Friday, August 18, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things: Summer, Book, and YA News

Hi, I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer! Smoke from the Northwest and Canadian fires has finally cleared and the temperature has dropped to the mid-eighties. ~Breathing a huge sigh of relief~

'SHELLS' Watch. Another week and I haven't written my novel's sequel yet. Ha-ha-ha. I'm still trying to figure out how to promote the first one. Thankfully, sales are up for  The Shells of Mersing. Received my first box of printed copies in the mail and fell in love all over again. Here's another teaser, page 137:

"Samuel gives Lucas a high-five and starts to do the same with me, but hesitates. He smiles, a cute half grin, and shakes my hand. My hand melts into his, and his touch is as warm and velvety as any first kiss could ever be. For a moment the room blurs around us.
Irene clears her throat. “Samuel’s homeschooling with us for the summer, while his parents work on assignment in Indonesia.”  
I’m too speechless to say anything relevant in reply. I’d stammer and make a fool of myself if I tried.
Samuel pours himself a lemonade. “So what’s up? Why’s everyone in such a daze?” 

Writers' Conferences: 

  • Rivers of Ink 2017 Conference - Kennewick, WA  Aug 18-20 (Sunday is free - Story Structure 1&2)
  • Inland Northwest SCBWI Conference - Spokane, WA Sept 16

Interesting news in the Young Adult genre with the recent publishing of The Black Witch by Laurie Forest. Apparently, this new author is being skewered for being racist. Her stated attempt was to portray a character's transformation after growing up in a close knit prejudiced culture, and apparently she sees the light as an adult. Unfortunately, a critic ranted on Twitter about the racism and what she claims is the book's final effect. The book is 600 pages long, but readers are rejecting the book based on some 500 tweets! 

Here's an example of a quote in the review from pg. 163 in the book: "The Kelts are not a pure race like us. They’re more accepting of intermarriage, and because of this, they’re hopelessly mixed.” Seriously?? This was considered inappropriate? I thought this was fiction. I do not normally read fantasy, but I might make an exception. Perhaps the most compelling point is that the main character's transformation doesn't really begin until halfway through the book. That's a lot of reading with potentially repugnant material. It's possible the author went too far, but still.....

The article states that the tweeted review was  "— a clarion call for YA Twitter, which regularly identifies and denounces books for being problematic (an all-purpose umbrella term for describing texts that engage improperly with race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other marginalizations). Led by a group of influential authors who pull no punches when it comes to calling out their colleagues’ work, and amplified by tens of thousands of teen and young-adult followers for whom online activism is second nature, the campaigns to keep offensive books off shelves are a regular feature in a community that’s as passionate about social justice as it is about reading."

This is not about one bad review. It stirred up a hornet's nest for the publisher as you can imagine. My guess is the brew-ha-ha increased sales, but I'm bothered by the censorship, because the goal was to remove her book from readers and shelves. My question to any author or publisher is: do we really have the right? Parents do this all the time and that's their duty and prerogative. I did this with books (and media) too with my children and would do so again based on age appropriateness, but blackballing an author's hard-earned work riles me up. I may not like everything I read and have the right to express those views, but to embark on a censorship campaign feels just plain wrong. 

What do you think?

Click here for the full articles:  "The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter by Kat Rosenfield and "On Disagreement" by Vicky Smith

Last but not least, it's time to think about Painting the house and Fall Gardening

We tend to take on bigger than life projects!!!

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

"Come celebrate with us" 
To join "Celebrate the Small Things, visit Lexa Cain's blog
Co-hosts are: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 

Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog


  1. I haven't heard of the book, so can't comment on it. But don't forget that Harry Potter is regularly abused by people who haven't read the books for promoting witchcraft and To Kill A Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn are denounced as racist when they're the opposite. Banned Books Week is coming up - why not read it and decide for yourself and perhaps do a virtual readout on YouTube if you feel the book has been unjustly treated? I'm planning to read a snippet from my own children's book, Crime Time, which has actually been withdrawn from some primary school shelves because younger children were reading it! Cheeky of me, I know, but I'm so amused and flattered at being the author of a banned book! ;-) It wasn't written for seven year olds, I admit, and the schools have to deal with cranky parents, but as a librarian I find that kids will read what they can handle and return books they can't.

