Sunday, August 31, 2008

Preview of Southern Fest of Bks

(Saralee and Larry Woods, owners of Bookman/Bookwoman)

Like you, I wear multiple hats. It's as the Vice President of the Women's National Book Association (WNBA), Nashville Chapter that I write to you today. I want to invite any and all book lovers to join our group. We are a group of 100+ women and men who gather on a monthly basis at Davis-Kidd for programs supporting our mission of promoting books and literacy within the community (see full schedule below). We also volunteer within the community (Southern Festival of Books, Book'em to name a few), have a first rate newsletter and host Member-Only events. Whether you are an author, literary agent, teacher or avid reader, you are sure to meet other like minded individuals and benefit from the experience. I know I have. With annual dues at only $25, this is also the best deal in town. Applications can be found here. I hope to see you this Thursday for the first program of the year featuring Saralee and Larry Woods giving a preview of the Southern Festival of Books.
Fall Programs for WNBA, Nashville Chapter
Come join us on Thursday, September 4th, in the conference room located in Bronte Café at Davis-Kidd located in the Green Hills Mall, for the first program of the year. All WNBA programs are free and open to the public. We encourage members to bring guests; it is a great way to increase awareness of our amazing organization within the community. The informal pre-event gathering starts at 5:00pm. For those who have the time, this is a great opportunity to meet other members and guests. And please do not forget to bring your checkbook to renew your annual dues of $25.

This month’s meeting will run from 6:00-7:15pm. Saralee and Larry Woods, owners of BookMan/BookWoman Books, frequent contributors to Talk of the Town (Newschannel5) and WNBA members, will present a preview of the Southern Festival of Books. This year’s Festival will be held in Nashville on October 10-12th. With more than 200 authors presenting at the Festival, this program will help you prioritize your advance reading list. For more information the Woods, please see and for more information the Festival see

Panel on the Role of the Book Review on Thursday, October 2nd. Jonathan Marx, former Book Editor of The Tennessean, and Trisha Ping, Fiction Editor of BookPage, will discuss the role of the book review. It’s a timely discussion given the changes the publishing and media industries have undergone over the last decade. How are these changes impacting how consumer use book reviews and ultimately select which books to read given the proliferation in titles and increased popularity of the Internet and such programs as Oprah’s Book Club?

Fall Get-Together (Members-Only) on Sunday, October 5th from 4-6pm. WNBA members Joanne and Gary Slaughter have generously offered to host the Fall Get-Together at their house. We are going to have a book swap. Each person should bring a book he/she enjoyed and will go home with a potential new favorite.

Panel Showcasing Local WNBA Writers on Thursday, November 6th. Come hear four WNBA members share stories and read from their most recent books.
Pat Ballard, author of 10 Steps to Loving Your Body (No Matter What Size You Are.) More information can be found at
Sigourney Cheek, author of Patient Siggy: Hope and Healing in Cyberspace. More information can be found at
J.T. Ellison, author of 14. More information can be found at
Susan Gregg Gilmore, author of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen. More information can be found at

Annual Book Sale and Holiday Dinner on Thursday, December 4th. We will have the festivities again at Boundry Restaurant (911 20th Avenue South). Stay tuned for more information.
--Ginna F.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Theatre... for a change

I had the opportunity last week to learn more about Tennessee Repertory Theatre, the company that performs at TPAC. They have a great line-up for the 2008-2009 season that I know will appeal to book lovers (see below for schedule) . There are two shows in particular that are calling out to me: Moonlight and Magnolias and Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris. And, I could not believe the deals they are offering. For example, season tickets can be had for $125-$150 and group discounts (10-50% off) are available for groups with +10 people. Not bad, not bad at all -- smile. The wheels in my head are turning to see how many of the shows I can take in. Again, Nashville has come through with high quality Arts that are thought-provoking, relevant/topical and affordable. I love this town.

Quote from Rene D. Copeland, Producing Artistic Director, on Moonlight and Magnolias
"“The great thing about this play is it’s both a kind of tribute to the driving energies from that era of movie-making while still poking fun at the whole mentality, AND you don’t have to know anything at all about Gone with the Wind to appreciate the satire. I couldn't resist it. Witty dialogue, funny plot, larger-than-life characters, all put together nicely. You’re in for a treat.”

