Sunday, August 29, 2010


Since they don't sell butter tarts here in the US, the only thing a Canadian can do when in urgent need of buttery goodness is to make them herself. Which I did! (See pic below for proof). And they SO hit the spot. For those of you who don't know about them, butter tarts are sort of like pecan pie without the pecans. And they are delicious with a cup of tea . . . YUM.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Faith in Revisions

There is a great article in Poets & Writers, called Revision as Renovation, by Benjamin Percy. It's definitely worth a read. He draws parallels between revising and home renovation. And, while I knew the article was about the importance of revision, I couldn't help but focus on these paragraphs:
"I had sold my novel, The Wilding. My edi-
tor at Graywolf Press, Fiona McCrae, told me how excited
she was about the manuscript, but wondered if I might be
amenable to some changes. Of course, I said. What did
she have in mind? 'How about let’s start with the point of
view?' she said. 'Might we shift it from first to third? And
in doing so, with the freedom afforded to the characters,
perhaps we could add five interlocking plotlines all com-
ing to a head at once?' The book had good bones, in other
words, but it needed some renovation."
and then this:
"It took me a year to rewrite The Wilding, to change from first to third person, to free up those characters and braid together their stories. And when I handed it in to Fiona in March 2009, she said . . . 'Fantastic. Exactly what we wanted. Now, would you mind cutting several of these sub-plots? And maybe we could add another in a female perspective? And while we're at it, how about let's rethink the ending?' And, and, and."

All I could think was, "Wow! An editor acquired a book that needed ALL that revision? She waited a year for revisions, and then asked for more?" I was left shaking my head in wonder. As a writer, all I could think was how amazing, validating, affirming it is to know someone has that kind of faith in your work; that much love for just the idea of what you're writing! That's the kind of excitement and enthusiasm you want for your writing!

I'm grateful to articles like these because most authors don't know what it's like for other authors. We are an isolated bunch, but reading others' experiences gives us great insight into our own, and to the industry in which we are investing so much time, energy and heart, with no promise of any kind of return, save for our love of the craft.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Links for This Week

Love this Sandip Roy piece on Alternet about Eat, Pray, Love:
Now, I don’t want to deny Gilbert her “journey.” She is herself honest, edifying and moving. I don’t want to deny her Italian carbs, her Indian Om’s or her Bali Hai beach romance. We all need that sabbatical from the rut of our lives.

But as her character complained that she had “no passion, no spark, no faith” and needed to go away for one year, I couldn’t help wondering where do people in Indonesia and India go away to when they lose their passion, spark and faith? I don’t think they come to Manhattan. Usually third-worlders come to America to find education, jobs and to save enough money to send for their families to join them, not work out their kinks.

On the other end of the film spectrum, here's an interesting tidbit--megastar Bollywood actor, Amir Khan, who starred in and co-produced the Oscar-nominated Lagaan some years back, has produced a political film about farmer suicides in India. It's a satire that cuts very close to the truth:
Khan knows that he's taking a risk by producing such an explicitly political film in a country where reasonable expectations say it'll find a niche audience, at best. But he's come to believe it's his job to make movies with a message.
"I don't know who else will do it," he says. "When I come across material which excites me — which not only is engaging and entertaining, but also has something to say, or hopefully sensitizes people or makes you think — I'd like to be a part of that." 

And in publishing industry news, Barnes & Noble is for sale:
I know exactly when B&N lost me as a customer. Some years ago, to compete with Amazon, B&N began offering free same-day delivery in Manhattan if you placed your order over the Internet by 11 a.m. I did so several times -- and not once did the books arrive when promised. Everything I have ordered from Amazon has arrived on time or earlier. Then came Amazon's game-changing Kindle, and instant delivery. Nothing I've read about B&N's belated rival Nook has tempted me to try it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What Happens If

The South Asia Solidarity Initiative has put forward a response to this TIME Magazine article titled, "What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan." With the strong emotional response an image like that of Aisha on the cover of TIME elicits, it's especially important to read other takes on the issue. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by strong emotional responses (and the image of Aisha certainly draws justified rage and sheer devastation), that we don't take the time to see the full picture.

Certainly read TIME's post, if you feel so inclined. But then go and read the response to it -- here is an excerpt:
The August 9, 2010 issue of TIME magazine featured a striking cover photograph of an 18-year-old Afghan woman, Aisha, who was disfigured by the Taliban last year.  The cover title read, “What happens if we leave Afghanistan.”  While Aisha’s story and the stories of many other women like her may depict some part of the reality of women’s lives under the Taliban, TIME’s conclusion that continuing the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is necessary, is highly misleading and troubling. [. . .]

For the last decade, the occupying forces of the U.S. and its NATO allies have nourished warlords and supported a corrupt government, leading many to join the Taliban and increasing their influence across Afghanistan. Increased civilian deaths, a fundamentalist resurgence, and deadly bombing raids have led to a devastated country and a Taliban stronger than ever before. TIME’s claim to “illuminate what is actually happening on the ground” falsely equates the last decade of occupation with progress. The occupation has not and will not bring democracy to Afghanistan, nor will it bring liberation to Afghan women. Instead, it has exacerbated deep-seated corruption in the government, the widespread abuse of women’s rights and human rights by fundamentalists, including Karzai’s allies, and stymied critical infrastructure development in the country. The question should not be “what happens if we leave Afghanistan,” the question should be “what happened when we invaded Afghanistan” and “what happens if we stay in Afghanistan.”
Racism and Misogyny are often used against one another, to justify the existence of one over the other. In this case, "protecting the women" seems to be the guise under which US racism and imperialism justify their presence. The truth is that both racism and misogyny go hand in hand. Where there is one, the other always lurks nearby.

