megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Are the tipjar paypal buttons annoying or causing anyone trouble with their reading or their f-list reading? Because if it is, I'll take the buttons off. If not, I'll leave them because I could REALLY use some money in the tipjar right now and I want people to very easily be able to find where to do that if they feel so inclined.

So, thoughts, anyone?
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
1. Writer Nalo Hopkinson talks about being a writer with a non-verbal learning disability. But really, this is about her telling us why it's a learning ability, and why her brain is a good brain to have for a writer. If you've ever read her work, you'll know she has a fantastic brain for a writer, or for anyone! I recommend watching it ASAP. It's amazing.

2. Claudia Kishi, my Asian-American female role model of the 90's - Not just a nostalgic look back at a series of books that were awesome, and kind of important because hey, it was about girls. Lots of girls. And things girls do and not making them look frivolous or silly. This is why books like this matter. In case anyone wonders why having characters that are LIKE YOU matter, especially to young girls and young women of color. Warning: image heavy.

3. If the Internet wrote your summer reading. Yeah, yeah, it's collegehumor. I'm not their biggest fan either, but this article actually is somewhat funny. Also, anything that strips away the mystique and elevated status we give to Old Dead White Western Dude Literature is good by me.

4. How to Fold Fitted Sheets. Image heavy, but definitely will help you solve that fitted sheet problem if you have one. Or: yes, thank you! I, too, have always wanted to do this.

5. magic vs science, the fucking singularity, and anti-intellectualism by RequiresHate. Amazing post about some issues with U.S./Western white-dominated SF/F and how it's actually quite anti-intellectual.

6. Duty of Care by Justine Larbalestier. I have some strong and not happy feelings about this post, especially when it comes to this quote:

To be totally honest I mostly write for the teenager I was and the adult I am. I write stories that interest and engage me. That those stories fall into the publishing niche that is YA is a happy accident. And that some teenagers find them entertaining/useful/inspiring/whatever is an even happier accident.

I am sorry that we YA writers are not portraying the kind of world you think is suitable for your teenagers. But I have a solution. Why not write your own books?

I don't have an organized response to this, but I do have some basic gut reactions. Reactions beneath the cut to spare those who don't really care. )

Like I said, I don't have an organized response to this and I'm still feeling out why that rankles. But there it is. Thoughts, internet?
megwrites: Dualla from BSG. Dualla > EVERYONE ELSE.  (dualla)
So, I want to have a conversation about being a writer who's dealing with depression/anxiety. Or maybe other mental illnesses or psychiatric conditions - but mostly I want to talk about how writers deal with it.

Right now I'm trying to start new things, but I'm having an extremely hard time. It's hard for me to pay attention, first off. I have the approximate focused attention span of an over caffeinated howler monkey. Even with all the usual tricks (turning off internet connection, blocks on "time wasting" sites, getting rid of distractions on my desk), I have a hard time maintaining focus.

I don't know if this is depression or a symptom of something I've suspected I might have had for a long time (some form of attention disorder). It may explain why books are so damnably hard for me to read, even when I really want to read them. Right now I'm fighting my way through a book by an author that I like, a lot. It isn't that I'm not interested. It's that I can't make myself stay attentive to the words on the page for more than a few pages at a time.

Even as I'm writing this entry, my brain is telling me to get up and do a bunch different things (read that book! vacuum the living room! oh, a drawing we could be doing! call that appointment thing we're supposed to do! clean the desk! look up recipes! check email! make a list of things we need from the grocery! download that new album you wanted!) and I'm fighting it just to keep my thoughts together. Fighting hard.

Worse than the attention span problems are the "wow, this piece of writing is worthless, I am worthless as a writer" feelings which fill me with such utter despair that I can't find a reason to fight against the avalanche of inattentiveness to keep going. I think to myself, "This is so uninteresting, no one will ever want to read this" or "everyone else has done this idea and done it better". I become convinced that my story is so unimportant, bland, plotless, and unworthy that there's no use in continuing on with it.

And I realize some of these feelings are normal for a writer. Before my depression went to Defcon 1 and took a wrecking ball to my life, I had them. But back then I had these coping skills that seem to have vanished. Or I left 'em somewhere or they got lost in the move to North Carolina or ID-effin'-K, dude.

But to the point where I cannot even face writing, where I get in such a state of despair that it becomes a spiral of sadness, anxiety, and self-hate that it escalates into worse things...that's not normal. That's not okay for me to be doing. I don't want that.

