July 31, 2013

Midweek Web Browse

It's only when I'm the most excited to start reading a book - I just got my copy of THE PANOPTICON, by Jenni Fagan - that you get some weird thingy in your eye that means you have to take off your glasses and apply a heating pad. Nevertheless, in the few minutes I've spent online today, I've found...
...Robert Post's child. No, seriously. These are Flora's PEOPLE. You know someone in COLD COMFORT FARM wore that hat. Every day.
...the interviews on DiversifYA. I love the identity questions that are asked; "what was it like, growing up X?" Answering the question of what it was like growing up Muslim, black, bisexual-heteronormative, Afro-Latina, with a mental illness or a physical disability, etc. - makes for some very interesting reading. Even better, this site provides a ton of new blogs and tweet feeds to check out, and new sites, including Operation Diversity, coming soon to a blogosphere near you, and the getting-to-be-well-known, ongoing blog Disability In Kidlit.
...my sense of humor, squared.. "SUCK IT UP! This is your life now," is THE phrase of the week.
...that Malorie Blackman continues to be SUPER AWESOME. I mean, SHE WROTE A DR. WHO STORY. You cannot help but love someone who engages in fanfic without shame.
...and, from an Israeli bookstore chain, The BEST Book Ads, ever: (via HuffPo.)
I've heard from AF - she is hot, she looks adorable in her South Asian clothes, and is off to see never-before-met relatives. Keep a good thought for her, will you?
Have a glorious midweek.

July 30, 2013


Well, y'all know we're so obsessed - in a nice way - with ROSEMARY CLEMENT-MOORE that we had her over for the Summer Blog Blast Tour in 2011, and went on and on and ON about 2011 Cybils nominee TEXAS GOTHIC.



I mean, really.

/ rant

July 29, 2013

Dumb Books, GIGO, & What You Can Learn From Wretched Writing

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” - Ray Bradbury, from Zen in the Art of Writing

In the fifth grade, I had my first male teacher. Mr. Davis and I even had the same initials, and he jokingly told the class we were twins separated at birth, by gender, and by at least thirty-five years. (Yes. Teacher jokes. I know.) He was on the "cutting edge" of education in the eighties, and so we did a lot of computer work in his class. We "programmed," by which I mean we typed out lines of code for a very early typing class which made butterflies... "move" in a manner of speaking and made images. It was, to me, horrendously boring, which is why it amuses me every day that I ended up with Tech Boy, who breathes, eats, and sleeps code, and seriously wakes himself up at night, having solved some problem he's been working on... but I digress.

Our computer-savy, very tech-y fifth grade teacher was ever so fond of the phrase, "Garbage In, Garbage Out." Oh, how I hated it. It was his excuse for criticizing the girls' reading material - "Sweet Valley High? GIGO, girls." - his baseline reasoning behind lectures on note-passing, gossiping, and tattle-telling. Everything we did was potential fodder for his theory. We were taking garbage in, and, he reasoned, we were to spend our lives spewing garbage out.

SO, you can imagine how well it hit me when CitySmartGirl brought it up that phrase at brunch yesterday.

{REDACTED} is a big proponent of Garbage In, Garbage Out," she told us, mentioning the name of a prominent Bay Area writing coach. "I feel like all the reading I'm doing in my internship for {REDACTED}," she named a very prominent children's literature agency, "is ruining my chance to be a good writer."

As CitySmartGirl has never put out garbage a day in her life, I am automatically disposed to disagree with this theory already, but the second truth is that we can actually learn a lot from wretched writing.

Most of the time, people think writing is either really easy - and they make asinine comments about the simplicity of children's books, and how simple it must be to write them - or they think it's some amorphously impossibly hard thing, that requires voodoo and dark ritual sacrifices. Real writers know it's neither - writing is a studied craft for which one can exercise a few rules and execute successfully. This is not to say that following The Rules will make your words sing, or make you a great writer, but English teachers throughout the ages have proven that, given a few simple rules, most anyone can write something competently.

What bad writing tells us is what makes it so bad. Bad writing reminds us is that seeing the rules NOT followed is a better, shorter teaching lesson than memorizing something by rote.

