Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Musings: Deaf Child Crossing

Deaf Child Crossing

I wanted this book to be good, I really did. The premise is good, a middle-grade novel about two girls forming a friendship when one of them happens to be Deaf, but the execution wasn't at all great, mostly I think due to editing. There were two visible mistakes in the book--a shift tense and a typo "I romise"-- and the writing was clunky, full of telling and -ly adjectives and "Megan felt." Also, the narrator speaks down to the audience as well as pointlessly referring to the parents by their names, taking the reader out of the child's point-of-view. 

As for the disability issues, on the one hand the Deaf child Megan does have more to her than her disability, but on the other hand her problems stem from her disability and her reactions to it. She doesn't want help, fine, but if we saw this transcend into something else it might have made for a better book. While I do think the issue book is important in most cases, and it could have been a good book showing able-bodied kids they could have a perfectly norma--and extraordinary--friendship with a kid who is Deaf it would be good, but the writing makes it not worth it. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Both my grandfathers fought in WWII, but the meaning of military holidays didn't really mean anything to me until this year. Now, two years almost to the day since my grandfather died, I have a much bigger reason to care about our troops. My oldest nephew Billy, who is four years younger than me and one of my best friends, is in basic training for the US Army.

He's hoping to get stationed in Germany or Japan, but I and the rest of my family worry nonetheless. I've never been extremely pro-military, but in this case they're giving a young man who didn't have certainty about what he wanted to do a path, something to strive for, and for that I'm grateful.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. I'll be in the pool thinking of the blond kid who used to play cops and robbers with me out there. Who helped me snake to the front of every line to get the new Harry Potter book and who is now out in the woods in Missouri somewhere being taught how to turn being a great boy into being a great man.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


RANDOM.ORG has chosen the winner of TheSplendor Falls and it is....



WOO!! Congratulations! Reply to the email I'm going to send you with your address and preference of Amazon or Powell's.

In other news...


Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Five!

1. Now that BEA is over, I'm deciding to force myself to be more okay with the I'm-not-in-NYC factor of this summer. If I hadn't been here I'd be missing some of baby bro's gems,  such as yesterday when his daycare provider said, "Jacob, do you love me?" With the biggest grin on his face he said, "No," and shrieked with laughter at her fake-hurt. Obviously, both parties knew how much he loves her. She's been taking care of him since he was six, so his mischief was adorable.

2. Yesterday, I read Knowing Jesse a memoir by Marianne Leonne an actress (wife of Chris Cooper) whose seventeen-year-old son had cerebral palsy. Jesse died in 2005 due to complications from epilepsy, and what makes me the saddest about this is that the way his family fought to have him educated, and how much of an intelligent young man he seems to have been, would have probably led to him being a shining example of what a disabled adult can accomplish. As it is, his story shows how far the world has come in perception of people with severe disabilities, and how far we have to go.

3. These updates to the Chicago Manual of Style are pretty interesting, particularly the one about possessives. I've preferred adding the extra "'s" to words ending in -s forever, so glad to see someone else approves.

4. Below is a video of something I believe to be one of the coolest things ever. A computer program that is beginning to be able to recognize signs and translate them into words. The possibilities this could lead to for the Deaf are amazing!

5. The winner of The Splendor Falls will be announced tomorrow. Comment here to win!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Point...

I made a post on R-Word Awareness Day about spreading the word to end the word, but this new PSA really hits the point home, in my opinion. Slurs are slurs, as the video points out.

I'm behind in Glee--planning to marathon it after my surgery this summer--but when I watched the first two and a half seasons over Christmas I was generally very impressed with their treatment of disabilities. Sometimes I balked at choices, but in general I appreciate the way they integrate disability--sometimes it's the main focus of an episode, and hey newsflash world: THAT'S OKAY.

Sometimes my disability is the main focus of a day. A week. A month. Sometimes it fades into the background, like any other facet of life.

Like the difficulties of being every other minority.

