Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Fest

In obligatory "mention the hurricane" news, I am from Florida. Why am I getting hurricanes in Boston???

Saturday was the Boston Book Festival, a convergence of things for book-nerds of all ages from the two-year-old who wants to meet Llama Llama to the ninety-year-old Harvard professor discussing....whatever they discuss.

My roommate and I started the day off at the Kids Keynote, supposed to be given by none other than Mr. Lemony Snicket. Unfortunately, Mr. Snicket was delayed, and so Mr. Daniel Handler gave a quite good presentation. (And by that I mean, an amazing and hilarious performance).

We waited in the signing line, along with little kids with their noses buried so deep in the books that their parents had to herd them along. A handbell choir played for us while we waited. I am not sure why.

Mr. Handler gave Kathleen a new nickname. Because she had gotten her book signed to "Kathleen, Elizabeth and Francesca," he asked what my relationship to those three was. "Oh," I said, "I live with that one."

"I like that you call her That One," he replied.

Her name is forever That One.

For the rest of the day, I went to panels in gorgeous rooms in the Boston Public Library. I met up with other Simmons students, said hello to Jo Knowles, met Gabrielle Zevin and took a creepy picture of Corey Doctorow for my friend. I also told Rachel Cohn that "Snarl," the name used for a muppet in Dash and Lily's Book of Dares was actually the original name of Gonzo.

We ended the day at Max Brenner, the chocolate-themed restaurant on Boyleston. It was one of those days that made me happy that I'm in a city that takes books so seriously.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Five!

1. I am sleepy today, because I stayed up to order the iPad mini. It's name will be Giles and it will hold all the books and go with me everywhere to fight the vampires. In other news, I'll be selling my Kindle Fire, if anyone is interested.

2. I am not terribly, horribly, very much thrilled with Taylor Swift's new album. I'm reserving judgement a little, because I haven't heard the deluxe version yet, and I tend to really like the extra songs (Often they're more country). This CD is lacking in the story-telling, intimate, amazing lyrics songs I love her for, and I think it has to do with the choice to make this album more about collaboration. Speak Now was all written by Taylor, and I think it shows. She has word-smithing talent, which doesn't shine through as much here.

3. Halloween is coming up, but no one seems to be doing anything, so I orderred a bunch of 90s Halloween movies. There will be a marathon. I already had Hocus Pocus and Casper, but have added Halloweentown, The Witches, The Worst Witch, and Tower of Terror to the collection.

4. In other Apple Product Addiction news, I got an iPhone 5 this week and am a little addicted to speech-to-text and Siri. I say "thank you" to her like a good human overlord, but I'm a little worried that there is a robot apocalypse on the horizon.

5. Tom Hanks. Spoken word poetry. Full House.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Query Partner

I'm not very good at sharing my query stats online. I use sites like QueryTracker and AbsoluteWrite, but don't usually mention the letters I have sent out. I prefer to discuss those in private. My mom, and my roommates, and all my writer friends at different places on their journey are incredibly understanding and helpful. However, I'd really like to have a go-to person. Someone who is on the same journey as me--testing the querying waters--who will squee over requests, tear apart the meaning of rejections. Who will check the query a millionth time for flaws, and for whom I can do the same.

Is anyone out there interested in being my query-buddy?

My MS called GHOST LIGHT. It's a YA contemporary/paranormal retelling of "Twelfth Night" wherein seventeen-year-old Natasha's decision to fulfill her dead twin brother's lifelong dream of performing as Hamlet raises ghosts--in more ways than one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Perspective

Over on Twitter last night, Amanda Palmer started an informal poll asking four questions:

quick #InsurancePoll 1) COUNTRY?! 2) profession? 3) insured? 4) if not, why not, if so, at what cost per month (or covered by job)?"

The results, so far, have terrified me. I had no idea that people payed hundreds--sometimes thousands--of dollars a month for insurance in the US, and that people in other countries had no idea we pay so much. Currently, my frequent medical appointments, physical therapy, and all but $7 on my meds are covered by either my parents' insurance or Medicare.

