“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

~Rudyard Kipling



  • “A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of culture in the environmental sense and to permit them to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment.”

    ~Beverly Sills (1929-2007), American operatic soprano

Business of Writing

  • “Books have no other responsibility than not to make the reader hate reading.”

~Mary Pearson, author of The Adoration of Jenna Fox
(“What YA Lit Is and Isn’t” on Tor.com 9/10/09)

  • “I wonder if it would shock some people if I revealed how often I consider quitting writing. (Daily? Honey, would you agree that it’s a daily consideration?) It’s HARD. It comes with a lot of bumps and bruises and moments of crisis, and sometimes I just want to be the mom who reads and watches TV and makes Halloween costumes. I can’t, of course. I can’t quit, any more than I can quit being me.”

~Shannon Hale in her blog post “The Secret (that there is none)”

  • “What keeps us going is the necessity to make some larger sense of the lives we are leading and in that ongoing and inescapable and never-to-be completed project, our fiction writers are indispensable and carry the heaviest burden.”

~Gerald Howard, quoted in Judith Freeman’s Los Angeles Times article
“Books provide solace and companionship” (12/20/09)


  • “Free access to information is a core American value that should be protected. Not every book is right for each reader, but an individual’s interpretation of a book should not take away my right to select reading materials for my family or myself.”

~Judith F. Krug, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom
(2008 Banned Books Week Release)

  • “The thing that I wish parents would remember is that there are lots of readers out there who aren’t their kids and who need books that reflect their reality, their moral quandaries, the way they speak, and the issues and situations which they are not only exposed to but already experiencing. Not every book is going to be right for every kid, but for every kid there should be that right book.”

    ~Holly Black, qtd in “Morals and values and lessons, oh my!”


  • “I wanted him to get away with the heist, with all that money, to disappear and find his happily ever after. I wanted people to forgive him his transgressions and to heal his hurts. His character was so compelling, drawn in such an effective way, I couldn’t help but want him to win. For me, this was a stunning visual example not just on how to create a villain, but how to draw and layer all characters and their complexities.”

~Purple Hearts blog entry “Villains and Anti-heroes”

  • “The truth is that my book doesn’t say how old Meg is, but I am twelve, so she feels twelve to me. When I first got the book I was eleven, and she felt eleven.”

~Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me


  • “Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.”

    ~Michael Michalko, “Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking”


  • “I would argue that ‘the same people like them’ is the ideal definition of genre.”

~John Green in his post
“The Whole National Book Awards and the Death of Genre and Stuff”

  • “I understand that everyone has different tastes, but there is no pride in ignorance of literary fiction. Genre writers can learn from literary fiction, just as literary writers can learn from genre fiction. There’s a middle ground.”

~Nathan Bradford in his post,
“The Reverse Snobbery of Low Literary Aspirations” (10/29/09)

  • “Poetry turns all things to loveliness; it exalts the beauty of that which is most beautiful, and it adds beauty to that which is most deformed; it marries exultation and horror, grief and pleasure, eternity and change; it subdues to union under its light yoke all irreconcilable things.”

~Percy Shelley

  • “I love how much a short story can hold—a world as big as that in any novel, but seen through a peephole. Like a knothole in a wooden fence, it focuses your attention.”

~Megan Whalen Turner, interview on Hip Writer Mama


  • “Pity the poor in spirit who know neither the enchantment nor the beauty of language.”

    ~Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog


  • “It makes a difference when people check our books out from a library. Libraries keep track of circulation numbers. If our books circulate well, then when a new book comes out, that library system is more likely to buy copies. Authors love libraries!”

~Shannon Hale in her post “T.S. Eliot paid taxes too”


  • “Are the details of our lives who we are, or is it owning those details that makes the difference?”

~Mary Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox


  • “In short [a novel is] only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.”

~Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey


  • “The notion that there is only one correct way of punctuating a given word pattern is true only in limited degree. Skillful writers have learned that they must make alert and successful choices between periods and semicolons, semicolons and commas, and commas and dashes, dashes and parentheses, according to meaning and intended emphasis.”

~George Summey, American Punctuation


  • “Reading woke me up. It took me from a world of harsh limits into expanded possibility.”

~Mark Edmundson, Why Read?

  • “Oh, sweet relief when it works! The book is just the thing you needed! You read and read it; you think about what will happen next when you’re away from it. You recall your favorite scenes during boring meetings, think about especially well-turned phrases in chapter fifteen as you drive. You finish the book, and you can practically hear the Rocky theme song playing as you snap the book shut after the final page. You did it! You finished a book! You are back on your game! Things will be different now! You will pick up other books and read them in full. You will be committed and serious. You will not cheat.”

~The Evening Reader’s post “Reader’s Journal: The Promiscuous Reader” (3/22/08)


  • “Will they reach the nursery in time? If so, how delightful for them, and we shall all breathe a sigh of relief, but there will be no story. On the other hand, if they are not in time, I solemnly promise that it will all come right in the end.”

~J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (the novel)

  • “The original story for Ratatouille was written by Jan Pinkava. When Lasseter saw the story headed downhill, he brought on Brad Bird, who just hit a home run with Incredibles. . . . The story’s king, and Jan wasn’t tugging the heart strings with his story.”

~The Animation Empire, “Did Jan Pinkava get kicked off of Ratatouille?”

  • “In addition to the knowledge of history, we need the understanding of art. Stories identify, unify, give meaning to. Just as music is noise that makes sense, a painting is colour that makes sense, so a story is life that makes sense.”

~Yann Martel’s Beatrice and Virgil


  • “Write what you think you can’t.”

~M. T. Anderson

Young Adult Literature

  • “Students in my YA literature course, all of them third or fourth year English majors, nearly all of whom were in AP and honors English courses in high school, find just as much to enjoy, just as much to discuss, just as much to think about in our well-chosen YA novels as they do in the books they read for their other university literature courses.”

~Chris Crowe, professor of English at Brigham Young University
(“Young Adult Literature: AP and YA?” English Journal, Sept. 2001)

  • “Millions of adults are cheating on the literary novel with the young-adult novel, where the unblushing embrace of storytelling is allowed, even encouraged. . . . Old hierarchies of taste are collapsing. Genres are hybridizing. The balance of power is swinging from the writer back to the reader, and compromises with the public taste are being struck all over the place. Lyricism is on the wane, and suspense and humor and pacing are shedding their stigmas and taking their place as the core literary technologies of the 21st century.”

~Lev Grossman’s WSJ article “Good Books Don’t Have to Be Hard” (8/29/09)


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