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Special Guest Host: Adam Mansbach December 8, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Books Are Great Gifts, non-fiction.
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We’re thrilled to have Adam Mansbach join us in the #litchat virtual salon on Friday, December 9, 4-5 p.m. ET, to complete this week’s topical discussion of gift and holiday books. Mansbach’s most recent book, Go the F**k to Sleep, is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and one of the most talked-about books of the decade.  A viral sensation that shot to #1 on Amazon.com months before the book was even available, it has been published in more than thirty languages, and is forthcoming as a feature film from Fox 2000.

Mansbach’s last novel, The End of the Jews, won the 2008 California Book Award and was long-listed for the IMPAC-Dublin Prize.  His previous novel, Angry Black White Boy, was a San Francisco ChronicleBest Book of 2005; it is taught at more than eighty universities and has been adapted into a prize-winning stage play.

He is also the author of the novel Shackling Water, the poetry collection genius b-boy cynics getting weeded in the garden of delights, and A Fictional History of the United States With Huge Chunks Missing, an anthology of original short stories which he co-edited with T Cooper.

An inaugural recipient of the Ford Foundation’s Future Aesthetics Artist Grant, Mansbach is the 2009-2011 New Voices Professor of Fiction at Rutgers University. The founding editor of the pioneering 1990s hip hop journal Elementary, his fiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review,New York Times Sunday MagazineEsquireGQThe Times of LondonThe BelieverN+1The Los Angeles Times, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.

Mansbach’s forthcoming projects include a graphic novel, Nature of the Beast, and two novels, Rage is Back (Viking, 2013) and The Dead Run (Morrow, 2013). He lives in Berkeley, California, and is a frequent lecturer on college campuses across the country.

Follow Adam Mansbach on Twitter: @adammansbach

Books Are Great Gifts – 2011 December 5, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Books Are Great Gifts.
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Books Are Great Gifts 2011We’re well into December and everywhere you go you’re barraged with messages about merchandise and services to buy during the holidays. While the commercial aspects of the holidays can wear a person down, there’s a reason behind the message: Giving.

Books make great gifts. Since we began in 2009, LitChat has devoted the month of December to promoting the cause of supporting the literary community–authors, publishers, bookstores–and delighting our friends and relatives with the gift of books.

Each year we have held an auction of books signed and donated by authors. This is a unique book auction, as it takes place entirely through Twitter. All funds go directly to a children’s literacy charity, this year’s beneficiary is Reader to Reader. You can learn more about previous year’s auction here. We are delighted this year to place the books of 17 authors on the Twitter auction block, beginning this Friday, December 9, from 6-11 p.m. ET. You may download a copy of the 2011 BAGG Auction Catalog.

We’ll be talking about holiday books and favorite gift books this week during our moderated chats through #litchat on Twitter on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 4 p.m.

You can show your support for giving books as gifts by adding a Twibbon to your Twitter and/or Facebook profile.

New this year is #litchatpicks2011, a hashtag we’ve generated for you to post your favorite books released in 2011. These don’t have to be the big books, the highbrow award winners, the critically acclaimed books, but your favorite books. The ones you tell all of your friends about. The ones you’ll read again. The ones you’ll give as gifts.

We’ll archive the #litchatpicks2011 feed, but we’ll also glean the top 10 #litchat picks and post the list in January.

Wishing you a festive holiday season.

Books Are Great Gifts – 2010 December 6, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Books Are Great Gifts, weekly topics.
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Is there a better time than the holiday season to promote reading and support the literary community? LitChat has gathered a group of readers, authors and publishing professionals to join in a month-long celebration of giving and receiving, all wrapped around the things that tie us together: Books.

This year LitChat has selected Reader-To-Reader as the beneficiary of all BOOKS ARE GREAT GIFTS fundraising. Reader to Reader, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to expanding literacy and learning opportunities for the nation’s most chronically underserved and vulnerable communities, including inner-city schools, Native American reservations, and poor rural towns. Reader to Reader accomplishes this primarily through innovative literacy programs, book and computer donation programs, and the development of partnerships with schools districts that extend the boundaries and capacity of the education system to transform struggling students into joyful and engaged lifelong learners.

