Thursday, March 31, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. I enjoyed this post on the rounding up or down that mixed race people often experience by new author Riley Redgate.
2. One author team discovered someone had gone the great lengths to plagiarize their crime novel.
3. I am firmly in agreement with this piece about how we are in the golden age of TV musicals. I have many more thoughts on "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend", but at this rate may hold the posts til the end since we're so close.

Monday, March 28, 2016

It Matters and It Doesn't

The RITA and Golden Heart nominations went out Friday and as with so many things in publishing for everyone who got super amazing news, someone's phone or email was silent.  Every time I've participated in contest judging (and full disclosure, I did not this year for the Golden Heart) there have been entries that I adored that did not final.  So, writing is subjective. Awards are subjective. Being nominated for an award is amazing and should be celebrated.  Not being nominated does not mean you aren't a great writer. 
I saw an interview once with a "Dancing with the Stars" person who said working with athlete celebrities was great because they seemed in general really good at shaking off whatever happened event night, accepting that feedback wasn't personal, and channeling it into doing better the next time.  We could have the nature/nurture debate about writers vs. athletes, but ultimately, writers need to figure this out too.  Awards are great! But there are a lot of books out there.  Not all the great ones get awarded.  That doesn't take away from the lucky people who did get awarded.  It just means it's not a failure to not be awarded.
The full list of nominees are here.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. I had a whole rant on this worked up, but this DCist recap of an Iowa elected official trying to score points off DC showed me that we've got covered.  I have grown to accept that people use DC or Washington or the Beltway as code for the government.  It's convenient to forget that actual people, actual taxpayers, actual disenfranchised voters live here.  Or maybe it's not.  Maybe that's why we're such an easy target.
2. I am always amused to discover the thigns prior generations were sure would be our downfall, so this profile of a 1920's female DC police officer interested me.
3. And this story of a penguin who visits his human buddy every year is just as adorable as you might expect.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. Alyssa Cole wrote a post about some the economic realities of structural racism in publishing.  The comments are, uh, demonstrative of what happens when people attempt to have discussions about structural racism in publishing.
2. RWA announced some award winners including one for this amazing article about how Harlequin became, well, Harlequin.
3. Speaking on economic realities, School Library Journal had this post about the impact of the Harper Lee estate deciding to no longer publish paperbacks of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

No Metro Today

I can only hope this is a good sign, that the new leadership recognizes that sometimes drastic measures are needed.  Metro has never shut down all underground operations like this for non-weather operations, and I can only hope this day provides them the information they need to tackle safety and improvement strategically and swiftly going forward.  I realize buses are still running and the region is lucky to have a robust bus system, and things like the streetcar and the Circulator bus (which operates separately) are still going and in some cases increasing service.  I am lucky, because I telecommute.  I am lucky because when I was using metro (or technically a combo of bus and metro) to get to work, I wasn't hourly and had a flexible schedule. 

Not everyone has such luxury, although the #wmatabikepool hashtags and other various alternates, last night on Twitter were making my heart happy.  But the point is not just that I'm okay today, but that a lot of people rely on metrorail (I certainly do to get to church, and to many of the other things I do) and a lot of them work with people who assume they drive, who don't understand how single tracking, or buses breaking down can impact their on time work arrival. I have a friend who once called into work to say that the bus she was on had begun leaking (and it wasn't raining), so the driver had taken it out of service and they were all waiting on the side of the road for the replacement bus.  Her co-worker told her it was fine, she could just say she overslept. 

It fascinates me that in an area with terrible traffic, people somehow expect public transit to be magic.  Although, admittedly, my longest period of lateness was when I moved ten minutes east and discovered that almost doubled my morning commute time.  It took about two weeks of me leaving progressively earlier each day, trying various alternate routes to finally figure out what the magic leaving time was that got me to work reliably. 

All of this is to say.  Be kind to DC area folks today.  Be kind to each other.  This is a day.  And hopefully things will look normal tomorrow. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

7 Things About The Girl From Everywhere

In some ways Heidi Heilig's The Girl From Everywhere is so me that the things that aren't seem almost meaningless. 
1.  For most people time traveling pirates seemed liked enough info to be like yes.  If, like me, you are mildly interested in time travel or pirate books, but do not cross (figurative) mountains to get them, Nix is a member of a time traveling pirate crew captained by her dad.  She is half Chinese, half white, and there are clear rules about where they can go, but ultimately her dad has been trying to get back to when her mom was alive, and Nix is worried that by re-entering that timeline he might end her.  Oh, also, she was born in Hawaii.  So they are trying to get to 1800's Hawaii.  (Yes, mixed race main character, Hawaii.  I am in.)
2.  They say that Twitter doesn't sell books, and I think what they mean, is that having X followers doesn't guarantee X sales, because I follow people I don't read, and don't follow plenty of people I do.  I seek interesting people who discuss things I care about on Twitter.  And one of those things is books, so I follow people who talk about books.  But I actually discovered Heidi when she was ranting about the casting of "Aloha", which you may recall was a topic of interest to me.  And then it turned out she had a book coming out the following year, info I marked down for later.  So, sure, I might have found this book without that.  I'm Twitter buds with other 2016 debuts, but this helped.  (There are a lot of books out there, peeps.)
3. So, back to the book without being too spoilery I will tell you the time travel has specific rules, that become more clear.  Because with such magic, that's often a concern.
4. There may also be cute boys. 
5. Nix's dad met her mom in an opium parlor, which might give you a clue that Nix's dad has a bit of a substance problem.  I found the heartbreak, and the struggle of trying to figure out how to help, and how to not keep getting hurt by the addiction that is dominating this person, very real.
6. Nix didn't know her mom, has spent much of her life on a ship, but still feels these pulls to Hawaii, to New York where her dad is from, to China where her mom was born.  This isn't necessarily exclusive to mixed race kids, and certainly the book is not about that, this is a factor in it, but that again felt very real.
7. The writing.  I have four pages marked because I hit a sentence and just went, yeah.  So basically, if time traveling pirates, historical places, addiction, struggles with parents, coming of age, and/or figuring out where you belong, this might be the book for you.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Today I can be found...