I can't tell my editorial voice, which has legitimate reasons to say, "This scene is a bit boring, let's do something better here, what if they fought!" or "umm, I think every book in the genre has done this, why don't we change it up?" from my depression!voice. I know that those thoughts are helpful. Those are things that are my instincts letting me know where I can better tell the story I want to tell.

So for those out there who deal with these things, how do you deal? What are your coping strategies, how do you keep your writing and creative life on track even when your brain chemistry wants to derail ALL THE THINGS?

Quick link!

Jun. 6th, 2012 11:23 am
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
How to Write Science Fiction on a Post-Colonial World over at SFSignal.

Having read all the responses, I was really taken by Jaymee Goh's response, particularly this bit:

But this question doesn’t always come from that frame; it usually comes from the frame of a historically dominant and oppressive group asking permission to do what it has always done to colonized groups: re-interpret the colonized’s experiences through the lens of the more powerful and privileged. So unless otherwise specified, I’m assuming this question refers to Western writers writing about non-Western cultures...

Why would a Westerner, with so much historically-granted permission and leeway, ask such a question? Why does no one ask, what kind of obstacles do writers from postcolonial groups face?

I can't help but agree wholeheartedly with Goh's entire response. I think it's really worth the time of everyone to read and think very carefully about.
megwrites: A moon rising above a darkened landscape in front of a starry night sky. (moonrise)
90% of books for kids in the U.S. written by white authors about white protagonists.

I articulated some of my thoughts on twitter, but I wanted to do so in more than 140 characters, so here goes.

Back when the #GayinYA discussions came about, particularly from this post and suggestions were being given as to how to make YA more "diverse", I came across quotes like this:

If You’re A Reader: Please vote with your pocketbooks and blogs by buying, reading, reviewing, and asking libraries to buy existing YA fantasy/sf with LGBTQ protagonists or major characters. If those books succeed financially, more like them will be written, represented, and sold.

And, frankly, it made me very uncomfortable as well as dubious about how successful such a strategy could ever be at achieving real and meaningful inclusivity for young adult readers.

Talk of strategies re: inclusivity in YA. Feedback appreciated, especially from actual YA's who have oppressed identities )
megwrites: Dualla from BSG. Dualla > EVERYONE ELSE.  (dualla)
This brief article aboutthe changing fashion of urban fantasy heroines makes me laugh because if I don't, I might actually cry.

I love the notion that somehow, someway it's a big deal because the Tall, Blonde, Thin, Able, Straight White Woman is now wearing more sensible footwear. Of course, heavens forfend that the trend in the heroines themselves change.

Also, this paragraph tells me that Nothing Substantive Is Different:

1) Abs are in: Fantasy’s heroines are spending less time at the tattoo parlor and more time at the gym, as toned midriffs overtook tattoos as the favored accessory.

Yes, what a change! Less tattoos, more body policing and worshipping of a societally approved figure! Truly, it's a revolution in the genre as we know it!

How is it that someone will dedicate time to tracking and discussing how many zepplins/dirigibles are on the covers of these books but not how many people of color, fat people, PWD, queer or trans or genderqueer people?
megwrites: Picture of books with quote from Cicero: "a room without books is like a body without a soul" (books)
Right now I'm having a lot of thoughts about gender representation in the media, and it seems like the internets is right there thinking about it with me.

I read this morning: the difference between intention and what actually happened by [personal profile] manifesta (warning: discussion of rape and rape culture, non-graphic) and has a really good bit on intentions vs. results:

This is why intentions do not matter. Regardless of what someone intends, we are the sum of our society. You may not have intended to write a scene that involves victim-blaming, it may insult your very being to even consider that you could have done so, but rape culture is by nature so insidious that it permeates our lives, our relationships, our writing. You may not have intended anything, but intentions fall flat in the face of what actually happened.

Then there was Hot, Creepy, and Movie Physics from [ profile] ursulav with this quote:

Also attempts to emulate many of the whimsical romantic acts portrayed in chick flicks will get you pepper sprayed, since there are many things that we accept in movies that would be unbelievably freakin’ creepy in real life.

The reason these things were clicking around in my head is because I'm currently typing up my review of Dark Desires After Dusk by Kresley Cole, and I'm at the bit of the review where I look at how gender and rape culture issues were handled in that book (spoiler alert: they were handled so fucking badly I nearly didn't finish the book).

