Dictionary’s New Words


The Oxford Dictionary added about 1100 “new” words to the latest edition; that dictionary overall includes more than 829,000 words. “New” doesn’t mean the word just came into existence or use. It means newly accepted by the OED.

The update includes mansplaining, snowflake (not the ice flake; used as a derogatory term for a person who feels entitled to special treatment), hangry, helicopter parenting, and me time.

See the full article at:



Bad Sex in Fiction Award


“Each year since 1993, the Bad Sex in Fiction Award has honoured an author who has produced an outstandingly bad scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel. The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction. The prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature.”

Christopher Bollen has won the 25th annual award for The Destroyers, his third novel.

“She covers her breasts with her swimsuit. The rest of her remains so delectably exposed. The skin along her arms and shoulders are different shades of tan like water stains in a bathtub. Her face and vagina are competing for my attention, so I glance down at the billiard rack of my penis and testicles.”

How flattering to liken a woman’s skin tone to bathtub stains. And I suppose testicles are the same shape as billiard balls (how many does he have?). But does that mean his penis is the triangular rack?


2016 Challenged Books



The list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2016 is here. This year’s list explores a range of genres (young adult, fiction, memoir) and formats (novels, graphic novels, picture books), but they have one thing in common: each book was threatened with removal from spaces where diverse ideas and perspectives should be welcomed.

The annual list is compiled by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF); OIF calculates the Top Ten by documenting public media articles of challenges, and censorship reports submitted.

Top Ten Challenged Books of 2016

Out of 323 challenges reported to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2016 are

1. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
This young adult graphic novel, winner of both a Printz and a Caldecott Honor Award, was restricted, relocated, and banned because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.

2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Parents, librarians, and administrators banned this Stonewall Honor Award-winning graphic novel for young adults because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint.

3. George written by Alex Gino
Despite winning a Stonewall Award and a Lambda Literary Award, administrators removed this children’s novel because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”

4. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
This children’s picture book memoir was challenged and removed because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints.

5. Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
Included on the National Book Award longlist and designated a Stonewall Honor Book, this young adult novel was challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content.

6. Looking for Alaska written by John Green
This 2006 Printz Award winner is a young adult novel that was challenged and restricted for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation.”

7. Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
Considered to be sexually explicit by library staff and administrators, this compilation of adult comic books by two prolific award-winning artists was banned and challenged.

8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
This collection of adult short stories, which received positive reviews from Newsweek and the New York Times, was challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive.”

9. Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
This children’s book series was challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author.

10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
One of seven New York Times Notable Children’s Books and a Printz Honor recipient, this young adult novel was challenged for offensive language.

Bonus Content


Website Bonus Content Brings in the Readers!

This is something I bring up with authors a lot. You MUST have a website or blog, and you must keep it active, post new material. So what can you be putting out that will bring fans back to your site frequently? This article by Liz Edelstein at The Verbs suggests your bonus content can be:

  • Deleted scenes
  • Behind-the-scenes scoop
  • Series FAQ, relationship trees, and/or character interviews
  • Short stories or bridge stories
  • Teaser preview material

Oh, and not mentioned in the article, but don’t forget to have an e-newsletter to let your fans know about the new material on your site. Studies have shown over and over that the best way to reach people is by direct email.

Turn Your Website Up To 11 (with Bonus Content)

Turn Your Website Up to 11 (With Bonus Content)

Quality in Self-Pubbing


Are Self-Published Books Inferior to Professionally Published Books?


The article author lists three areas to evaluate: editing, cover design, and interior design and layout. The conclusion is that “For the most part, self-published books do not even come close to what a major publisher puts out.”

I will use the example of the self-pubbed “Class 5” trilogy by Michelle Diener. Absolutely incredible story line and characters! I love the “stories”, but I hate the “books”.

~ I am not focused on covers, so I’d say these are fine but not fantastic.

~ Text formatting: I bought the print versions, and they are a mess. Did the author not check every page of the layout before they went to print?

~ Then we get to what I as a reader notice most, the editing/proofing. That’s what affects my reading pleasure; errors pull me out of the story and reduce my concentration. These things are a godawful disaster! I found quite literally hundreds and hundreds of errors—typos, misspellings, wrong punctuation, wrong words, missing words. In all three books, so she did not learn from experience. I can barely reread these books because the text is so painful.

When I recommend the wonderful stories to others, I always have to include the caveat that they are a quality disaster and make the author seem incompetent and illiterate. Pay for an experienced and professional and expensive proofreader, Michelle!! Since her bio says she previously worked in publishing (without defining what type of work) I find it amazing that she damaged such great stories by putting out such unprofessional and poor quality books.

My opinion: One cannot consider all “self-published” books to be one homogenous group. It should be broken into:

1. Books previously published by a good publisher; rights have reverted to author, who then repubs the book. That book went through professional editing for original publication, so is already of good quality.

2. Newly written self-pubbed book by author with extensive positive prior experience at a major publisher. This author has developed their writing skills, has learned the value of experienced editing and professional cover art.

3. Books from self-pubbers who view writing as a profession needing training and mentoring and brutal critiquing and self-evaluation. These authors belong to professional writing organizations, they take classes, they participate in critiquing, they pay big bucks for very good editing, proofreading, formatting, and cover art. They invest in their “job”.

4. Books from an author who has only ever self-pubbed, does not have experience in the publishing industry, may or may not be a dedicated member of a writing organization. This author is far less likely to take classes, use crit partners, and really work to develop writing skills. Doesn’t want to waste money on editing or cover art; either skips editing completely or goes with the cheapest. These are the books that are very likely of poor quality. And there are a LOT of them–the biggest group within self-pubbing.

So, yes, I agree with the article that many if not most self-pubbed books are indeed inferior. But don’t tar them all with the same brush, when there are also a lot of excellent quality books that fall under the self-pubbed umbrella.

Banning Books


This is National Banned Books Week.  http://www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek

Fifteen Quotes About Censorship and the Danger of Banning Books



“Yes, books are dangerous. They should be dangerous – they contain ideas.”
― Pete Hautman

11. “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.”
— Voltaire

In Lieu of…


I strongly approve of family who ask that people donate to a cause or charity instead of sending flowers to a funeral. Such a better use of the money, and a good way to honor the deceased.

But here is the best one yet, a true inspiration. Anna Dewdney, the bestselling author and illustrator of the Llama Llama childrens books and others, died a week ago of brain cancer, at age 50. In lieu of a funeral service, Dewdney asked that people read to a child. What an incredible and fitting memorial to an author!