Thursday, May 29, 2014

Three Interesting Things

Getting back into the swing of things. 
1. I found this article about Native American lacrosse playing brothers, one of whom might become the first Native American player to win the Tewaaraton fascinating.
2. Arthur Chu posted about the misogyny and entitlement reflected and embedded in nerd culture. 
3. I have heard that you should hold your nose when driving past a graveyard to keep the ghosts from going up your nose, but perhaps there were not enough tunnels in my life for the proper tunnel traditions to be passed on to me.  However, if one is driving, one's priority should always be for staying conscious

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


You may have seen the hashtag that was going around twitter this weekend.  If you were not aware, it sprung up in response to the shootings at UCSB this weekend which, according to the shooter were because he was a virgin since girls kept picking the wrong guys to sleep with.  Now, it seems that this man was mentallly ill, his parents were concerned, and so it might seem hyperbolic to extrapolate a cultural issue from one person's not entirely correct interpretation of how to address the world.  However, as many have said, there were a ton of things in that hastag that had me nodding.  Things like it's often easier to give out fake numbers or invent fake spouses/boyfriends/partners than to simply tell a man not interested because it can lead to explosive reactions.  I had one guy yell at me on the metro because he was too drunk to remember I had told him five minutes before that I had a (fake) boyfriend, so even that doesn't always help. 
Or the idea that when a male person is mean to you, it means they like you.  This isn't just limited to playgrounds (although that would be bad enough).  I was constantly pinched and bumped by a male at a music event.  He found my disinterest in becoming further bruised hilarious.  His wife asked me how they could get me to focus on my music.  She seemed to find my suggestion that perhaps not being constantly assaulted would help kind of cute.  When another guy thought assisting in pinching me was even funnier and I grabbed him and told him this could not continue, his freinds said I should lighten up and that maybe that first guy just thought I was cute.  Now, look, I've been super lucky.  I escaped these and other similar incidents pretty easily, even though part of me recognizes that describing being yelled at or having to leave an event to prevent further bruising is a pretty warped scale. 
And sure, this one shooter's reaction was hyperbolic.  And we definitely need to look at how we handle mental illness in this country.  And I realize that his victims were not all female.  But there is definitely a segment of the male population that believe they are owed sex, love, and companionship.  And they are screwing it up for all of us.  They ways I am forced to behave to try to avoid doing any of the things that get the above reactions or worse. Because I understand, having to avoid saying things straight out, having to avoid situations where I might have to fend for the right to remain unmolested not only restricts me, it impacts those who have to deal with me.  And cultural change is not a simple process.  But, my cyclist friends are always talking about how in cyclist vs. car incidents, they note whether or not the cyclist was wearing bright clothes, even when the motorist was clearly in the wrong.  Similarly, I think what I - or other women wear, whether we walk in pairs, the time of night, my sexual history - these things should not factor in to whether or not I am safe.  I should have the right to attend events, ride the metro, walk down the street, and to say yes or no to those whom I choose.  Crazy, but that's my dream. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

RT 2014 - New Orleans

I spent much of last week in New Orleans, being a tourist and also participating in the RT Booklover's Convention.  It was a wonderful chance for me to revisit New Orleans, and to hang with some book people.  It is often a sign of a great time when you run out of time to see everyone you wanted to.  There was also a lot of yummy food. I ate tuna ceviche cones, and fried green tomatoes, drank lots of sweet tea, and had a beignet or two. Oh, and some adult beverages, be they martinis, moscow mules, wine and more. 
So let's attempt to break this into categories a bit.
Having been to New Orleans twice before, I certainly hadn't seen everything, but I had ticked off some of the bigger stuff.  I wandered quite a bit around the French Quarter.  Turns out the yarn store was just a straight shot from the hotel and I may have ended up their twice.  (The second time was all other people's fault, I swear.)  I also took the street car out to City Park and wandered through the sculpture garden.  We also rode the St. Charles streetcar to it's end - discovering along the way that the tracks were under construction and then headed back, wandered through a cemetery and explored the Irish Channel section of the Garden District. 
Convention stuff:
I did a Weekend Pass, so went to less official events than usual.  But I chatted with many people, reconnected with old friends, and made new ones.  The lobby bar of the main hotel was predictably overrun, and did not absorb noise very well.  (We did a lot of walking around going, "What?") I managed to tell Elieen Dreyer that she was the author of one of my favorite New Orleans books (Sinners and Saints - go read it).  I feel like listing all the people I hung out with, invariably sounds like bragging or name dropping and I will also invariably leave someone out, so we're going to stop there.  I got very little sleep because everyone was so much fun.  
For panels, I went to the Monsters panel with Mark Henry, Charlaine Harris, Marjorie M. Liu, Diana Rowland and Karina Cooper.  There were great questions about what appealed to them about writing monsters (Diana's explanation involved a detailed description of autopsy), what scared them, and how their families had reacted to their books. 
The These are the Days YA Contemporary Panel featured Lucy Connors, Stephanie Perkins, Elizabeth Eulberg, Juliana Stone, Gayle Forman and Tamara Ireland Stone. They talked about writing contemporary, in the case of Lucy and Juliana, writing adult as well as YA, writing sexually active teen characters, and one audience member asked why there were so few female masturbation scenes, especially given the same was not true for male YA characters.  The panel found that a very interesting point. 
The Avon party was a madhouse, and I confess I fell down and came home with many more books than I had planned (all the pretties).  I had meant to hit the giant bookfair (getting more giant every year) but ended up prioritizing food.  If the length of the checkout line is any indication, it was very successful.  I stopped in at the Penguin lemonade social, and then went up to stake out the Adaptation to Production panel with Melssa Marr and Gayle Forman.  A special guest had been promised, but first Melissa asked Gayle some questions about the long process from having the story originally optioned to this upcoming movie.  Gayle also talked about how the process really feels more like a translation given the difference between the things you can do in a book vs. a movie.  Then we watched the trailer where I managed not to cry outright. (It's Nurse Ramirez who gets me every time.)  Then our special guest Liana Liberato came in and talked with Gayle about the process of being cast.  Her process is that if she gets a script based on a book, she goes and reads the book first.  And then, once she was cast, she made lots of notes in her book.  She and Chloe, who plays Mia became great friends during the filming.  And the filming was done in chronological order (rather than order it will appear in the movie) so that they did all the happy family bonding, and gathering, and Mia and Adam falling in love before they did all the hospital stuff.  So, once they did the hospital stuff, the cast knew each other and found it easy to be sad. 
I also stopped in at both the Fan-tastic Day Party and the Teen Day Party.  Got to chat with some more authors, met a cover model, and got a bag to help lug all my books home. 
Sunday we did end up going to the Romance at Twilight social where we saw "Contraband" which takes place partly in New Orleans, and that might be the nicest thing I can say about it.  I did win a pair of fuzzy slippers which created some packing challenges, but fortunately, they were squishy. 
All in all I had a great time. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Three Interesting Things

