Twelve years ago, our father disappeared from Enchanted College of Oceania. We need your help. Are you in?
AP Biology. Ballet. Lacrosse. Capture Ghosts. Find Father.
I got a message to make a phone call to Publishers Weekly this afternoon, following a strong response to the all-male, all-white panel for BookCon, which is ReedPop’s consumer-side show as part of Book Expo America. Here’s the piece.
I’m pleased with the fact there’s a piece about the backlash.
My one wish is that someone who wasn’t a white lady (me) were the one being heard. I wish, too, I hadn’t been the one female quoted in the piece. But that’s here and there, and I think if you want more context for why this is a concern of mine, help yourself to Sarah McCarry’s important string of tweets about privilege and publishing that came at the same time as yesterday’s backlash.
In short, I am not saying anything anyone else hasn’t been saying forever. I am not saying anything a person of color hasn’t been saying forever. But I have far less at stake if I keep pushing at it. I can handle being called a bitch and a feminist and misandrist and whatever other creative names people who disagree with my message can come up with.
A series of anonymous asks popped up today in aprihop's inbox today, as well as in summerscourtney's. The asks can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. I recommend reading them all and reading the follow-ups. Also read this post.
In short: when we speak up for women and poc having representation, we’re accused of being man-haters and throwing men under the bus.
Far from it.
When we call out privilege for what it is — all men on a conference panel, men being the dominant force in an industry, men having power and prestige a la the New York Times Bestsellers list, better publicity and marketing, even the label of being “better” storytellers, per one of the asks — we are doing no such thing. We’re instead looking at the system and pointing out the flaws.
Those men are not the flaws. And we need to stop apologizing for them or on their behalf. Of course it’s not their fault.
It’s the fault of a far bigger, more pervasive system. It is only by examining it and asking questions and pointing out homogeny and sameness that we make any inroads. And we have to also do our part to step back and examine our own part in the system.
People who anon ask are cowards in these situations. People who anon comment are no better.
People who won’t risk themselves when they have the opportunity to advocate for those who aren’t as privileged as they are are also part of the problem. To which end, I point out how much respect I have for Rick Riordan and his tweet regarding the BookCon panel he’s a part of. Support men AND women. Support white people AND non-white people.
When you support one group of people, it is in not denigrating another group of people. Instead, it’s doing your part to raise everyone up.
I don’t need to delve deeper. But I’ll post a few relevant things.
- A Censored History of Ladies in YA Fiction (my post)
- Kate Messner’s Owning Our Words
- Megan Frazer’s Speaking Up, Finding Fish
- When We Talk About Girl Problems (my post)
- The Reductive Approach to YA Fiction (my post)
- Diversity, The Zero Sum Argument, and Chicken Wings by Justina Ireland
- Race and Diversity in the 2013 YA Bestsellers
Got more suggestions for necessary reading related to gender, diversity, publishing, and the YA world? Lay it on me and let’s build a massive resource here.
HACHETTE: owned by Hachette Livre, CEO of which is a white dude
MACMILLAN: owned by Georg von Holtzbrinck, run by Georg’s son (spoiler: white dude)
SIMON & SCHUSTER: owned by CBS, CEO of which is a white dude
HARPERCOLLINS: owned by NewsCorp, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch
After two years of trying to get anyone, and I mean anyone, in publishing to notice our pleas about the lack of diversity in literature… finally, during a twitter takeover, someone did!
Have you seen the upcoming releases for Harper Collins? When it comes to diversifying our books shelves, “slow movement” appears to be an understatement, if anything, they are moving With All Deliberate Speed.
Happy Birthday to jazz legend Billie Holiday! According to Biography, jazz vocalist Billie Holiday was born April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Holiday had a thriving career as a jazz singer. Her autobiography was made into the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues. In 2000, Billie Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
Marie Curie famously snagged two Nobel Prizes, but many other women have also been awarded the Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology or Medicine Nobel, too. Here are their stories.
