Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Agentarilly Blonde

Confessions of an Unemployed Librarian is no more! I have rejoined the ranks of the working. But not as a librarian.

I've started work as an assistant at the Jane Rotrosen Agency. Publishing, as many know, has been a longtime interest of mine, and I am very blessed to have found a position in a literary agency that in the long term will teach me how to take on my own clients and guide them to great careers. In the short term, I'll be responsible for filing, reading queries, tracking submissions, and all kinds of other duties that help to keep an agency running. Glamorous? No, but it's needed and I'm a no-task-is-too-small sort of worker. I firmly believe that getting really good at doing the small things makes learning the big things that much easier.

So what does that mean for this blog?

1. I'm going on hiatus for at least three months as I get into the swing of things at my job. The reading needs of an agent are very different from that of a librarian and I'm trying to balance it so that I get the big titles in my realm of knowledge while still providing the best service I can to our clients. (Translation: Their manuscripts come before my reading the book that won last year's Printz.) Also? I am EXHAUSTED, both mentally and physically. This is a welcome and anticipated, but taxing, shift in my life. Or, as my life's motto has always been: Work hard, play hard, sleep hard.

2. A change of pace and theme when I return. I'll be reading and enjoying YA, of course, along with our agency's clients. Maybe I'll do query readings for YA and women's fiction. Maybe I'll find the next Tom Clancy. Who knows?

3. But I will quickly answer your agency-specific questions:

  • Yes, you can submit your query as per agency guidelines. The agency is interested in, and I quote from our web page, "romance, mystery, suspense, thriller, women's fiction, memoirs, and YA." On a more personal note, I can say that while I adore the YA authors we currently represent, we are always looking for more to join the agency family.
  • Yes, you can direct it to me. I cannot make any guarantees other than "I will read your query."
  • Yes, I'd be happy to talk to groups of librarians, teachers, or students about what I do. Contact me via email or twitter (carliebeth).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown, May 2010) is amazing. No two ways about it. It's also taken the #1 spot as the scariest book I've read this year.

What it's about: Nailer Lopez is employed as a ship breaker on a light crew. All day, he and his team work on wrecked ships in the Gulf of Mexico, salvaging what they can. Light crews, as opposed to heavy crews (not dark crews), are in the business of salvaging copper and other lightweight materials from the ships of yesterday. It's dangerous, it's toxic, and Nailer knows that as soon as he hits his growth spurt, he's done for in terms of being able to work on his crew. The people who live on his beach are mostly laborers, short on leisure time, money, and most importantly, loyalty. Then Nailer and his friend find the greatest treasure of their lives. After a hurricane, and we're talking a hurricane that makes Katrina look like a light drizzle, they find a wrecked boat full of riches. Only two things stand in the way of Nailer's life of luxury: His violent, greedy father and the girl, dubbed Lucky Girl, that he finds aboard the wreck. Keeping one step ahead of his father is a full-time job for Nailer, who knows that if Lucky Girl is discovered before she can find her people, she's as good as dead.

Salvaged thoughts: My only reservation about Ship Breaker is something that comes from entirely inside my own head, not the book itself. I really, really worry that this book is going to get pigeonholed as a "boy book," action and adventure and light on everything else. It has some amazing action, don't get me wrong, but it's so much more. With the Gulf Coast oil spill, it's timely, which is a very frightening thought considering that the lead time on novels is 18 months, give or take. The worldbuilding is extraordinary. Bacigalupi uses a third person voice that's anchored in events of the present. He doesn't bother providing much background on Nailer's world all in one or two data dumps, just throws in details as Nailer sees them. As a result, the details add up and you get to see that not only is Nailer living in an environmentally damaged world, but it's a world that's run by some really super-corrupt, super-evil people. Of course, Nailer doesn't take the time to think about this super corruption because he has much more important things to think about, like his daily survival. The book can be appreciated as a straightforward environmental thriller, sure, but it's also literary and horrifying in a psychological way. And lest you think I focus on the scary stuff, I also have to say that I found Nailer to be an inspiring character. He is morally upright and, in the immortal words of Dumbledore, makes the right choice between what is right and what is easy. He lives with so much uncertainty and violence, but triumphs over them when faced with tough decisions.

I could be entirely wrong about this pigeonholing. I hope I am. I'd love to see this book honored during the YALSA awards in January.

In other thoughts, 2010 has been a good year for adult authors writing YA between this and The Carrie Diaries, yes?

Review at io9 || Paolo Bacigalupi's blog || Review at Kids Lit

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Been there, read that, bought the t-shirt

"Let's go to Hot Topic," I said to Liz B. as we wandered the Willowbrook Mall on Sunday. I don't buy clothes there because I'm simply not cool enough to wear them, but I do love their stationery and accessories. We agreed that if nothing else, we could poke fun at the sparkly vampire beach towels (although, I confess, I really want a Team Carlisle shirt).

We enter the store and I hear her say, "Carlie, look at this!"

She was holding this t-shirt. (I don't have an image to post here; just click the link.)

There was squeeing.

I hadn't realized that there'd be Hunger Games apparel in anticipation of the release of Mockingjay. For the movie, sure, because movies are multi-million dollar projects with bigger marketing plans than books, even books like Mockingjay with its 1.5-million copy first print run. But this time, there are multiple t-shirts for a BOOK. A BOOK, people! This is awesome.

For those who prefer black t-shirts, Hot Topic made a white-on-black "Down with the Capitol" design, one that says "District 12 Tribute," a Hunger Games cover art shirt for those of us with a more simple, classic style, and my personal favorite in sentiment if not design, one that says "Girl on Fire."

Personally, I'll be wearing my "Team Peeta" shirt to whatever book release party I go to, though to be fair I'm also "Team it's okay with me if Katniss says no to both Peeta and Gale and devotes her life to rebuilding Panem rather than romance."