The first time you get lost in a prologue, finding yourself mired down in useless information, is the first time you realize the difference between a good writer, and a bad writer. You'll truly understand the portmanteau "infodump." You'll realize that time passes slowly, in the hands of a poor writer, as the character's every breath and if, and, or "um" is recorded, whereas a good writer can cut away time and make you want to stay in the book longer.

The first time you read a novel larded with adverbs - the first time the heroine says something quickly, then guiltily, then cleverly, then laughs riotously, winking her eyes flirtatiously - you'll remember. There's simply no rule to memorize about how many adverbs is way too many, but you'll develop a fine sense of when one is outside of enough. Having learned that, you're not going to easily forget.

That same year in fifth grade (a big year, in retrospect), we learned a song about "little flowers" and something about if it never rained, they'd never grow. While the song was supposed to prepare us for lifelong travail or something, I like to apply the lesson to writing - just like I didn't truly appreciate a warm California summer without going through five endless years of Scottish winters, I don't think I can sink into the effortless language of a good novel, without learning to identify and scrutinize the "bad." Without occasional fertilizer, our little writing flowers wouldn't grow up straight and tall. Especially since "garbage" is all so subjective, I think I'm hoping people fond of that GIGO phrase give it a bit more thought.

"You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world."

Happy Monday, y'all.

July 22, 2013

A Hurrah and a Brief Absence

NOT that I haven't already been in and out over the past month, but I'm happy to report that my massive rewrite is now FINISHED and in my editor's hands (with more revision to come, I'm sure, but I think this was the bulk of it)! I now no longer have that as a handy excuse for my lack of blogging. No, I have a new excuse for you now: on Thursday I'll be leaving to join my husband Rob in India for some traveling, back in mid-August.

It'll be my first trip to India, so I'm equal parts excited and terrified, but I'll be thrilled to see my husband after a month of only seeing him in digitized Skype form (he was attending a 4-week National Endowment for the Humanities seminar). And I'm looking forward to meeting (well, technically "seeing again," but I was too young to remember) one of my extended family members in New Delhi as well as spending a little time in Mumbai with fellow Mills MFA grads Elena and Ajay. I promise to take lots of pictures (Rob's been posting some already, and you can see the video clips he's been posting for his art students at his blog).

I have ambitious plans to write at least a couple of book reviews to post while I'm gone, so I don't actually go totally invisible, but we'll see how that goes over the next couple of days...and if you don't see me, au revoir for a few weeks!

July 19, 2013

TURNING PAGES: SHARDS AND ASHES, ed. Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong

Seeing a lineup of writers whose work I appreciate made it easy to pick this one up - in spite of the cover, and in spite of the title. "Shards and ashes?" I muttered to myself. Well, yes. The remnants of once great civilizations, once reasonably organized societies. All we have left, once everything goes 'kablooey.'

The point of this short story collection is to put our heads and hearts to the question: will we have anything left, once we no longer have the "all" that makes up the world we know? Will there be left anything of worth?

If you're a fan of the dystopia, then this is the book for you. Fast-paced, bittersweet, yet filled with a haunting effect that will last beyond the last page.

Reader Gut Reaction:It's helpful, at times, to revisit the definition of dystopia: a fictional community or a society in which there is an undesirable element, or a combination of elements, producing a negative effect on this community or society. Wikipedia adds, "Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization,[1] totalitarian governments, environmental disaster,[2] or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society." With this definition in mind, you might think that dystopia is always negative, in its darkness, but it is not. It is not "easy" reading, with readily seen, simply digested answers. There is beauty in the contrasts between light and darkness, and well-written dystopia has within it the power to transfix and compel, maybe not in as simple a fashion as a feel-good-unicorn-and-rainbows tale, but it has that ability just the same.

Concerning Character: My favorite stories in this collection are stories in which, in the face of the overwhelming dehumanization of a community, that people still matter. In HEARKEN, an alcoholic mother, dying of liver failure, reteaches her daughter about not only her history, but her future -- in the beauty of her death-song, which only a Hearkener can hear. DOGSBODY tells the story of the coldness of the K Level Kids, and how, through an accounting oversight, there were once too many of them... and then, there weren't. What can one K kid do, to level the playing field? Nancy Holder's PALE RIDER mingles dystopia and fantasy to create a whole new place readers will desperately want to explore. Beth Revis' addition is absolutely chilling, and Carrie Ryan's is both breathtaking and heartbreaking. As I said, every story in this collection shows the bright and dark places in life, perhaps more sharply realized against the backdrop of dystopia.