Last year the #litchat community raised more than $1300 for literary charity through the inaugural BOOKS ARE GREAT GIFTS campaign. We are gearing up for the 2nd Annual BOOKS ARE GREAT GIFTS campaign now. Read about last year’s BAGG campaign here.

This week’s moderated #litchat conversations are open topic conversations of books that you’re giving or hoping to receive as gifts. We invite you to help us promote book sales, reading and literacy charity through LitChat’s BOOKS ARE GREAT GIFTS campaign throughout the month of December. Read more about the Second Annual Books Are Great Gifts (#BAGG) campaign here.

The Writer’s Life November 29, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Books Are Great Gifts, non-fiction, weekly topics.
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Bill Peschel

Are writers born or made? What characteristics, choices and compulsions combine to create a writer? No matter the genre; whether published or unpublished; fiction or non-fiction; poetry, essay, short story, or journalism, a writer is a writer when they write.

This week in #litchat we’re discussing “The Writer’s Life.” Well talk about why we write and our hopes for the words that we pour onto the page. We’ll discuss productive writing habits, breaking through writer’s block, understanding constructive criticism vs personal opinion, and other topics relevant to successful and satisfactory literary accomplishment.

To help us unmask the writing mystique is Bill Peschel, author of Writers Gone Wild, The Feuds, Frolics, and Follies of Literatures’s Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lovers, Iconoclasts, and Misanthropes. A perfect gift for the writer in your life, Writers Gone Wild, includes dozens of hilarious and heartbreaking stories of writers behaving badly. If you think James Frey pulled a good one on the literary community with his fake memoir, consider Upton Sinclair’s planted obituary for the faked suicide of Arthur Stirling, the fictional protagonist in his novel The Journal of Arthur Stirling. This 257-page book includes dozens of hilarious and heartbreaking tattles and tales, along with a bibliography and an index.

Bill Peschel was born in 1960 in Ohio, and grew up there and in North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in journalism. At The Avalon Hill Game Company in Baltimore, he published a magazine for fantasy role-players and developed computer games. He spent several years as a shipping clerk, bread truck driver, paste-up artist and unsuccessful novelist before returning to journalism as a book reviewer, copy editor and page designer. Currently living in Hershey, Pa., and working for The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, “Writers Gone Wild” (Perigee Books, 2010) is his first book.

Follow Bill Peschel on Twitter at @Bill_Peschel.

Reinvention July 5, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Books Are Great Gifts, chick lit, commercial fiction, fiction, women's fiction.
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July 5-9, 2010

Claire Cook (photo: Diane Dillon)

We begin as children—-sons, daughters—-and through the years we assume additional titles by natural growth—-wife, husband, teacher, doctor, etc. Other titles are thrust upon us without consent, but stick just as well: single mother, ex-thisorthat, widow, survivor. What do we do when these titles define us in ways we don’t wish to exist? We reinvent ourselves.

Claire Cook‘s latest romcom novel, Seven Year Switch, plays with the theme of reinventing oneself. The notion that every seven years you become a new person drives the theme of Seven Year Switch, but don’t expect a deep, introspective search on the part of Cook’s protagonist. Jill Murray is an entrepreneurial mother singling it with sass when she’s faced with the options of two men—-her long-lost husband come home from the Peace Corps, or a wild young inventor who aids in Jill’s reinvention of herself.

Cook is the author of seven novels, Seven Year Switch, The Wildwater Walking Club, Summer Blowout, Life’s a Beach, Multiple Choice, Ready to Fall, and Must Love Dogs. She wrote her first novel in her minivan outside her daughter’s swim practice at five in the morning. It was published when she was 45, and at 50, she walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the adaptation of Must Love Dogs which became a Warner Bros. movie starring Diane Lane and John Cusack.

Follow Claire Cook on Twitter: @ClaireCookBooks

Books Are Great Gifts Wrap-Up December 21, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Books Are Great Gifts.
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We had a night of surprises during our inaugural BOOKS ARE GREAT GIFTS auction of signed books last Friday. Thanks to our kind-hearted authors who donated books and the enthusiastic bidders who bought them, we raised $1300 in book sales, plus two individuals gave additional donations that brought the evening’s total to $1360 for our literacy charity The Reading Tree.

