Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Book Week, and guest blogging

First off, I did a guest blog post over at Thanks so much to Suzette Saxton for giving me the opportunity!

I'm sure most of you have heard of the Speak/Slaughterhouse-Five/Twenty Boy Summer controversy. In honor of Banned Book Week, I've decided to share some thoughts on censorship.

First off, one of my favorite book series, His Dark Materials, made the top ten list of most challenged books in the past decade. It's not particularly surprising. His Dark Materials has content that could be considered anti-Christian, and many parents do not want their children exposed to literature which challenged their beliefs. Religious censorship in particular bothers me. If a person is sure of their faith, why would they object to reading books from all different points of view? For instance, I'm not Christian, but I still enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia. Why should kids not read from a wide variety of perspectives? After examining many religious angles, they will be more equipped to choose their own set of beliefs rather than having an adult choose for them.

While I understand parents censoring what young children read, it is beyond me why an adult would want to stop teenagers from reading literature with mature content. As a teen I feel my intelligence has been insulted. Do people think we don't know about rape and sex and drugs? The book Speak is often challenged for the rape scene, which is, in my opinion, poignant and sparse in terms of graphic description. Rape happens. It's important teenagers know about sexual violence, because having the right information is the only way to prevent it/seek help once it occurs. Shielding kids will only hurt them in the long run.

As writers and non-writers alike, I urge everyone to speak out against censorship. Other people should not be able to dictate what we can and can't read. To wrap up my little rant, here is a link to a poem by Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, composed entirely of snippets from letters she's received: Speak Up About Speak.


Monday, September 13, 2010

New Favorite

In case any of you writers haven't come across this blog, check it out:

SlushPile Hell

Basically, the site is run by a literary agent who posts excerpts from awful query letters (italicized), then responds with comments of her own. Here are some of my favorites:

I started writing my novel 10 years ago. I never realized it would be this long and hard.

In the words of Michael Scott, “That’s what she said.”

I have an idea for a book about a dog. Before I take the time to write it, can you tell me if dog books are still hot?

I’m glad you didn’t waste your time. Dog books are out. Manatee books are in.

With all due respect, please keep in mind that I am hiring an agent, not applying for a job, and I do insist on keeping a certain amount of mystery surrounding myself for my own protection.

And don’t forget to wear your aluminum foil hat to protect yourself from the government’s mind control signals.

I want an agent who’s confident to get me a 7 figure book deal or high 6 figure deal, not some bull crap deal.

Funny, that’s exactly what I say to editors when I send them a proposal. Works every time.

How do you think it would be to live without emotions?

You do know I’m a literary agent, right?

God told me to write this book and that it would become a bestseller.

I talked to God. He said he was just messing with you.

I feel my book would be perfect for Penguin, Random House, or Simon & Schuster. Can you tell me whether you have good contacts at those publishers?

Sorry, I’ve never heard of those publishers.

The list goes on and on. I know I shouldn't laugh at the failure of others, but in this case, I just can't help myself :)