It seems to me that part of rape culture is breaking down women's sense of not just creepy but ability to recognize and react to discomfort in a way that keeps them safe. We're ingrained with ideas of politeness and kindness and hospitality, so much so that we will do these things at our own peril. And when we don't, we face scorn and derision.

I remember an exchange with a male friend of mine in which he was angry that two women in a mall (strangers to him) that he approached were suspicious and not friendly to him when all he wanted was to ask the time. I didn't know how to articulate it then, but now I realize that what angered me about him using this as evidence that "suspicion of men has gone too far in feminism" is the assumption that the women were under an obligation to make HIM feel welcome and happy and well-received rather than protect their safety or react in a manner that was actually appropriate.

Because if you go up to someone you don't know, no matter who you are, you are not entitled to instant politeness or friendliness. You are invading THEIR space, and if they have the ability and the willingness to be friendly, then consider it a gift. Not a right, a privilege, a gift, a generosity extended to you - but not something you were owed.

Rape culture wants to hide that simple fact. They want women to forget that they always, by virtue of being human beings, reserve the right to safety and to disengage from interactions that they don't like. And furthermore, they reserve the right to do so with no explanation.

Maybe the woman in question is unfriendly because she's tired and in pain, maybe she's been the victim of an assault and feeling unsafe, maybe she's having a bad day, maybe you interrupted her thoughts or something she was doing, maybe she just had a fight with her boss, maybe Mars is in fucking retrograde or she doesn't like people wearing blue shirts.

It doesn't matter. Her reasons remain her own and she is under no obligation to run them past anyone or even reveal and explain them.

You can think she's a mean, horrible, unfair person if you like. Your opinions are your own. But what is NOT yours, whoever you are of whatever gender identity, is her space, her time, her privacy, and her safety.

Yet we have hordes and hordes of movies and books and TV shows that tell us differently. They train us not to interpret someone invading our space, our privacy, and our autonomy as a fucking invasion, but rather as a romantic gesture. As something we should accept and welcome, because it's not someone asserting dominance over us, it's someone showing just how much they love and care for us.

We're taught over and over again that we can be desired or respected, but never both at the same time. To be the object of desire must be to sacrifice expectations that potential suitors or admirers will recognize clear, bright lines and keep well away from them. To enforce those boundaries and to reject imposition on them is to be a "bitch", to put men off, to make yourself unwelcoming to men.

That's the lesson after all. You must be desirable to men on their terms, because those are the only terms that matter. And if you don't want him watching through your window at night or standing over you as you sleep or following you around - if you want to be able to conduct your life without his constant gaze and/or intervention in it, if you'd like him to go away because you're not interested, then you're the one at fault. You're not recognizing how romantic and in love he is.

Because you are a woman, you are not entitled to expect that people who declare their love for you will actually show it by not doing things that hurt, demean, upset, or otherwise disrespect you. And when they do these things under the banner of "True Love", you won't just tolerate, you'll damn well like it, you'll tell other women that this is what they should want, you'll give them funny looks and shout them down if they should dare to raise an eyebrow, or worse yet, an objection.

Rape culture is good at putting the burden on the wrong shoulders. The burden is not and never will be women's to stop people from assaulting them. It's on those who approach women to make sure they're not assaulting her.

Which is why I think it's important that we women keep our sense of creepy, icky, and skeezy. I think it's important that the books written by us, for us don't break down that innate sense, that intuitive understanding of when a person is about to go too far, or doesn't show the signs that they're going to respect us.

Because that sense of creepy, when you listen to it, is what tells you to get to a well-lit public place when some person approaches you and something just isn't right, but you don't have time or space to spell it out. That sense of creepy is what tells you that this person is not going to make a good partner, because their behavior on the first date or the first meeting indicates that they're going to cause you a lot of pain down the road, that if they take a little now, they'll take a lot more later. That sense of creepy is an alarm that's been tripped, but like fire alarms in a school building, we've been conditioned to ignore it, to think of it as nothing serious rather than a warning of imminent danger.

That sense of creepy? That's the part of our brains designed to help us survive and thrive telling us that somehow, someway this thing or person or situation in front of us is not going to help us meet our goals in life of not dying, not getting attacked, and being happy.

