Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Young Adult Teen Tuesday

The existence of multicultural teen literature had little if anything to do with developing a new literary form. It had a lot to do with the political and social movements of the 60's and 70's, and it came into its own as a way to give a voice in literature to the historically marginalized social groups as well as increase awarness of imbalances in our society.

For years this literary form stirred controversy and resentment. Many didn't like the threat that these books presented: the exploration of bias and prejudice, the questioning of established beliefs and attitudes--some so deeply held that until writers exposed them in their stories, mainstream readers didn't know they had them. Then there were the stories that exposed the writers' "unexamined assumptions and biases." What surprises those were to everyone, including the writers themselves, I'd imagine.

What is wonderful is that in a span of a few decades these books moved from the sidelines onto the shelves and won acclaim. They opened minds and enhanced our culture by connecting diverse people; they gave us different and amazing role models, moved us closer to a community that doesn't reject the "foreign," but appreciates how it enhances our understanding of the world.

Some books I've treasured for their role in cultivating multiculturalism for young readers are these:

Sounder by W.H. Armstrong
Almond Cookies and Dragon Well Tea by Chin-Lee

The Color Purple by A. Walker
Dragonwings by Yep
Encounter by Jane Yolan
Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye
Shooting Kabul by Senzai
A Single Shard by Park

So many more to list, but you must have several of your own. Add to my list, please.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Moods

Can I be cranky today? It won't last, but honestly I think one cranky day a year is allowed. Oops! This is only January. Maybe I should hold off until say. . . June? Okay, cranky day cancelled. Now let's get on with something that might make us laugh or will at least be interesting. How about some history or a few pity quotes?


I'm not going to bore you. I promise. Besides if I do my faithful readers will let me know. I can't risk that.

This was a 1914 Chevy. Why is this in the least interesting? Well, what you see here is a leap forward in transportation. This was the first car to to include the standard features of a windshield, speedometer, headlamps and colored paint at no extra charge. Passengers could now smile while they sped along and not risk swallowing bugs.

I must write a book that can include this vehicle. It begs for description, doesn't it? And it has a WINDSHIELD! You can tell how fast you're going. You can see where you're going after the sun sets. It doesn't have to be black like your Model T.  People, this is book worthy.

I have a couple of quotes for this week. One is by Alexander Hamilton. It really made me think a bit about a few pending decisions. I do not fall into the "well-adjusted" category. But that's a good thing in this case, right?

"A well-adjusted person is one who makes the same mistake twice without getting nervous."

Then there's this one that's going to pull me off any high horse I might mount in 2012.

"Moral indignation is just jealousy with a halo around it." H.G. Wells, you know that guy who wrote some stuff.

So I've worked through my crankiness. Thanks for letting me do that. If you write books you know all of that "cranky stuff" was about not being able to get something right in my WIP. What do you do when that happens? Will you share some hints about how to "un-cranky" yourself. You've seen how I do it--I set the mind loose and then voila, I'm . . .
Also I just got a very nice review over at Beverly Stow McClures blog. That helped easy me into the two step!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Young Adult Teen Tuesday

Okay, I know I've pared down my blogging to Mondays only, but this was such a great idea (Sheri Larsen's idea) that I decided to try for one more day each week. When I run out of TeenSteam, I'll beg to be excused, but for now here I am.

One of my life passions happens to be intercultural communication, and I love how connected this passion is to another one of mine--Young Adult literature. 

How does a non-western teen from China, for example, understand the stories about Harry Potter? Translation, yes, but some things can't  just be simply translated. There are often no cognates that exist between English and Chinese and many English words have multiple translation equivalents in Chinese. That's why some  of those "EASY-TO-FOLLOW" assembly instructions leave you scratching your head.

Okay, let's say some translator manages to make the young wizard's trials and tribulations understandable. What about all those allusions, references and underlying cultural assumptions that are embedded in Rawling's books? 

Here's how the Chinese "help" their readers understand certain references to Western culture. They added some serious, scholarly footnotes. The problem is while serious and definitely scholarly in appearance, there are a few, er, errors? I've borrowed a few from a more serious and more scholarly source. If you're interested in reading more of these, here the link:Footnotes to the Mainland Chinese Translation of Harry Potter (or all you needed to know about Western culture)

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Footnote, Chapter 1: Kent is in the south of England. Yorkshire is in the north of England. Dundee is a port in the north of England. 

Do the Scots know Dundee has been hauled over near Liverpool?

2. Harry and the Chamber of Secrets

Footnote, Chapter 6: Bandon: A port city in the southwest of Thailand. 

My source and I have a hunch that Rowling referred to Bandon in Ireland, not Thailand. This explanation needs some 'splaining. 

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Footnote, Chapter 28: The English word 'bug' (put a listening device in) also has the meaning of 'bedbug'

This explains very clearly, why Ron asked, "Bugged?" Now we see there were fleas involved and the Brit's MI5 may be implicated. 

4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Footnote, Chapter 15:  In English, the first letter in 'Poor' is 'P'; the first letter in 'Dreadful' is 'D', the first letter in 'Outstanding' is 'O', the first letter in 'Exceeds Expectations' (what is normally known as 'Good') is 'E', and the first letter in 'Acceptable' is 'A'.

And there you have the explanation for the West's grading system. I always wanted an E on my report card.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Moods

So much going on out there in the blogger world that keeping up is a full time job. I don't know how you guys do it. I even went out and bought a bunch of carrots to dangle in front of my nose, and I can't slog fast enough.

