Sunday, July 20, 2014

Three Weeks of Revisions, Shown in Nail Polish

When I began this revision, I was feeling a little vulnerable.
I wanted my nails to make me think of claws,

or maybe little shields.

My palette.

During the next week, things briefly got impossible
and I needed my nails to help me feel as hard as asphalt.

My palette.

This morning, I have gotten to a place of hope. :o)

My palette.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just a Little Dance

Tui and I have been watching So You Think You Can Dance religiously for a bunch of years now. We have opinions and strong feelings. We are experts.

At the moment, the show is in the midst of its eleventh season. For all these seasons, we've watched one group number a week, which is a lot of group numbers, and I just want to state, for the record, that my favorite group number remains the original, Top 10 performance from Season 2, choreographed by Wade Robson and danced to Roisin Murphy's "Ramalama (Bang Bang)." For old times' sake, here it is. Sorry about the screaming. (If you can't see the video, go to my Blog Actual.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Where are the superheroes for young girls?

The other day, my sister, codename: Cordelia, texted me to ask if I knew of any comic-style superhero storybooks for five-year-olds, starring girls. Here's an excerpt of her text: "They [Cordelia's twin daughters] love Batman, Spiderman, Thor, Superman, wonder woman. In addition to wonder woman, do you know of any age-appropriate girl/woman superhero series? Note how Siri capitalized all of them except wonder woman."

In fact, I have noticed, on many occasions, that Siri recognizes, and properly spaces and capitalizes, all superheroes except Wonder Woman. Same with Dragon, which I'm using to dictate this post. No thanks for that extra kick in the ovaries, Apple and Dragon. (Not unrelatedly, have you heard about Apple's sexist iPad engraving policy?)

No thanks to the comics industry, either, for presenting Cordelia with this very real dilemma. What to give young girls who are interested in superheroes? Nina Jaffe/Ben Caldwell's Wonder Woman series for young readers? Out of print. Supergirl for young readers? Out of print. I walked into one of our wonderful local comics stores yesterday and asked for advice. The guy behind the counter lamented with me. I left with nothing.

Here are the few suggestions I've managed to collect from friends of mine: Rapunzel's Revenge, by the fabulous Shannon Hale, her husband Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale (no relation). Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke. And of course, there are some female superheroes among the X-Men. My hope is that those of my friends who read my blog are now going to email me with many more wonderful and exciting suggestions. If this happens, I will be sure to pass them on to my blog readers.

In related news, thank you, Nancy Werlin, for informing me today that Marvel's next Thor will be a woman, written by Jason Aaron with art by Russell Dauterman. Super cool. You know what would be amazingly cool? If more mainstream comics were written or illustrated by women.

I honestly feel a bit bored with myself as I write this post, because nothing in it is news. But complacency is part of the problem. So. There you have it. This problem has always existed, it still exists, and we are SOOOOOOOOO sick of it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Transitioning to a Revision

This is what focus looks like.

Here in the office, we are transitioning from writing the new book to revising, for the second time, one of the old books. (I enumerate my current projects here; the book I'm about to start revising is the one I refer to as the "second book" in that post.) Unbeknownst to me, a friend snapped a picture while I was explaining to him my method of, um, organization. Normally, anyone besides me taking pictures in my office is asking for it, but I was rather pleased with this result, because I feel like it expresses well what the beginning of a revision is like: Everything is starting to crystallize, but it looks (and feels) an awful lot like everything is coming apart.

Hanging on the wall behind me is the book plan to the book I'm about to revise. (The old book plan. I will take all those cards down and put up new ones once I know the new revision plan.) The crumpled orange pile to my left is the book plan of the new book I was writing last week, which I no longer care about, AT ALL, because when I'm working on one book, I pretty much forget about the other books. The pages strewn across my floor are, well, various revision pages I'm sorting through. I will organize them and deal with them. Once I've dealt with them I will put them in the recycling bin, though not before tearing them into little pieces, just in case a dumpster diver finds them and reads my book before I have turned it into a good book. Listen, this could happen, and it would be TERRIBLE, and NO I DO NOT TAKE MYSELF TOO SERIOUSLY SHUT UP.

I mentioned in a recent post that I've been having problems focusing lately. Knowing that I would be transitioning soon to this revision, I've been worried, because while it's okay to have some trouble focusing as I begin a new book that has no deadline, it's a problem to have trouble focusing if I'm revising a book that my editor and I are hoping to slot into a particular release season. A few wise and reassuring friends have suggested that the revision might bring focus along with it; that when my editor's revision notes arrive, so will my focus. I don't think it's too early in the process to say that they were right. I am deeply excited by the challenges presented to me by the comments of my editor and my early readers. I have always enjoyed working on this particular book, and at the moment, I feel like I'm facing some deliciously difficult questions. I have no idea what the answers are, but I know that sometime in the next few weeks, the pieces of this swirling mess will settle into their places (or else I will wrangle them there), and then I will be able to see them. And THEN I will have the frustrating challenge of bringing them into being on the page.

I love being in the middle of this mess. I'm enjoying it while I can, because once I know the plan and all the actual work is ahead... there may be some whining here on the blog. :o)

The World Cup of Arm-Folding

If you've been watching the World Cup, then chances are, you've seen a lot of players turn to the left and cross their arms during the line-up presentations. Even if you haven't, I bet you'll enjoy this piece at Slate, Who Won the World Cup of Arm-Folding? Hilarious. Read it on a device that allows you to see the graphics, i.e., maybe not your phone. Thanks, Stephanie.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hawks and Conchords

I came across this guy a couple of hours ago in the Boston Gardens, hanging out in a shrubbery. Sent a photo to my buddy Jim, who says it looks like a young red-tailed hawk.

On the subway ride home, someone with a sing-songy voice was talking about sandwiches, and I figured, since the blog is all randomness lately, that's reason enough to share my favorite Flight of the Conchords song again…

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Randutiae That Reflect the Scattered State of My Brains

I've been a very poor blogger lately. I have a list as long as my arm of things I've been wanting to blog about, but the spirit has not been moving me. In particular, I've been going through a period of grievously fractured focus with my writing, and have been wanting to blog something about that. I actually sat down yesterday, expecting to write a blog post about it – even contacted a few friends to ask permission to share some of the wise things they've been saying – but then, to my delight, my focus came back, and instead, I worked. I'm hoping the same thing is about to happen as I sit down this very moment. So, instead of one of those blog posts I've been meaning to write, I offer a few random pictures and one wise quote from a friend, presented with no context whatsoever :o). Maybe they will mean something to you.

 On my writing desk.

Cambridge, MA window box.

 City Hall in Cambridge flies the American flag, the POW/MIA flag, and the rainbow flag.
I ♥ my city.

 And here's the view from far, far away. Screencap on my phone.
Blue dot means "you are here."

The satellite images in the maps app may be the most beautiful
 things a phone can do.

A wise friend said these words this week and I was like, "Wait, I need to write that down."
I did so, then stuck the post-it onto my computer.