Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Three Interesting Things

I'm doing three interesting things early this week since I want to participate in the big #weneeddiversebooks launch tomorrow.  So, here we go.
1. The idea of pregnancy costing your job seems like something we are over, but, as this article noted, not so much. 
2. I was pleased to hear that wiretapping charges had been dropped against the student who recorded his classmates bullying him in class.  I hope that all the media attention has given him some respite, since school officials seemed more focused on his recording the bullying rather than addressing the bullying. 
3. While I live in an area with a robust public transit system, it's still amazing the difference it makes.  So I found this story about a town that added a free shuttle interesting. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The OTP Problem

I happened on to "Drop Dead Diva" flipping through channels on a marathon one day and got sucked in quickly. Most of what I know about the law I've learned form listening to lawyers complain about TV depictions, but it seemed to me that while DDD has some crazy cases, they are working on playing with some of the finer distinctions of how law both helps and hurts us.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself. 
So, DDD is the story of a model Deb who had a great life, great boyfriend, great best friend, great car.  She gets in a car accident and dies.  Due to what the opening credits refer to as a mix-up, she gets sent back, but not as herself, as a plus sized lawyer Jane.  Her guardian angel and old/new best friend know the truth, but she is not supposed to explain to others which is a challenge since one of the other members of the law firm is her model-self's boyfriend Grayson. 
I think DDD has done great things with Deb's merging of herself with Jane.  She has Jane's body and Jane's law knowledge but Deb's sense of style and fun.  Stacey could be played off as the dumb best friend, since Stacey never got magically downloaded with the law school knowledge. But while Stacey often has different non-lawyer reactions to things, Jane never treats her contributions as unimportant. 
Where, I as a viewer worry is Jane has grown to accept so many changes in her life, and yet, the Grayson carrot is still there, dangling in front of her.  Now, I confess, I personally am not sold on the chemistry between Jane and Grayson. But even trying to approach it logically, what little we the viewers know about Grayson and Deb he mostly seems to have liked how hot she was.  Jane hasn't just been waiting around, she's adjusted to having new parents, dated some very nice men, and even was engaged to one.  But, of course, in TV fashion, that ended when her fiance caught her kissing Grayson while in her wedding dress.  (Cliche.) 
Grayson has been working along side Jane for all this time, but he really only seemed interested in her romantically when he discovered she had Deb's soul.  And here I think we have a problem.  I think the showrunners fundamentally believe that Jane and Grayson are soul mates.  And I don't - in theory - disagree with soul mates.  But, very little has occurred to convince me that Grayson is a worthy romantic interest for Jane.  I wish, that the direction they were going was to teach Jane that while Grayson may have been a great boyfriend for Deb, he is not the best person for Jane to spend the rest of her life with.  In dancing around the will they won't they between Jane and Grayson, Jane and Grayson have had some great love interests. And I liked almost everyone Jane has dated better than Grayson. 
I'm not a Grayson hater.  Grayson seems like a fine guy.  Grayson appreciates Jane's smarts and her sense of humor.  But he was never attracted to her until he thought she was Deb.  Not really.  So, really, this isn't a OTP problem.  This is the Superman/Clark Kent problem.  Back in the day, on "Lois and Clark", Clark proposed to Lois and she turned him down because she still had a thing for Superman.  Someone pointed out, if he told her, she'd have accepted.  And Clark's answer was that Superman was a job, Clark was who he really was and he needed her to love Clark. 
Technically, Jane's body is just her wrapper, and I don't want to suggest that's the only thing that held Grayson back.  But he didn't fall in love with her as Jane.  And now that he knows about her Deb insides, any choices he made seem less about learning to appreciate Jane, and more about him being stuck on Deb. And Jane and Deb deserve better than that.  Heck, Grayson deserves better than that.
There's still a few episodes left (and I am a bit behind anyway).  Perhaps the showrunners will shock me.  I hope so. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

