the bluest eye

RIP Ann Crispin; Toni Morrison Responds to Book Ban

RIP Ann Crispin

The blogging world lost a long time member this summer, Ann C. Crispin, who founded Writer Beware with Victoria Strauss.

Ann Crispin, best-selling author, Writer Beware co-founder, fearless fighter in the scam wars, beloved wife and mother, my friend, died this morning after a two-year struggle with cancer.

You can read more here. The post was written by Strauss, Crispin’s co-founder.

Writer Beware was a blog I used to follow more regularly, but as things in the publishing world started to change I stopped following it as regularly because it wasn’t something that was directly related to anything I’ve been doing for the past five years. Though I haven’t always agreed with everything on WB, I have learned a great deal through them and Crispin was another consummate blogger who was passionate about what she did.

If you are a new writer and you haven’t read WB, I would advise checking it out. As I said, I do think that with many of the changes happening in publishing some things should be rivised (like warning authors about literary agents and other authors who are working together as e-publishers and not disclosing this up front…and yet still claiming they are self-publishing so everyone thinks is just another simple self-publishing venture), but there’s still a great deal of good information that might help keep you from getting screwed over by shifty editors and e-publishing services, among other pitfalls that prey upon good unsuspecting people, that seem to be popping up all the time. The e-mails I get from scammers daily would turn this blog into something completely different if I started posting about them daily.

In fact, Tony and I are planning to start an e-publishing service in the future, and one of the things I pay close attention to are posts on WB about other e-publishing services. Our goal is to create something affordable, and that has quality books, where the author always maintains control, and his/her rights at all times. The last thing I would want to see happen would be to get slammed on WB as an e-publishing service. So far, I haven’t seen anything at WB with regard to e-publishing services that I haven’t agreed with. Most of what they’ve posted makes sense…and I come to this thinking as a writer, not a publisher or agent. I know what I wouldn’t want happen to me.

In any event, Writer Beware will continue on.

Toni Morrison Responds to Book Ban

One of the things that sometimes frustrates me about writing gay fiction of any kind, even gay romance, is when people who are NOT gay challenge what I know to be true and to be fact as a gay man. When I write gay fiction I don’t try to turn it into a heteronormative frolic through suburbia like you see on TV shows like The New Normal. I do use heteronormativity sometimes in books because I think there are many gay people who are leaning toward that as we gain more equality. Just look at the marriage proposal video that went viral this weekend and you’ll see what I mean. And look at all the gay couples who want children and the typical heteronormative family. But what I never do is fake gay culture, and some things that are rooted deeply in gay culture, and I’ve been slammed for doing that more than once by non-gay people who *think* they know all about gay people.

And this is exactly how Toni Morrison seems to be responding to comments made about her book, The Bluest Eye. Some have even gone so far as to call the book “porn,” which I’ve posted about on this blog several times. I have read the book more than once and it’s not only literary masterpiece, but also an account of African American culture we don’t see often. For me, as a gay white male, to even begin to criticize anything about Morrison’s personal knowledge when it comes to the African American experience would be ludicrous. It wouldn’t even occur to me.

“The book was published in the early seventies and it has been banned so much and so many places. That I am told I am number 14 on the list of 100 banned books,” Morrison told Columbus TV station NBC4.

“I resent it. I mean if it’s Texas or North Carolina as it has been in all sorts of states. But to be a girl from Ohio, writing about Ohio having been born in Lorain, Ohio. And actually relating as an Ohio person, to have the Ohio, what- Board of Education? Is ironic at the least,” Morrison, a Lorain native, told the TV station.

I understand exactly how she feels, from a slightly different POV. Though I would never even suggest that my books be in schools, or read by minors, I feel the same kind of resentment each time I see someone question something I’ve written about gay men, as a gay man. I’m not the only gay man who feels this way either. It’s something we discuss often in private, yet there’s nothing to do about it because there are some who don’t really want to hear gay voices as they really are. They support gays, they support equal rights, and they support the concept of all LGBT people. But when it comes down to *listening* to gay people they go dead blank and think what they want.

I’m glad Morrison responded to all this, and I’m glad she’s not just sitting back and taking it. You can read the entire article in full, here.

She also deserves the last word on this topic, as an African American woman, and a writer.

Anne R. Allen on Blogging; Beekman Mortage Lifter; The Bluest Eye Called Porn

Anne R. Allen on Blogging

There were so many things I wanted to post about last week and didn’t get a chance, and this is one of them. Anne R. Allen is a blogger and author I’ve posted about before. And now she’s giving advice about blogging that I thought was interesting. She is, from what I’ve seen, the consummate blogger.