Read the rest of SASI's response here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Importance of YA

I love this audio interview with S.E. Hinton (thanks to Mitali Perkins for the link!), author of The Outsiders, and Patrick Henry Bass, senior editor of Essence magazine. Ms. Hinton was one of the authors who made me want to write YA lit, by the way, when I was thirteen. I especially love the part in this audio where they talk about the fact that Hinton was one of the first to address class, i.e. she was writing about the tension between the "greasers" and the "socs" when most authors of her time were writing about prom kings and queens -- and how that hasn't changed all that much today . . .

Friday, August 13, 2010

On Security

Olugbemisola tweeted the TED site today for a revisit of Adichie's "single story" video. While there, I also ended up watching Eve Ensler's talk on security. It's very interesting and not super long. Check it out . . .

Friday, August 6, 2010

Feminist Sci-Fi; Links

The Rejectionist is having feminist sci-fi week on her blog and my guest post is up. Swing by there and add your thoughts.

Also, because of Le R's femscifi week, I have discovered author Clare Bell. I was intrigued by her comment on one of the comment threads. Although I have never been a "talking animals" fan per se, since my romance novels feature shapeshifters I went to her website to poke around. I stayed up way later than I intended, reading Ms. Bell's publishing history (it is in ten parts) which, while being heart-wrenchingly devastating, was also incredibly inspiring. *If you have any interest in publishing, sci-fi/fantasy lit, the writer's journey . . . go read Ms. Bell's path to publication*. As an author, all I could say when I finished was a stunned, "Wow." Lucky for readers, Ms. Bell is still getting her work out there and fighting for the fans who adore her characters. Do check out her website and read the first chapter in the series.

And, if you haven't checked out Ari's amazing letter to Borders, why the $%^& not??? You are hope and inspiration, Ari.

Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Last Dance

There were only one woman and one person of colour left on SYTYCD tonight (out of four - not bad in itself, but if you watched the whole thing, you know there were all kinds of issues this season). And with Jose gone, and Adechike voted off, I don't know if I'll watch the rest. Okay, I probably will. I do love the all-stars from previous seasons--Twitch, Ade, Comfort, Dominick . . . . Still, Adechike (who hails from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, by the way) had a rough road from the beginning with the judges - and he is an awesome dancer. He will, without doubt, go on to have an amazing career, maybe even with the Ailey company, which is what first inspired him to dance. He will be sorely missed, at least by me.

But last night, the performance that got me all choked up was Kent and Neil's piece, choreographed by Travis Wall. What they said on the show was that the story was about two "friends", but hello--am I the only one seeing a lovers' break-up here? Those two seem way closer than a couple of buddies. Either way, it was an incredible routine . . .

Monday, August 2, 2010

On Terminology

I've seen the word "Caucasian" used to describe white people often enough that I feel compelled to do a post on it.

First off, here is the term as defined by
"Anthropology. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of one of the traditional racial divisions of humankind, marked by fair to dark skin, straight to tightly curled hair, and light to very dark eyes, and originally inhabiting Europe, parts of North Africa, western Asia, and India: no longer in technical use."

The above definition, and this one on wiki which corroborates it, would mean that I would, technically, be considered Caucasian. As would Morrocans, Algerians, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Indians, and many other peoples of colour. It's obvious to me that most of the references I've seen to "Caucasian" are not intended to include myself, or any other people of colour. My guess is that in these instances, the writer actually means to say "white folks". This seems to be a very North American usage of the term. If you read the above-linked wiki entry, and any other info on the topic, really, you'll get a sense for why the term "Caucasian" is problematic, and how it has been rooted in racist and racially-motivated designations (that have nothing to do with reality).

The term irks me, in particular, because I am always reminded of the United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind case whenever I see/hear it. As anyone who has ever taken an Asian Studies class probably knows, this was the case of Bhagat Singh Thind, a Punjabi Sikh man, who argued with the US courts that, because he was technically Caucasian and Aryan, he was entitled to become a naturalized citizen of the US, according to the 1790 statute governing naturalization.*

As you might imagine, this threw the courts in a tizzy and all kinds of new findings were brought about, and stuff was re-worded to make it abundantly clear that when the word "Caucasian" was used in the 1790 statute, the writers WERE NOT referring to brown people. According to wiki, "The Court found that the authors of the 1790 statute probably ascribed to 'the Adamite theory of creation' and understood 'white people' in its popular, and not scientific, sense."

After the Thind decision, not only was he not allowed to become a naturalized citizen, all Indian-Americans who had become citizens before that point had their status retroactively revoked. They were stripped of their land, rights, and citizenship. More than half of the Indian-Americans, who had settled on US soil as land-owning citizens, at that point left the US.

So, the term is a loaded one, and dotted with racial/racist history. I know many folks use the term "Caucasian" to mean white people, particularly here in the US. I don't know if it's supposed to be more polite than saying "white" or if it somehow sounds more like a technical (therefore, more valid?) term, akin to "African-American" or "Asian-American" (but then why not "European-American"?), but it is one that I, personally, cringe at every single time I read it or hear it.

*The complexities of why he should choose to argue this at all is for another post.