Buzz Worthy News: Messy Book Adaptions 25/04/2014

25 April, 2014 Buzz Worthy News 24 comments

BWN-bee_600wWelcome back to Buzz Worthy News where the stories are awesome and not at all well-written. Need your YA industry news? Never fear, Kat and Kate are here to give it all to you. Just, ya know, not in any kinda sophisticated sense or nothing.

Kat is a little under the weather, so you’ll have to aim all your tomatoes at Kate, I’m afraid. I’m sure you’ll manage just fine. This week covers Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s passing, more YA movie news, John Green makes Time magazine’s 100 most influential people list (it’s totally just part of his world domination strategy that appears to be working quite well in his favor), Book Con releases its list of author guests — spoiler: there are more cats invited than POC, way to go for diversity!, and Game of Thrones is rapey, but what else is new? All this and more!

Buzz Worthy News is Cuddlebuggery’s weekly news post bringing you all the best information about the book and blogging world, particularly for the venn diagram of people who overlap between the two. For new releases and cover reveals of all the best Young Adult fiction, check out our Sunday post: Hot New Titles.


Death of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

We start this week’s buzz on a somber note. (Don’t get used to seriousness and actual grown-up behavior.  You know it won’t last.)   Famed author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez, passed away in his home in Mexico City at the age of 87.  From the New York Times:

Mr. García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. His books were translated into dozens of languages. He was among a select roster of canonical writers — Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them — who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience.

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Another Traveling Pants Adaption

Because magical pants can’t happen often enough on the big screen, obviously.  No really, loved this series (and was kinda shocked to hear it was one of those book packaging thingamabobs), and I was always kind of disappointed that they didn’t finish up where the books did.

Alloy Entertainment is developing the final Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book, Sisterhood Everlasting, for a big-screen adaptation. This film will follow the 2005 original, as well as the 2008 sequel, both of which starred Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, and Amber Tamblyn. No word on whether the ladies will reprise their roles (reps didn’t immediately respond), but all four real-life friends have seemed open to the idea in the past. “The characters are all basically the ages that we are now,” America Ferrera told EW when we reunited the cast last fall. “I know that the four of us would love [to make another film], and it would be wonderful.”

Liz Garcia (The Lifeguard, Dawson’s Creek) will adapt Ann Brashares’ novel for the screen, and Ken Kwapis, who directed the original film, will return to helm once again.

Taking place 10 years after the last events, Sisterhood Everlasting, the fifth and final novel, finds that the friends have grown apart, so Tibby (Tamblyn) tries to bridge the distance by reuniting the girls for a trip that will change their lives forever — and, spoiler alert, the novel, like adulthood, gets pretty dang dark in parts.

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Stephenie Meyer Does Anything To Put Off Writing A Sequel To The Host

Or at least that’s what I assumed when I heard that her production company is going to adapt the book Not A Drop To Drink into a film.

Stephenie Meyer and Meghan Hibbett’s production company, Fickle Fish Films, which produced the film adaptations of Meyer’s novel The Host and Austenland, have optioned rights to Mindy McGinnis’ debut young-adult novel ‘Not A Drop To Drink’.

HarperCollins published Mindy McGinnis’ debut novel last September 2013. The novel is based on the premise of a survival story set in a world where fresh water is almost nonexistent. The story centers on the character of Lynn, whose survival in the dystopian world means protecting her precious freshwater pond against drought, snowless winters, coyotes, and most importantly, people looking for a drink. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand. But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers are coming.

So, I’m just gonna assume at this point that Meyers’ career as a writer is over.  I mean, how many years has it been since she put out a book?  It’s a shame, because The Host is a book I actually really liked. (Unlike that other series, which shall remain nameless.  Team Jacob forever!)

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Because No News Week Is Complete Without J.K. Rowling News

J.K. Rowling’s adult mystery novel, The Casual Vacancy will be adapted into a miniseries by HBO & BBC.  (Talk about an unholy union.  How did that happen?)

Sarah Phelps (“EastEnders”) has penned the adaptation of the book about a seemingly idyllic English village where various factions are at war: rich vs. poor, teenagers vs. parents, wives vs. husbands etc.

Jonny Campbell (“In the Flesh”) is set to direct with Ruth Kenley-Letts (“The Hour”) producing. Production will begin this summer in south west England. Rowling (pictured) is exec producing with Neil Blair, her partner in Bronte Film and Television. Paul Trijbits (“Saving Mr. Banks”) and Rick Senat also exec produce.

