Saturday, February 26, 2011


Once again P!nk has made me love her so much. Please watch this and share it with every girl everywhere.

Book Musings: A Northern Light

A Northern Light

It's no secret that I worship at the alter of Jennifer Donnelly. I devoured the Tea Rose books this summer, stalked the Harvard Coop to get Revolution, and @reply her like a freako, but rereading A Northern Light for class made me realize WHY I do that. She's incredible. Under different hands, to be honest, Mattie's story might not be that interesting. She's a girl who wants to go to college, whoopdeedoo, and it's 1906, which fine complicates matters. But Mattie's voice is so strong, and Donnelly's description so vivid, that the reader is as invested in Mattie's seemingly-hopeless goal as she is. 

Now, I have to admit that while I love the tie to An American Tragedy, I think it could have been played down. It's sort of a calling card of Donnelly's YA, this second voice to give the protagonist a what-if, but I'm always more interested in the other story. I do understand that Grace's letters gave Mattie the realization of how bad things could be for women, and why she had to get out and find her way, but the way they were interwoven with her history made this decision seem more abrupt than it might have been were it chronological. 

I absolutely loved the integration of the plight of female authors. A Room of One's Own before its time, in a way, Mattie contemplates why many female authors never married, how they wouldn't have had time nor energy to write if they had. The book does an amazing job of depicting how much women worked for no recognition, and how desperate their situations could be.

I do wish there'd been a little more of the other side. The positives of motherhood and domesticity. Mattie's mother shows some of it, but she also dies of cancer before the story starts. The book is better than many feminist books at showing layers, but I wish more would emphasize that CHOICE is the important thing, and what you do with that choice is up to you. 

Still, I adore this book to pieces, and bought a new copy because I loaned mine out ages ago. It's one of those books I needed to have a physical copy of, which is quite the compliment. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Five

1. This is awesome. It's an article in the Globe about a program run by the Boston Conservatory to provide music lessons, not just therapy, to kids with autism spectrum disorders. I'm a firm believer in the arts as a tool for kids with disabilities to shine and gain confidence, so this is super-exciting to hear about.

2. At a meeting today (hoping to get more involved in disability things up here) I was told about Natalia Zukerman, a singer/songwriter/painter, who, among other things, has dyslexia. Go check her music out, it's great!

3. I haven't been reading as much, because school and revisions are eating my life. I'm almost finished with The Catcher in the Rye. I know it's a love-it or hate-it book. So far, I love it. Holden's voice is intriguing to me, and it's one of those reads where the voice gets stuck in your head. Yesterday I found myself taking the back way to school "so I could feel like I lived in real as hell city, god damn it."

4. My to-read pile is huge. Like HUGE. And I've got more coming, because Kristen Hubbard's Like Mandarin has been pre-ordered, and I need to get The Liar Society. So much good YA, and also Stephen Fry's talk reminded me that I need to read Oscar Wilde. Once an English major, always an English major.

5. My birthday box from my parents came. I am going to snuggle up with Thin Mints and new headphones, and not go outside. I already wrestled cane, coffee and umbrella once today. (Note to self: the three do not mix. They REALLY don't.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don't Try to Tyrannize

Last night, I saw Stephen Fry speak at Harvard. One of the benefits to living in Boston is the glorious literary and academic community surrounding us. He was receiving an award for Humanism-- which was concisely defined as "good without God", emphasis on the good.

He spoke about not forcing your beliefs on people, about acting out of love, and about Oscar Wilde. I think authors could benefit from this advice. It doesn't matter what your beliefs are. But don't try to impress them on your readers. They'll be there, that's enough. You could subtly change the world, but don't try to do it explicitly, or you end up being one of those issue-books I despise.

I'm not sure where I fall in the faith spectrum, but thanks to Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman and Stephen Fry, I'm coming to see that the most value comes in being kind, in loving, in doing your best to do good. I believe in the power of art, but not everyone does. All I can do is try to create. I believe in music, and books, and thoughtfulness. So that's me.

Hearing Stephen speak, and wandering around Harvard Yard, made me miss Oxford fiercely. Also, I turned twenty-two Monday, and my twentieth birthday was spent there, so I had nostalgia from that, too....

This has been your thinky-blog for the day.

