Monday, December 1, 2014

Stuff and Things, Including Holiday Gifts and Sex Ed in Our Schools (Unrelated ^_^)

[Warning for those afraid of heights and also my mother: trapeze photos below!]

A quick note to anyone who's considering buying signed/inscribed copies of my books from Harvard Book Store as we approach the holidays: I will be out of town, hence unable to sign things, from December 11 to December 19, then again at Christmas Actual. Please time your purchases accordingly so that we can get things to you in time!  Instructions for buying signed copies are behind the link above.

Also, I recommend the article "Sex education in the US is screwing our kids," at Salon, by Alanna Schubach for Dame, which, among other things, links the failure to educate our kids about sex to the prevalence of sexual assault on our college campuses and pretty much everywhere. Excerpt: "Any given student’s experience of sexual education, then—if she receives it at all—is subject to a staggering range of forces: congressional budgeting, state policy, school compliance, community climate, instructor competence. Often forgotten amid the clamor is an adolescent’s right to an understanding of, and ability to make decisions about, his own health. Advocates for comprehensive sex ed see a clear line between curricula riddled with misinformation, and early pregnancy, STI rates, sexual assault, and substance abuse and depression among LGBTQ youth."

Finally, I have been remiss in reporting that TSNY Beantown, the marvelous flying trapeze school, has a new location in the heart of Boston, right next door to North Station and the TD Garden, at 35 Lomasney Way.  If you go there, you, you yourself, may learn to do this:

Or experience this:

 Or, alternately, spend a lot of time falling into the net, which is also fun.

It's great. And it gives you an excuse to walk around town wearing strange socks with chalk all over your pants. TSNY Beantown, folks. They also have classes in silks, static trapeze, trampoline, lyra (aerial hoop), and Spanish web.  Their classes are suitable for all levels of ability; I had certainly never been on a trapeze when I went the first time.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Jacqueline Woodson's Response

Jacqueline Woodson, divinely wonderful writer and winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for Brown Girl Dreaming, has responded to Daniel Handler's watermelon joke in the New York Times. Here's a link to her piece, called "The Pain of the Watermelon Joke." It's in the printed paper today, too. (Thanks, Sarah, for all these links!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

All My "All" Songs

Occasionally, when I'm not feeling picky about what I want to listen to, I'll open up my songlist, choose a place to start, and listen alphabetically. It can create some interesting sorting results, especially when you get to a word that frequently starts song titles (like "Close/r," "Don't," "Long," "Love," and "You," for example...). Just now, I've somehow ended up in the middle of all the "All" songs. The links below take you to the songs on youtube (though I haven't watched all the videos). Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the music :o). (And by the way, this is an open invitation for any friends who read my blog to tell me about any "All" songs they're appalled not to find in my library.)

All About That Bass -- Meghan Trainor
All Along the Watchtower (by Bob Dylan, but this is the Bear McCreary Battlestar Galactica version)
All Four Seasons -- Sting
All I Need -- Radiohead
All I Really Want -- Alanis Morissette
All I Want -- Joni Mitchell
All Imperfect Things -- Michael Nyman (from The Piano soundtrack)
All Messed Up -- Pierce Turner
All That Heaven Will Allow -- Bruce Springsteen
All the Pigs, All Lined Up -- Nine Inch Nails (It's kind of incomprehensible, so it's hard to tell, but, being NIN, there's a good chance it's not safe for work.)
All The Time -- We're About 9 (You need to click on the correct track -- it's worth the trouble, such a pretty song!)
All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands -- Sufjan Stevens
All These Things That I've Done -- The Killers
All You Need Is Love -- The Beatles
Alles Neu -- Peter Fox

Monday, November 24, 2014

In the Wake of the National Book Award Ceremony...

