Thursday, July 31, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. Having tried to help a friend find an appropriately sized, not terrible, girl fan t-shirt at a convention, I was interested to listen to the Nerdist Writers podcast with the folks from Her Universewhich creates licensed stuff for girl like people.  Will definitely be taking a closer look through their catalog.
2. V.E. aka Victoria Schwab had a great post about making yourself ready for change.
3. I polished off Courtney Milan's The Suffragette Scandal on the plane to San Antonio last week.  In it, Free's suffragette newspaper has a column called ask a man.  There is a tumblr and you can go ask a man yourself, or read the other answers. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

RWA San Antonio

Apologies for blog darkness last week, but I had a family thing and then turned right around for RWA and well, internet was spotty at the hotel, and my intentions to communicate via non-twitter means disappeared in a cloud. 
So, I was determined to be super workshoppy this year and, while I was, (except Saturday where the split hotel thing suddenly made all the other things so far away (as in all the way across the street) and my will to get up and go was mostly gone).
Day of YA was awesome. 
James Scott Bell gave great tips on editing and writing.  The editor & agent panel had some thoughts on writing and diversity.  In particular one audience member asked for specific examples of diverse titles that had been picked up, and included they mentioned local author Robin Talley's debut Lies We Tell Ourselves.  (I've been hearing great things about this book too.)  Ally Carter gave an awesome speech about what she would go back and tell herself back before her first book came out. (She blogged about it here.  It was, of course, amazing to hear in person.)
The Rosemary Awards were announced.  I was one of the category coordinators and, let me tell you, I had a ton of judges tell me I must have sent them only the very best entries.  It was an amazing thing to be a part of.  And I happen to have read on of the winners for another thing (I was not a judge for that entry due to my previous knowledge) and so I know it's great, but I also know that the top scores were all really close so it really was an honor to be a finalist.
Jay Asher talked about his love of school visits.  And the YA author panel talked about the joy of writing for a YA audience. 
I scooched into the end of the Literacy signing to wave at some people. 
Thursday I moderated the Juggling Two Careers panel with Kelly Maher and Jennifer Lohmann which was .They talked about the things you can control, and how things will still crop up.  And they also talked about how to factor your production style (fast draft with multiple revisions vs. slow draft with a quick final pass) into scheduling your deadlines.  Courtney Milan's Slow Writer's Guide to Publishing was also great, especially since she was savvy both about how best to make use of the ways the publishing platforms work, but also about how some things will take time to grow and you need to plan for that.  Ally Carter had talked about the time vs. money debate, you will worry about one and/or the other, and how to decide which one you can best take on.  Courtney's was similar in that growing your business takes time and money, so the money you take for your living expenses affects what you have to put back in. The adventurous heroines panel had great info about the ways to create adventurous and strong but authentic historical female characters.
Friday, I hit the Feeding the Fandom panel and really, I could just listen to Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Ally Carter, Sarah Rees Brennan and Rachel Vincent talk books and fans all day.  They talked about leaving space in the text for readers to find and fill in the emotion and how that feed and encourages fans.  They also talked about how as an author, it is absolutely your text, your world, your story to drive forward how you choose.  But at the same time, you don't need to argue with the fans about the text.  (Sarah Wendell talked about reviews and having heard that talk, the idea is similar.  The author can acknowledge reviews, and maybe possibly address something that is truly, factually wrong, but the a review is for readers, and if they came away thinking character A was a douche, then that's what they felt when they read it.)
The Diversity Roundtable worked a little more interactively than originally planned due to one of the speakers having to cancel.  However, Farrah Rochon did a great job getting it going and keeping the audience on track.  It's hard to synthesize some of the subtleties of the discussion but the highlights were - don't be afraid to write characters that are different from you.  Research.  Don't rely solely on the stereotypes you have absorbed. But also recognize that any character, of any race, ethnicity, cultural background, etc, is going to have layers of experience.  An African American who went to a Catholic private school in Georgia may have speech patterns that sound more like other Georgians, may have values more like other Catholic school kids.  There isn't just one experience and there isn't just one way to be.  However, there was a plea from a Native American that there is a difference between the different Native American nations, and don't think they are all the same.  So, similar to the adventurous heroine's panel, do lots of research.  Recognize the biases within the research.  And don't just use the research, use all the things that go into creating a three dimensional character.
And Saturday, was about books.  Getting some more.  Reading some.  Packing some.  Shipping some.  And then, after a quick change in the bathroom, the Golden Heart and Rita award ceremony.  And it's again, an honor to be nominated, all those nominees were wonderful.  Simone Elkeles did a bang up job as emcee both breaking out old photos and telling us about the letters readers send her and how kids tell her they left the gang after reading Perfect Chemistry.  (It got very dusty in that ballroom.)  They had videos of authors talking about favorite romance books and movies and honestly, they were all wonderful, but if anyone wants to create a show where Sarah MacLean and Eloisa James describe books and movies to me, I am in.  (See also Anne Stuart.) 
But, I will, mention that I could not be more thrilled about fellow WRW member Denny S. Bryce's Golden Heart win for Romantic Suspense.  Full list of winners here

