Hello! How’s your Saturday going so far? It’s raining over here in SoCal, and apparently the mountain-y areas are getting snow! That’s kind of exciting.
I’ve decided to spend today reading Burn Mark by Laura Powell, which I got from the publishers via NetGalley (thanks!). It’s not coming out in the US until June, but it’ll be published a month earlier in the UK which is neat. Burn Mark is a YA alt. history/fantasy (possibly with romance?) book set in modern England starring two kids named Cleo and Lucas. Cleo and Lucas? Are witches. And witches? Are hunted by inquisitors and, if caught doing something bad, are burnt via pyre.
So far it’s really intense– there’s at least two fairly graphic descriptions of witches being burnt, for instance– and I’m thinking that later on there’ll be a lot of thriller-y chase scenes and stuff. What I like most about it so far, though, is the writing. Example: the guy who I assume will be the main baddie (or one of them, anyway) has only been in the book for, like, five pages total, and he’s already got a buttload of depth and interesting-ness to him. Yay!
So the thing is, I hate the phrase strong female character. I made a brief post about it at one point, and that expressed a number of my issues with the phrasing, but did not discuss my crucial issue with the concept. Because the thing is, strong female character implies, by default, that there is such a thing as a weak female character, and while there are certainly weakly written female characters, that’s rarely what people are using the term to mean. The way the term is often used, there’s a certain amount of implication that the word character can be removed from the equation entirely, leaving the suggestion that there is such a thing as a strong female or a weak female.
Hello! I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend. I’m reading Kitchen Confidential at the moment (which I got for $0.25 the other day, btw) and it’s both hilarious and terrifying. What are you reading?
It is unconscionable in 2012 for a movie to portray a white dude who infiltrates a non-white native culture and then turns out to be better at being a native than even the natives are. We’ve seen it for years, we saw it in Avatar and now we see this straight up white supremacy in John Carter. The title character, a former captain of the Confederate fucking Army, is ported over to Mars, where he encounters a race of four-armed green monster warriors. Because of his bone density (bone density!), he is innately superior, able to leap in massive bounds and thus can defeat legions of not-so-nice four-armed green dudes who confront him in orgiastic pilings-on. He is a super hero and his white skin is all the cape that he needs.
A book review is seldom only about the book in question – it’s also a piece of writing that requires the reader to engage with and position him or herself before a number of themes and ideas. In the process of doing this, I have often betrayed my ignorance, said thoughtless or insensitive things, been hasty or unfair, and so on and so forth. The existence of this blog means that anyone can access an old post of mine and think that it’s an accurate and up-to-date reflection of my thinking – which is a scary thing.
Keeping a blog for a long period of time often amounts to making your personal, emotional, and intellectual growth public, and this can be a pretty terrifying process. We all have a tendency to revise our memories; to internally edit them in ways that make them more harmonious with our current selves. However, a public blog doesn’t leave much room for that at all. All the wrongheaded things I’ve said over the past five years remain visible, both to myself and to others. And the same will be true of all the wrongheaded things I’ll no doubt carry on saying for as long as I do this. There’s no stopping the fact that I’ll carry on being wrong on the internet – there’s only accepting it and trying not to feel too threatened by it.
I used to believe that comics could be a legitimate art form like any other medium. And sure, they can be. But now I think that the more they are perceived as art, the quicker they will die. There’s something about comics as a medium that makes it real good at being trash. The way that illustration can simplify and caricature. The way information is conveyed quickly and effectively so that even kids and people who can’t read can read comics. And the way it only takes a person with a pen to produce one, and only takes another person a single train ride to consume one.
Did you know that television is art, too? Technically. But you don’t see it that way. It’s just there, something taking up time and space in your life, in all of our lives. It’s trash, it’s the idiot box, it’s something you know isn’t good for you but you just can’t quit it. That’s the kind of bad habit that comics need to be, instead of the kind of bad habit that you need a job to support and you go online to find other people who are into it. No-one needs to say they’re into TV.
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
4) What’s the hardest thing about your sudden fame?
It seems like it’s come so easy to me. And that can be very frustrating. It was a very arduous journey and then it happened very quickly. Everybody’s only seeing the very quick part. It was a perfect storm of things. I had written a bunch of books in a popular genre, had a number of books in my back list and when I decided to self-publish there weren’t many other authors doing it. Now the market’s much more saturated. I priced my book low when there weren’t many other self-published authors. I think people were more willing to give a chance on an unknown author [if they’re paying a low price] and that got people reading it, talking about it and got more people to buy it.
Bloomsbury has put a ton of its ebooks on sale over at Amazon, including some really interesting YA ones. Here’s a complete list of what’s on sale. I’d personally recommend buying the following, if you’re interested:
But the problem isn’t just about fickle Americans — the Japanese manga market is hurting too. Sales of manga magazines, the traditional delivery medium for manga in Japan, peaked in 1995, and have been falling ever since. Graphic novel sales remained steady longer, but have also declined.
Manga is hurting the way that all print media is hurting — but in some ways it’s worse, because manga is ill-equipped to adapt to New Media. Like American comic books, manga started out as cheap entertainment for kids, but while American comics faced their dwindling readership by turning into an adult collector’s item with color, thicker paper and higher production values, manga magazines (and to a lesser extent, graphic novel collections) still use cheap ink and cheap paper to cram in as much pages-per-yen value possible.
Also: about the ALA drama that happened: I honestly and truly don’t think that bloggers cause the majority of problems at book conferences. I distinctly remember reading a blog post after BEA 2011 that said the exact same problems we’re having now (people taking multiple copies, people grabbing and running with books, etc.) happened way before bloggers ever got there. My MOM, who went to book conferences in the 1970s, said that those EXACT SAME THINGS happened back then, too!
I think bloggers are getting the majority of the blame for bad behavior nowadays because we’re new, we’re the most visible of all the groups, and because people aren’t used to us yet. I also don’t think we should avoid book conferences just because we’re worried that some people(/publishers) might not like us, or that we might not be welcome. If we weren’t welcome then the conference organizers wouldn’t have non-industry/non-librarian/etc. passes available for people to get! So don’t worry about it, okay? Just try to be on your best behavior and don’t be scared away by drama.