Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: August Books!

Quick post before I have to go over to campus and run around like a headless chicken get some things taken care of, including mailing a draft of my not-Background Vocals WIP to my editor-mentor--a big perk to my program is working with a mentor on two novel-length projects in second year--yikes!

Publishing peeps, I even emailed it to her as a .doc, with e-reader tags done, but she wants hardcopy. It's a bit refreshing....

Today's Road Trip Wednesday over at YA Highway asks for your favorite book(s) of August. *scans Goodreads*

My books-read count for August is twenty-two (counting all the Buffy comic collections....) Of that twenty-two my top five are:

1. Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee (my review)
2. Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins (my review)
3. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
4. Bossypants by Tina Fey
5. These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

What are your favorite books from this month?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back in Boston

Hi guys! I'm back in Boston and all settled into my room. I have two bookshelves, and a cozy little book-nook all set up in my tiny-by-tiny room!

It's September which means a new school year, and new things for everyone including the blog. There will be some new series I'm excited about. Weekly disability history posts, for one. Plus the September contest and maybe even a vlog or two straight from my little nook! I'm excited!

What are you excited for this fall?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Musings: Demonglass

Demonglass (A Hex Hall Novel)

I read Hex Hall last year and liked it a lot, but it took Demonglass FINALLY coming into the library to make me realize how much I love the voice in the novel. Sophie feels so absolutely real. I found myself watching to see how Hawkins does it. 

Sophie is very sarcastic, almost everything out of her mouth is sarcasm, but she's also very genuine. She wants to have positive relationships with the people around her and her actions show she doesn't want to hurt anyone, sometimes to her detriment, even if her words do not. 

I saw myself in her, particularly in the way she relates to her best friend Jenna. I'm way too sarcastic (shocking, I know) and maybe don't always treat my friends the way I want to. I feel jealous of their relationships with other people. I think this is why what I loved most about the book was their relationship. The truest kind of friendship where you can say "You cannot be mad at me too" and the friend understands, and isn't. 

For me, this made the book much stronger than the romance. It's seconded only to Sophie's growing relationship with her until-now absent father and the English countryside setting. 

Also, notice how what I'm talking about here isn't the magic, the creatures or Sophie's demon-ness? That's the mark of a good fantasy to me. The characters overshadow everything else. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Handicapable? A Look at Glee's Treatment of the Disabled

Let me state first: I love Glee. Watching my nine-year-old nephew watch the concert movie and sing every song along with the cast gives me faith in the values society may come to embrace by the time he’s my age. I appreciate the attitude and attention given to people in tons of different minorities.

But I take issue with the way they portray disability. Thus far there have been three characters with disabilities. Artie, a Glee Club member in a wheelchair, Becky, a Cheerio and Jean the sister of Sue Sylvester.  I have several things to say about each depiction.

1.  Artie. First of all, I love Artie. I loved watching him rock out in the concert, but the actor, Kevin Mchale is not an actual person in a wheelchair.

This is an issue you can think of in one of two ways:

Either you consider disability to be like race or another physical issue, which it’s almost like blackface in certain ways. Why not hire a singer with a disability? On the other hand, Darren Criss isn’t gay, and I don’t object to him playing a gay character.

However, I choose to view disability in the first category, a physical trait like Rachel’s nose. And the main reason they have an able-bodied actor in the part is, I believe, so they could do what they’ve done in two episodes, showing Artie getting out of his wheelchair—once to participate in a dance number.

This was done as part of a dream sequence. To a degree, I applaud the fact that it admits that the dream of someone in a chair might be to get up and dance. However, I don’t think Glee does enough to connect to people with disabilities to truly get this across. Instead it reminds teens with disabilities watching that this actor is NOT like them. He can get out of his chair.

Repeating this stunt in the concert/movie was pointless.

And why must the one with a disability also be the geek who looks like he’s dressed by his mother? I’m not saying this style isn’t okay, or even that there are people in chairs who might choose it. But WHY when you could cover much more ground showing Artie as a Puck-like or Sam-like character.  

2. Becky. Sue Sylvester’s sidekick of sorts. She’s on the Cheerio squad, but often given managerial jobs or—in the Christmas episode—comic positions that belittle her. Fine, she participates in a different way and that’s great, but when the young woman with dwarfism featured in the Glee movie was a totally participatory member of the squad it made me wonder why Becky isn’t.

Instead of being portrayed as THE GRINCH’S DOG in the Christmas episode—not funny Glee.

3. Jean. Now, I’ve heard the woman who played Sue’s sister, with Down Syndrome, wasn’t in good health, so I take no issue with her storyline after being cast. But why must Sue’s sister with Downs have been a person in a group home? Why not show a more active member of society to give young adults with Down Syndrome watching an idol? Instead of, like they did with Becky, not showing the higher bar.

