Weetzie Bat Has Company

Aaah! Francesca Lia Block, being praised for being “edgy” has an AWARD now…for lifetime achievement!!!!! The NY Times comments here. (Requires free registration!)

I want to know, dear people, your thoughts on this one. Block’s first book was in 1989 (– wasn’t her first book Weetzie Bat? How come I can’t get a Lifetime Achievement Award for my first book!?) and already she’s getting a LIFETIME achievement award from the ALA when the National Book Award people just NOW awarded Judy Blume for the very first time? Something’s certainly odd about that. I mean, I assume that Blume got recognition from the ALA sooner than her recent NBA award this past year, but it just seems like much ado about nothing to be awarding Block. She simply rewrites the same book over and over. Or is it just me?

That’s this hour’s writing gripe… back to work.

Barbara Seuling 2005 Manuscript Workshop

Hey, happy news for those who write for smaller kids – the phrase ‘young adult’ covers so much – prolific K-6 children’s author Barbara Seuling is giving a workshop in Vermont, and she is offering a scholarship to SCBWI members. Check out the details here.

Clever Maids, Those Grimm Girls…

College was such an eye-opener. We discovered that some of the men who paraded as the Vast Intellect of the Literary Canon were actually hiding behind the skirts (and, more importantly, the brains) of women. My mind goes first to Dorothy Wordsworth, who was never named as the more-than-a-Muse of her famous brother, William, but whom literary critics will tell you was responsible for, at the very least, the well-loved poem Daffodils. It must be intriguing study, digging out works previously believed to have been written by men and revealing them as the clever treatises of women. Suddenly, the words hold different meanings.

NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday reports on the revelation of another alleged literary theft, this one in the world of children’s literature. Valerie Paradiz’s new book on the Brother’s Grimm challenges the old understanding of how the brothers got their best work. Check out Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales. Lots of research, and plenty of new thoughts on what folk and fairytales, so deeply embedded into our collective psyche, really mean, coming as they may from a woman’s point of view. Was Snow White’s story a warning? Was Cinderella’s story really meant to be seen as a ‘happily ever after?’ And what was all that noise about Rumplestiltskin? Sounds like something worth exploring.

Happy Women’s History Month.

Mean girls… really REALLY mean girls

Man. It’s those girls again. SF Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius writes about ’em here.

So, the Queen Bees and Wanna-bes thing was just the beginning, spawning, as it did, yet another movie (which I haven’t seen, and since the book was non-fiction, I won’t skip off into another rant, I promise), and a whole spate of talk-show visits on the topic of mean …girls. And part of me is just bewildered. I’m like, What, did someone actually believe the whole sugar and spice schtick?! and the other part of me is a bit relieved… maybe if people keep talking about this suddenly exciting phenom of adolescent girls being snarky, some kid might be saved feeling like their whole life is going to end because Karin and Stephanie have made sure no one talks to them this week.

On the other hand, maybe not.

This is a valuable read to me, because it helps freshen the sting of junior high, and makes my emotional connection in writing for younger readers more realistic. I aspire to BE a mean girl, at least in print… because for the life of me, I never did figure out what made Karin tick…

Stupid Movies and Editorial Control

Has anyone else seen the trailer for Because of Winn-Dixie? May I just say that I HATE movies where they digitally shift animal’s faces? — their expressions always look so completely stupid and anthropomorphic… Anyway, somewhere, Kate DiCamillo ought to be wincing because the movie people totally RUINED her book. The trailer emphasizes all this slapstick and goofiness out of what was really a very quiet, very sweet little book with a sneaky humor that didn’t bash you over the head. That’s what made it a good read. Why is it that we authors let movie people absolutely wreck our books? Ditto for last fall’s Ella Enchanted and I just can’t wait to see the whole Traveling Pants thing — (although I just didn’t really like the book either, so maybe that will make a difference?) — who are they going to get to play the ethnic-chick-with-big-butt the book talked about so much???

Yeah, I know, I know, I sound like an over sensitive movie purist, but really — sometimes it gets to the point where the character has differently colored HAIR than she did in the book. You know, the last really good book-into-movie morph I saw was To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck. (And no, I didn’t like the whole Lord of the Rings thing, either. And did anyone see the Lemony Snickett flick? I haven’t yet… Should I bother? Is it ANYTHING like the books?!)

People, people, people! As I see it, we’ve got TWO jobs before us. One, write books, get published, get rich and famous, and two, retain some kind of artistic control over our famously published works.

Okay, rant over. You may now go back to your keyboards.