Greetings this sticky/hot/balmy Wednesday! I've just proudly had my first brain freeze of the season from a really cold tofu and frozen-watermelon-bananas-and-berries slushy I whipped up after lunch. I hear it's raining and cloudy in NY and Jersey... MeiMei, you lucky pup! I keep asking myself where the much-vaunted SF Bay fog is!!! However, my garden's growin', my novel's FINISHED (thank GOD -- cue the "Hallejuah Chorus") - so really, what've I got to whine about?
Want a window into the lives of other YA authors? Here's a cool opportunity in cyberspace: YA Author's Cafe has live chat interview types of things every Tuesday evening with YA folk! Check out their schedule, and the rest of their site! A good chance for some networking.
Our silent partner, J.R., is back, and catching us up on NPR's recent report on gay-themed children's books. Nathalie op de Beeck,an assistant professor at Illinois State University tells NPR's Jennifer Ludden about the recently reported upswing in demand for books depicting same sex parents. Take a listen!
In more book news, according to Publisher's Weekly, the biggest sellers for the upcoming fiscal year will be school books -(creative nonfiction types used in conjunction with texts and/or textbooks themselves) and 'religious' books. While that might seem a little grim, remember that PW tends to report on the major trends, while giving less importance to other things that continue to sell, like mystery novels and what I call "tech texts:" popular culture novels that capitalize on the in-thing of the moment. (Think novels in text messaging hieroglyphics.) While fiction with a spiritual theme isn't necessarily a bad thing, religious fiction as understood in the publishing world seems to include pulp like the dubious Left Behind series (you'll notice that I'm NOT including the link to that. None for me, thanks.) and some other really scary stuff favored by people who like to control the behavior of others by whatever means necessary. Bad karma! Bad karma!
We need more good writing with spiritual themes like the middle grade books of poet and author Nikki Grimes (you must read her fabulous middle grade book Come Sunday), or the irreverent and thought-provoking middle-grade novel of religious exploration, Preacher's Boy, by Katherine Paterson (whose first sentence reads, "On Decoration Day, while everyone else in town was at the cemetery decorating the graves of our Glorious War Dead, Willie Beaner and me, Robert Burns Hewitt, took Mabel Cramm's bloomers and run them up the flagpole in front of the town hall..."). We need more books like the hilarious and sometimes wistful Maya Running,by Anjali Banerjee, whose whose father picks his nose as he drives, whose sari-wearing cousin is thought of as "exotic" and much cooler than she, who gets teased at school (and called the n-word) and who earnestly prays that Ganesh can help her be thought of in her school as normal. We need more books like Mitali Perkins' thoughtful and recently reprinted The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen, in which a church-going family's religious life just blends in with how they live, and how they treat others. We need to have more of THIS type of writing, and less fear-based, platitude mouthing, sanctimoniously-promoting-discrimination-in-the-name-of-God type of tripe. Somewhere it's out there... Let's hear it for people with real spirituality - hopefully they'll read this and take the challenge to WRITE SOME REAL BOOKS with themes like forgiveness and hope and love and acceptance!
(All right. Descending the soapbox. Blistering screed now complete.)
Hey - if you're interested in YA author's blogs, you might want to check out the blog of award-winning children's/YA author Cynthia Leitich Smith. Smith is the author of RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME (HarperCollins and Listening Library)(ages 10-up) She has also published middle grade short stories in Harper anthologies. Most recently, look for "Riding With Rosa" by Cynthia Leitich Smith in Cicada literary magazine (Vol. 7, No. 4, March/April 2005).
Happy Midweek, y'all. Be safe over Memorial Weekend, and we'll catch ya later.