A Word with Writers Event: Mira Jacob and Kirstin Valdez Quade

June 14, 2015 § 3 Comments

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June 15, 2015

The Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing and Night at the Fiesta Books

The Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing and Night at the Fiestas Books

I picked up two new books at Saturday’s A Word with Writers event, featuring Mira Jacob and Kirstin Valdez Quade, as part of a series sponsored by Bookworks to benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

First the authors read excerpts from their books:

The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob:

“Amina wasn’t totally sure where one should be when one’s brother was being seduced, but she was pretty sure the backseat was not the right place.”

Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade:

“Frances was pretending to be someone else, someone whose father was not the bus driver.”

During the Q&A that followed, I asked the question:

“I’ve read a lot of articles lately that discuss how even though there is a desire among readers for more diversity in books, there are still barriers to the publication of diverse books. Did either of you encounter these types of barriers in your publication process, and if so, what were they and how did you overcome them?”

Question for A Word with Writers Event on diversity in publishing.

Question for A Word with Writers Event on diversity in publishing. Yep, I wrote it down first.

Mira Jacob said that when she first started writing, she assumed that readers would only want stories from a white American viewpoint, so she wrote white American main characters. The stories were awful because they were not authentic for her. Once she started writing from a viewpoint that was true for her, (an Indian immigrant family adjusting to life in the U.S., including New Mexico!), readers were very receptive. She did add that when approached about a movie version of her book, the executives were worried that there weren’t enough Indians in America to constitute a good-sized audience. “What about everybody else in America?” Jacob said. “But that’s Hollywood.”

Mira Jacob signs "The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing" at A Word with Writers event sponsored by Bookworks to benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

Mira Jacob signs “The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing” at A Word with Writers event sponsored by Bookworks to benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

Kirstin Valdez Quade agreed that readers are by nature empathetic and want to read books from different cultures and ethnicities, but the publishing industry tends to be risk adverse, and anything non-white can be seen as a risk.

Kirstin Valdez Quade signs "Night at the Fiestas" at A Word with Writers event sponsored by Bookworks to benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

Kirstin Valdez Quade signs “Night at the Fiestas” at A Word with Writers event sponsored by Bookworks to benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

One extra tidbit that was super exciting for me, of must-cut-down-word-count fame: both Jacob and Quade tend to overwrite and then trim down, a lot. Jacob admitted her original draft of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing was twice as long. Twice!

I’m in good company.

New Books from Darynda Jones and Jeffe Kennedy

June 4, 2015 § 2 Comments

Bliss
June 1, 2015

Saturday I went to the book signing for fellow LERA members Darynda Jones and Jeffe Kennedy at Page One Books here in Albuquerque.

Darynda Jones Jeffe Kennedy Authors Booksigning

Darynda Jones and Jeffe Kennedy at Page 1 book signing for “Eighth Grave After Dark” and “The Talon of the Hawk”

Jeffe Kennedy signed for the next book in her The Twelve Kingdoms series, “The Talon of the Hawk.” She said that she pitched her first book in the series as “The Middle Princess” because in the fairy tale the eldest and youngest princesses always get a story, but the middle princess never does.

Darynda Jones Jeffe Kennedy authors book signing

Jeffe Kennedy at Page 1 book signing for “The Talon of the Hawk”

Darynda Jones signed for the next in her Charley Davidson series, “Eighth Grave After Dark.” (I also picked up the previous book “Seventh Grave and No Body.” I’m a wee bit behind.) Darynda said that when she first started writing the series she envisioned it being about Charley, the Grim Reaper, slowly but surely coming in to her full power. What readers really responded to was the world-building and that led to the expansion of the series into the layered, multi-character universe fans know and love.  

Darynda Jones Jeffe Kennedy authors book signing

Darynda Jones at Page 1 for book signing “Eighth Grave After Dark”

So now I have some exciting new books to read to distract me from my synopsis writing nightmare.

I mean, Stephen King said, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

I love when I can justify my excuses.

This Maybe Isn’t the Most Efficient Way to Write a Synopsis

May 11, 2015 § 1 Comment

or, I’m in Synopsis-Writing Hell. Liquor isn’t helping.

Write
May 11, 2015

Not to say that I didn’t try, though.

Vegan Bailey's from Mind Body Green recipe

Vegan Bailey’s from Mind Body Green recipe

I finished my latest round of manuscript cuts a few days ahead of schedule. The next step was to rewrite my synopsis. This is how I made the best use of my time advantage:

1. Took a few days off from even looking at the damn thing. Fiddled with the NaNoWriMo draft instead. Went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. Told myself I’ll start the synopsis on Sunday.

2. On Sunday morning thought to myself, “Gah. It’s Sunday already? I so do not want to work on the synopsis. Besides, Not That Kind of Girl is due at the library tomorrow. Spend the day reading that instead. I’ll start the synopsis on Monday.”

3. Monday I remembered I am also supposed to be planning my new website. Why start off a Monday doing something hard like a synopsis? I spent the morning looking at authors’ websites for ideas instead.

4. Tuesday I exported my manuscript outline from Scrivener to a .csv file and then to Excel so I can use it to rework the synopsis. Great start. Then I left early to take the car in for the oil change in case the carpool to the Claudia Rankine event in Santa Fe fell through. (It didn’t.)