That's why rape culture wants us to shut that alarm down, to ignore it. Because rape culture, in the end, is about making some human being suffer so that others can be raised up unfairly. That's what all bigotry and prejudice and dominance is about, in one way or the other.

Which, coming back to the literary side of this, is why it's important we stop writing about these creepy behaviors as though they're not creepy. It's why we need to stop giving signals to both men and women (and indeed, every human being of any gender identity) that these behaviors are all right. And I think it's why we need to call it out when we see it in our media, because rape culture thrives best in the dark and in silence, but it hates the cold light of scrutiny and it hates to hear that one little word: "No." Which is why we have to keep saying it, and keep telling others that they, too, have the right to say it and expect it to stick.
megwrites: Grace Park. Because yeah, she IS that awesome. (grace park)
I highly recommend reading this post about working/existing inside "sick systems" from [profile] issendai.

I've read it several times and it never ceases to amaze me just how well it describes places I've worked, people I've known, relationships I've been in, and other things.

As for the obvious comparison? I think the post is a pretty good template for describing how oppressive systems work, especially socially oppressive systems. One thing that really struck me?

Sick systems and social justice conversations )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I'm having sort of a genre related thought about ablism.

Right now I'm considering sci-fi, particularly SF set in the far future when humanity is far more technologically developed and there's sort of a theme that follows in this subset of the genre that bothers me a lot when I come across it, and that's the idea that nobody in the future will ever be disabled. Disease have been erased! Genetic abnormalities sorted out! There's a pill or treatment or medi-pod for anything that ails you!

It seems as though when science fiction envisions a better, or at least more advanced, version of humanity it is one without disability, and thus one without disabled people. When you imagine a future without disability, it is a future in which you imagine that there are no disabled people.

I'm sure someone will rush to say, "No! No! They'll exist, they just won't be disabled, that's all! They'll be cured in the future, isn't that great?"

Not so great, actually.

First, because we are not in the future, thus when you say such statements, you're impacting actual people in here and now. You're saying, "Wow, won't it be great when you're not like that anymore. When you're different?" Which is saying, "The way you are now is not okay."

Second, because your idea of "great" is finding ways to make disabled people "normal". I put scare quotes around normal because, well, normal is about the most oppressive, offensive, evil word in my vocabulary.

More people have suffered more evil and oppression on this Earth because they didn't fit somebody else's idea of "normal" than any other single thing I can think of. "Oh, look, people of a different culture and race! They're not normal! Let's shoot them with these nifty guns we have and take over their lands and then tell complete lies about them!" or "Oh, look, those other people there are having sexual relations with the wrong people. They're not normal. Let make nasty laws and beat them up!"

A gross oversimplification, of course, because oppression is ever so much more complex, layered, and insidious than all that. But I hope that it makes the point. People in general value "normal" without stopping in many instances to wonder if it's worth valuing - both here and in the future and the literature of the fantastic and the future.

This future we imagine, this disability-free ideal place is not one in which we've decided to stop narrowing the definition of normal and able, in which we've decided to stop shoehorning based on ability and disability decided to expand what we consider to be just another part of the wide spectrum of collective human ability. This future is one in which we (for the value of "we" which is society/humanity) pick the limitations of ability, of normal, and finally manage squeeze everyone into it ability-wise. And often, it seems, these same stories tell of a future in which we've finally squeezed everyone into the same culture and same gender definitions and sexuality. At long last, homogeneity!

This future is not one in which we have better definitions, just better medicine. In those worlds, our science evolves, our compassion and tolerance and understanding do not.

I do not like this future. It scares me and it erases so, so many people.

Why do so many writers assume that disability wouldn't follow us to the stars? What disabilities that don't even exist today would exist tomorrow? What would be reclassified as a disability or not a disability?

It seems to me that there is some confusion due to ignorance and stereotypes about disability between "normal" and "functioning".

Function is, in my own Meg-specific definition, being able to do what you want/need to do in a way that works for you. If that means using an assistive device or taking a bit longer or using different methods, that all fits under "functioning". You can have levels of functioning - because some stuff works better than others - but function is relative. It all depends on what works for you, what gets the job done for you.

Then there's normal. Normal is being able to do what others want you to do in a way that other people expect you to do it, and it often is the opposite of functional. Normal is an ever moving goal post of other people's expectations. It's the cry of "but you can walk, why are you using a wheelchair?" to a person with a pain disorder or spinal injury or some other invisible disability. It's the cry of "why can't you just get over it?" to someone who has depression or "that's not that bad, at least you didn't go to war!" to someone with PTSD. It's insisting that meatspace/offline activities count for more than, say, online ones even though online activities (academic classes, activism work, creative endeavors) are often more accessible (thus granting more function).

