Thursday, April 30, 2009

Library Event - Cinco de Mayo Mariachi Concert

Come and join the festivities as we start the Cinco de Mayo celebration with a concert from the amazing Mariachi Music Instructional Program. This amazing CCSD music program involves teaching students to play and sing traditional Mariachi music and has been shown to have a positive effect on the participants grades and learning abilities!

When: Friday, May 1st at 7:00pm
Where: Clark County Library
Venue: Main Theater

Bring your entire family to this popular event to listen to mariachi favorites as we celebrate the holiday! This event is co-sponsored by the Clark County School District, La Nueva 103.5 FM, Recuerdo 99.3 FM and Radio Variedades 870 AM.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Review - Pete & Pickles

Pete & Pickles
Berkeley Breathed

Pete is a predictable, practical, and totally uncomplicated pig. His days are perfectly planned around commemorating his beloved late wife's (Paprika Pig's) memory. Which is why it's so disturbing when Pete discovers an elephant in his bedroom, wearing only a lampshade.

Pete remorselessly surrenders the pleading pachyderm to the pursuing circus trainers, and thinks no more about the inconvenient incident. Until...

What follows is a hilarious, breathtaking, exhausting, and amazing story about taking chances, trust and friendship.

Like a lot of other people, I was distressed when Berkely Breathed finally and irrevocably ended the run of Opus the Penguin. I'd followed Opus through Bloom County, Outlands, and finally through the Sunday comic strip Opus. I wept when the last strip was published - both because it was so perfect, and because it was the end. One of the reasons Breathed gave for ending Opus was so he could pay more attention to this book - Pete & Pickles. for that reason alone, I had to read the book. On one hand, I've always loved all of Breathed's books. On the other, I was miffed that this caused the end of Opus.

I adored Pete & Pickles.

The artwork is complicated and entertaining. It's always important to watch Breathed's backgrounds, and this book is no exception.

The silliness level is right at Breathed's peak. Breathed has a quirky and delightful sense of humor, and the entire book showcases this.

Oh, but the story... It's incredible. I want to be there!

Every child will adore this book because it's funny and weird and kooky. Parents will love it for the same reasons, and will appreciate the story for its fun-loving freedom and amazing love and family emphasis.

There is no downside to this book.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday’s New DVD releases

Every Tuesday we get the newest DVD releases and you can request them! These titles are usually very popular, so be sure to get your requests in early! Check the Library Catalog and add these popular titles to your book bag. See the bottom of the post for the answer to last week's contest!

Here are the releases for next week, the 5th of May!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Brad Pitt. I was born under unusual circumstances. And so begins The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards: a man, like any of us, who is unable to stop time. We follow his story, set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918, into the 21st century, following his journey that is as unusual as any mans life can be.

Last Chance Harvey - Dustin Hoffman. Harvey is a down-on-his-luck music jingle composer. Kate is a lonely British airline employee. Chance brings them together in London during the wedding of Harvey's daughter.

This week's release with the most requests:Bride Wars with 683 requests!

Meet the Authors - Poetry at Ground Zero

Come and help us celebrate National Poetry month as we present a writer's workshop called Poetry at Ground Zero! Join authors Gregory Kompes, Leslie Hoffman and others from the acclaimed Laudably Tarnished Writers Guild as they provide a compendium of writing dynamics and helpful critiques in this free poetry workshop.

When: April 29th at 6:30pm
Where: Clark County Library
Venue: Jewel Box Theater

Not only will you be able to listen to the authors talk about their own work, you will have a chance to take the mic with your own poetry. The panel will then offer advice and comments on your work!

This event is free of charge and has been very popular in the past. Books will be available for sale and signing after presentation. For more information, please call 507-3458.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Review - The Modern Scholar Lectures

I love Geoffrey Chaucer...yes, I will admit it that I am a nut about his literature, his life and his times. The Canterbury Tales are probably my favorite piece of literature, period. He may not be your favorite, but in case you wanted to learn more about him and his literature, I have a great suggestion for you!

We have an Audio series that is available both on CD and downloadable e-Audio called The Modern Scholar presented by Recorded Books. There is not only a course on Chaucer called Bard of the Middle Ages, but there are 109 other titles on CD alone. NetLibrary has 54 titles that can be downloaded not only on regular mp3 players but now they can be played on an iPod too!

The courses are taught by University professors from all over the country and are usually outstanding in their field. They are typically 14 lectures on 7 CDs and there is even a course guide booklet included. The Modern Scholar website usually has a final exam that you can take if you like, but that feature is currently not available.

The subjects available are very diverse. They go from Astronomy and The Bible as literature to the decline and fall of Rome and global warming. I just recently listened to the Chaucer lecture again and immensely enjoyed it. I have also listened to ones about the roots of fantasy literature, Shakespeare, Greek architecture and theater and Medieval literature. My next course is going to be Astronomy and then possibly history of the English language.

I use the CDs in my car for my drive back and forth to work, but my work partner downloads them on his mp3 player. I highly recommend them to you in either form!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Library Resources - Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Infoguide

Did you know that the Library's website has a large selection of Infoguides? InfoGuides highlight relevant library materials and services, online databases and local community resources for each diverse topic covered. They are prepared by Library District staff members.

The month of May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month and I have just updated that infoguide! It is packed with interesting information like information on the many Asian countries and traditions, books for all age groups, business resources and of course, Chinese horoscopes.

