Monday, September 26, 2011

Is it really censorship? Janette Rallison

I really enjoyed these emails from Janette Rallison:

This is a soap box issue for me. So many of my fellow national market YA authors put sexual content in their books. Maybe they don't think it's a big deal to have their 16 or 17 or 18 year-old have sex, (sometimes the characters are much younger though. My son picked up a book where the 13 year-old characters had sex) but the fact of matter is that it generally isn't 16-18 year olds who are reading these books. It's 11-15 year olds. Once kids are 16, they've pretty much left the YA market and read adult novels.

Yes, we need to have a variety of books that deal with a variety of subjects--even difficult subjects like date rape and incest. Some kids need those books. But even they can be written tastefully. Personally, I don't want sex normalized for young kids. I don't want my kids to have those images and thoughts in their minds when they start dating--and although it's unfair of me to push my beliefs onto others--I don't want the teenagers my kids date to have those thoughts or images in their minds while they're out with my kids.

But even more, it bothers me that so many authors portray sex as okay as long as you use protection. STDs are rampant in our society. According to several official websites (that I didn't believe until I talked to my gynecologist) 80% of sexually active people over the age of 14 have at least one STD. Protection doesn't stop many of the STDs. No where in these YA books is this fact being talked about. I feel that by normalizing it and making kids feel that everyone is doing it and it's okay to do, those authors are not telling kids the truth and they're putting kids at risk.

Which is why I write G-rated books. For now--I'm sorely tempted to write one where the heroine thinks it's okay because she's in love and then the guy breaks up with her because, hey, he's 17 and has less maturity than blue cheese, and she's stuck with a life long painful disease.

That would probably not be my usual type of romantic comedy . . .

Janette Rallison

Since the subject came up about censoring things in YA books, I thought I'd put in that editors always censor things in your books--it's just a matter of what they are censoring. A lot of times they're things you wouldn't think would be censored. In Just One Wish I had a scene where the heroine lost a pet snake on a movie set. I had to add in later that someone found it because someone who read the advanced reading copy got offended that the heroine had been so thoughtless of the animal's safety. I pointed out to my editor that it was a fictional snake and therefore quite capable of catching mice on its own, but no dice. It had to be changed.

In It's A Mall World After all I had a little girl who sat on Santa's lap and told him, "Say hello to baby Jesus for me." That had to go because the editor didn't want anything religious in the book. (Hello, what is Christmas about?)

Here are things I had to cut from My Fair Godmother:

The sentence where I described Savannah's Snow White outfit. I said it was a simple red gown, thankfully lacking the collar in Disney's version, which made Snow White look like she was wearing a megaphone around her neck. My editor cut that because she didn't want Disney mad at us.

I also had to cut some of the religious references about the Middle Ages. My editor didn't want any mention of religion in the book because religion, at least Christian religion, is a taboo subject in young adult literature. I know, it doesn't make any sense. Especially since we are dealing with the Middle Ages. Is it a surprise to anybody that the people of that time were Catholic? No matter, I cut the scene where she went to church and the mention of her reading in her history book about popes and bishops.

My last example of cuts: I had to cut all the parts that dealt with leprechaun drinking. Originally I had a leprechaun who'd accidentally come to Virginia with Savannah's Irish neighbors. He had one too many Guinnesses and crawled into a box to sleep it off. When he woke up he was in an airplane cargo box, wedged between a bunch of knickers, and flying over the Pacific ocean.

Really, now that I think about it, he was sort of a lush.

My editor didn't want any mention of alcohol in the book. Which is ironic because I don't drink at all. So yeah, you'd think I'd be the last one to encourage any young, impressionable leprechauns to start downing whiskey. Plus, it was probably a good idea to cut those parts because the drinking-leprechaun is sort of a stereo type, and I wouldn't want a bunch of angry leprechauns banning my book.

Censorship is just part of the writing process

Janette Rallison

Monday, September 19, 2011

"No" is not a disaster

Sending your writing out into the world is like watching your child go to school for the first time. Will he eat his lunch? Will the other kids be nice to him? How much easier our parental minds would be if we could sit with that child throughout the day and tell everyone how cool and awesome he is. And how much better they all will be if they are friends with him.

<;----(Yes, this child is in a bathrobe; it was pajama day).
Sending a query or manuscript out is hard! If you could sit by the people reading your work and expound on how awesome it is, you know they would rush to the presses.
The fear of the rejection can be paralyzing. Babe Ruth said, "Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back."
 I like this quote by him even better: "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run."
 
Ask yourself: What is the worse that can happen?
Answer: Someone will say no.
This doesn't mean your or your writing isn't good enough. "Sorry, we can't publish your story at this time" just opened a whole world of opportunity for you. There are hundreds of agents waiting to read your stories.

"No" is not a disaster; it's a beginning.

Are you ready for your new beginning? What will it be??

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Post Alert!~ Julie Daines, Critique Extraordinaire

I'm in Julie's critique group or she's in mine, whichever works :) And. She's. Awesome. As is my whole group. They're very patient with me.
I invited Julie to guest post on my blog. 
So, read her post here then race over to her blog and follow 'cause you know you wanna. For everyone who follows her, guess what? She'll follow you back! Can't beat that! Click here.

