A little bit of election exhaustion

If you think you’ve heard it all, that’s because… you have! It’s synchronized debating! All the same words, most of the time. On one hand, it’s good that people are consistent. On the other hand, probably everyone in the whole world could hush just now, and we’d all still hear the echoes in our brains, word perfect…

(Indexed by Jessica Hagy, ©2008)

Gratitude for all of you sitting on the metaphorical couch with your fellow bloggers this week, saying, “It’ll all be more bearable in a few days.” Through election fatigue, writing blahs, and general Wednesday work doldrums, we’re all here for each other (even though we’re not… there), passing the popcorn, arguing over who gets the last piece of chocolate, and as always, talking up our favorite books.

This too shall pass.
Happy Wednesday.

Odd Lots

Happy Diwali! The skies were full of lights and color last night, and it was dangerous to walk down the street, as everyone and his brother had fireworks. Fun — but deafening — times, all.

Via Chasing Ray‘s awesome post today, I have discovered the COOLEST thing EVER: I already admire the heck out of the gorgeous and talented Holly Black. Now I find out that she has a secret library? I am deliriously envious!!!

Oh, my word! In the Cybils fever, a lot of us have forgotten about 28 Days Later, the Brown Bookshelf’s February celebration of African American literature. According to the site, “We’re specifically looking for new books and books that have “flown under the radar,” but you can nominate any book, as long as it’s a children’s or YA book written by an African-American author published by a traditional publisher for the trade market.” NOMINATIONS CLOSE NOVEMBER 1. The organizers of 28 Days are requesting more nominations for middle grade and YA books, so please think about books for older kids which you’ve enjoyed this year, and go over and nominate, so that these books can have a wider readership.

Also, I’m deliriously jealous? Because Alkelda went to see the Vlog Brothers. She brought back some Molly, though, so she’s totally forgiven. Man, I wish I could play the ukulele or the guitar. Or anything usefully stringed. But no. The kazoo. Anyway, I wish that MySpace falls into obscurity for utterly different reasons. Molly is, by the way, far too adorable.

Galleycat reported on Tuesday that there will be sixteen lay-offs at Random House’s Doubleday division, which was painful and scary to hear. Original Content gives us a great big heads up on bankruptcy clauses in writing contracts — and reminds you that you probably have one. This clause decides what happens to you if your publishing house goes bankrupts. Good to know, that.

And now for a PSA:

You can’t possibly forget to vote, but don’t be discouraged that your voice might not be heard. Vote for whomever or whatever you want, but DO IT. And remember to Blog the Vote November 3rd.

Do Electric Androids Dream of Sleep?

Did you know Carrie Jones has a new book coming out two months? We are still recovering from the AWESOME that is Girl, Interrupted, and now she’s at it again, this time with a scary one. Please note that she is also running for office.

I am starting the rumor that she is an android and does not sleep. Remember, you heard it here first.

Okay, it’s freezing, and my girlfriend in New Jersey just emailed me that it’s been snowing for three hours. IT IS STILL OCTOBER. I’m becoming slightly concerned about this winter thing. Just a little.

Diversity: One Little Red Snowsuit At A Time

Via the fabulous blog of Miss Rumphius:

Celebrate The 50th Anniversary Of THE SNOWY DAY
By Ezra Jack Keats
Help Create A Commemorative Postage Stamp

The U.S. Postage Stamp Citizen’s Advisory Committee, the group that decides what subjects are chosen for our country’s commemorative postage stamps, is considering celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the publishing of THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats. This book is not just an American classic beloved by generations of children and parents around the world; it is also the book that broke the color barrier in mainstream American children’s book publishing.

It takes three years for the subject of a postage stamp to be considered, accepted and developed. The fiftieth anniversary of THE SNOWY DAY is in 2012. Help us gather signatures to send to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee to let them know how welcome this stamp would be to families and educators across the country. Help us show the world that Ezra’s character Peter, playing in the snow, a character they recognize and treasure, is as valued here as it is abroad.

To support the creation of THE SNOWY DAY 50th Anniversary Commemorative Stamp visit the website of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and add your name to the Support the Stamp list. Tell your friends, your students, your teachers and your parents to add their names to our petition. Names will not be used for any other reason than for THE SNOWY DAY Stamp Petition, nor will they be shared or sold to any other entity. Help make 2012 a celebration of American children in all their diversity!

Oh, I am ALL over this. I love, love, LOVE this little book, even though I was way too old for it the first time I read it. I remember thinking it was so startling — so much color on a snowy day…! If you’re of a mind to be a part of making this a fabulous postal stamp, head on over to Ezra Jack Keats. org and their petition site.

Awesome Poem #2

Fat Is Not a Fairy Tale

Jane Yolen

I am thinking of a fairy tale,
Cinder Elephant,
Sleeping Tubby,

Snow Weight,
where the princess is not
anorexic, wasp-waisted,
flinging herself down the stairs.

I am thinking of a fairy tale,
Hansel and Great,
Bounty and the Beast,

where the beauty
has a pillowed breast,
and fingers plump as sausage.

I am thinking of a fairy tale
that is not yet written,
for a teller not yet born,
for a listener not yet conceived,
for a world not yet won,

where everything round is good:
the sun, wheels, cookies, and the princess.


from Such a Pretty Face May 2000
Meisha-Merlin Publishing, Inc

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

One of the better poems I’ve read in the last little while.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.

Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering

of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head.
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign

to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry

Poetry Friday: Telling the Truest Tale

A couple of years ago, I was really excited to meet Our Jane Yolen in person. Okay, yes, I didn’t actually meet her; I stood next to her in a hallway while we sipped tea and sat in the row behind her at a conference, but I was this close to saying hello. Anyway, I admire her greatly as a writer, but why I refer to her as Our Lady, Jane, is because of her poetry, which generally contrives to smack me right between the eyes with a small silver hammer called Truth.

