Saturday, May 18, 2013

Another of my YouTube favs: Garfunkel and Oates

If you haven't heard Garfunkel and Oates sing before, you should stop what you're doing immediately and rectify that situation. Here's a taste. NSFW (I guess, depending on what you do for a living.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Things in the news that make me happy

Go Vikings!

Minnesota becomes the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriages. I know this one is a technically too old to be "news" but I am so happy that we are coming closer to nationwide marriage equality becoming a reality. Love is winning the fight! This specific link is to Fox News only because I'm pretty sure the power structure there hates reporting on it, and the fact that they have to is another things that makes me happy.

 Go Angelina Jolie!

 Okay, so the circumstances surrounding this powerful opinion piece do not make me happy, of course, but the fact that she went public about her decision in an effort to advocate for other women does make me happy. I have always liked Angelina Jolie both as an actress and as an agent for social change but coming out about something this personal, especially as someone whose livelihood is so wrapped up in her outward appearance, is just amazingly brave. I also love that she recognizes that access to this genetic testing and the medical care that came afterward is out of reach for most women due to cost and that she's advocating to change that.

Favorite quote:
It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.
On the face of it, this should be an easy choice for anyone at risk. On paper, it would almost be like being told "There's an 87% chance your appendix will kill you." Obviously, you would choose to have it out. However, breasts are so tied to feminine identity and beauty (and a fixed ideal of beauty is so widely prioritized) in this culture that this type of reassurance is truly necessary for anyone facing this difficult and life-altering decision.

 Kermit Gosnell Convicted

 Kermit Gosnell was convicted of killing several women and viable infants while performing illegal abortions without a license or proper training. I am so glad he is being punished for these heinous acts, but my favorite thing on the Internet about what our reaction as a country should be to this case comes from Melissa McEwan at Shakesville.
A person who doesn't want to be pregnant will do anything zie can to not be pregnant. Including going to a charlatan in a filthy clinic. That is a reality. The only serious conversation to be had is how we address that reality in a way that preserves the safety of breathing patients.
Yup. The whole narrative in our culture that women just need to think it through longer, or see an ultrasound picture to fully understand, or whatever other paternalistic bullshit that lawmakers use to justify unnecessary hurdles to access for a legal medical procedure only provides fertile ground for monsters like Gosnell to peddle their horrors.

Even if you believe abortion is murder, the only thing that ever lowers the rates is wide access to reproductive health and preventative measures as well as strong and well publicized access to help for children that are born. Tightening restrictions on reproductive healthcare has only ever resulted in atrocities, and promotion of these restrictions by people who ought to know better is a clear case of promoting an ideology being more important than protecting lives. Culture of life my ass.

 Cute Pictures! 

 Also via Shakesville, I ran across this adorable spread of 5-year-old pictures where the little girl is mimicking poses of real women role models like Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Earhart. My favorite is the Coco Chanel one. Both Chanel and the little girl are exuding a real sense of power and it gives me hope for the future.

 Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 13, 2013


Hey do y'all remember how I was gonna really focus on developing my Internet presence? That's okay, me neither apparently. Anyway, I'm coming back but, until I do, please enjoy Esperanza Spalding being awesome.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year New Writing Goals

In 2011, the first year I decided to take a serious stab at this writing thing, I had two goals:

1. Finish and shop my first novel (with all the attendant fantasies)

2. Make enough from writing to pay one month of pre-school tuition (I don't know why.)

They were modest goals for the space of a year, and I was happily able to achieve both, so I've decided to kick it up a notch for 2012.

While I was ultimately unsuccessful in placing my novel, I've learned over this year that it was the better goal because it was a goal that depended entirely on things I had control over. Goal number 2 on the other hand relied on other people to like what I'd done and be able to use it. I can't control that and could very well have been setting myself up for failure over an arbitrary number.

To that end, I've tried to develop concrete goals entirely dependent on things I can do to further my writing career.

1. Write and submit 4 short pieces.

I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it's my current priority to be a novelist so that's what I plan to spend most of my time working on.

2. Finish my urban fantasy WIP before November writer's conference.

I had the first twenty pages critiqued by an agent at the last conference I attended and it was a very encouraging and helpful experience. I can't stress enough how important it is to seize the opportunity to have publishing professionals look at your work. She was very enthusiastic about my writing and the concept, which was a much needed ego boost after a string of rejections for Novel 1. She also spotted things I never would have thought to look for about story structure and how to write about religion if you don't want readers to get too stuck in their own pre-conceived notions of the beings your discussing. I really REALLY want to have that experience again on the final product before entering the query market on this one.

3. Finish revisions on my paranormal romance novella.

I'm really proud of this story, but I need to be very careful in revisions because the two lead characters are people of color. I'm nervous about accidentally allowing my privilege or unknown biases to unfairly portray different cultures or look like I'm using token characters I don't care about, so this revision process will have to be even more thorough and extensive.

4. Develop my on-line presence

This is not a writing goal, per se, but it's become more and more important for writers to have an on-line presence. It's not just a good way to build an audience, in just the little I've done so far it's allowed me to connect with some amazing people I never would have heard of otherwise and it's led me to information that's contributed immeasurably to my development as a writer.

5. Call myself a writer when people ask "So what do you do?"

I genuinely believe this will be the hardest goal I've set, and the one I'm most likely to fall short on. It scares me. It makes me feel funny in my tummy. But it's silly that I can't do it. I write, which should be enough to claim 'writer', but I even make some money from writing now and still can't say it. That needs to change. Other people can't take me seriously until I do.

