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3Q with Lydia Netzer (Yeah, with PRIZES)

Just leave a comment on the blog (or on Facebook, because, why not) before Sunday July 27th at midnight EST to be entered to win.

GRAND PRIZE: A Download Code for the Audiobook version of HOW TO TELL TOLEDO FROM THE NIGHT SKY by Lydia Netzer, read for you and ONLY you by me, because you are my Best Beloved. I put in crooning, tweets, narwhale splash noises and the voice of a man who is half water buffalo. Because I want you to be happy. You also get a free black hole and your OWN PLANET. *true* *see below*

Runners UP: Two folks get a signed first edition hardback, and also all the tools they need to suck their own personal planet into their own personal black hole.

AND YOU WANT THIS WILDLY IMAGINATIVE BOOK, a delightful and engaging Romantic Comedy running on parallel tracks with an equal and opposing Greek Tragedy from the author of the critically acclaimed, best selling, and award winning SHINE SHINE SHINE.

In what has to be the coolest review this side of VENUS, the Times-Dispatch said, “Netzer’s star … flares even more brightly in “How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky.” Watch her work for further illumination, and pity lesser writers who settle for the commonplace light of ordinary days.”

If I were Lydia I would tattoo that one on my left butt cheek. And then moon people. (*rimshot!* That was a little astronomical butt humor. TRY THE VEAL)

JJ: Why did you spend the last year knitting these small balls with magnets inside representing black holes and planets?

LN: I don’t like to be challenged by crafting. I like to craft stupidly, the same thing over and over. If I knit a pair of mittens and successfully complete it, it’s likely I’ll knit forty more pairs of mittens and inflict them on everyone I know, in the middle of summer, because the pattern is in my head.

Remember that skirt thing I fell into, like five years ago? I made ruffle skirts for everyone I knew, and then I went out into the street and began to stop people and insist that I make them a ruffle skirt. I have overflowing bushels of them in my basement.

In spring of 2013 I decided to knit my daughter a basket of Easter eggs. I’ll give you a helpful tutorial on how to make this: First you knit the basket and then you knit enough eggs to fill the basket. Then you knit many more eggs, way more than you need to fill several more baskets. You give a basket of eggs to everyone you know. You knit more eggs. It takes exactly one violin practice to knit an egg, and you can use scraps and bits of many different yarns, and this is so perfect and satisfying that you cannot stop.

Do I remember the ruffle skirts, she asks! Here I am modeling the one she mailed me during that phase, and that is one of the egg baskets. Hey, see the sketch behind me? That is the HUT, my mother's gazebo from my childhood backyard. It was destroyed in a hurricane, but that's where Scott and I first declared our love.

Do I remember the ruffle skirts, she asks! Here I am modeling the one she mailed me during that phase, holding one of the egg baskets. Hey, see the sketch behind me? That is THE HUT, my mother’s mini gazebo from my childhood backyard. It was destroyed in a hurricane, but that’s where Scott and I first declared our love. AWWWW.

Of course the thing about eggs is that if they had their heads squashed in, they could be planets, and if they were made of black sparkly yarn, they could be black holes. And if they had magnets inside them, they could be toys that you click together and pull apart, as if the black hole is attempting to compress the black hole into a singularity. I made them have eyes and they were cute.

This idea delighted me because my main character, Irene Sparks, is completely opposed to anthropomorphizing scientific phenomena. She doesn’t like when people say that black holes “sing” — that’s periodic oscillation. She doesn’t say that atoms “want” to share electrons or that asteroids “threaten” or that fire “dies.” So tiny little cute knitted balls with doll eyes called pet black holes would drive her ballistic. And honestly, she needs the personal growth. So I went ahead and knitted about seventy-five sets of these little buggers.

JJ: Where did you get the idea for the title, How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky?

LN: I was flying in an airplane at night, and I was gazing down on the lights of towns and roads, headlights, like you do. I don’t remember what city exactly I was flying over when I realized that the lights of the cities below me, connected by roads, were like the lights of the stars above me, connected in constellations.

