Blog Archives

We need diverse books!

Community_Box_Library_in_Bangladesh

by Heather Harris Brady

Those of you who have explored the pages of my website know this topic is close to my heart as a member of a blended Hispanic family, and as part of my own past growing up in a small, non-diverse country town. There are so many unknowns when you don’t get to meet all walks of people on a daily basis. It is all a driving factor behind most of my work, including the manuscript I am querying right now. A Missfits Misstory stars two fashionistas (May and Valentina). May is a young Victorian woman rebelling against her Puritan town and Valentina is a contemporary 13 year-old Hispanic fashionista who moves into her house and into the middle of a century-old mystery May left behind.

I’m copying the essence of the #weneeddiversebooks tumblr below, to help spread the word for their effort:

Recently, there’s been a groundswell of discontent over the lack of diversity in children’s literature. The issue is being picked up by news outlets like these two pieces in the NYT, CNN, EW, and many more. But while we individually care about diversity, there is still a disconnect. BEA’s Bookcon recently announced an all-white-male panel of “luminaries of children’s literature,” and when we pointed out the lack of diversity, nothing changed.

Now is the time to raise our voices into a roar that can’t be ignored. Here’s how:

On May 1st at 1pm (EST), there will be a public call for action that will spread over 3 days. We’re starting with a visual social media campaign using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. We want people to tweet, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, blog, and post anywhere they can to help make the hashtag go viral.

For the visual part of the campaign:

Take a photo holding a sign that says “We need diverse books because ___________________________.” Fill in the blank with an important, poignant, funny, and/or personal reason why this campaign is important to you.
The photo can be of you or a friend or anyone who wants to support diversity in kids’ lit. It can be a photo of the sign without you if you would prefer not to be in a picture. Be as creative as you want! Pose the sign with your favorite stuffed animal or at your favorite library. Get a bunch of friends to hold a bunch of signs.
However you want to do it, we want to share it! There will be a Tumblr at http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/ that will host all of the photos and messages for the campaign. Please submit your visual component by May 1st to weneeddiversebooks@yahoo.com with the subject line “photo” or submit it right on our Tumblr page here and it will be posted throughout the first day.
Starting at 1:00PM (EST) the Tumblr will start posting and it will be your job to reblog, tweet, Facebook, or share wherever you think will help get the word out.
The intent is that from 1pm EST to 3pm EST, there will be a nonstop hashtag party to spread the word. We hope that we’ll get enough people to participate to make the hashtag trend and grab the notice of more media outlets.
The Tumblr will continue to be active throughout the length of the campaign, and for however long we need to keep this discussion going, so we welcome everyone to keep emailing or sending in submissions even after May 1st.

On May 2nd, the second part of our campaign will roll out with a Twitter chat scheduled for 2pm (EST) using the same hashtag. Please use #WeNeedDiverseBooks at 2pm on May 2nd and share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.

On May 3rd, 2pm (EST), the third portion of our campaign will begin. There will be a Diversify Your Shelves initiative to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is and buy diverse books and take photos of them. Diversify Your Shelves is all about actively seeking out diverse literature in bookstores and libraries, and there will be some fantastic giveaways for people who participate in the campaign! More details to come!

We hope that you will take part in this in any way you can. We need to spread the word far and wide so that it will trend on Twitter. So that media outlets will pick it up as a news item. So that the organizers of BEA and every big conference and festival out there gets the message that diversity is important to everyone. We hope you will help us by being a part of this movement.

#diversity
#poc
#change
#BEA
#Bookcon
#weneeddiversebooks

Photo: WikiCommons

Jingling your way to a query

roses1

by Heather Harris Brady

It’s been gray here for what seems like weeks, so I needed to post this picture. The fact that I am languishing in the leech-infused quicksand swamp of query-writing turns everything another shade darker. I think about queries all the time. One night while we were watching a few TV shows with the kids it dawned on me just how many older sit-com jingles are a form of query. Take, for example, Gilligan’s Island (RIP Professor):

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost.

The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle
With Gilligan
The Skipper too,
The millionaire and his wife,
The movie star
The professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligans Isle.

So this is the talel of the castways,
They’re here for a long, long time,
They’ll have to make the best of things,
It’s an uphill climb.

The first mate and the Skipper too,
Will do their very best,
To make the others comfortable,
In the tropic island nest.

No phone, no lights no motor cars,
Not a single luxury,
Like Robinson Crusoe,
As primative as can be.

So join us here each week my freinds,
You’re sure to get a smile,
From seven stranded castways,
Here on “Gilligan’s Isle.”

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/gilligansislandlyrics.html

And of course, the Brady Bunch:
Here’s the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls.
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother,
The youngest one in curls.

Here’s the store, of a man named Brady,
Who was busy with three boys of his own,
They were four men, living all together,
Yet they were all alone.

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow
And they knew it was much more than a hunch,
That this group would somehow form a family.
That’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch.
The Brady Bunch,

That’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch.
The Brady Bunch.

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/thebradybunchlyrics.html

There are even examples written with the show’s voice:
Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.

Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.

Well the first thing you know ol Jed’s a millionaire,
Kinfolk said “Jed move away from there”
Said “Californy is the place you ought to be”
So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

Hills, that is. Swimmin pools, movie stars.

Well now its time to say good by to Jed and all his kin.
And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin in.
You’re all invited back a gain to this locality
To have a heapin helpin of their hospitality

Hillybilly that is. Set a spell, Take your shoes off.

Y’all come back now, y’hear?.

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/beverlyhillbillieslyrics.html

Can you guess this one?
Boy the way Glen Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days.

And you knew who you were then,
Girls were girls and men were men,
Mister we could use a man
Like Herbert Hoover again.

Didn’t need no welfare state,
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days.

The Hero/Heroine’s Journey – Steps 1 & 2: The Ordinary World and The Call to Adventure

One of the happy extras to my writing journey is that fact that my children are both writing, now that they see me writing. I should mention that this has all come about without any interference from me. On their own and of themselves, they write. However, I cannot resist the urge to help them. I started writing in elementary school myself and I know how much farther ahead I could be now if someone had helped me more then.

So, without being too hovering, I find little opportunities to work in bits about writing. One such chance is during family movie night. Most stories include a hero’s journey to some degree, so I have started mentioning it here and there – in the moment – when they can recognize it for what it is.

Step 1: The Ordinary World/ Step 2: Call to Adventure

I’ve combined both these together because they often happen in sync. In these first few moments or few pages we can begin to get an idea of what our hero or heroine is like, just enough so we can begin to bond with them. But typically you don’t have to wait too long before they hear the siren call to adventure. In Rango, we meet the thespian chameleon who is directing himself (in his tank) in adventure “movies”. He is searching for meaning within his characters but when his tank bounces out of the car and shatters he is thrown into a real adventure.

When you start looking for The Call to Adventure you’ll find it everywhere throughout books and movies. What are some of your favorite siren calls to adventure?