Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011!

Let's start with a font joke, shall we? I love font jokes.

2011 will be quite a year, I believe. Aren't they all? Most interesting piece of writing wisdom from 2010: it feels *really* weird to voluntarily take all the f-bombs out of a manuscript. Don't know if it will stay that way, but I wanted to try it.

Happy New Year, friends! Thanks for reading along. Here's to more hilarity and more stories in 2011.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Outlaw boots, pair #5: Neesha Meminger

Friends, this month's pair of Outlaw Boots is early, but no less notable for its outlaw-ness. Neesha Meminger is the author of SHINE COCONUT MOON (a book I'm teaching in the spring, can't wait) and the released-last-week JAZZ IN LOVE. She is a Debs 09 Debutante, which is how I met her, and I have it on good authority (meaning I saw it happen) that she's been mistaken for Halle Berry. But Neesha is *way* more outlaw than Halle Berry.

Neesha writes about girls that not many people (if any) write about. Sam (SHINE) and Jazz are daughters of South Asian immigrants. Have you ever seen books about Indian-American girls? No, I didn't think so. The girls struggle with traditional teenage things--love, clothes, friends--but layered on top are cultural traditions and constrictions that will surprise any reader. Want to learn about identity struggles that shake you to your toes? These books are for you.

(Not to mention the fact that Neesha has published JAZZ IN LOVE in a unique and cool way--she's a true outlaw for that as well!)

Here's Neesha:

And here's why she's an outlaw:

--Who's your most outlaw character (in any book)--why?
Jazz, from JAZZ IN LOVE, is the biggest rebel I've written so far. She just keeps getting herself into bigger and bigger piles of doo-doo as she struggles to do what she wants while trying to hang on to the approval of her friends and family. She doesn't do a very good job of the latter, though. In following her own heart, she ends up alienating just about everyone she cares about, and then she has to decide if it's (he's) worth it.

--Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?

I am definitely an outlaw, for better or worse. I know because, like Jazz, I often find myself in big piles of doo-doo.

--What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your
character--maybe outlaw boots?)?

Jazz is definitely a sneaker gal--probably a wildly colored pair of Converse; while Sam, from SHINE, COCONUT MOON, is more of an Uggs type of gal--comfy, practical, yet still trendy. Me, I like clogs.

--Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character:

Jazz refers to herself as an "academic rock star," or a "cool geek," and Sam is more of a stealth bomber--she comes at you sideways, and before you know what hit you, she's gone :).

--Best thing about being an outlaw:
You're probably happier than most inlaws. *heh heh*

--Favorite outlaw/badass food:
I'm a mostly-vegetarian who has been vegan at various points in her life, so my badass food has to be goat marrow. Seriously. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

--Favorite outlaw/badass role model/why:
The real Storm from X-Men because, dude--she can command the WEATHER.
(me talking: real Storm = better than Halle Berry (again!))

Neesha, you are amazing. Thank you for showing us your Outlaw Boots. Go, friends, and buy these books! Don't you have an outlaw on your Christmas list?

One more thing: those Chucks up above are my Chucks, but I figure Jazz would like them. But the new Chucks I want--right here. They say MUSIC IS MY LIFE--Gabe needs a pair!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Truth and chickens

I like knowing the truth, and I generally like putting it out there, whatever it is (it doesn't always go well, of course). Emily Dickinson, that wise old housebound poet, says we need to let the truth dazzle us gradually, or we'll be blind. Fair enough, but I prefer to have you lay it on me. Don't hold back.

Why am I thinking about this? First, student evals. Two nontraditional students ripped me a new asshole (or would that be new assholes, since there were two of them?) on anonymous evals. Again, fair enough, since I "wasted [your] money on bullshit!" So, why didn't you stop flapping your white wings and step up and tell me so we could negotiate? I am open to it--seriously--I want to make class OK for you. AND--this is what chaps my ass--why were you all nicey-nicey to my face all semester, in that horrible passive-aggressive way? I *hate hate hate* that. Just get it out there, people! Let's be honest!

Not claiming your truth = chickenshit behavior.

I realize American social conventions do not allow for truth. If people do say it, it's angry and awful and hurtful (as these evals were), and anonymous. Could we please have some cultural training in how just to say it without being mean? Kthxbye.

Secondly (and more interestingly): characters. Here are two I admire who ALWAYS tell the truth: Heath Ledger's Joker and (oh yes) Anton Chigurh, from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (the film version). These men are no-holds-barred, strafe-the-world types, not chickens in any way, and I envy them, as humans and as written creations. I marvel at how those characters are flat-out awful, but so straightforward in their agenda.

It may be that characters who tell the truth are villains, so I guess I'd better get cracking on some villains. I don't know if I'm talented enough to create a YA Anton Chigurh, but I will aspire. Off to do that now in my WIP, though on a much smaller scale.

And students: suck it up and tell me you hate it. Don't be chickens.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Desire + book = rehab

Friends, this has been quite a semester, for tons of reasons, none of which are worth going into here. Lots of people have wanted my attention, and I'm drained. One situation in particular has been hard: I took a friend to rehab.

She is 21, and has been using actively since she was 12. She is on Day 18 of sobriety, and she is alternately loving it and hating it. She's known for a long time it was rehab or death, and I agree with her wholeheartedly. I was waiting for the obit in the paper.

How did she get there? A desire not to die, and a book: BEAUTIFUL, by Amy Reed. That book is with her at rehab. I read it this last summer and told her about it, because BEAUTIFUL helped me understand why she used. Once she read it, BEAUTIFUL helped my friend understand how I felt about her drug/alcohol use, and how sad I was.

I love it when books do work like this. It's confirmation that words can help and heal, and that books will never die as an art form.

(could she have done this with a Kindle? maybe. but electronics aren't allowed at rehab, so the Kindle would have stayed home, ha ha!)

Go write and read those helpful books, OK? Buy them for Christmas presents! Give an addict a copy of BEAUTIFUL, and see if it doesn't help.

Tree drawing swiped from here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I am in full avoidance mode, I don't want to go to school, and I'm timing myself to see if I can write a coherent blog post in 10 minutes (ahem). Go.

IT'S DECEMBER! I love December. Here's why, in no particular order:

1) school break

2) school break = reading time!

3) school break = writing time!

4) my/my birthday twin's birthday, Elsie Yvonne Callahan (miss you, Grandma)

5) presents--buying them, but getting them, too

6) snow

7) school break (I love school, but I need an effing BREAK)

8) family get-togethers

9) the Vince Guaraldi Trio, who did the soundtrack to A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, love it

10)time to PEACE OUT and hang out with my BAMF self and watch X-FILES on Netflix

Oh--11--bowl games. GO HUSKERS.

I'm out of time, and very late. Happy December!