 The fancy bandages I have to buy frequently to protect the wounds my body specializes in are not. Right now those are mostly (supposedly) paid for by vocational rehabilitation, but once I'm out of school that goes away. 

Thanks to Obamacare, I'll stay on my parents' Blue Cross until I'm twenty-six. Because of this, I'm arranging my life so I'll be able to get several necessary surgeries before that birthday. Moreover, I'm afraid of it. 

I can't be refused insurance, but how can i afford it if it'll cost more than my--ridiculously high--rent? Medicare doesn't cover everything, SSDI doesn't give enough to make the rent let alone pay supplemental insurance. Paying my doctors' bills out of pocket won't be an option even if I magically get the stamina to hold down a 9-5, not the part time job I'll hopefully be able to handle on top of writing. 

And I am by no means the worse off of people I know. Instead of partying on her 21st birthday, one of my friends had her parents hunkered down with her in her dorm room waiting for word from the Florida State Medwaiver program, because if they didn't decide to cover her personal care attendants, she'd have to leave school and move the two hours back home--all because she needs help getting in and out of her powerchair and using the restroom. Medicaid, which previously covered her, cuts off when you're twenty-one--no exceptions--and other programs wouldn't step in until she got officially rejected from the waiver. 

I know these aren't the scariest stories out there, but these are the ones that face highly capable college and graduate students who are scared to pursue their dreams--crippled, if you will, not by their disabilities, but because the system wasn't designed to assist them. It was designed to support disabled adults who never dreamed of returning to a job--not young men and women eager to take their place in the world. 

Thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1975) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), we've been raised to think we can do anything anyone else does. Maybe we do it differently, our parents assured us, but we can do it. 

Except we can't. Because the expendable income our cohorts might spend on financing nights out, or even put into savings--gambling on their own health--we must put into the higher costs of daily living. Not having insurance may bite our agemates in the ass. We've all heard the stories of accidents, of undiagnosed illnesses, of pregnancies. But young adults with disabilities get that awakening much earlier, sometimes the day you turn eighteen when your parents say, "All right. You get to call the insurance companies now." 

Those are never fun conversations. They were even less fun for me, because a charge from when I was sixteen had landed on my credit rather than my parents'. While we fought to get it off, I found out how much of your life can be affected by one missed payment, and a crappy credit score.

And, look, I know I have it good. I'm a white, middle class female, living in a nice apartment in a gorgeous city. But the day I graduate all that could be taken from me. I could have to become that disabled family member who lives first in the back bedroom at her (admittedly amazing) parents' house, and then is handed on to her brother years later. I'll fight it every step of the way, but with the cost of insurance, housing, glasses, contacts, medication, paratransit--even grocery delivery--it's a distinct possibility for me and other young adults with disabilities who are much more skilled and have a much better chance of making a mark on the world. 

I want to write young adult books. I know I'm not the next Justin Dart or John Hockenberry. I'm okay with that. But there should be structures in place that let me do that. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Five

1. This has been an odd week. I was kind of down and unproductive the first few days, and I imagine it had something to do with the emotional rollercoaster of last week. I'm mostly recovered from it now, plowing along on my current WIP and query for Ghost Light.

2. I read David Levithan's Every Day last weekend, which is a novel about a character who wakes up in a different body everyday. A exists an independent self, without gender or physical form. The book was fascinating, particularly because it was a quiet book with a loud premise, at its core it's about self-discovery and romance, and yet it touches on so many other things. The one issue I had with it was a personal one--because A begins the novel as a male, in a heteronormative relationship, I had a harder time not thinking of zir as male later on. I'm wondering if it would have changed if ze had started the novel female and then met the love interest. The audiobook is narrated by a female, so I'm going to check that out and see if it changes my perspective. Also, Levithan didn't take the chance to explore gender-neutral language, and I wish he had.

