On the blog, I’m talking about when professional reviewers show their bias and get the facts of the book they’re reviewing wrong. More, it’s about expectations for girls in YA fiction, particularly when it comes to their choices about sexuality.
I made a slideshow about how to create a fictional character… I got most of the information from the ‘start writing fiction’ (free) course on the OpenUniversity website and found it incredibly useful so here’s a visual version for you :)
lauriehalseanderson asked: I just linked to one of your posts about the John Greenification of the Times bestseller list as part of my response to a question on the topic in my Reddit IAMA (tumblr won't let me post a link in this Ask box - sorry!) If you search the Reddit for the newest post, it should pop right up. Would love your thoughts on this!
I’m answering this publicly because I love this really thoughtful response about the “John Greenification” of YA which came up as part of Laurie Halse Anderson’s excellent AMA over at Reddit.
My thoughts on this mirror Laurie’s: I think that John Green is being called out not because he’s John Green (as I noted in the response she linked, I have no disrespect for Green nor his work in the least and I do think he’s a feminist and that he is trying to be the best member of the YA community that he can be). He’s being called out because he’s what privilege looks like in our society — it’s white, heterosexual, and male. Those are not the whole of him, but they are the parts that give him a tremendous advantage in the world. I do not for one second believe he takes advantage of them. I do, however, believe he has significant advantages because of them.
This, as Laurie points out, becomes evident when you look at how he’s portrayed in the media. He’s “saving” YA. He’s leading a “revolution” in realistic fiction and in realistic fiction being put onto the big screen. He’s held on this pedestal of what YA should strive to be. This isn’t just the mainstream media though. He is being used as a marketing tool in a ton of recently released or forthcoming YA titles, even when it makes no sense why there’s a comparison. Instead of being a useful thing — “readers who like John Green might like x-book, too” — it’s become a means of reducing YA fiction to one thing. It’s reduced YA fiction into “good” and “bad,” rather than a spectrum where books can fall anywhere along the line. Or where a book’s merit and value are with the reader his or her self.
John Green writes good books. He has a loyal fan base. This is GREAT stuff.
But it’s not the only stuff out there.
What Laurie proposes is exactly what I hope comes of this on-going conversation. We need to keep talking about other books. We need to keep speaking up on behalf of long-time authors who deserve the recognition they don’t see as much as they should. We need to keep talking about the books written by new authors.
We especially need to keep talking up books written by people of color, people who aren’t straight, people who don’t identify with those things which are so readily seen and promoted. It’s our job to do that.
And while I think John Green tries — he has done videos highlighting tons of under appreciated titles — the thing about being in a place of privilege is that you can’t always step back far enough to see where and how your voice is being used. I think this is especially true for someone like Green who is likable, good hearted, and DOESN’T intend to do any harm or cause any problems. A lot of what he sees as success he earned by hard work.
The problem is that so many other people have worked as hard — if not harder — and their work never gets that same attention or praise.
Laurie’s Speak was the 75th highest selling children’s backlist title last year, according to Publishers Weekly. Sarah Dessen’s The Moon and More sold over 100,000 copies as a front list hardcover book. If you look at those numbers and the numbers of other titles that appeared on the NYT YA list, there are discrepancies I can’t figure out because the NYT’s system is a broken one. But it’s one I refer to again and again because it’s the quickest indicator of quality to the general reading public (and even the general non-reading public). And I think it’s such a great thing to look at because it shows you precisely what the problem with such a system is — it’s a reflection of our own social systems. It’s primarily white men who dominate in the arena of “main stream” fiction. It’s primarily white men who are seen as “the best” and who continue to make sales and be recognized quickly and easily. It’s primarily white men who, because of this system, continue to benefit from more money, more marketing, and more opportunities that simply are not afforded to others.
It’s not their fault; it’s our fault.
We can help change these things though. And we do that by pointing these things out, by not finding it necessarily to apologize for pointing these things out, and by using our voices to keep talking about the things we love that deserve more attention. We keep conversations going and flowing. We don’t — and we can’t — shut them down.