I'm getting a lot out of the discussion in the comments of Roger Sutton's blog post in response to Daniel Handler's racist watermelon joke at the National Book Award ceremony last week.  I haven't read every comment yet, but there's a lot here, a lot of people making astute observations and criticisms and explaining muddy things with great clarity. For example, I like the way some commenters are eviscerating Roger's criticisms of poet Nikky Finney's response to Handler's comments. (That link is to only one of the comments on this topic -- keep reading.)

Also, this seems like a good segue to reminding people that the We Need Diverse Books campaign is still going strong. Help the organization reach its stretch goals!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday Randutiae

Okay, I should never have said that thing about how the next thing I blog is going to be the girl superhero post. All it's doing is preventing me from blogging anything at all. When in fact, I have some mighty complaints, like, for example, why in the name of all that is reasonable is the fabulous Jeremy Jordan not going to be starring in Finding Neverland now that it's moving to Broadway? Jeremy Jordan was SO SO SO SO wonderful as J.M. Barrie in that show. He has so much talent and charisma, his voice is beautiful, he is beautiful. AARGHHH! Thank goodness I had the chance to see him originating the role at the A.R.T. this summer/fall.

Also, big cats like boxes, too; baby elephants have, like, no control over their legs whatsoever; and there are some really great moments in this video of (domestic) cats freaking out. Oh my goodness, the kitten and the lizard.

Also, a conversation with a writer friend recently about the distinction between young adult and middle grade books led me to a conversation with children's lit colleagues about how difficult these categorizations can be sometimes, and how problematic. One of my colleagues linked me to an interesting mention of the lawsuit currently arising around the question of Maurice Sendak's will, all related to the category problem. "The suit argues that the [Sendak] estate doesn't intend to transfer to the [Beatrix] Potter books because 'they are children's books, not rare books,' the Inquirer writes. 'The Rosenbach [Museum and Library, to which Sendak left his rare book collection] calls that reasoning not only faulty but rife with irony: Sendak argued that divisions between adult and children's literature were invalid — in his work as well as that of others.'"

If it's any comfort to those of you who are wondering when on earth I'm ever going to publish another book, the reason I'm not getting to the girl superheroes post is because it's a big project, and the only big project I have the mental space for right now is this revision that I'm working really, really hard on. I hope that before too long, I will have some news about my next book. Thank you so, so much for being patient, everyone. Godspeed to all writers, especially during NaNoWriMo! And by the way, if the idea behind NaNoWriMo (write 50,000 words during the month of November) paralyzes and depresses you, remember that it's not actually about word count; the fastest I've ever written 50,000 words is probably eight months and I do this full time. Just be writing. That's all that matters if you are a writer: that you are writing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fall in Mount Auburn Cemetery

The next thing I do on this blog will be my post about superhero girls and women, so help me God.  I just looked it up and I've been promising to do that since July! Eeek! But for now, here's a little bit of autumn in New England for those of you who don't get to see this kind of thing.

View from the cemetery tower.

You might notice that there's a (fatalistic) turkey
(given that it's the cemetery in November) in this picture.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

We Need Diverse Books!

We Need Diverse Books from Undercurrent on Vimeo.

Everybody, please go check out the We Need Diverse Books fund-raising campaign. Lots of good information over there about WNDB, which is dedicated to advocating and supporting non-majority narratives in children's literature. If you can, contribute; if you can't, consider passing on the news to someone else. Some of the prizes for contributing are pretty nifty: for writers, "Bypass the Query Queue" -- one pass to jump to the front line of an agent's inbox for a PB, MG, or YA manuscript. Another one for writers: an agent critique (MG and YA). For art lovers: original art by Cindy Pon, and let me tell you, I would be jumping on that. Go check it out!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wonderful Article, Wonderful Song

I love Elizabeth Minkel's article in the New Statesman, "Read whatever the hell you want: why we need a new way of talking about young adult literature." It soothes my heartsore parts that are so tired of the condescension. Thank you, Elizabeth Minkel. Also, thanks for making me laugh when you said, "(I saw the piece somewhat misleadingly shared with the burning question, “What would Henry James think of YA?” and for the love of God, if there is a single person whose opinion on YA I care less about…)" HA HA HA HEE hoo, seriously, yes.

