Saturday, February 27, 2010

2010 NYC Teen Author Festival

The 2010 New York City Teen Author Festival runs March 15th through the 21st. If you missed it last year, definitely try to check it out this year.

I will be reading and signing books in the Bronx with Coe Booth, Sarah Darer Littman, and Maryrose Wood on the 18th from 10-11:30am at the Bronx Library Center, 310 East Kingsbridge Road. Then, on Sunday the 21st, there will be a huge bunch of authors signing their books at Books of Wonder in Manhattan. The mega-event will go from 2-6pm and authors will sign in shifts as before. It was a lot of fun (and jam-packed!) last year, so you won't want to miss it!

Here is the list of authors and their time slots for Sunday's mega-booksigning. I'm in the 3:30-4:15 slot, and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is in the slot right after mine, along with Debs Jon Skovron and Shani Petroff...

Alma Alexander Nora Baskin Cathleen Davitt Bell Judy Blundell Libba Bray Coe Booth Elise Broach Alexandra Bullen Nick Burd Sarah Burningham Susane Colasanti Matt De La Pena Violet Haberdasher Maggie Stiefvater

Tom Dolby Heather Duffy-Stone Sarah Beth Durst Elizabeth Eulberg Gayle Forman Aimee Friedman Jenny Han Alice Hoffman Carla Jablonksi Melissa Kantor Kristen Kemp Michelle Knudsen Peter Lerangis David Levithan

Sarah Darer Littman Barry Lyga Robin MacCready Carolyn Mackler Sarah Maclean Marianne Mancusi Amanda Marrone Wendy Mass Lauren McLaughlin Neesha Meminger Sarah Mlynowski Michael Northrup Robin Palmer

Diana Peterfreund Shani Petroff O.Rhuday-Perkovich Matthue Roth Marie Rutkoski Lisa Ann Sandell Samantha Schutz Elizabeth Scott Kieran ScottCourtney Sheinmel Sara Shepard Abby Sher Jon Skovron

Jennifer Smith Natalie Standiford Rachel Vail David Van Etten Siobhan Vivian Adrienne Maria Vrettos Melissa Walker Robin Wasserman Suzanne Weyn Lynn Weingarten Martin Wilson Jake Wizner Maryrose Wood Michelle Zink

Friday, February 26, 2010

More on White-Washing

Read one of the most thorough articles I've seen on the white-washing issue here. I love that the author contextualizes the book cover issue within the larger practice of white-washing in general, i.e. media images like Beyonce in an Elle magazine spread (I've seen a similar thing done with Aishwarya Rai and Halle Berry--and maybe Queen Latifah? All reps of L'Oreal, by the way), and the Avatar: the Last Airbender casting issue.

Great article, overall, go check it out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sex, "Bad Girls" and Healing

I've been taking some time out to do a bit of healing. As women, we have a lot to heal from. There is the usual, everyday sexism, then there is media travesty, and then there are facts like 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of eighteen (often by someone they know). As women who are working class, or grew up working class, we have quite a lot to heal from. As women of colour who are, or grew up working class, what we need to heal from increases exponentially...with layer upon layer to peel back. And then we get to all the regular stuff--the stuff that *everyone* has to heal from. Things like my rabbit died when I was five, or the teacher called me stupid, or everyone laughed at me in eighth grade, or I was an uber-geek with bad acne in high school...

So, that's clearly a whole LOT of healing that needs to happen--and most of it has to get squeezed in between work and relationships and family and money and Life and, and, and.

I've been sitting on a post about race that I've just been too tired to put up. I will at some point, but for now I am quieting down and trying to get back in touch with that little voice that disappears if I don't keep listening to it.

In the meantime, Colleen has another What A Girl Wants post up at Chasing Ray. This one is about sex and the concept of the "bad girl". Here's a quote from my portion:
"What's stunningly clear as you read [Natalie Angier's WOMAN: AN INTIMATE GEOGRAPHY] is that humans have been the only species to stifle female sexuality throughout the ages--in the myriad ways we have. From confining the body by shoving it into clothing items not designed for actual, life-sized females, to shaming women for expressing natural sexual urges, to publicly humiliating women (or worse, putting them to death) for adultery while their husbands openly took lovers, we--as a human race--have suppressed female sexuality beyond recognition. And I mean that literally. Most women wouldn't recognize our own natural, unfettered sexuality if we sat on it."
 Here's a bit from Zetta's quote:
"So many girls learn early on that sex is about pleasing your partner, and the emphasis on virginity leads even young girls to engage in oral sex and other practices for which they are not ready. I think girls understand early on that sex is about power, but they don’t know how to exist as a sexual being so that they are empowered and not used, abused, or shamed."
Go read what the other women have to say on the topic, too! This week it's Sara Ryan, Beth Kephart, Laurel Snyder, Lorie Ann Grover, Zetta Elliott, and myself. It's a great read with lots of wonderful book suggestions.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Happy hearts day! In the Meminger household, we celebrated the power of the heart by making:

heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies (the ones on the right are sans chips as we have anti-chip folks in the family),

savory heart-shaped scones (though many of the heart shapes didn't really hold up),

blueberry muffins (no relation to hearts, but we *love* blueberry muffins!),

 and heart-healthy potato pancakes! Yummm...