From: Popular Culture is the center for the Library’s holdings of fiction (including…
Love L.A. Banks urban fantasy books/series
And R. Marion Troy and Pixie Carlisle, a mother-daughter writing duo, and the creators of The Enchanted Cottage of Oceania series :-)
Today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Fifty years ago today Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his epic “I Have A Dream” speech. Many of his dreams have come true, and for that we are all truly grateful, but there is one often overlooked area of our society that seems to have fallen into the shadow of his dream: our book shelves.
Last fall my mom and I were invited to sell our young adult novel The Enchanted Cottage of Oceania: An American Fairytale at a local town’s annual festival. Girls (and boys) of all ages from middle school to college, from homemakers to executives have listened to our story and have shared it with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. The humorous yet sometimes chilling adventures of fourteen-year-old identical twins Harper and Leigh Reynolds (named for the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee) have captivated crowds in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Our audiences have been racially diverse, and no one of any race has hesitated to delve into our story that is narrated by adolescent girls who are witty, smart, and often scared to death of the misadventures that await them as they try to rescue their father who has been abducted by Other World magic. Several non-minority customers have quietly applauded us for writing a novel with a multicultural cast. One older woman actually exclaimed “Good!” as she pointed at the cover of the book before whispering, “It is time for this.”
Standing firmly on the foundation of several sold-out Barnes and Noble book signings, we felt confident enough to tell the reason why we wrote a story with African American female leads. We want girls of all ethnic backgrounds to see themselves as capable, intelligent, and resourceful. Having seen our flyers and posters, and having listened to our well-crafted pitch, people have assumed that a mainstream publisher is coaching us, representing us, and marketing our work. They have no idea that we’ve written, edited, and self-published all on our own. Self-publishing is certainly a growing, and more acceptable, phenomenon among writers who have a passionate desire to share their work with an immediacy that does not typically occur when trying to sell it to an agent or publishing house. The book has been well-received, but politely rejected. Lurking in the shadows (like one of the ghosts in our book) was an unspoken question: Is there really a young adult audience for a novel with African-American leads?
One reviewer (from a mainstream publication) questioned whether it was realistic to have such “attractive” characters who had attained such a high financial status. Beyond seeing the remarks as childishly offensive, the comments begged a reciprocal question of how many reviews are written about non-minority characters that challenge the veracity of those characters’ social status, physical attractiveness, or purpose? I’ve read commentary that the fictitious Huxtable family was met with similar disclaimers when The Cosby Show was first aired, but I would have hoped that thirty years later that particular battle had been fought and won. Growing up, aside from reading African folklore, I can count on one hand the number of fantasy (or even contemporary) stories that featured people of color. As a 25-year old, I can attest that my favorite novels about African Americans involved bygone eras of slavery and segregation, and few, if any, ever described the characters as being attractive. If you think that this does not matter to a child’s development and self-esteem, then there needs to be a revisiting of the infamous psychological findings of the ‘Clark baby doll tests’ that were part of Brown v. Board of Education, that showed with alarming consistency how black children did not see themselves as worthy, smart, or beautiful. I loved reading, and of course still do, but all of the characters that were described as beautiful, interesting, and clever were not minorities whereas the characters that were struggling, suffering, and in constant trouble with the judicial system looked like me.
And that brings me to the raison d’etre for The Enchanted Cottage of Oceania series. My mother’s best friend was living abroad for work. She could rarely find American books for her then pre-teen daughter so we would send her our favorites. Nancy Drew was a regular shipment, and her daughter devoured the series. One day the mother asked us to find a similar series that featured a girl of color as the lead character. We took up the challenge and scoured our local libraries and bookstores. We enlisted help, but found absolutely nothing to satisfy her request. There were stories about growing up as the daughter of a pastor, and shelves featuring tales about growing up impoverished in urban environments or newly freed from slavery, but not one novel permitted a little girl of color to see herself on the cover of the book about a girl having a grand adventure, falling in love with a prince, or running off on a magical quest. After delivering the news, she gave us one last task. “Write it!”, she demanded. “Write the book my daughter has been waiting for.” And so we did and are on Book Four of the series.
