Sunday, August 28, 2011

The E-Avalanche | Conan No Give Up! | Fear or Hate | GoodReads

A slightly scatter-brained collection of odd thoughts today:

The E-Avalanche

It used to be literary agents insisted on getting query letters, partials, and full manuscripts in hard-copy. Paper was considered easier on the eyes.

Obviously that's changing, because when I was assembling my list of dream agents recently, I noted that of my top 25, only 5 still want paper queries. The rest either accept, or say they strongly prefer, email queries.

In fact, I noted one agency said they started accepting e-queries not because they wanted to, but because they had realized writers will query the agents who accept email first. So by not accepting e-queries, the agency was knocking itself down everyone's "desirable" list.

And as we all know, there's nothing to make an agent froth and fret more than the threat of losing something good to a competitor!

Conan No Give Up!

Sean Hood, a professional screenwriter, had some somber-but-wise words in the following article about the disappointing performance of Conan the Barbarian, which he worked on. It's worth a read because of what he has to say about perseverance at the end:
What's It Like To Have Your Film Flop At the Box Office?
Trumpet positions in major orchestras only become available once every few years. Hundreds of world class players will fly in to try out for these positions from all over the world. I remember my dad coming home from this competition, one that he desperately wanted to win, one that he desperately needed to win because work was so hard to come by. Out of hundreds of candidates and days of auditions and callbacks, my father came in....second.

It was devastating for him. He looked completely numb. To come that close and lose tore out his heart. But the next morning, at 6:00 AM, the same way he had done every morning since the age of 12, he did his mouthpiece drills. He did his warm ups. He practiced his usual routines, the same ones he tells his students they need to play every single day. He didn't take the morning off. He just went on. He was and is a trumpet player and that's what trumpet players do, come success or failure.
Fear or Hate

It always struck me as odd that homophobia gets the suffix -phobia, which means fear. To me, the behaviour described by that term seems more like hatred.

It makes more sense when you understand it derives from the idea that fear of the 'other' leads to a reflexive hatred.

Sexism is understood to be a form of hatred too, and a lot of YA books these days are aimed squarely at girls, with publishers justifying that fact with the statement, "Boys don't read."

Which is sexist. Of course boys read, but they won't read books that don't appeal to them, and if that's all that's on the shelves, then no. Boys don't read.

Why do the publishers believe this? I'm sure not many of the individuals in these companies are sexist, but the last two YA titles that turned into utter blockbusters--Twilight and The Hunger Games--appealed strongly to girls, and in trying to reproduce those successes, the publishers give in to fiscal paranoia. They make generalizations that are sexist and thus do a low-level, but pervasive, harm to society.

Likewise, a while back, there was a lot of anger in the YA reading community over the white-washing of book covers, i.e. publishers putting a white face on the cover of a book featuring a non-white protagonist.

Again, I doubt the liberal-heavy New York publishing industry consists of many very-racist individuals, but I'm certain it contains a lot of people quite leery of doing anything that differs much from that which proved successful in the past.

And putting a person of colour on the front of the book meant for the mainstream would be different. Thus, out of fear of losing money from (presumed-racist?) book buyers, the publishers will white-wash the cover. And again, by responding to their fears, they've generated something indistinguishable from hate.


I'm on GoodReads now! Um, but I'm really unsure how to get the most of it...? If anyone wants to explain the concept, I'd much appreciate it. :-)

Also, feel free to tell me what name you go under there, and I'll (try to; I'm a bit incompetent still) add you as a friend!

Author website: J. J. DeBenedictis

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