Recommended for Fans Of...: the work of Veronica Roth, Melissa Marr, Margaret Stohl, Kelley Armstrong, Beth Revis, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Rachel Caine, and Carrie Ryan... sensing a theme, here? These are, indeed, the authors who contributed to this anthology. If you're a fan of anthologies like I am, there's another, edited by these two powerhouse authors - ENTHRALLED: PARANORMAL DIVERSIONS.

Cover Chatter: Cover theme colors of sepia, gray, and white with a hint of red worked beautifully for the mostly post-apocalyptic worlds found within. Snow - or ashes - cover the ground, and an eerily twiggy tree lurks skeletally in the background of cloud-choked gray sky.

Frankly, I would have stopped the imagery right there. World ending, drifts of ash, freakish tree: done. Instead, there's more... a white-haired girl in what appears to be a long leather dress and platform heels in the foreground... I have to admit, I don't know who she's meant to represent, or quite why she's there. No one in the book is rocking a long leather dress - when the world ends, leather dresses are amazingly hard to come by for the average person. And, her hair just hanging long and white - not looking dirty or knotted? In her dystopia, daily baths and brushing are mandatory, I guess. Ah, well, the girl makes less sense, but she seems mostly there for effect. I love the doubling effect of the title font, the corrosion appearing on the letters - it all works, and brings to mind the Frost poem, "Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice..." Even with the girl, this cover works. Dystopiatastic.

I found this book at the library. You can find SHARDS & ASHES edited by Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr online, or at an independent bookstore near you!

July 16, 2013

Rock on, Red Sonja

Here is a thing I am ashamed to admit: my childhood exposure to comic books was some hideous version of a cartoon-serialized New Testament that our neighborhood church handed out. This is not to say that there might not be some awesome versions - and if Gene Yuen Lang was producing it, I'd be all over it - but I recall these comic books as flat out awful, and I hated them on sight. So. My knowledge of Red Sonja as a comic book heroine? Is nil - all I know of her comes from a stupid 80's Schwarzenegger movie. And, since he's, like, the poster boy for strong women, you can just bet that movie was awesome and full of win. Not.

Oddly, I don't recall it as being all that awful, but keeping in mind that we watched it as part of Bad SciFi Night, I know it was truly wretched, just maybe not the worst of the heinous we'd ever seen in that film series. (And no, I won't watch it again to make sure.) So, to hear that some of my favorite authors, as well as an awesome-by-heritage (meaning, I've never played her games - not that she isn't awesome apart from her Daddy) game maker are involved in a 40th anniversary Red Sonja anthology is kind of interesting to me. Very, very interesting.

Marjorie M. Liu, Mercedes Lackey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Rhianna Pratchett, Leah Moore, Tamora Pierce, Blair Butler, Nancy Collins, Meljean Brook, Nicola Scott, Devin Grayson and others unmentioned -- what's not to love in this list!? I'm so excited to see some familiar authors in the mix, and this female-centric writing cast is going to make Sonja more red, more rad, and more mad, bad, and dangerous to know, for real.

Although, if they keep her rocking that ridiculous bikini whilst wielding a scimitar, I am going to have Second Thoughts.

Hat tip to Mary Sue & Co.

July 15, 2013

Twitter Roundup: Book and Diversity News, Mostly from NPR

Vive la France!
Since I'm still deeply enmeshed in my rewrite of my next novel, I thought I'd do another roundup of links, this time articles I tweeted about over the past week or so. (I seem to get active on Twitter whenever I have a lot of laptop work to do...plus I've been reading news on my iPad before I go to bed at night.) And I like rounding up my Twitter links because eventually, on Twitter, stuff goes away.

