Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm so becoming that crabby woman who writes angry missives

It's a little frightening, actually. So many things in the news have been teeing me off as of late. Maybe I just need to step awwwway from the computer. And the TV. And the newspaper.

Now, don't get me wrong here. I don't like Sarah Palin (I guess I shouldn't put it that way...maybe she's a nice person. But I don't *support* her.) I don't want her to ever be president, or VP for that matter. Ever. Never ever. She's not my cuppa. Clear?


Treatment like this by the press both annoys and offends me as a woman. As a human being, for that matter. (If the link doesn't work, it's a Yahoo! News/Reuters article about a Vegas strip club that hosted a "Sarah Palin Lookalike Strip-off.")

So effing sexist.

I have no problem with the stip club having their fun. That's what they do. Fine. But for a news organization to report it nationally (along with some T&A pics, of course!) is just un.freaking.believeable. No wonder we Americans are so ill-informed. Syria? Who cares? Unrest in Congo? Zimbabwe collapsing? Huh? Whatever! Let's see some boobies!

So I shot an email off to Yahoo saying this:

How disappointing to see this sexist article on Yahoo News. I'm not a fan of Gov. Palin, but neither am I a fan of this kind of "reporting."

and got this reply:

...Please note, Yahoo! News does not write or edit any of the news on our site. If you have comments about the tone, angle, accuracy, or coverage of a story, please address them to the news provider directly.To identify the provider of a story, look at the upper-right corner of the page where you read the story. You'll see a graphic identifying the provider.

What? As if they have no responsibility to what gets on the news pages ON THEIR SITE? No way to edit or select topics? Just tell that to the users of Yahoo China.

Argh! I'm so sick of the inherent sexism in our news. Just like this. There are many reasons to mock Gov. Palin. No shortage! But her sexuality is not one of them.

Rant over. Whew, I feel better.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What are your favorite writing blogs or sites?

Aside from your own, of course.

<---Lookie over here, and down. Under "Writer's Resources." This section is in need of an update. Yeah, sure, these are helpful sites, but I think I need a few more. And some blogs I visit every day aren't even listed. So what writerly sites get you going? Two blogs I read every single morning while drinking my cup of coffee are by literary agents Kristin Nelson and Jessica Faust. I love that they update every weekday, and it's always about something interesting and insightful--plus both blogs just have a great tone.

Writer's Digest and Poets & Writers have fantastic articles, but they don't update enough to warrant a visit every day.

I also enjoy:
Nathan Bransford
Editorial Ass
Absolute Write (of course!)
The Swivet
Janet Reid
And even though I don't write for the Christian market, I like Rachelle Gardner's blog.

I recently found The Writer's Edge as well. It's a group blog, and the posts are informative, albeit a cold, hard reality check about the state of publishing today.

But I'm sure I'm missing some great blogs. What are your recommendations?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fighter or Flighter?

A couple of Saturdays ago, I took my daughters on a walk through Central Park. They like to zip along on their scooters, and I’m always afraid they are going to inadvertently knock down an old lady, so I steered them to a track that runs around some empty basketball courts.

They were racing along and laughing when I heard someone shout out of nowhere, “GET YOUR KIDS OUT OF HERE! GET OUT! GET OUT!” and on and on. A man stood up, wild-eyed, dirty, and obviously crazy. He ranted about 9/11, the police, aliens, and God knows what else.

I can be a bit of a bitch sometimes and my first instinct was to shout back at him—who was he to be ordering people around?!--but since my kids were with me, we just ignored him and moved along. Swiftly. Much safer that way.

“Why was he yelling at us?” my daughters asked. I opened my mouth to tell them that he was crazy, that he had no right to scream those things, to forget all about him.

But then I remembered how I harp on them about being compassionate. Hadn’t I just lectured them about considering other people’s feelings? I guess that’s easy enough for me to say.

So instead I talked to them about what that man’s life must be like. He was obviously in need of help. What happens to people when they lack the skills to take care of themselves even in the most basic ways and they have no family for support? New York City offers services for the homeless, (in fact, in NYC, everyone has a *right* to housing) but they can’t MAKE anyone go to a shelter. If we called the police, that guy probably would just end up in jail.

