Best Book Club in the Yo

If you’re from the Youngstown region and looking for a book club to read and share thoughts and make community, you need to join the Oakland Center for the Arts’ book club.  Here is the website, as well as the list of books we’re reading for the rest of ’09.  It’s awesome, and diverse, just like the group of people who belong to the group.  Also, we like to have a few drinks and get down to some real discussion, ahem.  So if you’re from around here and looking for other book lovers, you’ve found the right post.  Come to our next meeting and introduce yourself.  We’d love more members, even though we’re already a big happy family.  The more, the merrier.

Things Mean A Lot

Updated at bottom

One of my favorite book bloggers is Nymeth, of Things Mean A Lot.  I discovered her blog last year when she reviewed One for Sorrow, and have consistently returned ever since because the way she writes about the books she’s read is really lovely, and almost always spot on when something she’s written has compelled me to seek a book out.  Today she posted a review of The Love We Share Without Knowing, which is, as usual, lovely writing.  Here’s a clip:

This novel is filled with things like shape-shifting foxes, old Japanese curses, ghosts, and blind men regaining their sight. But above all it’s filled with beautiful, melancholy stories about grief and loss, love, longing and loneliness, intimacy and connections or the lack thereof. About being alive and feeling all the things that it implies, or not feeling them and wanting to feel them so desperately. About trying to find a place, real or imaginary, that feels like home.

I don’t even know if I should be trying to pinpoint what The Love We Share Without Knowing is about. It’s just a really beautiful book. It’s so human, so full of warmth, so quietly perceptive. It broke my heart and it put it back together again. Not many books achieve this, but Christopher Barzak has done it twice now. When I finished this book, I wanted to laugh and cry; I was both immensely sad and very glad to be alive.

It’s the sort of thing a writer is pleased to hear from readers, obviously, and I’m grateful that something I’ve made can have this effect on others.  I know how difficult it is to find books that move me in particular ways.  My favorite sort are the kind that do make me want to laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time, a blend of levity and gravity.  In any case, Nymeth has proposed to her readers that she will send them chocolates and bookmarks (and if envelopes could hold puppies, then puppies, too) if they’ll read and blog about The Love We Share Without Knowing in the next couple of months.  She’s giving a free copy away next week, I believe, if I read correctly, and you can enter to win it.

In that same spirit, I’ve decided to offer up some free copies of the book as well.  If you’d be interested in reading The Love We Share Without Knowing and then blogging about it or reviewing it somewhere afterward, drop me a line at the e-mail address listed in the sidebar of this site, and I’ll send the first ten people who do contact me a free copy.  Deal?

Update: The tenth emailer is in and the giveaway over.  Thanks for all the interest.  I look forward to reading all of your reviews of the book, whether it be on your blogs, Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever you post your thoughts on books.  Thanks, all.

Spell Games

Also, along with Palimpsest, you should check out T.A. Pratt’s whole Marla Mason series.  The fourth in the series, Spell Games, was also released today.  Marla Mason kicks more butt than Buffy ever did, and is much cooler, if you ask me.  She also has way more cool magic tricks up her sleeve, and a sidekick who knows how to party.  Check all of these books in this series out, if you’re into urban fantasy with a dash of humor and a lot of adventure, which it seems everyone is into these days…



palimpsestcoverCatherynne Valente was the Ytown Reading Series’ first reader back in October, and when she came, she read an excerpt from her newest novel, just releasing today (the 24th, even though I’m typing this on the night of the 23rd).  The audience was wowed by her lush prose, the heat of the sensual elements of this novel, and the strange magic that takes four characters to a place where all their fantasies can be fulfilled or destroyed, depending on how they go about living there.  It’s a novel about desire, and the possibilities of desire, and the complicated forms desire and love take.  I expect it to find a wide readership in the coming months, and I will be among that number.  Take a chance on it.  I think you’ll find it more than worth your while, and more than worth your money.

You can purchase it here.

Or Here.

Or even Here!

Or you could even do that old-fashioned thing where people went to bookstores to get books. Maybe even to an independent bookstore, if you can scrounge one up. 😉

There’s also a great book trailer which you can watch here, which will probably convince you to buy it, even if I haven’t:

A change

Do you get tired of looking at the same colors and fonts and borders of a website/blog?  I do.  The blue of the former template for this site was totally starting to make me feel blue, so I decided on white with browns and greens, wishful thinking toward spring.  Also, for some reason, after I activated it, there was this old header image already in place at the top, one of me in Kyoto at Kiyomizu Temple, where the water is said to be purer than anywhere else on earth.  I feel a bit refreshed now.  I may be making some more changes to the site in the near future, if I get more time to do so.