All the Glee characters show some stereotype, some limitation and some ridiculous qualities. But all the minorities have been shown to rise above these things except, in a lot of ways, the disabled.

To which I say, step it up, Glee. The movie suggested  they are aware of this, judging by their multifaceted portrayals of the real Glee viewers with disabilities in the film. Hopefully the season will deliver more here and give people with disabilities the respect they’ve given teens who are gay, popular and of different ethnicities. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday 5.5

This is an article on Jezebel about Starbucks being sued for firing a barista with dwarfism after she asked for a stool. The management at the store decided she would be posing a risk to herself and customers. As someone who will have to ask for a school wherever she works, this struck me. But Starbucks seems to be handling this more classily than most businesses, because they're now requiring (it seems) disability awareness training for management.

Friday Five!

1. This week has been awesome thanks to WriteOnCon. My threads in the forum didn't get as much action as some, but I learned a lot from the comments I did get. I had a request for a partial (!!) and got much more confident in my writing, especially with the changes I made to the MS last week.

2. Last night, I listened to the entire audiobook of Tina Fey's memoir while organizing photos on my laptop. I think I'm going to get a lot listened to while I'm cataloguing these things. Next on the list is The Help, which Mom got on audio ages ago, but I never listened to.

3. I'm heading back to Boston next Wednesday so posting will continue to be sporadic until the first of September. Then they should be back on schedule.

4. Sometimes the circularity of the world surprises me. The other day, on my oldest nephew's birthday, I was scanning the photos from his christening. On the end table sat the pictures we just got of his graduation from Basic Training in the army. Interesting, I think.

5. I am going to see Glee today!

This has been a highly uninteresting post. I promise to get less boring soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jumping Off

In a year, my writing preferences have changed a ton. Time was, I hated revising. Now I love it. I crave the times I get to use ideas or opinions to make a project better, more interesting, more anything.

So writing first drafts is REALLY HARD.

Getting into a new characters head, turning off the inner-editor, all of that is so difficult because I want to make the scenes in my head as awesome as they look to me. And it's hard to do that when I want to focus on things I shouldn't be thinking about yet.

How do you turn off that inner voice? Do you?  Or is first-drafting the easy part for you?

Monday, August 15, 2011

You're a Trader!

I have a little brother. Most of you know this, because I am prone to babbling about him.

But, seriously, he's the cutest thing ever. This morning while getting ready to head out for a slew of doctor's appointments, Mom and I got into a debate about the color of my coffee mug.

Jake sat at the breakfast table, so we asked him to be a tiebreaker.

Me: It's pink, right buddy?
Jake: Right!
Mom: Nope. It's magenta. Jake, what color is it?
Jake: Magenta! *laughs*
Me: You little traitor!

A few minutes later, he ran through the living room and yelled at me: "You're a traitor!"

"You don't even know what traitor means!"

"Yes I do! It's a person who trades cards and--."

*insert vocabulary lesson here*

That's Jake. He wants desperately to join in with whatever fun is going on. He plays tricks like diving into your chair if you get up from it and sitting there with an adorable smirk while he waits for your reaction.

He's not always on level with things, but he tries his hardest. And he's a natural swimmer.

Which is why whenever Mom told me the teacher of his swim class said two sentences to him last Friday and ignored him the rest of the time while she videotaped the other boys' technique and taught them how to improve. She said Jacob would need much more one-on-one instruction to improve, which she couldn't give him with the other boys around.

The most incredible thing Jacob has done in his eleven years is learned how to improve. The other day I watched him go backward down the stairs, and I couldn't chastise him because I remember watching him learn to walk at twenty-one months old. My heart twists every time he says "Look!" because for years he would point out the car window and say, "Took at that!"

And whenever he gets in the pool and splashes his way safely across the deep end I remember pushing him around in a baby-seated swim ring for hours.

So don't tell me it's too hard to teach him, or that he can't learn the way other kids do. Yes, he needs patience. Yes, he's more easily distracted than a goldfish on Starbucks. And no, he won't speak up and tell you to pay attention to him.

But I will. And my mom will.

And anyone who has met him and doesn't want to move the world to help him succeed.

Well. They're traders.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Writing Time!

Today's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday topic is:

What time do you prefer to do your writing? Early Worm? Night Owl ? Any five seconds you can grab?

I'm a total night owl. i disappear into my "writing cave" (aka my room) after dinner and that's when I write. I can revise during the day, sometimes, but writing in daylight rarely happens.

