23 June 2014

Computer Woes

Hi, everybody! Normally while on vacation I would be blogging up a storm about Saba, Anguilla, and the books I'm reading. I'm also supposed to be sending out emails regarding the Caitlin Moran readalong that I will be hosting soon.

Alas I cannot do any of those things because my computer is kaput. Or at least mostly kaput, as there don't seem to be too many Mac dealers/experts on the island. My last best hope is to take my laptop to a guy tomorrow who is a silkscreen artist by trade but also a Mac buff.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me that I will be able to post soon. I'm actually ridiculously restless not being able to share my photos and experiences. I am also itching to read your blogs and book reviews and funny stories!

Hope to see y'all soon...

12 June 2014

Fun With Spam!

Image found here
Okay, so perhaps I'm stretching it a bit too far here, but I've never done one of those posts that talks about the statistics on my blog hits, or the curious terms people type into search engines that lead to my blog.  Seems like the blogosphere was all a-buzz with posts like that a couple of years ago. But the other day I got the most bizarre spam comment and thought it was too funny not to share. 

Most spam that I get has a few key search words included for whatever product it's pushing: shoes, enhancement pills, medical marijuana, etc. You know, the words that search engine optimization (SEO) has dictated would be best.  But this one?  It's ALL over the place.  This spammer wants to promote fashion and health and sex and performance and goodness knows what else:

"the reasons for being bouncing, umpteen family line subscribed. witness daring slipway to prevent search too "fancy." Buy a seed submarine, and buy multiples of it. You don't requirement their currency when purchasing an component part. mostly, you ordain be feat the incomparable products that youthat knowledge trades without emotion Michael Kors Bags; , assertable if your kid a fiddling sonorous for just about excellent online-buying advice you can crumble those for a base security interest loan. This is one of the chemical, such as its bearing expands. If you've successful online are passably unwashed-judgement poppycock. roughly of these styles in either the subjugate on World Book Night: Givin' All Night Long!"

It's almost poetic, really.  Submarine? Sonorous? Unwashed judgement poppycock?  I kinda want to know the person who threw these words together.  In some ways it reminds me of Dumbledore: "Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!"

What about y'all? Have you had a spam comment that was so fun or bizarre that it was worth commenting on?

07 June 2014

Mini Readathon Time!

I've been looking forward to this mini-readathon for ages now--I even put it on my husband's calendar and last night he noticed it for the first time. I was so stealthy about putting it on there that I had neglected to explain that we'll be spending Saturday reading.

I've not put much thought into my mini-snacks this time around -- quel horreur! -- but I've been planning my reading for about a month.  I will be multitasking this mini-thon like a boss: I will be reading the first two chapters and/or the first 50 pages, whichever is longer, of a big stack of books. IN other words, I will be reading mini amounts.  These books happen to be either books I'm considering packing for vacation or books that my store's First Editions Club is considering for selection. Bam. Done and done.

I woke up this morning feeling a little wobbly in the tummy, so the silver dollar pancakes (with a nod to What Red Read) I had planned turned out to be toast and tea, and that's probably all I will consume for the rest of the day, but I will do it often and in mini amounts. And I will also intersperse my minithon with plenty of mini naps.

Here are the two stacks of books I'm going to be reading in:

How about y'all?  I know this is a slim-participation 'thon today, competing with wedding plans music festivals and new babies and the watching of the new season of Orange is the New Black, but I'm eager to check in with everybody to see how things are going.

Edited on 8 June 2014 to add:

I didn't get as much read yesterday as I'd hoped.  Napping seemed pretty important, so I napped twice.  I did find a keeper for my suitcase for vacation (Lexicon by Max Barry), a probable book for my suitcase for vacation ( The Dog by Joseph O'Neill), and possible books for my store's First Editions Club (Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and A Sudden Light by Garth Stein).  The only book that I started reading and was surprised not to love immediately was the third book in the Jasper Fforde series.

My snacking was limited to tea and toast all day, so not especially exciting, but I feel much better today as I head to work.  I'll try to cheer on those of you who opt to 'thon today. 

06 June 2014

Caitlin Moran's How To Build A Girl: Who Wants to Read Along?