Description of Santaland Diaries
"This hilarious one-man show has been one of Tennessee Rep’s most oft-asked-for holiday productions. Out of work, our slacker decides to become a Macy's elf during the seasonal crunch. At first the job is simply humiliating, but once the thousands of visitors start pouring through Santa's workshop, he becomes battle weary and bitter. Taking consolation in the fact that some of the other elves were television extras on One Life to Live, he grins and bears it, occasionally taking out his frustrations on the children and parents alike. "

2008-2009 Season


By Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler
October 4 – 18
Johnson Theater, TPAC

by Ron Hutchinson
November 8 – 22

Johnson Theater, TPAC

by David Sedaris
November 28 – December 20
Johnson Theater, TPAC

by David Mamet
February 7 – 21
Johnson Theater, TPAC

By David Lindsay-Abaire
March 21 – April 4
Johnson Theater, TPAC

by Crispin Whittell
May 2 – 16
Johnson Theater, TPAC

--Ginna F.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

According to Publishers Lunch Deluxe, has purchased It will be interesting to watch what Amazon does with the site. Will it impact the functionality or editorial integrity of Shelfari? (Is there editorial integrity if its a social networking site? Hmm... I guess yes depending on how advertising is used. For example, in a magazine, we expect that advertisers are labeled as such and when there is an editorial wrapper it says "special ad section" or the like.) I will be particularly interested to see how Amazon applies the market intelligence gleaned from observing book lovers on a non-commercial site. Were you not impressed the first time you saw Amazon's "if you like this book, then you'll love this book" or the one-click technology? These guys are good at deconstructing behavior and developing functionality that meets the underlying needs.

"Book social networking site Shelfari announced on their site that Amazon, which was an investor, is buying out the company: "As many of you may already know, Amazon has been a long supporter of Shelfari. They've worked closely with us as we introduced readers, like you, to our global community of book lovers.... And now Shelfari and Amazon will work hand in hand to continue to grow our dynamic community and create innovative new tools around the books you love. We've got some big plans ahead. With more resources and Amazon's expertise in building a platform where people come to share ideas, there are a lot of new opportunities in the future that will benefit each of you." As a Seattle PI itm noted before the announcement, Shelfari "raised about $1 million in February 2007 and had been considering another round of funding." The purchase only heighten questions of what Amazon will do with the minority stake in LibraryThing they acquired as part of the recent AbeBooks purchase."

--Ginna F.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kids Blowout

Could this get any better? Davis-Kidd, Kids Book Sale and Labor Day weekend? In fact, according to Davis-Kidd's website, it can. On Thursday, Aug 28th at the Preview Night, Teachers and Gives Back Members receive an additional 20% off all kids bargain titles. (Must show Golden Apple or Gives Back Card.) What a deal!

--Ginna F.

The Warren Center: Where Academics Play Nice

Do a little Internet digging and you’ll come up with more than a few Tennessee organizations dedicated to the arts. There are alliances (the Tennessee Writer’s Alliance), advocates (Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for th Arts and Tennesseans for the Arts), commissions (Tennessee Arts Commission), and guilds (the Knoxville Writer's Guild).

With tons more out there, all of these organizations are worthy of further investigation, but here's a bit more info on one of them, Vanderbilt University’s Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.

[To begin with, a disclosure: I once worked for the RPW Center (as those in the know abbreviate it). During my interview with Executive Director Mona Frederick I was forced to admit that, though born and raised in Nashville, I had rarely visited the University’s lush, tree-filled campus. I knew Memorial Gymnasium, and if pressed, could maybe find Sarratt Student Center, but if I couldn’t spot a landmark while driving along 21st Ave. or West End, then my awareness of its existence was vague at best.]

The Warren Center is smack dab in the middle of campus. Working there was a discovery on all fronts. If there are others out there who suffer as I once did from “That’s Vanderbilt, the parking’s horrible, don’t make me go inside” then please, read on. The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities is worth your while.

Housed in the historic Vaughn Home--described as "one of the University's seven original faculty houses" and the childhood home of Stella Vaughn, the school's first female instructor and organizer of its first women's basketball team--the Center is a place where the various factions that make up a liberal arts education can come together in interdisciplinary study. In academia, departmental allegiances run high. Just as urban street gangs mark their turf with deliberate ferocity, guarding its boundaries with the threat of physical violence, so, too, do academic types choose a subject of study, take a theoretical perspective and do battle in a truth-seeker’s warfare of critique and analysis, positional argument and canonical take-down. For them, there’s no doubt that the pen is mightier than the sword.

The Warren Center is the academy’s “no sneer” zone. It’s a place of safety, where scholars in French Medieval studies can come together with Judaic theologians who on occasion also teach Film Studies 101. Best-selling authors visit, renowned scholars lecture, and international conferences are put on almost every year.

Much of the Center’s programming is open to the public, and this year the Center turns 20. A number of events are planned celebrating this 20th Anniversary, making its already high-caliber calendar of events even more stellar than usual. On Friday, September 5th, at 6pm, in conjunction with the Chancellor's Lecture Series, Bruce Cole, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will speak on "The State of the Humanities." Free and open to the public, the event will take place at Ingram Hall at the Blair School of Music. Then, on October 30th, its the annual Harry C. Howard Jr. Lecture Series featuring acclaimed humorist and author Roy Blount, Jr.

The Warren Humanities Center is just too special a gem. So check out their website. Be bold and brave mid-town traffic as you attend a lecture. Take advantage of one more of Nashville's cultural offerings.