...Guest posting over a Happy Hearts Reads, sharing my love of adult coloring books.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. This piece about Blaxicans, and the growing usage of that word, touched on the lot of the issues I think folks who are from multiple cultures face.
2. One zoo has added cameras so their animals can take "selfies".
3. I enjoyed this piece about the Justice for Flint event.

Monday, March 07, 2016

NoVa Teen Book Fest 2016

It was NoVa Teen Book Fest this weekend and I was there in a tired state, (which was no one's fault but mine) which meant partway through I realized my phone charger was with me, but not the cord, so the phone went into airplane mode so I could take a few photos but posting had to wait for later.  There were more panels this year, which made some of the decision making a little tougher.  The first panel was called Creep and had Jon Skovron talking with Natalie C. Parker, Lisa Maxwell, and Holly Black about writing spooky or scary stories, and subverting expectations.  Parker said that one early reader had said that they didn't believe a girl from the south would know such big words, and she felt that was part of her job as a southerner to represent both the truth and the unfairness of some of the stereotypes.  Maxwell said that the original stories about Neverland have been sort of sanded down, in that people tend to talk of a place where people lose their memories and never grow up as magical now, rather than terrifying.  Black said that her job as a writer was to approach the stories with empathy but fully examine the truth inside.
I then moved to a breakout panel with some of the authors from the upcoming Tyranny of Petticoats anthology - Caroline T. Richmond, Robin Talley, Lindsay Smith, and Jessica Spotswood. They talked a little about the process for how they each selected their time period, and Spotswood talked about how it was important from an editorial perspective to make sure that there was a range of periods and types of stories, and that they wanted each story to feel specific to it's time and place.  (Guys, I'm so excited about this anthology.)
Then I went to one of the game panels with Jason Reynolds, Jennifer Donnelly, Sara Raasch, and Brandon Keily.  They played a variation of password and charades which was funny partly because, password was not really their strength, and partly because there was a group of teens sitting close who were very responsive audience members and who clearly had gotten most of the clues very quickly. 
After grabbing a quick lunch,I went to the History Has It's Eyes on You panel (Bonus point for the Hamilton reference) where Jennifer Donnelly, Janet B. Taylor, Kelly Zekas, Kathy MacMillan, and Eleanor Herman spoke about their process and what led them to the periods (mostly real or mostly fictional) that they made use of.  I will tell you that the moderator questions were great, the audience questions were mostly great, although we did get the stereotypical since you all are women, how did you figure out how to write men question.  And, I try to remember that every book even is someone's first book event, so they may not know how common that question is, how often it gets asked of women, how rarely male authors are asked that, and that particularly when we are talking about historical fiction, gender norms are not fixed and one would have to do just as much research into expectations for women (in fact many of the panelists had talked about their characters butting against such expectations), and that the question is quite honestly insulting. I don't think it was meant that way, but it's really tiring to see it keep getting asked.
Next up was that Do I Ever Cross Your Mind panel with Jeff Garvin, Kelly Fiore, Hannah Barnaby, Julie Murphy, and Charlotte Huang talking about contemporary fiction.  They each talked about what had led them to this latest book (or first, since these were debuts for some of them) and the research and introspection they had done. Kelly Fiore also mentioned "Intervention" and how watching that had shown her that the things she was experiencing watching her brother battle addiction were the same as what she was seeing family members in the show say, so the experience was bigger than her or them. 
And then there was the keynote with Holly Black.  Jon Skovron talked about how reading her book Valiant was what convinced him there might be a place for him as a YA fiction writer.  Black talked about how when she started writing fantasy books for kids, she was mostly talking about this with other kid lit writers or readers and so people got it.  Occasionally she would encounter someone outside the kid lit world who would wonder why she wrote for kids if she didn't have any, but that was about it.  And now she and her husband have a great kid (she showed a picture of him in a handknit sweater that she said the picture made look good because the sweater was made with love but is not entirely sweater shaped) and so she figured people would stop finding that weird.  But, as a mother one ends of talking with other parents and well, they find writing as a job a little strange, especially writing about fantasy or magic?  Why writer about that?  And it had been a while since she had been asked that.  And she realized that fantasy allows us to explore real life in unusual ways.  That her most recent story is about the difference between shared fan love for the same person, compared to actual love of the same person.  Or the idea that fan love allows you to project a lot of things onto someone that they may not be able to live up to.  And fantasy give you a way in to explore that that she finds really interesting and valuable. 
All in all it was a great time and my TBR pile got ever bigger, so thanks so much to all the wonderful people who put this together. 

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. This conversation with the parents, and also the child who was one of the Asian kids for the Oscar joke about Asians was interesting.
2. I am fascinated by this idea of hidden headlines, although sadly the person responsible was fired.
3. And this list of reasons that Mr. Rogers was great because of number 15.  What?  Who knew his mom was a knitter?