So...a couple of years ago, HarperCollins was gracious enough to let me host a pre-publication readalong for Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue. This year, I've talked them into letting me host a prepublication readalong for another of their authors, and I am eager to embark on this new adventure: Caitlin Moran's first novel, How to Build a Girl.

Since I mostly learned about Caitlin Moran and her contributions to the world of smart humor + feminism for the first time from many of my fellow bloggers, I cannot wait to explore her newest book together.

It's pretty simple.  We will start with an introductory post on Monday, 7 July, and post on a regular schedule every Monday thereafter through 18 August (exact reading schedule TBD). This readalong will be limited to 15 bloggers, most of whom must reside in the US. US bloggers will be provided with a physical ARC, UK bloggers are eligible with an e-galley.  All posts must link back to As the Crowe Flies and Reads and also include a link for pre-ordering the book from either Odyssey Bookshop or another independent bookstore of your choice in the US.

Are you a book blogger who would like to play along?  Please sign up in the comments below.  I will need both an email and a physical address from all of the participants, so please send them to me at emily [at] odysseybks [dot] com.

My sincere thanks to Anne DeCourcey (my sales rep who got the ball rolling) and Stephanie Cooper in the marketing department at HarperCollins who will be sponsoring this readalong!

edited to add: Okay, y'all, I think I have reached the 15-person cut-off (some people contacted me directly, not just via this blog) but I'll come back and let folks know if it opens up for one or two people. I'll also start a waiting list. I'm sorry if you didn't get the chance to sign up in time--I usually give lots more advance warning, but this readalong came together at the last minute.  

03 June 2014

BookExpo 2014: Or, WOW, I REALLY LOVE MY JOB

I'm lucky to be an independent bookseller who lives within easy Amtrak distance of New York City, where BookExpo has been held for the last few years.  Last week marked my 5th (I think?) BEA, which is held in the soul-sucking Javits Center.  I'm told that it's the largest book convention in the world, but I'm not going to verify that for you.  Google away and find out for yourself if you so choose.

For those of you who've never attended BEA/BookExpo before, lemme 'splain. It's exhilarating. It's exhausting.  It's big on a scale that is hard to imagine. This is the biggest of all possible big things in US publishing, and in some cases, international publishing. It would make me wince, and then cry, and then maybe hide in a corner to know how much money the biggest publishers throw at BEA.  For example, I have a friend whose father owns a small, well-respected publishing house known for its literature in translation (mostly from Arabic) and with an emphasis on travel lit and Middle Eastern cultures. His single booth, about 15 feet long and maybe 6 feet deep, with one table and little carpeting, cost over $20,000. I don't want to know how much it costs publishers with multiple booths, with cushy carpeting, spanning rows and aisles of the Javits, with big drop-down signs hung from the ceiling that can be seen from anywhere on the tradeshow floor.

Inside each women's stall
On the outside of each stall in the women's room
Stair ads and ceiling ads
For example, here is some advertising.  Multiple women's bathrooms had advertising for one book inside each stall and across the mirrors.  In the other photo you can see that it was worth it to the publisher to sprawl ads for Carl Hiaasen's new book for kids up a set of stairs. And for Adi Alsaid and Jodi Picoult, whose huge banners hang from the ceiling. NB: I shot these photos on Wednesday, the day before BookExpo really opened, which is why you can see the stairs at all.  Otherwise it would just be a mob scene.

BookExpo is also a time for publishers to wine and dine their authors and in some lucky cases, their booksellers.  This year I was very fortunate to inherit an invitation to Simon & Schuster's 90th anniversary party, which was huge and star-studded.  I say"inherit" because the invitation came just one week before the party, meaning that somebody higher up on the bookseller food chain declined at the last minute and I got to step in.  This is not a criticism; on the contrary, I was delighted to accept. Would I rather get an early invitation?  Well, sure.  But getting a late one is infinitely better than not getting one at all. I'm happy to fill in!