One of the more impressive websites that is located on this guide is Asian-Nation The Landscape of Asian America. According to the website, "While Asian Americans "only" make up about 5% of the U.S.'s population (as of May 2005), we are one of the fastest growing racial/ethnic groups (in terms of percentage increase) in the U.S. The Asian American community has received a lot of scrutiny over the years but in many ways, still remains misunderstood. Therefore, this site serves as a concise but comprehensive introduction to the Asian American community."

One of the library's databases that is highlighted is the Encyclopedia of Multicultural America which covers specific culture groups in the United States, emphasizing religions, holidays, customs, and languages in addition to providing information on historical background and settlement patterns.

Be sure to join us for Asian Cultural Festival on May 9th at the Clark County Library and get ready for Asian Pacific Heritage Month by exploring this fascinating Infoguide!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Read Me Vegas - Online book Discussion April 2009

Read Me Vegas, the online book discussion, works differently that the standard "face-to-face" book discussion group. In the live-action book groups, members usually meet in person, about once a month, and discuss their experiences and opinions of the selected title.

In the online book group, there is no face-to-face meeting. The folks involved all read the book and form their own opinions. As the leader of the group, I post topics three times a week.

I always start with an introduction, information about the author, and a list of the characters. From there, things get really different.

I don't usually talk directly about the book itself. I select topics within the book, and investigate them more fully.

The book we've been reading for April has been The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey.

The basic story is: Four whacky people - a lonely widowed surgeon, his confused, new-age hippie girlfriend, a polygamist river guide and a recently returned Vietnam Vet, have a wild and fun time driving over the desert southwest, vandalizing construction sites, until they all get arrested, except for the Vet, who is killed in a Rambo-like firefight.

OK, I didn't enjoy this book. Edward Abbey and I just think different ways. As a really old liberal greenie treehugger, I expected to enjoy this book. I didn't. I didn't find a whole lot of yucks in property damage and police shootings.

This book was written in the early 1970s, and was the basis for the EarthFirst! Environmental extremist organization, which has been linked to similar vandalism.

Many reviewers commented on the humor in this book. The humor totally escaped me. I thought the characters were unappealing, and they all hated themselves. Just not a barrel of chuckles.

The book did give me the opportunity to explore some very interesting topics. We talked about environmental activism, environmental extremism, the American Indian Movement, the Vietnam Anti-War movement, Vietnam Vets, and Vietnam POWs. These were all tremendously interesting.

If you read this book as just a quirky adventure book about some unusual characters, it could probably be entertaining. You might also enjoy books by Kurt Vonnegut or Kinky Friedman.

If you're interested in the environmental aspects, you may want to read more by Abbey, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, or Marc Reisner.

If you're interested in fiction set in the Southwest, with an ecological bent, I recommend Tony Hillerman and CJ Box.

Next month, the library will be celebrating Asian American Heritage Month. We'll be reading Tai Pan, by James Clavell. You may remember Clavell best for his TV Miniseries Shogun. Tai Pan is set in the mid 1880s, in Hong Kong, as the British Traders are first establishing the colony of Hong Kong.

There's a lot of action in this book - heroes, history, love, betrayal, politics, murder, and more. Most of the characters were based on actual people or organizations. The history is fascinating.

Join us online in May for the discussion of this entertaining and involving title!

Meet the Authors - David Guterson

Please join us as the Clark County Library presents An Afternoon with David Guterson! We are proud to present this program as part of our green themed Reading Las Vegas Month.

When: April 26th at 2:00pm
Where: Clark County Library
Venue: Main Theater

David Guterson, award-winning author of the bestselling novel, Snow Falling on Cedars, will share his life experiences and inspirations of writing. His current work, The Other, is a story of friendship bonded by the mutual love of the outdoors. Winner of the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction for his debut novel, Snow Falling on Cedars, Guterson is the author of six books, an essayist, a freelance journalist (mostly environmental issues) and a contributing editor to Harper's magazine.

A former high school English teacher, he has been named a Guggenheim Fellow and served as a judge for the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, NEA fiction grants, and O Henry Prize stories. Guterson is a co-founder of Field’s End, an organization for writers in Washington State. He currently resides in Washington State with his family and can be found hiking the Olympic Mountains. A Q&A session, book sale, signing and reception will follow the presentation.

Tickets for the David Guterson event will be available at the Clark County Library box office on the day of the event beginning at 1 p.m. Separate tickets will be issued for book signings, as attendees will be called in groups by ticket number.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mystery Book Review – Bad Blood

Alexandra Cooper watched in horror as her prime witness in her murder case against Brendan Quillian just admitted that she slept with the defendant. Brendan Quillian was up for murder in the strangulation death of his wife Amanda and Alex had been working on the case and her star witness for months. Yet, this juicy piece of information had never surfaced before the defense attorney brought it out. Alexandra was furious!

Title: Bad Blood
Author: Linda Fairstein
ISBN: 9780743287487
Genre: Mystery

Linda Fairstein’s Bad Blood is the ninth book in her courtroom mystery series starring Manhattan prosecutor Alexandra Cooper. Both the murderer victim and the accused are part of New York’s high society. Secrets such as extra-marital affairs are kept well hidden. Despite the fact that the defense attorney just ruined her best witness and her snitch has been brutally attacked in prison, Alex is confident that she can still prove that Brendan Quillion ordered his wife’s murder.