Election Year

For those of you who want to know more about Joe Biden, Obama's running mate, I have just the book for you.

According to today's ShelfAwareness, "Senator Joe Biden, now Barack Obama's running mate, has rejoined the book campaign, too: his Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics, originally published by Random House last summer, is being released in paperback within "a week or so," Tom Perry, deputy publisher of Random told the Associated Press.

Until Saturday's announcement, the book did about as well as Biden's original presidential campaign. Perry commented: "Bringing out the hardcover last year during the hectic lead-in to the primaries didn't help the book because it was perceived by some to be a campaign tool. It's actually a fine and moving memoir."

In July, I read The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama and will be interested to see how Biden's view compare and contrast. I find it easier to understand a candidate and his positions after reading an autobiography. The issues being debated require more than the soundbites CNN provide. On that note, if you would like a good side-by-side comparison of McCain's and Obama's positions on health care, energy & the environment, economy and trade, pick up today's Wall Street Journal which has a whole section devote to it.

--Ginna F.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Extreme Lengths

(Photo: Lacey G. and Steven Womack)
Steven Womack did not disappoint; he was a fantastic speaker at last night's Evening with an Author. He kicked-off his talk by describing the call he received from a Nashville police detective asking him if he'd committed a particularly gruesome double homicide on Church Street. (The detective was required to follow up on all crime tips and one had named Steven as the likely suspect). This call was the inspiration for By Blood Written. Authors often go to extreme lengths to research books. What if an author took it too far and actually committed heinous crimes in order to get "life-like" details for a book? What if an author found that he enjoyed killing? Would he risk his fame, fortune and freedom to satisfy his blood lust? Rather than say any more, I'll let you read the book for yourself.
--Ginna F.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Penguin in Love

This is just too funny/ridiculous. Or perhaps it's a stroke of brilliance. I cannot make up my mind. Regardless, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you.

Publishers Lunch highlighted an article from titled "Penguin Launches Dating Website". Penguin is launching a dating website with aimed at book lovers in the UK. It will allow Penguin to develop one-on-one relationships with the end-consumers. A great quote from the article is below.

“At Penguin we believe that the books we cherish and read over and over, those that we feel a deep emotional connection with, say something defining about us and the type of people we are.” Asked if soured romances could work against the brand, Rafferty said: “I really hope any romances are happy ones, but hopefully our readers are fully aware of what can go wrong as that’s the kind of thing our Penguin Classics are full of.”

For their sakes, I hope the intrepid souls who try Penguin's new dating website missed the NYTimes article titled "It’s Not You, It’s Your Books". There are some real zingers in it. For example,

"These days, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, listing your favorite books and authors is a crucial, if risky, part of self-branding. When it comes to online dating, even casual references can turn into deal breakers. Sussing out a date’s taste in books is “actually a pretty good way — as a sort of first pass — of getting a sense of someone,” said Anna Fels, a Manhattan psychiatrist and the author of “Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives.” “It’s a bit of a Rorschach test.” To Fels (who happens to be married to the literary publisher and writer James Atlas), reading habits can be a rough indicator of other qualities. “It tells something about ... their level of intellectual curiosity, what their style is,” Fels said. “It speaks to class, educational level.”

or this one....

"Naming a favorite book or author can be fraught. Go too low, and you risk looking dumb. Go too high, and you risk looking like a bore — or a phony. “Manhattan dating is a highly competitive, ruthlessly selective sport,” Augusten Burroughs, the author of “Running With Scissors” and other vivid memoirs, said. “Generally, if a guy had read a book in the last year, or ever, that was good enough.” The author recalled a date with one Michael, a “robust blond from Germany.” As he walked to meet him outside Dean & DeLuca, “I saw, to my horror, an artfully worn, older-than-me copy of ‘Proust’ by Samuel Beckett.” That, Burroughs claims, was a deal breaker. “If there existed a more hackneyed, achingly obvious method of telegraphing one’s education, literary standards and general intelligence, I couldn’t imagine it.”

Yikes! As if dating isn't hard enough.... (smile)

--Ginna F.

By Blood Written

I am very excited about tonight's Evening with an Author featuring Steven Womack author of By Blood Written (6-7pm at Martha's at the Plantation on Harding Road). He has not only won the most prestigious awards in the suspense / crime genre -- Edgar Allen Poe Award, Anthony Award and Shamus Award -- but he's also a fabulous speaker. Lacey G. and I hope to see you there!

Please note that all events in the Evening with an Author series are free and open to the public. (We just ask that you send us an email at to let us know you're coming. We want to make sure there are sufficient chairs.) You can also stay for dinner & music for $25 per person. Call Martha's at the Plantation to reserve your spot for dinner. For a full calendar of events, please see Swift Book Promotion's website.

From the Publisher on By Blood Written:
"At first, it was only research....