Since I am currently book convention adjacent, we'll with a book theme. 
1.  It will be little surprise to discover I fully support this op-ed encourage kids to go forth and read
2. What about a book about drinking water, that you could actually use to help make your water drinkable?
3. The folks at Book Riot have some suggestions for getting more reading time.  Warning.  Some of them might be a little dangerous to your job. Or family life.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Maryland Sheep and Wool

It was the annual yarn convention.  Or something.  Fine it was Maryland Sheep and Wool, since there were other yarn events this weekend to say nothing of the others throughout the year. So, we went forth (or fourth given the date) and ate silly fair food and looked at yarn and sheep and other knitting accessories.  We lunched in front of a sheep shearing demonstration, shopped and browsed a lot and enjoyed the warmish, if a bit breezy at times, weather. It's always fun to be at a con of any kind, since you know this is the place where fondling a stranger's shawl might be normal behavior.  (You should probably still ask.)  And the onset of lemonade and half and half season (even though I might drink half and hal pretty much all the time) is always a good thing. 


Friday, May 02, 2014

Diverse Books, They Do Exist

I had a conversation with someone a while back who wanted to know where I found out what to read.  And for me, I've felt so hooked into to certain segments of the book community, that I have so many things that I'm wanting or planning to read, and it grows exponentially, that it's hard to come up with a starting point.  (I imagine this is why some people just go to the bestseller list.)  And yes, if you are lucky enough to have an indie bookstore or even a big box book store near you, that helps to, assuming they carry the genres you are into.  And libraries are still staffed with book like people. 
But the internet has little corners and blogs for all types and shapes of book people.  Some of them focus particularly on a genre, or age category.  Some of them on diverse books. You find ones you like, with people who like the kind of stuff you do, but who maybe push you to new authors and places.  This is not going to be a comprehensive list.  But here are some places:

Guys Lit Wire -  Focuses on books that appeal to teen boys
DiversifYA - Focusing on YA books providing diversity of main characters based on race, culture, religion, sexuality, disability, illness, and more.
Diversity in YA - Provides info on new books that are diverse (as far as race, culture, disability and more) as well as data.  (You know how I love books data.)
Forever Young Adult - Books and other things of interest to adult like people who like fiction about teens.  I'm a member of the local book club.

NA Alley - New Adult books.

Dear Author - Romance (including YA) and book news.
Smart Bitches - Romance books and other reader news. 
The Misadventures of Wendy the Superlibrarian - Romance and other reader news. 

Hawaii Book Blog - Literature about Hawaii
Interracial and Multicultural Books - As the title suggests, books with interracial and/or multicultural main characters and themes.

And, author blogs, reader group blogs, things come and go in the land of social media.  Some blogs I loved have come and gone, but they usually led me to something else before they  gave up the ghost, so you try things and someday you too can have a TBR and PTR (planning to read) pile bigger than a year.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

We Need Diverse Books

Today is the official kickoff day of We Need Diverse Books campaign.  As long time readers know, I am the product a several generations of multicultural, multiracial marriage. Having stories that represent the breadth of experience, in my family and in others, well, it seems like a no brainer.  Not everyone has the time, access, or ability to travel the world, make sure they meet more people than just the ones they already know, but the easiest, cheapest way to travel the world, the past, the present, and many different futures is through books.  There are all sorts of studies about how reading makes you more empathetic, more aware of the nuances of the world, provides a safe space to ponder encountering people from other cultures, planets or species. The folks at We Need Diverse Books are putting together some great lists of diverse books, but I thought I'd share some of the ones I've read over the last few months. Just a note, the campaign grew out of the kidlit community, some of the books listed below are not kidlit.  But I enjoyed them all. 
Fake ID by Lamar Giles - Teen and his family are in Witness Protection, but he discovers the latest town they've moved to might be harboring more secrets than his family is.
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King - Teen girl ponders the nature of her sexual identity in small town PA. 
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina - Teen girl at a new school finds she is for some reason the target of a bully.
I'll Catch You by Farrah Rochon - A woman making a career switch to sports agent goes after a running back with a publicity problem.
Speak of the Devil by Allison Leotta - A DC prosecutor gets a case that starts as a brothel raid, but turns out to involve much more.
Secret by Brigid Kemmerer - Teen boy's elemental abilities aren't his only secret.  He has been pretending to date a girl.  But maybe both of them deserve more than that.