World Book Night: The Enchanted Edition

I've spoken of my chapter mate Alethea Kontis before.  I loved her fairy tale mash-up Enchanted (and the sequel Hero) so was thrilled to hear it was one of the books being featured in World Book Night.  So, I volunteered too be a giver.  You have to make two choices, so I picked Code Name Verity or Enchanted figuring win win.  (Actually, that list had a lot of great choices.) 
Alethea kindly posted her words from one of the kickoff events here about the power of words. 
So, I headed off with my bag of books.  (They came in a box, but that was heavy.  I figured the DC library bag worked.)  I stuck to my general neighborhood and focused on people at or near bus stops.  My theory was that if you were almost (or not even close) home, you really didn't want people stopping you on the sidewalk to bug you about books.  Even I, avid reader, would be suspicious.  But people at bus stops, on benches, taking smoke breaks, hanging on a street corner - these people were planning to be stationary for at least the next minute or so.  I did not bug people on the phone.  I tried not to bug people who were conversing in a language that was not English, although I did realize belatedly that one person I asked was reading a "How to Learn English" pamphlet.  (Yes, I know many people are multilingual.  I just didn't want to make people tell me that they were not. Although my success in that was low.)
And the first batches of people I asked were...not interested.  They did not speak English, or read English, one guy had nothing to carry it in (you know..except his hands), and several people gave me that glassy eyed please-go-away look.  My successes seemed to happen in streaks.  Sometimes because once one person said yes, the other people nearby seemed more likely to do so.  (I remain convinced that one young woman really wanted it, but after her two friends said no, she wasn't ready to break the streak.)  Although one young man did say yes, even after his two friends said no, so who knows. 
Many people wanted to make sure it was free.  Asked if World book night was tonight.  (This amused me because the book was a special World Book Night edition that had World Book Night plus the day's date in the title.  Although, I hardly ever know what date it is.) One person asked if it was inspirational, I assumed she meant in the faith based way and said no, it's a fairy tale. 
And a number of people were ridiculously pleased.  Partly, I'm sure because random stranger approaching you on the street rarely results in such a happy result, but also just happy to have something to read. A friend who met me for dinner after said she spotted someone reading it at the bus stop, so hopefully those twenty people enjoy the story ahead. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Awesome Con is Awesome

I went to Awesome Con Sunday and enjoyed it muchly despite having managed to ding up my foot so I was walking in slow mo.  (And major props to my fellow con companions who were very patient with my speed.)
I stopped in at social media for authors and others heard some good stuff about Facebook, and Twitter, and then sadly had to sneak out so I could get in line to stalk, um, see Sean Astin.  (Achievement unlocked.  High five ten year-old me!)  He talked about running and his podcast and then, in response to a question that was apparently part of a bet, jumped on the table and narrated the bit from "Rudy".  (Good stuff.) 
Then it was time for Cary Elwes.  He spoke of movies and "Psych" and even that one episode of "Leverage".  He has a book coming out this fall about filming "The Princess Bride" and the other such things. 
We took a panel break to wander very specifically over to the DCPL booth because their twitter feed had been amazing throughout the con.  (Seriously local peeps, if you don't have a library card, get one. And MoCo, And Arl, and....)  Then finished out the day with the YA panel.  It was a great panel and not just because I knew some of the panel members.  (And well, we'll just hope people stop asking YA authors about new adult since new adult is still being defined and asking people who don't write or really read it to define it  There were discussions of boundaries and boundary pushing, marketing (particularly as far as how having a multi-genre story sometimes means you have a cover that make your book look very this and not that) and writing in other age categories (ie adult). 
So, looking forward to doing this again May 2015. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. I found this early study about believing the things you are consuming are heathy and how that changes your body's consumption of it fascinating.  I shall continue to assert that chocolate is a vegetable. 
2. I love this corpus libris tumblr where people take photos with the covers of books.
3. I utterly failed to properly document the NoVa Teen BookFest, so I will cheat and send you to my fellow book club member's recounting here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

In Defense of Commencement Speeches, Some of Them

I happen to love commencement speeches.  Okay, I happen to really love some - like this one from Jon Stewart.  But yes, I barely remember the one from my high school (it was a replacement speaker and yeah, not that exciting).  I do not recall the speech at either of my sibling's high school graduations.  I remember being at a friend's where the speaker - a politician no less - gave a speech that I swear seemed about to end no less than three times.  But I also remember some lovely ones from other public figures. 
My college one I have no recollection.  My brother's I remember not being terribly boring (but I was knitting in the large gymnasium, which might have helped). My sister's I do remember because the speaker handed out puzzle pieces and suggested we all re-gather in ten years and put the puzzle together.  (I do not think that gathering happened, but for all I know there's a partially assembled puzzle awaiting my piece somewhere in Chicago.)
So, in general I agree with the advice here, that people will more likely remember if you went on too long. But I think there are some that have demonstrated some humor, some humility, and some useful information.  One, I can never find with my google-fu talked about how often in life the pattern and plan is visible only looking back, which I find reassuring even to this day. 
So, there can be snippets of wisdom, amusement, or even just - hmm.  But brief is probably a great idea too. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. While I have been known to lug my laptop or alphasmart to a cafe and hang out for a few hours amongst the bustle of others with good drinks and snacks, I have also tried to find a seat amongst a tiny local shop and been blocked out by laptop huddlers, so I found this cafe's decision to go no laptop interesting.  I assume knitting is still cool, though. 
2. This clearly lacks causation, but this survey found that companies with women board members did better financially. 
3. This is mostly SFW, there is a drawing at the end that is not, however, the amusement engendered by reading about an intrepid couple testing out and rating the food related sex tips from a women's magazine might draw attention, so you might want to wait until you are somewhere that explaining what you are reading will be less problematic. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