Read on, dear readers:

A Better Way to Show

I've been reading about my favorite subject lately, imagery in literature, and I keep coming across the term objective correlative. As I delved deeper, I realized that was exactly what my current work in progress is missing.

Objective correlative is a term coined by T. S. Elliot. He said:

The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an "objective correlative"; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.

What does that mean? Essentially, an objective correlative is a type of metaphor where certain symbols or objects are used to express or allow an understanding of some hard to comprehend emotions or feelings.

In our current world of show but don't ever upon penalty of death tell, it's easy to get bogged down in trying to describe the physical traits of sadness, regret, nostalgia, etc. Tears, a sinking feeling in the stomach, furrowed brow--these are all becoming cliche. So how do you show what your character is feeling without being cliche?

Objective correlative!

Here are some examples:

I just saw the movie The Eagle wherein a young man wants to redeem his father's name and restore honor to his family. As a child, his father gave him a carved amulet of an eagle--symbolic of the great golden eagle standard and of his father's honor and love. When the audience is meant to feel the main character's desire to recover his family's honor, he fondles the amulet and immediately we know what he is thinking and feeling. The eagle amulet is an objective correlative.

In one of my earlier novels the main character feels tremendous guilt for the death of her boyfriend in a car accident. She has a scar from that accident, and when I want to show that she is feeling shame and guilt because of what she did, all she has to do is reach up and try to cover her scar. The act of covering her scar is an objective correlative.

In Lord of the Rings, Aragorn is conflicted about his place as king. He feels unworthy because of the treachery of his ancestor, Isildur, who kept the Ring for himself instead of destroying it when he had the chance. Aragorn worries he will also become weak and susceptible to similar corruption when faced with an opportunity for power. All the audience needs to see is a quick flashback of Isildur's treachery to know exactly how Aragorn feels. That quick glance to the past is an objective correlative.

So when my critique group told me my main character was too whiney in my last chapter. That's when it hit me, he doesn't have his objective correlative yet. He needs that symbol to show without telling exactly how he feels.

After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. In literature, an objective correlative is that picture.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Try a little curiosity today!

Writing is a solitary undertaking, as we've all heard. We worry about our talent. I wonder this every time I read a book that rocks my world, one I can't put down. Fear and discouragement overwhelm me. Am I good enough?

I read a post on improving self-confidence, something I need boosted every so often. One of the sentences struck this writer's heart. "It's hard to start moving again if you're stuck in fear."

I dreamed the other night of playing mud football and getting stuck. No matter where I played the game, I got sucked into the mud and had a hard time getting out. Was my subconscious telling me something? Am I stuck in fear? Or was it a warning to never play muddy sports?
The next part of the post spoke of shifting your fear. This idea hit me harder: shift your fear. When you shift from fear to curiosity, your perception goes WHOOSH! And the world opens up!

Just like a child: no fear, tons of curiosity!

Curiosity is filled with anticipation and enthusiasm. And butterflies (at least in your stomach).
What would curiosity do to your writing? "What if I write this sentence this way?" "What if I make my character blind/short/boy/girl/happy?" "What if I really do have something fantastical to share??"

Try replacing fear with curiosity. How do you feel now? Excited? Do you feel your self opening up to the possibilities?
And guess what? Your brain is thinking about other things then the fear you've been stuck in.

Do you remember the thrill of writing for the first time? How did you feel?

Try a little curiosity today.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

Ten years later, the pictures and stories somehow still cause my tears to flow.


Never forget.
Never forget the innocent lives lost.
Never forget the nation that came together in grief and support.
Never forget the brave rescuerers, doing their job.
Never forget the way our nation prayed together.
Never forget the God who held us in His hand, comforting us, crying with us, there for us.
Never forget that God is still there for us.





http://www.911-remember.com/images/Pentagon.jpg

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Winner! Winner! Winner! Back to the Books Giveaway Hop


Thanks to all the entries who wanted to adopt my books. They found good homes! The homeowners have been contacted and I await their addresses to ship the goods to them.

Congrats to these lovely readers who were chosen to adopt:

Blogger Sonya said...
Thanks for the giveaway!

I'd love either pack, but will take A if I have to pick :)

Thank you!

Blogger melora said...
Thank you for the giveaway! The covers of pack B looked interesting.


I added a third (SURPRISE!) winner because she was follower #300! I'm sending her a surprise book.

The Happy Booker said...I'm follower number 300! Yay! I know its not a requirement, but I love when I get to be the follower that puts a blog to the next hundred followers. :-) Anyway... I think I can provide a good and loving home to either pack but I think Pack A would be a better fit for my bookshelf. Thanks for such a wonderful giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who entered and especially to those who are new followers. I'll follow all your blogs too! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Just keep climbing!

To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping." - Chinese Proverb
Keep going! You're almost there. Sit your backside down for thirty minutes and write.
Type that last sentence. Edit that one chapter. Erase the character who isn't helping the plot. 
Now, do it again.