Long live art

A really interesting article about the changes in the art world over the past decade or two, mirroring the movement away from global awareness that multiculturalism had been brewing in the late 80s to 90s as the country moved politically towards greater conservatism, and how that has, in the end, handicapped American art as it became too localized and exclusive, not to mention product oriented over vision/quality/knowledge for the sake of knowledge oriented.  I wonder if there is any correlation in the publishing world as well.

Valentine’s Cats

We got these little dudes a year ago today, and I’ve regretted it every day since.  Just look at their faces.  Regret is written all over them.

































They are totally into doing photo shoots.  Seriously.  Especially the one with the huge white mane (Kokoro).  In fact, the second picture from the bottom reminds me of the cover of that old Bergman film, Persona.  It’s appropriate, too, if you know that film. Kokoro has always got to be the one out in front, Yuki shyly looking over his shoulder.

Lincoln Avenue

Sherry Linkon, of Youngstown State University, has one of the most illuminating radio shows in town, Lincoln Avenue, named both for the street on which our local NPR station is located as well as a play on her last name.  Last week she interviewed Marilyn Geewax, senior business editor for National Public Radio, who also happens to have grown up in Youngstown during the period when the mills here were beginning to shut down.  Marylin’s interview with Sherry talks a bit about the changes that occurred in Youngstown and the surrounding region of Northeast Ohio due to this shifting of the Industrial Age to foreign economies, and how this is really playing out all over again as the entire nation is beginning to shift into the Digital Age.  Instead of Steel Mill workers being told to go elsewhere for work, it’s now journalists, publishing executives, editors, etc, and how this is really the same thing that occurred in the late 70s and early 80s here.  She brings a fascinating perspective to the shift from an Industrial economy to a Digital and Green economy.  If you’re someone interested in this particular thing, you should give the podcast a listen by clicking here.  

And by all means, look through the rest of Sherry’s archives.  Many of her interviews are fascinating.  She asks the best questions, and often gets really good responses.

Seeking Cover Art

Seeking Cover Art for Interfictions II!

 The IAF has thrown open its doors (via a Flickr group) to artists who might like to have their work considered for the cover of Interfictions 2. Won’t you take a moment to throw your hat into the ring?  The official call for art is as follows.

The Interstitial Arts Foundation is searching for cover art for our second literary anthology, Interfictions II. All visual artists are invited to submit images for possible use as the cover art of the anthology. 

From February 2 – 16, artists are invited to post images on our Flickr group at for all to enjoy. At the end of that time, the editors ofInterfictions II, Delia Sherman and Christopher Barzak, along with Small Beer Press publisher Gavin Grant and Interfictions I cover artist Connie Toebe, will choose an image for the cover of this exciting original anthology, to be published in November, 2009.

What are we looking for? Any visual image that might look good on the cover of a book. It could be a painting, a computer image, collage, sculpture or maybe even a piece of clothing. The first volume’s cover was actually a photo of a 3-dimensional diorama box, so a photo of a sculpture or craft piece is not out of the question. Contributing artists should be sure to consider their art in the context of a book cover. A book cover isn’t simply a pretty picture but part of a complete design. If you’re photographing a 3-dimensional piece (especially something that isn’t rectangular) please remember that the quality of the photo counts as well. A nicely composed photo is as important as the quality of the artwork in the image. The book cover will be 5.5″ wide and 8.5″ tall so a horizontal or square image might not work as well as a vertically oriented one. That being said, we’d love to be surprised. Show us something we’ve never seen before!

The details:

  1. The final image will have to be available as a JPG, at least 5.75″ x 8.75″ at 300dpi. For the Flickr group, artists need only post low-resolution versions of their images. If your image is selected, we will contact you and request that you send us the high-resolution version for printing. 

  3. The deadline is February 16, 2009. The Interfictions II Flickr site is the same as the IAF Flickr site:

  5. Artists are limited to posting 3 images for consideration. If we like your art but not the images you chose, we may write and ask you for more. 