The plot thickens as a huge water tunnel explosion causes the death, reportedly of Duke Quillion, one of the tunnel diggers that built the underground city that makes up the subway, sewer and water tunnels of New York. As more information about the explosion is discovered, Alex comes to find out that the defendant is actually part of this generation’s long tradition of family tunnel diggers, a fact that was previously unknown. Added to that, is the cold case of a teenager’s strangulation death that Brendan’s name is mentioned in.

I actually listened to this book on CD and very much enjoyed it. The mystery genre is not one that I usually dabble in, mainly because of the temptation to read the end of the book before you are ready. This, of course, can’t happen in audio, so I was forced to be patient and wait until the end. I thought the characters were very well developed, even though most readers had eight books before this to become familiar with them. I thought the storyline was exciting and suspenseful. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a mixture between a courtroom drama and a fast paced mystery.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Library Events - Jazz in the Moonlight Concert

Please join us in celebrating Jazz Appreciate month as the Rainbow Library proudly presents the 6th Annual Jazz in the Moonlight Concert. This very popular concert features the CSN Jazz Ensembles under the direction of Walter Blanton and Bobby Scann.

Did you know that Jazz Appreciation Month was initiated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History (which operates the world’s most comprehensive set of jazz programs) in 2002? According to their website “Each April, Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) shines the spotlight on the extraordinary history of jazz and its importance in American culture. Through concerts, lectures, films, and other programs, JAM encourages people of all ages to attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings, read books about jazz, study the music, and support institutional jazz programs.”

This event is very popular so you will want to be sure to arrive early. Bring your picnic basket, blanket or lawn chairs. Glass containers, alcoholic beverages, and pets are not allowed. Free admission. Gate opens one hour before the concert. For more information, please call 507-3711.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Library Events - Under the Influence

The Clark County Library is pleased to present the annual poetry event Under the Influence. As part of National Poetry Month, each year this event brings together selected local poets reading original works and those of the poets who've influenced their writing. This popular poetry event takes place in the Jewel Box Theater on April 23 at 7:00pm.

Poetry for me was always something unatainble and I am sure that many of you feel that way as well. These poetry events in which the author is reading aloud the poetry will really help you understand the emotions behind the poetry. I really started appreciating poetry after some classes I took at UNLV. My favorite poem is by William Ernest Henley and was published in 1875. It is called Invictus which mean Unconquered in Latin:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

I would love to see comments from you with your favorite poem!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Movie Review - The Spirit

So, let me forward this review by saying, that while I read comics as a child, I really read the “girlie” comics, like Archie, Richie Rich, Casper and Wendy (my knowledge of which recently won me a trivia contest!) and others of that ilk. My brothers, of course, read all the super hero comics and sometimes I would share them, but in no way was a big follower. However, today, I am a huge fan of comic book movies and I go out of my way to see them.

So, when I saw the video of The Spirit was available, I was very interested, despite never having even heard of the comic book series written in the 1940’s by Will Eisner. I should also say that I have not seen Sin City which was another of Frank Miller’s films in this genre, so I went into the movie with a pretty blank slate as to expectations.

Title: The Spirit
Directed by: Frank Miller
Starring: Gabriel Macht
Video Release date: April 14, 2009

This movie is beautifully filmed and it is obvious that it is Frank Miller’s work. It was highly stylized to reflect the 1940’s comic book feel. The special effects were amazing as it seamlessly moved from animation to reality and back. Miller was first able to make the audience feel the comic book and then slowly brought the characters to life and off the pages. If you really enjoy that style, and I normally do, then I recommend seeing the film, just for those reasons.

However, the silliness factor of the action and overacting by Samuel L. Jackson distracted me too much to enjoy this film beyond the cinematography. I have read reviews by fans of the comic book series and most of them couldn’t make it past 30 minutes of the film. The storyline was plausible, but the action was reminiscent of the old Batman and Robin television series. I understand and enjoy good “campy”, but this movie took it just a little overboard.

So, can I recommend this film to you? Yes and no. Watch it for the cinematography and the beautiful costumes. Be prepared for very campy action and over dramatic acting. I did watch the entire piece and didn’t feel like my time was wasted; it is just not something I would ever watch again.

Tuesday’s New DVD releases

Every Tuesday we get the newest DVD releases and you can request them! These titles are usually very popular, so be sure to get your requests in early! Check the Library Catalog and add these popular titles to your book bag. See the bottom of the post for the answer to last week's contest!

Here are the releases for next week, the 28th of April!

Bride Wars - Anne Hathaway. Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway star as Emma and Liv, best friends who become worst enemies when they schedule their respective weddings on the same day. Competing for guests, venues and staff, these two go on a ruthless rampage toward matrimony.

Hotel for Dogs - Emma Roberts. Placed in a foster home that doesn't allow pets, 16-year-old Andi and her younger brother, Bruce, turn an abandoned hotel into a home for their dog. Soon other strays arrive, and the hotel becomes a haven for every orphaned canine in town.

The Univited - Emily Browning. Based on Kim Jee-Woon's 2003 Korean horror film, “Changhwa Hongryon,” “The Uninvited” revolves around Anna (Emily Browning), who returns home after spending time in the hospital following the tragic death of her mother.

This week's release with the most requests: The Wrestler with 507 requests!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Library Resources - Special Collections

May starts the library district’s celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and you can start getting ready by checking out two of our Special Collections!

Spring Valley library is the home of the Asian Culture Collection. Not only do they have a large collection of books in several of the Asian languages, they also offer several newspapers. They also have a large DVD collection in their international movie selection that focuses on the Asian languages.

