Saturday Summation – 10 May 2014

Bits and pieces of things that caught my eye not only for my own interest, but enough to want to share with you, too…


Reading Stuff:

In a focused campaign over the past couple of weeks, social media demonstrated a call for (social, racial, cultural, and more) diversity in our books – #WeNeedDiverseBooks. I believe some of this arose from a book conference announcing panels that represented all white authors (and not only that, all or mostly all males, I believe). The good news is that the conference is now making an effort to change this, to try to diversify its panels. There are a billion reasons why we need diversity in our reading. There were a couple of posts that stood out to me because they really highlighted the point that diverse does not necessarily mean focused, “issue”-related, or falling into stereotypes. (ie: black characters in slavery-period historicals, gay characters coming out and coming to terms with their sexuality, etc). Diverse means real characters going through real situations in a real world. Ruth Horowitz describes what part of this can look like as she describes the backdrop of the children’s book, Big Snow, by Jonathan Bean. And then agent Sarah LaPolla gives it to us straight and simply in her post about what this looks like in Young Adult and Adult fiction now and what she hopes to see more of in the future.

With this latest news about Amazon’s antics, please don’t help them continue by waiting for books that should be in stock and ready to ship immediately. I am not calling for a boycott, but simply encouraging other online vendors when appropriate. Let’s try not to contribute to Amazon attempting to become the be-all and end-all of reading purchases.


Writing Stuff:

Karin Gillespie offers a narrative about her experience in an MFA program (this topic of to earn an MFA or not seems to be a shimmering topic these days – it’s been floating in and out of book/writing news for a while). It’s an interesting look at one who has been successful in publishing, but made to feel “less than” when in the program. I applaud her MCL – Master’s in Chick Lit.

Junot Diaz also had an interesting piece criticizing MFA programs in a different light: when he was in a program, he could feel that it oozed with praise for old and/or dead white guys. Where did that leave him?

(I’ll point out that I am not personally lambasting all MFA programs – in fact, I wrote about writing classes in general here. However, experiences like Gillespie’s and Diaz’ sound pretty familiar – if you know of a program that is not so stuffy, let us know in the comments!)

Zan Marie Steadham pulls together from her writing group on how to tackle a tough scene that just doesn’t seem to be coming out right. I like how the post is simple with fast and easy suggestions to get you going.


Video of the week:

A colleague of mine found this awesome talent show performance by a group of 5th grade boys. Definitely something to make you smile (even if you don’t watch the whole thing.) “Synchronized Swimming”

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