Author Michael Schiftmann has received resounding critical acclaim for his novels that few people buy or read. The sad truth is that readers aren't interested in great literature -- they only wants glitz and violence. So that's what Michael intends to give them -- shocking stories of a blood-chilling efficient serial killer that are filled with gore and horror. And to ensure that his books are impeccably realistic in every respect, he plans to try his own murder.

Soon his fictional killer is a sensation, and Michael is a rich, sought-after celebrity -- and his beautiful rising-star literary agent, Taylor Robinson, is falling in love with him. But there is one serious problem: Michael Schiftmann has discovered that bloodletting feels good...and he can't seem to stop."

"The plot is chockablock with unusual twists, the tension is palpable, and the denouement is terrifying. An edge-of-the-seat thriller"

"Readers...will find their pulses racing...The mood is dark, and the action fast-paced with page-turning suspense."
--The Tennessean

"By Blood Written is fast-paced...compelling."
--Nashville Scene

Steven Womack is the New York Times Notable, Edgar and Shamus awards-winning author of ten novels, including Dead Folks' Blues and Dirty Money. He lives in Nashville, TN, where he is also a professor of screenwriting at Watkins Film School. For more information, please see

--Ginna F.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Building Community

I see now that I got only half the story right when writing about the power of Yes, there is the network effect but more importantly it is about building community, both on and off-line. After receiving the message about the event at Davis-Kidd, I asked two friends if they wanted to grab a drink before heading over there. They both agreed and in fact brought two other friends. Then after the reading, I was introduced to two other people they knew. The bonds of friendship and shared common interest (aka books) resulted in a spontaneous exercise in community building.

While we all individually enjoyed the reading, we also got to be part of something larger which in this case was a sense of belonging and an ability to share our thoughts on books and other related matters. It's not a stretch to think that if I saw these people again it would be easy to strike up a conversation on any subject. These sorts of bonds are key to starting and building grassroots movements. Perhaps next time we will discuss the state of the education system or the importance of putting in sidewalks and bike lanes or the presidential candidates. Together, we have the ability to take an idea and transform it into reality / change our current reality. This is, in the words of one of my business school professors, multiplicative logic (the whole is worth exponentially more than the parts). Three cheers!

--Ginna F.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Network Effect

I am a big fan of For one, it allows me to keep up with a large group of friends here in Nashville and elsewhere. (And I love seeing people's vaca, baby and other random photos.) I am also starting to appreciate its power as a communication tool. For example, a friend just sent out the below invitation for a book event tonight. It probably took him less than 5 minutes to prepare and yet he was able to reach his whole Nashville network. And now that the event is on my radar, I can send the event invitation out to my friends. Classic network effect at play.

"Barry Kitterman's reading from his new novel, The Baker's Boy at 7:00 tonight at Davis-Kidd Bookstore/Greenhills. Come if you can. It's a great book, and he' a good reader."

Event: reading tonight "Come one and all"
What: Performance
Host: Davis-Kidd
Start Time: Today, August 19 at 7:00pm
End Time: Today, August 19 at 8:00pm
Where: Davis-Kidd Bookstore

How do you use Facebook or other social networking sites? Please leave a comment. Thanks.

--Ginna F.

Bibliophiles & Thier Books

I have also loved the word "bibliophile". It's one of those words that makes me pause and sound it out syllable by syllable in my mind. With each repetition and change in tempo, it becomes more sonorous and therefore more delightful. But I digress or perhaps am sticking to topic as book lovers are drawn to books for different reasons. For me, the beauty of individual words and the images certain sentences paint keep me going back for more. It's a sensual experience like eating fresh beefsteak tomatoes from the farmers' market or listening to the Nashville Symphony live.

Speaking of bibliophiles, there's an interesting article in today's Tennessean titled "Bibliophiles Can't Trash Tomes: Donate, Sell or Swap Old Books to Turn the Page on Clutter". There's a list on how to give a book a second life. (I am going to have to point this out to Lacey G. who was asking about a month ago if anyone knew places where you can donate books. Having moved here less than two years ago, I am still ok but am quickly running out of space as my nephew pointed out to me this weekend, with the candor only a 7 year old possesses. Hey, out of the mouths of babes...) The article contains some great quotes from book lovers. One of my favorites is, "Books are more than just paper to us. They are an expression of who we are. We may love the written word so much, we don't want to get rid of it."

Why do you love books? Please leave a comment. Thanks.

--Ginna F.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Addition to Schedule

Just got the good news that Kip Gayden, author of Miscarriage of Justice, will be joining us as the featured speaker at the November 20th Evening with an Author (6-7pm). For more information on the author and the book, please see

A torrid love affair in a small town becomes public and ends in murder. But who was the killer and who was the victim?

Anna Dotson is an icon of female propriety--the wife of a prominent doctor and city alderman, mother of two charming children, and member of the local ladies society. But inside her life is unsatisfying and lonely. Until she meets Charlie Cobb, a married man whose friendship and attention awaken the passion inside her. As the woman's suffrage movement marches on Washington, Anna will find herself drawn farther and farther from the role she is expected to play. And the consequences will be deadly.