Also, I could listen to Ryan Keberle on trombone, Michael Rodriguez on trumpet, Jorge Roeder on bass, Eric Doob on drums and Camila Meza's vocals performing Sufjan Stevens' "Sister" over and over and over again. Check out these gorgeous lyrics and press play. "Sister" takes up the first 5:25 or so of the video. (You can download the mp3 for free here; click on "download audio".) (And if you can't see the video, go to that link or to my Blog Actual.)


What the water wants is hurricanes
And sailboats to ride on its back
What the water wants is sun kiss
And land to run into and back

I have a fish stone burning my elbow
Reminding me to know that I'm glad
That I have a bottle filled with my old teeth
They fell out like a tear in the bag

And I have a sister somewhere in Detroit
She has black hair and small hands
And I have a kettledrum
I'll hit the earth with you

And I will crochet you a hat
And I have a red kite
I'll put you right in it
I'll show you the sky

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Peaceful Country Living

[Trigger warning for deadly weapons and also dog attacks.]

[But aside from that, it's a funny post! I swear!]

So. As it says in my bio, "I grew up in the countryside of northeastern Pennsylvania in a village with cows and barns and beautiful views from the top of the hill and all that good stuff." This is true. It was beautiful, peaceful, and I miss it terribly. But… you know how distance provides perspective?

On a recent evening, one of my sisters texted me and another of my sisters to let us know that she was going back to our hometown for a night. She wanted advice on a place in the village where she and her friend might camp overnight without bothering anyone. I thought to myself, Oh, how lovely! I want to do that!… And then I tried to answer her question.

Shortly thereafter, I started taking screencaps.

Sharing them here, particularly for those of you who may have an idealized notion of country living in the USA. My contributions are in green on the right, my sisters' in gray on the left. The conversation is not continuous; I didn't take screencaps of our tangents, or of my sisters helping me remember directions.

To clarify: By "demented people," she means people who might threaten her with loaded guns.

To clarify: Yes. Our grandmothers, visiting together once from out of town, went out on a peaceful country walk and were charged by a bull. (They got away.)

I apologize for my language. You'd understand if you'd ever stood on the other side of a tiny, shaky little fence from that bull.

Silly Darren.

I was chased by a rooster once, too. If that doesn't sound scary to you, you have never been chased by a rooster.

... That vivid image seems like a good place to stop. 

Have a great camping trip, sis!

(proof that we survived)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Books I'm Currently Dying to Read

It's causing me pain that I am not reading all of these books this very moment. Also, I need to vacuum my rug.

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater
The Jewel-Hinged Jaw, essays on science fiction by Samuel R. Delany
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
Out of Left Field, by Liza Ketchum
Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature, by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter D. Sieruta
The Dispossessed, by Ursula Le Guin
Birthmarked, by Caragh M. O'Brien
Window on the Square, "a novel of suspense" (according to the cover) by Phyllis A. Whitney
The Other Side of Silence, by Margaret Mahy (how is there a Margaret Mahy novel I haven't read yet?)
A reduced bound manuscript I'm reading for blurbing that it now occurs to me I haven't gotten the okay to blog about. Sorry, I'm not being mysterious on purpose, I just don't have the time to retake the picture :o)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Events, Williamstown, MA and Manchester, VT

Yesterday morning I drove into Arlington, then continued onward with a friend to the Middlesex Fells. The trees are starting to change! So beautiful. And it reminded me that I've neglected to announce my plans for later this week in the Berkshires, where we are going to see such beautiful trees…

I'll be at Williams College, then at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT, with three other Williams grads who write YA, Dayna Lorentz, Caragh O'Brien, and Tui Sutherland. Come join us.