Sahara West houses the International Language Collection. The International Languages Room at the Sahara West Library has become a precious resource for the people of Clark County - a beautiful space in which residents who are comfortable with non-English languages can find information and recreation.

Included in this collection are fiction and non-fiction books, videos (many with subtitles in English), cassettes, and, for those who are interested in learning English, ESL (English as a Second Language) materials. The collection includes books, magazines, newspapers and videos in 37 different languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Basque, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cherokee, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Lithuanian, Navajo, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and Yiddish.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Library Event - Teen Poetry Cafe and Open Mic Night

To help celebrate National Poetry Month, the Spring Valley Library will be hosting a Teen Poetry Cafe and Open Mic night! The event will be taking place in the story room on Monday, April 20th at 7:00pm. If you like to write poems, here is your chance to read them for all to hear!

Did you know that National Poetry Month was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996? "The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern."

Some of the goals of National Poetry Month include introducing more Americans to the pleasure of reading poetry, make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum and encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books. The Academy of American Poets actually sends out over 200,000 posters to libraries, schools and booksellers.

You can celebrate on your own by doing some of these activities that the Academy of American Poets suggests. Put some poetry in an unexpected place, organize a poetry reading, put a poem in a letter or sign up for a poetry class or workshop. They provide a daily list for the entire month!

We are looking forward to hearing some of your poetry on the 20th of April, so please come and share your talent with us!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book Review - Faery Apocalypse!!

The fey folk are a strange breed, often possessing uncanny abilities but that is a thing of the past for the faeries of Dreamdark. Their magic is running out and little do they know but Armageddon is nearly upon them. Their world is crumbling and their only hope lies with a faery lass named Magpie Windwitch

Title: Faeries of Dreamdark Blackbringer
Author: Laini Taylor
ISBN: 9780399246302
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Magpie Windwitch is the granddaughter of the West Wind and she possesses more magical power than she knows what to do with. She travels the world trying to rid it of demons and she has seen more than her share of trouble. Magpie travels with a merry band of theatrical crows that help her fight battles. When she decides to go home to Dreamdark the crows of course come with her and end up helping her fight what could be their last battle. In order to save her kind and the rest of the world (including “Mannies” or humans) Magpie must find the elusive Dijnn King and convince him that her world is worth saving.

I really loved this book, it had everything I wanted; action, magic and a heart wrenching tale that makes you root for the good guys to win. The world of Dreamdark is vast and complex; it is a world where faeries coexist with humans, demons, and the djinn that created them all. The author really does a fantastic job a creating this unique world that could live in our world without our knowledge of it. It is reminiscent of Harry Potter and I hope that there are more to come in this series.

Author Read-alikes: Cornelia Funke, Brandon Mull, J.K. Rowling

Friday, April 17, 2009

Meet the Authors - John Hill - Get over Yourself and Start Writing

Vicki Pettersson was supposed to speak last night at the Clark County Library, for the writing presentation "Get Over Yourself and Start Writing." I arrived a few minutes late, and was surprised to see a middle aged, pleasant looking gentleman, rather than a svelte former showgirl.

Vicki Petterson was ill. She was too ill to try, and she has a major deadline looming for the fifth book in her Zodiac paranormal romance series, so she couldn't even reschedule. Instead, she arranged for a friend, who's also a writer, to cover for her.

"Friend" she says. "Also a writer" she says. HOLY COW!!! says I. Her "friend" is John Hill.

OK, go ahead and say it. Who?

John Hill, who mentioned a few times that he had been a Hollywood screenwriter "in the old days when it was easier", from the mid 1970s to the late 1990s. John Hill who was the writer/supervising producer for the amazing TV show "Quantum Leap." John Hill, who wrote the screenplay for "Quigley Down Under." John Hill who won an Emmy as the writer/producer for "LA Law"... THAT John Hill.

Perhaps he mentioned those few facts at the very start of the presentation. If so, I'm rather glad I missed it, as it would have interefered with my appreciation of his excellent writing presentation. (I'm not normally starstruck. But, WOW!!)

For the next hour, Hill gave us an amazing presentation about the nuts and bolts of buckling down and getting writing.

Hill had four main topics: Motivation, Story, Structure, and Physical System for producing your novel.

In Motivation, Hill suggested:
  • Make your writing a priority, and work hard at it
  • Do It - don't just talk about it
  • Have the desire and the committment to produce your novel
  • Set and keep your writing deadlines.
  • Set an easily identifiable ending date for your writing, like a major holiday
  • STEAL the time from your life to write
  • Break the writing down into managable subunits. So if you're writing a 360 page novel, write one page a day, every day. (Hill gives you a day off for Christmas, Thanksgiving, your birthday, the birth of your your first child, and your husband's bypass operation.)
Motivation is hard to maintain. Your friends and family will probably start out being supportive, but that will all stop when your writing interferes with what they want. ("Honey, my parents are getting remarried today. What do you mean you still have 200 words to write this morning?") Hill strongly recommends fighting for the respect, space and time to write. And is not above recommending bribery to achieve that end.

In Story, Hill explains that it's really important to know exactly what you're writing. His short definition of fiction is: A person with a problem.

The novelist's job is to know that person, and know the problem. Hill recommends creating a really wonderful, likable, sympathetic character, then proceed to make that character's life a living misery. A good novelist will know how to use the problem to define the misery, and use the misery to lead the character to the solution and resolution of her problem. Your novel will be about the most important event in your character's life.