Ripped from the headlines of the Tennessean, March 16, 1913, this is the true story of how Anna's betrayal led to a shocking public murder, and the killer's full confession to a local reporter. The only thing more surprising than the crime itself, is the verdict.

--Ginna F.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Me Talk Pretty

A friend of mine told me some great news today. David Sedaris is coming to town. Of course, I had get more information and share it with all of you. So here it is.

David Sedaris
TPAC (Andrew Jackson Hall)
Nashville, TN
Fri, Oct 17, 2008
7:30 PM

There appear to be plenty of tickets left; I just purchased mine at David Sedaris is one of the best contemporary writers out there and funny as all get-up. It's the type of writing that has you laughing out loud in public places and thankful that your family is as normal as they are (smile). I was first introduced to his short stories as an editorial intern at Little, Brown who is his publisher. If you haven't read him, check out some of his earlier books. My favorites are Barrel Fever and Me Talk Pretty One Day (I cannot resist linking to a review of this book; just thinking about it makes me giggle.) His newest is titled When You are Engulfed in Flames. Hope to see you there.
Biography: David Sedaris
Starting with his deadpan, disarmingly funny pieces on NPR and continuing with his collections of short fiction and essays, David Sedaris is one of the best, sharpest humorists writing today. His quirky history and family are rich material, but he's also just as hilarious simply satirizing Christmas cards or mocking his own vices.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Crime Time

I have crime on the mind. And no, there is no need to call the cops or check the police blotter. Nashville is hosting a number of crime related book events this week.

I had the good fortune of running into JT Ellison earlier this week at Bronte Bistro at Davis-Kidd. She was there for a Sisters in Crime, Middle TN Chapter meeting. (As an aside, this is a great spot to meet for book clubs and other group gatherings. Bronte not only has reasonably price fare but is also happy to push tables together to accommodate groups of 10-15 people. If you need more space, there is also a conference room available for rent. This is where we hold the WNBA, Nashville Chapter meetings on the first Thursdays of the month.) I didn't know much about the group so I thought I'd look it up. Ok, let's start with the group's tag line, "Mysterious Things Happen When Classic Meets Country". That's just awesome. How can you not love a group that displays this much panache? According to the website, the local chapter was founded in 1993 and is "committed to strengthening the voice of women in the mystery field."

Also, The Killer Nashville Mystery Conference is taking place this weekend, Aug 15-17th, at the Cool Springs Marriot. Check it out. The keynote speaker is Dr. Bill Bass, New York Times bestselling author and founder of UT's Anthropology Research Facility (aka "the body farm").

And if that is not enough mystery and suspense for you, come join us next Thursday for Evening with an Author featuring Steven Womack, author of By Blood Written.

--Ginna F.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

B&N Not Interested

According to today's Wall Street Journal, Barnes & Noble is not expected to make a bid for Borders. The decision reflects tight credit markets and Borders's exposure to long-term leases for some of its stores. As the largest bookstore in the US with an estimated market share of 20-22%, Barnes & Noble was the most obvious suitor given the potential cost savings of merging the two companies. It is not clear if the proposed merger would have triggered anti-trust concerns given the strength of's market share. I, for one, was quite surprised to see that Borders has a market cap of only $344 million -- a paltry sum for a store that has great brand recognition and 1,100 stores.

Company Profile
Borders Group, Inc., (NYSE: BGP) through its subsidiaries Borders, Inc., Waldenbook Book Company, Inc., and others, is a $3.8 billion retailer of books, music, movies, gifts and stationery headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. More than 1,100 Borders, Borders Express, and Waldenbooks stores worldwide provide millions of customers with a rich and engaging shopping experience. With a mission to be a headquarters for knowledge and entertainment, Borders superstores carry up to 200,000 book, music and movie titles and host thousands of in-store and community-centered events each year.
For more info see

--Ginna F.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tough Love

I'll admit that the title of Will Akers new book Your Screenplay Sucks: 100 Ways to Make it Great turned me off. Is it really necessary to use "Sucks" in the title? I thought not and yet somehow it works once you read the book. Will, a veteran screenwriter and Vanderbilt professor, has a distinct voice, both in person and on the written page. He does not hold back; he tells it like he sees it hence the use of "Sucks" in the title. Apparently, many of the screenplays he's critiqued over the last 20 years fall in that category. His approach is all about tough love.

While I am not an aspiring screenwriter, I found many of his points relevant and thought-provoking. The message is to craft a tight story that is both sell-able and well-positioned within the market. This is remarkably similar to what I tell our clients at Swift Book Promotion, LLC. For this reason, I know this book would be equally valuable to authors of any genres who are looking to differentiate themselves and sell more books.

--Ginna F.