Also, watch this if you haven't:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Showing Sense

I don't refer to the title of this blog often, because it's mostly a thematic joke my mom's friend came up with. It shows the blog is about books, and also disability stuff, and me, because, well, the title says a lot about who I am, including that Sense and Sensibility is my favorite Jane Austen. But today we're going to talk about something that doesn't make sense, and is disability related.

Let me preface this by saying I have never had a truly poor experience flying due to my disability. I believe this is because:

A. I can walk on and off the plane, though I use a chair within the airport.

B. I was raised to be VERY vocal, but polite, about what I need and don't need. I also am okay about letting people do their jobs, even if it takes a while.

I've flown on numerous airlines, all over the world, and been okay. But not everyone has, and that doesn't make sense.

My mom linked me this yesterday, and it's just one of a string of articles, open letters and complaints I've read regarding people with disabilities and airlines. If we categorize obesity as a disability, the list grows.

Where is the sense in not treating people with disabilities well when they have paid OUT THE NOSE for a plane ticket?

Although, maybe Delta is onto something. People with disabilities need to be treated like everyone else, right? And at this moment, flying is a spirit-breaking, time consuming mess. Why shouldn't it be so for people with disabilities?

It shouldn't be so for anyone. I've spent enough time on trains and buses, and other forms of transportation to know that travel does not, and should not, be as painful as it is on a plane. It most certainly should not be the humiliating ordeal it has become.

Often, people with disabilities don't have the resources to use alternative forms of travel. I, for one, cannot drive a car, so rely on public transport, trains and planes to do my pond hopping and country crossing. And even though I've never been mistreated to the extent of being humiliated, injured, or missing a flight (that's sort of untrue, but it also involved customs), I have been seriously put out of sorts by the obnoxious amount of cattle-like treatment people get for the amount they pay, disabled or not.

Does. Not. Make. Sense.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Five

1. There's a comedian named Boston named Mehran, and if you've never seen him perform you're missing out. I met him through the Late Night Fucking Cabarets that Amanda Palmer performed in the autumn. Every third Thursday he puts together a show at Motley's comedy club, and my friend Trish and I went last night. It was a ton of fun, particularly the part where he kissed me and told me I have nice lips. Mehran is a self-declared "Iranian homo". :)

2. I'm really getting comfortable with my friends here, which is wonderful. I'm actually going to go out for my birthday Monday, which I wasn't going to because I didn't think people would want to. I'm slightly ridiculous, I know.

3. Apparently the new Radiohead CD is out. Haven't gotten it yet, but I'll get on that. I'm way late to the game with Radiohead, but "Creep" and the rest of OK Computer are great.

4. Four used to be about the weather, but then I decided that I refused to be that boring. I don't have much. This week went by really fast.

Here, have some YouTube
5. And some Amanda Palmer

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Morning all!

I've a guest post at Amber's fabulous Just Your Typical Book Blog, and you should go check it and her out. It's about the way books and music interrelate, which is one of my passions.

I'm deep in line-edit land, where I can't think or read about other people's words too much. I overanalyze without seeing story. Pink and Delirium sit untouched on my bedside table. I'll make a point to read and review something this weekend.

Today, I get to teach part of my Writing II class. I'm using Nathan Bransford's Seven Keys to Writing Good Dialogue, which I love. Dialogue has become one of the joys of writing for me, and I love helping others find that!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chronic Thankfulness

Hello new readers! Hope you're all well! It's Wednesday morning, and I just got up and showered in twenty minutes. This, for most people, just describes Wednesday. They would definitely not be compelled to blog about it.

For me it is a little to the left of miraculous. I did not have to bandage something infected that would then decide to drain all over my cute jeans within ten minutes, and make me late for class with a-not-understanding-professor.

Last night, I had a discussion with my sorority little about an event that happened last year. Suffice it to say, I took a mentor's lack of understanding too far to heart, during a particularly bad time. I don't think that would happen to me now. I'm aware of my support system, and even though the roomies who picked me up that day are across an ocean, I know they'd be somewhere to listen in a second if I needed them.

I walked to Starbucks before class yesterday, and went to CVS before that. Easy. But not when A. you live in a city where you need a car but you can't drive like I did last year, or B. something hurts too much to walk. I don't have that right now. It's incredible how world-changing that can be.