First I won this very charming Versatile Blogger Award from Writing Through College, so I wanted to thank her and follow through on my Award-Etiquette. Here's my instructions:

1. In a post on your, blog, nominate 15 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, Add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.
It's really hard to choose only 15 fellow bloggers, but here goes. Forgive me if you've already received this award, but I have too, so there you have it.
FACTS: (Er, almost, kind of, nearly true?)
1. I write YA books. (Ho-hum!)
2. I'm a pretty good cook. (I get good reviews.)
3. Hikking is a passion. (Anyone who follows me knows this. Nothing new here.)
4. I'm a yogi and have been for a long time. ( My "Oms" sound amazing.)
5. Coffee is among my main food groups.
6. Wine is second only to coffee on my shopping list.
7. I'll take a good comedy over a sad story any day, but I love to write about edgy sadness. (I'm considered strange by my family.)

Alex Cavanaugh has been such a go-getter for so long and his new book is coming out soon, so I wanted to post his cover here just as a thank you for all his energy he puts out there in the blogosphere. 

I'm enjoying the heck out of writing some short stories and tweaking my novels--I've "finished" two. It's nice to coast for a while before starting any major book projects. So that's Monday Moods for this week. 

Here's one of my favorite quotes about writing: " . . . a writer's speciality [is] to deal with taboos, to speak the unspoken, to reveal, to uncover, to show in the interaction of people the difference between what we profess and how we act." Lionel Trilling

Do you have a favorite quote? Share?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Moods--Friday 13

Friday 13!!!! Psssst.

Oh my gawd! Friday the thirteenth came and went and I didn't even notice. I usually remain quietly at home, (That's more difficult now that I know home is where most of the accidents happen.) waiting for the toll of midnight that announces the "all clear."
I'm excessively superstitous about thirteen of anything, but Friday the thirteenth is the worst. So, how come I had a normal, possibly dull, day last Friday ? Hmmm. 

I even went back to see if I wrote anything that might be bad, terrible, really rotten on that day. I didn't. Do you suppose my paraskevidekatriaphobia has gone away?  And if that's the case, does it mean I can treat the 13th like any other day? This is a whole new world for me. This inspires me to write poetry. Please don't sigh like that, okay? 

Ode to Friday 13

At last your ghastly power wanes
I'm freed from all those yearly pains.
No longer will I duck and hide
     when number 13 doth abide.
No longer will I garlic strew
     when doors I open onto you.
No longer will I cringe and cry
    when feline black comes at my side.
Those ladders, yes, bring them on
    I prepare to scale those all anon.
One reservation still I hold. 
Submitting stories I am told,
   to agents, editors is too bold.
When 13 is the page and day
   my better judgement has the sway.
I'll wait for 14 to arrive
   then query quickly all my five. 
Ah, dear Friday please leave me be
   I'm writer-weary as you can see.
There. That wasn't so bad, was it? Please say no or lie.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Moods

This is a new year with all kinds of promise, yet as I enter the second week I'm already amazed at how my calendar is filled with the usual boring stuff.  You know this kind of thing:

1. Reorganize recycling bins in garage.
2. Check rain gutter for leaks.
3. Return giant stuffed Panda to Toys(backwardR)Us.

At the bottom of January I do have, "Edit That #!@** manuscript," but I can't remember which one I meant at the time.

And here I wanted to start 2012 with balloons and confetti and parades and maybe a touch of glamour. Maybe it's not too late. What do you think? And what kind of glam thing should I choose? Here's what I've thought might put some zip into that list of mine.

1. Buy a plane ticket to ___________(fill in the blank).
2. Sign up for Zumba.
3. Buy a new Jaguar for a road trip across the U.S.
4. Take that scuba gear and explore the Mariana Trench--not too deep, okay?
5. Go to Hollywood and get a job as a movie extra. Maybe I could meet Andy Garcia. That's kind of glam.

Does any of that sound like a good idea. I could still squeeze in tidying up the recycling bins and that other stuff. Not sure about editing, however.

What would you do if you were out to add a bit of sparkle to your new year before it became your old one?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year--Goodbye 2011--Welcome to 2012

January is the beginning of a new year and the ending of an old one. It's appropriately named after the god of the gates, Janus.  Now's when we can look back through this brief portal of time to that year we've just left and consider what we did or didn't do in those 365 days. Then we can look ahead to the year we've entered and be excited about the possibilities of those next days yet to reveal themselves. 

I love the idea of a fresh start and I wish I could tidy up the old year so that I there were no loose ends to attend to, but that isn't how life works, is it? Life is a bit sloppy, so as I start out in this first month, when I look back through the gate there are a few unfinished items I'll have to carry forward with me.

Here's what I didn't finish in 2011.

I haven't finished writing that book the way I intended.
I haven't read the twenty-five books I have on my list.
I haven't cleaned the tile grout.
I haven't written to all of my friends to tell them how important they are to me.

I don't make resolutions anymore, so I can't make a list of all that I WILL do in 2012, but here's a wish list.

I wish for health.
I wish for strength.
I wish for the ability to accept, not judge.
I wish for someone to clean that tile grout.

What are you carrying forward into 2012 from 2011? Do you make resolutions? What are they? Or do you have a wish list? Share if you can and if you have any tile grout help, please send that to me.

Not really my grout . . . not yet!