Providing expertise for
publishers, authors and readers
Hot Off the Press Summer 2020
Jun18

Hot Off the Press Summer 2020

Join a special three-class summer session of Hot Off the Press! In this lively monthly book discussion class led by Lynn Rosen, participants read and discuss new literary fiction. Class conversations include a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the book as well as background information provided by Lynn about the author and the book’s path to publication. We talk serious book talk, but have a lot of laughs too! CLASS DATES/TIME:Class meets virtually on Wednesday evenings from 7pm EST to 8:30pm EST on:July 15August 12September 9 LOCATION: via Zoom Sign up HERE. CLASS READING SCHEDULE:  July 15Red At The Bone by Jacqueline WoodsonA spectacular novel that only this legend can pull off.” -Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of  HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST, in The Atlantic“An exquisite tale of family legacy….The power and poetry of Woodson’s writing conjures up Toni Morrison.” – People An unexpected teenage pregnancy pulls together two families from different social classes, and exposes the private hopes, disappointments, and longings that can bind or divide us from each other, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming.  Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson’s taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child. Note: Hot Off the Press typically features brand new fiction. Our original selection was The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (an author whose earlier work, The Mothers, we read in this class when it first came out). However, the publisher is out of stock of the book, so I made a last minute change. Although Woodson’s book is no longer brand-new, it’s a powerful read from an important writer. August 12Some Go Home by Odie Lindsey Norton“… incandescent debut novel… This is a consummate portrait of human fragility and grim determination.” — Publishers WeeklyAn Iraq war veteran turned small town homemaker, Colleen works hard to keep her deployment behind her—until pregnancy brings her buried trauma to the surface. She hides her mounting anxiety from her husband, Derby, who is in turn preoccupied with the media frenzy surrounding the long-overdue retrial of his father, Hare Hobbs, for a civil rights–era murder. September 9Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle“McCorkle weaves a powerful narrative web, with empathy for her characters and keen insight on their motivations. This is a gem. ”  — Publishers WeeklyLil and Frank married young, launched into courtship when they bonded over how they both—suddenly, tragically— lost a parent when they were children. Over time, their marriage grew and strengthened, with each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they’d...

Read More
Author Camp
Jun16

Author Camp

From Open Book Productions & Children’s Book World A week-long session for middle schoolers where kids read books and meet the authors! Begins August 3rd! Discover great new books! Meet and interact with the authors! Participate in creative writing exercises! Author Camp will introduce your child to five new books and their authors! The week-long session meets daily and features five new middle school books. Classes are led by Lynn Rosen, owner of Open Book Productions and English, writing, and publishing instructor. (For more about Lynn see HERE.) All sessions include virtual visits from the authors! Here’s how Author Camp works: We meet once a day for an hour and a half via Zoom.The cost of the class includes a copy of each of the five books that are part of the camp. (When you sign up, we will be in touch to arrange how you will get the books.)The session begins with some ice breakers and get-to-know-you warm-up activities led by Lynn.Campers then take out the book of the day and Lynn leads them in a reading. The reading is interactive, pausing along the way to point out notable parts of the story and underlining what is happening in the story. (Note: we will read the first chapter together, and participants will be free to read the rest of the book on their own.)Lynn then leads a group discussion about the book: what’s important about the book, the plot, what we liked about it, what it makes us wonder about. Lynn will share background about the book and the author with the campers.We’ll do some activities and writing exercises related to the themes of the book.Then we prepare to meet the author. The children are guided to think of questions they would like to ask the author about the book and to write these questions down in preparation. Next, we meet the author! The author joins us on Zoom to answer the children’s questions and for a reading from their book.Lynn will close the class by summing up what we’ve done and then prepping them for the next day’s book, showing it to them, giving them some clues on what to look for and encouraging them to spend some time with the book before we meet again the next day to read and discuss it. Sign up HERE With any questions, email lynn@lynnrosen.com Author Camp: Middle Grade Books Session 1: Week of August 3rd, meeting daily from 2pm to 3:30pm (Additional sessions for subsequent weeks in July will be added.) This class is for children who are comfortably and independently reading middle grade books. Generally this is grades 3-6...

Read More
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Jun16

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

I just reread Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth for the fourth or fifth time in preparation for a book discussion class about the book in my “Women’s Words” series. As I said to my son before I began reading the book again, each time I start this book I hope that it will turn out to have a different ending. But, as you already guessed, it did not. The beautiful Lily Bart still wends her way through the perils of high society in turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York, still wavers between what she has been trained to do – find a rich husband – and what her heart tells her, and still follows a downward trajectory. Poor Lily! Or maybe not. My class participants didn’t feel a great deal of sympathy for her as they watched her make one after another bad decisions. Did our dear Lily ever have a chance? As she says of herself, she has been trained since birth to be an ornament. What hope does a woman like that have alone in the world if she does not marry? It seems that Lily had no marketable skills.  And that, while her instinct told her she didn’t really want to be married to any of these dull wealthy men, she continued to pursue them – when the book begins Lily is at the ripe old nearly spinster age of 29, and has been pursuing this goal since her coming out in society at age 18 – and yet she isn’t able to bring herself to marry the man she loves, because his income won’t keep her in the style to which she is accustomed. She might become what she and her mother believe to be the worst of sins: dingy. Edith Wharton herself was brought up in the New York society about which she writes. She wrote later that her mother was cold, and not supportive of young Edith’s bookish inclinations. She moved her daughter’s coming out up to have it earlier, hoping Edith would then have less time to read and write.  Wharton’s mother even deprived her daughter of a regular supply of writing paper, hoping that would discourage her.  There seems to be quite a strong tendency in the late 19th century, both in fiction and in real life, to keep women from writing by taking away their implements! Wharton did marry, but she and her husband did not get along very well and never had children, which left the well-off Wharton to launch a writing career, and to befriend other writers, including Henry James, who spoke very favorably of her work. She won the...

Read More
What to read in these times
Jun05

What to read in these times

The country is in unheaval. The people who take my classes want to know what to read. They want books about anti-racism. I love that their instinct in these upsetting and confusing times is to reach for books. Those of us with an attachment to books use reading to learn about and understand the world. And that is what we need to do now: to learn how to take action to make the world a better place. As my friend, author Susan Barr-Toman says, we don’t want to read about racism – that is passive, sitting on the sidelines reading. We want to read about anti-racism: what we can do, how we can take action, and support the actions of others. The most-requested book at bookstores now is How to be an AntiRacist, by Ibram X. Kendi. If you read ebooks, download it, because stores are selling out fast. And here is a list of Anti-Racism Resources provided to me by the American Booksellers Association, which includes books as well as articles, podcast, videos, TV, and film. Find the list HERE. In addition to books on that list, go back to some literary classics — you may even have them on your shelves already. I just pulled out my Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place, and a collection of poetry by Langston Hughes. See if you can find Passing by Nella Larsen and then compare it to Brit Bennett’s new novel about passing, The Vanishing Half. I just pulled another title off my shelf, Your Heart is a Muscle The Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa. It’s not specifically about racism, It’s about protest. The story takes place around a protest in Seattle against the World Trade Organization, which is meeting in the city (this actually happened in 1999). During the afternoon the story takes place, 50,000 people come out to protest, and we meet several of them and follow their stories. It’s a powerful novel about how world events impact our lives on a personal level. We can find people’s stories in books and hopefully come to understand each other...

Read More
Awakening to Kate Chopin
May29

Awakening to Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin started writing her novel The Awakening in 1897, and it was published in 1899. Chopin had only begun her writing career about ten years prior to this, and she had built a good reputation for her short stories, publishing them in places like Vogue and The Atlantic Monthly and in several published collections.  She had also published one novel, called At Fault, but it did not attract much attention.  Chopin was born Catherine O’Flaherty in St. Louis in 1850, raised in a relatively well-to-do family, and well-educated. Her heritage on her father’s side was Irish, and through her mother, French Creole. In 1870, she married Oscar Chopin and moved with him to New Orleans. Between 1871 and 1879, she gave birth to six children. Meanwhile, Oscar ran his commodities business into the ground, and in 1879, they moved to the countryside and became the managers of a general store. Oscar died of malaria in 1882 and left behind considerable debt. For two more years, Kate tried to maintain their business. She also allegedly had some romantic flings, including one with a married farmer. (You will know that this is relevant once you read her work!) Finally, she succumbed to her mother’s urgings to move back home to St. Louis, although, shortly after she returned, her mother died. In the early 1890s, a family doctor friend suggested she take up writing as a career. He suspected she would be good at it and thought it might be a good way for her to earn some income. Imagine that: becoming a writer to earn money – ha! It’s also fascinating, to me at least, to note that this doctor encouraged Kate to write. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s well-known story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” published in 1892 and therefore overlapping with the time of Chopin’s work and available to Chopin to read, the female protagonist is strictly forbidden by her doctor to write, and this deprivation leads to her descent into madness. The doctor in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is based on the real-life doctor S. Weir Mitchell (a Philadelphian), whose famed “rest cure” for women prevented them from doing much of anything, lest it trouble their little heads. It’s a novelty to find that Chopin had a medical mentor who encouraged writing, and points to more of the novelty that appears in Chopin’s writing. The Awakening tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a well-off young wife summering at Grand Isle, an island off the coast of Louisiana. Edna is originally from Kentucky, but has married into her husband’s wealthy Creole world. During the course of the novel, she has her awakening,...

Read More