I'm growing to adore people here, am still loving my manuscript after these revisions, and am starting to find people who love it too. I know it's not Thanksgiving, but there was a love holiday this week, and during this time when my chronic disability seems to be giving me a lull, I am thank for for those who help me through the hard times, and that current times aren't harder.

Also, monkeys:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Because I'm always in the mood to meet new, awesome YA lovin' people, I signed up for the YA Blogosphere Secret Valentine! (It's good for you guys, it stops the ramblings about V-day being the second anniversary of my being robbed....) ANYWAY! My valentine is Bohemienne D.C. Woo!!!

What she probably doesn't know is that I loved her as soon as I saw her screen-name. Boheminne is not only French (score!) it is the title of my favorite song in Notre Dame de Paris, the musical I spent the age of sixteen being obsessed with. Score one!

But that's not all Boheminne has going for her, mes amis. She's got a FANTASTICALLY insightful blog. Go, particularly if you want to know the difference between "enormity" and "immensity"  (I DIDN'T KNOW, OK?) and see fabulous quips like this: "I recently took up knitting. Awkward, reaching posts that use knitting as a metaphor for storycraft are sure to follow". Her intelligent posts on writing are SADLY lacking in comments, so go visit my valentine, capiche?!

happy single's awareness day! (tee hee)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Five

1. My dislike of Boston  is not the hatred my friend Sam has, a hatred sparking the fire for her drive to finish the program in three years. It's not the loathing I had for Atlanta, with its lack of public transport and its hills. It's not the love of Oxford's spires, or  the longing for London's busy thoroughfares. It's just a knowledge that I don't belong here. Yet some evenings when I walk home and the tops of buildings are the fiery orange of sunset clouds, I know my city is beautiful.

2. I haven't been sleeping well this week. Uncertainties have rooted themselves in my brain. Big decisions. Not of the kind I made last year, but life-altering in their potential. During the interminable wait for the bus at Panera today, I realized my uncertainties are fear. I do not let fear stop me, so hopefully a decision will be made.

3. Speaking of which, my decision to Not Grow Up and Run Away to Europe has been thwarted by the Simmons Financial Aid office. Owing the school $96 does not a Eurotrip make. It may a trip to SCBWI-LA make, since my Euro-Buddy has family outside LA. All of these things contribute to the possible decisions in numero dos.

4. For all that I dislike Boston, my happiness here far surpasses last year. I miss my friends daily, but I do not foresee my life falling apart in the near future, the way it did last year. I am not reliant on the sight of a doctor for cheer, or so delicate that censure from one authority figure will send me spiraling downward. Progress.

5. My new favorite swear is monkey balls.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

Oh how I love my Google Reader on the days when Miss Snark's First Victim posts The Secret Agent. No really....

Go over and comment peeps!


YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday question today is what are your favorite literary couples?

Going to pull from YA so I'm not all Lizzie and Darcy OMG!

1. Nate and Ruby from Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen-- I love how screwed up they both are, and the way they're there for each other even in weird ways.

2. Anna and Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss-- Paris! English accent! Once Etienne gets his act together, what's not to love?

3. Annie and Liza from Annie on my Mind-- More than anything to do with it being such a pivotal book, I just thought the relationship between these girls felt very real. They're fun, loving and also very much on the cusp of adulthood. They accept each other for who they are, but aren't afraid to get angry.

4. Aly and Nawat from Trickster's Choice/Trickster's Queen-- Nawat, the crow man, is just too precious, but he also doesn't let headstrong Aly boss him around. His patience and her intelligence won me over the first and the tenth time I read the books!

5. Conrad and Nancy from Sometimes I Think I Hear My Name-- The strength of the four-day relationship that these two characters have is gorgeously depicted by Avi in this tiny book. They're just two kids thrown together by crappy families, but there's an oddly adult mystique to them. The end of the book packs a powerful punch and has kept me rereading it since I was twelve.

What are your favorite literary couples?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book Musings: Follow my Leader

Follow My Leader

All right, we all know how anti-issues book I am. But here's the thing: I have a theory that issue books are necessary at times. They're the groundbreakers. The topics become acceptable so other authors can take them and run. And sometimes it's good to have a book that presents the facts of an issue in a way kids can understand.