Alas, society values normal over functional and so does sci-fi many times.

Lose a limb? We'll regrow it! Get paralyzed in a space accident? We'll fix that, hop in a medical pod/chamber/box o' insta-healing! Blind? Here, have some nanobots. Deaf? Oh, there's a pill for that. You, too, can be made Normal.

Never you mind that you don't see a lot of mental disabilities/disorders. I can't remember the last time I read about main characters who have, say, ADHD or autism spectrum disorder or Down syndrome or an eating disorder. Because apparently these people won't be with us in the future, and they certainly won't be allowed aboard Spaceship Normal.

What's worse? Sci-fi can be the kind of genre that could really inspire others to imagine a different course of events, a different society.

I can see the value in imagining a future with better ways to help people have greater function. I can see the value in imagining sidewalks that automatically adjust themselves to better suit use of assistive devices or the value of imagining classrooms where there are computer/laptop screens made for those students who may be dyslexic or dyscalculic to help them better read and do math.

Because that? Doesn't value normal over function, it doesn't seek to reform people so that nobody ever needs an assistive device or that nobody ever is dyslexic or dyscalculic. It doesn't value the way one group of people accomplishes certain tasks over the way others accomplish them. In fact, it values a society that broadens its ranges, that instead of telling these people to adapt to it decides to adapt to them by concerning itself with accessibility, with function over inflexible, rigid ideas of how something ought to be done, or what people ought to look like, or how they ought to live.

I'd like to find more SF (or even fantasy) that talks about different worlds, that talks differently about people with disabilities.

What things in SF/F bother you from an ablism standpoint, readers? What things do you encounter over and over and wish would stop? What things do you want to encounter (or encounter more of)?

If anyone has any book/story recommendations, that would be absolutely wonderful and I'd love to hear them! Which authors and works get it right in your opinion and why?
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Art has a price, both for the artist and for the culture in which that art is created. Sometimes that price is higher for one than the other, especially into relation to what a culture gets out of it. For me, as an artist and viewer of many types of art, this factors into whether that art is what I would consider 'good' or not.

For the record, I believe that ethics and artistry not only do go hand and hand but when divorced create nothing but monstrosity. You can explore the outer darkness of ethics-free art if you like. You have that right, at least in the place where I live (up to a point), but I won't be there with you and I definitely don't think it will ever be anything that's worth what it will cost.

Case in point?

Let us do a study in Amanda Palmer vs. Erykah Badu and the cost of their art.

For those who don't know, there is controversy around both these artists. Amanda Palmer for both her Evelyn, Evelyn project and a statement on twitter critiquing product placement in Lady Gaga's and Beyonce's video "Telephone" and Erykah Badu's video for "Window Seat" in which she walks through Dealey Plaza, the site of President Kennedy's assassination, stripping until she is completely nude and then shot [Trigger warning: disturbing image of a simulated assassination, may be disturbing to some viewers.].

Both have generated their detractors and supporters, both have raised hackles, both have been there to make statements, both are part of what these artists consider their art or their theory of how art should be.

I will say now I consider Badu's works and statements to be what good art should be. I think Amanda Palmer's to be the opposite.

Comparison and contrast of these works, their cost, and who pays for it under the tag. Cut for some length. )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
This being International Blog Against Racism Week, I feel like I have been woefully behind in reading. I don't feel guilty for not posting, because my words? Not worth much. There are smarter, better people out there. Go check them out in the links at [ profile] ibarw

But I wanted to post a thought I had.

Okay, my contemplation isn't *that* brief. But thoughts about academia and racism are beneath the cut )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Actually, this is something I've been wondering for a while now.

Are YA books actually intended solely for young adults anymore? Because it seems like a lot of YA bestsellers are becoming more and more popular with the decidedly not-so-young adult set, and I'm wondering if authors have started keeping older audiences in mind when they set out to write books in the YA genre.

I can't say I read very much YA myself, nor do I imagine that I'll be writing it any time soon. Which is not an insult to the genre. I can see why readers outside the advertised age bracket are attracted to some of the books coming out in the genre. Many of them are better written, less cliche, and all around more exciting that some of the so-called "adult" fare.

