Tag Archives: YA

people actually concerned about sexism do not go around saying that women should shut their dumb faces about it

Look at me, raising my head up in the internet. Hello, internet! I’m a lot of words this month! I haven’t been doing my usual Friday Links while Nanoing, but there are a couple of things I wanted to make an exception for.

untoldSarah Rees Brennan has written a really important essay on TheToast.net about being a woman in the publishing industry, or any industry that requires self promotion, and how differently the universe reacts to women’s self promotion. It’s sad but a must-read: A Female Author Talks About Sexism and Self-Promotion.

So, women are often left in a situation where if they want to succeed, they have to promote themselves, via being a person on the internet. And then, people say: “Lady, when you promote yourself, it is bad.”
(Sarah Rees Brennan)

Malinda Lo has written a companion piece, also on TheToast.net, about her own experiences in self promotion as a queer woman, and how more mainstream events/promotions for her YA books about lesbians mean having to come out all over again: A Second Female Author Talks About Sexism and Self Promotion.

I don’t believe that creative individuals should have to grow thicker skins. I believe that if you’re out there creating art, you should make sure you’re as open and thin-skinned as possible, so that you can feel every damn thing that arises in you. You need to be able to fully experience those emotions so you can use them in your work, but only within reason. I draw the line at letting mean-spirited criticism into my mental space.
(Malinda Lo)

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Last Chance for Kaleidoscope Pledges!

kaleidoscopeIt’s down to the last few days of the Kaleidoscope Pozible campaign, for a book of contemporary YA fantasy (and a dash of science fiction) with diverse protagonists, edited by Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press, and Julia Rios of The Outer Alliance. They’ve raised nearly $8000 but have quite a few miles still to go if the project is going to fully fund.

There simply aren’t enough protagonists in YA fiction who are anything other than the straight, white, able default, and this is a book that aims to show how many different ways this can be achieved while still displaying great, crunchy speculative fiction (as opposed to an Issues Book that’s all about the Issues). As a pledge of the type of stuff they are looking for, they have accepted stories by Sofia Samatar, Vylar Kaftan, Jim C Hines, Ken Liu and Sean Williams).

This is an exciting and genuinely important book, and I really want it to happen. Not just because I’m writing a story for it right now, though I’ll admit that’s a teeny part of it… Most exciting for the writers out there, they opened to general submissions at the $7000 mark, so you can start writing *your* stories of teen diversity, magic and other hijinks right now!

Submission guidelines are HERE!

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Where the Wonder Women Are #32: Karolina Dean of the Runaways

So you think your teen years were tough. Karolina is an alien AND a lesbian. When she and her fellow Runaways discover that their parents are all evil, she has rather more to take in than the rest of them because of the sudden revelation that instead of being the daughter of two famous Hollywood celebrities, she is in far the daughter of two solar-powered alien invaders.

On the bright side, she can fly and shoot rainbows out of her skin. So there’s that!

When we first meet Karolina, she appears to be every bit the stereotype of a Californian blonde – remember Dawn from the Babysitters Club? Karolina is a bit of a hippy, a vegan, a flawless beauty, and the sort of person who generally believes the best of people.

This is a bit of a problem because unlike the other kids, she misses the moment when their parents sacrifice an innocent girl, and then struggles to take their word for it. Later, when the Runaways decide to ransack their various family homes to collect evidence as to the wrongdoings of their parents, Karolina finds a message she is supposed to read in the event of her parents’ deaths: she is to remove the medical alert bracelet she has worn her whole life.

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Where the Wonder Women Are #31 Nico Minoru & the Runaways

Consider this Runaways Week in the Where the Wonder Women Are Universe!

Just when I thought I understood comics, and the Marvel Universe in particular, Runaways came along to shake up my perceptions. The original self-contained Volume of 18 issues (2003-2004), created by Brian K Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, is an edgy teen paranormal story about six kids who have to entertain each other once a year when their parents gather for a secret meeting… and finally discover the horrible truth that their parents are in fact “the Pride,” a group of criminal magicians, super-villains, aliens and so on.