Anyway, here's hoping you A) had a Happy Bastille Day, and B) find something of interest here:

July 11, 2013

Kill the Redshirts...and Other Advice

In the latest Writer's Digest newsletter, I ran across some fun advice: 4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing. Lesson #1: destroy the literary equivalent of those pesky, oft-eliminated Redshirts. In fact, that's already come in handy for me during my rewrite, especially this bit:

Another red shirt that deserves what’s coming to him is what the Marshall Plan for Novelists refers to as Morse Code—the overuse of dots and dashes to make a character’s sentences trail off. This is a common tool used by many beginners, but like most tools, it has limited uses. You can’t hammer concrete nails with a screwdriver, and a soldering iron is practically useless for joining two pieces of wood. So go ahead and let the characters finish their sentences.
Apparently, back in 2004 when I first wrote this, my characters used to do a lot of trailing off...

Tamora Pierce! Elizabeth Wein! Robin LaFevers! So many of our writing heroes and blog buds are going to be taking part in SLJ's SummerTeen 2013. This online event takes place July 24th and it is FREE, so you have no reason not to sign up! Chat sessions! Giveaways! Author panels live on webcam, including one on Embracing Diversity! The one single reason I haven't already signed up is that I leave the country on July 25th, rather early in the a.m., so I have a limited ability to commit to anything the previous day, but I adore all three of those ladies I already mentioned, so...we'll see.

July 09, 2013

From L-Space to E-Space: Pratchett-y Crossover Novels from the NADWCon

AT LAST, we get to The Panel.

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There was a little bit of a rocky start - it's never good news that the room for your panel has been moved, five minutes before your panel begins. It's less good news to be moved to a room where the panelist has run over his time by ten minutes, and you're afraid people are not only not going to be able to find your panel, but have gotten hungry/tired/thirsty and have wandered off, tired of waiting. However, aside from those sorts of worrying hiccoughs, we gathered in pretty good order for our panel Sunday evening. Charlotte Taylor of Charlotte's Library was our moderator, and together with Sheila Ruth of Wands & Worlds and Anne Hoppe, Terry Pratchett's U.S. Children's editor, we started talking about the Pratchett-esque in YA and children's lit.

Of course, that needed a disclaimer, because really? There's no such thing as a book LIKE a Pratchett book. The genius sleeting through the universe has landed in only one particular head just now. Thus, we were only able to talk about books which were "close" or had "Pratchetty-appeal." And no, Pratchetty is not a made-up word.

In my mind, I divide the books up as Something Old, Something New and Something Awesome, which can, of course, cover both old and new. I chose to stay with a lot of the old books; both Charlotte and Sheila had plenty in Something Awesome, and Anne was on tap with Something New AND Something Awesome, which was good:

Something Old

(In which "old" means the first book in the series has been five or more years in print)