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. As someone who has worked in a call center, and as someone who has been frustrated trying to get an resolution, I was fascinated by the recording of the call with the couple trying to cancel their cable.  However, as the customer himself says, this is unlikely to be a rogue employee problem, and likely a result of rewards and incentives provided to reps for retaining customers, making it not in their interest to, well, help the customer.  Most call centers spend a lot of time both reviewing recordings and looking at things like call time.  A twenty minute call would be frown upon if the goal was swift address of the customer's request. 
2. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the live taping of the Pop Culture Happy Hour.  Part one is here.  Part Two should drop tomorrow.
3. I have very little to add to this wonderful post reviewing the sad loss of this man's home when an attempt to set a spider on fire got out of control.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. I have no current needs for wedding planning, but find the idea of a flash wedding planning service quite intriguing.
2. A building at the Glasgow School of Art caught on fire in the spring which was sad and not just because a number of seniors had just installed their senior portfolios for exhibition.  The students were given a chance to participate in an exhibition recently and one of them made use of the ashes from the fire to create her work.
3. I adore this story for a number of reasons.  First of all a knit in protest sounds wonderfully appealing.  (I mean, if one must hang out in an office awaiting an audience, knitting is totally the way to go.)  Plus, the writer has carefully mentioned what project one of the arrested protesters was knitting. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

About Fictional Lunch Tables

I once had someone tell me that if they read another YA that started with the explanation of where all the stereotypes sat in the lunchroom, they would scream.  I run into less of them these days, but they were thick on the ground for a while, and while certainly everyone has memories that involve staring at a roomful of people trying to figure out where you should sit, there are things about fictional lunch tables that annoy me.  So, here we go.
I recognize that in fiction there are often economies.  Even in contemporary there's so much world building that throwing in new people every chapter is too much, so while the character may be at a school with hundreds of students, there will likely be 10 or less that get names and character traits.  That's fine.  But, everyone always has the same lunch period.  And that, never happened to me.  There were usually people I liked or was happy to hang out with my lunch period, but all of my friends, all getting the same lunch period, every day? Nope.  Never happened to me. 
Now, I've asked around, and apparently there are some schools that establish one lunch period for everyone.  But, they seem rare.  Mostly because students have different schedules each day.  My high school had a pretty stable schedule, but there would be lab periods, or assemblies that would change things.  My junior year, I had one day that didn't even have a lunch period.  I just kept illegal snacks in my locker to tide me over.  But plenty of schools have A, B, C, etc schedules where it rotates through a period of days so that all the stuff they need to do can be crammed into the short school day. 
And yes, I can see how, in fiction, the lunch period gives these characters a chance to talk, or not talk, when they are not in class.  (Also, these kids who eat in the library when they are feeling sad, uh, there was no eating in my school library.)  But, I actually think the different folks having different schedules could increase the tension.  I think it's a reality that could be used to help. But yeah, try not to have a geography of stereotypes there.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. I have been trying to build up support for a two day work week, but this doctor in the UK is proposing a 4 day work week.  I assume he means a rolling flex schedule of some sort, particularly since he suggests one advantage might be picking kids up from school suggesting there are still five working days, just maybe we all don't need to work all of them.  (Assuming you are on a five day a week schedule)
2. It's been an unsettling week on a number of fronts, and discovery that Facebook was using the platform to conduct a giant social experiment on it's users does nothing to alleviate that.
3. As a person of faith I found this week's Supreme Court decision unsettling.  I keep writing and discarding posts in part due to extreme sadness that I even have to justify why religion should not exempt you from the law, and why my employer's faith, if I work in a non-religious institution should not be able to dictate access to things my faith does not prohibit.  But equally as worrying is the slippery slope, today it's some forms of birth control, but there are already cases in the pipeline asking for even broader exceptions, and, as this post points out, it also could be used as an excuse for problematic hiring and firing procedures. I can only hope that humans and corporations won't try to take advantage. 
4. And because that's depressing, and it's a holiday week, here - balsamic strawberry brownies