The kids go on the run, in a story that feels far more like a Scott Westerfeld novel than a comic, except for the fact that they are grounded in the Marvel Universe – characters such as Cloak and Dagger and even Captain America cross their paths from time to time, and ultimately it is superheroes who are responsible for the resolution of the story and the “happy ending” temporarily created for the runaways (which they ultimately reject because superheroes, what do they know about real life?).

But for the most part, despite the universe they belong to, the Runaways of the original series are in their own genre, telling their own story. They’re not out to save the world or fight for justice – they just want to escape the fate that their evil parents have in store for them. And along the way they discover their own innate powers or gifts: one of them is a mage, one a mutant, one an alien, one has a telepathic connection to a dinosaur, one has his father’s futuristic tech-gloves, and so on.
It’s not a happy story, but these misfits form a fractured and dysfunctional family group to replace what they have lost. Right up to the point that they discover that one of their own is every bit as evil as their parents…

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Snapshot 2012: Kate Gordon

Kate Gordon is a Tasmanian YA author and a very VERY new mum. Check out her blog at www.kategordon.com.au/

1. Vulpi, sequel to Thyla, your paranormal-YA-with-weretigers-and-devils has just been released, and I hear that you have switched protagonists for this one. Why is this Cat’s story and not Tessa’s?

Much as I loved writing Tessa, there were so many characters in Thyla whose heads I wanted to delve into. I wanted to give every character their own story and, in fact, when I was writing Thyla, I did create back-stories for each of the characters. Cat fascinated me right from the beginning and I wanted to explore her more. I also thought it would be interesting to see the world of the Thylas from the point of view of several different “people”. The next two books will each have a different protagonist. I have read a couple of series that do this really well – Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series being one example. I think it’s an interesting twist on the way series are usually approached. I understand some people will miss Tessa as a narrator, but hopefully there’s enough of her in Vulpi to satisfy them!

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Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray

This book has just gone straight to the top of the list of books I hope my daughters will steal from my shelves a year or two before I would have thought they were ready for them.

Imagine a gang of bewildered teen beauty queens, stranded on a desert island after a plane crash, forced to use their pageant skills as survival skills, and learning layer by layer to discard the crap that western society places on the shoulders of young women.

Imagine a high camp satire peopled with the cheerleaders from Glee and Bring it On, the female casts of Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You, not to mention a few of those Whip It roller derby girls, with a script that doesn’t just sneak the occasional feminist zinger in with the boys-are-hot banter, but is actually all about how women are awesome, even the dumb ones and the pretty ones and the bitchy ones and the ones who have been raised by our culture to hate other women, and themselves.

But… it’s funny. Really funny. Bray has a stiletto-sharp pen which she uses to stab viciously at so many problematic aspects of western society that affect teenagers – at reality TV, and sex, and romantic pressures, and sexism, and the “beauty” industry, and unrealistic expectations, and the media. There are two non-white characters (one African-American, one Indian) who honestly don’t know how to deal with each other at first because they’re both so used to being the only brown girl in a sea of privileged white girls, and it feels like becoming friends is the most subversive thing they can possibly do; there’s a trans character whose story arc makes me ridiculously happy; there’s a tough as nails lesbian and a deaf girl who has to deal with questioning sexuality as well as her disability. There’s a girl whose most important possession is her purity ring, and there’s one who came along to bring all the others down… oh, and there’s one with an in flight tray stuck permanently in her forehead.

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Friday Links in Black and White

Any chance of catching up with all my blog reading this week was heartily delayed by my discovery of awesome Doctor Who rewatch blog The Wife in Space in which a diehard Doctor Who fan talks his wife into experiencing his favourite show in chronological order. Their conversations are funny and incisive, and I adore Sue’s take-no-prisoners attitude. She is tough but fair (scoring stories across the full range of 1-10), and watching her get sucked into a world of Billyfluffs, Base Under Siege and of course the dread reconstructions of lost episodes is horribly fascinating.

