So, in case you guys missed it, there was a pretty big game on Sunday. I’m talking, of course, about the Puppy Bowl.
What is the Puppy Bowl, you might ask?
It’s puppies playing in a miniature football field. With Pygmy goat cheerleaders.
You are WELCOME.
You can watch all the highlights here.
Happy Terrible Tuesday, everyone!
So, let me just say this up front: I don’t usually like autobiographies. Maybe it’s because I spend most of my days in the hospital listening to people talk about themselves, or maybe I’m just emotionally stunted and only like YA/NA. Regardless, a friend really recommended Coming Out to Play, so I thought I’d give it a shot. And guys, let me tell you — it was sort of awesome.
A little excerpt from the book blurb:
“Robbie Rogers knows better than most that keeping secrets can crush you. But for much of his life Robbie lived in paralyzing fear that sharing his big secret would cost him the love of his family and his career as a professional soccer player. So he never told anyone what was destroying his soul, both on and off the field.
While the world around Robbie was changing with breathtaking speed, he knew that for a gay man playing a professional team sport it might as well be 1958. He could be a professional soccer player. Or he could be an out gay man. He couldn’t do both.”
I feel like I could go on and on about this book for days, but I’ll boil it down to this: Coming Out to Play is insightful without being preachy, inspiring without being nauseating and hopeful without being cheesy. It’s also full of some damn good writing.***
You can buy Coming Out to Play here (Kindle edition here). Or, if you’re feeling old school, you can probably find it in one of these.
*** “You don’t grow up hating yourself by accident. You don’t learn to lie about your true nature on a whim. You don’t pretend to be straight just for the fun of it. You have to learn and be taught these things, and I was a good student.”
Back in my third year of med school, one of my (all-time favorite) attendings had to give one of our patients bad news. Not “you have two weeks to live and your dog just died” bad news, just moderately inconvenient news (I think the patient had to stay in the hospital for another week for IV antibiotics, or something). Anyway, he introduced me to something called the Sandwich Technique. Keep your minds out of the gutter, y’all – the Sandwich Technique is just a method for delivering bad news. This is how it works:
You start with the first piece of bread — something good. i.e. “So, the infection in your lungs is really improving!”
Then you get to the meat of it — the bad news. “Unfortunately, the bacteria in your lungs really only responds to such-and-such antibiotic, which can only be given intravenously. This means you’re going to have to stay here in the hospital for another three days.”
And then, the last piece of bread — ending on a positive note. “But the good news is, we do expect you to make a full recovery. Yay!”
Okay, so I would never actually say “yay” to a patient, but you get the point. Obviously this doesn’t work all the time (sometimes there is no good news :-(), but the reason I bring it up is because this technique – the Sandwich Technique – is great for writing book reviews — OR for critiquing your CP’s manuscript!
I’ve written a little about this before, but being a good reviewer or CP is all about balance. If you have nothing but bad things to say, you are not being helpful. And if you have nothing but GOOD things to say (OMG your book is the bessssst it’s gonna sell a billion copies!!), that’s honestly just as bad. So if you’re new to reviewing, or new to CP-ing, consider using this technique. Start with the good, then the bad, then wind it all up on a positive note.
Happy writing, everyone!
Happy Terrible Tuesday, everyone! Today’s Tuesday is particularly terrible for me — yesterday I had a 14-hour residency interview (Yes, FOURTEEN) and today it’s continuing on for another 4 or 5 hours. Big fun.
But anyway. For today’s Terrible Tuesday, I wanted to share one of my favorite YouTube channels – CinemaSins. They make videos cataloging movie “sins”, and they’re basically amazing. Here’s just one example:
If you’d like to binge-watch the rest of them, as I often do, you can find them here.
So, I’m really on the fence with Fangirl. I enjoyed reading it — hence the 4/5 — but once I put it down I felt a little…meh. I didn’t quite dislike it — I just doubt I’ll ever read it again.
I guess I’ll start with the things I liked. First, the relationship between the MC, Cath, and her twin sister, Wren. It’s the twins’ first year of college and Wren is ready to branch out and make some new friends, while anxiety-prone Cath feels left behind. Very realistic dynamic. I also liked Cath’s relationship with her father, who suffered from bipolar disorder (I’m assuming), and with her roommate Reagan.
But while I liked all the relationships, I’m not sure I liked Cath herself. She felt a bit… whiny, I guess. Nothing was ever her fault, she was always the victim, and she didn’t seem to change or grow that much over the course of the book. And while I love love love to see portrayals of mental illness in YA books, I have no sweet clue what Cath is supposed to be portraying. Generalized anxiety disorder? Social anxiety disorder? Avoidant personality disorder? If you know (maybe Rowell has clarified somewhere?) feel free to let me know in the comments.
Honestly, at the end of the day, I think this is just a classic case of It’s Not You, It’s Me. This is a great book, and I can totally understand why so many people love it. It’s just not for me. I found the Simon Snow snippets boring, I couldn’t really relate to Cath, and I think it ran about 10 or 20K too long. But this is just my opinion — if you’ve read it, feel free to sound off in the comments, and if you haven’t, pick up a copy and see what you think 🙂
It’s another Tamora Pierce #TBT! What can I say, guys — Tamora Pierce’s books made up 90% of my favorite reads in elementary school/junior high.
First Test is book one of the Protector of the Small quartet, and in a lot of ways, I think it’s a stronger series than The Song of the Lioness. The main character, Kel, represents a type of woman I don’t think we see enough of in current YA literature. She’s tough, yes, but also thoughtful and self aware. She’s not a girl searching for her identity — she already knows who she is and what she wants. There’s something about Kel’s voice that’s very refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Tris’s and Katniss’s of the YA world, but there’s something a little more real in Kel. Something more… introspective, I suppose.
Anyway, if you want a great YA read — or if you’re writing MG/YA, especially with a female MC — definitely don’t miss this one. It’s a little old, yes– but it was a NYT bestseller for a reason. 🙂
So I’ve been thinking a lot this week about shelving manuscripts. A depressing topic, maybe, but one that all writers have to think about. Like, when should you take a break from a manuscript? When should you call it quits and shelve it? When does that manuscript that the world needs to read become that manuscript you just needed to write?
Something that kept coming to mind (perhaps because of my 102F fever, I’m not sure) is a lecture I had a while ago about pancreatitis. See, in the olden days (AKA five or six years ago), the standard of care for a patient who came in with pancreatitis was to make them NPO (nil per os – nothing to eat/drink) until the pancreatitis completely resolved. This could take… well, a while.
But nowadays, the guidelines have changed. When should you feed a patient with pancreatitis now?
When they tell you they’re hungry.
I think the same principle applies to manuscripts. When should you take a break from a MS? When you feel like you need a break. When should you shelve it? When you want to shelve it. If you find yourself thinking “I should probably shelve this, but…” Don’t shelve it. If you really wanted to shelve it, you wouldn’t add the ‘but’!
There’s no right time frame, no magic number of revisions or rejections before you should shelve a manuscript. As long as you want to work on it, you should work on it. When you’re completely bored of it, put it aside. And when should you look at it again?
When you’re hungry for it.
Okay, so it’s not a PERFECT metaphor. Did I mention my 102F fever??
Happy writing, everyone 🙂