Misc., links, the week that was

1. I’m heading off for the weekend to the southern part of the state in a giant Suburban with some fellow “soccer moms” and our 12 year old sons. My older son has been invited to try out for Maine’s Olympic Development Program (ODP), which is supposed to identify players who will eventually play for the national team. Before anyone gets excited, bear in mind that we live in Maine, a state of 1 million people. What usually happens is that the Maine ODP team gets crushed the second they step out of the state to play other teams in our region with a population ten times larger. We think of it more as a chance for him, if he makes it, to play with some talented players around the state and get some superior coaching. So that’s my weekend, mostly.

2. But before that, I’m meeting Kristen of Fantasy Cafe for coffee. We’re giving a talk at our awesome local library on how to have a successful blog. I’m going to focus on the personal and social aspects. More on that next week. I made a joke about it on twitter that got RTd by Juan Cole. My brush with greatness for the week!

3. Speaking of the Bangor Library, they have an awesome book group that meets monthly to talk about “edgy” (mostly genre) fiction, PNR, SFF, YA, straight romance. I’m reading their last month’s choice, A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb, a ghost YA-ish love story, very slowly, but really enjoying it. It’s one of my 2012 goals to actually make it to one of their meetings.

4. I’m also reading, just as slowly, Lily by Patricia Gaffney. Proper review later, but Gaffney is one of those writers you pick up, and say “this is how it’s done”. I just think she is in a class by herself. The Kindle edition is just $2.99 right now.

5. And I’m also reading this PNR/sci fi series by Nina Croft. I plan to review (well, the two books I’ve read) but, while there is nothing new here (basically, it’s a PNR version of Star Wars) it’s a very enjoyable, very fun little series.

6. It was a big week on the blog, thanks wholly to my post on 50 Shades of Grey. Based on my stats — by far, my best days ever —  and the linkage in to RRR, this phenomenon is just getting underway. I’ve decided to create a new blog called “mommieporn”, fill it with ads for (a) sex toys, (b) wrinkle cream, and (c) yoga mats, and write short reviews of self-published erotic romance, the angstier the better.  I’ll be rich in two weeks. (And yes, I find it annoying the way this phenomenon is getting reported. I’m delighted there are women who are feeling “naughty sexy” as a result of reading 50SoG, but many middle aged women readers knew erotic romance quite well before reading this book, and, moreover, felt pretty sexy already, and I wish we heard those voices too.)

7. In the classroom… I just love my classes this semester, making it two semester in a row. I do have some things to work on in feminist philosophy. I’d like a better vibe in the room (the five men all sit in the back, for one thing), and I need to get a better sense of the balance to strike between discussion and lecture. In ethics, we spent some time discussing the Komen fiasco in connection with Kantian moral philosophy, so interms of pedagogy, it was fortuitous timing. I was invited to sit on a master’s committee in English by a student who is working on a feminist analysis of urban fantasy (hopefully that topic will be nice and shrunk by the time she actually writes her proposal). We plan to do an independent study this summer on urban fantasy, which I’m looking forward to as I haven’t read much UF nor have I read much of the critical literature (wonder how much there is?) on UF. My lowest moment was telling a student she was wrong, and then realizing as the words were emerging from my mouth that she wasn’t  (not only was she not wrong, but she had a better and more creative answer than the one I was seeking) and apologizing to her in front of everyone.

8. Most of you know I am married to a historian. Last night my older son said “Philosophy rules, history drools”. My work here is done.

9. I plan to write a review of A Wrinkle in Time, because my younger son and I just read it. Little did I know it is the fiftieth anniversary of its publication. Check out the Book Smugglers list of all the bloggers who are participating. Lurv a la Mode also recently reviewed it.

10. I liked this post from Red Hot Books: Give Readers Some Credit and Stop Working the System. I’ve been talking about this with many readers: we now view “all 5 star” ratings on GR or AZN with deep suspicion, and a lack of range in reader response is a huge red flag. Yes, authors, I’m saying what you think I’m saying: you’ll need to ask your minions to write you some 2 star reviews.