Sue (explaining the experiment to her flabbergasted brother-in-law): That was a walk in the park compared to something like The Toymaker or The Zarbi Planet. Some of the episodes don’t even exist and we still watch them!

I do especially like the fresh perspective of someone who doesn’t care about conventional fan wisdom, and takes every episode as they find it.

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Friday Links Has a Foot in Each World

Tor.com tells you why you should be watching Fringe in a very non-spoilery-for-the-last-three-seasons way. Alisa and I discussed Olivia and her FBI competence in the recent Galactic Suburbia episode.

Sarah Rees Brennan follows up the #YesGayYA story with a discussion of the Circle of Suck that can happen with the portrayal of minority or diversity issues in fiction, and the various roadblocks to publication.

Paula Guran wrote a moving post about leaving Weird Tales, and posted a link to a fabulous article she wrote about Margaret Brundage, and how sexy artwork of women isn’t necessarily an unfeminist thing. I love Brundage’s pastel women, and really enjoyed the article.

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Friday Links has a Talking Cat

I’ve been hunting for a new addictive, fluffy manga series since Fruits Basket came to an end, and this article about the new translations and releases of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and Codename Sailor V was very enticing. I’m going in!

Also I’ve had a great time recently reading and discussing comics, and particularly discovering how many of my friends secretly love the Keith Giffen Justice League era. After my complaints at the ‘big guns’ style of Justice League, Cranky Nick sent me a link to this brilliant comic strip which sums it all up for me. Love it!

For those looking for an update on the #YesGayYA controversy (which seems to have mostly died down now) Cleolinda posted a brilliant survey and summary of the main points of what happened and what was said. It’s a very even-handed, non-accusatory post, which she felt compelled to write when she saw the situation being described inappropriately as “a hoax.” I also liked Julia Rios’ take on it, from the Outer Alliance blog. Foz Meadows uses this issue as a jumping off point to talk about the heartbreak that happens when kids become aware of being discriminated against, regardless of the specific form of bigotry.

Speaking of YA, this older post that Tehani pointed me towards asked the question ‘how dark are YA covers really?’ after that other YA controversy from earlier this year, and has some great visuals to illustrate the answers.

Seanan Maguire wrote a powerful and important post about the divide between rich and poor when e-books are concerned. This is something I’ve been thinking for a while, whenever people gleefully predict the ‘death of print books’. Australia is a country where it’s possible to be in “information-poverty” regardless of your financial situation, and so it’s far more obvious from here that e-technologies, however wonderful, are not available to everyone. Seanan writes about the issue beautifully, and I think it’s an essay that needs more exposure.

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Friday Links Don’t Have Enough Lesbians In Them.

One of the two headline stories of our recent Galactic Suburbia Episode 42 was the piece on Publisher’s Weekly about two authors who were upset about an agent asking them to ‘straighten’ a gay protagonist.

Nicola Griffith shared a video of her describing a similar issue to a group of students, when her own agent questioned why the protagonist of her second novel needed to be a lesbian.

Malinda Lo followed up with a very constructive post looking at the hard stats of YA fiction published in the US over the last several decades. In particular I found it interesting that she proves once and for all that the anecdotal experience of there being less lesbians than gay male characters in YA is absolutely true – in fact, it’s a 2-1 balance. So YA authors, time to add the girl on girl kissing!

Finally, it seems that while the Publishers Weekly was carefully not naming and shaming the agent in question, the buzz behind the scenes was not so kind. She speaks out at Colleen Lindsay’s blog the Swivet, with her own description of the phone call in question.

[UPDATE] The authors of the original post have replied at Rachel’s LJ, standing by their original post and urging people to focus on the bigger and more important picture of making YA more gay-friendly, rather than getting distracted in finger pointing or choosing sides.

In other news, Catherynne Valente provides one of the best responses I’ve seen to the idea of an Amazon ‘subscription service’ for e-books. I don’t think I know any writer who is more eloquent when angry.

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