However, I guess the genre boundaries interest me, as well as what attracts adult readers to some of the works in the genre and what factors into the minds of those who write it. How does writing a book for a younger audience change what you do, or does it?

For that matter, how does one differentiate between a book that's "YA" and a "children's book" or a "middle grade" book - and where did the term "Young Adult" originate from?
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
I saw this post on being a good artist versus being a good human being by [ profile] brown_betty contrasted by [ profile] liviapenn in the comments of an entry by Elizabeth Bear in which she explained what her job is and is not as an artist.

And it brought up, for me, some of the issues that I have not only with other people's philosophies of writing and social responsibility, but my own issues in that concern.

Being a good artist and being a good human, and what I personally feel that MY job as an artist is. Cut because I blather. )
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
Dear Writers, Editors, Agents, and Publishers of Urban Fantasy,

I don't know if you've seen this here, but you need to go look. Your audiences are speaking, and you need to listen. People are getting frustrated with the Urban Fantasy genre, and in this economic climate, you need our dollars. You need us, the readers.

But I don't like to bitch without offering suggestions, so I thought I'd offer up a helpful, numbered list so that you have something to refer to when you're writing, editing, representing, or considering taking on an urban fantasy book.

1. When people say they're tired of the "kickass heroine" or "Buffy clone", what they're really saying is that they're tired of female protagonists who are physically powerful and have the emotional depth of a postage stamp. They're tired of heroines that are self absorbed. And when you have a heroine who acts and thinks as though all the world, natural and supernatural, revolves around her and her powers - that's self absorbed. When she looks at every attractive man as though, of course, he's going to be attracted in return, that's self absorbed. When she describes her clothing and looks in detail as though it could possibly matter that her pants are leather or her heels are three inches high or her hair is red - that's incredibly self absorbed.

1b. Enough with the "sass" and the "snark", or at least the feeble attempts at them. It's not funny, it's not amusing. Trying to be as colloquial as possible in a character's speech does not a great read make.

2. Diversity is important. Scratch that. Diversity is absolutely essential and needed. Needed beyond the telling of it. I'm not just talking about sticking a few more minor characters who are GLBT/disabled/of color in a book to fill a quota. I'm talking about investments in authors of color and GLBT authors themselves. Don't just look for stories that are about CoC's or GLBT protags or disabled or non-neurotypical people. Look for stories that are written by those people themselves. Commit to them telling their stories of the supernatural in their own words, without mediation by an outsider writer who may have more privilege and access.

2b. The next time I see a novel set in NYC where the vast majority of the characters are white? Somebody is getting it in the face. Hard. This is New York City, and we have so many different people here, and those stories deserve to be told by the people who they belong to. I love my city, and I will not have it whitewashed, straightened, and cookie-cut. This city has color. This city has sexuality. This city has ability and disability. This city has faith. This city has everything. Don't you dare try to act otherwise.

2c. Why, yes, I am angry. My question to you folks who write, edit, represent, and publish is: Why aren't you? You should be.

3. Put a moratorium on vampires and werewolves for a while. That's not to say that if you have a novel that's The Sound and the Fury for the supernatural, you shouldn't go ahead. But if it can be summed up with the words: "Heroine gets involved in magic, meets a vampire or werewolf and the sparks fly" - give it a pass. Actually, give it a one way ticket to the trash.

4. Fire the people in the art department and then set them on fire. With matches and gasoline and maybe some napalm if you can get it. For the love of all things good in the world, make the tramp stamps and the leather clad ass shots stop. Now. This epidemic of deeply sexist, horribly cliched cover art has got to end.

5. Do your research, do it right, and do it with respect and care. If you're going to use, say, voodoo as part of your supernatural world, make sure to do it right. That's somebody's faith, and they deserve respect. Ditto goes for grabbing other people's mythology and religions for your own without understanding what it actually means. "Well, the funny words all sounded cool and I'm supposed to be diverse, right?" is not a good reason for doing so.

5b. Accept criticism when you screw up in this area, especially criticism from the people who's faith, mythology, and culture you gakked in the first place. Accept it with humility. Accept it without condition. If your response to said criticism is not: "I'm sorry. I'm wrong. I will do my best to do better in future. Period, end of sentence.", then just keep your trap shut.

6. Think very carefully about your world building, about the structures, groups, and rules you come up with. Writing a fantasy novel (urban or otherwise) doesn't excuse you from believability. It doesn't excuse you from thinking about consequences and repercussions.