Whether you celebrate or not, hope you have a wonderful long weekend and celebrate the power of the heart in other ways, on other days :). <3

Friday, February 12, 2010

Debs' Blog Tour: Kristin Walker

Some Debs were bumped to 2010 during our Debs Blog Tour, but they still participated in helping the rest of us "tour" the Net. So we have two lovely debut authors yet to blog as part of the Debs' tour!

Please join me in celebrating Kristin Walker's MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL.

Here's a bit about A Match Made in High School:
When a mandatory marriage education course forces Fiona to “try the knot” with super-jock Todd Harding, she’s convinced life could not possibly get any worse.  Until moments later, when her long-time crush is paired with her arch-enemy (otherwise known as Todd’s obscenely hot, slightly sadistic girlfriend).  But that’s nothing compared to her best friend’s fate – a year with the very shy, very goofy, very big Johnny Mercer.

A series of hilarious pranks and misunderstandings leave Fiona wondering: is there something her supposed “best friend” hasn’t told her? Could there be more to Johnny Mercer than a deep voice and an awesome music collection? And perhaps most intriguing of all, is it possible that Todd Harding could actually have a heart – and a brain – beneath his pretty-boy exterior?

And here's a little about Kristin, in her own words:
Kristin Walker grew up roaming the Pennsylvania countryside. She finally landed at Penn State, where she earned a BA in Theatre Arts. In addition to being actor, Kristin was many things on her way to becoming an author, such as a lifeguard, a nanny, a beginning ballroom dance instructor, a library circulation clerk, and very nearly a nurse. A Match Made in High School (Razorbill/Penguin Group) is her first novel. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ladybug, Wee Ones, and two Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Kristin lives in a Chicago suburb with her husband and three sons.

Check out her website here, and order copies of A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day!

Last week, there was great talk of a snowpocalypse in NYC and not a flurry was seen from Staten Island to the Bronx. Yesterday, Chancellor Klein called a school closing in all of NYC today because of "inclement weather conditions" and I guffawed. "Ha! What do these dopplers know of Mother Nature?!"

This was the scene outside my window this morning:

I've never been as crazy about snow days as some, but I have to admit--it is quite cozy having nothing to do but sit around in my fuzzy slippers with the kids and catch up on movies.

Do you have images of snow days? Please share your link in the comments!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Giving Back

I'm snowed under with revisions, but I wanted to pop in to share a couple of links and related thoughts. The topic of this post is Giving Back, but not in the way I've come to think of it--as in volunteering, or giving back to your community. I'm referring to giving back, or sharing profits when you've taken something that doesn't belong to you. When you've profited from something (or someone) that was not yours to profit from.

When I visited India over twenty years ago, I remember sitting in the courtyard of an elderly neighbor.  I know she was related to us somehow, somewhere in the long chain of ancestry--an ancestry that, for the most part, could be traced to the very land we had laid our cots out on in the heat of a Punjabi noonday sun. My family has been living in the same part of the world, likely in the same 50-mile radius, for centuries. There are streets named after my father's forefathers.

And yet, when the British came, they changed the names of many of those streets, instantly erasing hundreds of years worth of story and struggle and memory, and rewriting history. The names the streets were given were now names of British men. Men who had histories and ancestral homes thousands of miles away and had shed not a single drop of blood or sweat to nurture the land they now claimed.

I thought of all that as my elderly neighbor sighed and said, "Things were much better when the British were here."

Boi-oing! (That's my eyes bugging out.) "Excuse me?"

She nodded emphatically. "The streets were swept regularly. They built roads. There was some civility."

Because she was an elder, it would have been disrespectful for me to mention that the only streets that were swept were where the wealthy British lived, and that they were swept by Indians. It would have seemed like a challenge, and one does not challenge their elders. So I also didn't mention that the only roads that were built were ones that would take all of India's natural, precious resources to Britain and to the British elite. And I definitely wasn't going to mention anything about civility.

I bring this up because I read this post by Zetta about gentrification in Brooklyn, and remembered that the phenomenon is not just local; it has a historical blueprint. And that, often, when folks come into a neighborhood/country/culture with the grand idea of "taming", "settling" or "borrowing", there is usually no thought to giving back to the community that is already there--that already has its sacred spots, its cultures, its language, its spirituality. The main impetus is taking from the community.

The other link I want to share along these lines is to this NY Times article. Here are a few quotes:
"Just last month, issued an apology to the Quileute for intruding on its territory while videotaping a 'Twilight' virtual tour in September. sought permission from the Chamber of Commerce in nearby Forks, Wash., but didn’t pay the same courtesy to the Quileute. The video team trespassed onto a reservation cemetery and taped Quileute graves, including those of esteemed tribal leaders. These images were then set to macabre music and, in November, posted on The tribe quickly persuaded to remove the Quileute images."
And this:
"'Twilight' has made all things Quileute wildly popular: sells items from Quileute hoodies to charms bearing a supposed Quileute werewolf tattoo. And a tour company hauls busloads of fans onto the Quileute reservation daily. Yet the tribe has received no payment for this commercial activity. Meanwhile, half of Quileute families still live in poverty."
Then this:
"Going forward, the Quileute should be engaged in the 'Twilight' phenomenon. They should be able, first, to welcome Ms. Meyer to the reservation and introduce her to the Tribal Council and all the Quileute people. They should be consulted on projects where the Quileute name and culture are used to market products. And Quileute elders should be able to share with the world the true Quileute creation story, in which tribal members were transformed into humans from wolves (not vampire-fighting wolves)."
Check out both those links and see what connections you come up with. Are there similarities? What are the common threads?

