Thursday, February 25, 2010

Today, I decided to do a search on Abraham Lincoln over at Etsy to see how other people have been inspired by Abe. Apparently, he is quite a muse! Lincoln appeared...

as a pimp:

in pennies:

in the desert:

several times as a zombie (here are just a couple of examples):

and, well, I'll let you decide what this is:

I think my favorite, though, is this girl holding a "go lincoln" sign. She reminds me so much of my character Mina from My Life with the Lincolns!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I have to admit, I was hoping for a scandal. Some nice juicy scandal in the Olympic pairs figure skating competition--something that would keep people talking about pairs skaters for the next few months, so when my novel Delta Girls (which features an Olympics hopeful pairs skater) comes out in June, people would be hungry for more tales of skaterly scandal. Alas, the skaters behaved themselves; the gold medalists were a sweet married couple from China who now plan to have a baby, and while the woman from one of the American pairs teams is dating the man from the other pair, there is nothing scandalous about their situation.

The men offered a bit of drama--a broken lace in the middle of a routine, a slightly diva-ish rant from silver medalist Evgeni Plushenko about how if someone can win the Olympics without a quad, it's "not men's figure skating. It is dance." And of course the ice dancers from Russia brought loads of controversy with their outrageously offensive, culturally insensitive "aboriginal" routine and their use of ropes to aid their lifts in their free dance, but that wasn't the sort of newsmaking scandal I was hoping for. (An aside--ice dancing has gotten so much more interesting, hasn't it? When I was a competitive figure skater, I turned up my nose at ice dancing--it seemed so boring to me without the big jumps and throws, etc.--but I'm digging it now. White and Davis' Bollywood routine knocked my socks off.)

By the time the women's figure skating rolled around, though, I was no longer hoping for a scandal. I was just rooting for Joannie Rochette, the Canadian skater whose mother died unexpectedly on Sunday. I think about myself two days after getting the news of my mom's death--I felt like a skinned creature, all my nerves exposed to the wind--and can't imagine how she was able to perform with such poise and grace and courage under the circumstances. When she finished her passionate, assured program and flung her arms open, surrendering to tears, I wept, myself. I hope that when the shock of the news fades, when the adrenalin rush of the Olympics is over, when Rochette has time to face her loss head on--cold and stark as any span of ice--the memory of her performance, and the way the crowd embraced her, will be a balm.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy birthday, Abe!

Don't know how to celebrate Lincoln's birth? How about pick up a copy of My Life with the Lincolns on cd? The audio book--my first!--actually came out on February 9 (you can see the slightly different cover below); I meant to post something about it that day, but my baby came down with a fever--his first--and I was too worried and distracted to do so.

I think it's unusual for an audio cd to come out so soon before the physical book, which comes out in a little over a month, but this gives you a chance to have a sneak peek (er, listen!) You can find links to various booksellers through my website or hit up your favorite local store.

Abe's pretty spry for a 201 year old, don't you think? :)

Monday, February 08, 2010

I'm excited to unveil the updated version of My sweet husband Michael just uploaded it last night. He had planned to noodle around with the site during his paternity leave, but so much of that time was consumed with dealing with my mom's death, and he didn't have a chance to get to it. I was about to hire a web designer, but Michael had a recent jolt of inspiration and dove head first into the project. I love what he came up with--it's clean and bright and has a groovy retro vibe (and he was able to re-use a lot of the content from the last version of the website--thanks, Eula!) We still have a few changes and additions to make, but it's ready to rock now. Check it out and let me know what you think!

The picture on the front page is me at close to eight years old, taken from my old modeling composite (the sort of calling card that agents use to try to get their models work.) You can see the front and back of the composite below, and you can read about my brief and awkward jaunt as a child model in my essay Shoot.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

If you've tried to pre-order My Life with the Lincoln on Amazon over the last few days, you've seen that the "Pre Order" button has disappeared. You may have noticed that the "Buy" buttons on various other books have gone missing on Amazon, as well. This is all because Amazon has decided to be a bully and stop selling all books published under the Macmillan umbrella (which includes my publisher, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, as well as St. Martin's Press, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, among others) because of a pricing dispute. I'm too tired to go into the details here--and actually I should be sleeping right now, since the baby is blessedly asleep--but you can read the details of the kerfuffle on the LA Times' book blog, Jacket Copy. Needless to say, it is quite worrisome for authors with books that have just come out from Macmillan or are coming out soon, such as my friend Ariel Gore's new book, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness--a book I can't wait to read, and one that I find myself wishing I could share with my mom. I linked to Powell's website, since hopefully this hullabaloo with Amazon will remind us to support the wonderful indie booksellers out there (and perhaps it will help to break writers--including myself!--of the compulsive-and-often-torturous-even-though-we-know-it's-pretty-meaningless past-time of checking one's own Amazon rankings.) Of course I do hope that Amazon will stop rattling its saber before My Life with the Lincolns comes out, but I have to remind myself that Amazon really only accounts for a small portion of book sales, plus I think that my book has its best chance in brick and mortar places where booksellers can put it directly into the hands of young readers.

Some more reviews are coming in. Kirkus (which is sadly going out of print soon and whose reviewers are notoriously hard to please) says
Brandeis has created an appealing, quirky protagonist, still childlike in her sensibilities and understanding. Convinced that she is going to die young, like her almost-namesake Willie Lincoln, she diagnoses the pain in her developing breasts as incipient heart failure. She worries that her mother will go crazy and her father will be assassinated. Middle-school readers will know better but enjoy this humorous first-person glimpse into her misconstrued world. Adults don’t see so clearly, either. In her first novel for young readers, the author goes beyond usual stories of the civil-rights movement, demonstrating well-intentioned but tone-deaf gestures of white supporters and the discomfort of change.
Booklist calls My Life with the Lincolns an "informative, clear, personal and passionate novel." And the PhiloBiblos blog has a fantastic review here.

Watch for a contest coming soon and a website relaunch (my husband Michael is doing the web design, which is very cool. He didn't think he'd have time, but it's coming together beautifully!)

Update: It appears Amazon has come to their senses. Pre-order away. :)