  • Robert Asprin; M.Y.T.H., INC. written later with Jody Lynn Nye
  • Dame Diana Wynne Jones; The Tough Guide to Fairyland, The Dark Lord of Derkholm and The Year of the Griffin are especially Pratchetty; of course, your DWJ selections will vary;
  • John Connelly; THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, about a grieving 12-year-old who slips into fairy due to the influence of the fairytales his mother used to read him, and THE GATES, in which a Hadron Collider leads the way to the gates of ...hell.
  • Mercedes Lackey; THE FIVE HUNDRED KINGDOMS. The latest one of these was out in 2011, so not technically old-old, but they're an established series of six
  • Lawrence Watt-Evans; the Ethshar books, all twelve of them are written in their own world, with humor and quirk
  • Garth Nix; SABRIEL, LIRAEL, ABHORSEN. Classic worldbuilding, subtle characterizations
  • Jonathan Stroud; The Bartimaeus trilogy: THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND, THE GOLEM'S EYE, PTOLEMY'S GATE, etc.
  • Meg Burden; NORTHLANDER, and THE KING COMMANDS - the characterization is Pratchetty.
  • Vivian Vande Velde; HEIR APPARENT, DEADLY PINK, her VR novels ARE THE BEST. Fractured fairytales and all kinds of crazy happens inside ...a game.
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  • Rachel Hartman; SERAPHINA. Dragons! In a medieval-type city! Who wear CLOTHES! Quite Pratchetty, in its subtlety.
  • Rick Yancey, THE FIFTH WAVE. So new, I haven't read this one yet, but Sheila says "Cybilsworthy." And Pratchetty.
  • Sarah A. Hoyt; DRAW ONE IN THE DARK. What if you turn out not to be the only secret wereanimal in the neighborhood? It's a panther-meets-dragon story
  • Justine Larbalestier, Sarah Rees Brennan; TEAM HUMAN. This book also falls under Something Awesome. Loved it.
  • Althea Kontis; ENCHANTED, and its soon-to-come sequel, HERO. Fractured fairytales FTW!
  • Caro King; SEVEN SORCERERS, SHADOW SPELL, its sequel. British MG novels from Charlotte's list of personal faves
  • Jasper Fforde, THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER, SONG OF THE QUARKBEAST. Very British, quirky, weird worlds, quite Pratchetty
  • Sarah Prineas; THE MAGIC THIEF, plus its sequels, LOST and FOUND. Sort of neo-Victorian feel, complete with magic and skin-of-the-teeth escapes
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  • Derek Landy; SKULLDUGGERY PLEASANT. There are TONS of these books with the kind of dialogue which is quick and funny and very British indeed. Nicely Pratchetty.
  • Jasper Fforde; NURSERY CRIMES. Only two but screamingly funny and with nuances and subtleties that are Pratchetty.
  • Patrick Ness; the Chaos Walking series, beginning with THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO. Only Pratchetty in that there are nuances of characterization and worldbuilding; not what you normally think of when you think of Pratchett companion books, yet awesome
  • David Macinnis Gill, SOUL ENCHILADA. A new car! Some... strings... attached...
  • Garth Nix; THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM. Each day of the week has its own book, each day of the week is royalty, in this world... and, each day of the week is quirky, powerful, and dangerous
  • Adam Rex; THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY. Just such a weird, sideways, funny, tender, surprising book, Pratchett-folk will enjoy it, we think.
  • Frances Hardinge; FLY BY NIGHT. SUCH. A. GOOD. BOOK. Fast-paced, funny dialogue, completely ridiculous situations, such fun, and very Pratchetty.
  • Martin Millar; LONELY WEREWOLF GIRL. It's not just bad hair days with Angua, now...

Some websites to start you off on finding books which are like Pratchett books in the SFF realm include NoveList, BookLamp, home of the Book Genome project, YALSA's Hub, Kirkus' blog, author-run The Enchanted Inkspot, SFF round-up site, Grasping for the Wind, the UK site, An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, and of course, The Cybils lists every year.

What was fun for me was to find that I'd read 99% of the books chosen by my fellow panelists. But, we didn't stop with that. We polled our audience, because we all wanted to know what THEY thought were good books, and where to find the funny, some poignant, fractured fairytale, philosophy and social satire types of books that Pratchett does so well. The fans didn't disappoint; they mentioned books and places to find them that I was scrawling down, hoping to find later. We were grateful indeed for Tech Boy's quick fingers on the keyboard as he typed down our audience suggestions. They may not seem Pratchetty to you, but had particular appeal for the readers who suggested them:

Something Crowdsourced
  • Diana Peterfreund; RAMPANT and ASCENDANT: killer unicorns FTW!
  • Artemis Fowl series, in graphic or otherwise
  • Sarah Beth Durst's INTO THE WILD
  • Anything Neil Gaiman
  • Phillip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS
  • Kaja and Phil Folio, GIRL GENIUS
  • China MiĆ©ville, RAILSEA
  • Douglas Adams, THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE, of course
  • Cornelia Funke, RESTLESS & INKHEART
  • Diane Duane, YOUNG WIZARDS series; the tenth is coming!
  • Stephanie Burgis, KAT, INCORRIGIBLE, The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, and sequels
  • Libba Bray, GOING BOVINE
  • Piers Anthony, Xanth books*
  • The Book Bag, a UK site
  • And, finally, We Love This Book, not a blog, per se, but it does cover YA and children's SFF.

We want to thank everyone for coming out and talking to us, for asking questions and sharing their own reads. The conversation in literature is richer for having everyone speaking up and speaking out! Here's to more talk, more sharing, more reading and more writing.

*A word about Xanth: we had a brief exchange with the reader who suggested the Piers Anthony books, about the sexism we've discovered in a lot of them, - we loved the puns when we were small, but female-as-butt-of-joke got old. As with all books, read at your own risk.

July 08, 2013

North American Discworld Con: The Good

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Ohh, fandom. You are vastly amusing, at all times.