It was sort of a weird moment, because I think a lot about Aristotle’s cosmology, the crystal spheres, and the scientifically outdated but still philosophically relevant idea that things in the heavens are perfect by definition and things on earth are messy and damaged. It’s one of the most important elements of the book, and it ended up inspiring a pivotal scene for my main character.

JJ: Is there anything you’ve always wished a reader would ask you? What is that question—and how would you answer it?

LN: I wish someone would ask me this: Lydia, you wrote a novel about how dreaming is a practice for death, in which a manifestation of death stalks a character around a mortuary, in which star-crossed lovers are plagued by the failings and feudings of their families, and in which both the main characters’ deaths are prophesied. How could you then write such a happy, happy ending?

And I would answer: I didn’t.

JJ: AMEN. Ya’ll leave a comment to win, and if you don’t know what to SAY, you can tell me your favorite constellation. Me: Orion because I can always find it, and also because I had a crush on it when I was nine or so. NOT EVEN KIDDING. I used to pretend Orion was my boyfriend. He really helped me get over my first crush, Mr. Spock. Still not kidding.
toledo audio cover

40 comments to 3Q with Lydia Netzer (Yeah, with PRIZES)

  • Well, I pre-ordered and then purchased “How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky” the audio version upon release because JJ is my favorite audio narrator and Shine Shine Shine really spoke to me. So I’m commenting because I HAVE TO HAVE A BLACK HOLE and it’s Companion Planet. HAVE TO.
    I’ve never liked constellations. I always thought people were trying too hard to make the stars form a picture, but I do LOVE to look at the night sky. I especially love it in the rural area around my hometown in Arkansas (which let’s face it, could totally be used to describe almost all of Arkansas). I love seeing the Milky Way and imagining the innumerable planets that surround all those stars. I love the feeling of the hugeness of space and the solid feeling of the Earth under my feet. It makes me feel a part of something so much bigger than myself and my little day to day world.

  • Corey

    I wish the words in my mind connected and intertwined themselves the way they do in your minds (JJ and LN). And I wish I had a beautiful ruffled skirt like that!

  • Brigitte

    Gee, mine is Orion too. Mostly because of a crazy 9th grade science teacher I had, who once randomly yelled “Look! Up in the sky! It’s . . . Betelgeuse!”
    (which is one of Orion’s hands or somesuch).

  • Jill

    Can’t wait for Lydia’s new book – loved Shine, Shine, Shine – gave it to several friends! Thanks for the contest! take care of yourself, Joshilyn – get healthy! You are coming to B’ham sometime to speak, aren’t you? Thought that I saw something at AL Booksmith about that? I hope so!

  • Emily

    I don’t know my favorite constellation, but I really liked the stars in It’s a Wonderful Life that talk to each other and claim to be God and Joseph. The Angel Clarence is my favorite, because he plays twinkle twinkle when he arrives. I like to think that stars have “walk up” music that they play every night when they make their presence known in our sky. Also – I like to wish on the stars, because I seriously think they will bring me the celebrity boyfriend I’ve been asking for the past 20 years, give or take.

  • Martha Jedlicka

    My first LN experience was Shine, Shine, Shine thanks to the recommendation on this site. I loved it and I am looking forward to this new book! Talented writers, the both of you!

  • Alison

    I’ve always liked the Dippers (big and little), but the little one is always so hard to find. Pesky bugger. I can always find Orion’s belt, but I can never “see” the rest of him. How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky is on my “to read” list, so…pick me, pick me!

  • Becky

    Same for me with constellations – Orion has always been my favorite, just because I can always spot it (though I don’t recall ever having a crush on him). I love the planet/black hole idea, and I’m excited about reading Lydia’s book. I hope I win!

  • I am ashamed to say that except for the Dippers, I have no knowledge of which constellation is which. But I do love the stars.

  • Karen

    Now I want a ruffled skirt. I’m like that with quilts, though. I find a pattern or theme and just keep making them over and over because I don’t have to read instructions — until some other vixenish pattern grabs my attention and then I’m off on that tangent in fabric for a while. I do finish all of them. Is that the opposite of ADD?
    Anyway, I adore listening to you on audio. You’ve been with me on many, many, many long runs, and I find myself drawling for a bit afterward. (I lived in Alabama for 4 years, so I’m sort of allowed.)
    Pick me, goddess of random number generators!

