Inkwell: Authors and Artists
John Schwartz (jswatz) Fri 9 Jul 10 13:20
>It suffered from a lack of zombies. Definitely need zombies in the next edition. Short zombies. As for the comments on Jezebel, the site is often a bully pulpit, so to speak. I wanted to put Sarkozy in the book -- especially after that photo of him with Obama, and Sarkozy was standing on his toes...
The dogma of the quiet past is inadequate for.. (robertflink) Fri 9 Jul 10 14:35
The subject is an aspect of a larger issue of conventional narratives and where the individual stands or chooses to stand in relation to same. With expanding diversity, particularly in the cosmopolitan world, one is hard pressed if one demands that the world validate his/her preferred narrative. IMO, there is little room for such validation of narrative in any future (diverse) worth living in.
John Schwartz (jswatz) Fri 9 Jul 10 20:09
Uh, yeah. Thanks. We're still talking about "Short: Walking Tall When You're Not Tall At All," right?
those Andropovian bongs (rik) Fri 9 Jul 10 20:24
Talking about it? I'm living it. Buying it, too.
John Schwartz (jswatz) Sat 10 Jul 10 04:57
Thanks! Hope you like it! I've never written anything that gets such a strong reaction from people. I just hope more people find it...
Lisa Harris (lrph) Sat 10 Jul 10 06:10
John, you talk a lot about the way studies are skewed in their interpretations and how to watch out for false conclusions. Was this always your direction for your book, or did you stumble upon it as you did your own research?
John Schwartz (jswatz) Sat 10 Jul 10 13:37
I was surprised. I had expected the studies to say what they had been reported as saying. Once I got the researchers on the phone, they shared hte limitations of their studies and scare stories about how their reserach had been misinterpreted for a great headline, or had been simplified to exclude the nuances that, in the height and intelligence story for example, showed that the underlying issue was nutrition, not height. Of course, the researchers can contribute to this problem, but for the most part they simply said that they have to shake their heads at the simplification that goes on in stories about their work,
Betsy Schwartz (betsys) Sat 10 Jul 10 14:07
I'd like to see that side of the book played up. This book should be taught in science class, or maybe social studies. There is *so* much mangling of scientific information out there, and this is a topic that everyone can understand. Ever think of writing an easy-to understand adult book on that? You could do height, and weight, and diet (in fewer pages than Taubes), and global warming even...
John Schwartz (jswatz) Sat 10 Jul 10 14:51
I first pitched this as a book for grownups -- no takers! A smart editor suggested I rewrite it as nonfiction for young adults, and a publsher said yes. If this book does well, publishers might have me do more, and for adults, too. My previous book, Living Terrors, was for adults, of course. But six years as a science writer at the NY Times taught me that getting science right is something that rarely happens in the press, and that we all ought to work harder to help people understand what studies and discoveries actually mean.
person of crevice (obizuth) Sat 10 Jul 10 20:13
this may be too inside baseball, but how do you promote non-fiction for middle-grade readers? i can't think of many books like yours! our school librarian is ordering it for the school library.
John Schwartz (jswatz) Sat 10 Jul 10 20:56
>> this may be too inside baseball, but how do you promote non-fiction for middle-grade readers? i can't think of many books like yours! That's a great question. I would love to have an answer to it. It was a plus in approaching, for example, the Washington Post--I had the publisher send a copy to the editor of the Health section, and she had a brief review written up. The Washington Post Book World didn't write it up, but Health section readers heard about SHORT. And health columnist Jane Brody wrote about the book in her column. So the oddness of the book has gotten it more attention than it might otherwise have received. On the other hand, have you seen where they tuck away the nonfiction books for kids in bookstores? Wow. In the Barnes and Noble in Livingston, NJ, it's all the way in the back of the children's section, in a tight corner. A single bookshelf. Still, they have had to restock SHORT several times; people seem to want to buy the damned thing. Which is nice. There is no book tour or anything like that, but I am hoping to do a talks at schools, as I think I've mentioned, and am trying to get the word out any way I can. The print reviews have been lovely -- Parade.com called it "a perfect book for short kids." Hard to beat that. Interest from TV has been feeble, though a few morning shows sounded very interested at first. That interest might revive. All suggestions and contacts are welcome, of course!
Lisa Greim (lisa) Sat 10 Jul 10 23:22
Add some zombies and it'll sell. Maybe claim the kid on the cover is a zombie. Or a vampire. I wish I were kidding. Robert Reich famously referred to himself (in the New Yorker, I think) as "that Socialist dwarf." It made me like him more.