Knowing the story also means knowing the commercial characteristics of your writing. Hill says there are generally four types of fiction novel - the "Bestseller/Blockbuster" (usually written by an established and very popular author), Genre Fiction (mystery, horror, fantasy, western), Mainstream Fiction - "just a good story", like Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, and Literary Fiction - "writing for the ages." This includes experimental and alternative fiction. It's important to know what type of fiction you're writing, and know the characteristics of that type of fiction. Also, know who your readers will be. Who reads that type of fiction? Write to your market.

Structure basically comes down to Plot Outline. Some authors believe strongly in outlines. Others don't. Hill calls them respectively the Plotters and the Pantsers ("Writing by the Seat of their Pants") Plot outlines vary in amount of detail from none (ie, pantsing), to outlines with minute levels of detail. (Just write the whole darned novel down, before you write it.) Knowing how you will write is important. Are you a plotter? Or a pantser?

Finally, Hill gave us his Physical System for Starting a Novel. He told us about the three ring binder, with eight tabbed sections, and lots of blank paper. Use the tabs. Use the paper. Write the Novel. Voila - you're done!

Summing it up, Hill says the true art of the novel is Getting It Done.

Hill did a great Q&A session:

The enemy of writing is perfectionism. Rewriting is good - heck it's vital. But too much rewriting, too much revision, just bogs the author down, and the novel never gets done. Get the darned thing DONE! Know what you've written. KEEP GOING!

Self publishing is not a good idea (Hill's opinion.) It's a great way to end up with cases and cases of books in your garage. Self publishing is great for a few types of writing, such as a family memoir or a group's recipe collection. You'll never get your money back from self-publishing.

You can't get a publisher before you write your novel. Impossible.

Here's how you get a literary agent:
  1. Write an amazing novel. The best novel is one that looks irresistable in a one paragraph description, which is what your agent will be giving prospective publishers. Your paragraph should sound like "Wow, THAT's a plot!" In fact, write the paragraph first. Then write the novel.
  2. Write an amazing query letter. (Read Writer's Market to find out about Query Letters.)
  3. Go to the library and find other books similar to yours. (You remember about Story? You should know what you're writing, and who else writes like that...) Read the dedications. Authors often thank their agents in the dedication. Hey, Presto! - a list of agents that specialize in your writing area.
  4. Send your query letter to the list of agents. Stick with agents in New York City. (Agents in Iowa may be wonderful human beings, but it's a rough commute if they want to just have coffee with a publisher, and schmooze about upcoming talent...)
90% of novels are about one main character. Occasionally there's an equally weighted couple - eg Romeo & Juliet or Butch & Sundance. Usually it's one main character.

Title first? Or Novel first? Don't worry about the title. Get yourself a real grabber of a title. When you get a publisher, they'll probably change the title. But a grabbing title is like an amazing descriptive paragraph. It'll get their attention and get your story bought.

John Hill gave an entertaining and informative presentation. His delivery was liberally mixed with anecdotes from his life and career. It was most impressive that no matter how far he rambled from his original point, he always found his way back and continued. It was an easy present to hear. I hope he comes back to the library again, often!

John Hill moved to Las Vegas from Hollywood. He's a writing instructor at UNLV, and a member of the Las Vegas Writers Group. He's also a "Writing Mentor for Hire". He'll mentor you for a year as you write your novel or screenplay (for a not inconsiderable fee, but it's very worth it!)

His phone number is 702-622-8251. His email address is:
hillwithit(assume an "at" symbol)

Spring Valley Book Group - King of Bollywood

The Spring Valley Book Group generally meets the first Thursday of each month, at 7 Pm, at the Spring Valley Library.

In April we discussed King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema, by Chopra, Anupama.

We selected this title to continue our interest in reading biographies. Several members had seen and greatly enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire, and were interested in knowing more about Indian cinema.

Everyone read the book, and everyone enjoyed it enormously. There is a whole culture of Indian cinema about which we had known nothing. Most of us were familiar with at least some stories of actors and actresses in Hollywood, and knew that the Hollywood culture existed. Sadly, none of us had heard of Shah Rukh Khan before reading this book. Khan is a superstar in India, and none of us had ever heard about him! Some of us had never even heard of Bollywood, or didn't realize Bollywood was an actual existing enterprise, as opposed to being a pun or a satiric description. Our discussion about this book was active and enthusiastic.

I mentioned that the Library District owned many different DVDs starring Khan. No one had even thought to look.

No one disliked the book. Some people were less taken with the "superstar" emphasis. (Some members are not really into the Entertainment Tonight / People Magazine mindset.) Others found that aspect appealing. We talked about whether we "liked" Khan as a person, as depicted in the book. The book bounces around a lot, so the biography wasn't always sequential. This made it confusing at times. That was a minor issue. Overall the book was very entertaining.

While King of Bollywood is pretty much a "read once" book, it was a great introduction into a country and culture with which the group was unfamiliar. It's one we'd recommend to other people just because it's such a great introduction to "real" Indian culture. Too many Americans are too unfamiliar with this large and fascinating country.

On May 7th, the group will be discussing:
Marrying Anita by Anita Jain.

We had actually selected this title a while ago to continue the "biography" theme. We are even more excited about this title, now that we've had a great introduction to Indian culture.