I assured them that they weren’t doing anything wrong, but that in addition to feeling compassion for others, it’s also important to judge when to get the heck out of dodge.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about that guy a lot lately. Especially now that it’s getting cold.

Monday, October 20, 2008

At the risk of sounding like an uptight fuddy-duddy...

My daughter and I were in search of a friend’s birthday present this weekend and happened to be in the Times Square area, so we stopped by the giant Toys-R-Us store (note to readers: do not attempt this on a Saturday, unless you happen to enjoy crushing crowds).

“Stop by the 3rd Floor for Club Libby Lu! It’s just for girls!” the perky salesgirl said as we walked in, shoving a flyer into my hand. Take my advice: don’t--unless, by chance, your 3-12 year-old girl is in dire need of a cheesy makeover. Seriously. Look at these girls. All lined up like mail order brides. I don’t know if it was the sight of four-year-olds putting on makeup and hair extensions or kindergarteners getting manicures that did it, but my daughter and I ran screaming from Club Libby Lu. (She's a tomboy. My six-year-old wasn't with us--she'd be much more interested.)

Of couse, they had lots of Halloween costumes, so your daughter can look like this:

Or this:

Or perhaps this:

Hot stuff! Isn't that just adorable! Let's dress them up like sexpots!


Thankfully, her friend prefers Legos. No problem.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh goody! A book recommendation!

I used to think that YA wasn’t my thing. I’m a 37-year-old woman, for God’s sake. Why would I want to read about teenagers? I’ve had to eat a little crow because two of my favorite books this year fall under the category of YA: The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and, most recently, Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before by David Yoo. Maybe I just like stories about misfits? I dunno, but both of these books resonated with me and they were both desperately funny.

The book trailer above does a great job of summarizing the plot (and I think book trailers are very cool—but that’s the topic of a different post.) The story is about Albert Kim, teenage eccentric and intentional loser, and his very unlikely love affair with the most popular girl in school, Mia. When Mia’s super-jock ex-boyfriend is diagnosed with cancer and uses that as an excuse to win her back, Albert finds that the whole school (the whole community!) is against his relationship with Mia.

There were enough late 80s/early 90s references for me to feel like I wasn’t reading about a different generation entirely, but the story is still relevant to high school students today.

Although they might wonder what are these things called “pay phones?”

Check it out. It’s hilarious

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back from the long weekend

Five whole days without internet access! I survived!

As the stock markets were collapsing (and recovering!) here in New York, I've been in Boston with the family doing some sightseeing and brother-in-law visiting. The weather has been glorious, and the trees in New England are beautiful right now.

So Boston is a lovely city--who knew? I'd only been through it a couple of times, but had never spent a day there. For anyone interested, they have a great science museum overlooking the Charles River--you can also catch the Duck Tours there for an overview of the city. We saw lots of interesting Revolutionary War-related sites, but my daughters were most fascinated by the following:

Salem Witch Trials
Salem is only about 40 minutes away from downtown Boston and worth the trip, especially in October. Several museums have renactments of the trials and the kiddos were transfixed with the whole story, especially the hangings. My youngest is giving a show and tell presentation on it this week. Hopefully she'll skip the part about the dude who was crushed by stones.

Boston Ghosts and Gravestones Tour
This riding/walking tour took us through some of the city's burial grounds (at night) and recalls ghoulish events, murders, and ghost stories like the molasses disaster , a haunted hotel , and hauntings at a library where they have a book bound in human skin. Yuck.

When my daughters' teachers ask what they saw in Boston, I hope that they mention the Freedom Trail and Paul Revere's house, but most likely they will talk about the Boston Strangler and what happens when an executioner uses more or less than 13 knots in a hangman's noose (you don't want to know.)

Okay, so yeah. My daughters like creepy stories.

I'm half expecting a call from the school today.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Off to Beantown

With the Yom Kippur and Columbus Day holidays falling back-to-back, my family is taking off to do some sightseeing in Boston. My daughters, always fans of the macabre, are looking forward to visiting Salem as well.