(fom) Sun 11 Jul 10 00:18
My friend the children's librarian in Galena, Illinois, has ordered it, or is in the process of ordering it. It seems to me like every library should have it.
Betsy Schwartz (betsys) Sun 11 Jul 10 07:10
Took me two tries to find it in our local Barnes and Noble. It was tucked below the *dictionaries* which is the last place a kid's going to browse. I think if they'd put it face-forward it might have drawn more interest, because there's something compellingly creepy about the cover picture.
person of crevice (obizuth) Sun 11 Jul 10 08:17
oh god, that's sad, betsy. betsy bird, the very influential NYPL librarian who blogs at School Library Journal, has talked about how many kids ask for "true" books. my mom and i have talked about how my brotehr was a total non-reader-for-fun until he got to college, where he discovered non-fiction. now he reads much more rigorous, hard books than i do, but k-12 he didn't read for fun at ALL...and my mom says it never occurred to her to look for non-fiction for him. i really think there are kids who would READ if we just offered them more non-fiction! (these days the answer seems to be graphic novels. i love graphic novels...but try science and history too! a children's book editor friend is working on what sounds to me like a great best of both worlds (tm hannah montana) -- graphic history book about the use of dogs in wartime. BUT I DIGRESS, BIGTIME.) john, if you want i can hook you up with our school librarian. she's a fan. she handles all our author visits. email me if you want contacts at other NYC schools, public and private. i really would like to help in any way i can -- i think media literacy for kids is a hugely important skill and this book could be a big eye-opener for a lot of 'em.
John Schwartz (jswatz) Sun 11 Jul 10 08:28
I would love that! And, as the father of two kids who read for fun and one who never picks up a book that wasn't assigned, I know what you're talking about...
Mrs. Bigby Hind (jessica) Sun 11 Jul 10 14:29
Rafe has long made a beeline for the nonfiction section of the library, looking for books on whatever is his passion of the moment. I think this sort of interest often gets overlooked among grade school age readers. Frankly, I think a nice feature-length article in the Magazine on this sort of media literacy would be great for all readers.
John Schwartz (jswatz) Sun 11 Jul 10 16:25
summer reading lists rarely include nonfiction works, at least in my experience.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 11 Jul 10 19:19
> I think if they'd put it face-forward it might have drawn > more interest There's nothing to stop *you* from doing it! I don't know if we still have it, but the writers conference used to have the stealth book-changers. We'd go to bookstores and look for a WELLpern's latest and turn them all face out. If they were lying on a table, we'd stand them up. Book-changers unite!
Idea Hamster On Speed (randomize27) Mon 12 Jul 10 07:58
Shhhhh...it's supposed to be STEALTHY.
person of crevice (obizuth) Mon 12 Jul 10 08:11
i was looking at goodreads reviews of Short. a very tall skinny woman loved it because she felt it was relevant to her childhood sitch too. a very short woman felt that the book was really for boys, not girls, that the book didn't go far enuf into the probs of short women. john?
John Schwartz (jswatz) Mon 12 Jul 10 13:55
I am SO RELIEVED to know I am not the only one who does this. as for the Goodreads reviews, thanks so much for letting me know! I had not been to the site yet to check for reviews. Jheri actually got in touch with me to thank me for writing the book. She's fascinating -- a model who travels the world, but felt very self conscious during her teen years. The Angela Craft review is very good, and humbling. I wish I'd said more about girls in the book, and worked with my editor to make sure we were at least talking to boys and girls. But we did decide to focus the narrative on boys, since so many of them feel height issues so deeply. I need to spend more time on GoodReads...
person of crevice (obizuth) Mon 12 Jul 10 14:19
if you're like me, and you get crushed by bad reviews, it's not a good idea. oh wait, YOU DON'T HAVE ANY BAD REVIEWS.
Mrs. Bigby Hind (jessica) Mon 12 Jul 10 14:20
When you write the next edition, I can tell you about my experiences as a short woman, most of which involve being treated as less mature and authoritative than I am. For example, when I would go take a deposition, it was always assumed that I was not the lead attorney, but the court reporter or a paralegal. Of clothing alterations we will not speak.
person of crevice (obizuth) Mon 12 Jul 10 14:26
in grade school short girls seemed to rule the world -- they were adorbs! or so i felt as a really tall (but not FREAKISHLY tall) girl. in junior high and up i think it got harder for the shorties -- hard to be taken seriously hard to walk the line between cute and girlfriend-fodder. since this book is for, hm, john, what? 3rd-7th grade? i think it's ok that it focuses on the probs of short boys.
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