Why, it wouldn't be America, without rancor, chaos, a tantruming government and a complete lack of making sense. Fortunately, there's the world of words and blogs and books, places which always have reliably provided a reasonable escape. Grab a chunk of change, and dive in my friends.
Did y'all miss National Poetry Day? Chicken Spaghetti celebrated.
Meanwhile, at the blog with the clever name, Karen drops some wisdom on writing: "Writing, young writers need to learn, is a process through which you can always take it back, throw it out, or start over... perhaps the single most important thing for young writers to learn is that rough drafts are called "rough" for a reason." Watching the Wee Men (yes, my nephews are related to Nac Mac Feegles; trust me on this) learn to write this past summer, I've realized what a huge difference there is between a child who learned to write with a back button in his hand, and another who only had that awful newsprint paper with the wide lines. We can get really frozen by our mistakes... and yet, writing is a messy business.
If you haven't been following Disability in YA, you missed Lyn Miller-Lachmann's great piece on separating the writer from the character. I had the pleasure of meeting Lyn at the 2010 ALA week, and it was nice to meet someone else who was just about as stunned by the noise and the HUGENESS of everything as I was - and yet, she rocked her presentation on Gringolandia. Here she talks about her new book and now art, in this case, only imitates life slightly.
Everybody's talking about the apocalypse. Either Asimov was right about everything (he wasn't) or it was all down to Orwell. Either way: DOOM, amirite? (Hat tip to Tor.com for the second morning linkage.)
The Speculative Literature Foundation's stated goal is "to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, by encouraging promising new writers, assisting established writers, facilitating the work of quality magazines and small presses in the genre, and developing a greater public appreciation of speculative fiction." This being all good, I'm pleased to report that there are two writerly types who have gotten involved in raising funds to support diversity in science fiction and fantasy. Ellen B. Wright and Faye Bi have kicked off the Diverse Worlds Grant Fundraiser. They're planning on running the New York City Marathon to raise funds, and they need your support. Diversity in YA has the full story.
This past week, DiversifYA hosted Lee & Low's Marketing & Publicity Assistant, Keilin Huang, and their Marketing & Publicity Manager, Hannah Ehrlich for two days of questions, answers, and discussion starters on the kidlit books diversity aspect from the publishing point of view. These folks are thoughtful and their responses will get you thinking.
More diversity in conversation comes from Jennifer Laughran, agent for Andrea Brown and our own A.F.'s super-agent. Jenn talks about what's coming across her desk: "The majority of submissions I get are about kids and teens who are white, comfortably well off, able-bodied, secular, average-sized, cis-gender and straight. Maybe (in fact, probably) their race or economic status or religion or sexual orientation or whatever is never mentioned... but let's get real, if it isn't mentioned in any way EVER, the reader is going to assume and "default normal." As always, publishing can't be the ONLY place to change things if writers are sticking to the status quo...
By now, we all know that young adult fiction is where it's at in publishing. Even indie publishing is talking about the importance of a strong children's section. YA speculative fiction, specifically, is a leading light for SFF, and has attracted the attention, and the sometimes painful efforts of a great many adult SFF authors, to varying degrees of success. But... do you think adult SFF is, like, OVER? At The Skiffy and Fanty Show (a cute take on SciFi and Fantasy, if you missed it) the words "stagnant, rigid," and "stale" have been used. Don't panic, y'all. Hat tip to SF Signal for the link.
More Malorie Blackman: You know you want to go to the first UK YA Lit Con, in July 2014. You were looking for an excuse to go to London anyway, right?
Ready... Set... Continue! It's Kidlitosphere Days right now, and between the run-up to the Con in Austin, we've sandwiched Cybils Week in all its bookish glory. Overlord Anne, Sheila, Jackie, Charlotte, Karen, and their cohorts have done it again. A spiffy new database, and mounds and mountains of books being nominated. Those of us on reading teams are already looking with disbelief at the pile of books, asking each other, "Had you ever heard of this one??? It's kind of crazy, but that's the beauty and the splendid awesomeness of the Cybils Awards, a chance to get well-loved books read by a smaller population into the larger mainstream. A.F. is a Final Judge in the YA Books category, and I'm with the newly named YA Speculative Fiction.
If you're wondering WUT THE HEY about the "speculative" fiction name instead of the usual SFF, the whole genre label is the subject of much discussion among readers and writers. Isaac Asimov, back in the day, explained that science fiction, given its grounding in science, is possible; fantasy, which has no grounding in reality, is not. Interestingly, Margaret Atwood recently said that speculative fiction has a chance of phasing into reality within our lifetimes, which, if you read her work, should scare the crap right out of you. For the sake of the Cybils, we both discard such those generalized descriptions, and include them. Using the name "speculative" as an umbrella above the whole science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, court intrigue, alternate universes, military SF, cyberpunk, Greek pantheon, witches-vampires-werewolves, etc, etc, thing allows us to cut down on description. Speculative Fiction: we contain multitudes, baby.
Remember, PUBLIC NOMINATIONS FOR THE CYBILS CLOSE OCTOBER FIFTEENTH. People, get your Cybils on!
EDITED TO ADD: OH, my goodness, GO look at Sarah's spooktastic new cover. Right now.
Okay, I am not a product shill, but I am ALLLLLL for the positivity. Folger's Coffee has started an online community thing called The Best Part (and, you're welcome for putting a coffee jingle in your head for the rest of the flippin' day.) and it has a presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In a world where artist friends of mine who teach art and music are losing students because their parents work for - guess who? - the government, and they can't afford their lessons right now, to stressful worries about underfunded STEM programs, weather, car payments and student loans, right now, we need people who are spreading optimism like yes, and oh, my word. Even if you never drink a drop of Folger's - and don't do so on my account - you can spread words of hope and light in your community. A single sisal fiber doesn't do much on its own, but bound together with its neighbors becomes an amazingly strong rope. As the Kidlitosphere community well knows: we're stronger together. Up the positive, and, have a relaxing, happy weekend.