3. In my sci-fi fantasy class, we've been encountering a lot of diaster novels, be it aliens landing or dystopian societies that are recognizable deteriorations of our society. These freak me out. Not just because with my disability I'd pretty much be dead the second running became the only way to survive. No, I'm just a total princess. If there's a world that doesn't have running water, or books, or buses.... Forget it. I'd be miserable on top of screwed. Do not want.

4. Speaking of dystopians, I also read the final book in the Giver quartet. I didn't hate it the way I did the third book, but it doesn't have the power of The Giver or Gathering Blue. Both of those have standalone power. They don't HAVE to be considered as part of the same story, and they have their own themes and ideas. I don't think Son managed that in quite the same way.

5. This has spoilers for the end of Doctor Who Season Seven. It will make you cry. But it is beautiful.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Five

1. I had a reading Wednesday night--my first not for school, and it was AMAZING. The audience ended up being mostly my friends, but I think I would have enjoyed it just as much if it had been strangers. I love reading my work to people--I used to hate it, but now it's one of the only times I get to use my acting mojo. Also, it wasn't just my school friends who came. A veritable contingent of my coworkers from the summer attended. I felt so incredibly supported. I cannot wait until I get to do these on the regular.

2. In that vein, I got a rejection email only about half an hour after the reading. A big one. For the R&R I spent the summer working on. And that sucked. It made the evening bittersweet, in a way, but the reaction of my friends, both to the reading and to the email, made me all the more determined to get back into the submissions world, and keep trying. It's all part of the writing life.

3. I finished The Casual Vacancy last night at two o'clock this morning. I don't want to spoil anyone, but if you've read it EMAIL ME. I want to talk about it! Full disclosure: I really loved it. I thought JKR built the world of Pagford as well as she built the wizarding world, and her obvious knowledge of contemporary society made the connections to politics, emotions, and the human condition in Harry Potter all that much more powerful.

4. Tonight I get to eat sushi and see The Perks of Being a Wallflower with my roommate's friend (and my new friend) Anna. i am super-stoked! I read the "we were infinite" passage of Perks as my banned book at the reading on Wednesday, and it reminded me again of how powerful simple sentences can be.

5. If any of you know any good sources for Harry Potter trivia, let me know. The next gathering here at Ravenclaw Tower is going to be a Harry Potter themed one, and the only trivia we can find online is way too easy for our band of nerdy friends.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Quick Note and Some Thoughts

Bostonians! Tonight I'm participating in the New Voices in YA Panel at the Public Library of Brookline.

Details here!

I'm so excited. I love doing readings. It gives me a fast-forward view of what my life might look like one day.

On another note, I've started reading the criticism and articles I'll be using for my independent study (on disability in children's literature). Yesterday I focused a bit on social history, and once again got smacked in the face by how recently some of these injustices have happened. John Hockenberry--the world renown newscaster--was stopped from going into a theater in New York, on the basis of his wheelchair, in the early 90s, right before the ADA was passed. I guess I should take my shock as a marker of how much better things have gotten in twenty years, but honestly I know they haven't. Reading other articles about the failures of Medicare and Medicaid to help people live productive lives reminds me of experiences my friends are having now. In 2012.

Long road to hoe...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Investing in Stories

This has been a difficult week for TV fans.

Or, at least for me. Pretty much all of the shows I watch--Grey's Anatomy, Doctor Who, Fringe, Downton Abbey--have been a moderate to major amount of heartbreaking, to the point where I am afraid to turn on Switched at Birth tonight. But it all has me wondering, what about these shows (and these characters) makes people like my roommate and I so invested in their lives that we can pick apart the episodes and have major feelings about them for longer than the actual duration of the episode? Is it, in the case of Doctor Who or Fringe, that viewers have been getting to know these characters over the course of years and think of them as old friends, or is it something more?

I think it has to be. I got completely squeeful over Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken, and I was only with Kami and the others for a few hundred pages. In other books, I like the characters, but I'm not flailing over them. (Really. I flail.) What makes the difference?

I don't really have an answer to this, it's just something I'm thinking about. Maybe I'll go through the list of characters I obsess with and try to dig under the surface of what makes them tick.