Having worked with authors for several years, and knowing their unstinting generosity, the auction’s success probably shouldn’t have been such a surprise. What truly overwhelmed us was how so many of the authors who donated books were right there bidding and buying the books of their fellow authors.

Twitter had been hacked earlier in the day by a cyber terrorist group that shall not be named, creating havoc and dropped tweets late into the night. With the help of many auction supporters who RT’d dropped tweets, we managed to see all of the bids and bring them into action.

The bidding got hot as the night wore on, so much so that the next surprise was learning that each Twitter account is allowed only a certain amount of status updates per hour. LitChat’s account went bankrupt. #BAGG auctioneer and LitChat founder hopped over to her personal account (@CarolyBurnsBass) and continued the action.

Enthusiasm from authors and bidders grew as the night wore on. Several other authors noted the activity and saw the charity benefit and asked if they could throw in one of their books. How could we refuse?

With an already diverse list of superb books on the block we added five spontaneous auctions, including the night’s stellar seller (The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup) from Susan Orlean (@SusanOrlean) whose hilarious crowing for her book (plus a signed photo of her famous rooster, Laura) drew in a sale of $290 (with two additional cash donors on the side).

Julie Klam (@JulieKlam) tossed in a hot title and ignited a bidding war with a spontaneous donation of her memoir Please Excuse My Daughter, which closed at $125. Other extra book donations came from Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, whose debut novel, Thirsty, launched in October; Elyssa East, author of Dogtown, a true crime narrative released earlier this month, and Maggie Dana (@MaggieDana) a #litchat regular whose debut novel Beachcombing released in the UK has just been long listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year award. The complete auction catalog (sans spontaneous extras) can be downloaded here.

Many bidders and donating authors stuck with us through the whole auction, while others popped in and out. What was originally planned as a four-hour auction from 6 to 10 p.m. EST stretched into seven hours, closing at 1 a.m. EST with the sale of Orlean’s The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup.

Each of the winners of our two $25 giftcards from BookSwim that we gave away randomly during the auction chose to donate the gift cards to The Reading Tree, another delightful and large-hearted surprise.

If you were unable to catch the auction action, you can review the complete seven hours of bidding banter in the 2009 #BAGG Auction Tweetscript.

Final thanks to everyone who donated books, to those who bid, to the lucky auction winners, and to the individual donors–you all deserve a standing ovation. We are a dynamic community and together with literacy charities such as The Reading Tree, we can make a difference in the lives of children around the globe.

A Time to Give November 29, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Books Are Great Gifts, literacy.
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Topic of the Week: 11/30-12/4, 2009

Tying into our BOOKS ARE GREAT GIFTS campaign, we’re adopting a charity to support for the holidays. Reading Tree is a non-profit organization that collects books–new and used–for schools all over the world.

Phase one of LitChat’s multi-faceted BOOKS ARE GREAT GIFTS (#BAGG) campaign began with the creation of a “twibbon” (http://twibbon.com/join/Books-Are-Great-Gifts) created especially for Twitter users to adorn their avatar as a show of support for book sales. Adding to this phase, LitChat has issued a challenge to give $1 to its adopted literacy charity (The Reading Tree) for every Twitter user who wraps the #BAGG ribbon on their avatar (up to $250).

Phase two includes a section of the LitChat website devoted to book recommendations with links to book publishers, bookstores, book blogs, and reader reviews.

Phase three brings everything together with an auction of books donated and signed by authors. The auction will take place through Twitter on December 18, 2009, beginning at 8 p.m. EST. All proceeds from the Twitter auction will go directly to LitChat’s adopted charity, The Reading Tree.

Read more about how you can promote literacy while also promoting books, authors and publishing here.

On Friday, December 4, John Barger, executive director of Reading Tree will be our guest host. He’ll tell us about ways we can help promote literacy in our own communities, as explain the methods Reading Tree uses with recycling programs to get books into the poorest schools in America, Canada and several third-world countries. It’s exciting work.

Follow John on Twitter: @ReadingTree.