  • I read this book many months ago when a mutual friend of mine and Lydia’s mailed me her copy of the ARC after she finished it, and then I passed it on to my sister-in-law who loved SHINE SHINE SHINE with all of the passion in her little heart and is local to Lydia’s Virginia house. And of course, I plan to buy AT LEAST one copy of the real deal but only at such a time as I can get it signed, and I would so much love to listen to it on audio too!!

    Oh, um, favorite constellation…well, there are only 4 I can reliably identify, so I feel affection for all 4 of them: Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Orion, Cassiopeia.

  • Linda J

    After having an abolutely crappy rotten aweful doctors appt today I could really use a pick me up! I loved the combination of LN and JJ to create an absolutly wonderful experience for Shine Shine Shine. I can’t wait for their next journey!

  • Trish Frankland

    In my house, that’s referred to as compulsive crafting: you do one thing – exclusively – until you totally burn out on it and then move on to the next incredible, very great thing. It makes it easy to carbon-date things on the ol’ personal timeline, “Oh, that was the felted wool coffee mug wrap summer, so it must have been 2009.” or “I think I was tatting hats for chickens at the time, so that means 1985.”

  • Before ANYTHING ELSE I must say I love your skirt.

  • Okay. Have read and am back. I didn’t even KNOW the skirt was a prop until after I said I love. I really want about ten to wear this school year and would love for Lydia to share the patter with me. Alas, I love Orion and Cassiopeia as well, but the one I love to see is The
    Pleiades. . .something about the name. . .the shape. . .The Seven Sisters. I would really love a black hole and companion planet AND a ruffled skirt pattern.

  • I would also like to not make ghastly typos.

  • Kim

    The Pleides (spelling?) because I love the idea of Seven Sisters.

    And Ursa Major, because who doesn’t love a giant bear?

    I can’t WAIT to read this book! Pick me! Pick me!!! 🙂

  • Tanya Brown

    I’m sure the blog was wildly informative, but I couldn’t focus on anything except I have the EXACT SAME UPHOLSTERED ARM CHAIR as you do behind you in the picture! I feel sure this means something.

  • Jill W.

    I pure-D loved Shine Shine Shine. Cant wait to read this one.

  • edj

    I review books for a website and I requested this one and they sent me an e version that WOULD NOT download to my kindle, no matter how hard I tried (and my husband tried and my sister in law tried and my kids tried). Only the cover image would show up. I wrote and requested help and they ignored me!! The weird thing is, it downloaded to my kindle app on my phone and I’m having to read it on my phone, which is impossible. That screen is way too tiny. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE the first chapter or so, which is how far I got. So you should pity-pick me to win a hardback copy. I’d promise to still review it but by then the publisher won’t care, as if real readers care if a book just came out.
    Also? I want pet black holes! I can’t knit at all. I can read and hold the book in my hands, and that’s as crafty as these hands get.

  • Floribunda

    I can find Orion AND the big dipper… do I win?

  • Jessie

    I like the Big Dipper. We used to go out to the large park next to the house where I grew up to look for constellations and shooting stars, and that was always the first that I’d find.

  • I’m currently obsessed with the southern cross, because as a recent emigrant to Australia, it is new, and I somehow have the damnedest time finding it, every time. The sky just looks *wrong* and I am always disoriented.

    My first crush was Darth Vader.

    I am so excited about this book.

  • Nicole Amsler

    I waited for this book and can’t wait to dive in. And I love the knitted black holes. It is the one craft I can not master. They are cuter than felt food with big, anime eyes, which is saying a lot.

  • I too am a compulsive crafter. There was the felted purse era, the knit hat era, scrapbooking era, jewelry making era, etc. So glad I’m not the only one. Can’t wait to read the new book!

  • Kristen

    Black holes? Planets? Magnets? AUDIOBOOKS? *swoon*

    I love love LOVE this new book and am trying to get it in the hands of everyone I know!
    I was the lucky recipient of one of those fabulous frilled skirts! The little littles I sometimes teach enjoyed it with all of its animals.

    And – hmm, favorite constellation…as a kid it was Draco the Dragon, but I can’t seem to find it these days. Orion is wonderful because I *can* find it. I also really like Cassiopeia with her beautiful and findable W.