And that's what people on either side of the inclusion argument oftentimes fail to see.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

RTW: Inspiration

Today's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday question is: Who in your life has most inspired your writing?

My parents have encouraged my writing, no doubt, but I think the "inspired" has to go to the wonderful girls who have been the ones loving my stories at different points in my life.

Ambrelle in high school, the one who would track me down before first period every day in high school asking for whatever pages I had written the night before.

Laura, who has been with my current project all the way through, who I could talk things out with and who introduced me to the books of my idol, Sarah Dessen.

Kendra my facebook "husband" who has been known to send me emails about how much she loves my writing at the moment before I think I might give up. Her faith in me and my writing keeps me going.

Allison, the newest addition to the group, who let my works get past her usual dislike of contemporary fiction books and who probably has had the most influence in the way I think about the book.

Amazing girls, all of them, and I couldn't do without any of them!

Don't forget to comment here to enter to win the Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement Moore!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Musings: The Demon's Lexicon

The Demon's Lexicon

I'm not a huge fantasy reader, honestly. I was when I was younger, but the past few years I haven't been as into it. That said, I loved the Demon's Lexicon, as well as the second book in the trilogy The Demon's Covenant.

I think what I took away most from the books was how effectively Sarah Rees Brennan used the third person. It's traditional in fantasy, and I tend to prefer first, but I felt so close to the narrators of both books--particularly Nick--that the POV was a benefit not a drawback. Also, it's quite something to say one is close to Nick when you discover the truths about him that come out later.

Alan is one of the secondary characters, and he is SO well-fleshed out. You love him, but sometimes you want to slap him in the head because having been in his brother Nick's head, you see what he's missing. The way SRB pulls this off works so well.

There are times when I think a lot of drama could be avoided if characters would flat out say something, but that's life.

To deal with the disability element--because that's what I do--Alan's injured leg is dealt with wonderfully, and the reversal of a certain trope I hate made me very happy. I didn't necessarily like that Nick's dyslexia is sort of explained by who he is--shades of Percy Jackson--but on the other hand it adds a layer to his character, as well as sparks later interactions, that helped me get into the story. Catch-22.

The dialogue is witty and fantabulous. Can't wait for the third book next month!

I had trouble following some of the battle scenes, but I always do, so it's on me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Time Warp Again

I've been at home a week. I've read a few books, done some writing, some revising. My writing buddy cheered me on last night while I cut dialogue from the MS I'm about to query, and helped me work through a scene that wasn't working quite right. I'm really proud of it now.

My final box from school came the other day, and so my "inspiration books" are piled on my bedside table. These are the books I currently aspire to the most. Revolution, Lock and Key, The Splendor Falls, Anna and the French Kiss, Neil Gaiman's two volumes of short stories and a paperback T.S. Eliot collection. There are more I had to leave at school, but these are the mainstays.

It's so weird how coming home feels like slipping back in time. Writing in my bedroom until all hours, sitting downstairs and drinking coffee with Mom. All so normal, nothing changed.

But I hope something changes this summer. I'm hoping to send out queries starting in June. Then again, I've queried from this room before, late summer nights spent typing "Dear Agent..."

But if this summer isn't the success story, I'm so much better prepared than I ever was before, and that's only going to keep building. So the summer won't be a waste, no matter what.

Don't forget! I'm giving away a copy of The Splendor Falls at this post!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Monthly Contest!

Hi guys!

I've been trying to come up with a fun theme for a contest like Kody Keplinger's 20 in 20 (She's giving away a book a week in celebration of having turned 20). This isn't quite that cool, but in an effort to get more exposure for my "asterisked books" (the ones involving disability in some way) I'll be giving away one of these a week to a random commenter (you must follow the blog to be eligible).

To kick us off, will be...


Rosemary Clement Moore's The Splendor Falls!

The Splendor Falls

Summary from GoodReads: Sylvie Davis is a ballerina who can’t dance. A broken leg ended her career, but Sylvie’s pain runs deeper. What broke her heart was her father’s death, and what’s breaking her spirit is her mother’s remarriage—a union that’s only driven an even deeper wedge into their already tenuous relationship.