Basically, I'm a writing vampire. Of the non-sparkly variety.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Musings: Somebody Everybody Listens To

Somebody Everybody Listens To
Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee

As per usual, Amazon doesn't have the cover I have. 

Anyway. this book is about a recent high school graduate named Retta Jones, who is taking off from her small Tennessee town to become a singer in Memphis. Catastrophes ensue, but Retta learns to be true to her dreams and her voice.

Voice is the one thing this book has a ton of. As soon as you start reading you're drawn into the speech pattern of a young girl from Tennessee. Being in Retta's head was definitely one of the best parts of the book! The supporting characters were also very well drawn and her interactions with most of them felt very real, even though some of them were a bit Nashville over-the-top.

Each chapter opens with trivia about a country music singer, which I liked. It helped sett the tone for the book. (Also, did you know Taylor Swift's middle name was Alison??) 

My only problem with this book is that it's a little too...real-life gritty. I wouldn't have minded a part-two where Retta is becoming a rising star, seeing her play shows and get a feel for the other side of the music scene. There's a lot of her time spent working in a two garage and going home to small-town Tennessee that worked for the story, but I wanted to see more of her music. Or maybe I just wanted the book to be longer.

There was also a bit of deus ex machina in the way things came together for Retta, but that's how it tends to be even in life isn't it? A kid is spotted by an agent at a restaurant and the next thing they're Sarah Michelle Gellar or Natalie Portman, so I can't fault that too much. 

Overall, I really loved the book and would recommend it to anyone who likes a book, and a character, with a lot of heart and a lot of song. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Self-imposed Deadlines

Happy Monday everyone!

I've only got a few more weeks at home and a bunch of projects to wrap up before I go (and a few starting) I'm not where I thought I'd be at the end of the summer productivity-wise, but honestly I think it's okay. I've done a lot of things, am making some great YA-lit friends, and friends in other ways, so I'm pretty happy with it all. And going through my to-do list I did make most of my self-imposed deadlines.

And it's not like anyone else will be hurt by the things I didn't get done. Still, I feel a bit guilty. Self-imposed deadlines are big for me.

What about you? Are you hard on yourself for not finishing stuff on your imposed deadline?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Five!

1. As part of the Picture Scanning Project I am having to rescan some photos that came out too dark for my mother's picture scanner (it's not very strong). Can I just say 1993 was a bad year for her camera? Anyway, I have a very well-documented childhood, and I make weird faces/do weird things in a lot of them. Hence, I'm planning a series of Baby Chelsey macros for the future. stay tuned.

2. I have been increasing my nerd-cred exponentially this summer. Not only have I watched all seven seasons of Buffy, I have read the season eight comics. Then, the other night while I stayed up all night for Pottermore (and got in at noon) I watched a bunch of old Sarah Michelle Gellar interviews and the 2008 cast reunion panel on Youtube. It was a wormhole I tell you.

3. Usually by now I've discovered at least one concert or show I want to see in the Fall. Now none of my fans seem to be touring. Economy, I guess, but it's been bad the past three years as well, so I don't know what's up. And off-year I suppose, but hopefully I will get a chance to see a few live shows. My anti-House of Blues attitude will probably not help with this.

4. I'm behind in Torchwood. I don't know why I'm not as into this season, except that I'm not as into the stakes as I was with Children of Earth. It felt more personal then with Gwen preggers and Jack having Steven. Hopefully it'll get better, I am a week behind.

5. In honor of my journey down the Youtube rabbit hole, the commercial that got four-year old Sarah Michelle Gellar sued. (It was the first time a company used the name of another company in their commercial. McDonald's sued Burger King and SMG)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

RTW: Senses

This week's Road Trip Wednesday Topic is:

The Five Senses. How you use them in your writing, how you are inspired by them, pictorial essays, that character with smelly socks, books that have used them well, the ones that are currently missing from your work, etc.

Which gives me the perfect opportunity to talk about the book I just finished (again)

I Capture the Castle

I know I talk about this book all the time, but it's probably the most perfect book I've ever read and its use of senses is gorgeous. Every time I read it, I can see the countryside she's describing, taste the lush foods they're eating, smell the nature around them--and all this in contrast with the vibrant London shops of the 1930s.

This book is the most under appreciated book of our times, I think, and i recommend it to everyone.

Enter here to win another of my favorite books, My Most Excellent Year

Monday, August 1, 2011


As a kid I reread books all the time. These days, I can't seem to keep up reading for the first time. Still, every year since I was eighteen I've reread I Capture the Castle in the summer. It's honestly one of the most beautiful books i've ever read, and I love getting lost in the English country side with the narrator Cassandra.

Do you have books you reread? When? Why?