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Showing posts from March, 2016

#AmReading So Many Children's Books

These Easter treats are as good for the bunny as they are for the little chick!

Like many other writers, I'm deeply affected by the style and quality of whatever I'm reading. And these days, I'm reading a lot more children's books than adult books--and reading them over and over and over. So I've made it an Easter (and Christmas and birthday, etc.) tradition to restock my daughter's bookshelves and refresh my Mommy brain!

Last year, I made the mistake of buying books that were a little too much what I wanted to read, not what a preschooler would enjoy. Hey, biographies of famous historical women! Oh, a book about scientific advancements! Maybe the nonfiction will go over better toward 5th grade, but right now my daughter's tastes run more along the lines of Dr. Seuss and any book that has glitter on the cover. Plus Harry Potter, thank the witchy goddesses.

This year, the DaddyMan and I did better at hitting the right note with brightly colored pictures, fan…

Enchanted Dolls by Marina Bychkova and the Magic of the Damsel in Distress

Siberian-Canadian artist Marina Bychkova creates the best demonstrations of the ambivalent power of the "damsel in distress" that I have ever seen. Her Enchanted Dolls give me both the desire to look at them all day and an uncomfortable awareness of the way other people may or may not look at me (and, in the near future, my daughter) as an objectified woman.

Here are a few pictures of Bychkova's work on Pinterest, the only imaginary world where I can afford to "collect" these dolls. (Thanks to writing friend Christina Mitchell for the tip--that's her face floating on the left edge of the screen!)

Bychkova's Enchanted Dolls provoke the same visceral response in most people who see them--the desire to gaze at them endlessly and to hold and touch them. They are all little damsels in distress--small, fragile, feminine, beautiful, childlike, sad, sexual, anatomically correct, and disturbingly lifelike. Interestingly, the things that make them look weak or vu…

Gone Fishing

My query buddy and favorite chicken artist, Victoria Solomon, reminded me the other day that querying a novel is a numbers game, and it's time for me to roll the dice again.

I took a nice break after my first round of queries and did some marvelous research for a historical fiction story. I even wrote an outline for it. (Oh, outlining! What fun!) Then I spent some time thinking about which book to write next -- the sequel to Briars and Black Hellebore (which doesn't actually need Briars and could stand on its own just fine) or the historical fiction idea I've just pursued.

The world around me seems so serious right now--I keep hearing about violence and hatred and ugly politics--and a part of me feels ashamed of spending time in a made-up fantasy land, writing silly books about magical forests and sexy royal dynasties.

I asked myself the question: "Okay, if Briars and Black Hellebore were a story written by an author who lived in the real 11th century, who might that…

The Voting Pen Is Mighty

Today is the presidential primary! I'm taking a break from posts about writing fantasies to send out this plea to all creative people, authors, readers, all you deep-thinking Belles and intellectual Hermiones, all you shy bookworms and insecure writers, please go out today and vote! Today is the day we, together, get to choose our own adventure--in reality.

We don't get unlimited choices. We don't get to spin pure fantasies into fully formed worlds the way we get to do in our works of fiction.

But this is our real world, the only real world we get, the real world from which we can never fully escape. So it's important!

And if you miss the primary, more importantly, make sure you are ready to vote for our next president this fall. Talk to your friends; find out whether they had any trouble voting in this primary and help to ensure it doesn't happen again. Did a married woman have her ID rejected? Did someone need a ride or fail to obtain an absentee ballot?  Did yo…

#AmReading in 3D

Do you ever read several books at the same time? Right now I have three out from the library, and I am keeping them in three different rooms in my house--one in the kitchen, where I have space to take notes (a history of Constantinople); one in the living room, where it's cozy (a history of Vikings); and one in the bedroom, where my mom won't see it (Naomi Wolf's sociological and physiological analysis of the vagina). I am reading all three of these books in turns, whenever I happen to be in their rooms.

It is incredible how many historical facts, concepts, people, cultural beliefs, political strategies, and other ideas are overlapping among these three seemingly unrelated nonfiction books written by three authors with very different perspectives and areas of expertise. This helps me maintain a healthy dose of skepticism, feel out where each narrative might be veering off into hokey pokey, and what might be various explanations for each discovery or data set. I have an on…