Still trying to process four days of ... crazybright, colorful, randomized flashes of input. My brain is just a blur of sights and sounds and my own opinions, and I'm thrashing about to find some meaning from it. Stay tuned! Meanwhile...

Here is a joy, which remains unalloyed: fandoms create, and there is value in this creation. The Author pens the words, and the fandom breathes the words to life. Cons affirm the value of creating your own world, and living in it fearlessly, regardless of what hundreds of other hotel-residents who are there for the merely mundane, like family reunions and weddings and such might think. This is the pure glee of going to a Con. Costumes and a long-running in-joke.

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Here is a wish: that we would have our long-running jokes, but that we might share. Who was it that said the difference between geeks and nerds is that geekery is acquisitive and nerdom shares? That's vastly oversimplified, yes, but it revealed itself as a truth.

We arrived early for the Con, on the 4th to enjoy the fireworks on the waterfront, and there were a massive group of people at the hotel to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. We were in an elevator when a group asked us who we were, and what our con was about, and Tech Boy attempted to explain. "Well, it's mainly a literature conference," he began. "Fantasy literature, by Sir Terry Pratchett. He wrote twenty-eight books -- "

"Thirty-two," someone interjected from the back.

"No, twenty-nine," someone else had to say.

"Um, well, anyway," Tech Boy went on desperately, "He's a British author, and --"

"If you count RAISING STEAM, that'll make it thirty," someone was insisting.

And, just that fast, we lost the moment to share and devolved into Miss Know It All Knows More-dom. I was both amused and embarrassed for the pissing match that followed. Shall we count ALL Pratchett books? At a Discworld Con, shall we count only Discworld books, including the one rumored to be coming out in October, even though it's not out yet? Shall we maybe answer the question of the man who actually knows nothing about Pratchett, wants to know who we are, and why we're there, and then maybe send him off to his library to start the series???? Fandom FAIL. Le sigh.

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Here's another wish: that people of color would discover - rediscover? - fandom.

Dear People of Color: Missed you at Con. No, really. We MISSED YOU. Baltimore is a diverse city in many ways, but the Con attendees were, by and large, not really from the area. Of our number, which we are told numbered into the eight hundreds, there were TEN people of color that I saw on my frequent perambulations. And that's being generous - erring on the side of "maybe you're biracial, and we're counting you, too." Three Asian women and one man, possibly two, three African American women, counting myself, possibly one South Asian, and one biracial woman. And that was it.

Granted: a Con is bloody expensive. A Con in which you dress up, attend Maskerades and Gala Dinners, in which you take time off of work - the price adds up. Who has time or impetus to go all the way to Baltimore, spend money on a posh hotel and food and parking (bloody parking, Catherine Asaro parked for five hours and paid $26 for the privilege - sheesh, Marriott!), not to mention the blandishments of the Dealer Room where swag might be purchased? Not a lot of people, and that's just the truth. And maybe some people of color would prefer to take their fantasy leanings and share them at The House of Mouse or other summertime destinations where dressing up is equated with childhood, and not as embarrassing, instead of at a homegrown fan-based book con. But, I think there are just as many nonwhite fantasy book nerds out there as there are dominant culture fans, and I was really disappointed that they weren't in attendance.

This is a problem at more than this particular Con. Every year, I look at Lissa's pictures from ComicCon and the Gratz family's pictures from DragonCon and the like, I still see a dearth of folk. I want to encourage non-white fans to get out there and make a place for themselves. See, the thing is this: FANTASY FICTION IS ALL IMAGINATION: the Discworld - and all worlds - are only as big as we imagine. Please, put yourself in the picture, and let us imagine you, too.

(I know. I remember the whole stupid thing in the Hunger Games fandom over Rue. Not gonna lie; some people in fantasy fandoms don't want people of color to be part of the fandom imagination in any way, because it threatens the world they've imagined. Their issue; don't let it be yours. You just be you.)

< /rant >

Costuming, filking, artworking, rubbernecking, chatting, crafting, and basically dreeing one's weird; these were all Con activities... and The Panel! Meeting Sheila from Wands & Worlds IN PERSON for the first time! General squealishness and bookisnness! Stay tuned for the rehash, with alllll the links. ☺

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And, feel free to check out more completely random Con pictures.

