Amelia Earhart’s Forgotten Footage

Some fun Amelia Earhart news for the week! A film of Amelia Earhart, taken just before her final attempted flight around the world, surfaced recently after sitting on a shelf for fifty years.

In 1937, Earhart was preparing for a flight around the world. Photographer Al Bresnik went to take pictures of Earhart at Burbank Airport, and his brother, John, joined him. Unbeknownst to anyone, John took a short film of Earhart, and his son discovered the contents of the film decades later. Check out some of the footage in the Associated Press clip below:

It’s unclear whether this footage was taken before her first attempt or second attempt, but either way it’s a look at Earhart within a year of her disappearance over the Pacific.

It doesn’t add a lot to Earhart’s history or clear up any details of her disappearance, but for me it’s a reminder that the public is still interested in her life and her story. Learning about her during the research process for The Chance You Won’t Return was awesome, and i loved realizing why Alex’s mom connected to Earhart so deeply. Even these little glimpses of her feel like they give us a clearer picture into who Earhart was and where she went.

Happy 116th Birthday, Amelia Earhart!

Happy birthday to my favorite female pilot, Amelia Earhart! She was born on July 24, 1897, making this the 116th anniversary of her birth.

Although Earhart herself doesn’t appear in The Chance You Won’t Return, she’s an important figure in the novel. I’ve mentioned before that I first got the idea for the book when the line “My mother thinks she’s Amelia Earhart” popped into my head. As I started writing, I found that Earhart was really the perfect historical figure to have permeating the novel. She was bold and smart and talented and pushed major boundaries for women. But she was also very much a public figure in that she had a carefully crafted public persona, much like a celebrity today would have. That, along with her disappearance, makes her such an enigmatic figure and one we always want to know better. In the same way, much of The Chance You Won’t Return is about the secrets we carry and how we function in our public and private lives.

More about the book and Amelia to come, but in the meantime, make sure to check out these fun Amelia Earhart links:

(image via Boston Public Library)

Libraries Are More Than Just Basic Information

Today in things-that-fuel-my-rage, this article about the death of the library, including this quote:

“I don’t personally use the library. I kind of have the feeling that libraries are going the route of the video rental stores but I’m probably… wrong about that,” said Coun. Ian Paton. “With the access to information now, with everyone having computers in their home, why do we spend so much money?”

My initial reaction:

My second reaction:

Then I finally got around to putting my thoughts into something resembling words.

Libraries are about way more than just accessing information. Sure, when I have a general question (“When was Abraham Lincoln born?” “What’s the difference between flours?”) I turn to the internet. But what about when I need more information than just the basics? That’s when I turn to a library’s resources. Librarians are people who are trained to help you find information. They know way more than just how to Google something, and they have the resources to help you find that information. For example, not all newspaper articles are available online–if you want to read an article from say, 1987, you might want to check with your library. Also, not everyone has internet access at home–but the library sure does.

Also, I don’t know about Paton, but I’m a reader and I can’t always afford (or keep) the books I want to read. Fortunately, the library has books and e-books for free. This is where I cannot understand why anyone would think that library’s aren’t worthwhile. How else are you supposed to get all the books you want to read?

Libraries also offer readings, social events, trainings, etc. A lot of the community loves and depends on events like these. Libraries can also serve as a meeting place for study groups, as an office for writers, or as a safe place for kids and teens to meet and interact.

Basically, I think it’s really short-sighted to assume that the internet can take over pretty much everything a library does. Libraries are invaluable resources for readers and communities, and we need to support them.

(H/T bookshelves of doom)

Ravens and Research

It’s a gray, drizzly day here, which is the perfect kind of day to pick up The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater if you haven’t already. It’s got ghosts and psychics and boarding school boys–the perfect combination for fall reading. Fellow 2014 debut author Julie Murphy sent me her copy and I loved it; thanks, Julie!

If you have read the book and you wish you had more until the sequel is released, or if you haven’t read the book and you’re interest in peaked, you should check out this interview with Maggie Stiefvater. Read about Stiefvator’s research process, and see images of the real Gansey notebook:

Fangirling out over here. I also love that there is a real journal–it makes me wonder about other fictional artifacts and what an author needs to physically create to understand her characters. Have you ever created anything for your characters?

Make sure to check out the whole interview through the link.

School for Rare Books (and the People Who Love Them)

Sometimes Alderman Library inspires silliness instead of scholarship.

This article combines three of my favorite things: books, libraries, and Charlottesville, VA. The Rare Book School, a summer program at the University of Virginia (wahoowa!), is an intensive course about the study, care, and history of the written word. How cool is that? Also cool:

And rare books aren’t just a matter of leather and fine paper. Mr. Suarez has added a number of classes about digitization and likes to begin his own course, Teaching the History of the Book, by passing around a box of Harlequins. Romance novels, he notes, are the biggest part of the publishing industry, and the part that has been most radically transformed by e-books.

“I tell my students to follow the money,” he said. “If you don’t understand the money, you don’t understand the book.”

Would love to hear the Rare Book School’s take on children’s literature. Make sure to check out the rest of the article. If you’re like me, you might be getting started on the application for next summer’s Rare Book School session.

Style Manuals Clash Over Titles

Whether in high school English class or on your blog, I’m sure you’ve run into this question: how do you indicate book titles? Are you supposed to underline them? Italicize? Put them in quotation marks? Make them sparkle?

The answer is…debatable. And you thought grammar was all about hard and fast rules. 😉

I tend to go with the Chicago Manual of Style on most grammar-related questions, so I italicize. But AP claims you should use quotation marks. So far I haven’t come across any style manual that suggests sparkles, but I’ll keep looking.

How do you denote titles?

Links Galore

A few more links to get you through the day:

Katherine Paterson in Lowell for Talk About Historical Fiction

Grrr, I’m booked that night, but this presentation by Katherine Paterson sounds fantastic:

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 3, 2012
UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell, MA

Paterson, the Library of Congress’s 2010-2012 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, will talk about how historical research, a compelling plot, and a feisty female character combine to create a novel that breathes life into the story of Lowell’s 19th-century textile mills and the labor activism of “mill girls.”

Click through for more info. Apparently you need to reserve a space in advance. I had the opportunity to see Katherine Paterson at another NCBLA event, and she was fantastic. I’d love to hear her thoughts on creating compelling historical fiction.

(via The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance)

Stop World Building, Start Word Building

At YA Highway, Kaitlin has a great post about world building and how it can slow down your first draft. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes of your character’s world, and it can be a challenge to make sure the necessary information is there while not overwhelming yourself in the details. And while some information is really necessary–has there been a zombie apocalypse, or is this a medieval-esque alternate universe?–not everything needs to be there. Especially in a first draft, when you should be focusing on getting the story written. Kaitlin says:

“So sometimes, when I find myself on the internet for the millionth time, researching if some tiny little thing no one will ever care about is possible, I just tell myself to stop. I ignore my crappy world building, except to leave myself small notes about checking things later, and I plow onward. And then I have a draft. Maybe I have to overhaul parts of it because I realize that something doesn’t make sense, but often, I realize that I was stressing too much over nothing and I’ve actually done just fine.”

I really need to remember this when I get wrapped up in the details of my latest project. It’s okay not to have all the world details worked out at that very moment. The only thing that matters in a first draft is figuring out the story and characters. Different worlds are cool, but people are going to notice if you haven’t fleshed out your characters enough, either. It’s easy to get really bogged down in details and think “But I have to know all the precise terminology for shipbuilding in the 1700s or my readers won’t care about the story!” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But usually, when I’m reading I care more about the characters and general plot than specific terms for merchant sailing ships.