BBC commissioned the project from the creator of the “Harry Potter” franchise shortly after its publication in 2012.

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John Green Makes Time Magazine’s Most Influential People

From his Satanic Altar, John Green made time to pray to the PR gods this week and it looks like it paid off, as the young adult author has landed on the list of influential people.  Oh, and apparently he’s a psychic, or a prophet or something.  I dunno.  Sounds like a bunch of BS to me, but whatever.

Sure, John Green may write best-selling young-adult novels, manage a YouTube channel (vlogbrothers) and organize an annual conference for video bloggers (VidCon), but he’s more than just an author, an artist and an innovator. I would go so far as to call him a prophet. No, not a prophet in a biblical sense. Don’t freak out. More a prophet in a universal, all-things-connected sort of context.

And not only is he a prophet, he’s also the kind of person that hears voices in his head.  Only in a good way, of course.  (is there ever a good way?)

Some say that through his books, John gives a voice to teenagers. I humbly disagree. I think John hears the voices of teenagers. He acknowledges the intelligence and vulnerability that stem from those beautiful years when we are, for the first time, discovering the world and ourselves outside of our familial stories. 

My favorite line, though, is this one that I think must be sarcastic, because if it’s not, then I believe John Green must have sacrificed the blood of a thousand virgins for it.

What a gift to be alive at the same time as this admirable leader.

Indeed, Shailene Woodley, indeed.

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The Top 5 eBook Publishers Of 2014 (and no, Amazon doesn’t top the list!)

I did wonder how they could predict some of these numbers.  Is the author a psychic?  Then I realized it was only the first quarter of the fiscal year in play.  Still, the results are very interesting.

Powerhouse Penguin Random House tops the list, and that is no surprise to most of us.  For me, the biggest surprise was who came in at #5.  Just take a looksy for yourselves.

1. Penguin Random House — 122

2. HarperCollins — 67

3. Hachette — 42

 4. Amazon Publishing — 30

5 (tie). Simon & Schuster — 12

5 (tie). Self-published — 12

Do you see what I see?  Self-published books at the top 5 of any list?  The world is changing, my friends.  See the rest of the list HERE.

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Lousiana Almost Loses Respect For Itself As a State

I’m not sure what legislators in Louisiana were thinking when they decided to make The Bible the state book, but I think they forgot about the whole “separation of church and state thing”.

Louisiana representative Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport has pulled his proposal to make the Holy Bible the official state book before the bill was voted on in the state House of Representatives.

Carmody pulled the legislation despite the fact that earlier this month, the legislation passed the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs.

To be fair, Carmody wanted a certain copy to be made the state book, not like every bible everywhere.

In introducing the legislation, Carmody always maintained he was not taking steps to establish a state religion, but rather to educate people. Critics have accused him of foisting faith inappropriately into the government sphere. Others thought such a designation would trivialize the Bible and its importance.

Initially, Carmody had just been intending to designate a specific, historic copy of the Bible, which he thought could be found in the Louisiana State Museum, as the official state book. But lawmakers amended Carmody’s legislation two weeks ago to propose making any copy of the “Holy Bible” the official state book.

Still, I have to wonder how Carmody would have felt if someone wanted a specific, historic copy of The Koran to be made the official state book.  You don’t mix church and state, buddy.  You just don’t.

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So Tell Me Again… HOW Many People Are Reading EBooks?

There has been some confusion in the publishing world since Harris Interactive(a subsidiary of Nielsen) released their new findings on eBooks.

Some 54% of Americans currently read ebooks, according to the new poll, conducted in March 2014 among 2,234 U.S. adults. This result conflicts with a recent study from Pew, which found in January 2014 that 28% of Americans read an ebook in the last year.

What in the world are we supposed to do with this info?  I mean, how do we know what’s true or not? Personally, I feel like readers have moved way further toward 50% eBooks than 28%, but that would just be a guess on my part. (which may be exactly what Harris Interactive did.  They have yet to comment.)

The Harris Poll also found that those who read ebooks more read more books on average than other Americans. About a third of those who read ebooks exclusively or more than print read more than 20 books a year, while about a fifth of those who read more in print read more than 20 books a year.

Ebook readers also purchase more books, about double what other readers buy.

The other findings are common sense enough that again, I tend to think they’re true.  But like I said, who really knows???

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Suing A Reviewer, REALLY???

So probably the dumbest thing you can do as a writer, out of all the dumb decisions in the world is threaten to sue a person who reviewed your book.  I mean, jeez louise people, it ain’t rocket science.  You write a book, people buy your book, they interpret and review it how they will.  The end.  Or so many of us would hope.  Alas, our hopes seem to be in vain.  Joe Nobody is the author in question, and this is the story:

On said book, a reviewer going by the moniker “Biology Book Worm” had posted a one-star review indicating that some facts were incorrect. Joe Nobody had replied, intending to straighten out the reviewer’s misapprehensions, but ended up getting into an argument. The reviewer also expressed the belief that some of the five-star reviews that had “tricked” him into buying the book were sock puppets for Nobody himself.

In the end, Joe Nobody felt he felt he could prove he owed a $23,000 drop in sales to that review (given that, as the voted “most helpful” review, it ended up at the top of his reviews list), and was wondering about the feasibility of suing the reviewer (who, he had determined, was “a 23 year-old recent college graduate who never severed (sic) anything but a hamburger”). He posted to KBoards wondering whether he should consider suing.

I can’t even.

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Diversity In Publishing

As we discussed last week, there is currently a state of abysmal representation in the book publishing industry of women and minorities.  Well, Daniel José Older certainly caught my (and several others’) attention with his article in Buzzfeed addressing the matter.  (side note: Buzzfeed does stuff other than numbered lists??? Who knew?)

They begin with this stat: “Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people,” according to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin. The wide world of literature in general, and by no coincidence, the publishing industry itself, suffer from similarly disastrous numbers.

When Christopher Myers asked his uncomfortable questions about the apartheid in children’s lit, the industry hid behind The Market. The publishing industry, people often say as if it’s a gigantic revelation, needs to make money and as such, it responds to The Market, and people don’t buy books about characters of color. This is updated marketing code for “you people don’t read,” and it’s used to justify any number of inexcusable problems in literature. “The Market is so comfortably intangible,” Myers writes, “that no one is worried I will go knocking down any doors. The Market, I am told, just doesn’t demand this kind of book… because white kids won’t buy a book with a black kid on the cover — or so The Market says, despite millions of music albums that are sold in just that way.”

Yeah, even though readers of all colors, creeds, religions, and genders have been crying out for publishers to give us a more diverse range of stories to read, somehow that still translates into only white characters???  Excuse my rage face.

Seriously, publishers and agents, STEP THE EFF UP!

The disproportionately white publishing industry matters because agents and editors stand between writers and readers. Anika Noni Rose put it perfectly in Vanity Fair this month: “There are so many writers of color out there, and often what they get when they bring their books to their editors, they say, ‘We don’t relate to the character.’ Well it’s not for you to relate to! And why can’t you expand yourself so you can relate to the humanity of a character as opposed to the color of what they are?”

The key words in the above paragraph are “agents and editors stand between writers and readers”.  Exactly, because I can guarantee you readers don’t give a crap about who is on the cover of a book (or featured inside it).   We don’t (and yes, I’m generalizing here, because I like to believe the world is full of goodness) look at a cover and think, “Oh, that character is Asian, I don’t think I can relate to that character.  My money is staying right in my pocket.”  No.  We care about the FREAKING STORY.   We want new and interesting characters and worlds and religions and as many differing viewpoints as we can get.

And now I shall end my rant by telling all the underrepresented writers of the world to self-publish.  Screw the system.  Let the readers decide what the market wants!  Self-Publish!  We’ll read your books and spend our money and show the big wigs who want to decide what we like before we even get a chance to read it.

Source (And check out the fabulous art of Julie Dillon, while you’re at it.)

 

BookCon Fails To Make Necessary Panel Changes

So hey, speaking of diversity, remember last week when I mentioned how BookCon was hosting a panel of YA authors that was basically four middle-aged white dudes?  Remember how they said, and I quote:

“We’re curating content that the fans want to see,” Fensterman said. “We’ll be changing the mix and adding things as we go. We want to create the best show with the best content for the masses.”

I couldn’t help but notice pretty much zero changes, Fensterman.  I mean, you’ve got some womens on the list of BookCon speakers, I’ll grant you that, but I can’t help but notice there is not a single shade of skin tone above ecru on that line-up.

Remember up above when I commented on how readers LIKE diversity?  Hell, we outright DEMAND it.  And we’re not going to stand idly by while you try and force something else, something totally white-washed, down our throats.  But don’t take my word for it:

This utter lack of diversity is gross. It is inexcusable. And it is really, really embarrassing. Book Expo America is the industry’s flagship event, and the statement it is making on the industry’s behalf is that we believe that what readers–the kind of devoted, passionate readers who fork over thirty dollars to spend a summer Saturday in a convention center–want out of a book event is an all-white, heavily celebrity line-up.

Once again, the industry is making our decisions for us.  They’re deciding what we like, what we want to read, what we want to hear about.  We need to send a message with our money people, as I indicated in the above story.

It is clear that diversity is not a priority for ReedPop and BEA. Either they are not thinking about it at all, or they are actively choosing against diversity because they believe they can make more money with an all-white line-up. These are not our values at Book Riot, and so we will not be supporting, promoting, participating in, covering, or encouraging our community to attend BookCon. We can’t control ReedPop and BEA’s choices, but we can control this. No diversity = no support.

I’m with you, 100%.

Source

Why So Rapey, Game of Thrones?

So, just gonna throw this out here.  This will have massive spoilers for this season’s Game of Thrones and also potential triggers (as the title would suggest).  (Also, there’s some adult content in the form of book quotes.)

I’m a big fan of George R. R. Martin’s books from way back (back when we haunted the internets for even a hint that the much awaited A Dance with Dragons would finally make an appearance, but that’s another story) and when I heard about the books being made as an HBO TV show, it seemed like the best of both worlds.  An amazing story would finally be realized for the whole world to see.

Then I watched the scene depicting Daeny’s wedding night.  And felt sick to my stomach.  She was basically raped right there on the screen.  I really didn’t remember that happening in the books (and in fact IT DID NOT, because I went to check my copy right then and there) and with one blow of their directing sword, the production team took a heart-wrenching tale of teenage arranged marriage that later blossoms into love and turned it into story about Stockholm Syndrome at best, nightly rape at worst.  But don’t take my word for it, look at what the book says (boldness mine for the sake of emphasis):

After a while he began to touch her.  Lightly at first, then harder.  She could sense the fierce strength in his hands, but he never hurt her.  He held her hand in his own and brushed her fingers, one by one.  He ran a hand gently down her leg.  He stroked her face, tracing the curve of her ears, running a finger gently around her mouth.  He put both hands in her hair and combed it with his fingers.  He turned her around, massaged her shoulders, slid a knuckle down the path of her spine.

It seemed as if hours passed before his hands finally went to her breasts. He stroked the skin underneath until it tingled. He circled her nipples with his thumbs, pinched them between thumb and forefinger, then began to pull at her, very lightly at first, then more insistently, until her nipples stiffened and began to ache.

He stopped then, and drew her down onto his lap. Dany was flushed and breathless, her heart fluttering in her chest. He cupped her face in his huge hands and she looked into his eyes. “No?” he said, and she knew it was a question.

She took his hand and moved it down to the wetness between her thighs. “Yes,” she whispered as she put his finger inside her.

Now the story of Daenerys is complicated and filled with endlessly debated details and social mores that people will continue to argue over.  But one thing will not change, the TV show depicted rape, the book showed a husband that clearly asked for consent.  (again, we can debate over whether a young girl can ever give consent, but that is neither here nor there.)

But that all leads to the latest episode of Season 4 of Game of Thrones that aired on Sunday, showing Jaime forcing himself on Cersei.  I’ve seen the footage, I’ve read the books.  They are night and day different.  In the footage, she pushed at him, hit him, tried to lever herself away from him, while he said over and over again, “I don’t care.  I don’t care.”

In the books, their disturbing relationship (which as always been the two of them jockeying for control in some kind of weird and complex strategy game) comes to a disturbing conclusion while they make love within sight of their dead son.  Here is the book (boldness mine for emphasis):

She kissed him. A light kiss, the merest brush of her lips on his, but he could feel her tremble as he slid his arms around her. “I am not whole without you.”

There was no tenderness in the kiss he returned to her, only hunger. Her mouth opened for his tongue. “No,” she said weakly when his lips moved down her neck, “not here. The septons…”

“The Others can take the septons.” He kissed her again, kissed her silent, kissed her until she moaned. Then he knocked the candles aside and lifted her up onto the Mother’s altar, pushing up her skirts and the silken shift beneath. She pounded on his chest with feeble fists, murmuring about the risk, the danger, about their father, about the septons, about the wrath of gods. He never heard her. He undid his breeches and climbed up and pushed her bare white legs apart. One hand slid up her thigh and underneath her smallclothes. When he tore them away, he saw that her moon’s blood was on her, but it made no difference.

“Hurry,” she was whispering now, “quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. Jaime Jaime Jaime.” Her hands helped guide him. “Yes,” Cersei said as he thrust, “my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you’re home now, you’re home now, you’re home.” She kissed his ear and stroked his short bristly hair. Jaime lost himself in her flesh. He could feel Cersei’s heart beating in time with his own, and the wetness of blood and seed where they were joined.

One could read the above passage and argue that she didn’t give much of a consent, but it’s definitely different than the rejected Jaime taking what he wanted while saying over and over again that he doesn’t care anything about Cersei and her wishes.

The one argument that I’ve seen several times is that “this show is filled with murder and rape and one kind of violence after another, so what’s the difference?”  Well, in simple terms, that is certainly true.  But how many of those characters are in the positions of power that these two women are in? Cersei may not be one of the nicest characters in the book, but she’s certainly one of the strongest.  So is Daeny, for that matter.

So why did the directors make the decision to change these two women’s stories from being powerful consenting women to victims of rape and violence?  Call me paranoid, but why take the two best examples of female power in an obviously male-dominated society and “take them down a peg”?

George himself has commented probably the only thing a man who has sold the rights of his story to a TV show can comment (boldness is mine for emphasis):

I think the “butterfly effect” that I have spoken of so often was at work here. In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey’s death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her. 

The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other’s company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that’s just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection. 

Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime’s POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don’t know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing. 

If the show had retained some of Cersei’s dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression — but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.

That’s really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.

And this is why people hate it when their favorite book gets adapted for the screen.

Sources HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE

Kate Copeseeley

Kate Copeseeley

Buzz Worthy News Correspondent
Kate Copeseeley is the Buzz Worthy News Correspondent, occasional reviewer, and a bonafide bookslut®. She can be found haunting Goodreads, writing The 100 fanfic, and neglecting everything else in favor of burying her nose in a book. Visit her on Goodreads.
Kate Copeseeley
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24 Responses to “Buzz Worthy News: Messy Book Adaptions 25/04/2014”

    • Kate Copeseeley

      We aim to please. It must be said that I don’t think (although it wouldn’t surprise me) that John Green makes virgin sacrifices on a Satanic altar. And I enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars very much. 🙂 But we have to make fun of everything at this site, right? hahaha

  1. Fangs 4 the Fantasy (@Fangs4Fantasy)

    How many people read ebooks? Some statistic presentations are just so bizarre. Is that 28% of all Americans or just American readers? Aren’t there other studies that say a substantial number don’t read any books at all? They may as well just put “ah, fuck it, not a clue!”

    Suing reviewers? WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE?! “ZOMG HE HURT SALES!” no, he posted an opinion. An opinion people found helpful. People saying your book is crap tends to get attention and power primarily when your book is actually crap

    I hate the market excuse – because it’s ridiculous. We see how marginalised people hunger for representation. “POC don’t sell” how would you know!? You won’t publish it or market it!

    So book Con’s YA authors are ALL white, straight, cis men. Yay diversity… And their whole line up of guests contains no POC and, as far as I can see, no LGBT people? See how much diversity means to these people!
    Fangs 4 the Fantasy (@Fangs4Fantasy) recently posted…The Hugo Awards, Vox Day and Apologetics for BigotryMy Profile

    • Kate Copeseeley

      That study was just odd. But it’s readers overall, I believe. So half of people who read 11 books or more a year read Ebooks. Or so they claim. Pew claims 28%, but I don’t know what their qualifications were. I get so tired of these various studies coming out and people making all these wild claims about them.

      Diversity in the publishing world is a HUGE problem. My worry is that like always, it will be a story for a couple of weeks and then everyone will drop it. We need to keep this story on everyone’s lips until corporate leaders realize how serious we are about wanting a variety of stories and perspectives.

  2. Reading Wolf

    I am excited about the Sisterhood movie being made. I just hope they can get the original actresses on board.

    John Green has made an influence on Young Adults. He and Hank have an awesome Crash Course series on YouTube. I have watched all the subjects covered, but I really like the History segments.

    I wasn’t surprised by the percentage of ebook readers. I usually end up reading on my Nook because I can’t physically go to the library. And I have found I read more books because of the ease of attaining books.

    I have no idea why some authors cannot just take the good with the bad. Apparently, that review was on a book about survival tactics. It is stated that the reviewer pointed out some things he felt could get one killed or injured. And then it just snowballed. Still no reason to sue.

    That Game of Thrones scene was rape. There is no doubt or explaining away. I haven’t seen the Daenerys/Drogo scene past the point where he caresses her and bends her over, but in a way it felt she was scared of the pain and the situation, being married to a man of a different culture. But still you get the creepy vibe and it is implied that she is not totally consenting. And a scene in a later episode shows him doing his thing and she is crying, so I think she isn’t quite thrilled with doing what she feels is her “duty”. I have always hated when people call it that.
    Reading Wolf recently posted…Spring CleaningMy Profile

    • Kate Copeseeley

      I agree. I really hope they get all the same actresses for Sisterhood. We’re so invested, right?
      John Green is a great youtube presence (hilarious, actually) and a wonderful writer. But I can never resist the opportunity to make fun of his unparalleled success. 😉
      I just don’t understand talking about suing someone. I read the story when it first came out on Kboards, but I agree with the op that it’s probably the argument that cost him his sales. Readers want to feel save when they read.
      I am in complete agreement about that scene on Game of Thrones. In the case of Daeny, I’m just not sure they could have told her story adequately in a few eps, but how they told it was awful. They were two strangers who didn’t know each other’s cultures and the show just showed her as a victim. In the books, she doesn’t just give up during hardships, she tells her husband what she wants and expects from him. She grows up, essentially. It’s just disappointing that she is portrayed that way on the show.

  3. Ilex

    A couple entries tie together here — after all, why would publishers press for any diversity in YA literature when John Green books about straight white boys are apparently the gold standard of “quality” YA? (or so one would think going by the NYT Top Ten and all the gushing). (Is it telling that the one John Green book that does NOT appear consistently in the NYT Top Ten is the co-written one where half the characters are gay?) I’m starting to wonder why any of the rest of us are even bothering to write YA books at all right now, living with this “gift” of John Green domination as we are.

    Please note that this post is not a rant at John Green himself! (Assuming he’s not actually successfully worshipping at Satan’s Altar, of course. ;-)) But it’s just really frustrating how The Market seems to have anointed him and three other white guys as the permanent occupiers of the Face of Bestselling YA. Why wouldn’t BookCon assume that four straight white men are the best possible representatives of young adult literature?

    Sorry to sound so cynical, but this whole situation is just so frustrating. We’re supposedly enjoying a Golden Age of YA books, and yet to look at the NYT Top Ten is to see the most unchanging, moribund section of their entire bestsellers listings. I’m seriously wondering whether, if I managed not to look at the list for the next three years, anything would actually have changed on it other than the addition of the next John Green book.

    • Kate Copeseeley

      You took the words right out of my mouth (and I mentioned it in last week’s story on BookCon). The organizers of this event went the easy route and picked a bunch of people that were well known and easy to hype. But the reason they’re well known and easy to hype is because NO ONE ever takes a stand for diversity, whether it’s color, creed, religion, gender, or sexual preference.
      I really want to take this year and put my money where my mouth is. I hope to find some unique and interesting voices to highlight this year and hopefully show the industry what my interests are, as a reader. We should have a blog hop for that or something. 🙂

      • Ilex

        I’m trying to spend my money on books with diverse characters and by more diverse authors. So making an effort to highlight unique, interesting, and “different” voices would be great! I’d love to see more recommendations for books with characters or by authors who are non-default in one way or another. Or with characters who just look like the people we see when we look around us! Because surely most of us aren’t living in all-white/all-straight/all-able-bodied ghettos of some sort? … and maybe it’s time to start calling books out when they do offer all-white casts.

  4. Reader

    FYI, the whole “separation of church and state” thing was meant to keep the state out of the churches, not the churches out of the state. Jefferson wrote that letter to a church terrified to state intervention regulating their worship, the way the Anglican church did in England. If Louisiana wants to make the Bible its state book, it should be allowed to do so. If another state wants to make the Koran its state book, it should be allowed to do that, too. The concept of a “free country” goes both ways—it protects the interests of secularists AND the religious. Not one over the other.

    • Kate Copeseeley

      You’re certainly correct in saying that the founders wanted to escape religious persecution from situations such as The Church of England’s doctrine. I guess I see it as going both ways. Let the government be the government and let people practice religions they see fit to.

      Thanks for your insightful comments!

  5. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain
    Twitter:

    You know I’m really happy for John Green that he got into the Time 100 list because to the mass media he’s done a lot to support those with disabilities and has battled with his own fair share of them, but honestly I’m furious at the whole Time 100 list in general because of who they put on there and who they didn’t. They left Laverne Cox and Lupita off the list even though they got such a positive vote rate and they’re so influential. Like Laverne is probably the most public trans figure right now and she’s done so much work to raise awareness for trans people and she got maybe the most most amount of votes and she was still left off the list. UGH I hate life. But lol that was random 🙂
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    • Kate Copeseeley

      Be frustrated! Frustration brings change, right? My hope is that if enough of us say “We’ve had it! We want change!” someone SOMEWHERE will listen.

  6. Siobhan

    I do like John Green and his books, but I do resent how much of the media’s attention he gets and how much room his books take up on the NYT best seller list, when so many other YA authors, especially female, are ignored. I mean his good, but my point is, no better than much of the YA market. And that Shailene Woodley article was just plain ridiculous, I rolled my eyes more than once. “What a gift to be alive at the same time as this admirable leader”, omg >__<, you're right, it just HAS to be sarcasm.
    The thing that disgusts me the most I think about that GOT episode, was that the director did not seem to think it was a rape scene, as well as many others! It just plain horrifying that some one could watch that scene and see 'consent'.
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    • Kate Copeseeley

      It was really weird(sad, scary, infuriating) how the director didn’t even realize/acknowledge that he filmed what was unarguably a rape scene. I guess a woman’s idea of consent and a man’s idea of consent is different.(yes, that was the understatement of the year and also an over-generalization.)
      That last line. I get that she’s a young woman, and I get that she probably has a lot of respect for John (who doesn’t?), but it’s just sooooooo over the top. hahaha

    • Kate Copeseeley

      Gosh, I have no idea. Passive Guy (a former lawyer who often reflects on legal situations between writers and publishers) said it would be seriously hard to prove.

  7. nymfaux

    You guys are addictive, and I could gush and discuss your insights forever, but since it’s almost 3:30am…but the piece about diversity in writing just really struck me.–Along with Ilex’s comment that “surely most of us aren’t living in all-white/all-straight/all-able-bodied ghettos of some sort?”–because I don’t certainly don’t live in that world, but I’m only in my *early* 30s and that’s very close to what I grew up in–from the middle of sixth grade through high school, we only had one African American person in my class–her brother was one of two in the class ahead of us, if people were gay it wasn’t obvious (I’ve been trying to think of any, and coming up blank), and I can only think of two people in our class with physical disabilities. The variables of the population have changed a lot in the last few decades, and I see a lot more diversity when I go home. But that’s not even the point, because even growing up in the very bland landscape that I grew up in, I could see diversity on tv, in movies, in magazines, and in books. Did I devour Sweet Valley books about the whitest people ever? Yes. But your mere mention of Diversity in Publishing, instantly brought me to Mildred D. Taylor’s “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,” “Let the Circle Be Unbroken,” and the rest of the series, which are still some of the most powerful books I’ve read to this day. The African American family is portrayed right on the front of the covers, not hidden. I didn’t have to be tricked, I knew who the characters were, and I went and devoured the rest of the series as fast I could. And reread them. And related to them, and rooted for the African American family, and cried for them. And I guess my point is that it’s not only important for everyone to characters that look like them, that they relate to, but that it’s important for all of us to have characters that don’t look like us that we can relate to, even important to have characters that are maybe completely different and unrelateable (Lord Voldemort, Hannibal, The Sweet Valley Twins)…ugh, I feel like I’m running off on tangents, so hopefully some of what I’ve said makes sense…I heard someone speak once, about how things that benefit differently-abled people, often benefit us all (I mean, who doesn’t like having a little extra room in the *pc-equivalent*handicapped*pc-equivalent* stall in public restrooms?), and it’s the same with diversity, learning about other people, other places, other times, benefits us all…And hopefully, with such a surge in self-publishing, publishers, agents, or whoever, will no longer be a barrier between good authors and hungry readers (of all backgrounds.)…I think that’s what I wanted to say.

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