If you are interested in trad publishing, this quote below is good advice. In full disclosure, I have not followed most of these blogs in a while. However, I still do follow one of them (Bransford’s) and I usually find something worthwhile. The only reason I don’t follow the others is because I don’t need to know anything more about querying. But if you don’t know anything about querying, I suggest you find blogs like these to learn about it. It’s a skill that will follow you throughout your publishing career, especially when it comes to writing your own book descriptions for your published works. It’s important to “hook” an agent with a good query. It’s 1000 times more important to “hook” readers with your book description. And that book description not only has to hook the reader, but also be accurate. If not, you will pay a price with reviewers.

If you hope for a traditional publishing career, you should also be regularly visiting agents’ blogs like Janet Reid’s and Kristen Nelson’s and former agent Nathan Bransford’s to find out how the traditional publishing process works. You can also interact with other writers who comment on the blog.

This is important, too.

Your blog can spin a good yarn, make people laugh, provide information, or all three, as long as you put it in your own honest, unique voice and you’re not too whiny or preachy. (Although experts generally advise against fictional yarns. More on that below.)

In other words, keep it real and don’t screw around. I’ve seen what has happened to some authors who created fake blogs and it wasn’t pretty. I actually once made the mistake of starting an author blog with a pen name and I started such a category five shitstorm without even realizing it I shuttered the blog after two weeks and never returned to it. It freaked me out, and that’s not easy to do.

The Internet can be a nice place, but also a mean place, and if something doesn’t add up on your blog, there will always be someone who can’t wait to expose you, even if you are harmless. I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I can stand behind everything I publish here on this blog, and I’ve never had any regrets. It also gives you leverage and freedom, not to mention the ability to sleep well at night.

The only thing I can add to this is that you want to stick with it. You don’t have to blog every day. But you want to keep some kind of consistency going. As a blog reader, nothing bothers me more than going to a blog and seeing the blogger hasn’t posted anything for over a month. What happens is people lose interest and they don’t come back.

Beekman Mortgage Lifter

I’ve posted about “The Beekman Boys” before a few times. I’m on their mailing list and I’ve been following their mortgage lifter plan. (I think Tony and I need one of those mortgage lifter plans, too. Maybe we could raise pachysandra; we have two acres of it here.) In any event, this is what they are doing now.

From my inbox:

The woman who helps us with our book-keeping (math is not our strong suit,) recently got an email from the company who makes accounting software, Intuit. Apparently Intuit is hosting a contest in which they will pay for a 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl for one lucky small business.

We immediately thought of our “Mortgage Lifter” sauces. As you know, 25% of the profits from all “Mortgage Lifter” products go towards helping struggling small farms. Our goal is to get “Mortgage Lifter” products into every major supermarket.

How cool would it be to have a commercial all about helping small farms in the freakin’ Super Bowl?! And think of the money that would be raised for farmers!

So, to get through this first phase of the contest, we need your vote. Please go to this link to our entry, scroll a bit down, and hit the “Vote” Button.
There are also a few other things of interest going on at Beekman.

The one hour video special about our wedding will be available for downloading on Amazon on September 21st! Until then, our friends at the production company are releasing one teaser video each week- with PolkaSpot herself as narrator!

You can check that out here. And here.

The Bluest Eye Called Porn

You know how I’m always talking about how there’s no set definition of porn, even though some people decide to define porn on their own terms all the time. Well, I think this is the perfect example of that. They are now calling Toni Morrison’s classic novel, The Bluest Eye, porn. And, the entire post to which I’m linking has put a spin on something serious and made it sound frivolous and wrong. I’ve read The Bluest Eye multiple times, at various points in my life, and I have never once considered this book to be porn or obscene. In fact, it’s one of the most important books I think I’ve ever read in my life. It changed me, and when  a book can change you there’s something more to it than just words and sentences on a page.

The Bluest Eye is the story of Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, who prays every day for beauty: for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to fit in. As her life begins to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife, such as being raped by her father and beaten by her mother, she finally appeals to Soaphead Church, a pedophile, to help her attain blue eyes. After being impregnated by her father, she loses her baby and ultimately loses her mind.

Read more at http://politichicks.tv/column/warning-graphic-common-core-approved-child-pornography/#qh4T64JIkUhQiMmi.99

The reason this all came about is because The Bluest Eye is on a list for 11th graders. That’s a junior in high school.

When the blogger says this I cringe when I read it.

I understand that after reading those excerpts a lot of you may be angry that this is approved for reading in any school. I could probably end the article here.

Either she hasn’t read the book in full, has no empathy or understanding of the cultural aspects handled in the novel, or she just wanted to put a spin on something controversial to get attention.

If you have not read The Bluest Eye, I highly recommend you go out and find a copy. It is not porn.