I’ve posted this poem before, but especially now, in the thick of election furor and angst, in the days when acrimony and hope war side by side, it’s time to share it, gratefully, again (and since it was passed out at the conference on bookmarks, I am sharing it in full). Let it smack you with that hammer, set you thinking and being and doing. May you see the Other in all your tales in a truer way.

Once Upon
by Jane Yolen © 2007

Once Upon A Time
there was a Wolf,
but not a Wolf,
an Other
whose mother
and father were others,
who looked not like us,
Republican or Dem
in other words–
They were forest dwellers,
child sellers,
meat eaters,
wife beaters,
idol makers
oath breakers —
in other words, Wolf.
So Happy Ever After means
we kill the Wolf,
spill his blood,
knock him out,
bury him in mud,
make him dance
in red hot shoes.
For us to win
The Wolf must lose.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by its creator, the one and only Kelly@BigA, little a.

Running After Race

Each month our writing group has Craft Chats, where we read a few articles and discuss the craft of fiction. Aquafortis last night came up with a great discussion starter on dialogue, and we debated the merits of dialogue as an indicator of cultural, ethnic and racial identification.

I disagreed strongly with one article’s premise that dialectal English is a positive way to convey ethnicity. While I’m not a fan of the foodie descriptors — the mocha-caramel-chocolate-cinnamon skin/eye combination — I’m also not a fan of the “Fraulein, vee haf vays of makingt you talk!” school of dialogue, either. People may feel comfortable with exaggerating the characteristic accents of their own culture, but it seems like a cheap shortcut most of the time, and is a slippery slope to caricature and stereotyping.

Of course, if all of one’s characters are written to reflect the dominant culture, this perhaps need never be an issue… Or, maybe, as is being discussed at the Fire Escape authors maybe shouldn’t describe race at all.

Most writers describe race if a person is nonwhite. Rarely do writers spend time discussing or describing a character of the dominant culture unless it’s a romance/relationship/”chick lit” kind of thing, and it’s deemed important for the reader in order to engage their imagination and allow them to insert themselves into the story. (Of course, a writer always wants this, but somehow, in romance there’s just more description. Appealing to the physical, etc.) In young adult literature, class seems to be more closely described, and race is often left in the foodie stages. (Sure, sure, she’s got mocha skin and long licorice lashes, but does she have an iPod and 7 Jeans?) Race, for some, is dismissed as an outmoded thing, a social construct that doesn’t really have any meaning. After all, didn’t Stephen Colbert already say that he doesn’t see race? (Therefore no one does, right?)

When a character’s ethnicity isn’t explicitly defined, can’t a reader still identify with things about them, like their fashion sense, strength, or love of algebra? Is hoping that readers will identify with a character simply because they are described as being of a particular ethnicity, racist? Or are you offering your reader a representation with which to identify?

From the writer’s point of view, it’s been strange to write — to be honest, the character of Lainey was meant to be biracial, but I was discouraged from this. Another manuscript featured a Caucasian male, which was shocking to a few people, and eventually I was asked to rework that novel entirely. I may, someday. (Or not.) My recent WIP has a character with AFOs — ankle/foot orthosis — and crutches. A member of my writing group suggested that I add more description because it wasn’t apparent what the character looked like. At the time, the comment didn’t strike me as strangely as it did later on. Once again, I’m afraid that I am not, as a fellow MFA’er once told me, “representing” properly.

A commenter at Mitali’s blog sagely remarked that “show, don’t tell” is always the most important rule, but how, really, do we show race? Or can we? Saying that race doesn’t matter doesn’t equate with treating people equally, nor does it erase the desire of many readers to know who they’re dealing with.

But…why is that?
Why does it matter?
Are we trying to identify? Or differentiate?

McGraw & Mug Shots

Mug shots. Probably not the nicest way of saying it. But …okay. I said it anyway. Mug shots: those senior portraits.

I mock because I love, but I’m not doing it.

No, I have to …think about it. But Jay (and Robin!) of the Disco-ing Mermaids have once again thrown down the peer pressure, so the rest of us must assemble our high school geekesque selves and post our senior pictures. Betsy Bird has shown us the way, as has Sara — looking wholesome and sweet (why, yes, like granola, Sara!), and really, Jay and his bad boy guitar and Robin with her fluffy hair are adorable. I stole my friend Dan’s sweater for my senior picture, and it LOOKS like it. Plus, my chin is all weird. SO, no, I’m not posting mine, although I just looked at them this weekend. *shudders.*

Now, I …I… MotherReader, can you hear me? I’m going to have to get out the BACA stamp and put on my kickers. What IS IT with these autumn titles!? And Doret, his HEAD IS ON THE COVER.

“It’s something that as a father you kind of have to sacrifice what you want to do, because boys do what you want to do. If I want to go to the farm and shoot guns or ride four-wheelers in the mud when it’s 40 degrees … the girls aren’t really interested in doing that,” he said.

But McGraw said he’s found that his daughters like coming along while he does simple, everyday stuff, like running to the grocery store or stopping by the office.

Tim McGraw, talking about his daughters and his children’s book: My Little Girl.

Perhaps it would have been better if he’d put in My Stereotypically Simple Little Girl. Or, maybe, just.. you know, The Little Woman.

*mumbles, kicks dirt, says bad things under breath*

Tami Lewis Brown and Liz Gallagher are exploring horror at the Tollbooth. And Cynthia L. Smith is being interviewed on GottaWrite Girl. Check her out.