October 2, 2014 (Thursday) at 8:00pm – Goodrich Hall, Williams College, Williamstown, MA
Writing for Young People: a Panel of Alumni Young Adult Authors with Dayna Lorentz, Caragh O’Brien, and Tui T. Sutherland

October 3, 2014 (Friday) at 4:00pmNorthshire Bookstore, Manchester, VT
Panel Conversation and Signing with Dayna Lorentz, Caragh O’Brien, and Tui T. Sutherland

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Poem for Changing

First, I continue to find designer Inka Mathew's Tiny PMS Match, in which she matches small, everyday objects to their Pantone colors, super soothing.

Second, I love this poem, by Gwynn O'Gara, found in my 2014 Women Artists Datebook.


Late afternoon the dog comes to my study
and rubs her softness against me.
Now, say her eyes.

Even the patient know urgency,
the dreamy wake to appetite.

Among the trees she greets old friends,
exults in the warmth of a new hand.
At home I fill her bowl.

So the heart finds where we hide
among strangers or preoccupations
and tells us it is time.

Feed what is hungry.
Air what is stale.

Pick up pen or phone
and pronounce the words 
practiced so long in silence.

Or lie down in the sun with the grass.
Neither bless nor curse,
simply change.

Gwynn O'Gara

Friday, September 26, 2014

Responses to Graham, Scott, Beha

In response to Ruth Graham's piece in Salon about YA, A.O. Scott's piece in the New York Times (partly) about YA, and Christopher Beha's piece in the New Yorker about YA, Sarah Hamburg wrote the very funny "How to Tell If You're in an Essay about Adulthood". It won't make sense without the context of the other articles, especially Scott's, so read them first, if you can bear it.

Also in response, Anne Ursu wrote the strong, thoughtful, and complete "On Poisoned Apples, The 'Great YA Debate,' and The Death of the Patriarchy", which can be read without all the context, and is a great example of why I wish the people who actually knew what they were talking about were the ones raking in the big internet audiences. Please boost the signal.

One of the most amazing and depressing things about this continual "adults shouldn't read YA" crap (and there are so many amazing and depressing things) is the unquestioned assumption that adults should be above the concerns of young people, that we have nothing to gain from the concerns of young people (other than nostalgic memories of our own innocence).  That if it's for young people, it can't be sophisticated enough for adults; it can't be art; it must be less. Yes, the debate devalues women; it devalues fine authors and their work. But most infuriating is the devaluation of girls and boys. Read the Ursu article. It has so many good parts. And please, please pass it on.

ETA: So sorry for the earlier version of this post, which named Heather Graham as the author of that appalling article, rather than Ruth Graham. Dictation slip. Sorry, Heather Graham! And thank you, JD, for noticing and telling me.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Interesting Article About Asexuality

There's an interview with Julie Sondra Decker at Salon today called "You’re about as sexually attractive to me as a turtle: Coming out as asexual in a hypersexual culture" that I found to be eloquent, thought-provoking, clarifying, and informative on the topic of asexuality. The last question in the interview, about how finding the right language for things can be clarifying and create the possibility to improve situations, is particularly interesting. Decker has written a book, just released, called The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality. Check the interview out if you're curious.

Separately, it's just come to my attention that my Twitter feed has not been picking up my blog posts since MAY, oops, sorry everyone. I'll make some time to figure this out and fix it in the next few days. Though I suppose the people this affects are the people who follow me on Twitter, which means they aren't reading this blog post, since presumably it's not going to show up on Twitter…