Uprooting her from her Manhattan apartment and shipping her to Alabama is her mother’s solution for Sylvie’s unhappiness. Her father’s cousin is restoring a family home in a town rich with her family’s history. And that’s where things start to get shady. As it turns out, her family has a lot more history than Sylvie ever knew. More unnerving, though, are the two guys that she can’t stop thinking about. Shawn Maddox, the resident golden boy, seems to be perfect in every way. But Rhys—a handsome, mysterious foreign guest of her cousin’s—has a hold on her that she doesn’t quite understand.

Then she starts seeing things. Sylvie’s lost nearly everything—is she starting to lose her mind as well?

My review

The contest will be open for a week, and the winner will receive a copy of the book (from Powell's or Amazon, your choice!)

Be sure to include your email address in the comments!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Five!

1. I pretty much called the entire Grey's Anatomy finale. It was everything I hoped for based on the promos and previews. I'm very satisfied with it, and no where near as devastated as I expected to be. All in all, I think Shonda Rhimes and I think pretty similarly. (This is a tad scary).

2. A quote from my little brother last night (to the hostess at Olive Garden, who had a pixie cut): "To my vision, you look like a boy!" Lord have monkies.

3. This is something really cool called Terp Theatre where Sign Language interpreters are part of a play, they follow actors through scenes and are in costume so people who are Deaf don't have to look two places at once. I've been wanting to show you guys. I'm such a huge fan of making theater accessible, and this is fascinating.

4. Last night at dinner my mom mentioned she was reading Boy from Baby House 10. My nine-year-old nephew asked, "Have you read 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9?" Made me realize the effect of having so many MG books in series! He was also talking about how he needed a special password to take the AR test for Harry Potter because it was above his reading level. Sigh. Kids read at different rates. Why must we draw attention to this?

5. I've been obsessed with this song all week:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rate of Growth

I'm home for the summer. Again. Part of me is disappointed by this. I'm twenty-two, a grad student based in Boston, but the next three months will be spent under my parents' roof, not padding my resume.

But here's the thing I've come to realize: for me, and for several other people I know with disabilities, the separation rate goes more slowly. Rather than being a series of stepping stones, growing up becomes like one of those word problems about a frog in a well, going up two feet and down one--how long will it take her to reach independence?

I've made great strides in the past few years, and I'm okay with having a break here. I'm going to write, read and plan, to prepare for the next step. In the meantime, it's nice to have my mom around to help me keep an eye on my endless stream of injuries and doctor's appointments, but I don't need as much help with that as I did last summer.

I'll never be totally self-sufficient. I'll always need doctors, friends, public transportation workers, cab drivers, cleaning services...because a lot of physical things I simply can't manage. But growing up for me has been learning how many of these things I can do, and when to ask for help. Eventually I'll have the resources to arrange for all this on my own, somewhere I can live "independently". But for now, it's dorms and my parents' house building the support system underneath me.

And if it takes me a little longer to get out of the well, it's okay. The frog always hops away in the end.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

RTW: Incentives

Today's Road Trip Wednesday question over at YA Highway is:

How do you reward yourself when you meet your writing goals? Answer for big goals (i.e. I will buy a Lear jet when I get published) and/or small goals (I eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's in one sitting when I finish each chapter).

I actually had to think about this. It generally depends on what I've finished and what I have going on in my life. Some days I marathon write and reward myself with a TV episode per thousand words. Sometime I allow myself to work on a different project that's been gnawing at me. After working with line-edits my reward is always reading a book, because I have a really hard time focusing on others words after I spend so much time with my own. Sometimes I buy a new CD, but because I'm a poor student it's rarely very big stuff.

