Sunday, November 16, 2008

Things I should be doing instead of reading your blog

1. Widdling down my to-read pile which, I assure you, is bursting at the seams. No, it's warping my bookshelf quite literally. I need to add more shelves to the unit but Wal-Mart (hush, hippies, I'm POOR) doesn't carry them. ANGRY.

2. Working on either of the two YA books I'm meant to be writing and have manuscripts-in-progress for. I have organized them both into Scrivener (which I discovered thanks to Maureen Johnson's blog), as well as an incomplete thought of a middle-grade novel and a not-so-short short story that I wrote two Augusts ago. The crop-rotation method has ceased to work on either of these projects and tho I have disguised one as my NaNoWriMo for this year (I didn't start it this month but I didn't work on it for the first half of the month so, no harm no foul?) and still have managed more than a scribble.

3. The dishes. I think there's stuff growing in my sink.

4. Reading more books by Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, and M.T. Anderson since they'll all be at BookPeople this week and I'd like to have something useful to say to them. I'm halfway through Magic or Madness right now and totally into it, but that leaves little time for me to engage the rest of the books in this "upcoming authors" stack.

5. Studying Cramming for the GRE which I am taking on Tuesday. TUESDAY! I've been operating under the assumption that if I don't know it now I'm not going to know it anytime soon, but, as Tuesday Doomsday approaches, I'm getting nervouser and nervouser. And less able to use real, dictionary-certified words.

6. Sending in my writing sample to UT, where I have applied for a fellowship in their MFA program. I'm a crazy person and am completely terrified that my work is not what they're looking for. I've gotta just stamp the envelope and put it in the mail.

So, you see, you people writing blogs are NOT helping me at all. Cut it out. I have too much to do to be reading your clever, funny, exciting, tragic, important ramblings & rants on the interwebs. No more!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The &#@$%($^&@ censors make me sad.

I live in Texas. As you may have heard, Texas is a haven for conservatives, Christians, and Republicans. I'm cool with that. I don't really take issue with other people's values unless they're trying to tell me what to do or how to think. Usually, they don't. Especially since I live in Austin, which is a blue city in this red state.

But every time I turn the corner I see something about books being challenged in high schools and middle schools, libraries, etc. And this doesn't so much bother me because I don't believe in book banning - and I don't, I think it's insane - but because I don't think the people questioning young people's literature are even reading the books.

If they were reading, they'd see that the girls in Lauren Myracle's TTYL, one of the most challenged books this year (and currently raising a hullabaloo just north of my town), might make some bad choices, but that they ultimately have a moral compass and deal with the consequences of their actions. Who cares if the author has chosen some particularly "shocking" language - this is the reality of being a teenager.

You can't take bits of books out of context and present them as problems - the book as a whole is what's important, what can create a dialogue between you and your children/students/friends. Banning books puts up a wall and creates an atmosphere of distrust.

I was at a panel tonight given by several of Austin's YA Authors, including Jennifer Ziegler, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Margo Rabb, and others. Jennifer mentioned at one point that you don't need to add drama when you write YA, because being a teenager is dramatic. I couldn't agree more - it's rough out there, it's the hardest thing to go through, and books provide a great escape, a wonderful therapy, and a valid educational endeavor. Whether its a gothic fantasy like Cynthia's, a heartbreaker like Margo's, or a dramedy like Jennifer's, YA authors have a way of getting to teens - who are we to take that away?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A New Future

I am so impressed with my country right now. I'm watching John Lewis talk on MSNBC, saying he didn't think he'd see this in his lifetime. I didn't, either. I was afraid that our biases and our judgments that we pretend no longer exist would prevent this moment for a few generations down the line.

We have elected an African-American president. But more than that, Barack Obama will make us so proud to be Americans, even those of us who have started to feel that there's nothing we can do to turn our country around.

I hate talking about politics most of the time, but I can't let this moment slip by without expressing my happiness.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Where Did Halloween Go?

When I lived in Brooklyn, I didn't expect many trick-or-treaters. I lived in an apartment building in an urban area - I can see why parents didn't bring their kids to my door. But now that I live in a house in Texas, I figured we'd get TONS of Halloweenies last night. Right? I mean, we're practically in the 'burbs!

Mark and I sat at home last night and waited. My parents came over (they're visiting from Maine) and we made burgers on the grill (Mark makes great burgers) and watched Scrubs on DVD (the musical episode, specifically) and waited some more. Not one child rang our doorbell. I was so excited to see the costumes. I figured that even though we're in a cul-du-sac off a main road, there are enough kids around here (our neighbor even runs a daycare!) that we would need two huge bags of candy to fill their bags.

And now I have those bags of candy - open, even - in my house. Where they will be eaten. By me and Mark. Even we don't need this much candy in our lives! I mean, come on. I bought us a bag of fun-size Almond Joys to not give out at all, to hoard for when all the delicious yummies had been doled out to costumed children. But they never came.

What is up with that? I know it's not like it used to be even ten years ago - we don't know our neighbors like we did then, and lots of parents in my home town were driving their kids around rather than walking by the time I was in high school. But do people not do it at all anymore? My mom tells me that when she was a kid, people gave out homemade treats like popcorn balls and caramel apples. Now we have candy x-rays set up at the police station to make sure sealed candy bars aren't filled with needles. In just two generations, has America gone that sour?

There is cheer on November 1st, though. While I have way too much candy, I did get to go to Texas Book Festival and meet the very cool authors Melissa de la Cruz, Lauren Myracle, Paula Yoo (who loves New London as much as me, yay!) and Jennifer Ziegler (who is from Austin and with whom I've totally talked to at work without knowing it). These ladies have super cool books, and their panel discussion rocked. Paula even gave us a violin performance - some classical favorites followed by some Led Zeppelin! My books are signed and happy now, and I am going to go read them and eat Swedish Fish...if Mark left any for me.