7. Think very carefully about your use of the first person when telling a story. Think about the flow of the story. Think about whether the middle of a scene where your protagonist is fighting for his/her life is a good time to go on a little aside about their oh-so-tragic childhood or their oh-so-wacky love life or their oh-so-sexy attire.

8. Enough with the tragic childhoods. Coming from an abusive/neglectful home does not make you cooler. It doesn't make you stronger, even. Sometimes it just makes you more broken and makes things harder than they are for other people. Sometimes it makes you weak and strange. Please, go talk to some actual abuse survivors before you consider penciling in a protagonist who is one.

So, in conclusion, it's time to generate new ideas, new characters, new thought patterns.

Yes, it may sound like I'm complaining, and I'm being harsh. But I believe in you folks, you literary folks of every ilk. I'm one of you. And I know we can do better. I know the stories are out there, the truly great ones, and I want to read them. I've heard the old adage, "Write what you want to read", but nobody can write everything they'd want to see.

Which means some of you have to, and I know you can.

Still Reading and Hoping,
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
[ profile] arcaedia who is a real live literary agent asks what sorts of books you, as a reader, would love to see or are very tired of seeing and never want to read again

What impresses me most is how many people are getting sick and tired of the leather-clad tramp stamped heroine in Urban Fantasy, and to tell you the truth, so am I. I'm also really impressed with how many other people are tired of the whole "kickass" deal. I'm tired of the attempts to be sassy and snarky at the expensive of being believable.

I left my comment yesterday over here about the fact that I'm really fed up with the way that Urban Fantasy has been going lately.

Four pages of comments (so far), and you can definitely feel a frustration with the state of Urban Fantasy. Although I'm sad that there isn't more of a cry for more diversity in books. I'd like to see that as many fans are fed up with the whitewashing of the genre as many fans of color must be.

My thoughts on urban fantasy, let me show you thems. Beneath the cut because, well, blahedy blah blah. )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Wow, this turned into an epic internet hopping journey, but that's a really good thing.

To give you the story, [ profile] matociquala wrote this post here about writing for the Other. After which there was debate, discussion and even disagreement. Including an open letter to her.

From there, I went on to read this really compelling, wonderful post by [ profile] deepad. She is writing on her experiences in dealing with the effects of colonialism and cultural dominance in something as simple as what she reads. I think I was most struck by this: "The other argument that causes me to flinch reactively is the one which talks about writing the Other just like you would write any character—with respect for their individuality and uniqueness...I have spent a lifetime reading well-written books with nuanced characters that hurt me by erasing or misrepresenting me."

A lot of links, commentary, questions, and thoughts beneath the cut. Links first, though. )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I know that a good number of you have already seen this post about writing for the "Other" written by [ profile] matociquala. If you haven't, and you're a writer, you need to go forth and read it and consider it very carefully. I did so yesterday, and I can't say there's much I disagree with.

But for your consideration, I put forth another point of view on writing a culture not your own from [ profile] fashionista_35, who has some very wise words on the subject. I think it's summed up best when she says, "I have no problems with writers exploring and taking on cultures that aren't their own if there's a clear respect inherent in the work...but with that exploration comes a certain responsibility." (emphasis mine)

I will repeat it again: Exploration comes with a certain responsibility.

The responsibilities of exploration and the necessity thereof, under the cut. I'll try not to bore you. )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I was reading a rather interesting dissection of the urban fantasy genre by Carrie Vaughn (who wrote Kitty and the Midnight Hour amongst other things) and in item number #6 of her "When Things Go Wrong" list, she mentions the Bechtel Test.

Brief recap: the Bechtel test states that for a movie should have:

a) At least two women
b) Who talk to each other
c) About something other than men

Discussion of the Bechdel Test beneath the cut. Enter if you dare. )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Dear Writer Who Made the Snarky Comment About Romance Novels and the Readers Thereof,

A little note to the addressee enclosed. A bit of foul language and snark beneath the cut. )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Urban fantasy author J.F. Lewis gets booted out of his church because of the novel he wrote.

Yes, this guy was kicked out of his church for writing a novel about vampires and "committing the sins contained within it".

I don't know where to start with the facepalm and the headdesk, but let me enumerate my bewilderment list style

Mah list of reasons why this is both stupid AND wrong )

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