11. I’m definitely going to Book Blogger Con and Book Expo America in New York in June. Recent news (after I registered, naturally) is that the bloggers who founded BBC a couple of years ago have sold it to the company who runs BEA, which has said, “We are pleased to be able to take this responsibility over for them and to build even greater recognition for the Book Blogger Convention by fully merging it with our BEA marketing efforts, programs, and attendee outreach.” Nobody is asking what this means for BBC, to not have the event owned by bloggers, and I don’t want to go to those threads full of “Congratulations!!!!” and be the ant at the garden party by asking this question. All I know is that there is no news at all of speakers or events for BBC, nor of who is going to be putting the event together (will it still be bloggers?). Registration is a complete nightmare, with many bloggers paying different amounts and getting different answers as to why.  Book bloggers are increasingly viewed not as a varied group of independent voices on books with wide ranging agendas, but as marketing tools for publishers. It’s hard for me not to worry a bit about this development given the current climate.

12. I’m sorry there is not more linkage here. I’ve been busy (a sick child in the earlier part of the week, which *should* mean lots of time to get stuff done, but in fact means jumping up every five seconds to fetch something for said child). I’ve also been trying to eat more healthfully which always makes me a complete crank. That said, I’m delighted it’s the weekend and I hope you are too!

13. Go Pats!

 

22 responses

  1. I share your questions about the Book Blogger Convention. I hadn’t particularly planned to go this year, though I hadn’t ruled it out. (I went last year and enjoyed meeting other bloggers, but the convention wasn’t helpful enough to make it a must-attend event every year.) I do worry that it’s going to take even more of a “how to support the industry” or “be a good promoter” tone, which was already a bit of a problem last year. The one actual BEA session I attended about online book reviewing was horrible, which makes me even more concerned about whether the organizers know the landscape well enough to choose good presenters. Then again, it could be a good development if it means expanding the possibilities for presenters or topics. I’d just like to see the agenda and some clear information on pricing before I decide.

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  2. I’m also planning on attending the BBC (living in NYC makes it an easy choice for me), but I am wondering what the new ownership means for the con. So far, all I’ve seen is the PR release announcing the change of ownership.
    I started to register, found the process confusing, with little info about any specifics, and decided to hold off for a little bit. I’d like to have a better idea of what to expect with the new change.

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  3. Thanks for #6 (do I dare to mention this issue?). I clicked through to the HuffPo “porn for mommies” story and didn’t know quite what to make of it. It’s been bugging me all week. On the one hand, it’s filed under “Comedy,” on the other it starts “I am not joking” and sometimes has the tone of a breathless PSA for the world’s sex-starved wives and mothers.

    Like you, I don’t mean dismiss or denigrate the many comments of women who found the book . . . inspiring; I’ve had reading experiences like that myself. But there is something (self)-condescending (as you said in your review) or diminishing of this experience in the style of the piece, even as it seems celebratory. I think it’s partly the universalization of women’s experience, as if all North American women had a 50 Shades receptor in their brains: “just plug it in and mommy becomes a sex goddess.” But clearly that book, like every book, did not work for everyone. It flattens something that’s complex and interesting about our reading experiences.

    It’s also the sense of discovery, as if no woman had ever watched porn with a partner (or alone), or as if middle-aged wives/mothers were to0 innocent to realize that there’s a flood of erotic material available to them: just turn off the parental controls on your browser once the kids are in bed. As if, say, Sex and the City never happened (haven’t we discovered many times before that women like sex and sometimes talk to their friends about it??).

    What I do think is that a lot of women aren’t comfortable seeking that stuff out on the net (I don’t myself) or telling their friends if they do. Would you press a porn video into your friend’s hands at Starbucks? I thought your point about the cover and title of 50 Shades was excellent. They don’t scream erotica, and may make some people more comfortable buying, reading, and sharing it with their friends as well as being inspired to open up with both partners and friends about their sex lives. And since I do believe a lot of women with young kids struggle with their sex lives (but don’t feel they can talk about it), I think that’s a good thing. I’d love to see more nuanced discussion of this whole phenomenon, though, that takes women more seriously.