How about you? How do you reward yourself for a job done?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Musings: White Cat and Red Glove

White Cat (Curse Workers) Red Glove (Curse Workers, Book 2)

White Cat        Red Glove

I read these two in such quick succession (pausing only to devour The Demon's Lexicon) that it only makes sense to look at them together. I got them at the Diversity in YA event, but both had been on my to-read list for ages. The noir aspect of them intrigued me, but I found myself even more swept away by the world Holly Black creates. One that is SO close to ours. The magic ties into our history, our slang is appopriated to fit that world and everything seems so believable that even I, with my usual difficulty with fantasy, had no problem with it.

I think what I appreciated most in addition to the protagonist, Cassel's, very distinctive voice was the development of his goals. He starts off determined to get back into school after an incident involving a seeming-suicide attempt gets him suspended. You really see how his boarding school is the only place he's felt "normal" where no one knows about his past--a past that's about to come back to him in a very real way. I loved how even as the revelations in the book developed, Cassel never lost sight of this desire. 

I also loved his frankness and the way this helped the pacing, the way certain revelations are given so straight-forwardly that you don't mind the times when things are hidden from you to make a sweeter reveal. Sometimes this bothered me--when we see Cassel doing something and only find out later what it really was for instance--because in a first-person narrative I feel cheated by these omissions. However, Cassel's a conman, used to telling half truths and hiding things so it fits his character well. 

Minor flaws: wouldn't have minded seeing the secondary characters a little more developed, but Cassel's feelings towards them are so real that you love them because he does, and you love him too, for so badly wanting to do right by the people he loves, even if they've betrayed him.

Also, I love that not all adults in the book are crazies. Some are, but Cassel's grandfather who is the least likely to be sympathetic--he's a deathworker, the magic he wields can only kill--is the one adult truly in Cassel's corner. As such, I expected him to die in book one. I'm so glad he didn't, though it could have led to an even darker book two.... 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Diversity in YA

This post has been post-poned twice thanks to Blogger downage and packing.

From Thursday night:

This is weird. Blogger is down, so I am writing this on word. It feels odd.

Tonight I left the <s>batcave</s> my little room of Buffy and Froot Loops where I have been cacooning myself thanks to a mild illness. Tess and I were meeting at Harvard Square for dinner and the Diversity in YA event. Of course my T pass was NO WHERE to be found. On the last day it’ll be necessary until SEPTEMBER. I took it as a sign that my two dollars and I would be taking a cab home. I used the two bucks to get me to Cambridge, then got cash for the cab out at Central Square where the ticket machine for the T to Harvard gave me my $15 change in dollar coins.



Fifteen dollars worth. Zipped into my purple wallet….

Then Tess and I ate dinner at Border Café (om nom nom chips) the first place I ate in Harvard Square last yearß see that circularlity?? We walked to the Cambridge Public Library which was GORGEOUS. So in love. Planning on living in Harvard Square next semester and only coming back here for meals/my bed.

BUT that’s not what any of you are here for. THE DIVERSITY IN YA EVENT. Incredible. Not going to lie, I hadn’t read many of the books/authors featured. We read The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X Stork in literary criticism last semester, and I read Tithe by Holly Black last summer, but I was looking forward to getting White Cat and Red Glove, which I did. Also, I found my new YA idol.

Sarah. Rees. Brennan.

Tess already loved her, but I’d never encountered her. She’s fabulous. I think she’d be a great real life friend, she reminds me of the way my undergrad friends and I talked. Plus, she answered my question—Disability in YA, of course—so so classily. I brought it up because, as per usual, the terms “LGBT” and “people of color” were being bandied around, very intelligently and in a conversation that’s totally necessary, but non-/able-bodied only got mentioned in an audience’s question. It needs to be included in that category of “diversity” and I think people forget this in the conversation, because queerness and ethnicity are such big-ticket items. I feel strongly about both of those, too, but disability deserves attention.

But Sarah Rees Brennan totally got what I was saying. We discussed it while she signed my books (along with gushing about Dublin!) and talked about The Secret Garden, Colin being “healed,” which is my one major issue with anything about that book. Also, I recommended The Splendor Falls to her.