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Scenes from the Aquarium

One day this past week, I sat on the ledge of the footbridge while the sun was setting, with my feet hanging over the water. There was a little old lady watching the sunset next to me (she was not on the ledge), and I thought to myself, Oh, that's the kind of little old lady I want to be someday, the kind who comes out to watch the sunset. I was wearing a long blue dress and tall black boots. Suddenly she came over and told me that if I were to fall in, my boots would present a serious problem. I laughed and said, "That's a good point," but then I looked at her closer and realized she was Not Joking. She was a very sour person and she seemed certain that I was going to fall into the river and my boots would drag me straight down to the bottom and I would drown while she stood above me triumphantly yelling, "I told you so!" We had a brief conversation (*cough* argument), during which I remained pleasant, even though she was essentially telling me I was a young fool. Then she said, "Well, you be careful!" and stomped away. Be careful? Why is it necessary to be careful? Never once in my life have I fallen off the seat I'm sitting on. People don't do that, they don't just fall out of their seats. I'm not going to fall in!! When I told my friend Jess this story, she said she would've been worried that the old lady was going to push her in. This is, in fact, one of the few scenarios in which I can imagine falling in. Someone pushes me in; I lose consciousness and topple in; I lose my sanity and jump in; or, the ledge of the footbridge itself breaks off, falls in, and I fall in with it. I am willing to risk all of these unlikely possibilities. And anyway, that little old lady couldn't have pushed me in. I would've beaned her. Yes, you heard it here, I would knock a little old lady on the head, if she were trying to push me into the river.

I… didn't actually mean to tell that story, I just meant to post some videos from a recent trip to the New England Aquarium down at the wharf in Boston. If you hear the occasional screech, that would be a penguin.

If you can't see the videos, please visit my Blog Actual.

A few seconds of jellyfish. Did you know that jellyfish have lived in our seas for hundreds of millions of years?

More jellies --  these are called umbrella jellyfish.

Sea turtle!

This little cuttlefish was my favorite thing ever.

He had intense powers of concentration.

And can you see the way he is (electrically!) changing the color of his skin?

Finally, a few more jellies.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott, Happy Sigh

Tui and I are in agreement that this group routine, choreographed by Sonya Tayeh (who calls her style of choreography "combat jazz") and Christopher Scott (hip-hop/animation/popping), made what was an otherwise meh SYTYCD season worthwhile. Danced by this season's Top Ten and ten All-Stars. As usual, sorry about the screaming. I also find the spoken message to be CORNY, and as long as I'm listing complaints, the first 1:15 is a continuous shot and the music and the dancing are out of sync by the merest fraction of a beat. ARGH! It's probably unkind of me to point that out to you, actually, but it does a disservice to the dancers, especially the breakdancers (Dominic Sandoval and Emilio Dosal, left to right) and Will Wingfield (the guy with the dreads who goes crazy around 1:00).

Incidentally, the prominence of Marko Germar in this routine (the guy in the blue shirt who's at the center around 1:50) reminds me that in case you're wondering what his old dance partner Melanie Moore is up to – or what Thayne Jasperson is up to – they are both currently being fabulous in Finding Neverland here at the A.R.T. in Cambridge. :o)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cheerios Can Bite Me

Today's rant comes to you from my Cheerios box, where I've just noticed that General Mills has trademarked this phrase: "More grains. Less you!"

The good news about this is that since it's a registered trademark, no one else is allowed to use it. Therefore, we won't see this unbelievably obnoxious message anywhere other than on our General Mills cereal boxes, which, frankly, we can stop buying. General Mills? What exactly is better about less me? Why would I buy a cereal that implies something is better about LESS ME? Have you failed to notice that I AM AWESOME? I want a cereal that gives me MORE me! But let's forget about me for a minute. Do you understand that your cereal boxes are sitting on millions upon millions of breakfast tables across the world, and there are kids and teenagers at those tables, bleary-eyed and grumpy about being awake, reading their cereal boxes while they eat? Which means that you are teaching them from a very young age that they and their bodies should be taking up less space in the world. That they should contain themselves, keep themselves small. That they should hate their fat, which is a part of themselves. That they should aspire to be less visible. Why would you trademark a phrase that creates shame? It's just despicable. These are the moments when I wish I didn't have a No F-bomb policy on my blog.

Here is a link to HAES, the Heath at Every Size movement.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Etsy and the Goblin Market

I've started writing the post that lists resources about girl and woman superheroes. It's a bit of a massive organizational project, so I'm not done with it yet, but I promise it's in the works!

