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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Music Monday #2

For reasons that probably only make sense in my head*, this one is listed on my iPod under “Foxfire.”  For me, it’s got that humid, swampy, night-filled-with-fireflies-and-other-glowy-things feel to it.

*Long story short, I considered using it as a book title, just because it’s an awesome word.

  • You Are the Everything – R. E. M.
  • Look Out, Look Out – Perfume Genius
  • Venus in Furs – The Velvet Underground
  • Putting the Dog to Sleep – The Antlers
  • The High Road – Broken Bells
  • St. Peter’s Cathedral – Death Cab for Cutie
  • Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks – The National
  • Hey You – Pink Floyd
  • Ask for Answers – Placebo
  • This Place is a Prison – The Postal Service
  • No Surprises – Radiohead
  • Let’s Get Lost – Beck/Bat for Lashes
 
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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Something new – Music Mondays

I don’t blog enough, this much I know.  In my defense, I’m usually buried in writing fiction, but I should still use this little web-corner more than I do.  (I have also just put up some links of other places to find me, just over there —>.)  But I’m going to start a regular Music Monday post, in addition to whatever random posts pop up in my addled brain.

The “official” playlist for First Novel (otherwise known as Weird Novel) will remain in my pocket for now, as will the playlists I’ve got for some of the major characters, but my iPod is laden with others that help me get into – and stay in – specific moods for writing.  Most of these *should* be on YouTube, blip, or otherwise available for free web listening.  If you love something, go forth to your retailer of choice.

Just because I’m listening to it as I type this, the first Music Monday is my “Mellow” list.  (Actually one of many that could be described that way.)  Used for getting into that slightly-emo-but-peaceful headspace.  I wouldn’t write comedy to it, but you might. 🙂

Title/Artist:

  • Cold, Kind and Lemon Eyes – Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s
  • Falling – Wiretree
  • Before the Great War – Vandaveer
  • Dandelion Days – Adam McHeffey
  • Poison Oak – Bright Eyes
  • Cinder & Smoke – Iron and Wine
  • Temazcal – Monsters of Folk
  • Somebody Loved – The Weepies
  • Heart of Love – Army of Me
  • Let’s Dance – M. Ward (Yes, this is a David Bowie cover.  I was skeptical too.)
  • The State I Am In – Belle & Sebastian
  • Holocene – Bon Iver
  • A Bird is a Song – Chris Walla
  • Johnnie – Swear and Shake
  • Love Love Love – The Mountain Goats
  • Poke – Frightened Rabbit
  • After the Storm – Mumford & Sons

Any and all music recs left in the comments will be appreciated.  I feel about new music the way Cookie Monster feels about cookies.

…and now I want a cookie.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Arrrr!

I’m a recent convert to LibraryThing, but if you haven’t checked it out yet you should do so today.  They’ve translated the whole thing into pirate-speak and I can’t stop giggling.  (You can turn it off if it gets annoying.)

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Update on the #YesGayYA mess (and yes, I’m calling it a mess)

I wish I could say I’m surprised.

It may be misguided to say that I had difficulty accepting the whole “truth” of the article referenced in my last post because what was detailed there was so counter to my own experience, and indeed I may be guilty of making my own generalizations because of said experience, but nevertheless, I did have a hard time buying that the story as it was laid out was true.  As willing as I was to give the authors of that article the benefit of the doubt, accept that something posted on the Publishers Weekly blog had been fact-checked, and not jump to conclusions simply based on my one case, with my one book, I had a nagging feeling at the back of my brain that there was more to the story.

And that turns out to be the case.

On the wonderful Colleen Lindsay’s blog today, the truth comes out, a truth which makes it clear that, whether the authors of the original article simply took from that agent interaction what they wanted to hear, or whether different motives were at play, the agent in question – and the whole episode – were wildly misrepresented.  I won’t attempt to repeat everything Colleen and her guest blogger, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, say, I’ll just urge you to go and read the post here.

I stand by my opinion that this kind of thing does happen, simply because we live in a world where, well, this kind of thing does happen, sad and unfortunate as that is.  Much of the impetus behind my first post on the subject, however, was my belief that it is dangerous, unhealthy, and sensationalist to bandy about labels like “homophobia” without incontestable grounds for it.  To do so is not just – to put it mildly – unfair to the person about whom it’s being said, it also diminishes the power of such labels, and therefore they mean less in situations when it’s justifiably called for.

Again, we need more of all kinds of realism in our YA, even in the fantastical, the paranormal, the speculative.  It saddens me that a false route was taken in an attempt to make that point.  That, too, diminishes something powerful.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The fine line between issues and stereotypes

 Warning: rambling post ahead.

