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September 2008

Cool, Totally Random News

by Susan Henderson on September 9, 2008

My kids just found out they’re opening for The Monkees this Friday. How cool is that?!

litpark monkees news

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Monthly Wrap: A 30-Year-Old Letter Arrives

by Susan Henderson on September 5, 2008

Sometimes my mom sends me packages filled with old photos or Most Improved ribbons or other things she finds around the house that she thinks I’ll want back. Earlier this year, she sent me a letter my grandmother sent to her in 1978.

Here’s a photo that was included in the letter. Can you guess who this little bad-ass might be?

I’m eleven here, and it was the year I flew by myself to California to stay with my grandparents.

There were a number of memorable things about that trip – one being that my mother packed a small bag for me that I wasn’t allowed to open until I was on the plane, and inside were things like flavored chapstick and lifesavers and a tiny notebook and a pen with a panda or some other wonderful thing stuck to the end of it.

And on the other side of that flight, I found that my grandparents had a special fondness for quiet. The telephone had cardboard jammed into the ringer so it never actually rang but sort of ticked. And conversations were very whispery. I remember noticing all of these things, and still making the choice to wake up early each morning so I could play several games of pop-up Perfection.

But the point of this post is actually to share the letter my grandmother sent to my mom after that visit.

I don’t know if you can imagine what it was like to read this note all these years later, and in the throes of editing my first book – to hear my grandmother, who’s been dead for decades, cheering for me. Not sure when, in between rounds of Perfection, I was so interesting or funny. But it means a lot to me that she saw something and that she said so and that my mom thought to send this letter to me when I needed it most.

Along with the letter and that first photo, is this one that frightened Mr. H when I showed it to him. I’m not sure where the wig came from, but it would have been just like me to wear it the whole day for no reason. And only a grandmother would write this on the back of the photo:

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What I read this month: Stephen Hawking, The Universe in a Nutshell (Considering my son recommended it to me, I thought I’d understand it better); Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (Sweeping, inspirational, and sometimes slowish); Stephen King, Misery (Loved it, and I’ve been purposefully reading books where characters are not physically able to move and yet there is an incredible sense of suspense). All of my LitPark regulars know we still read to our boys every night, but this month Mr. H did all the reading, and he picked Terry Pratchett’s Sourcery (“He’s fantastic at parodying human nature in the guise of light-hearted fantasy,” so says Mr. H).

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Thanks to everyone who played at LitPark this month, and to everyone who linked here: Philosophical Whisk Seeks Equally Intuitive Utensil, Amy Wallen, Five Star Literary Stories, Ovations, In Her Own Write, and Saralee Rosenberg. I appreciate those links!

And look at the photo I found (and then stole) from Saralee’s blog. This is at a Barnes & Noble, where Saralee and Ellen Meister did a joint presentation. There are two folks wearing pink tops – one is me, and the cute one is Ellen’s daughter.

See you the first Monday of next month for a new question and a sneak peek at my October guests – a pretty incredible panel of bestselling authors!

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Where Are They Now?

by Susan Henderson on September 3, 2008

Curious about how former LitPark guests are doing? I have a few updates. And let’s hear from you, too! Any new projects or publications? Joys or struggles? At the very least, post your website so folks can visit you.

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Remember Pierre Berg?

Last September, at age 83, Pierre granted LitPark his very first interview, and we talked about his experience as a prisoner at Auschwitz, as well as his unsold manuscript. And guess what?

litpark pierre berg holocaust

Pierre Berg’s Holocaust memoir, SCHEISSHAUS LUCK (co-authored by Brian Brock, published by Amacom Books) will be available in bookstores September 4th (that’s tomorrow!).

Originally penned shortly after the war when memories were still fresh, this autobiographical account of a gentile French teenager’s odyssey of horror and survival recounts Berg’s day-to-day struggle for survival in the camps, escaping death countless times while enduring inhumane conditions, exhaustive labor, and near starvation. Relentlessly unsentimental, yet tinged with a sense of brutal irony, SCHEISSHAUS LUCK provides a new perspective on some of the Nazi’s most notorious concentration camps and is a searing reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. The Kirkus Review said SCHEISSHAUS LUCK is “a worthy supplement to the reports of Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel.”

litpark pierre berg holocaust

I’m so so happy about this news! And if you’re on MySpace, you can “friend” both Pierre and Brian.

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Wondering what Neil Gaiman‘s up to?

litpark neil gaiman graveyard book

On September 30th, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK goes on sale. I’m very excited about this one because it’s written for my kids’ age group. It takes its concept from The Jungle Book, but instead of a young boy being raised by wolves, this young boy is raised by ghosts and other inhabitants of the graveyard.

I’ll have to preview it, of course, because if it’s as freaky as Coraline, it will go on the high shelf, along with The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and other good books they’re not allowed to read just yet.

litpark neil gaiman coraline

By the way, the movie, CORALINE, is scheduled for release in February 2009.

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Was that Brad Listi, author of the bestselling novel ATTENTION. DEFICIT. DISORDER., blogging at the DNC?

litpark brad listi dnc blogging

Yep. If you’re a political junkie like I am, you can’t stand the slow pace of newspapers and go straight to the political bloggers. Brad blogged for Huffington Post at the Democratic National Convention, and most of you know he does his regular blogging over at TheNervousBreakdown.com.

litpark brad listi the nervous breakdown

TheNervousBreakdown, founded by Brad and featuring a brand new design this season, is an online publication and literary community that features the work of more than 100 distinguished writers from around the world. Contributors include Jonathan Evison (All About Lulu), Pia Z. Ehrhardt (Famous Father & Other Stories), Tao Lin (Bed), Ron Currie, Jr. (God is Dead), Kiara Brinkman (Up High in the Trees), Noria Jablonski (Human Oddities)… and, of course, the one and only Brad Listi! Content is updated daily, and the new site includes all sorts of bells & whistles, including the highly enjoyable and always unpredictable TNB TV. Please be sure to bookmark the site, visit often, leave comments, and spread the good word to friends!

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Remember when Ellen Meister was interviewed by her eight-year-old daughter?

Since then, her daughter turned double-digits and Ellen turned out another book, THE SMART ONE.

litpark ellen meister the smart one

She describes it as “a sister story with a bright voice, a dark crime and more humor than I expected (sometimes my characters surprise me).” And if you’d like to follow along, she’s blogged about her book tour here.

Ellen’s done a number of appearances over the past two years, including this one with her literary hero, Alice Hoffman.

litpark ellen meister and alice hoffman

You can visit Ellen at ellenmeister.com. Enjoy!

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And what about the prolific Lauren Baratz-Logsted?

litpark the sisiters eight

She has just written a children’s series with her eight-year-old daughter and her husband. It’s called THE SISTERS 8, and it features octuplets whose parents disappear one night. And the reason I won’t say more is because I want you to get details over at this cool new website, which features animated pictures, photos, book excerpts, and a podcast!
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Now it’s your turn! Where are you now?

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Question of the Month: Promise

by Susan Henderson on September 1, 2008

Tell me a story about someone seeing promise in you. What did they see, and how did this affect you?

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Welcome back to all of you who took the summer off!

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Due to major technical difficulties, which kept me locked out of LitPark last month, I can’t feature my talk with a literary agent just yet. I wasn’t able to get to the places where I store my interview notes until recently, and I didn’t want to jam my guest with too tight a deadline.

I promise you we will have this interview as soon as I can reschedule it. But this Wednesday we’re going to do a little Where Are They (and You) Now? Be sure to stop by!

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