Friday, November 27, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. I adored this discussion with Phillippa Soo and Lea Salonga about the growing number of Asians on broadway.
2. If you've been wondering about presidential turkey pardons, this piece will help.
3. Hawaii has been experiencing unprecedented levels of homelessnies, this piece looked at one camp.

Monday, November 23, 2015

7 Things: Faith in YA

1. I wrote way back when about how I found myself to be a UU, so no need to rehash that. I recognize that the US as a whole is becoming less religious and that would include current teenagers.  (Of course for anyone writing historical or fantasy, the numbers would be different.)  However, it is now noticeable if a YA character makes even a passing mention to attending some sort of place of worship, that a little like fesity red-heads, it seems out of sync with the reality of life for many teens.
2. I am not saying we need more conversion or inspirational stories.  (We may. I...don't know.) But certainly there could be more teens in fiction who identify as a part of something. 
3. In the years that I have been working with the high schoolers and now middle schoolers, the number of teens regularly attending our congregation has doubled.  Now that is clearly due to all sorts of factors, and not a representative or scientific sampling of teens.  I will also tell you I have spoken to teens who get their parents to drop them off even when the parents don't attend.  Who create their own teen gatherings, because their congregation doesn't offer them.  Who say that the teens they meet at multi-state or multi-congregational events are the only teens they know who get them. 
4. I'm not saying that every book needs to include a YA of some faith.  But off the top of my head, I can think of a few Christian, and a handful of Jewish, and that's it. Miranda Kenneally's Stealing Parker was the first YA I can think of that talked about the fact that different churches in the same town might have different approaches to the same issue. 
5. Some people have been very hurt by religious institutions.  I don't want to gloss over that.  But some people have found great comfort in them.  Or not.  Some people find formal religion not for them.  All of these experiences are valid and should be represented.
6. And atheism to.  Atheism isn't the same as being unchurched or none.  It can also be a destination for folks who have spent time thinking carefully about the world. And these things, whether a YA character has made the same choice as the people who are raising them or not, could be powerful motivators without being preachy. 
7. Religion is not necessarily in the same category of some of the other glaring omissions in the YA landscape.  But again, if the idea is to represent the breadth of experiences out there, leaving religion out more often than not seems problematic. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. This post is part of Gay YA's transgender awareness week series - and is quite touching about the honor and the burden of representation.
2. I might be mildly (super addicted) to this silly game, so I appreciated the interview with the creators about making the English version.
3. And this amazing woman has destroyed all our excuses as she manages to complete part of her psychology exam, while in labor, from her hospital bed.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Paris and Beirut and All of Us

Certainly some people are determined to cause a lot of harm.  It is clearly their intention to make people feel that things that we wish to do are unsafe.  I saw a number of comparisons to September 11th, but really, in many ways this reminded me of the MD snipers. Certainly it took a longer period of time for them to be stopped, but they were targeting places people shopped, places people went to get gas, places people went to school.  In other words they were going after things you often need to do.  And yes, people needed to live and work in the Trade Center, and the Pentagon, and whatever other building they had been hoping to hit.  But we go to cafes, to concerts, to sports games to relax and unwind.  People working to make those places unsafe hits particularly hard.  And yes, the folks who have mentioned that Beirut, Ankara, and large parts of Egypt and Syria have been dealing with this on a larger scale are entirely correct. 
But Mr. Roger's Look for the helpers advice remains true. Taxi drivers in Paris offered free rides home. Hashtags opened up offering people places to seek shelter in Paris, or find a place to stay if they were stuck in the US or Canada unable to fly home as a result of the borders being shut. People shared lovely images of Paris. And this wonderful bookstore, with their wall quote about strangers, offered themselves up as a refuge during the attacks as well, reaffirming my belief that bookstores are where you find some of the best people.
So, I will try to remember that for every person who thought blowing themselves and others up was a message, there were so many more, who reached out to others, who sang songs as they evacuated the stadium, who looked for ways to help. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. This is truly a horrifying ad, because, as the article so clearly points out, not just someone, but a lot of someone's thought that was funny. And it's for a department store tht isn't known for "edgy" marketing.  And the apology is pretty tepid in the "now that we have feedback we see that people might feel this is problematic" kind of way.  (TW for sexual assault.)
2. They've been looking at how cats clean themselves, to see if there are applications to machinery and have determined, that cats, are in fact huge, like ping pong table sized.
3. And one man has come up with a simple, transportable, way to remove cataracts, allowing him to help people across the world see again.

Monday, November 09, 2015

7 Things: The NaNo Edition

1. I am once again participating in NaNoWriMo.  Every story has a different process.  (Unless it doesn't.  That's fine too.)
2. The one I'm writing this year intentionally doesn't have a straightforward start to end chronology.  My intention was to write it as it should be read.  I have realized that this is basically a flimsy excuse to write out of order. 
3. The corollary to that, is lots of people recommend writing the scenes that are calling to you and worrying about putting it back in order later.  Other people say, go in order and leave that scene that calls to you as the carrot to keep moving forward.  I had tried writing bits ahead before and by the time I would get to where they should go, they didn't fit anymore, I had changed too much.  So, I had tried sticking to chronology.  So, try things, styles, tricks on for size.
4. Right now, the flip flop chronology is working for me.  This story may end up taking forever to put back together.  We will see. But right now the words are wording so we continue on. 
5. A lot of this is about getting to know your habits, your styles.  I was talking to a friend who took a day job course and said a surprising number of adult people in this course had identified flaws in their working style and had done nothing to try to address them. Whether it's experimenting with times of day, devices, writing tricks, if things are working, keep on.  If things are not working, try something else.
6. One writer at the kickoff party said she had tried NaNo before with limited success, and had never done any of the social or writing events. So this year, she was trying going to events. I told her write ins work well for me, because once I packed up my stuff and lugged it over, I was going him with more words than I left with. Whereas at home it was easier to stick on the TV and get distracted.
7. One of the best pieces of advice remains the reality that when you feel block, or like you just don't wanna, there are two possibilities.  Your brain actually knows it needs to work something and you should take a break, take a walk, think about it (or not think about it).  Or, your brain is scared.  And that you only solve by writing through.  The trick is learning which one it is when it shows up.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. Kayle Whaley had an important reminder about how disability needs to be included in discussions about diverse representation.
2. A 3000 year old tree is experiencing a sex change.
3. I have my issues, with "The Flash", (and, um, you may have heard I am fervently hoping they take advantage of all the musical talent and do a musical episode).  But the incredible warmth of Joe West is one of the reasons I stick around, and so I appreciated this article talking about how "The Flash" represents one of the best black families on TV right now.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Open Letter to Niya Kenny

Dear Ms. Kenny,
I don't know if you knew that you were risking arrest when you pulled out your device in class to be ready to film the intervention of a school resource officer into a class discipline issue. But nonetheless I want to applaud your concern for your fellow student, your willingness to step in and stand up for her.  I'm sorry that you even had to think like that.  I'm sorry that the officers who are theoretically there to provide safety for students and teachers have in some cases created an environment such that you knew as soon as you heard which officer was coming in, that your fellow classmate was at risk, not of getting in trouble, which she already was, but of injury.  I'm sorry that you were right.  I hope this leads to change in the way discipline is approached in your school.  It probably won't come swiftly enough to benefit you, but I have faith that you have already learned some important things about becoming a good citizen.