From Your Screenplay Sucks:
"Right now, you're only worried about writing it. You also need to be worried about how someone is going to sell it, because, after all, this is the movie business.
Consider, when you're sitting down to think of your idea for a movie, "what parts are going to make it sell?" What have you got in there someone can take to a distributor and get them revved up about? Are there explosions or steamy romance they can show in the trailer? Drama, to me the most interesting storytelling form, is also the hardest to sell, because there are no "exploitable elements." You only have people talking, or sometimes yelling, to each other. Unless they're throwing furniture, you don't have much action for a thriller. A horror film has "exploitable elements," in that there is goo and gore. But what about your movie? Is your script going to have WOW moments that will get your film shot?
Ask yourself which ground-breaking scenes you remember from movies... and then create some that work strongly for your story. Here are some that work for me."....

Monday, August 11, 2008

WNBA says, "October is for Reading Groups"

Shelf-Awareness can't get enough of the WNBA. According to the website, "The Women's National Book Association is launching the second National Reading Group Month in October 'to promote reading groups and to celebrate the joy of shared reading.' Events featuring popular reading group authors will be held around the country, and some take place at bookstores and book festivals. The group also plans a publicity campaign. A range of publishers are involved, and other groups in the book world are invited to join the effort.

For more information about becoming involved, contact Jill Tardiff, WNBA National Reading Group Month chair, at"

Winner 2008 Women's National Book Association Award

As reported on Shelf Awareness, Kathi Kamen Goldmark is the winner of the 2008 Women's Natonal Book Association award. A founding member of the literary music supergroup the Rock Bottom Remainders (bandmates include Stephen King and Amy Tan), Goldmark is the author of And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You (Chronicle), Mid-Life Confidential (Viking), and The Great Rock & Roll Joke Book (St. Martin's).

The WNBA award is given every other year to a "living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books and the allied arts and who has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the responsibilities of her profession." As part of the Rock Bottom Remainders, Goldmark has raised $1.5 million in support of literary and writing endeavors and as Shelf-Awareness cites, in 1998 for the Stranger than Fiction! release, Goldmark "cajoled 40 writers into singing their favorite songs for a good cause--the PEN Writers Special Fund."

A co-writer of the BookPage column, "The Author Enablers," she is also an organizer for the Book Group Expo. On November 8th of this year, a reception honoring Goldmark's achievement will be held in San Francisco, CA.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Gross But Welcome

My taste in books is eclectic, to say the least. I will happily read just about anything from the classics to cooking memoirs to books on sports. But I draw the line at toilet humor and gratuitously gory fare both in reading and at the movies (Can anyone say Something About Mary with Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller? Ick.). So, why am thrilled about Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger? According to a cover story in today's Wall Street Journal, such books are converting young boys to reading. On average, boys consistently score lower on literary tests than girls. The gap remains as they move into adulthood. If this material appeals to boys and gets them to spend more time reading, I say let the gore and gross out factor multiply!
By JOHN HECHINGERAugust 8, 2008; Page A1
The book's main character slaughtered his victims by running them through with sharp stakes. He once left hundreds dying slowly on a hillside while the soil grew "muddy with blood" and "blackbirds flocked around the corpses, fighting for a meal."
Although it has the contours of a horror story -- with splotches of red ink on its pages depicting blood -- it's actually a children's book. "Vlad the Impaler: The Real Count Dracula" is widely available in libraries and is making its way into middle-school social-studies classes.
Children's publisher Scholastic Corp. features the 128-page tale of the 15th-century Romanian sociopath in its new "Wicked History" series, also starring "Leopold II: Butcher of the Congo" and "Mary Tudor: Courageous Queen or Bloody Mary?"