Hopefully there won't be any Great Floods of Molasses while we are there.

See you next week!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

And now for something completely different

Southern trees bear strange fruit…
Billie Holliday

My family and I got our lazy butts out of bed on Sunday and actually made it to church for the first time in weeks. Despite having to shush my daughter 400 times, I’m glad we went because there was a very interesting speaker after the service.

Dr. James H. Cone spoke on the topic of Black Liberation Theology. An offbeat choice for an Upper East Side Episcopalian church with lots of Old New York names on the roster, that’s for sure. When I heard he was Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s teacher, my first reaction was to close off. Like a lot of people, I didn’t love what Rev. Wright said about AIDS and 9/11 and all those roosting chickens. And I didn’t particularly want to hear the rehashing of old YouTube clips.

But I’m glad I stayed around. I won’t go too much into his speech, because I wouldn’t be doing it justice, but Dr. Cone lived through the days of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and the Jim Crow South, and most of his viewpoints about Christianity were formed in that environment. This was a time when the public meaning of Christianity was white, even within the black community itself. A time when theologians ignored white supremacy and the black struggle against it. He drew parallels between the Cross and the lynching tree. It was a shocking and painful but heartfelt speech on a subject most people try to forget (lynching as well as crucifixion.)

I think we, especially as writers, but also as citizens, are always enriched when we hear things from another point of view. His speech doesn’t necessarily change my opinion on Rev. Wright, but I do feel that I’ve gained some insight as to where all that anger was coming from. Parishioners after the speech were talking to each other about social justice, and my husband and I debated it as well. (That’s actually a big theme in our family—that and the broader theme of kindness—we have ongoing discussions with our daughters on these topics.)

Seeing things from another perspective is a good thing, as Martha would say.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hello, my name is Wendy, and I'm a BlackBerry addict

I've been trying to keep my obsession with agents under control, at least in public, but I think it's time for an intervention. Can someone please figure out a way to keep me from my computer and BlackBerry so that I'll stop checking my inbox? And, by the way, checking QueryTracker doesn't make agents respond any faster than they normally would, did you know that?

I was in a yoga class this week and I heard my BlackBerry go off (I forgot to silence it--honest! I'm not that woman.) It just beeps once for incoming email, so I didn't have to sheepishly run over and shut it up. But what did I think about for the entire remainder of the class? I wonder if that's a response to a query or partial. Not exactly very zen, right? I'm sure you know what it was, by the way... f&#^$ing spam.

I need to practice what I preach and get going on my next WIP. It's all plotted out and ready to go. I just need to focus. Ohhhmmm.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The nice thing about being unpublished is...nobody reads your stuff

I know, that seems to make no sense at all, does it? Given how much effort I'm putting in to actually GETTING published. (And I'm not *completely* unpublished--see the column on the left.)

I'm probably being more than a little deluded here (the total chicken count is 12, even though they haven't yet hatched) but I've been thinking lately about the possible fallout if my book is ever actually available for purchase by people I know in real life.

There's nothing in there that will offend anyone *personally,* since none of my characters are based on anyone in particular, but I do have some slightly disturbing scenes tucked away. Including:

--A twelve-year-old girl who posts a naked video on the internet. (It's actually a little worse than that, but I'll just leave that part unsaid for now.)

--Two affairs, one written into a scene.

--A scene in which a little girl witnesses a violent crime.

Ok, so yeah. I don't particularly want my young daughters reading this content. It's not really all that illicit, but there's just enough there to know what's going on.

I also have the fear that people might think my MC's viewpoint is the way I see the world. It's only partially that way. I made up a character based on a tiny little sliver of me--a fear of mine, actually-- then exaggerated it and shaped it into an entire person. But her mom is dreadful (my mom is nothing like that), her husband clueless (I adore my husband), her best friend turns on her (mine's great), and she has it out with her daughter's slightly bitchy school headmistress (my daughter's headmistress is lovely).

I'm getting way ahead of myself, but these are the things I tend to obsess about.

Anyone else worried about unintentionally pissing anyone off with your writing?