All authors want to be heard. All writers want to be read. We get that. F. Scott papered his wall with rejection notices and sour reviews. However, for every failed F. Scott there is a Faulkner or a Hemingway. Non-minority readers of all ages get to swim in a virtual pool of American literature that shapes their worlds and feeds their fantasies. But what about minority readers? Try scanning the modern bookshelves and see what fare you discover on which to nibble. The question is one that has haunted Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall, and W.E.B. duBois for more than half a century. How does the United States of America, in all of its glorious multiculturalism, look at itself for what it truly is? E pluribus unum - from many, one. A question lingers in my mind as I close this blog – if someone like George Zimmerman had read books like ours where the young African American boys and men are smart and good and brave, would he have been so afraid of Trayvon Martin? Literature is a powerful tool and it is for that reason that I am prepared (with my mother) to fight for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children and young adults because they have the right (and we have the responsibility) to show how wonderfully imaginative ALL people are capable of being.
With the recent New York Times and Entertainment Weekly pieces on diversity in literature— this merits another reblog! Please keep sharing this blog post. Diversity in children’s and young adult literature matters!
Winter is Coming, but the 2014 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund is here! You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers!
1) To participate in #AEIF2014, exchange alumni have to be registered members of the International Exchange Alumni global community, right?
Yes, to participate in #AEIF2014 you will need to be a member of our global alumni community. On our website, you can network with other alumni to form AEIF teams, search for professional development opportunities, and read the latest alumni news! Welcome!
2) Proposals are due on April 23rd at Midnight EST. What happens if proposals are late?
Late proposals will not be considered as they are automatically sent Beyond the Wall to the not-so-friendly fellow below. We don’t Want To Go To There to get them back, and we don’t think you do either.
3) What if my proposal is just a little bit late. Seriously, just an hour late!? What if the application closes and I email it to my local U.S. embassy or consulate? Will it still be accepted?
Again, Winter is Coming, and we are definitely not going Beyond the Wall at a time like this. Submit your proposal a few days early just to be safe! Proposals will ONLY be accepted through the online submission process, they will not be accepted by email.
4) Do you have any suggestions for #AEIF Team Leaders?
Don’t be a Joffrey. Team leaders and team members should work together to create the best possible project proposal. We know that working in AEIF groups can be exhilarating but also challenging. You’re building a dream service project to better your community, so the key here is team work! Team Leaders and Team Members should check out Forbes’ Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader.
5) I’d like to lead multiple #AEIF2014 teams. Is that possible?
An alumnus/na may not serve as a Team Leader on more than one project per category. You can be the Team Leader of multiple projects ONLY if the projects fall under different categories.
However, you can be a Team Member of several projects under the same category. But please note, no one may be a team leader, or team member, for more than three projects.
6) I’m really interested in the category Empowering Women, but I don’t want to lead a team. Per above, are you saying that I can be a Team Member of no more than three teams proposing projects under that category?
That is 100% correct. No one can be part of more than three teams whether they are leading the team or joining the team as a member. However, when acting as a Team Member, you can be part of multiple teams under the same category.
Last year we required at least 10 members per team, but this year we’re only asking that teams have at least 5 members. Jon is probably remembering last year’s rules. Please be sure to direct him to our Commonly Asked Questions!
8) Your AEIF Tumblr page includes a section on the four ingredients of successful AEIF proposals. Should my project include one of those ingredients, or all four?
Preferably all four! We encourage you to think about those ingredients when crafting your project as we’re looking for those elements when we assess your proposals. Having all four elements well integrated into your project, and properly described in your proposal, is definitely beneficial.
8) My team is going to have the best public service project proposal you’ve ever read! My only question is, are you ready?
We certainly are! Nothing makes our spring quite like excellent AEIF proposals! So gather your teams and excitement— we are ready!
"Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief was considered America’s first major prima ballerina, and was the first Native American to hold the rank."
