Acclaimed YA Author Robin Wasserman Brings New Teenage Perspective to Southern New Hampshire University Faculty


(PRWEB) December 18, 2012

Novelist Robin Wassermanwho has just been named to the faculty of Southern New Hampshire Universitys MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction programwas one of those children very clear about her goals in life. Hers were getting a dog, having better hair, and being a writer who lived in New York and ate pasta for dinner every night.

????I never got the golden retriever, she admitted, but the rest of it came true even the part about pasta, at least most nights.

????Whats a little surprising, perhaps, is that as still a very young woman she has established herself as one of Americas leading young adult authors. Thats thanks in no small part to talent and grit, but also to a real affinity for the tastes and concerns of teenagersnot to mention a good sense of timing.

????Its not what she expected while growing up in suburban Philadelphia in the 1980s and 90s. Young adult writer wasnt really out there as a job description then, she said. There were childrens books, and there was the grown-up stuff, and that was it, except for science fiction, which I read a lot of, and maybe one shelf of cheesy paperbacks for teenagers. And as much as I loved those, its not the kind of writer I imagined Id grow up to be.

????It might have been the science fiction that made her a history of science major at Harvard. Then she worked several years as a childrens book editor at Scholastic Publishing. Im a firm believer that as adults everyone ends up frozen at a certain mental age, and my own is around 15, she said. So at Scholastic I found myself wishing that we could put out some books for teenagers, and I kept pestering them to do that. Unfortunately, this was a time when common wisdom suggested teenagers would never buy teen-branded books.

????Finally she quit Scholastic to earn a Master of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angelesjust as that wisdom was upended and the YA market began to explode. Suddenly bookstores were staking out multiple shelves for books about teenagers, and Wasserman, with the help of Scholastic and several other publishers, set about filling them.

????She is the author of 15 books for children and young adults. These include the Cold Awakening Trilogy (Simon & Schuster/Pulse), the Chasing Yesterday Trilogy (Scholastic), Hacking Harvard (Simon & Schuster/Pulse), and the Seven Deadly Sins series (Simon & Schuster/Pulse), which has since been adapted into a popular television miniseries.

????Her latest novel, The Book of Blood and Shadow (Random House/Knopf), received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, was an Indie Next pick and Amazon Best Book of the Month, and is featured on several best of 2012 lists. Here’s something refreshing, said Kirkus Reviews. A religious-historical thriller with a nifty Mobius strip of a plotthink Nancy Werlin channeling Dan Brownserving up shivery suspense, sans fangs or fur.

????Meanwhile Wassermans essays and short fiction have appeared in the anthologies Under the Moons of Mars, A Friday Night Lights Companion, and Oz Reimagined, as well as The New York Times.

????She lived in New York while she worked for Scholastic and is back there again, living that childhood dream. And this opportunity to teach at SNHU demonstrates that her timing is still sharp.

????Rather than just writing by instinct and not really thinking much about what Im doing, this will force me to stop and consider the various aspects of my craft, which I hope will make me a better writer in the long run, she said. At this point in my career, Im always searching for new ways to push my writing to the next level.

????????Shes also excited to join such a diverse community of writers. As part of that community, Ill be able to represent a very exciting part of the marketplace and introduce our students to the infinite possibilities of YA fiction, she said. Sometimes we erect such a divide between YA and adult fiction. What appeals to me most about this program is its determination to mix everything and everyone together. Im looking forward to throwing my flavor into the pot.

????Diane Les Becquets, director of the SNHU MFA program, has published several YA novels herself, and is delighted to have more of this special flavor available. Our program will continue its strong focus on adult literary fiction and nonfiction, especially memoir and environmental writing, she said. But given todays healthy trend in YA, we want to support that track as well. And in terms of both her warm personality and her roll call of fine books, Robin is just a perfect fit for us.????

????Since the SNHU program is low-residency, Wasserman will continue living in New York, keep pasta on the shopping list, and lend rich literary voice to her inner fifteen-year-old.

????That leaves the golden retriever.

????????Well, maybe someday.







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The California Real Estate Market in Perspective 2008-2012

Article by Brent Wilson

The California Real Estate Market in Perspective 2008-2012 – Real Estate

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The California Real Estate Market in Perspective: 2008-2012by Brent WilsonReochronicle.com/blog

In many places, the California real estate market could be described in one word: bad.

Prices haven’t collapsed everywhere, but even where they haven’t, sales numbers are way off.

Nothing goes straight up forever, and it looks like gravity has come into play in a big way. Prices in many areas are down to 2004 levels, and some foreclosures are back to 2002-3 levels, or below.

California was the poster child for wild lending and crazy mortgages. There are several reasons why prices haven’t collapsed completely, but one is that prices went up so high so fast that many people still have a lot of equity, and thus have options besides foreclosure when they have a problem. As prices continue to fall and their equity collapses, things could become very ugly, since many people will no longer be able to sell, having no equity.