We'll be meeting at the Spring Valley Library on May 7th at 7 pm. See you there!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Library Event - Evening of Revolution

Cool Daddy-O! (snap snap)

Kids and Teens! Come and join us at the Enterprise Library for an evening of retro poetry as we present an Evening of Revolution! The Enterprise Library has been transformed into a 50's style "beat" coffee shop and they will provide period poetry for you to interpret!

We also encourage you to bring your own poetry to read and discuss. This event is part of the Poetry Month celebration and will be quite popular, so be sure to arrive early. There will also be prizes for the best Beatnik costume. The event takes place tonight at the Enterprise Library in the multipurpose room from 6:30-8pm and refreshments will be served.

Hope to see you there!

Book Review: Essex County - Tales From the Farm

Essex County Vol. 1: Tales from the Farm
Jeff Lemire

Following the death of his mother, ten-year-old Lester moves in with his Uncle Ken on his Ontario farm. Lester never knew his father, and his relationship with his uncle is awkward and uneasy. Lester chooses to escape from his grief through fantasies of superheroes, even going so far as wearing a cape and mask and imagining himself flying and defending the farm from alien invaders. Ken, a down to earth farmer, just can’t understand.

Instead, Lester forms a friendship with Jimmy. Jimmy had been a professional hockey player, until a head injury halfway through his first game ended his career. Now he works at the local gas station, and bonds with Lester over comics and his fantasies. Ken isn’t entirely comfortable with this, but is it just for the obvious reason that it seems inappropriate for a grown man to be playing with a ten-year-old boy?

In Tales from the Farm, Jeff Lemire presents a thoughtful, understated character study. Through his depiction of small moments, he speaks volumes about the relationships between the characters, like when Lester turns down the chance to watch a hockey game on TV with his uncle, only to go and watch it by himself in his room. He definitely shows more than he tells, which is especially appropriate in a visual medium like graphic novels.

To readers who are most familiar with graphic novels through the colorful, slickly-drawn tales of superheroes, Jeff Lemire’s artwork may initially appear rough and unpolished. In truth, the art does a fantastic job of communicating the emotion of the characters through expression and body language. It also creates a definite sense of place, giving the reader a clear sense of the environment Lester finds himself in.

While there is a mystery that is subtly unraveled here, Tales from the Farm is not about that. It’s about loneliness and sadness and regret. It’s quiet and melancholy, but ultimately redemptive.

The one thing that keeps me from embracing this book wholeheartedly is the third act. While the action in that part of the book is clear and easy to follow, it’s less clear how literally the reader is meant to take events. And without that context, it’s difficult to fit those events into the overall story.

Having said that, this is the first volume of a trilogy, and the only one I have read so far. As I understand it, the stories are relatively self-contained, but still connected. So my lingering questions from this volume may yet be answered. Stay tuned.

Despite my questions, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick read that provides some deep, thought-provoking character insights. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next two volumes in this acclaimed trilogy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Learning to Live Lighter on the Planet

Last evening visitors to Rainbow Library enjoyed a very informative, multimedia talk given by Steve Rypka, President of Green Dream Enterprises and Green Living columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The most exciting part of the talk, to me, was hearing how Steve and his wife have turned a conventionally built house in Henderson into a net-producer of energy. With a 5000-watt solar photo-voltaic system, they generate about 20% more electricity than they use for all their home energy needs. Steve's goal is for Nevada to be known as The Solar State.

Steve's top recommendation is to get a "home energy audit." A professional audit can show where a house, and especially air ducts, are leaking, costing hundreds of dollars of wasted energy.

As a librarian, I enjoyed hearing that Steve trained to be a Green Living Consultant simply by reading books. He highlighted the Springs Preserve Library as a great resource for anyone wanting to learn about renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Steve also pointed out that the Springs Preserve boasts 7 LEED Platinum buildings. This is likely the highest concentration of Platinum certified buildings anywhere in the country. Platinum is the highest level of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

If you missed Steve last night, he will be giving the same talk next Monday, April 20 at 7 p.m., at the West Charleston Library.


Steve's recommended reading list from the library collection includes:

The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering our Place in Nature by David Suzuki

The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough

Author Visit – Vicki Pettersson

As part of the Reading Las Vegas events, author Vicki Pettersson (Sign of the Zodiac Series) will present Get Over Yourself and Get Writing! This Writing workshop will take place in the Jewel Box theater at the Clark County Library on April 16th at 7:00 pm.

Vicki Pettersson was born and raised in Las Vegas and actually spent 10 years as a showgirl in Folies Bergere! Her urban fantasy series, Sign of the Zodiac is also set in Las Vegas and her newest book “City of Souls” is due out June 30th.

Vicki will discuss goal-setting and the steps that first-time authors should take to stop making excuses and beat the mind games that stand in the way of publication. She is a very dynamic speaker and this will be a popular event, so be sure to arrive early as seats are limited.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Library Events - Green Living

In following with our "green" theme for Reading Las Vegas month, the Centennial Hills Library is proud to host Green Living. This program, presented by the Springs Preserve will teach you to make better decisions on a daily basis to make your life more green.

We all make decisions everyday about cleaning products, the foods we purchase and the clothes we wear. With this program you will learn about economical and sustainable techniques for everyday living. After you finish up your taxes, join us at the Centennial Hills library on Wednesday, April 15th from 6p-8p in the Multipurpose room.

Tuesday’s New DVD releases

Every Tuesday we get the newest DVD releases and you can request them! These titles are usually very popular, so be sure to get your requests in early! Check the Library Catalog and add these popular titles to your book bag. See the bottom of the post for the answer to last week's contest!