Though I don't have the photographic evidence to prove it, I got to meet Anjelica Huston, Hoda Kotb and Cary Elwes that night, along with the authorRachel Renee Russell, Lisa Genova, and Kresley Cole. Dinner was in an amazing space--a converted Episcopal monastery--and while the food itself was forgettable (to put it charitably), the company was delightful.  In addition to Genova and Cole, I had the  incredibly charming Ian Chapman, former CEO and currently chief executive publisher of S&S UK, India, Australia, as a table mate.

Rumor has it that the ceiling is four stories high

The ceiling really was gorgeous

That's Kresley Cole with me, with the minstrel balcony as a backdrop
Our last course wasn't served until almost 10:00, and with my walk back to the hotel I didn't get home until well after 11:30, but it was all worth it.  Even when I had to be back at the Javits Center the next morning at 9:00 to begin my first day of back-to-back appointments with publishers to pitch my store's First Editions Club and to convince publicists that my store can easily handle large-scale events of over 1,000 guests, so they should definitely send Amy Poehler and Jodi Picoult. (They really should!)

My celebrity encounters didn't end with the Simon & Schuster dinner.  First thing the next morning, I was able to spend a moment with Anjelica Huston when she stopped by the American Booksellers Association meeting room to sign some books. She even agreed to post with Hannah and me (Hannah's the delightful manager of my store's children's department):

The day just kept on getting better when I arrived at a publisher meeting room a few minutes early for one of my appointments.  In walked The Divine Jane Lynch.  I didn't talk to her or anything, but I kept quoting her lines from Best In Show in my head while snapping a quick pic. She was only ten feet away. I was able to play it cool enough not to walk up and bother her, but I couldn't not take this picture:

Then there was the Celebration of Bookselling luncheon for indie booksellers.  There was at least one author or illustrator at every table, and Anthony Marra, who wrote the terrific debut novel  A Constellation of Vital Phenomena was at mine. I was very excited to note in the program that Rainbow Rowell was there to win the Indie Award for best YA novel, Eleanor and Park. I snapped a photo of her onstage (it's blurry), but I was utterly starstruck when Hannah and I went up to talk with her after the luncheon.  I gushed a little bit, saying that I'd been reading her ever since Attachments came out, and then Rainbow and I both gushed together a little bit about how much we adore Alice from Reading Rambo. And then I swooned a little because she took a picture with Hannah and me:
I know why there are so many songs about Rainbows
I could have gone home at that point, completely satisfied with my BEA experience, but there were two celebrities yet to be encountered.

The night before I took the train down to New York, I inherited another last minute invitation--this time to meet former Secretary of State (and, I hope, next President-to-be) Hillary Rodham Clinton. I received the email invitation one hour before the RSVP was due, and again, this is not a criticism.  I was giddy with disbelief to be one of 100 indie booksellers who gathered to hear a short address about her new memoir and then have the chance to shake her hand and be in a photograph with her. I am thankful to all of those Republican indie booksellers (though I feel that there probably aren't many) who turned down the opportunity to attend so that my name worked its way up the invitation list.

The two things I most remember about her speech are the two most common questions she was asked when traveling around the world in her capacity as Secretary of State, and one of those questions shows *exactly* how far female leaders have to go to be considered with equal gravitas as their male counterparts: (1) How do you manage to do your hair when you're on the road? and (2) How can you work for the administration of the man who was your opponent in the presidential race?

I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure that Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Colin Powell aren't asked questions like #1.

Anyway, at the end, we all had about two seconds of face time with Ms Clinton and after our handshake, we were just turning to pose for the professional photographer when she glanced at my earrings, pushed a strand of my hair back, and asked, "Are those books?" I said yes, they were Jane Austen earrings and she said she liked them. (I can post the professional photo after S&S sends it out to us--they asked us to refrain from using our personal cameras during the meet & greet.)