All in all, it was an incredible evening. One more story before I go off to pack (well, two):

First, on the walk to the venue we encountered a group of teen girls. I alternated between feeling jealous and judgey of one of them, who had on bright purple jeans. (is that a THING YOU CAN DO NOW? *wants*) They looked like they were going out to see a rock star.

They were.

We ran into them again in the bathroom of the CPL where they were wondering if Sarah Rees Brennan would remember them (from a video I think?), and if they should make it obvious they recognized her, and otherwise acting like they were at a concert. It made me happy. They were also all squee-y in the signing line ahead of me.

Also, during a discussion about the wireless mic, Roger Sutton, the MC, held it out and sang “Like a virgin, oh!” Everyone laughed except a bespectacled thirteen-year-old behind me who whispers, “I don’t get it. Why’s that funny?”

This event really made me re-fall in love with the YA community. What’s something recently that made you realize why you do what you do? (For my cab driver, probably not the handful of dollar coins I handed him an hour ago)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

RTW: Audiobooks

Today's Road Trip Wednesday over at YA Highway asks who you would have narrate the audiobooks of your books if you had the choice.

Audiobooks are really important to me. Many of my favorite books are once my mom and I listened to on audiobook while traveling through Florida when I was young. Eden Riegel reading Ella Enchanted, Trini Alvarado reading the Trickster Books... they live in my head with their texts. I'd love to check out my favorite readers and tell you which of them I'd want to read my books.

But it would be a lie.

Background Vocals is dual-narrated so I'd need two readers. This is going to sound incredibly unsurprising, but the original conception of my narrators came from the Grey sisters on Grey's Anatomy (Meredith and Lexie). They've changed a lot since then--a lot, a lot--but I still hear their voices in my head.

So it'd be Ellen Pompeo and Chyler Leigh. And, hey, we know from the musical episode that they can sing so there's that part of the novel covered too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book Musings:Dear Genius

Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom

Anita Silvey, author, former editor and my professor, recommended early in the semester that we read the collection of Ursula Nordstrom's letters compiled by Leonard Marcus. I bought it, but of course hadn't yet gotten around to delving into the four-hundred page book until the day before yesterday.

It made me much less afraid of, and incredibly awed by, the work of editors. Though I know the industry has changed since the days when Nordstrom would allow any young author or artist to speak with her without an appointment, her dedication to her authors shows how much editors can love what they do.

Reading her letters honestly made me feel like I'd had a conversation with her. She's so honest, and some sentences made me laugh aloud such as: ‎"I thought I had just developed an unusually dirty mind, which any children's book editor has to have."

She's also incredibly inspiring in her letters to authors such as Maurice Sendack, and her replies to readers' letters about the books.

I've read other letter collections, but none so interesting as this. If you're at all interested in children's lit, or children's lit history grab this book ASAP


Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Mother's Day Gift

My mom is in an airplane somewhere heading to Orlando from whence she will come here on Friday to help me pack for home. Last year, my Mother's Day present to her was graduating, so I didn't quite know how to top that.

This might help.

It's my guest blog on the Disability.gov blog "Stories of Strength" about how strong my mother is. Please go read it. My mom's the best.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Five!

1. A friend of mine over at Livejournal has a fabulous post on disability-independence that I think everyone should read, particularly people who are either reluctant to ask for help, or believe people with disabilities shouldn't have to. She defines knowing when help is needed as an act of independence. Which is something I need to remember.

2. I found out Wednesday that I won't be going to New York for the summer. It's back to sunny, humid Pensacola for me. I'm actually okay with this. It'll mean more book reviews for you lot, and more time to write for me. And I'll still keep my WIP in New York. It's not like I never go there...

3. Why did no one tell me about the awesomeness that is Buffy? I'm watching Season Three right now and I'm loving it! Thank the lord for Netflix. The amount of TV shows I watch has grown exponentially, and I consider them all writing research. I'm learning a lot about dialogue and facial expressions. And vampires.