Here are the releases for next week, the 21st of April!

Frost/Nixon - Frank Langella. Ron Howard directs this adaptation of Peter Morgan's popular Broadway play centered on a series of revelatory TV interviews former President Richard Nixon granted British talk show host David Frost in 1977.

Notorious - Jamal Woolard. Based on the story of Christopher Wallace -- better known as gangsta rapper Notorious B.I.G. -- this insightful biopic chronicles his troubled life as a drug dealer, his artistic success and his unresolved murder at age 24. The film also delves into his close friendship with Sean Combs and the famous feud with hip-hop rival Tupac Shakur.

The Wrestler - Mickey Rourke.Mickey Rourke stars as retired professional wrestler Randy The Ram Robinson, who returns to the ring and tries to work his way up the circuit for a final shot at defeating his longtime rival. Along the way, he tries to reconnect with his daughter, Stephanie, while exploring a relationship with a stripper named Cassidy.

This week's release with the most requests: The Reader with 727 requests!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Favorite Reads – Romance

My favorite Bookletter is always the Romance favorites list (of course!), so I thought I would highlight it for you. This month the Romance Writers of American announced the finalist for their RITA Awards. This is the most prestigious award for writers of the romance genre.

I found out that the award is actually named after the association’s first president Rita Clay Estrada and up to 1200 romance novels from 12 different countries are entered in the competition each year. The categories include Best First Novel, Contemporary Series Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Inspirational Romance.

The RWA also announced the finalists for the Golden Heart awards which “promotes excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding romance manuscripts.” These are writers who have not yet accepted a publishing offer their work. While the winners of the RITA award get a golden statue, the Golden heart winners receive a golden necklace to recognize their achievements.

Some of my favorite authors were on the finalist list and there were some new authors that I think will be interesting to read! Check out this bookletter to see if any of your favorite authors made the cut this year!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thirteen Reasons are not Enough!!

Imagine that you are the quintessential high school student. Alienated and dragging around an undeserved "loose" reputation along with you to school every day. Is suicide the answer? It is for Hannah Baker but after you listen to her thirteen reasons, you realize that not only do our actions affect people in unfathomable ways but that you could have saved her.

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

This story is edgy and unusual, which is what attracted me to it in the first place. Hannah Baker has just committed suicide and as you can imagine her classmates are reeling from the news. Little do they know that thirteen of them will be receiving cassette tapes that chronicle her life and explain why she choose to end her life. The story is told by Clay Jenkins, who was in love with Hannah, though she never knew it. As you listen to each tape you can see the downward spiral and at each turn see how a small shift could have prevented her suicide. This is not a happy book and it certainly makes you contemplate life in a different light. Though everyone has had despairing thoughts, we all don't contemplate ending our lives. Thirteen Reasons Why is not for the faint of heart and it will change the way you see the world (in a good way despite its appearances). I would recommend this book to anyone (15 and older) who like me are intrigued by the plot and wonder what reasons someone would give for justification to end their life.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

E2: the economies of being environmentally conscious

Going with the Reading Las Vegas environmental theme this year, I want to highlight the PBS E2 series. E2 focuses on “the economies of being environmentally conscious.” Narrated by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, the series is now in its third season. The library owns all three on DVD.

The series highlights ways that communities and businesses around the world are working to preserve natural resources and help to reduce carbon emissions. So far the series has featured sets of 6 episodes on design, energy, and transport, with programs on water, food, and cities planned.

Especially memorable episodes include:
  • The Green Apple on the new Bank of American tower in New York City designed to LEED Platinum standards.
  • Harvesting the Wind on how farmers in the upper Midwest are supplementing their incomes by building wind towers on their property.
  • Gray to Green on a Boston contractor reusing salvaged bridge beams in residential construction.
  • Seoul: the stream of consciousness on how Seoul, South Korea dismantled a freeway to restore a stream running through the city.

I highly recommend this series!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Library Event – Literal Drama

Come and watch as words literally dance off the pages of books as the West Las Vegas Library presents Literal Drama! It happens this Saturday, the 11th of April at 2:00pm and is part of the Reading Las Vegas program.

Hosted by Ms. Michelle Thompson, nationally known as the First Lady of Gospel Theatre and author of Is That Man Your Husband, and Praize Productions Enterprises, this Literal Drama takes the works of local authors and transforms them into dance, mime and drama.

This will be a popular event, so be sure to come early to get a seat. This diverse group of authors will not only be sharing their work, but their book will be available for purchase and signing. You won’t want to miss this fascinating event!

Library Event - Save the Planet: Murder in the Keys.

The Spring Valley Library is proud to present the 3rd interactive murder mystery as part of the Reading Las Vegas activities. Highly popular, this year’s story is Save the Planet: Murder in the Keys.

Saturday, April 11th 7pm
Spring Valley Library 507-3821
Sign-ups required/ Over 18 only

At a party in the library for a famous local denizen, Ernie Hammyweight, the partygoers find that Ernie has been murdered. They follow the detectives along a trail of clues and an array of eccentric suspects to interrogate.

The evening concludes with the solution from groups comprised of the audience/participants followed by each suspect giving his/her solution.