That means that I've got one more celebrity to meet at BEA.  You may have heard of her. Publishers Weekly refers to her as one of six "Go-To Book Bloggers." I'm speaking, naturally, of Alice from Reading Rambo. I'm utterly baffled at my lack of photographic evidence from our time together, but trust me, it was fun.  We met up at the Peachtree booth where my DH and Carmen Agra Deedy were signing copies of The Cheshire Cheese Cat. Alice and I agreed that Carmen is worth keeping our options open for.  And anyway, I don't have my own photo, but Alice does, so I'm copying it here:
Photo credit here
That about sums up my BEA.  I spent lots of time hanging with Hannah, plus other folks from Odyssey: Joan, Ann, and Garrett. I wore my most comfortable shoes so that I wouldn't collapse after three days.  I saw my mentor and favorite father figure, John Evans, from Lemuria Bookstore. I saw two impressive-sized Lego figures.  I even drank a delicious passionfruit beverage that looked like it was covered in tadpole eggs.  I'll be sure to let y'all know if I'm to be the proud mama of some frogspawn.

BEA 2015 will need to be at the top of its game if it wants to beat BEA 2014.  And that's all I'm saying. 

01 June 2014

Last Month in Review: May 2014

I'm guessing that Garrison's favorite song is Lean On Me

Garrison Keillor's trademark red sneakers
If you've visited my blog any time in the last month, you could be forgiven for assuming that I've been trapped under something heavy. You could also be forgiven for assuming that maybe my lack of posting was because I was feverishly reading LOTS of books.  Sadly, despite the fact that I only posted once in May, and that was write the super-easy Last Month In Review post for April, I was neither trapped under something heavy nor feverishly consuming books.

I was, however, very busy with work (Garrison Keillor!).  And don't ask me why, but for some reason I felt myself compelled to watch the movie Pitch Perfect and most of season 2, and then all of seasons 3 and 4, of Glee, a tv show I stopped watching after season 1 when it became less about the musical, geeky experience and more about the flashy guest stars and musical performances never to be believed of a high school.  

I didn't even read that much in May, but here it is.  June will be better by about 200%, I expect, because I'll start my vacation some time that month, and that means READING ALL DAY.  Plus there's the mini-thon, which I'm looking forward to in a way that rivals the feelings Persephone must have looked forward to her time with Demeter after being trapped in the underworld.  Tika, I salute you for hosting it at just the right time!

1. Lucky Us by Amy Bloom.  I love this cover, and I enjoyed a lot about the book, but the author commits the cardinal sin of the epistolary form: she puts in the letters too much information that the recipient would already know, and therefore is just trying to tell the reader.  That might be acceptable in YA books, but not in literary fiction.  

Fan art from Goodreads
2. and 3. The Way We Get By and Drop Dead Gorgeous by Mistful.  Oh, yeah.  I also read some long Harry Potter fan fiction.  This is Harry/Draco, where they are auror partners and where Draco has many cunning plans and is the only one who can resist Harry's part-veela allures. Shacklebolt may or may not be a robot who enjoys his sexy times with house elves.  In other words, these two stories are VERY funny and really well written.  They're also really long--about 400 pages for the pair.

4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  This was a re-listen of the audio book, which incidentally I seem to prefer to the written book.  Reading all of that Harry/Draco fanfiction inspired me to listen to this audio again when I had run out of un-listened-to audio books. I also fell in love with Levi again.

5. Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique.  This is one of only two actual books that I read last month.  Go, me.  It's a debut novel set in the US and British Virgin Islands, spanning from the ceding of the USVI from the Danish up through the 1960s.  I liked it a lot.

6. The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson.  Those of you who are on Twitter might recognize the #weneeddiversity buzz that has been surrounding this book.  A deplorably low percentage of children's  books published in the US have main characters of color, much less feature them on the cover of the books.   My coworkers at Odyssey Bookshop and our colleagues at Eight Cousins have challenged other indie booksellers to sell as many copies of this book as we can to help put it on the bestseller lists. It's super fun, a quick read, and an homage to popular heist films like Oceans Eleven. Any readers of As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) who order the book from my bookstore will get a free ARC (or two) thrown in with your order.  Just mention it when calling (413.534.7307) or going to our website.

In a nod to Alley at What Red Read, here are some stats:

Men/Women: 16%/84%
White authors/writers of color: 68%/32%
Real books/fanfiction: 68%/32%
Books for adults/books for middle grade or YA: 32%/68%

Coming up soon: my recent trip to BEA, wherein I met lots of nifty people and had encounters with a rather surprising number of celebrities.

What did y'all enjoy reading last month?