July 07, 2013

Conning in Bawlmore

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Ah, Discworld Con. Your frenetic pace, colorful costumes, and indifferent hotel staff have brought me weird looks, chats with strangers, and odd questions. I have been baptized in the scalding deep end of the book enthusiast, and have been locked in amongst the loonies. Four days of seeing wizards, hearing people exclaim, "Crivens!" or, carrying tiny scythes and communicating by all-caps SQUEAKS. Four days of seeing barefoot, red-haired people painted blue, witches with stern expressions and partially invisible hats, well-meaning matrons in scorched aprons collecting for The Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons. All the crazy of the Discworld, put forth with all the heart in the world. Made for fans, by fans, these past few days have been an exhausting peep into the provenance of the root word for fan... that is, fanatic. I have much, much, MUCH more to say, more about the people of "Bawlmore," more about what I think makes a good Con (from my vast knowledge of being in the middle of my first), more about Cons in general, about collectors of knowledge and sharers of knowledge, and which kind of fan I want to be...

...but, I'm also on a panel in forty minutes - with SHEILA RUTH of Wands & Worlds and CHARLOTTE TAYLOR of Charlotte's Library, as well as Anne Hoppe of Macmillian, so while I am undoubtedly opinionated, I am also just a tad nervous, ans can't think straight enough to blog properly. I shall, instead, leave you with the an adorkably hip wizard and his Wee Free grandaby.

Cons: bringing the weird to life with the whole family.

July 04, 2013

Links on Diversity, and Such

Happy Independence Day!
As Tanita mentioned not long ago, we are both in a bit of a work-related mire this month, so instead of this Thursday's toon I have a few links I've been saving up for just such an occasion:
  • Hurrah for UCLA's Mixed Student Union! Read more about it in this LA Times article (hat tip to Judy Okamura, mom of one of my best friends since grade school--a friend who also happens to be mixed race). It's an amazing article, and I really wish there had been a club like this when I was an undergrad at UC Berkeley. There was a Hapa Student Union--and that was the closest thing. And, of course, I'm only a hapa in the absolute most general sense of the term possible (half-Asian--and South Asian at that). It was interesting to read that the UC application form is still the same with respect to race/ethnicity as it was when I applied over 20 years ago (ACK!!): "The form currently allows applicants to check several boxes for race or ethnicity but does not include specific "mixed" or "biracial" ones." Methinks perhaps an update is in order...
  • My friend, writer Kristin Johnson, sent me a link to a PW article about diversity in children's books--or the lack thereof. It's really about First Book's Stories for All Program: "The Stories for All Project builds on First Book’s purchase this past spring of $1 million worth of culturally diverse books and other content from HarperCollins and Lee & Low." But it's also got a lot of interesting stats on culturally diverse kids' books.
  • Via the SCBWI Expression Online newsletter comes this piece from the UK newspaper the Telegraph addressing the question "Why don't we take children's books seriously?" written by their current children's laureate. A good question indeed...
  • Lastly, since I'm currently rewriting, I found this article on revision by Dianne Warren interesting and encouraging (via Writers Digest newsletter). Revise like you mean it, she says: "Don’t despair that you have a lot more work ahead of you because you’ll learn things that you can learn no other way, and you’ll love it, and you won’t want the writing to end." 
Really, my current issue is not that I want it to end or not; it's the deadline looming overhead like a sword of Damocles. But instead of decapitation, it's the publishing delays that would result if I somehow don't manage to meet my deadline. And you really can't always predict how long a rewrite will take. It takes as long as it takes. Speaking of which, I'd better get back to it...

Happy Fourth, and Happy Weekend!

July 01, 2013

We'll Be Back... With Stories!

The revolving door of our summer activities leaves little times for updates this week. T's out the door to Baltimore by way of Irvine; Aquafortis is frantically finishing revision notes whilst juggling packing for India. Updates will be a bit sporadic until the middle of August, but stay tuned for quick reviews, comments on bookish topics in airports, explanations on what's up with snakes in baskets, and all the nerdish joys of the 2013 North American Discworld costume-spotting - I'm hoping someone will comes as Maurice and ALL of his educated rodents.

Hope you're all enjoying your summer, too.