My revision is so structurally challenging at the moment that it's funny the things I decide to do instead, because they're easier. Like, make major life decisions. Currently easier than my revision. I've finally got some revision momentum, though – this time around, it's been a long time coming – which reminds me that there's another post I'd like to write before too long. For the past few months and until rather recently, I was trying to do creative writing work while beset by extreme personal distraction. It was so, so difficult to focus. At some point, when I have the energy, I would like to share some of the techniques I used, borrowed from wise friends or invented myself, to work when I could barely keep my mind on my work. One of the techniques I used at a certain point was to recognize that I'd reached the point of diminishing returns and STOP working. I'd like to say more about that, too – about giving yourself permission not to work, when work is hurting matters more than it's helping.

This post is neither of those posts. This post is a series of links to some of my most favorite things that I will not be buying on Etsy. :o)

First, however, a warning. BE CAREFUL STEPPING OVER THE ETSY THRESHHOLD. Once you've entered, it is hard to leave. Such infinite temptation, such beauty and so many promises. My friend Becca sent me an email the other day with the subject line, "lost in Etsy." The message read, "have eaten their food and given my name" "send help"

You know not to eat the food or give your name, right? Are you ready to be strong?

I will not be buying this gorgeous blue-green and gold silk 1950s vintage gown on Etsy. But looking at it makes me SWOON. (By the way, if, by the time you click on the link, the dress has sold, and you get a message that says "Sorry, this item has sold," simply scroll down. Pictures of the dress should appear lower on the page, below the other stuff. This applies to all these links.)

Nor will I be buying this gorgeous blue-gray 1950s vintage cocktail dress with rhinestone buttons, but looking at it makes me want to DIE. Die, I tell you.

I will especially not be buying the best TARDIS dress on all of Etsy (yes, I have looked at them all). But if you have $499 rattling around in your pockets, go for it.

I have, in fact, purchased these sea salt caramels from time to time (both original sea salt and bacon sea salt), and they are divine.  Hopefully this shop, mermaidcaramels, will open again soon for the season.

I will not be buying this angler fish necklace, which might not be to everyone's taste (some people might find it... ugly and terrifying? Hm) but I think it's just great. As is this gold snake necklace, this cowfish, this rhinoceros beetle, this rocket ship, this squid attacking a nautilus submarine, and this shark.  Incidentally, with the exception of the rocket ship, these are all animals that you yourself might turn into, one after the other, while in the arms of your lover, who has just pulled your down from your horse in an attempt to rescue you from the clutches of Etsy.

(That was a clever reference to the fairy story Tam Lin. The idea is that Tam Lin is captured by the Queen of the Fairies and his lover rescues him by holding on tight to him while he undergoes all forms of transformation. I recommend the Pamela Dean version (called Tam Lin), which takes place on a fictional college campus in Minnesota in the 1970s. Also, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Also, referenced in my title: "Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti.)

This has been my browserwindowshopping for the day. Thanks for joining me, and good luck getting out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guess Where I Am?

Actually, I got back last week, but I still want to play the game. Here are a few pictures to transport you to where I was…

 The trees are out of this world.

 Stuff grows everywhere, it can't help itself.

 If you leave your car sitting overnight, it grows fungus.

 Or turns into a pig!

 In this place, it is possible to look through the windows and watch people making cheese

 or Russian pastries.

 Follow the arrow…

 Look closely and use your knowledge of corporate America.

 Look closely and use your knowledge of recent American politics.

 (This picture doesn't nail anything down, but it makes me happy…)

 In this place, the seagulls are very organized.

 Recognize those mountains at all? No? Don't worry, I wouldn't either.

  What about that thing we're driving toward? Look closely…

Once you notice it, it kind of takes over the landscape.

La la la la la....


Beautiful Seattle...

This post is for TLR and N. ILU, too :o)