I was just talking with a few friends on Twitter the other day based on an exchange started by another user who commented on how she feels like it’s practically impossible to broach this subject without first including several paragraphs of disclaimers about how we KNOW this isn’t John Green’s fault, we KNOW he isn’t doing it on purpose, of COURSE his books are good, of COURSE he’s a valuable part of the community and YA puzzle, etc.
I have actually gone into mild panic mode when bringing up his name in almost any context that doesn’t involve pure, unadulterated, glowing praise. My heart is beating fast as I’m writing THIS, and I’m not even saying anything remotely negative.
The thing is, the vast majority of people I know who talk about this, like LHA and catagator point out above, are not criticizing John Green the person, but the institution that is holding him up at the expense of others. Almost every person who has written on this subject is talking about THE CULTURE, not the man.
Unfortunately, his name is firmly tied to the current culture, and we CAN’T talk about it without also talking about him. And yes, that sucks, but we have to internalize the distinction between criticizing HIM and criticizing THE CULTURE AROUND HIM.
Everyone KNOWS this is not John Green’s fault, that he didn’t ask for this, and that he tries to be a good person and has done a lot of good work. He’s a figurehead. And we should be able to discuss this without feeling like everything will come crashing down and we’ll have to spend the next several days of our life explaining that it’s not about the person, it’s about the culture, not the person, the culture.
Anyway, Laurie and cat explained the concept of institutionalized patriarchy and the media influence above already, so I won’t repeat. I’ll just say again what I said on Twitter… I wish I could have this conversation one time without feeling like my heart’s going to explode from anxiety every time I type “John Green.”
Anyway, forgive my nervous hand-wringing, there are good suggestions for helping change the culture above. Talk back to the media.
That is used for necessary information and has no commas.
A necessary phrase (known as a restrictive clause) uses the word ‘that’ and is not surrounded by commas. If you remove the phrase it changes the original meaning of the sentence. Example: The novel that Sarah Bell wrote didn’t sell well.
Which is used for unnecessary information and is surrounded by commas.
An unnecessary phrase (known as a non-restrictive clause) uses the word ‘which’ and has commas. If you remove the phrase it does not change the original meaning of the sentence. Example: The Twilight novels, which were for young adults, were adapted for film.
This is my opinion. Any rants, idea, plot points, opinions or other information is not meant to hurt, discredit or alienate anybody. It is simply an expression of thoughts on roleplaying, roleplay administration, the RP community or the RPCHA community.
Let’s get started: Research Help.
It’s inevitable as an RPC+ to recieve anons asking for help explaining something. Whether it’s an eating disorder, mental disorder, geographical issue or character development prompt, someone will ask you for advice and you will write them a guide. Here’s a quick tip list for you to follow, so you aren’t unintentionally misleading your followers.
- DO NOT USE WIKIPEDIA AS A REFERENCE. Wikipedia is not a credible source; it is a user-edited, interactive article. Wikipedia is not a secure or steady website. If you do not know where to start on a subject, wikipedia is not a terrible place. What you want to do is scroll to the bottom of the wiki, look at the references section and click on links. Many times, official sites and journals are cited throughout the text!
- Know the background of your source! Not all organizations or websites are unbiased. It’s very important to understand the bias behind your source. One of the quickest ways to find bias is to find out who is funding the article or study. If you are looking for a study about gay/lesbian parents and how well they raise children, a source from The Family Research Council is going to be biased! By clicking on the author’s name, we see that Peter Sprigg wrote a book titled He is the author of the book Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges Are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage and is a baptist minister. Not exactly the background we would want for an unbiased scientific study.
- Check to make sure your information is current, complete, and the qualifications of your links. Publish dates are extremely important on current events and issues. If your article is about psychological disorders, but the text quotes the DSM 3, it is not going to be valid or reliable to today’s issues. Saying ‘but I read it somewhere’ or ‘this is how I feel’ is not objective, empirical knowledge folks!
- Always pick academic journals over articles. Academic journals are often peer reviewed and present data in a concise, clear format. Take advantage of free, online sources, such as The Directory of Open Access Journal.
