Some recent reading:
Some recent reading:
I just got back from YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium. Although this photo is from a few weeks ago and today I’m wearing a different hoodie, me and the cat are in a similar position as I type this.
Here are a few things I saw while wandering Austin:
(photo by Kim Johnson Dare, found via Facebook.)
We didn’t have a moderator, just asked questions of each other, and I liked operating that way; it felt more like we were having the kind of conversation that usually happens outside of official conference sessions, in the hallway or a restaurant or the hotel lobby late at night.
I had many of those latter kinds of conversations too, and I was often reminded of a post I wrote a few years back, “Shapeshifting,” about how the role someone has when you first meet them — how they’re described, or describe themselves, when you’re introduced — is almost certainly not either a. the only role they occupy or b. the one they’ll be in when you meet them again.
Here are before/after pictures of my table at the Book Blitz, an event during which authors are set up at tables with big stacks of their books. Attendees get a small number of tickets that they then ‘spend’ to acquire copies of said books (generously donated by our publishers).
It was pretty chaotic but in a lovely way. Kudos to the folks responsible for merchandising the books. That curving stack of copies of Bad Houses was merely one among many examples of niftily displayed titles.
Since you’re reading this post I bet you will also find the handouts from GenreQueer: Exploding the Closet and Who gets to tell our stories? Authentic portrayals of Trans* Youth in YA Fiction relevant to your interests.
And a few books I’m reading either directly or indirectly because of the symposium: The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea, Swati Avasthi‘s Chasing Shadows, S. Bear Bergman‘s The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, & Kekla Magoon‘s How It Went Down.
I had a great time teaching comics writing workshops for kids & teens at Columbus Metropolitan Library! Here’s the group at the Franklinton branch as we’re looking at Carla Speed McNeil’s pencils and inks for a wordless page from Bad Houses, to show that we need to write scripts even for scenes where no one’s talking:
A little background: “diverse books,” like “graphic novels,” is a phrase that may not seem especially resonant if you haven’t been immersed in the circles where it’s in common usage. “Diverse books” is shorthand for books by and about people who’ve been marginalized — whose stories haven’t had the opportunity to occupy much, if any, bookstore and library shelf space — and We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. It’s important work. Help make it happen.
Speaking of diverse books and encouraging writers from marginalized communities, I’m really proud to say that I’ll be the Genre Fiction instructor for the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices next summer! I’ll be focusing on YA and comics writing. Apply!
Finally, very soon, I’m going to Austin for YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium to be on a panel with Sara Zarr, Coe Booth, Jo Knowles & Matt de la Peña on YA Realness: what makes ‘contemporary realism’ feel true to readers? I look forward to seeing some of you there!
1. I’m working in a new space, in my old neighborhood which I haven’t had much occasion to frequent in the decade-plus since I’ve lived there. So the commute puts me in a weird mental state: focused simultaneously on the future and the past.
2. Which I guess is also a thing that happens when seasons change.
3. I got a 2015 calendar from NeuYear.net and am both comforted and aghast by how much is already on it.
4. Took this photo last week at the Oak Harbor Library. I like to think the possum is squinting to see what the owl is reading.
5. If you’re in Columbus, Ohio, next week you can go to several comics workshops; some taught by Gene Yang, some by me!
…to Seattle as I type, for an event tomorrow at the Oak Harbor Library with Lish McBride that I’m looking forward to. Have been finalizing details for other events, too — some comics writing classes for teens at Columbus Metropolitan Library in October, a panel at the YALSA YA Literature Symposium in November — all of which I will no doubt mention again closer to when they’ll be happening, with links even.
In the meantime, Portland has had some dang lovely sunsets lately. Here is one.
Book-recommending has unsurprisingly become a tradition at the BG Literary retreat (see 2013, 2012). Below are the titles we talked about this year, and as a bonus, miscellaneous productivity & other tools. In no particular order.
Revolution by Deborah Wiles
Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Last Dragonslayer series Jasper Fforde
The Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
The League of Seven by Alan Gratz
We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory
Salvage by Alexandra Duncan
Dirty Wings by Sarah McCarry
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle
Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle
Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
Doll Bones by Holly Black
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
The Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
The Sixth Gun by Brian Hurtt and Cullen Bunn
Rat Queens by Kurtis J Wiebe
Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja
Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Stumptown by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth
Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer
The Fiction Editor, the Novelist and the Novel by Thomas McCormack
Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
Poking a Dead Frog by Mike Sacks
Productivity & Other Tools
Mind mapping with coggle.it
SpiderOak as a DropBox alternative
For outlining: Screenwriting Beat Sheets
And finally, not a tool, but forever my favorite article about procrastination, Robert Benchley’s marvelous “How To Get Things Done,” which begins: “A great many people have come up to me and asked me how I manage to get so much work done and still keep looking so dissipated.” Read the whole thing, then get to work.
I don’t post here often enough for a period of silence to seem especially notable, but this time, the silence has been on purpose while I’ve been reflecting on current events.
Today I went to use the restroom at a coffeeshop and found the toilet clogged. (Aren’t you glad I’m not accompanying this with photos?)
I thought of leaving. I thought of telling the staff.
Then I picked up the plunger. Sure, I hadn’t made the mess, but whoever had left the toilet in its heinous condition was long gone, and the coffeeshop staff had a lot of other things to do. I unclogged it myself.
I’m not saying that dismantling the befouled toilet’s structural and institutional equivalents is nearly that simple. But that’s the approach I intend to take: recognize the mess, use the tools at hand to work on cleaning it up.
Obvious metaphors are obvious, but still.
I have to tell you that I’ve begun to rethink a thing I’ve been struggling with for some time.
Rocks to navigate, river to cross, the woods to get through.
The fallen tree that seemed like it could be a bridge doesn’t extend far enough.
Maybe a way to proceed.
Still not sure where exactly I’m going, but on my way again.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks; in the car to make long drives bearable, at night to slow the hamster wheel of anxiety.
I never look for a specific title. I browse, often clicking through screen after screen of books that aren’t to my taste, like sifting through the racks at a thrift store.
It was after midnight and I was nine screens in when I found Valeria Luiselli‘s Faces in the Crowd, read by Roxanne Hernandez and Armando Durán. Hernandez’s voice was immediately captivating, and I was intrigued, too, by the double translation, first from the original Spanish Los ingrávidos (The Weightless Ones), then into audio.
I’m not going to tell you what it’s about, only that I highly recommend it.