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2011 The Year In Reading–Part One

(hey, don’t forget the giveaway for a FREE amazon giftcard; see previous posts)

In some ways, it wasn’t the greatest reading year.  Wordamour read the lowest number of books she’s read read since she started keeping track, a lonely 25.

But inn true American fashion, she’s got something to blame for this.  Her NookColor.

Which sounds like a contradiction.  An e-reader resulting in reading fewer books?

Let Wordamour explain.

First of all, Wordamour loves her NookColor.  In many ways it has enabled her to do more reading, especially in bed, than she’s been able to for years.  You see, Wordamour’s husband is an extremely light, fitful sleeper.  In fact, if there was a contest between Wordamour’s husband and the Princess,  of “The Princess and the Pea Fame,” Wordamour’s husband would probably win.  After all, how many people do you know can be awakened by the sound of the whispery clicks of an Ipod wheel?  All kidding aside, when you love a light, fitful sleeper you become almost as invested in their getting that elusive good night’s sleep as they are.

And that means giving up reading in bed longer than they do. Because when it’s lights out, it’s light’s out, folks.

Until the NookColor.  Because the Nook screen is backlit and when turned just so, the light doesn’t seem to keep Mr. Wordamour awake.

Hallelujah.  Reading in bed again after 19 years going without.  Because Wordamour LOVES reading in bed.

So why isn’t the reading list longer, especially considering the fact that she received the NookColor as an early birthday present in January 2011?

One word.

You see, soon after receiving the Nook, Wordamour discovered the Pulse App, a free app that automatically downloads all the news and essays of the day from your favorite sources: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Salon, as well as sources of its own into which it curates top technology news, top design news, top health news.  You get the picture.

So you can enjoy all this reading on a device that fits between your hands and enables you to cuddle in bed next to said light sleeper while he remains in that coveted dreamland.

Paradise.   Warm feet, happy partner, the New York Times and you don’t even have to worry about how you’re going to manage those huge pages or keep newsprint off the sheets.

For a long time, it was all about the Pulse App.  Wordamour actually looked forward to getting in bed and clicking on the little “P” icon, it was like phoning an illicit lover (not that Wordamour–or anyone willing to give up 19 years of reading in bed for her partner’s happiness– would know anything about that) or openly reading Good Housekeeping in a gym full of academics, a little risky, a little edgy.

But after awhile, the newness wore off.  Wordamour still reads Pulse regularly but she’s learned how to scroll through quickly and read only the most interesting articles and essays (instead of the very latest on Mit Romney’s efforts to rustle up a personality) so she can move along to the book at hand.

Which means, hopefully, 2012 will be a better year for books.  Unless someone invents an even more distracting app.  Wordamour isn’t even going to imagine what that might be.

Bye for now y’all until 2011 The Year In Reading–Part Deux, in which you actually get to see the list.


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Flashlight Memories: A Real Treat

I have a short essay, “The Library: It’s a Family Thing,” in this wonderful new book: Flashlight Memories, which is all about people’s early experiences with reading and books, otherwise known in academia as “literacy autobiographies” or “literacy narratives.”  Let me tell you, identifying and writing about where your love of literacy comes from can be a very powerful thing.

And let me tell you, I am one sucker for a good literacy narrative, so I love curling up with these reading memoirs as a reward at the end of a long, stressful day.  Memoirs like the one from the woman whose mother didn’t understand her longing to read in bed at night, who didn’t really understand her daughter’s longing to read period, but whose truck-driver grandfather encouraged her by secretly giving her a flashlight and an apply to snack on while she read, then secretly provided her with batteries and reading snacks for the rest of her childhood.  The stories are wonderfully written, not treacly, just good stories.

So what about you?  What’s your literacy story?

Post it in the comments section by May 15.  I’ll do a drawing May 15 and send a copy of Flashlight Memories to the winner!

Bye y’all,


PS  My essay concerns my mother’s childhood reading and library habit; the kicker is, that picture on the front really could have been her as a child.

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Something to be Happy About, More About Saving the Writing Project and the Giveaway

Jason Pinter has a terrific essay in the Huffington Post about why we should be optimistic about publishing here. Read it and grin!

The National Writing Project has put out a web resource for any of us who want to continue lobbying congress to keep it in the budget. You can find it here.

Several of you have written me to let me know you’ve written your legislators. Yet another thing for me to be happy about! But there’s still time to write and enter the drawing for a hardcover copy of Writing to Change the World.

I’ll have two drawings: one on February 28 and one on March 18. The February 28 drawing will have two winners (the early bird gets the book); while the March 18 drawing will be for the last copy.
So you still have time. Keep writing those letters, emails and faxes and making those phone calls! And if you’re new to the crisis, you can read about it here.

Bye y’all,

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When good things happen to good people. . . A Very Special Giveaway


At last, I can tell the happy news. Not only did my husband just get tenure, but he just received word that his comic novel, his first [published] novel, Burnt Norway, has been accepted for publication by Florida Academic Press.

I could not be more thrilled. Not only is Burnt Norway a hilarious romp that now, people are finally going to get to enjoy, but this has been a long time coming to one of the hardest working writers I know! And the best!

Well, it’s possible I might be biased on that last part (but soon you’ll have a chance to judge for yourself!) But not on the hard working part. As anyone who’s ever driven by our house at 4:30 am and seen the light on can attest!!!

Since it’s a small press, I have appointed myself his publicity director!   In my first act in this capacity, I am announcing another giveaway.  I will be conducting a drawing for 3 $25 Barnes and Noble gift cards from anyone who announces the news on their blog or website and lets me know about it between June 10 and July 30th.  I’ll put a few sentences that can be cut and pasted below to make it easier.  In addition, I’ll be offering lots more publicity prizes and opportunities in the future.
Bye y’all


Fiction writer John Vanderslice (not to be confused with the Indie songster of the same name)  announces the publication of his first novel, Burnt Norway, with Florida Academic Press. Vanderslice has published numerous short stories in journals such as Crazyhorse and the South Carolina Review and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, but this is his first published book.  A comic, metafictional romance (or, novel within a novel), Burnt Norway will be published sometime in the fall as an inaugural book in their New Voices series and will be available online and through various other sources.  Look for more updates soon.


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