- That being said, if you are picking through journals, find a journal that is peer reviewed and credible. Before an article is deemed appropriate to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, it must undergo a rigorous process. The article must be submitted to the journal editor who forwards it to experts in the field. The impartial reviewers are charged with carefully evaluating the quality of the article, especially in relation to validity and methodologies. The reviewers also can suggest revisions or completely reject the article.
- Use common sense and pay attention to wording. If the article contains phrases such as “We think” or “We feel”, there is a high chance that your article has empirical flaws. Science is not up to feelings, it is something that can be measured. The same can be stated with social sciences, to an extent.
- Don’t give your opinion. We all have opinions on things, but when someone comes to you asking for a guide, they aren’t dropping a soapbox in front of you. Do your best to remain unbiased and provide intelligent and understandable answers. If you do feel the need to add your opinion, put it in a different, labeled section from your objective knowledge.
Features of a peer reviewed article [source]:
- Is the journal in which you found the article published or sponsored by a professional scholarly society, professional association, or university academic department? Does it describe itself as a peer-reviewed publication? (To know that, check the journal’s website).
- Did you find a citation for it in one of the databases that includes scholarly publications? (Criminal Justice Abstracts, EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete, PsycINFO, etc.)? Read the database description to see if it includes scholarly publications.
- Did you limit your search to scholarly or peer-reviewed publications?
- Is there an abstract (summary) at the beginning of the article?
- Is the tone of the article thoughtful, restrained and serious?
- Does the article have footnotes or citations of other sources?
- Does the article have a bibliography or list of references at the end?
- Are the author’s credentials listed?
- Is the topic of the article narrowly focused and explored in depth?
- Is the article based on either original research or authorities in the field (as opposed to personal opinion)?
- Is the article written for readers with some prior knowledge of the subject?
- If your field is social or natural science, is the article divided into sections with headings such as those listed below?
Found this article. Found it incredibly helpful. Be sure to go read the full story, but these are the ten questions the author (Lydia Netzer) covers in it:1. At what point did you feel like “Ah, now the story has really begun!”
2. What were the points where you found yourself skimming?
3. Which setting in the book was clearest to you as you were reading it? Which do you remember the best?
4. Which character would you most like to meet and get to know?
5. What was the most suspenseful moment in the book?
6. If you had to pick one character to get rid of, who would you axe?
7. Was there a situation in the novel that reminded you of something in your own life?
8. Where did you stop reading, the first time you cracked open the manuscript? (Can show you where your first dull part is, and help you fix your pacing.)
9. What was the last book you read, before this? And what did you think of it? (This can put their comments in context in surprising ways, when you find out what their general interests are. It might surprise you.)
10. Finish this sentence: “I kept reading because…”
Seven Tips for Writing a Sizzling Synopsis
1. Hook the reader with the inciting moment.
2. Tell us how she intends to solve the crisis.
3. Give us her details, briefly – age, occupation etc.
4. Tell the story.
5. Keep to main story points.
6. Motivation and emotion are all important here.
7. Editors and readers like human drama - It sells.
Don't ever hesitate. Reblog this. TUMBLR RULE. When you see it, REBLOG IT.
Depression Hotline: 1-630-482-9696
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433
Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
Sexuality Support: 1-800-246-7743
Eating Disorders Hotline: 1-847-831-3438
Rape and Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673
Grief Support: 1-650-321-5272
Runaway: 1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000
Exhale: After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice: 1-866-4394253
A short post on the most underrepresented eye color in fiction and the most common eye color in the world.
Shades of Brown
- Inky black
Things that are Shades of Brown
- Whiskey/beer (gold)
- Wood (range from light brown to black)
- Chocolate (mid to dark brown)
- Coffee (pale gold to black)
- Henna (reddish brown)
- Bronze (light brown)
- Afternoon sunlight (gold)
- Obsidian (black)
- Animals (and their eyes)
- Earth (wet earth = dark brown, red clay = reddish brown, wet sand = light brown)
- Ink (black)
- Topaz gemstone (orange to dark brown)
- Leather (mid to dark brown)
- Autumn or winter: Brown, an earth tone, is closely associated with dead plants, which are brown and not very romantic. You can link this to the smell of woodsmoke, bark, or new snow; the taste of frost or hot chocolate; the sight of bare branches and southward-flying birds; the touch of warm sweaters or rake handles; the sound of crunching leaves or fire crackling.
