Links I Like

Walking Your Writing As You Would Your Dog by Lawrence Sutin over at Hunger Mountain, on the similarities between writing and dog ownership, including Nondiscretionary Commitment; Depth of Affection; Faithful Obedience; Recognition of the Ineluctable Other; and Death.

An explanation of the term duende, which I had never heard before. (It’s related to muse.)

All Those Who Default From the Default Will Be Punished (But I Personally Think They Will Be Awesome) by Sarah Rees Brennan over on GayYA.org as well as her Queen of Atlantis short story on Subterranean Press.

And some thoughts by Kate Elliott on revising, since I’m in manuscript emergency triple bypass surgery with revisions.

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Diversity in YA, Take 2

I can’t read fiction right now. (I hate when this happens, but it usually means my brain is working on my own creative projects, which is a good thing.) I can barely read non-fiction, which makes my hour-long commute bo-ring.

So instead I’ve been pondering.

And one of the things I’ve been pondering is why I liked the Diversity in YA panel so much.

First, it’s a subject near and dear to my heart: diversity among the authors of fiction (especially YA and scifi/fantasy, the genre I read the most) and diversity among the characters in fiction. And the diverse panelists were there to talk about this very subject to a sympathetic audience. I say sympathetic because this topic can become very fraught with accusations of white-washing or intolerance and racism. Because of the nature of the panel and the questions asked by audience members, the audience was filled with fans, people of color and allies; sympathetic.

Many of the panels of authors I’ve been to have had one or two people of color, or none at all. Ditto on the gay or queer, or gay or queer friendly authors. So to have a whole panel that was diverse was a joy, a validation, and an exciting mirror and window, as someone said. As best I remember, three of the panelists identified themselves as Asian Americans (one South Asian and two South-East Asian), three as black and one as Latino. Among them, three said they identified as biracial as well, one as a lesbian and one as queer.

Second, they were all awesome authors. Ok, I admit, I have only read the books of two of the seven, but they sure came across as awesome.

Third, the moderator, Cheryl Klein, from Arthur A. Levine Books, who is white (I assume, although you know what happens when you assume. However, since she didn’t say, I have to), was everything you want a moderator to be:  prepared, a good speaker, a good timekeeper, had excellent questions and of course knew her stuff.

Fourth, I think everyone is curious about race, ethnicity and sexual diversity. Oftentimes that curiosity gets constricted by notions of what it is acceptable to speak about, discomfort with the topic, racism, lack of ways to express it, etc. So to have a panel on the topic — and one where, at least to me, it didn’t seem like the authors were being asked to or expected to represent for their entire group —  was fun. More, it satisfied a deep seated need to think about and explore these topics with like-minded people in a very specific context: the YA reading and writing context.

Quotes I Like

The task of resisting our own oppression does not relieve us of the responsibility of acknowledging our complicity in the oppression of others.

Beverly Daniel Tatum, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

Diversity in YA Tour

One of the best things about living in NYC is I get to go to awesome events, like the NYC stop on the Diversity in YA tour. Not only that, but there’s a picture proving I was there!

The panel, hosted by Books of Wonder, made me want to read all their books:

Matt de la Peña, Malinda Lo, Kekla Magoon, Neesha Meminger, Cindy Pon, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, and Jacqueline Woodson, and moderated by Cheryl Klein

I didn’t take very good notes, so I can’t quote many people verbatim, but the questions were awesome and the answers were thoughtful, inspiring and often funny. Especially the lightening round when Cheryl Klein asked questions of such earth-shattering importance such as “Doughnuts or ice cream?”

Jacqueline Woodson (author of at least 30 books!) said, about mentors: “the books that I read were my mentors. Write all the time, don’t be afraid of what you are writing. Surround yourself with people who get it.”

Kekla Magoon, on editors: “Good editors help you to be better at what you want to do, not what they want you to do.”

Neesha Meminger, possibly quoting someone else (see, bad note taking): “Create art that matters.”

I’d have to say that Matt de la Peña, as the token male, was the class clown. (I mean that in a good way). Actually, everyone was pretty funny. He passed on answering “Edward or Jacob?”

Cheryl Klein’s favorite YA book, or the one she would recommend (see, ditto): Very Far Away From Anywhere Else by Ursula Le Guin (No way! A Le Guin book I haven’t read?!)

Cindy Pon’s favorite book growing up was A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (huh, wikipedia just told me that it was published in 1905 and had started as a serialized novel in the 1880s). I loved to sob over that book when I was a kid.

Everything Malinda Lo said was awesome, but I just finished Ash and I’m in luv (with the book y’all, Malinda is taken and so am I). I was too nervous to introduce myself beforehand, (duh) but I did go up to Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, who will be teaching the Friday humor intensive I signed up for at the NJ SCBWI Conference in June. She was excited to meet one of her future attendees.

Matt de la Peña: I Will Save You

Malinda Lo: Huntress

Kekla Magoon: Camo Girl

Neesha Meminger: Jazz in Love

Cindy Pon: Fury of the Phoenix

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: 8th Grade Superzero

Jacqueline Woodson: you know, I’m not sure what book she had up with her, but one of her others is After Tupac and D Foster

Quotes I Like

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.

-Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)

Just found out this was his posthumous message to friends, printed in the New York Times and New York Herald Tribune.

Turning the Blog Back On

This blog has been dark for almost a year now as I coped with a massive case of writer’s block. The one thing that helped me the most was Julia Cameron’s The Sound of Paper, which has short meditations on creativity and droughts of creativity. Plus of course, just putting my butt in the chair and trying.

Sound of Paper

While looking for a cover image I came across this review of it from 2004. Now I have to run home and see if there is still a hidden message under the dust jacket!

And a blog post from 2009 on the Heart and Craft of Writing. Coincidentally, her most recent post, Stuck!, is on writer’s block.