  • Tequila Cookie Chris

    The Southern Cross, because I remember a perfect night down under staring at it. The star filled sky outside your own normal hemisphere seems even more magical.

  • Meredyth

    My husband and I just took an anniversary (3rd!) trip to the McDonald Observatory in Ft. Davis, Texas this week so this post about astronomy seems so fitting. By the way, if you can go to Ft. Davis DO IT! History, mountains, Wild West, recreated forts, and so much more. I loved it there.

    My favorite constellation has always been Orion because I can find it, just like you. But after going to the observatory I’m expanding my horizons 🙂 I’m currently into Vega, which is actually just a star, but about 13,000 years ago used to be our Polaris, or North Star. The reason it is not anymore is because of Earth wobbling on its axis. It also makes up a triangle of other bright stars, and I just like saying it over and over. Vega, Vega, Vega.

    I also really like the teapot constellation. It has some other, more Greek name but it really, really looks like a teapot and the Milky Way is in the perfect position to look like steam pouring from its spout. So that’s a bunch of constellation talk for you.

    p.s. If you go to Fort Davis also go to Balmorhea for the San Solomon Springs (scuba diving & high diving into the same 1930s pool!) and Marfa.

  • Kris

    I would love to win this 🙂

    I love Orion too!

  • c

    i’ve never gotten over spock, sigh…
    casseopia, i just like the idea of a lady on a chaise floating around the night sky

  • Benedetta Mansell

    It was great to attend a workshop on Topsail with you two. You both have inspired me to put the words on paper! Blessings to you both!

  • YvonneJ

    Cassiopeia….not because I could find it in the night sky if I ever tried. I just like saying it … ‘Cass.i.o.pe.ia’.

  • Kristin

    Last week we were in Maine for my brother’s wedding. We had a little free time the night before and my mom was obsessed with finding a certain lighthouse. Finally we got to the right place and it was full dark. (My mom kept saying “There will be a light on it so we can see it!”) We found it, could barely see the shape of the lighthouse by its dull red light, but the area was so dark that we could see an amazing sky full of stars. It was wonderful to just look up and see more stars becoming visible as our eyes adjusted.

  • Orion is the only constellation I can spot in the night sky. It really shine shine shines for me.

  • Summer

    I want to read Lydia’s book even more because she’s a knitter :). But MOSTLY I want to hear you read it because I find I like your narrations very very much.

  • Lee

    Loved Shine, Shine, Shine & am a JJ fan too. In!

  • the_celt

    Orion is my favorite constellation, too, and it is one of the things that brought my husband and I from “we’re just friends” to “huh, maybe we’re more than just friends.” Long story, but Orion is one of those wonderful things that we still look for and still look at each other and grin when we see it at the same time. 🙂

    I have been waiting for this book ever since you oh-so-slyly mentioned you had read it and liked it. Lydia’s storytelling in Shine, Shine, Shine is different and beautiful and smart and amazing, and I just want to float in the words and phrases. (That sounds vaguely weird, but I promise these feelings only happen with wonderful books and stories. SELS was another that made me feel this way, and it doesn’t happen very often. The Elegance of the Hedgehog was another of those wanna-float-in-it books. Yum.)

    Apropos of nothing, I love Pluto. That is all.

  • Kim

    I adored How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky and would also love to hear you read it!

  • Peggy Fry

    I see you are looking like my twin again. Paleness, long face, strong chin, insane sense of humor. We could be sisters. I know! You can be Carol Burnett and I’ll be Vicki Lawrence…. If I send you pictures you can see what you’ll look like with the same face with lots more Middle Age on it… ha.

    I just finished someone else’s love story and really, really, REALLY loved it. you rock! Lydia is next on the list after this post.

  • Beth

    My favorite constellation to identify is the Big Dipper. Because easy.
    My favorite literary constellation is the Seven Sisters. because if you ever read the original Mary Poppins books, one of the Seven Sisters goes shopping for her family with Mary Poppins and Jane and Michael. Irene Sparks would HATE it.

    But oh, as much as I would like to hear Joshilyn’s narwhale splash noises, I am far too deaf for audio books.