  7. Although interstitial art is by definition wonderfully wide-ranging and experimental, we retain the right to remove anything from the pool that we deem inappropriate. 

  9. The artist whose work is chosen will receive a $500 fee from the IAF for the use of their image on theInterfictions II cover along with the rights to use the image in any publicity for the book and for the IAF. Artist retains the original artwork and the copyright on the piece. 

  11. The editors reserve the right to use art from another source for the cover. However, we are holding this search not only to choose a cover for our anthology, but also to make more artists aware of the work of the IAF and to give everyone a chance to see more really good interstitial art. In that spirit, we will spotlight the cover art as well as five runners up on the IAF blog at . In addition, the most recent entries to the Flickr group will be syndicated into a section of the IAF homepage for the duration of the search, and quite possibly beyond.


Questions? Post as comments here, and we’ll answer them as soon as possible.

Good luck! We look forward to seeing your artwork!

And P.S.  If you’re an artist who would like to aim your work for this cover towards the general idea of interstital art, please do look into the idea of what interstitial art is at the website:  And better yet, take a look at the first volume of Interfictions, which can be purchased online at most booksellers (or at least browsed online at most booksellers).

Interfictions 2.0 ToC Announced!

If you haven’t already seen this at my co-editor Delia Sherman’s blog, you heard it here first (and if you did read it at Delia’s blog, you heard it hear second, or third, or maybe fourth):  The Table of Contents for the second volume of Interfictions has been announced, and looks like this:

Jeffrey Ford, “The War Between Heaven and Hell Wallpaper”
M. Rickert, “The Beautiful Feast”
Will Ludwigsen, “Remembrance is Something Like a House”
Cecil Castelucci, “The Long and the Short of Long-Term Memory”
Alaya Dawn Johnson, “The Score”
Ray Vukcevich, “The Two of Me”
Carlos Hernandez, “The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria”
Lavie Tidhar, “Shoes”
Brian Francis Slattery, “Interviews After the Revolution”
Elizabeth Ziemska, “Count Poniatowski and the Beautiful Chicken”
Peter M. Ball, “Black Dog: A Biography”
Camilla Bruce, “Berry Moon”
Amelia Beamer, “Morton Goes to the Hospital”
William Alexander, “After Verona”
Shira Lipkin, “Valentines”
Alan DeNiro, “(*_*) ~~~ (-_-): The Warp and the Woof”
Nin Andrews, “The Marriage”
Theodora Goss, “Child-Empress of Mars”
Lionel Davoust, “L’Ile Close” 
Stephanie Shaw, “Afterbirth”
David J. Schwartz, “The 121”

As Delia says:  “It was hard, hard, hard to choose these stories. We got a lot of good ones. In fact, we got so many, we decided to put up an online Annex of stories that we didn’t want to get away. They’ll appear in the weeks leading up to the publication ofInterfictions 2 in November, not in the order they appear here:”

Kelly Barnhill, “Four Very True Tales”
Kelly Cogswell, “For the Love of Carrots”
F. Brett Cox, “Nylon Seam”
Chris Kammerud, “Some Things About Love, Magic and Hair”
Eilis O’Neal, “Quiz”
Ronald Pasquariello, “The Chipper Dialogues”
Mark Rich, “Stonefield”
Genevieve Valentine, “To Set Before the King”

And for those of you wondering what the life and times of an editor trying to put a book of stories together is like, let me re-emphasize Delia’s own summing up:  it’s very, very hard.  We had somewhere around 500 submissions for this anthology, which was a beautiful thing in and of itself, so many people sharing their work with us, wanting to be a part of this endeavor.  It was difficult to sort through them all and to make decisions.  Delia and I loved more stories than we could take, and of course that’s how the Annex came into being to begin with, and even beyond the Annex there were other stories that sparked a lot of conversation between us that we hope find homes elsewhere, since ours became crowded to the point that we created a virtual house as well, and then that filled up, too.  

I learned a lot about storytelling from this process, though.  I’ve acted as an editor on small chapbook and zine projects in the past, but this was the first time I had my hands in a full-length book project.  It’s been an invaluable experience, and I look forward to doing it again in the future for Interfictions 3 when it’s time to pull together another assembly of interstitial voices.

But for now, look at that table of contents.  It gleams and glitters.  We were amazed by these stories, and you will be too.