FamilyDream Big, My Precious OneThe Pearl: A Book of Facetiae and Voluptuous ReadingThe Big StingIndigo IsleRemember MeThe Metropolitan AffairNo No, Baby!The Syndicate SpyThe Lost GalumpusThe Ocean GirlWhen I Was Your AgeThe Rail SplitterTry Not to Hold It Against MeFields of BountyA Brighter DawnSomething: One Small Thing Can Make a DifferenceWill Litigate for CupcakesHauntWhy Sinéad O'Connor MattersTrue Crime Solved: 27 Solved Cold Cases That Bring Closure To Disturbing CrimesHow to High Tea with a Hyena (and Not Get Eaten)The Master's CourtThe Mis-Education of the NegroFor the Love of BrigidWhat Remains of UsThe Island SistersHole in My Heart: Love and Loss in the Fault Lines of AdoptionDawn: A Proton's Tale of All That Came to BePebbles and the Biggest NumberWrong Side of the CourtYou Are Us: How to Build Bridges in a Polarized WorldBlack EmpireAll Else Failed: The Unlikely Volunteers at the Heart of the Migrant Aid CrisisRooted and WingedBlood from a Stone: A Memoir of How Wine Brought Me Back from the DeadHow I Followed In The Devil's Footsteps: Part OneNever Really GoneAnother ElizabethBehaving As US: The Art of CooperationDawn: A Complete Account of the Most Important Day in Human History, Nisan 18, AD30Indigo and IdaThe Merry DredgersA Hint of Hitchcock: Stories Inspired by the Master of SuspenseIt's Me, Jaxon! Can You See Me?Seasons Unceasing: A Worldsmyths AnthologyBlood BornWhy Tammy Wynette MattersExistential Smut 1: Youthful IndiscretionsVoices Behind the CurtainRaising ElleMurder In GeminiLondon SecretsYesterday's PlansThe Vesper BellThe Name of the ShadowThe DiseasedSquid SeasonThe Serpent and the FireflyGuide to Norse PaganismRight Time Wrong PlaceAn Introduction to Complexity Pedagogy: Using Critical Theory, Critical Pedagogy and Complexity in Performance and LiteratureDark and Lonely WaterI Think I'm Falling ApartThe Fear of WinterFerryl Shayde - Book 8 - Apprentices, Adepts, and AscensionA Hundred VeilsYou Are Us: How to Build Bridges in a Polarized WorldThe Kevin Powell Reader: Essential Writings and ConversationsPhoenix PrecinctTemperedMaking the Low Notes: A Life in MusicEast of EvilThe One PercentHut-Yo Cull: The Hunt BeginsUnboundHow To Enhance Your Productivity Through Time Management: Time Management Hacks For Great AchieversA Series of Unfortunate ProposalsCulinary Travels: Memories Made at the TableNudi Gill: Poison Powerhouse of the SeaLove Will Turn You AroundScience, Matter and the Baseball ParkBlood on Her NameThralls of a Tyrant GodQuantum RegressionThe Historian Project: A Time Travel CatastropheThe Ripper: The First Next Life PrequelChess Games IV: Early and UncollectedWorld of SilverThe Love That Binds UsIsrael 201: Your Next Level Guide to the Magic and Mystery and Chaos of Life in the Holy LandSlavery in Zion: A Documentary and Genealogical History of Black Lives and Black Servitude in Utah Territory, 1847-1862Open Canon: Scriptures of the Latter Day Saint TraditionA Rival Most Vial: Potioneering for Love and ProfitMommy, There's a Dinosaur in the Cornfield!Summary of Summary of GRE Master Wordlist: 1535 Words for Verbal Mastery (Seventh Edition)GMAT Analytical Writing: Solutions to the Real Argument Topics (Sixth Edition)Practice Tests for the Digital SATPush Pin Art Projects: Worksheets Promoting Fine Motor Skills: ReligiousShadow BeastsDawning of Darkness: The Fall of Gods and KingsIn the Serpent's WakeBlood from a Stone: A Memoir of How Wine Brought Me Back from the DeadThe Third EmissaryThe Ocean GirlA Chinese OdysseyThe Practitioner of Boca MuerteThe Master's CourtSlipA Strange BunchTwo Hearts on the BackspinBreath and StarshineGive My Regards to Nowhere: A Director's TaleThe Nine Lives of Felix the TomcatThe Molecule ThiefRepublic Under Siege: Threat from WithinTattletales From School: A Novel of Bullying in the 60sOn the Evolution from the Primitive Egoic Mind by Means of Pure Consciousness: Through Living Exclusively in the Present MomentOutfoxedJusticeHondoVaporBobishRock Icon ReadyWhy Does My Horse Act Like This: Understanding Equine Behavior in your New HorseAngie and MeThere's a New Vampire in TownSasha & JakeEverything you always wanted to know about the Spanish* (*but were afraid to ask)'Curse' DrakkoTime Traveling to 1983: Celebrating a Special YearTime Traveling to 1963: Celebrating a Special YearRebels in PisaOctave of StarsHauntBooks for BenjaminBiblical Food for Kids: 91 Daily Nutritious Wholesome Meal for Raising Healthy and Spirit-Filled Children to Giants, Ages 7-12Biblical Food for Kids: 91 Daily Nutritious Wholesome Meal for Raising Healthy and Spirit-Filled Children to Giants, Ages 7-1221st Century Balance: Unconventional Wisdom to Enlighten Yourself and Inspire OthersGrok Your Life: Minutes to MyselfMarketing Study Cases for People Who Want to Improve Their English Language Skills. Volume III

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

5 Prince Publishing Akashic Books Arabelle Publishing
Beaufort Books Bellevue Literary Press Bethany House
BHC Press Black Beacon Books Book Summary Publishing
Brick Mantel Books Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC Crystal Lake Publishing
Entrada Publishing eSpec Books Gefen Publishing House
Gnome Road Publishing Grand Canyon Press Greenleaf Book Group
Henry Holt and Company Imbrifex Books Islandport Press
IVP Academic Lerner Publishing Group Meerkat Press
Mint Editions Open Books Press PublishNation
The Quarto Group Real Nice Books Revell
Ripe Mango Take Two Press Tapioca Stories
True Crime Seven Tundra Books Tyndale House Publishers
University of Texas Press The University of Utah Press Vibrant Publishers
Wise Media Group Worldsmyths Publishing WorthyKids

Labels: early reviewers, LTER