Anyone who pays attention to the rumblings of the YA-verse on twitter (as in YA writers, agents who represent them, editors and publishing houses who pub them etc) will have seen today the kerfuffle over this article on the Publishers Weekly blog.  Briefly, it is the story of a writing team who say that a specific (but unnamed) agent would only agree to represent them if they “straightened out” a gay character in their book.

I have Views on this.  Herewith:

For starters, the title of the article is misleading.  It isn’t agents (plural) to which the article is referring, it is one agent.  And yes, I believe making that distinction is important.  To generalize in that way is simply another form of exactly the same problem that’s being railed against.  You can’t generalize a whole profession, a whole industry, by one member of it, in the same way that you can’t – and shouldn’t – generalize people regarding their sexuality.  To claim that “agents” – without giving specifics – do this kind of thing is sensationalist and misleading. 

I queried a novel with an openly bisexual main character, two other openly gay characters, and an atmosphere indicating that none of this was frowned upon.  I didn’t do it because of any Issue, the main character is bi because he told me he was and I couldn’t think of a good reason to take it out.  The others are gay because that’s how the plot worked.  No part of the book is about sexuality, it’s just about people.  Did I get rejections?  Yes.  Did any of those rejections cite the sexuality of the characters as a reason?  Not a single one.  I received two offers of representation, and had phone calls with each of those agents.  In one, it was mentioned only in an “I love that you did that” passing kind of way.  In the other, there was no need to mention it at all.  Off the top of my head I can name half a dozen YA books that contain LGBQT characters that I’ve read this summer alone.  Agents will take on these books.  Editors will love them.  Houses will publish them.  To claim otherwise is a tactic that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Why?  Oh, I don’t even know where to start on the reasons, but it’s mostly these: because it will scare people off writing books with a full representation of the spectrum of humanity, and authors will self-censor before those nameless, faceless agents get a chance.  Because authors will get more militant about “standing up for the cause” and the books will wind up being “issue books” about nothing other than sexuality, and that’s a huge, undesirable problem.  Being defined by one’s sexuality is exactly what most LGBQT people I know don’t want.  They’re people, not walking lists of who they sleep with.  In fact, I don’t know any straight person who’d want to be defined by that list – rarely would it paint an entirely flattering picture of the person in question.

It’s easy to get upset when reading an article such as the one linked above, and it’s easy to take up arms for the cause, especially when everyone else is.  (Look up the #YesGayYA hashtag on twitter to see a good example.)  And I have nothing but respect and admiration for anyone who does look at something like this happening and thinks, this is wrong.  This shouldn’t happen.  I agree.  It is and it shouldn’t and I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever that it does happen, daily and behind closed doors and in closed minds.  The thing is, though, that you don’t get to pick which generalizations and stereotypes are okay to perpetuate and which ones are Issues.  You can’t, on one hand, say, “Agents do this and it is WRONG, everyone fight back!” but, at the same time, complain that YA novels (or any other subset of fiction) contain stereotypical, white-bread characters and that needs to be changed.

In short, you can’t rail against the generalization of sexuality but lump an entire profession into the category of all having one single, unified opinion on said sexuality.

Even if you read the article, don’t generalize, and accept that it was one agent who did this…well, so what?  Sure, it’s possible that they were being guided by personal beliefs, but equally possible they were being guided by what they thought might sell.  Agents misjudge what might sell all the time, and you only have to read about [insert NYT-bestselling author here] getting 50 rejections before landing an agent to know that.  There are hundreds of agents who don’t represent what I write, and hundreds of agents who represent what I don’t write.  There are agents who request edits from their authors that turn out not to be the right editorial choices.  I personally know at least three people to whom that’s happened.

That doesn’t make the gap between author and agent an Issue.  It makes that agent not the right match for that author.  Nothing else.

And to add to what I’m sure is a list as long as my arm of unpopular opinions I hold, I’m not at all sure that the battle-cry of “we need more X” (where X equals any kind of minority or difference from the “norm”) isn’t part of the problem.  Do we need more gay characters in YA?  Yeah, we probably do.  We also need more kickass girls and fewer assholes and more non-catty relationships between BFFs and a whole host of other things.  We need more realistic people in our books, however those people manifest.  Defining anyone, be it an actual human or an imaginary creation, by one particular aspect of who they are is a slippery slope that, I think, subtly but surely teaches us to view them as one-dimensional.  Not good for a person, not good for a character.  Open-mindedness is about more than accepting one whole facet of a person.  It’s about accepting that they have four thousand whole facets and each of them deserve attention.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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