- Earth: Again, brown is an earth tone. You can link this to petrichor, the smell of flowers, animals, or water; the taste of crisp cold air or freshwater; the sight of fresh soil, stones, bark, or a low-slung, comfortable cabin; the touch of rain, leather, dirt, or fur; the sound of birds calling, rain falling, plants rustling
- Alcohol: Most liquor is gold or brown. You can link this to the smell of alcohol and a well-packed bar; the taste of ice, glass, garnish, and alcohol; the sight of a polished bar, a half-empty glass/mug, and the shotgun resting below the bar; the touch of a mild buzz, an arm through yours, or the mild jostling as you find a barstool; and the sound of barroom buzz, a pool table, jazz music, and pouring drinks.
- Animals: Many animals - predator and prey - have brown or golden eyes. You can link this to the smell of (wet) fur; the taste of cold wind, blood, or plants; the sight of moving branches, unblinking eyes, feathers shining in the sun, and fur ruffling in the breeze; the touch of the ground beneath your bare feet, branches whipping along beside you, and the weather; and the sounds of panting/breathing, or soft footfalls or wing beats.
- Material: Brown is a tactile color, bringing with it the touch of copper or velvet or hemp or satin in addition to the hue. You can link this to the smell of metal, wet fabric, or hemp; the taste of blood (sometimes described as coppery) or champagne at a luxurious event; the sight of a richly decorated bed, a burnished weapon or set of buttons, or a lovely gown; the touch of cold metal, soft velvet, or course fur; and the sounds of rubbing fur, rustling fabric, and chiming metal.
- Blackness: This is for all the very dark-eyed people out there who appear not to have irises at all. You can link this to the smell of a cold night or of rock; the taste of regret, lies, or red wine; the sight of raven’s wings, obsidian, flickering shadows, mourners at a funeral, coals, and endless pits; the sensation of being about to fall into a hole, the secret thrill of illicit behavior, nothingness, warmth, or compelling mystery; and the sounds of murmured conversations, rustling feathers, and drowsiness.
Descriptions for Brown Eyes: Other
- crystal-thimble: deep and velvety
- extremeflamingo: October eyes
- zomborgs: golden brown, like the afternoon sun shining through a glass of whiskey
- gsaxby: your eyes are like freshly melted chocolate
- just-a-writer: the colour of coal moments before the earth turns it into a diamond
- rossdittman: tree bark, dark wood, mountain rock, dark leather
- tane-p: i love it when brown eyes are compared with the colors of coffee or honey
- vikinghans: pebble brown, the haze of bark, a shade of sooty cocoa
- cailincasta: my best friend tells me my eyes are like an intense golden brown kaleidoscope. Buttered chocolate with darker rays fanning out around the bottomless pit of an iris, swirled with caramel crescent moons and trapped by a thick, hazy, black limbal ring.
- lightlybow: I, personally, like the terms “honey” or “molasses” because it indicates depth and warmth and familiarity
- moonjade65: Their eyes were like brown pebbles smoothed slowly by the trickle of a stream.
- that-one-fandom-chick: his eyes reminded me of the hot chocolate I would drink as a kid during winter. A deep, rich, chocolate color.
- aprincessdoesntimplyfragility: El sol bañaba sus ojos color caoba y los hacía aún más cálidos, del color chocolate con leche y la tierra fresca y fértil (translation: the sun bathes your eyes in chestnut, augmenting the color of chocolate with milk and fresh, fertile land)
- musings-of-a-writer: amber or cognac
- ultracoal: brown like a June bug
- marlynnofmany: he hadn’t seen brown eyes gloe before, but hers did - like morning sunlight on the bark of a redwood tree.
- katsumiri: her eyes are too clear to be a real brown, too milky to be a real chocolate
- marquis-shax: sunshine through a glass of whiskey
- ghostoyevsky: copper-colored
- vaulteddoors: she had eyes the colour of a night at the bar: hardwood floors and 4am ale