Thursday, August 30, 2012

When the UPS Man Brought Me a Date (or Two)

I received a package on Tuesday. It's an exciting package because it means I'm about to get really serious with BEWARE THE WILD again. It was a package of notes and treats from Editor π and Co.

Would you like to see? (click for close-up)

It's almost too much excitement for one photo to contain.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a few thousand words, a few awkward metaphors, a few new scenes... YES, I'm going to be busy for a while.

Ciao, y'all.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In Search of Bonkers

I made an intriguing discovery on a recent trip through western Kansas. Well, I suppose I made several discoveries, one of which is that the hills around Fort Riley are ridiculously well prepared for a zombie attack. Not only did we spot a fleet of helicopters, but they’ve got this cannon all set up and ready to blast the approaching horde. This is extremely thoughtful of them. And it’s telling that they seem to think the attack will come from the west.

Sorry all you west coasters, but this cannon is clearly pointed your way for a Very Good Reason.

(Note to whatever agencies I’ve alerted by writing this post: I’m assuming these things weren’t secret because I observed all of it from I-70. Which totally makes sense. Zombies don’t require covert anything. Just cannons and attack copters.)

I was greatly comforted by this discovery as I’m sure you can imagine.

 The other discovery was less comforting, but just as interesting.

Every time I’m in a place that feels something like “the middle of nowhere” I search for this candy I loved as a child called Bonkers. It’s probably been discontinued for years, but I have this feeling that there’s some gas station somewhere with an unending stash of Bonkers and I just have to find it.

Never mind the fact that it would be EXTREMELY UNWISE to consume Bonkers were I to find them as they would likely be as old as Full House by this point. I just sort of want to see them again and okay, I would probably eat them. Hey, people eat Moon Pies all the time and they HAVE to be as bad for you as decades old candy.

So we were in this gas station in the middle of the middle of nowhere, Kansas and ‘lo and behold, I didn’t find Bonkers, but I did find something nearly as exciting: Big Hunk.

I’d never heard of this candy, but…it’s called Big Hunk. How could I not buy that?

But it wasn’t done being delightful. As soon as I got back to the car and started examining my new discovery, I found that this candy comes with eating instructions. You can’t just unwrap and take a bite out of this thing. Or, I guess you can, but it’s not what they advise. Big Hunk requires special attention in order to be enjoyed properly. It requires smacking and/or heating and I think, perhaps, a vlog when I finally get around to trying it.

I’ll keep looking for Bonkers because it’s good to have goals when exploring the candy aisles of gas stations, but for now, I’m mollified.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Question of the Political Author

There’s been a fair amount of discussion lately about whether or not authors should be political. In May, Agent Jenn Laughran made this incredibly thoughtful post in response to outrage about Orson Scott Card, Reading with the Enemy. I’m sure she wasn’t the only one to post on this topic, but hers is the one that stands out in my mind. More recently, there was this post from Em’s Reading Room, which used a survey approach and broke it down by reader/blogger/author opinion.  Which then lead to this post by Maggie Stiefvater, which is a general reminder to be civil.

The topic of artists being political is an interesting one, but it’s not a new one. I promise you, there’s not a single author, musician, or actor who hasn’t spent many hours pondering the question of how much to say in the public eye, especially in the age of Twitter and Facebook, when your words are very quickly and efficiently dispersed. This is a new topic for the YA community however and so it’s worth paying attention to how it’s being discussed.

I think it’s particularly interesting that this question surfaced in the weeks following an example of OSC’s vicious homophobia and also in the weeks after Jackson Pearce’s vlog criticizing Chick-fil-a President Dan Cathy for his opinions of gay marriage.

This is incredibly troubling to me, because it looks an awful lot like the question isn’t whether or not authors should be political outside of their books, but whether or not YA authors should be political about Certain Things.

There are many topics about which authors get their politics on without this question rearing its ugly head: the whitewashing of covers, the presence of LGBT characters, the insidious nature of the “pink cover” on novels written by women…. There are tons of examples. The most recent that comes to mind is Cassie Clare’s discussion of the response to the casting of Magnus, a topic that (disturbingly) echoed earlier discussion of Rue and the Hunger Games.

YA authors are frequently political, some even about gay marriage, but I can’t think of  other examples as pointed and as widely-viewed as OSC’s opinions or Pearce’s vlog. I think the fact that the question of whether or not authors should be political has surfaced around each of these occurrences is significant.

I don’t think this is a coincidence and I’m uncomfortable that this is starting to look like a pattern.

I’m uncomfortable with the fact that this puts authors in the difficult position of having to weigh their beliefs against their pocketbooks.

I’m extremely uncomfortable with the fact that this points to a very specific idea of censorship.

There is always something to be said for engaging in civil dialogue. I am completely in favor of passionate, difficult conversations that move hearts and minds. I think it’s important to ask these questions about art and the artist and politics and I think it’s extremely important to watch how they’re being asked.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

An excessively thoughtful post on how to write

I've seen a lot of blogs about writing, recently. Maybe more than a lot. I've probably seen scores. You can't turn a virtual corner in the blogosphere without coming face-to-blog with some list of writing do's and don't's.


That can't be right.


That's better. Except for making me crave donuts.


Back to the subject at hand, I thought I'd take some time to write a super thoughtful post about writing to share with all of you because I like to weigh in on things and pretend my opinion matters, and because I always find myself arguing with these lists.

I know. It's a bad habit, arguing with lists. They just get to me. Maybe it's because they look so authoritative and tall. Or because they try to make something organic fit inside this neat structure and I get all "OH NO YOU DON'T. I DEFY YOU, LIST. I'M A SPIRAL." Because, really? Listing out do's and don'ts of writing is a little like teaching a snowflake how to be a snowflake.

STEP ONE: Be unique.
STEP TWO: ...No, that was basically it.

So I had a latte and a good think while staring into the Kansas sky. I even put on my glasses to write this post because it makes my thoughts poignant - such is the universal rule of wearing glasses while thoughtful.

THEN I turned on some Mozart because Mozart makes your words sophisticated and all treatise-like. I titled the post, "Writing: An Overture to Timelessness" because it sounded important.

AND THEN I started writing. And do you want to know what I realized? I really only have TWO things to say about writing or learning how to write or honing your craft in general. Ready?

DO: Write.
DON'T: Wait.

Ta da! Since it turns out my advice could fit inside a fortune cookie, I changed the title.

(As a side note, ((or a parenthetical, even)) I am joking.)

(Sort of.)