The 30th WRW Retreat

I spent this weekend at the 30th Annual Washington Romance Writers (WRW) retreat, and it was amazing.  Much of it is a happy blur of brain epiphanies, great speeches, wonderful conversations, and time with old and new friends.  But I will attempt to do it some justice. 
Liliana Hart gave a great kickoff speech which involved a spring break story about some high surf and a lost bikini top, ending with the idea that we are all stuck on our own rocks, worried that no one will come help us. 
I also got the chance to sit at dinner with the lovely Tara Janzen and tell her how much I loved the Steele Street series. I mentioned to her my love for NaNoWriMo since fast drafting suits my writing process and the discussion on our end of the table about how fast drafters vs. careful crafters is not necessarily linked to the panster vs. plotter part of you.  Pantsers can still be working without a net plot-wise as they carefully polish each sentence, and careful plotters, might hit the keyboard and not come up for air until the first draft is done. 
The agent/editor free for all was interesting to me mostly because I found people more willing to say, yeah things are changing, this will continue to be so.  One editor mentioned she predicts (and I agree) that someone is going to figure out something around curated content.  Discoverability on the net is such a challenge, this makes sense to me.  I think people are trying various things, it's mostly a question of what sticks. 
Kathy Gilles Seidel gave a workshop on how to think about the moments and themes for your story's central couple that had us all thinking hard.  Lunchtime had awards for the Marlene contest and volunteers.  Tara Janzen gave a workshop on keeping your pacing fast.  I also took a brain break and hung out with some fellow crafters.  We talked about the relationship between yarn crafts and writing. 
We did American Author, where editors and an agent gave their first impressions of the first 250 words of several pieces.  It was fascinating partly because when you hear so many together you start to see the traps we fall into in starts and the potential issues with that.  At dinner, Robin Perini talked about her journey to being published and to just never give up. 
There was Romance Jeopardy, which as always was terribly unfair, even though my team managed to do quite well.  Our team member even managed to be one of the people who recognized the clue about her own books.  The costumes (on others, I ended up opting for packing efficiency, yes, that its my story) were wonderful.  And then we might have closed down the bar and hung out to a wee hour in the lobby. 
This did impact my commitment to morning yoga (sorry, shall work on that) but I did get to a great workshop on writer's tools and then hopped over to listen to the rest of the Romance sociologists talk on their study of the romance community, in particular how the community and it's members approach the stigma and how that impacts some of ways the community works internally. 
And then the wonderful Cathy Maxwell spoke, introduced as is often the case at the retreat by the equally wonderful Tim who said he's introduced Cathy enough, this time we would take a moment to appreciate the wonderful members of WRW.  As part of that, he told the story of his first WRW where in a workshop he asked a question to an agent on the panel who said she would never represent a manuscript written by a man.  (Which is problematic and let's hope that agent has since learned more about some of the wonderful men writing romance.) Tim felt understandable dejected but as the workshop concluded every other person in the room came to tell him not to listen to that agent.  And that was how he knew he had found a writer tribe. 
And Cathy worried that she couldn't follow that, but as always she spoke beautifully about how these retreats and conferences remind us to stay open and that's how we write the books that people read in the hospital, or share with their sick or grieving relative. 
The reason I've turned into such a conference junkie is that these things fill me up - with ideas, with fun, with friends new and old, and schmoopy though it is with love. 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. I have quite enjoyed "Raising Hope", which is nearing it's final episode. This interview with Martha Plimpton was wonderful.
2. It's not a great time to be out of a job.  I've got some friend with big job changes on the horizon.  For some folks it means interning, even if one is not the traditionally accepted intern age.
3. I like dogs.  I'm currently a cat owner and not expecting that to change currently, but I can certainly see how a building with a dog that you could, um, borrow for a little playtime would be very attractive.