Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Better Way?

I hate censorship.

All censorship, but especially in children's literature because I think children and teens are SO important to the social structure of our future. The idea that one adult--quite frankly, usually a conservative parent--should have the power to say what other children can and cannot choose to read is a problem. I think parents have every right to censor their own children (whether or not they *should* is a whole different argument) but do not think you have any right to censor MY children.

So I've been following the events of the Humble ISD Libraries' Teen Lit Festival and I suspect many of you have as well.

The events in short--Ellen Hopkins, a critically acclaimed, bestselling, oh and also oft-banned and censored author who writes very gritty novels in verse was invited to attend the festival. Upon reading (or, more likely, skimming) her books, a few parents enlisted the help of one librarian in protesting Ellen's participation in the Festival because her books are "inappropriate." She was then uninvited by Superintendent Guy Sconzo.

Clear censorship. Let's have no mistake about that.

As Ellen herself said, "I'm offended by the idea that I or a handful of people can be allowed to speak for an entire community." I completely, 100% agree.

Over the next week or so, most of the other authors withdrew in protest, including Matt de la Peña, Tera Lynn Childs, and Melissa de la Cruz. A boycott, essentially. The links in the previous sentence go to their blogs where you can read about their motivation for pulling out. I appreciated reading Melissa's in particular with her discussion about how she grew up under a dictator who supported censorship. If you don't think censorship is a big deal, please, take the time to read these entries.

Earlier this week it was announced that the Festival had been canceled due to, well, a lack of speakers.

The YA authors stood up against censorship and won.

So why am I not happy?

Because I think the wrong people suffered.

Now, instead of a handful of parents and one librarian denying the teens of Texas a chance to meet the awesomeness that is Ellen Hopkins, they have now been able to deny those same teens a chance to meet any authors at all.

And we helped them.

And don't think those censoring parents feel bad. I have no doubt they are sitting back right now and congratulating themselves on their victory. Because, well, that's how personalities who promote censorship generally roll.

Don't get me wrong. When there is a problem like censorship it is ALWAYS better to do something than nothing. I salute the sacrifice and bravery of all of these authors who withdrew from the Festival. I'm not saying that what they did was wrong.

But I can't help but think that maybe there was a better way.

I generally avoid saying anything political on my blog. It's my rule. Which is why I haven't said anything about this before. And maybe I should have. I acknowledge that I probably should have. And if I thought this was an isolated incident, I would probably continue to not say anything. But I know it won't be. It WILL happen again. In fact, it will probably happen to Ellen again. And so I am breaking my own rule to say something political. Probably controversial. And well, it will probably make people mad. But someone has to say it, so here goes.

The people who suffered the most in this whole conflict are the teens of Texas.

Guy Sconzo definitely took some flack. Perhaps the librarian who stood with the censors as well (though I doubt either of them got fired.) But ultimately, the people who bore the brunt of the punishment were the teens who would have attended the festival, and the authors themselves.

And I started thinking, isn't there a way to make the *right* people suffer? And I think there is. I have to say, if I had been one of the authors invited to Humble, I would not have withdrawn.

I would have brought Ellen to the Festival anyway.

Not in person. But make no mistake, the presence of an author does not have to be physical. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. We as authors are acutely aware of that because we know that word of mouth sells books better than anything else.:D Authors could use that force to fight censorship.

What if every author agreed, not to withdraw, but to make Ellen's presence known at every single event at the festival? Every panel they were on, every speech they made, they could mention Ellen. Mention her books. They could say straight out something like, "This reminds me of an author I admire, Ellen Hopkins, who couldn't be here today because the organizers of this festival decided to censor her, and I think you all have a right to know that."

Think that's not enough? All of these authors had to give up a very nice honorarium when they pulled out of the festival. What if they took that money--the same money the administration paid them--and bought cases and cases of Ellen's books to bring with them, and at their signings, gave one away to every person who brought a book to have signed. "Thanks for reading my books! Have a free Ellen Hopkins book! She wishes she could be here, but the festival organizers decided to censor her and I as an author am standing up against that. You should check her out." I would donate my own money to support that project.

Can you imagine if every author in attendance did that? Ellen's presence would be at that festival more strongly that she ever could have been alone, as a single speaker. Every person in attendance would hear about her; children and adults. And, every teen in attendance would be informed about the problem of censorship. The best response to censorship is MORE information, not less. You want to silence us? We will show you our roar!

And there would be complaints. Those censoring parents would be outraged!! And you know who they would complain to? Guy Sconzo. He would be assailed from BOTH sides with complaints. And who deserves it more?