Publishers are hawking more gory and gross books to appeal to an elusive market: boys -- many of whom would rather go to the dentist than crack open "Little House on the Prairie." Booksellers are also catering to teachers and parents desperate to make young males more literate.
"There has been a real revolution" in books that "have more kid appeal," especially when it comes to boys, says Ellie Berger, who oversees Scholastic's trade division. "It's a shift away from the drier books we all grew up with."
Last year, U.S. publishers released 261 new works of juvenile fiction aimed at boys, more than twice the number put out in 2003, according to Bowker's Books in Print database. There were 20 nonfiction entries for boys, compared with just four in 2003.
Scholastic last fall started selling both "Wicked History" and "24/7: Science Behind the Scenes," a series inspired by the cadaver-heavy hit TV show, "CSI." One title in the series is "Help! What's Eating My Flesh: Runaway Staph and Strep Infections!" Readers are treated to color pictures of putrefying limbs and the warning that "sometimes, relatively harmless bacteria can turn into a gruesome killer." The two series already have more than 300,000 copies in print.
Karen Parker, a seventh-grade science teacher in Montgomery, Ala., plans to use the "24/7" series in her classes this coming fall after finding it on a recommended list from the National Science Teachers Association. "Half the battle is getting boys to want to read," she says.
In a series called "Sanitation Investigation," Capstone Press in the fall is bringing out "Getting to Know Your Toilet: The Disgusting Story Behind Your Home's Strangest Feature." Other popular selections in the grossness genre include Workman Publishing's "Oh, Yuck: The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty" and Simon & Schuster's "It's Disgusting and We Ate It! True Food Facts from Around the World and Throughout History." (Think worms, rats and squirrels.)
'Shock Tactics'
Jan Harp Domene, national president of the Parent Teacher Association, decries what she calls publishers' "shock tactics" to reach young males. She wants boys to read about the heroes of Greek mythology, the fantasy of Jules Verne and the antics of Tom Sawyer. "Does it all have to be blood and guts and gore?" she asks.
Eleven-year-old Yathrib Aryanpure, who just finished sixth grade in Tuscaloosa, Ala., says the answer is a resounding yes. He loved "Vlad the Impaler," especially when the boy learned the tyrant was assassinated, ending up with his own severed head on a stick. "I like gory books," he says. "Vlad the Impaler went on a killing rampage. In the end, he got a taste of his own medicine."
Scholastic and other publishers are heeding the research of such academics as Jeffrey Wilhelm, an education professor at Boise State University. Prof. Wilhelm tracked boys' reading habits for five years ending in 2005 and found that schools failed to meet their "motivational needs." Teachers assigned novels about relationships, such as marriage, that appealed to girls but bored boys. His survey of academic research found boys more likely to read nonfiction, especially about sports and other activities they enjoy, as well as funny, edgy fiction.
Boys' literary depth is an abiding concern in educational circles. Boys have persistently lagged behind girls in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, an influential federal test for gauging achievement. The gap widens by the time they reach 12th grade.
Many experts attribute the lag to the time spent with the printed page. In a survey of bookstores this year by Simba Information, a publishing-industry market-research firm, only 2% said boys made up most of their children's book customers. As adults, females also outscore males on literacy exams, and continue to read more. In an age when the Internet is pulling many away from books, boys in particular spend more time than girls do on computers and videogaming.
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, with more than 400 million copies in print, successfully crossed the gender divide. But research from Scholastic, the U.S. publisher of the wizard series, shows that children's interest in reading declines sharply starting at age 8 and continues to fall into the teens, especially among boys.
In battling for those boys, many in the industry consider Scholastic's "Captain Underpants" series a major victory. First published in 1997, the series, with plenty of toilet humor and pictures, has 37 million copies in print. In 2003, Scholastic followed up with "The Day My Butt Went Psycho," which the publisher says is "the epic tale of a brave young boy and his crazy runaway butt." Now a trilogy with the latest installment published two years ago, the "Butt" series has racked up 1.2 million copies.
Kevin Bolger, an elementary-school teacher in Ottawa, offers "Captain Underpants" to his third-grade classes, calling the response "awesome." "It's like reading-candy," Mr. Bolger says.
The experience inspired Mr. Bolger to write his own children's book, "Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger." It's the story of "the bravest, boldest and, most, er, potent knight in all the land." The hero is on "a quest to solve the riddle of the foul west wind -- a ghastly odor that turns up whenever danger's lurking." Pearson PLC's Penguin Group published the book in May. It's already in its second printing, with 55,000 copies now in print.
Ben Schrank, president of Penguin's Razorbill children's imprint, says the book, especially the title, inspired internal debate and critical blog comments, including one saying his company had "sunk to a new low." But Mr. Schrank calls the book's humor "sophisticated," saying the industry must publish fiction that "will pull a boy away from a videogame."
Mr. Schrank might be talking about 10-year-old Parker Self. Parker, who lives in Dallas, dismisses "Charlotte's Web" as a "girl's book" and assigned texts from school as "good for nothing" and "really boring to read." He prefers soccer and his PlayStation.
His mother, Hope, worried that Parker would never open a book. Then, Parker's grandmother found a copy of "The Day My Butt Went Psycho," and the boy was hooked. "Mom, this is a great book!" Parker raved.
Write to John Hechinger at john.hechinger@wsj.com2

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--Ginna F.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Beyond the Page

(Five Luminous Towers, a Book to be Read in the Dark by Carol Barnton)
Finding myself with a few extra minutes before a meeting today, I decided to duck into the the Nashville Public Library Art Gallery (located on the ground floor of the library on Church St). I discovered a great exhibit entitled "Beyond the Page: Carol Barton's Art and Influence" which will be up through August 31st. The below is an excerpt of the introduction to the exhibit. Special thanks to the folks at the Nashville Public Library and Nashville Public Library Foundation for coming up with innovative programs and exhibits that enrich our lives in unexpected and marvelous ways.