Follow My Leader was one of those books I just discovered on the shelves as a kid. I wasn't looking for it in particular. I read it dozens of times. Yes, the character (Jimmy Carter!)'s biggest obstacle is that he becomes blind. The book deals with learning to walk with a cane, how he gets his guide dog etc. But it also deals with him learning to become one of the guys again, getting the best of bullies and going on to live his life like everyone else.

The author was blind for over half his life, and I think the veracity adds to the text. For me, as someone with low vision for whom blindness is a very real fear, it was a little comforting. I use some of the tricks Jimmy is taught when I don't have my glasses.

The book is a work of its time, first published in 1958 I'd call it groundbreaking. Jimmy remains mainstreamed after all, once he has gone through rehabilitation to learn to move through the world. It also fits the bill of four questions for disability-related books. The disability isn't cured, Jimmy does have other traits (he's a boy scout!), other struggles and I don't have many nitpick except for the dialogue and that's only because it's VERY 1958.

Definitely deserves a place on the disability bookshelf.

Incidentally, not THAT James Garfield. Also not THAT Jimmy Carter

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Five

1. Today is my undergrad's homecoming. It's three weeks earlier than last year, when it was on my 21st birthday. My stories from undergrad are all long and ridiculous and involve stupid things and bad timing, like turning 21 on a bus because we stalled going to the dance itself. I miss those nights.

2. I read Across the Universe today. Not going to review it, because it's over all not my thing/genre. I liked it, but it reminded me of KA Applegate's Remnants which probably no one but me read and which was a ton more creepy (it's possible, I swear). I suppose I get the buzz around the book, it was good, but there are other new YA books I might have buzzed more. I am not an editor.

3. My writing group (all three of us) took a field trip today to Brookline Booksmiths. They endeared themselves to me by having all my current favorite YA books from Revolution to Anna and the French Kiss on their shelves. Gotta love an indie that knows what to stock. Then again, two people working there while we were there either go or went to Simmons. Represent.

4. I've been hanging out at the Absolute Write Water Cooler lately. Trying to meet more people, do more things. In a real-life vein I'm also trying to Do Things With My Life, which is not so easy with three classes, but hopefully will be worth it. Most of my preferred activities are solitary, and the concerts I would see A. cost money and B. are at House of Blues, where I was traumatized last year. But my classmates are fun to hang out with, so that helps.

5. I have not yet died on the snow. You will get tired of me saying this long before I tire of saying it.

5a. This

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Yesterday was a snow day. Consequentially, it was also my favorite type of day: PAJAMA DAY! The day when I can read, or do classwork, or whatever else I want! Woo!

But since I hadn't spent a lot of time on my current WIP I decided that needed to take priority. However, I'd also gotten halfway through season one of Veronica Mars the day before. What to do?

I hosted my own little Veronica-Thon. I got a number from, which I discovered through NaNoWriMo and declared I would write that many words between episodes. I got 410. I am obsessed with....something, and usually rounded it up to 500. I ended up with eight episodes watched, 5000 words written. Fun and painless!

More than that, it made me realize why watching TV can be helpful for writers. I paid closer attention to clothes, for instance, and what they say about a character. Also dialogue. VM is full of snappy one-liners, and also mostly free of guff dialogue. It's heavy on plot, and holds to having characters only cry when stakes are as high as possible. I read that Rob Thomas originated it as a YA novel, and it shows.

Also, I love the platonic girl/boy relationships in it. If those get ruined in season two (don't tell me!) I will be sad.

What's your main form of writing self-bribery?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Groundhog Day

Going to give YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday a shot. Today's topic is:

Today's Topic:
What book would you read over and over and over and over again?

I'd like to say one of the Harry Potter books, because I could discover new things each time, but what first popped into my head here was I Capture the Castle. I've read it every summer since I was eighteen, and I adore it with all its Jane Austen/Bronte allusions, the setting in the English countryside and London, the history... I love that book.

This made me think, when I was a kid I reread like it was my job. I read some of the Baby-Sitter's Club books more times than I think I want to know. Same with Susan Coopers "King of Shadows". Now there are so many new books that I rarely reread. Once every few years, or every year, I'll revisit an old favorite, but not nearly to the extent I did then.

I think this does a disservice to the writing you can appreciate better if you reread. Also shows to MG and early-YA authors how much they have to pay attention-- there's no telling how many times their books will get read.

And maybe I need to start re-reading more. Revisit some old friends.