But more importantly, every teen at that festival would know that someone tried to censor them. Because really, do you think they have any idea what happened? A majority, probably a very heavy majority, of these kids are not reading our blogs. They are not reading School Library Journal or Publishers Weekly. There's a good chance they'll never hear about what really happened. And if they do, it will likely be from the same organizers and administration who supported the censorship to begin with.

Again, please don't think that I think any of these authors did the wrong thing. They did not. But this will happen again, and maybe instead of just doing the right thing, we could find a way to do a better thing. I don't think I have all the answers, but I'm trying to think outside of the box. Creativity is the engine of a good revolution and believe me, I want this to be a good revolution.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wings Three

Copy-edits are done and in NYC! Yay! First draft of Wings 4 is done and really crappy, yay!!! And I am blogging again, yay!!!!! (Why am I the only one cheering . . . . ?:D)

Okay, so I have been rather deluged in Twitter, in fanmail, and in comments, about Wings Three. I guess I assume that if you are on my blog, Twitter, or have found my fanmail address, you know about Wings Three. But, well, I have to remember that there are NEW people finding my blog all the time! (Hi new people!!!!) So for anyone who already knows this, you can go read something funny. But if you don't, and have been confused by hashtags like #crypticwings4quotes and think you somehow missed Wings Three altogether, here's the scoop!

Wings Three is done. It has been done since the end of May when I finished line edits on a plane between here and Toronto.:D It is coming out early next summer, probably May again.

No, I can't "make" my publisher put it out earlier. For a good explanation of why, check out Ally Carter's Facts and Fiction post, here. (And why urging us to write faster isn't actually helpful.:D) I know it's really frustrating to see an author completely done with a book you can't read yet, but trust me, there is still a ton of work being done in the process of making it a physical book that you just can't speed up if you want a quality book!

It does have a title! And the title is not Wings Three! It's also not Enchantments despite what Goodreads said, then took back, and now says again.:D The title of the fourth book is also inaccurate. But Wings Three DOES have a title, and it is a great title that I am immensely happy about! And I will tell you this Fall when I do my cover reveal. My apologies for that, Harper likes to keep these things under their hat.

Yes, I did just finish the first draft of Wings 4. (Whoo-hoo!!! Yee-haw!! Boo-yeah!! No, no, I am not excited about this at all . . . .:D) This doesn't actually mean much to anyone except me. All this is is me getting the book done on time for it to come out in the summer of 2012. Yes, I know that is a long time away. But seriously, here is how the next eight months are going to go for me. I will finish Wings 4 in time to get it in by November (and in the interim will do another round or two of Wings 3 copy-edits). After Wings 4 is turned into my editor, she will send me edits for my ghost book (not related to Wings at all) and I will spend 1-2 months doing those. As soon as those are sent in she will send me edits for Wings 4 which means another 1-2 months. Then second edits for ghost book (1 month) followed by second edits of Wings 4 (1 months) which has me finishing both of those books in the spring of 2011, just in time to prepare to release Wings 3 in early summer of 2011. See, I really do have a very crowded schedule.

However, what finishing my draft does mean is that I have actually put the end of the series down on paper . . . er . . . computer screen. Which means that all of the emails I get saying, "Pleeeeeeeaaaaaassssseeeee have David/Tamani win!" are not going to change my mind. Or Laurel's.:D

Also, no, I will not tell you what happens.:D Endings are as much about the journey to get there as the destination. Trust me, you want to take this whole train ride. The scenery is fantastic! *wink*

What I will tell you is that Wings Three begins in September of Laurel's senior year, and that I will tell you the answer to the cliff-hanger (I really didn't think it was that much of a cliff-hanger!!! I'm sorry!!!!!!) in the very first chapter. No keeping you in suspense! I promise!

So yeah, that's Wings 3.:D


Monday, August 09, 2010

I Have Fallen Behind

On everything.

My blog, my fanmail, heck, my regular mail, and my housekeeping. I did, however, catch up on my laundry last night. Funny how the motivation to have your children wearing actual clean clothing on their first day of school (today) can be a massively motivating force!

I don't see any other catching up happening in the next week. That's because tomorrow the fabulous UPS guy of Awesome will be bringing me copy edits for Book Three! Which is so great! Seeing it in it's near-final form!!!

But it also comes with a deadline. Thus, the not catching up till next week part.

So just wanted to warn you, there will probably be blog silence till the 16th.

But you should follow me on Twitter if you don't already. I say weird things on there. Especially when I am very busy.:D