Saturday Summation – 11 April 2015

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

Writing Stuff:

Author Rachel Winterbottom starts out this post about diversity in fantasy novels like this: ‘I’ve never read a book about a girl like me.” And that’s all we really need to hear, isn’t it? This is why diversity in all ways (not just race, but ability, learning perspective, religion, etc) needs to keep being part of our conversation as both readers and writers. When authors like Roxanne Gay say to “write with empathy”, she is saying what Winterbottom says: “Here’s what diversity in books means to me: It means having an idea.” We need to have an idea of what it means to be other than ourselves.

I’ve mentioned a ton about how my current manuscript bombards me with fear so coming across this post from Catherine McKenzie about writing from a place with fear, it resonated because it is exactly the kind of fear that I’ve had. Not that something will be good enough (because, duh, that’s always there for writers), but that I can stretch my writing abilities for the challenge. She says about one of her books, “I set myself so many challenges with this book, it nearly broke me.” That is a bit what I have felt. Also, my next book? Let’s just start up the fear engines right now for what I have in mind for it. For me, it’s chock full of challenges adventures.

Author Mary Carroll Moore creates an interesting analogy about drawing our characters as still life portraits. We don’t want anything bad to happen to them and we want them to be good people. Except, then there’s no story, right? They are an impression of real life, instead of an expression. I like her suggestions for experimenting with how to think of how our characters can still be good people that make poor decisions.

How are you on flashbacks? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? It really depends on how well the author has used them, I think. If a flashback is going to be lengthy and in the middle of the story, then I generally would rather it just be the story rather than painted as flashback. This week Janice Hardy at Fiction University talks about using flashback effectively with some litmus test criteria and suggestions.

Miscellaneous Stuff:

Floating around my FB feed this past week was this story about a New Zealand woman transforming Bratz dolls into more down-to-earth dolls. She bought some broken or worn out Bratz dolls (a bit like mini-Barbie dolls), used some nail polish remover to take away all the extra “make-up” on them, and re-painted in plainer features. She calls them Tree Change Dolls. The effect is completely different and with her mother knitting some super-cute “play clothes” (Did you ever call them that when you were young like I did? School clothes/play clothes), the dolls, to me, are adorable. Why post it here, you ask? Well, it turns out bunches of people want her to do the same with their dolls and you know what it reminded me of? The CleanReader app that I talked about a couple of weeks ago. Authors were up in arms about an app that would allow a user to replace certain words in his/her own copy of an ebook. I agreed that I didn’t like this app any better than many other authors and yet… I love these transformed dolls. If someone wanted to take this New Zealand woman’s idea and make it into a side business (the Tree Change Doll woman in the video made it clear that she was not necessarily interested in it, herself), would that be the equivalent of a CleanReader app?

Song of the Week:

This song’s been popping up on my Pandora a bunch and now’s it got me singing along. It’s all about choosing to laugh and enjoy life, in spite of what is thrown your way. I can get behind that.

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4 Responses to Saturday Summation – 11 April 2015

  1. Chris Adler says:

    Great post! I especially loved the story about the transformation of the Bratz dolls. Some others are doing this and charging $50+ per doll on Etsy. Sad that there is such a demand and no big toy company will take it on. I don’t have daughters, but if I did, I would try to do this myself rather than pay such a price. When will toy makers wake up? Or should I say *will* they?


  2. Colin says:

    Creating characters that are an EXpression of life as opposed to an IMpression. I like that. A lot. And I saw that story about the re-imagined Bratz dolls. Is this the same as a CleanReader app? Maybe. But I think Chris hit upon the real problem. In literature, we have a choice. We can read books that contain profanity, sex, and violence, or we can read books that don’t. Both kinds of books exist. The re-imagining of Bratz dolls is, as I understand it, both a protest against what those dolls represent, and a statement that there should be alternatives in the marketplace.

    That’s what I think, anyway. 🙂


    • ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) says:

      That’s a good distinction. And, interestingly, long ago there used to be these “Happy to Be Me” dolls… sadly, they didn’t seem to succeed. I wonder if they would have a chance now?


  3. I had a similar conundrum about Clean Reader. I blogged about it, so I won’t repeat it here. (I’m linking my name to it.) But I really love what was done with those USED dolls, and how they were given a second life. — JEN Garrett


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