Thursday, September 23, 2010

South Carolina Asked Me an Interesting Question!

I answered this on a seperate post, but for those who might miss the link, I thought I'd share! Here goes!

Hi Cathy Nelson from SOUTH CAROLINA!

What an interesting question. I've actually never had anyone ask me about censorship before, and I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share my views on this touchy topic. First of all, I believe not all published work is suited to all readers. There, I said it - to me it's a simple fact. BUT, having said that, we wade into the murky waters of who decides for whom what is and is not appropriate.

So! I will now weigh in. Remember, this is just my take on the question as an author. (Yikes! I hope when I'm done people won't pelt my house with olives!)

I'll begin with little back-story. I may have mentioned earlier on my blog that ALL are welcome in my home, and those are not empty words. I have had teenagers (girls, mostly - although boys have landed here, too!) who have moved in when things have gotten rough, which has translated into hundreds of hours negotiating sticky areas between teens and adults. My conclusion? Let me just say that there is A LOT MORE GOING ON in the lives of young adults than many parents might care to acknowledge. Yes, there are some protected teens who have never heard a swear word, but they are, sadly, a small minority. Most teens I've encountered have matured beyond their years. (Another fact: I might not like the way they have walked away from their childhoods too soon, but choices are made apart from my pearls of wisdom. I work from what IS, not from what I wish could be). And having said all of that, it is my belief that banning books won't change behavior, not in the slightest.

I mean, isn't that the fear? That a child reading about a certain behavior will suddenly indulge in said behavior themselves? I have never personally witnessed anyone renounce their core beliefs because of some random author's take on life. Quite the contrary. I've found reading is the safest way to explore alternative world views. Personally, I welcome a chance to talk about 'banned' subjects, not to preach as much as to listen. To probe into the decisions of a fictional character and discuss fictional consequences enlightens everyone involved. How much safer is it to talk about imaginary pregnancy than to face the real thing?

Now comes a caveat: Parents know their kids, so I invariability bow to their choices and wisdom when it comes to their offspring. If they deem my books (which some have) as too graphic (for some readers they are) then by all means, censor my books from your family! It's not a problem with me - discretionary reading has my blessing. However, and this is where some people get stuck, the idea of honor goes both ways. Those same parents MUST honor the right of the many to read material they themselves may deem 'unsuitable.' I believe we must not allow individualistic sanctions to put the kibosh on a teacher's/classroom's/librarian's choice of material. For me, the few should not control the rest! We're all about freedom, right? (Man, I feel those olives coming my way...)

Last but not least - one thing life has taught me is that it is impossible to please everyone. Let's not try. To that end, I am a big believer in offering all sorts of books to all kinds of readers - no judgment! I respect their choices...problem solved! Respecting differing points of view is the key.

So! In my humble opinion, let the few choose NOT to read, allow the many to ENJOY, and let the conversations begin!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Want to Learn to Publish Your Own Book?

Hi All!

On September 23rd, my friend will be teaching a webinar about writing for children with the fabulous folks at Writer's Digest. Mary Kole (an agent with Andrea Brown Agency) is trying to get the word out about this webinar (people register, then call in and listen to her give a structured talk, followed by a time for Q&A) so that she will get good attendance for it and make this a worthwhile thing for WD. If it does well, they'll ask her to do it again, and she loves all teaching opportunities. Believe me, Mary is very, very good!

So - for any of you who would like to write, here's your chance to connect with one of the best! Posts/Tweets/blurbs about it now and around September 15th would probably work the best to generate the most interest for Mary (and serve as a reminder for you to tune in as well!)

Here's the link where you can learn more about the webinar. Use this link (or a tinyurl version, etc.) when you blog or Tweet, as it has Mary's referral code on it. Full disclosure: Mary won't get paid per click with this referral code or anything, so it's not like she's getting gravy by asking you to use it, it's just for tracking purposes on WD's end, to see whose publicity worked the best:

This is a rare opportunity, and I hope all of you who have wanted to break into the field take time to listen to Mary Kole. I know I will!

Alane Ferguson