More from me later! Off to bury myself in revisions now...

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Ahluwahlia Girls?

I'm delighted that Bookslut just posted a lovely review of SHINE as part of an article called "The Pains of Being Young at Heart". SHINE is compared with (believe it or not) The Gilmore Girls :). And here's a short quote:

"Timely, smart, full of snap and style, Shine, Coconut Moon is an invitation to teenage girls to stop and think about themselves and others. It’s a sly piece of writing on Meminger’s part -- a message book that doesn’t seem the slightest bit preachy. Perfect for classroom discussion and a lazy afternoon read, this is one I fell hard for."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Black History Month: A Focus on Haiti

In honour of the fact that it is Black History Month, I wanted to highlight a couple of quotes from a very powerful article I recently read by Shannon Joyce Prince on Racialicious, called "Why Haiti Matters: Barack Obama and the Larger Discourse on Haiti." Ms. Prince hits on so many important points about what's going on politically and economically on that part of the island, and puts it all squarely within a historical framework. And since it is Black History Month, in my view, her essay points to exactly the kinds of things we should be reflecting on, in addition to award winners and the heroes of the past. In Haiti, there are heroes RIGHT NOW who are not winning any awards, and are looking for solidarity, for hope, and for those who can, to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their struggle...
Says Ms. Prince: "Let’s be clear, if you’re running a race I repeatedly trip you, it’s a bit rich for me to claim you’re “progress-resistant”[...] If I break in your house and steal all your possessions, it would be inaccurate for someone to say that your house is empty because you’re simply poor instead of that you’ve been robbed. If I repeatedly burglarize your house because I’m stronger and it profits me and you can’t fight back, I have no grounds to wonder what innate failing you have that leads to your house being perpetually empty. Nor can I legitimately tell others that if they want to help you have a furnished house they should ignore my past and continued plundering and focus on changing what’s allegedly wrong with you. If I regularly rob you, and those robberies are a matter of public record, it would be silly, to say the least, for your neighbors to wonder, perplexedly, why you don’t have any furniture. If I steal a fortune from you and then give you pennies, it’s ridiculous for me to claim that I’m giving you aid."

and this:

"We are responsible for overwhelming the television programs, newspapers, internet websites, and other forms of media that twist the story of Haiti with letters of protest and correction until the tale of the island is accurately told. We are responsible for sending resources to Haiti responsibly – and recognizing such transfers of resources as small payments on a very large debt – not aid. We are responsible for standing in watchful solidarity with Haiti as governments and investors seek to profit from its misery. It is not for our nation to tell Haiti what it should become – Haiti has never had a poverty of vision. We are responsible for helping the dream of those tortured and daring slaves who attained an improbable freedom, that dream that now belongs to the descendants of those slaves who elected a humble priest as president, to come true. At a time when the powerful will suggest that further domination of Haiti will actually mediate the damage that First World domination of Haiti has heretofore caused, we are responsible for ensuring respect for the nation’s sovereignty and dignity. Haiti is bravery and resistance and majesty and strength. That’s why Haiti matters."

The entire essay is powerful and illuminating. Go read it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Women in Publishing Event

On Tuesday, February 23, SAWLF (South Asian Women's Leadership Forum) will bring together leading women writers, journalists and industry professionals for a dynamic conversation on the Who, What, Where, Why, When and How of writing for print and publication.

6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This special SAWLF event will take place at the downtown Manhattan offices of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP*

One New York Plaza, NY, NY 10004
(Broad St between Water and South Streets)
*Photo ID is required for event admittance.

Registration: On-line registration will open on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 on a first-come, first-serve basis. All participants are welcome. Limited seating available.

Special Guest Panelists
Sarita Varma, Director of Publicity, Farrar Straus and Giroux

Sarah Ellison, Journalist and Author

Richa Gulati, Freelance Writer, Dancer, and Lawyer

Literary Agent, Kirsten Neuhaus

Megan Deem, Fashion Features Editor, InStyle

The moderator is author Saira Rao

For additional event details, contact Kaumudi Goda, Esq. at kaumudigoda [at] gmail [dot] com.

South Asian Women's Leadership Forum (SAWLF) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of South Asian women and girls in the marketplace.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Power of Art and Story

This is fantastic; truly a testament to the power of art and story. Do watch it through to the end:

Monday, February 1, 2010

Water: Commodity or Birthright?

Some friends I went to college with are now big time documentary-makers (documentarians?) in Toronto. Here is the trailer for their latest--it's sure to get you thinking about the future...for ALL of us: