Tag Archives: Maureen Johnson

Well, What Do We Do Now

So it’s been a wild couple of months again, including some unexpected medical crises. And we really don’t know what’s going to happen in the future except that it’s looking bad and probably will involve another global recession. So I’m thinking about what I am going to do/need to do and that includes how I want to handle this blog, which has gotten rather intermittent the last couple of years. For now, I am chugging through the end of the year, and I hope all of you chug through it too without disaster.

In the meantime, I enclose this very sweet piece by author Maureen Johnson about dealing with one’s spoons, this up-lifting quote from Kurt Vonnegut Jr. from his work A Man Without A Country:

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

And lastly, the latest video from OK Go for their new song “The One Moment,” which includes all their favorite things: paint, explosions, Rube Goldberg machines, geometric patterns and umbrellas, plus you can check out the charity causes being supported by their sponsor, Morton’s Salt. And if you don’t want to do that, if you can, support your local food bank.



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Interesting Writings for My Kid’s Sick Day

First up, The Black Static blog takes a look at women authors in horror anthologies, as well as their own publication:


Next up, best-selling author John Scalzi had an excellent essay about the carping about the National Novel Writing Month event in November:


And Scalzi has also weighed in with several entries about the James Frey book packaging debacle (just search through the blog, there’s like four of them):


YA author Maureen Johnson also did a great piece on James Frey on her blog:


On a far more positive subject, The Daily Titan did a terrific if too short interview with alums legendary SFF authors Tim Powers, James Blaylock and K.W. Jeter, the guy who brought the term steampunk to the field:


And at Haikasoru, they are getting ready to launch their edition of Japanese SF novel The Ouroboros Wave with a reprinted essay about old and new Japanese SF:


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Male and Female Readers, YA Fiction and Maureen Johnson

A bit ago, I did an entry about the uproar concerning authors Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner’s awareness campaign against the New York Times where they used Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Freedom to complain about inequalities in how male and female writers are treated by review and other media. (And Franzen — who gets to be an Oprah pick again — basically agreed with them.) I looked at how this was connected to the bigger path dependent, outdated commercial-literary marketing hoax, which includes the completely ridiculous belief in media that women can only rarely manage to write fiction of style and worth and the tendency to judge women written books often on their packaging, not their content, and the equally bogus claim that women seldom write in a socially meaningful, globally political way. (I.e.: Guys supposedly write about politics and war, even if it’s a love story, and women always write about romance and relationships, even if it’s a political war novel.)


Since then, there has been a lot of interesting stuff written about this issue, and I’ve found myself in a number of discussions where the assertion above continued to be asserted. Both women and men continue to cling to outdated gender rules (the younger ones somewhat less so,) especially if they happen to fit their own personal reading preferences. They determinedly interpret similar material in stories as being either in the romance camp or the politics camp on the basis of A) whether the writer is male or female; and B) if the writer is female, whether the protagonist whose inner thoughts you get is male or female. The theory is that most males will only read male writers writing preferably about boys and may read some women writers, but only if they write about boys and as much like a “man” as possible. And those are the important books, of course. The argument for all this is that it isn’t cultural, but genetic, can’t be helped. That this claim has been proven completely bogus again and again by male writers successfully masquerading as women and women writers successfully masquerading as men does not deter them. In their minds, the role of women writers is largely fixed.

This is a generational thing and it is changing, but recently it’s made more inroads in education, where they are desperate to recapture at least some of the boys who’ve gone off to computer games, sports and the Internet over reading novels. Quite a lot of female writers are capturing boys’ attention, but the female influence is of course thought to largely repel boys (with the pastel romance covers the publishers slap on female written works discounted as having nothing to do with it,) and that repellance, instead of being turned around because it’s a dead end strategy for attracting boys long term, is being catered to. There are numerous male writers doing YA and doing it well with bestsellers, but the claim is that they barely exist, that there must be more of them and they are the only ones who can reach boy readers. (Never mind that Suzanne Collins chick or J.K. Rowling.)

Maureen Johnson is not only a good YA writer, but she should really be writing some non-fiction books, because when she manages to do a blog entry, it’s usually terrific. She has weighed in on the subject, in particular to the YA market, and it’s a fun read. It is also, for all but the latest generation, remarkably true. Whether publishers will heed what she’s saying and start figuring out ways to market both male and female authors to boys is up in the air. But eventually, despite the insistence that boys (and men) are inflexible sexist creatures and will never change, that cultural shift is going to happen.


And yes, the Nicholas Sparks interview she links to is pretty funny, and shows again the confusion of packaging — the idea that a category market (romance) somehow is a separate kind of story from non-category stories of the same type (love stories).

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Interesting Writings — I am Woman, So I Write

We’re being female-centered today. And yes, you will too find some of it interesting. Some of it is about writing. Much of it is funny. Some of it is scary:

1) First up, a succinct and clear history of anti-feminism feminism from Slate:


2) Next up, a really excellent essay by Maggie Stiefvater on gender stereotyping in novels and elsewhere, entitled: “And Now, I Scream, Because That’s What Girls Do”:


3) Then, we have a trio of blog essays that are related to Gene Wolfe’s blog post regarding authors and today’s social media platform issues  ( https://katgoodwin.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/guy-gavriel-kay-and-the-internet/ )

The first one is a “Manifesto” by YA author Maureen Johnson about branding. After reading it, I now have to read Maureen Johnson’s novels. (They are the sort of thing my daughter likes, so that will be easy.) And the essay is also an excellent look at why the word of mouth issue of fiction publishing and marketing is always going to be the main issue and why fiction readers are marketing resistant but love writing and jawing with each other and authors:


Two then very excellent follow-up essays to Johnson’s manifesto offer cogent analysis of authors on the Internet, forms of online marketing, and the issues of branding and social media for fiction.



4) Editor and author Alisa Krasnostein has a great essay on “The Invisibility of Women in Science Fiction,” related to the controversy over the Before They Were Giants anthology ( https://katgoodwin.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/a-plethora-of-controversies/ ) She hits exactly at the heart of the problem:


She also has a link to the periodic chart of women in SF, but here’s a link also (reading it seems to require printing it out at slightly magnified size):

Food for thought. If you don’t read anything else, go read Maureen Johnson’s essay. It will make you laugh.

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