    A Visit From The Local Member

    1. True, it does happen doesn't it? Amazing the books in the past that have been banned. And you experienced this as well! I have no idea if The Black Witch is a good book. I felt bad the novel was the author's big debut, or at least that was my impression. I guess it's all part of the business, but it hurts to be rejected, even if you're J.K. In an interview she tells how during a school reading of Harry Potter early on, a girl was removed from class by her mother. J.K. felt pretty bad about it. I would have too.

    2. Yes, one of my Year 7 students this year told me he had started reading my book in Grade 2 and it had been withdrawn because too many younger children were reading it. So I gave him an autographed copy with "You are now old enough to read this. Enjoy!" He finished it in a weekend. And others have told me about other schools doing the same. Dear me! I am so evil!

      I was at a bookshop once with the other authors from that publisher and I was supposed to read from the book, which is about the history of crime in Australia. But the children were all in about Prep or Grade 1. Instead I told them a simplified story from the book. They had older siblings listening in and THEY bought the book.

  2. A great post for news. I aven't read the book but hope it will be successful.
    Our temperatures are nowhere near the eighties but it's very warm for us.
    Enjoy your week-end Sharon.


  3. Hi--interesting about The Black Witch.

    I suspect it will do just fine. Controversy always sparks sales. It got glowing reviews from all the professional review publications, which means every library in the country will buy it. It can only be pulled from the library's catalog after someone complains and the YA librarian and the library board have decided whether to discard or keep. Libraries tend to keep in (nearly) all cases.

    It has 100+ reviews on Amazon, giving it a total star-point of 4.7. It came out only on May 1 and it's sold 1300+ books on Amazon alone. Plus, who knows the sales numbers on other online distributors. Plus, it is in bookstores.

    That the main character begins (serious) transformation at the midpoint is exactly the way all books are plotted.

    Banned Books Week is coming soon. I am wondering if this was a marketing ploy to gain attention and make sales further spark. When kids hear it's "banned", well, you know what they do about that.

    The snippet quoted looks suspicious to me. Taken out of context as it was, I wonder what it said after the end of the quote. It seems the snippet badly misrepresented the book's overall theme. Professional review sources such as Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Tamora Pierce (who endorsed it) would never endorse a book whose theme was ultimately racist, misogynist, or whatever.

    1. Well, one would seriously hope this is the case. It does make me want to read for myself but not sure I want to tacklr 600 pages. Thanks Cathy.

  4. The recent trending attempts at censorship are disturbing. A society of homogenized thinking is a nightmare that has been attempted in totalitarian societies without much success. It would be sad to live in a bland world where everyone thinks and believes precisely the same things. There are many sides to any opinion or argument but now we are seeing efforts to stifle anything that is disagreeable. The real question remains: Who decides exactly what is acceptable to all persons and disagreeable to none?

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. I hope we're not headed in that direction! How awful that would be. We've seen book burning before and it wasn't pretty. Readers are the ultimate judge of any book. Inetesting too that YA readers range from teens to those 65 and older. Unfortunately, it gets lumped together with children's books meant for 12 and under. Thanks Arlee for stopping by.

  5. This type of censorship is undesirable, but I agree with you that the negative reaction has probably helped boost sales. There is nothing so good for marketing as to say a book is controversial, or that is should be banned...same with movies. I don't know the book either so without any context, I can't really say anything specific. I would love one of my novels to generate such 'excitement'. Rubbish books sometimes sell a lot of copies just because of the hype surrounding them.

    1. My conclusion as well. Bad publicity is still publicity!

  6. Censorship is a horror story! Great post. X

  7. It might have been these two words "pure race" in that quote that could've led to some to think the book or whatever was racist. I personally am not bothered by it, especially since it's fiction and fantasy.

    This censorship campaign is awful. No author should be censored.

  8. I doubt it hurt sales at all for the author but a tendency this direction for writers overall is bothersome.


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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.