I’m going to go out on a limb and talk about what seems likely to happen over the next few years or so, based on how things look now, and on how similar bubbles and busts have played out in the past.

Lender Weakness

It became obvious over the last year that many lenders couldn’t continue lending recklessly, since they could no longer sell weak mortgages, subprime or otherwise.

The simple fact of the crazy lending going away cut prices over 30% in many areas, in one year. This is even before IndyMac failed, before the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac “bailout”.

Many large banks, mortgage companies, and thrifts are badly overexposed in California, and are already choking on a huge inventory of foreclosed property. Lenders are backed into a corner since they must also continue to lend somewhat inflated amounts on properties in order to keep the market from collapsing completely.

If many lenders were to decide that prices were still too high in Californiaand that consequently they should be more conservative in lending, based on the estimated lower future value of their collateral (houses), there could be a real rout in prices very quickly.

Where the problem arises is that lenders MUST become more conservative in lending in California. Otherwise they would likely be dragged down that much more quickly. When they do become more conservative in lending, it reduces the value of their collateral (houses), since houses are worth what you can borrow against them, and more conservative lending generally equals lower prices. Catch 22.

Inland Areas Leading the Rout

Up to this point (July 2008) inland areas have led prices down, for the most part. Coastal population centers are off as well, but not to the same extent.

It seems likely that this is just a lag effect, since real estate is somewhat local, but also everywhere influenced by the availability of financing. Given another year or so, most coastal areas will likely begin to experience drops in value similar to those which have already happened in Sacramento and Riverside.

In most areas with prices fundamentally out of whack with incomes, prices seem likely to fall. One source of data on local median incomes is City Data, http://www.citydata.com.

Most areas with house prices above four to five times local median family income are very vulnerable to a steep drop in prices. In many coastal cities, prices are still over seven or more times median family income. Without enough income to qualify for more conservative loans, higher interest rate mortgages, and failing lenders, how are prices supposed to stay at such a high level? Even with collapsing prices, it’s still MUCH cheaper to rent in most parts of California. But in a few more years, it may be cheaper to buy than rent as prices continue to fall.

These figures from the City Data web site (although a bit dated, from 2005) indicate how far out of sync incomes and house prices were in Los Angeles and California at the time. How could a household in Los Angeles with the median income pay 12 times their income for a house? Answer: insane financing.

Estimated median household income in 2005: $ 42,667 (it was $ 36,687 in 2000)Los Angeles $ 42,667California: $ 53,629

Estimated median house/condo value in 2005: $ 513,800 (it was $ 221,600 in 2000)Los Angeles $ 513,800

In the old days (back when lenders held loans on their books for 30 years) it was common to pay two to three times your annual income for a house. The absurd house prices we’ve seen are a direct result of a decade or more of reckless lending, with ever-falling standards, until the end saw no-doc loans, with no qualifying. This was nothing more than a pyramid scheme, with the least-qualified buyers at the end paying the highest prices, using the most insane financing.

As lenders become weaker and more fail, it will be a miracle if prices in coastal cities hold up in California.

Back To Where We Started

In many busts which follow bubbles, it’s common for prices to end up below where they started before the bubble began. The key difference in the case of the housing bubble is that the speculation was done with mostly borrowed money, and the object of speculation was the roof over people’s heads. Lenders competed to offer ever more insane financing, just as buyers competed to pay ever more insane prices.

What this means is that, unlike during the dot com bubble, a fairly large part of the banking system will eventually be wiped out. After the bottom is reached, it could be a long time before property values rise significantly, simply because there will be relatively few strong lenders able to do more than very conservative lending.

Rising real estate prices are completely dependent on lenders strong enough to make loans to support the rising prices. Once lenders become sufficiently weakened and enough bank-owned properties accumulate, prices will have nowhere to go but down. When the recovery comes, it’s unlikely that prices will go up even 10% a year.

Most economists seem to have a built-in bias toward optimism, probably because bad news doesn’t sell. There are also few if any economists who have lived through a long nationwide real estate bust–the last real one was in the 1930s. So they lack experience, apart from observing the regional real estate bust in the early 1990s.

Widespread foreclosures tend to destroy a market, whereas scattered foreclosures are usually absorbed by the market more easily. Anytime foreclosure sales rise to a high level, above 30-40% of all home sales, it tends to drag the market down very quickly, since the sales prices of the foreclosures set the overall market price. Lenders can sell much more cheaply than homeowners, and often compete with each other, as well as cut prices drastically to move slow selling properties. In some markets with many foreclosures, the market prices are being set by different lenders competing with each other to capture buyers.

Lenders competing with each other to capture buyers is a whole different dynamic. The average homeowner who can’t sell will take their home off the market, but the lender MUST sell, so they will continue to drop the price until a buyer is found. One large lender with a big inventory will sometime

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