That Old Black Hole

Love this video of a second grader asking Neil deGrasse Tyson about black holes colliding:

I like that he takes the question seriously and talks about how cool the physics of this situation would be without condescending to this boy. Kids at that age are just starting to learn about the universe, and it’s a great time to get them inspired by astronomy. I remember doing an astronomy unit in second grade and it was the best. More funding for science and space research/education, please!

Also, now I have this song in my head:

Do the black hole, everybody!

(via swissmiss)

Hear the Monster’s Call

When I did study abroad in England, I discovered Poems on the Underground, a project created to share poetry with Londoners on the Tube. One poem I came across was The Loch Ness Monster’s Song by Edwin Morgan. You can read and hear it here. Most poetry is meant to be heard, but The Loch Ness Monster’s Song practically demands it.

I think it would be a great poem to use in the classroom, since it shows how poetry doesn’t need to be stuffy and use impressive language. In fact, it doesn’t even need to use real language at all.

Also, it’s just the kind of poem I need on this gray, damp day.

(H/T bookshelves of doom)(image: Wikipedia)

Links Galore

A few more links for the afternoon:

  • I don’t know how I’m supposed to vote for just one blog in the Independent Book Blogger Awards. At least it’s a great place to find new blogs to follow!
  • This letter from Keith Richards to his aunt is both adorable and filled with hip 60s Englishness.
  • Should academia be the “day job” path for writers? (My opinion: teaching is an entirely different skill than writing. Don’t teach unless you actually enjoy it.)
  • A close look at the literary merits of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.

Links Galore

A few more fun links for the afternoon:

  • No, those Catching Fire paperbacks aren’t coming to a bookstore near you.
  • What makes a cookbook publishable? One point I’d add: a successful food blog.
  • Tales from the slush pile.
  • Finding new books online is great, but there’s nothing quite like browsing in person.
  • Walt has a great post about why stage directions are necessary, even if some people use them poorly. Just like the semicolon!
  • Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers list spotlights people enhancing library communities and studies. Lots of cool profiles here.

Links Galore

A few more links for today:

Links Galore

A few more links for Tuesday:

  • It’s No Name-Calling Week–a great opportunity to stand up to and recognize bullying around us. (Even “small” situations can really hurt.) Check out the resources available.
  • I always knew The Snowy Day was a lovely book, but I didn’t know it was the first full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist. Where have I been? (But I do like that it seems like the norm now.) Way to go, Keats!
  • Lucas Klauss offers some, ahem, helpful advice for writers. One gem: “Writing isn’t something you can get better at. Like a third nipple, a talent for writing is something you’re just born with, and I am lucky enough to have both.”
  • Tempted to forward this to my editorial friends so we can all laugh through our tears.
  • I was obsessed with Weetzie in high school, so a prequel can only make me want to wear fabulous sparkly dresses and combat boots in celebration.
  • Should we stop embracing geekdom?

Links Galore

A few more reading links for the day:

Public Works

The Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law has an interesting article about why there are no authors/books entering the public domain this year in the United States. In short:

Once again, we will have nothing to celebrate this January 1st. Not a single published work is entering the public domain this year. Or next year, or the year after that. In fact, in the United States, no publication will enter the public domain until 2019….When the first copyright law was written in the United States, copyright lasted 14 years, renewable for another 14 years if the author wished. Jefferson or Madison could look at the books written by their contemporaries and confidently expect them to be in the public domain within a decade or two. Now? In the United States, as in most of the world, copyright lasts for the author’s lifetime, plus another 70 years. And we’ve changed the law so that every creative work is automatically copyrighted, even if the author does nothing. What do these laws mean to you? As you can read in our analysis here, they impose great (and in many cases entirely unnecessary) costs on creativity, on libraries and archives, on education and on scholarship. More broadly, they impose costs on our entire collective culture.”

The idea isn’t to destroy copyright entirely; that would be detrimental to working authors. But why shouldn’t Virginia Woolf’s works be available this year, or Rebel Without a Cause? If artistic works such as these could be more easily used in schools and libraries and in other works of art, isn’t that a good thing? I’d be okay with waiting until an artist/author/copyright owner is dead, but 70 years after? There needs to be some compromise.

Don’t Give Up Your Day Job

Being a professional writer sounds awesome. You get to sit at your desk, or at a coffee shop, and dreamily type away at that future-bestselling novel as you take sips of coffee. You live off royalties and occasionally are paid to read from your current-bestselling novels. You wear great hats.

At least that’s how it looks in the movies.

Over at, Mary Cole offers a little glimpse of reality for everyone who thinks that once you sell your book, you’re set. Her advice:

“Keep your day job. If your day job makes you miserable, get a better one. Only 3-5% of published writers make a living on their published writing income (advances and royalties) alone*…

That said, most writers do end up making a career and an income with their writing, just not by publishing books alone. They teach workshops, they teach at a school or university, they freelance for newspapers and magazines, they write nonfiction, they copywrite, they edit, they tutor…there are lots of trades that use a writer’s skillset.

More often than not in today’s publishing world, I see people who have fingers in lots of different pies and who cobble together a cohesive livelihood from lots of separate but related income streams. And not just writers or illustrators do this. I know of agents who freelance edit and editors who teach classes on the side, too.”

Part of me wants to say “that’s what the writing life is nowadays” but it’s not true. Even William Faulkner had to supplement his income by writing Hollywood screenplays–and this guy got a Nobel Prize! In a way, it’s refreshing to hear that. Even extremely talented, extremely successful novelists write magazine articles or teach workshops. Everyone is trying to make a stable career out of something they love. However they can do it is fantastic.

For all the writers who can live solely on their books, more power to you. It would be great to get there someday, but for the most part being a writer means cobbling together an income.