Thursday, March 29, 2012

Whitewashing Discussion (and a giveaway)

I still haven't seen The Hunger Games, but I have seen so many different reactions. This one caught me off guard. Call me crazy, but I find it shocking that people who have obviously read the books are angry that Rue is portrayed by someone with dark skin. She looks exactly the way that Collins described her. In fact, when I saw the first preview, I knew her immediately. She's hiding, and she looks way too young. I thought, Wow, she's perfect.

I almost didn't write this post because Adam Heine beat me to it"If we want to fix racism, we do need to point these things out, but we need to keep our anger in check. If we don't, then we're as much a part of the problem as they are. Racism isn't killing us. Hate is." 

No one is perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses that are part of who we are, and racism is something that can be unlearned. I've seen it happen. But it's the kind of lesson you have to learn through love. Love. Education. We have to be aware.

For some time it's bothered me that most of the covers in the YA section feature skinny white girls. Seriously, most of them look like they have eating disorders. I suppose the vampires and zombies do. And where picture books, middle-grade, and adult sections have a beautiful variety of skin tones, the teen section looks pasty. I don't think editors are doing this on purpose. At least, I hope they're not. But those of us who care could say we'd like to see more variety reflected on the covers.

Ahem. I'd like to see more cultural diversity reflected on YA covers, please. Thank you. 

If this is not something that has ever bothered you, please read this post, by Ellen Oh. Or if it does bother you, you could read it anyway and tell her you agree and maybe continue this discussion in another time and place.

To celebrate the YA covers that DO reflect cultural diversity, I would like to give away a signed paperback of BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS, by Shannon Hale. 

Book of a Thousand Days

Dashti is one of my favorite characters, not because she's beautiful, but because she's clever and loyal and honest, even when she's pretending to be someone she's not. "I'm right aware of the red birth splotches on my face and arm, not to mention my dull hair and lips thinner than the edge of a leaf." But as a reader, you fall in love with Dashti's character and you think she's beautiful in spite of the way she's described herself. 

Is that not how we should fight racism? Once you love someone, you see past the differences between you to how beautiful they were all along. 

To enter, all you have to do is comment (no hate or spoilers, please). If you tweet, FB, or blog about the contest, I'll give an extra entry for each. You have until midnight on Wednesday, April 4th, to enter. 

Thanks for reading my longish post! 

Monday, March 26, 2012


The first book in Lisa Yee's series is actually BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY), and I like it a lot. It made me laugh and cry (always a good sign).

Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally)

But I absolutely love BOBBY THE BRAVE. It has so much funny, and Bobby is someone that kids can relate to. So many of his insecurities are things that I remember bothering me as a kid. I read the first few chapters to my reluctant reader and then let him finish the rest on his own. He didn't want to put it down. And he finished it. He hardly ever finishes novels.

Bobby The Brave (Sometimes)
Some of my favorite things:

The scary cat
His relationship with the fish
His dad's cooking
Their Halloween costumes

I'll be reading more of Lisa Yee's books. If you know a boy who likes funny books, these would probably be a good fit. The main character is a fourth grader.

If you'd like to read about more Marvelous Middle Grades, the following people would love to oblige you:

Shannon Whitney Messenger (our founding mother)

Have a Marvelous Monday! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Writing for Charity

Friday afternoon, Robyn (my thirteen-year-old writer) talked me into taking her to Writing for Charity. We'd been talking about it for a weeks without coming to a decision. So, yeah, I dropped Dax and Gwen off at my sister's, and we drove and drove and drove until midnight (when we reached my other sister's house in Pleasant Grove).

Too early the next morning, we headed for the Provo library. :o)

The event started with an impressive author panel. You can click here to find the whole list of authors that attended. Shannon Hale always seems to end up with the mic at these kind of things. She's hilarious. And she can stop the long-winded ones without offending anyone. "Novelists, keep your answers to a paragraph. Picture books authors already have this down." Heheheh. Some of my favorite tidbits from the panel:

1. Brandon Sanderson wrote 13 first drafts before he sold ELANTRIS.
2. You have not yet written your best work. Keep writing.  ~Tracy Hickman
3. Matthew J. Kirby doesn't outline. *grins at CPs*
4. Shannon Hale sets goals of 1,000 words/day or 20 pages of revison.
5. Mette Ivie Harrison sets time goals (2 hours).

Then we split into critique groups with our author of choice (Matthew J. Kirby). There were only seven people in our group, and we had two hours, so we had lots of time to discuss the beginning pages we brought and our manuscripts in general. This was my favorite part. His suggestions just felt right. And when he was asking if I'd tried to sell it yet (I haven't), he said something about reaching a point where there's not much difference between a published and an unpublished writer. They do the same things. And that felt right too.

Robyn chose the workshops we attended: The Psychology of Characterization (Jennifer Nielsen), Rewriting the Crap Out of It (Dean and Shannon Hale), Fantasy Panel (Mette Ivie Harrison, Laura and Tracy Hickman, Dene Low, and Brandon Sanderson), and The Do's and Don'ts of Dialogue (Janette Ralison). I learned something new in each of them. Many of the authors have websites where they go into the same things they covered, so if you're interested, click on their names. I just wish we could have fit Brandon Sanderson's workshop on Advanced Plot Structure in there somewhere.

If you live in (or close to) Utah, this is an amazing event. It cost $45 for the whole day (including lunch and a snack) because the writer's all volunteer their time. The money always goes to some kind of charity. I spent more on gas money than I did on registration for the event, but then I spent more on books than I did on gas money.

We came home with a lot of notes and an unwieldy stack of signed books (Happy 100%).

Also, we learned about a new series that's being written by multiple authors. Have any of you heard of THE INFINITY RING series? The first one is by James Dashner. It sounds like fun. :o)

Friday, March 2, 2012


I've just picked a piece of paper that has Barbara Watson's name on it. Barbara, I'll mail you your ARC of THREE TIMES LUCKY as soon as I get your mailing address in an e-mail. Thanks, everyone, for your comments!