4. Michelle Obama knows how to Dougie:

5. Oh my gosh, Grey's Anatomy last night. Baby! Adopted baby! I have all kinds of thoughts of why they need to be able to keep this baby, because really Meredith-trying-to-be-a-mom could be as dramatic as the angsty no-baby storyline. I am JUST SAYING.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Morning all.

If you've been around here a while, you know one of my pet peeves in novels with disabled characters is when an author "cures" the character's disability at the end of the book. I've argued mixed messages and realism.

But maybe I'm a hypocrite, because I am NOT one of those disability advocates who believes that a child with a disability should not be given every possibility to improve. Many people say the world should have to change--the disabled should not have to be "normal", because they have their own ways of giving back. This is SO true. Every person with a disability I've ever met has a unique worldview, and something that makes them so interesting to be around--just like every person. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be given a chance to succeed even more.

This article in Disability Scoop details the possibilities of an antibiotic improving life for people with Fragile X syndrome. The findings might be able to be extrapolated and applied to other intellectual disabilities. When I read about the boy who is the focus of the article, the way he's now able to succeed in school and that his mother hopes he'll be able to "complete high school, have a job, an apartment, a girlfriend — with just a little help from family and social services." I was so happy for him. And to the people who argue that this is in some way forcing the kids under the umbrella of "normal" well...

I have a little brother. His name is Jacob and he's eleven. He's diagnosed as emotionally mentally handicapped, ADHD and epilepsy. He's a hilarious, loving, fun kid. When his ADHD meds were obviously overpowering his personality, we were quick to get him reevaluated. He wasn't Jacob, but if there were a medication that would reduce the amount of support he'll need to function in the adult world one day... yeah, I'd advocate for it. Because he says he wants to be a pilot. He wants to go to college. He wants to do so many things that are outside of his intellectual capacity--all the accomodations in the world can't change that. He deserves a chance to be the best person he can be.

I'm not anti-accomodation. The boy in the article still leaves class every thirty minutes to reduce the amount of sensory overload he gets in the classroom. Kids whose cerebral palsy has been helped by botox still use mobility aids. They're not cured, but they're helped.

Can anyone really say they don't want to help?

NOTE: I know this argument goes deeper in many cases. The Cochlear implant debate--over the implant which allows children with some forms of Deafness to hear--in the Deaf community has roots in the long-standing Deaf culture questions. I'm not qualified enough to speak on it, except to say this: immigrants want their children to learn the language of the native country as well as the mothertongue to give them the best chance at functioning within BOTH societies.

I think there are similarities, but I also think it's important to remember that not all forms of Deafness can be helped with the implant, just like Jacob's disability probably wouldn't be helped by this medication. So, should captioning and ASL and other accommodations be more widespread and improved OF COURSE. Not everything works for everyone, and maybe that's why I'm so anti-"cure" in literature. Because maybe it could happen, but it's not always going to happen and we must remember that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I suppose as a writer I should get used to the state of Not Knowing. Of waiting for an email that can determine my entire future. I should accept and do what I can do in the meantime.

But I have to tell you.

This sucks.

It's not really writing-related. I'm waiting to find out if I have an internship that will put me in New York all summer, or not in which case I'll be home. Either option is okay with me, truthfully. I want NYC, but I miss home. The thing is, without knowing I can't plan two weeks ahead of now. And a lot of other things are in limbo too:

  • My query and my final paper abstract are with my writing professor
  • I'm going steadily on my WIP but I'm a night-writer
  • The book I'm currently reading you really need to sit down and focus on (ask me about my focusing skills...
  • My dad is proofing the paper I'm submitting to an anthology in July.
  • The fandom projects I have going can't be worked on until the season finale.
  • One can only watch so much Buffy in a day (that's a lie)

It's all a lot of in-between. And as soon as time passes and emails are received it'll be hit-the-ground running. I'm trying to enjoy the downtime, and definitely remembering to start the next book once I'm in the querying process, because if I don't have something else to focus on then I'll go nuts.