"What is it about the book that appeals to the artist? Is it the intimate quality of holding a book in your hands? The ability of the book to create another world? The time that it takes to move through the sequence of pages? The potential to surprise and delight? Perhaps for these reasons and countless others, artists have been working with the book form for many years and in many ways."
--Ginna F.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back to School

Nashville is a great place to live for countless reasons. One is its rich cultural scene as typified by the Tomato Festival this weekend in East Nashville. It's offbeat and totally cool. Think about it: a festival celebrating the tomato that gathers 10,000+ people, many of whom dress up. Amazing! Vanderbilt University is another of the city's greatest assets. As the second largest employer in TN following the state government, it attracts boat-loads of world-class talent. In turn, this talent and the university's varied resources create an environment that stimulates intellectual curiosity and creativity. Hello, what could be better than that? Well, I can tell you. It's throwing yourself back in the classroom and joining in the discussion.

One way busy professionals can do this is by pursuing a part-time masters, Masters of Liberal Arts & Science (MLAS), at night. I, for one, have found this to be an incredibly rewarding experience. It's pure pleasure (ok, it's not that pleasurable when knee-deep in writing a 10 page paper -- the expression no pain, no gain comes to mind) to spend a semester learning more about a subject. Many of the courses are designed to be interdisciplinary. For example, last winter I took Religion and Politics. It featured readings from John Locke, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Rawls as well as some other modern philosophers. And the professors and fellow students are great. For a preview of the fall schedule, see this link. Hmm... what to take? Southern Lit? Why Write: Perspective on Creativity? Original Genius? Ethics in Literature? This is going to a difficult decision.

--Ginna F.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Reflecting Our Interests

I would like to give a shout out to The Tennessean. Last week's post at this time was lamenting the fact that the Nashville Bestseller List was absent from the paper. Happily, it is back and it contains Life is a Gift by Bob & Judy Fisher, local authors.

I would also like to showcase another gem in the paper. A special thank you to Cathi Aycock, aka "Shopping Diva" and writer of the Daily Crave column, for her commitment to highlighting book readings and book related topics on a regular basis. Today's pick is below.

A Better Lunch Break
Take lunch away from the office on Wednesdays. Pack a brown bag and listen to free music in the cool courtyard at the downtown library during the Lunchtime Concert Series. This week's session features soulful Nashville favorite Jonell Mosser from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The library is at 615 Church Street.

Why should we all care whether The Tennessean focuses on matters of local interest including local authors and local book events? First of all, we want our paper to reflect our interests. If the paper only runs syndicated columns it somehow robs us of our identity in some small way. With generic news, our interests may or may not be represented. Where is free will/choice? Where is creativity? Will we become passive consumers of information and not discerning individuals who can shape our lives and our own points of view? Perhaps worst of all, a steady diet of syndicated news may serve to shape our interests. Will the whole nation, and world for that matter with culture being one of the US's largest exports, become homogenized and comprised of passive consumers? There is a very real reason that certain books and certain events resonate with us. They strike a cord that reflect our values and our interests. I for one, do not want to outsource the responsibility of deciding what is or is not of interest and my views on it. A liberal democracy like the US requires that its citizens are engaged in the world, take the time to enter into meaningful discussion and then vote. Newspapers such as The Tennessean have an important place in giving voice to what we believe. Please continue to represent us. Thank you.

--Ginna F.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Heart on your Sleeve

Having grown up in Manhattan, there are certain things about life in Nashville that still surprise me. Take for example the signs in people's front yards. I have learned a lot about my neighbors by the signs they choose to display. There are those who are for Obama, those who do not want dogs using their front lawns as toilets, and those whose use a certain landscape company. On this morning's walk, I discovered that it's almost time for Shakespeare in the Park. For more info, please see below or

August 14 - September 7, 2008
FREE & Open to the Public
Suggested Donation: $5

Now in its 21st season, The Nashville Shakespeare Festival invites you to an evening of exciting and invigorating theatre under the stars in Centennial Park.
CORIOLANUS is the story of a war hero who finds himself caught in the political machinery of Rome when he becomes a reluctant candidate for the highest office in the land. Shakespeare's most political and ironic tragedy, CORIOLANUS crackles with action, political intrigue and humor.

Helpful Information: ARRIVE EARLY FOR BEST SEATING! Bring your own blanket or lawn chair for comfort. Benches and bleachers are available in the rear of the house. COME EARLY IN THE RUN! The first two weekends are ideal for maximum picnic space and "leg-room." The final two weekends will be PACKED!

While I do not put signs up in my front lawn (ok, I live in an apt so this is a moot point but still...), I do the equivalent electronically on Facebook. For example, I started up an Evening with an Author page, sent out an invitation to 20+ friends to come to the WNBA's first program of the year and became a fan of the Southern Festival of Books. And let's not forget this blog, am I not telling the community what I most value? Am I not wearing my heart on my sleeve? The answer is most definitely "yes". What signs do you display? And how do people respond to them? As I am learning, signs are a great way to spread information and start a discussion.
--Ginna F.