5. Just wasn’t feeling the synopsis writing on Wednesday. I spent my morning hour looking at other author sites again.

6. I slept in on Thursday on account of getting to bed so late the night before after going to the Claudia Rankine event. No time to work on the synopsis even if I wanted to. I didn’t.

7. Friday. It hit me that a whole week had gone by. Panic fluttered in my stomach. I wrote down in my planner “I don’t even want to look at my f***ing synopsis.”

But I did it anyway. It was not quite as horrific as I thought it was going to be. It needs all kinds of work, though.

All kinds of work.

I’d rather watch the birds.

Weekend Reading: Not That Kind of Girl

May 4, 2015 § 1 Comment

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May 4, 1015

I put a library hold on Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham because the book is on all kinds of “must read” lists and also because my actress/filmmaker friend Dia told me all about Dunham just before she became so well-known for her HBO series Girls. When a copy finally became available three months after I put it on hold, though, I sat down in the library to read the first few pages before I committed to checking it out. After all, I’m trying to get a submission ready. I have a crap ton of books on my to-read shelf. If I actually checked out this particular book, I would have to finish it in the next two weeks because forget trying to renew it. (There are currently 16 holds on 14 copies.)

Not That Kind of Girl book cover

I was sold at “But I want to tell my stories, and, more than that, I have to in order to stay sane.”

What made me get up out of the library chair and immediately go check the book out, though, was Dunham’s hope that her stories will, among other things, stop the reader from “thinking that it was your fault when the person you are dating suddenly backs away, intimidated by the clarity of your personal mission here on earth.”

Because I remembered all the dates that stopped happening and the relationships that ended shortly after the guy realized just how serious I am about this writing thing. And now I realized that it was okay.

It really is okay.

I’m Not Buying the “Ridiculous Six” Satire Argument for One Minute

April 26, 2015 § 2 Comments

or,
Maybe Get the Ethnic Group Right Before You Claim You Are Satirizing Ethnic Stereotypes

Bliss
April 27, 2015

First of all, the jokes were just gross and racist as hell. Kudos to the Native American actors who walked off the Ridiculous 6 set. I’m totally with them on that one.

And, okay, I’m a little “how dare you?” that The Ridiculous 6 is supposed to be a satire of the classic Western The Magnificent Seven. One of my favorite Westerns ever. One that I watched because my mother watched it because my dad watched it when he and my mother were together. The movie that has in its lineup, among others, Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, and—to reference Sex and the City—the old movie star I’d have liked to fuck when he was young, Steve McQueen. The movie containing lines that I still quote at my mom and then crack up, such as “Please don’t understand me so fast” and “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Steve McQueen as Vin in "The Magnificent Seven"

Steve McQueen as Vin in “The Magnificent Seven”

No spoofing of this film allowed!

Seriously, though, the other thing that is not working for me is the claim that The Ridiculous 6 is supposedly “satirizing” The Magnificent Seven and the “stereotypes” Western films popularized. If you’re claiming to be doing a satire on ethnic stereotypes, though, maybe you should actually pay attention to what ethnic group is portrayed in the movie you are supposedly spoofing. Enough attention to know that The Magnificent Seven isn’t about Native Americans. It’s about hired guns protecting a farming village in Mexico.

Mexicans, not Native Americans.

Wrong ethnic group, dudes.

Cat in the Corner

April 7, 2015 § 2 Comments

Write
April 6, 2015

I shooed him off my writing chair.

ReadWriteBliss_CatInCorner1

I waved him away from my keyboard.

ReadWriteBliss_CatInCorner2

Now he’s found a new place to hang out.

ReadWriteBliss_CatInCorner3

In the corner of my bookcase, behind the printer, on top of the wireless router.

ReadWriteBliss_CatInCorner4

I know. So pitiful.

At least I can get some writing done.

Weekend Reading: How to Be a Woman

March 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

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March 30, 2015

I checked out How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran because it, along with My Horizontal Life, was on Buzzfeed’s 32 Books Guaranteed to Make You Laugh Out Loud.

How To Be A Woman

I was definitely trying to contain my giggling and snorting while reading this book at the pedicure salon. Moran’s essays on such subjects as the trap women have fallen into of spending time and money on waxing and wearing inadequate underwear are painfully hilarious:

“A man may think, I have a party next week. I’d better roughly scrub my face before I tootle on out the door.

A woman, on the other hand, will call up the calendar in her head—like the midair screens in Minority Report—and start a cycle of furious planning, based around hair management.”

Um, guilty. Only I get out my scary day planner.

“A case in point: a few months ago, I was on a crowded tube with a friend of mine, who gradually grew paler and quieter until she finally leaned forward and admitted that her knickers were so skimpy, her front bottom had eaten them entirely.  . . . Clearly, this is not right. Jesus Christ. Underpants like this need to be bombed back to the Stone Age. Batman doesn’t have to put up with this shit—why should we?”

Thank you. If a pair of panties doesn’t provide ass coverage, I ain’t buying it.

And here is my favorite bit on the ludicrousness of proclaiming to not be a feminist:

“What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES?”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

 

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