Category Archives: Publishing

Banned Books Week

Years ago, (more years than I care to admit) my eldest sister and I visited the Ousterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I have very fond memories of that library, but that’s another post for another day. The importance of this particular visit is that it occurred during Banned Book Week. There was a display near the front desk all about the freedom of the press and why it’s so important. It included bookmarks which listed the most commonly banned books. My sister handed me one and said, “I want you to read every book on this list.”

I was eleven at the time and had already discovered the joys of forbidden reading. I’d spent that summer devouring paperbacks left behind by my sisters. Novels of which our conservative, religious mother would not approve. I’d spent many warm days, locked in my bedroom, reading until my head throbbed, but never minding the pain. Forbidden fruit really is the sweetest.

The library’s list of forbidden treasures included The Handmaid’s Tale, Ulysses, The Great Gatsby, Gone With the Wind, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Lady Chatterly’s Lover, 1984, The Call of the Wild, The Handmaid’s Tale, Of Mice and Men, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Slaughterhouse Five and other titles full of intrigue and infinite potential. They excited me. I wanted to read them all.

Why did I react this way? Certainly my sister, twelve years my senior and infinitely cool in my eyes, had plenty of influence. But here were other adults, no, not just adults, Librarians encouraging people to break the rules.  My world view broadened a bit in those moments because I realized that not every adult was like the faculty at my religious school, seeing the devil in every corner.  Perhaps I was rebellious (okay, there’s really no perhaps about that) but in the battle between books and those who opposed their content, I sided with the books and found I was in excellent company.

I’d already read Mark Twain, and surprisingly enough, thanks to one of those religious teachers, Jack London.  Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut became fast favorites. I was, and still am, awed by the beauty of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale opened my eyes to disturbing trends in society and the government. Cuckoo’s Nest fed my distrust of authority. I was probably a bit young for some of these titles, but they never did any harm. I firmly believe I am a better, wiser adult for having read these books.

To this day, I make a point of reading banned books. I never outgrew that rebellious streak. If someone says, “You shouldn’t read that,” I’m going to start reading immediately. Ignoring narrow minded people who call themselves authority figures is still plenty of fun.

So in celebration of the freedom of press and reading, I’d like to send out a big THANK YOU to my big sister Jenny, Ousterhout Free Library and most of all, Banned Books Week for helping to cultivate my mind, my rebellious nature and making me the person I am today.

Celebration

(originally posted around 4/11/10)

How to celebrate a major advancement towards a lifetime goal:

 I woke on Saturday morning, fed the bird, prepared my hot chocolate soy drink and picked up my blackberry to check for e-mails. Amongst them was an e-mail from the small but well connected press I submitted to a week and a half ago. Yeah, that’s right, a week and a half.

 At first, I thought they were rejecting me. That’s what a quick response like this usually means. But no, there was a contract attached. Wow. I printed out the contract and my husband and I both read it. It was straightforward and concise. So… how to celebrate?

  • 1.  Send text to Writer Nephew who doesn’t get up before noon and won’t see it for 3 hours anyway.
  • 2.  Post new status on Facebook. Smile at a friend’s immediate positive response.
  • 3. Send e-mail to sister who is not on Facebook.
  • 4. Listen to what has been my theme song since I was a kid, the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” and post the video on Facebook.
  • 5.  Go outside and do some yard work.  

Yeah, I know. #5 makes no sense. I think I was in shock. A lot was going through my head at that point. Ripping out some dandelions seemed like a good way to expend nervous energy.  

 Around 1:00, I decided I needed to eat something. Just as I came inside, I heard “Misty Mountain Hop” which is Writer Nephew’s ring tone. Lots of enthusiasm greeted me. It occurred to me that Writer Nephew and his college buddies were more excited than I was. Yeah, it had to be shock. But while I was speaking with him, a smile took up residence on my face and did not leave. Hung up, and seconds later took a call from my sister – the one who is not on Facebook. Okay, now I was getting excited. So, back to celebrating…

  • 6. Shower off garden dirt using favorite LUSH soap. i.e. Rockstar.
  • 7. Pull out my “Writer” ringer shirt and put it on. Grin because I finally feel like I deserve the title.
  • 8. E-mail other sister who obviously had not been on Facebook yet, also a friend who is not on social networks and will be thrilled to hear the news
  • 9. Go out for celebratory dinner. Eat yummy Italian food.
  • 10. Go to the movies. 

Yeah, #10 is a little odd too, but my protagonist, Katrina is (like me) a huge Doors fan, and When You’re Strange, A movie about The Doors came out in limited release on Friday. I’ve wanted to see this film since it was first mentioned on a friend’s site. (www.idafan.com) The timing, working in with my celebration, could not be better. I loved the film. Katrina would have too.

So that’s how I celebrated getting a book contract. How will I celebrate the actual publishing of my novel? With another tattoo, of course. 🙂