Monday, December 22, 2008

The New Yorker's Panel Tanks It ...

I'm shocked.
Amazed. Amazed. Amazed that THE NEW YORKER -- probably the most important literary magazine in the United States just tanked an article on YA literature. Their book bench reads, a section of the magazine that is always fun to browse, has a panel discussing HEADLONG, by Kathe Koja. The panelists respond to the novel, its meaning, and the "YA label." Here are some of the most interesting quotes:

The book totally surpassed my expectations. I tend to think of young-adult fiction as sort of facile—a straightforward style, uncomplicated themes and morals ..

Jenna Krajeski:
When I was a teen-ager, I assumed that the label [YA] was synonymous with preachy and boring, a companion to sex-ed classes. I still can’t imagine kids Lily’s age actually reaching for this book over “Tropic of Cancer.”

Ligaya Mishan:
Teen-age boys don’t read, apparently.

But I wonder if this is part of what demarcates young-adult fiction. Surely we demand of “adult” writers (or perhaps what I really mean is “great” writers) higher moral and philosophical stakes?


Well, of course we do demand of “great” writers—literary-fiction writers—higher moral and philosophical stakes. Like I said, I think the Y.A. genre is typically defined by very straightforward moral messages, ones that are deemed “suitable” for children, even if the subject matter deals with more grown-up topics (like sex or drinking).

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh my oh my oh my oh my oh my. Part of me wants to be indignant, but the other part realizes that The New Yorker is guilty of what many are: perpetuating the idea that YA lit is second-rate and adolescent readers don't read complex novels. I'd like to say I'm surprised. Okay. I'm surprised THE NEW YORKER stooped this low. But I'm not surprised about the flippant attitude toward YA lit. I had a family member tell me, after my book was accepted for publication, that YA was just hack reading. Needless to say, he didn't get a free book. Granted, he will probably doesn't read anything other than the sports section of the paper anyway. Okay. Yeah. I'm miffed. Because if anything THE NEW YORKER who prides itself on being THE LITERARY MAG of the US dropped the ball and is, in my eyes, no better than that family member I mentioned.

So, THE NEW YORKER panel, let me introduce you to MT Anderson, Markus Zusak, Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, An Na, Walter Dean Meyers, Terry Trueman, Cormier, Spinelli ... should I go on?

Welcome to the world of great lit. I'll let it slide .. this time. But honestly, you ended up looking like a bunch of elitist putzes instead of real readers of real literature. What a shame.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Yay, it's official and I can share!

Thanks to my wonderful agent, Caryn Wiseman of Andrea Brown Literary . . . .

Simon Pulse (an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.) has bought my novel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The estimated publication date is Summer of 2010.

I'll be working with a super-fabulous editor, and I can't wait to get started. After years and years of dreaming, it's finally gonna happen - a book *I* wrote is getting published! Hip, hip, hooray!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Merry, um, something.

Argh. Between writing as much as I can on my WIP and waiting on some big news from my agent (stay tuned,) and trying to keep up with the rest of life. . . I am so not in the holiday spirit this year.

That's never happened before. I *love* the holidays. But this year, I just wish the presents were wrapped, the cards were sent, and the meals were cooked so that I could hole up and write my little heart out.

It's a bummer when your passion turns you into a total grinch, you know?

NBC is showing It's A Wonderful Life on Saturday night . . . maybe that will give me the kick I need to be a little more mistletoe and a little less main-character.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Heidi brought up heroes...and I could not resist. One of my favorite shows is, drum roll...Heroes. I like it first because the plot is so complex if you miss an episode you are lost. the writing is fantastic, the characters are hard not to like, even the villains. What exactly are the differences between heroes and villains? Both have the power to change and go the other direction, and in this show they often do. Gabriel, here or Sylar is one of my favorites. he is a terrifying killer, then he changes for a while and chooses to be ultimately good, but he has just taken another turn....
How do we portray our bad guys? Good guys? Aren't the best heroes characters that are ultimately flawed but deep down want to do the right thing? If you push a character hard enough, any character couldn't they turn into a villain?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tardy Words from the Caboose

(If I knew how, I'd post a photo here from the Cirque du Soleil)

Oh oh, missed the T-Day deadline!! Which means I’m suspended between Thanksgiving and Christmas like a gymnast leaping high in the air to do the splits. As if!!

On top of my thanks for health, family, love and work, I’m also grateful for beauty. This week the sky, seen through black and lacy branches was bands of purple fading to lipstick to apricot to blue. I’m nourished by the beauty of my house and garden. I’m grateful to New England ancestors who threw nothing away and so left me all their furniture and silver!.

Last night, at a church with walls of glass, I watched a choir of girls wearing long white dresses with crowns of lighted candles on their heads sing Swedish carols. It came to me that Light would be my word this holiday season. In writing and in life, I will seek out light where I find it. I’ll try to be a light to others. When I see light on the path, I’ll follow where it leads. Not a religious thing, just my personal revelation.

Where are all the heroes?

Peter Parkers, Clark Kents, and Bruce Waynes abound in the world -- they just don't have the cool gadgets and showy outfits.
So, I pose a better question, where AREN'T the heroes?
CNN's show on heroes gave me goosebumps. The lineup of "top heroes" included a runner, teacher, librarian, farmer, ex-convict, rescue worker, doctor and more -- regular people seeing where love, faith, and help are needed in this world. Ordinary people with extraordinary vision and a passion to help humanity.
So it made me think about my heroes because though I saw the difference each of CNN's heroes made in lives of thousands, each and every one of us has a hero or two. I hope. Because heroes challenge us to be better, strive for more, work harder. Heroes are the measure to which we can hold ourselves. My heroes don't wear "Super Capes" or have secret lairs. My heroes, each one, has taught me about how to be a better person. And I still have a lot of work to do to live up to their examples
The immortal words of Peter Parker's uncle: "With great power comes great responsibility."
But we all have great power within us. We sometimes have to sift through the muck to find it.
Anyway, CNN's heroes was a brilliant way to show how regular people lead lives of love and passion -- without looking for the spotlight.

I am humbled.