Library murder mysteries require a purchased script (this author is Ted Kavich), and a small budget for things like props, costumes, decorations, door prizes, snacks, and bottled water. And last, but certainly not the least, one must consider the volunteers and staff needed for the preparation and presentation of the event. As this is Spring Valley’s 3rd time around, producing interactive murder mysteries is now familiar and streamlined, enabling us to enjoy the event with the patrons even more.

This is a fun, 3 hour evening for staff and patrons. It is a good way to involve the community and fulfill our mission to bring programming that attracts user participation.

Ann-Marie White, Apprentice Librarian

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Live Lighter on the Planet"

Next Tuesday, April 14 at 7 p.m., Steve Rypka, Green Living columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and President of Green Dream Enterprises will be speaking at the Rainbow Library about renewable energy and sustainable living. He will give the talk a second time at the West Charleston Library on Monday April 20 at 7 p.m.

Steve practices what he preaches. He and his wife live in a net-zero, solar-powered home. This means that they produce all of the energy their home uses. They have also been driving hybrid vehicles since 2000. They have reduced their “carbon footprint” by about 75% and offset the remainder by supporting renewable energy development, to be entirely carbon neutral.

Steve also helped start the U.S. Green Building Council – Nevada Chapter and Solar NV, the Southern Nevada Chapter of the American Solar Energy Society. The U.S. Green Building Council is the organization that administers the LEED building certification -- Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The new Centennial Hills Library was designed for LEED Gold Certification.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Living Library Review

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to be part of our first annual Living Library event as part of our Reading Las Vegas month. This event was designed to open minds by connecting “readers” to living “books.”

There were 19 “books” available for check out. It was a fascinating mixture of experiences. The volunteers included a disabled Veteran, a single mom, a Native American, a lesbian couple, 2 gay men, a physically challenged person, Muslims, a formally obese person, a high-powered female executive, a single mom and yours truly was the fat person book.

There were a number of participants who came to check us out. I had some good questions asked of me including, “have you always been heavy?” and “why are fat people always the side-kicks in books instead of the protagonist?” Besides my questions, there were some amazing conversations taking place about prejudice and stereotypes. We talked about women’s place in the Muslim religion, Native American reservations and perceptions of Latin Americans, to name a few topics.

If you were unable to make the event this year, I highly recommend it for next year. It was a fascinating exercise in opening my mind to what other people face in their day to day existence. It also made me more aware about how people perceive my own status as a heavy person.

If you are interested in learning more about this project visit the Living Library website.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday’s New DVD releases

Every Tuesday we get the newest DVD releases and you can request them! These titles are usually very popular, so be sure to get your requests in early! Check the Library Catalog and add these popular titles to your book bag. See below for next weeks releases and our weekly game!

Here are some of the hottest releases for Tuesday, April 7th:

The Day the Earth Stood Still – Keanu Reeves. In this updated version of the 1951 classic sci-fi thriller, Keanu Reeves stars as an alien named Klaatu who's sent to Earth to warn the leaders of the world about the consequences of their dangerous ways.

Doubt – Meryl Streep. In a Catholic elementary school in the Bronx, Sister Aloysius begins to have doubts about one of the priests, Father Flynn, who seems to have become overly involved in the life of a young African American pupil. But Flynn isn't the only one she has doubts about. Is she overreacting to the situation or is there a truth that needs to be discovered?

The Tale of Despereaux – Robbie Coltrane. Despereaux is different from other mice: He reads books, has ears too big for his too-small body and loves the human Princess Pea. With his friend, a rat named Roscuro, Despereaux sets out to escape the castle dungeon and win the girl of his dreams.

Yes Man – Jim Carey. Jim Carrey stars as Carl Allen, a man who signs up for a self-help program based on one simple principle: say yes to everything...and anything.

Here are some of the releases for Tuesday, April 14th. Which of these do you think will have the most requests on that morning? Write in with your guess and I will put the answers in next weeks blog!

The Reader – Kate Winslet. Michael Berg reflects on the formative sexual relationship he had with older woman Hanna Schmitz as a young teenager in this poignant drama set in post-World War II Germany. The passionate affair ended when Hanna disappeared. But years later, Michael learns she's on trial for horrific Nazi war crimes.

The Spirit – Gabriel Macht. After rookie Central City cop Denny Colt is murdered, he's mysteriously reborn as masked superhero the Spirit. Setting out to rid the streets of crime, he finds his archnemesis in the Octopus, whose quest for immortality imperils the entire city.

Meet the Authors - Lisa Frye

Do you need to learn how to live through this recession? Or do you want to know how to find reliable stock information? Join us on Wednesday at the Clark County Library as we present author Lisa Frye!

In her program Recession Proof Your Life: Investing in Stocks, Ms. Frye explains how to check stock options, steer clear of fly-by-night companies and work with Value Line among other topics. Lisa Frye is the author of Be Good To Your Money and holds seminars and talk radio shows that have helps hundreds of people learn how to live debt-free.
The program will be held in the Jewel Box Theater at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, April 8. For more information call 507-3458.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Honoring Richard Wright

Book lovers have another reason to head to the post office this month. On April 9, former Chicago Post Office employee and renowned author Richard Wright (1908-1960) will get his very own stamp. In a literary double-whammy, the artwork for the Wright stamp was created by children's book author and illustrator Kadir Nelson, who recently won the Sibert Medal for his picture book We Are the Ship. Wright is best known for Native Son, one of the first modern novels to explore the impact of racism and slavery on American society, and his biography, Black Boy. He has also been the subject of several biographies. Learn more about Wright and his legacy in the library's special Richard Wright BookLetter.