[W]e know precisely why it is that women and their influence within YA fiction—their building of YA fiction—falls into the margins. We know why it is that men like John Green write Love Stories and women like Sarah Dessen write Romances. We know why it is that a World War II novel like Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief sees much more recognition and receives more accolades than Ruta Sepetys’ World War II novel Between Shades of Gray. It’s not the quality. It’s the way the system is built that makes women the outsiders in the category of fiction they made.
This is an incredible article about the work women writers have done to make YA what it is today and how often and how HARD we work to we neglect that very important part of the category’s history—especially when we want to credit it with anything good.
Or, as Kelly so eloquently put it, "S. E. Hinton’s story foreruns those of other women in YA fiction. While YA was allowed to grow and develop, too often, the work women did laying down the tracks to its success was recognized not on its own merits but because of the approval of their expressed work by men."
"Men write universal stories. Women write stories for girls. Men write Literature. Women write chick lit. Even in a world where women do publish in heavier numbers than men do, they are underscored, underseen, and undervalued."
By celebrating the incredible women we’ve featured for Women’s History Month, we’ve taken the adventure of a lifetime! Through their stories, we’ve traveled to space and studied the depths of the ocean. We’ve cooked masterpieces in the White House and hiked the earth’s highest peaks. We’ve danced on Broadway, accepted Oscars, won WNBA basketball games, and reported live from some of the world’s most memorable events. We thought we’d covered everything, until we realized, there was one place we hadn’t yet journeyed, perhaps the greatest place of all: imagination. So today we’ve covering two of our favorite authors: J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins!
Long before we ever wondered if the odds were in our favor, Suzanne Collins was an acclaimed writer. She began her professional career writing for children’s television. Did you know that she worked on several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo?! For preschool viewers, among other things, she wrote multiple stories for the Emmy-nominated “Little Bear” and “Oswald”.
Next she wrote the critically acclaimed Underland Chronicles. Thinking one day about Alice in Wonderland, she was struck by how pastoral the setting must seem to kids who, like her own, lived in urban surroundings. In New York City, you’re much more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole and, if you do, you’re not going to find a tea party. What you might find…? Well, that’s the story of Gregor the Overlander, the first book in her five-part fantasy/war series, The Underland Chronicles,which became a New York Times bestseller. It has been sold into 21 foreign territories.
And then came the international bestseller, The Hunger Games Trilogy! The Hunger Games has spent more than 286 consecutive weeks/more than five-and-a-half consecutive years to date on The New York Times bestseller list since publication in September 2008, and has also appeared consistently on USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. It has been sold into 56 territories in 51 languages. In 2010 Collins was named to the TIME 100 list as well as the Entertainment Weekly Entertainers of the Year list!
Her biography is extensive, and HERstory champions the power creativity and imagination!
Today is National Doctors’ Day! We’ll be featuring both unsung heroes and well-known women in the field of medicine. Our first doctor finished medical school when she was only 21! Ola Orekunrin is the founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria.
Born in London, Ola was in medical school at the University of York when her sister was on vacation in Nigeria. Her sister, diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, needed a specialized hospital to treat an acute attack of the disease. But sadly, the nearest hospital was in South Africa - thousands of miles away. Without any way to be medically evacuated to a hospital, Ola’s sister tragically passed away.
The tragedy inspired Ola to make a change in her own life - rather than take a job as a doctor in England, Ola founded Flying Doctors Nigeria. It is the first air ambulance service in West Africa, and has airlifted over 500 patients in just 3 years. "From patients with road traffic trauma, to bomb blast injuries to gunshot wounds, we save lives by moving these patients and providing a high level of care en route," says Ola. She has since given a TEDx talk on her experiences.
March is Women’s History Month! To celebrate, we’re spotlighting our exchange alumni, famous stories, and unsung heroes. These women have shown us all that #ItOnlyTakesOne to raise the bar, set a new standard, or make a positive impact. Share your favorite stories for Women’s History Month with us on social media by tagging them with #ItOnlyTakesOne.
Ola is amazing!!!!! You have to read HERstory!