So that's it. I'm excited, but a little bit scared for 2012.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I love Dark YA week 5: Waiting on Wednesday

I don't usually like to talk about books I haven't read yet, because then if I say I'm going to read them and don't blog about them, I feel like that looks like a negative review. Not that it matters right now, but fingers crossed it will one day.

That being said, I feel pretty safe tying into my first blogfest post, by revealing the startling confession that I'm chomping at the bit for the Divergent sequel. I'm pretty sure everyone I care about in that book will be too busy being awesome to worry about whether or not their semi-automatic weapons make them look fat, so I'll be shocked if it can't make the list.

I've really enjoyed this blogfest even if I didn't always post on time. I've been introduced to a lot of cool bloggers I never even knew existed, and I'm really thankful for that.

Happy last day of November!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Love Dark YA Week 4: #YASaves

I'm late with the posting, but we've been traveling today and blogger doesn't like my phone, so it's late and it'll have to be short. Sorry!

For this post I picked Eating the Cheshire Cat, by Helen Ellis.  I guess it straddles YA and New Adult, because it follows the characters into college. I went to UA, where most of the story is based, and I feel confident in saying that the portrayal of sororities there was a mix of truth and fiction as any novel might be, but that wasn't really the part that got to me.

The thing is that a lot of ugly manipulation the villain uses was a mirror image of a the boy I was allowing to rule over me in a terribly unhealthy relationship. The thing about that kind of setup is it comes on gradually, and you find yourself doubting and rationalizing your concerns away until you're in so deep it becomes the new normal. Something about seeing it page after page for a couple hundred pages really helped crystallize the situation for me.

I'm not saying I read Eating the Cheshire Cat and immediately text message broke up, because that's not how life works. But it was the beginning of the end, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Love Dark YA Week 3: Fun with Movies

I love this week's topic, because it gives me a reason to talk about a book I loved, but couldn't put on the Recommended Reading list.

Skinny, by Ibi Kaslik,is a brutally honest look at anorexia's impact on its victim and the loved ones of the person battling the disease. I found this novel extremely disturbing from page one, but I was never able to turn away. Kaslik manages to create a much more in depth and nuanced image of this tragic mental illness than I've seen in a lot of YA literature, while at the same time making the actual focus the family dynamics strained by mysteries of the past.

I would see the crap out of this if it was made into a movie. For some reason, I get a very REM vibe reading the book (Night Swimming specifically) and I'm thinking with their musical variety, you could probably keep them as the sole artists on the soundtrack.

Whenever the main characters have a scene at home, I'm always reminded of the cab scene at the end of Reality Bites so I'm pretty sure that kind of grainy nostalgic aesthetic would be the cinematography I'd go for. Sort of a constant mourning for a past that never really existed.

Now for the fun part: Casting!

Supporting Actors

Hollie: This is Gisele's little sister, and while she is an equal POV character, the story always revolves around Gisele so I still consider her supporting cast. Since their father's death, it's been her job to carry the family. She's strong, but beat down from the loss of her father and the technical loss of her sister. When the story starts we get the sense that she's still trying to carry on, but she's tired and she's going to crack any minute. For an actress who emanates strength, vulnerability, youth, and wisdom and could believably be cast as someone of Hungarian descent, I nominate...
Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit (photo by Nathan Blaney via Wikipedia). The Hunger Games people may have been too blind to cast her, but I sure as hell am not.

The Father: I know. I know. But my book is upstairs with my sleeping husband, Ibi Kaslik doesn't seem to have a website with this information, and if I don't do this now I never will. Anyway, he's dead already when the book begins but he's very involved with the present in that his emotional distance from Gisele and clear preference for Hollie continues to cause problems in their relationship and problems for Gisele in general. Her personal mission to figure out his preference is a large and compelling portion of the plot.

I have to go with Javier Bardem for this one. I'm thinking strong and silent type, but with charm. He wouldn't have to do much talking as it would be mostly soundless montage scenes, so I'm betting we could get him into a Hungarian accent for the few words he would have to say. And my wouldn't he be nice to look at as a break from all the intensity.

The Mysterious Fiance from Mother's Past: Again, I'm not good at names. But here we're looking for someone who is charming and attractive but with a dark side and the acting chops to be totally charismatic while still letting us know that try as we might he's just not the one. Clear choice: John Turturro. This is immediately where my mind went when I first read the book. And besides, this Turturro could probably convincingly star as the lead in a Shirley Temple biopic. He should really just be in everything.

Gisele's Boyfriend: I'm totally stumped here. I'm kinda thinking James Marsters for the dark and brooding, but somehow simultaneously joyful qualities. I sort of hate the boyfriend though, and I love James Marsters. Perhaps I could just go full on creep and hire the guy who played Barty Crouch, Jr. in The Goblet of Fire. (EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that this is David Tennant, which I completely missed. He creeped me out so bad in the B.C., Jr. role, that I managed to see right through his hotness and charisma. Which I guess just means he would rock this character.)

Mom: The mother character didn't leave a huge impression on me if I'm honest, but from what I remember she was fragile with oddly placed and usually useless bursts of big displays of strength and/or imagined power. Sort of a Ruth Fisher from Six Feet Under, but less dreamy and scattered and more just ineffectual and distant.

And the Role of Gisele Goes Too...

Zooey Deschanel!

Obviously! Who else? This would be the perfect break out gritty role for her do something besides be professionally adorable. I'm seriously not trying to be snarky here, I really do like her. It just always feels like the troubled roles usually go best when it's someone you've come to identify in a different light.
And that's a wrap. I can't wait to see what everyone else is doing.