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  4. I also wondered about the changes to BBC, but I won’t be going so I guess I don’t really care that much. But it’s definitely a question that is being asked in private and should be addressed more publicly as well.

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  5. My lowest moment was telling a student she was wrong, and then realizing as the words were emerging from my mouth that she wasn’t  (not only was she not wrong, but she had a better and more creative answer than the one I was seeking) and apologizing to her in front of everyone.

    One teacher to another? That was your highest moment. Really.

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  6. Good luck with the ODP. I hope your son has a great time. I still remember my swimming lessons with a woman who was in the Olympics thirty years ago (gah thirty years…) Those are the sort of experiences you remember all your life (well, obviously. :))

    I haven’t read (and don’t plan to read) 50 Shades, but I’m looking forward to that Porn for Mommies blog. You know, written the right way, that could be highly entertaining. ;)

    The Red Hot Books post is disheartening. For the writer who is minionless and hasn’t been around long enough to collect legit Amazon 2 star reviews, where to solicit them?

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  7. Living in Oz, the BBC was never on my horizon but I am concerned about the seeming intent to turn book bloggers into a controlled channel to readers that comes through in changes like this and the tone and hectoring often present in guidelines (that I have seen shared by bloggers) on receiving arcs and books for review. I don’t think they get the community aspect of blogging and connecting through blogging with other readers.

    Have a great weekend and goodluck with the ODP tryouts.

    The best takedown of Komen that crossed my twitterfeed was a definition of ‘unkomen valour’ = saving unborn babies by letting their mothers [with cancer] die. The pity is the backdown will only be a one off. My experience is when a relationship is so poisoned they will look for other ways of withdrawing funding, e.g. find other sites to offer the same servies even if they end with higher overheads due to dealing with multiple organisations. This also gives them the chance to write more draconian funding guidelines and exert more control over the service deliverers.

    Sustained pressure for Komen to act differently towards Planned Parenthood will only come if the impact on the pink brand continues into the future; people have to choose to reject Komen. An important part of supporting this process will be offering other options for people to connect with and support breast cancer research and care. I don’t know what these are but the people who read this blog might and it would be good to share and publicise them.

    On another protest note, Heidi Cullinan has an intense post on the explicit banning of same-sex entries in an RWA chapter’s writing competitions. http://heidicullinan.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/rwa-shouldnt-be-in-the-business-of-discrimination/

    >Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category – from the contest rules for the More >Than Magic contest hosted by Romance Writers Ink Chapter of RWA

    My understanding is that this is in line with RWA guidelines for competitions and that the reasoning given on inquiry is “She was told it was a hard decision, but some members of the chapter felt “uncomfortable” with same-sex entries.”

    Heidi asks:
    Are you an author of LGBT romances? Are you a reader of them? Are you an advocate of LGBT rights? Please write to RWI’s contest coordinator (jackie.rwimagic@netscape.com). Please write to RWA.

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  8. Totally agree with Sonoma Lass – for a professor to rethink something on her feet and admit she’s wrong, just to model that, it’s such an amazing thing. One of the things that troubles me most…well, a lot…about politics is how somebody having changed his or her mind on a topic is a flaw. To me, it shows intelligence and a definite lack of foolishness.

    Would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall for your Kantian analysis of Komen!! Good luck to your son at the Olympic tryouts!! yippeee!

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  9. The seminars at the BEA were so well run that I haven’t been worried about the BBC, I think it will likely be just a touch more professional which couldn’t hurt. Last year there was a lot of visiting but also a lot of people walking out of the seminars- not a great sign.

    I didn’t have any issues registering so now i’m curious why everyones having issues and what the price differences are? We’re still listed under non-editorial media (same as last year) and I got the price of 65$ if you attended the BBC (which included the BEA), which was half the price it was last year.

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  10. Yet another ditto for Sonoma Lass. It was always the teachers unafraid of admitting a mistake who were the the most interesting as a student.

    And I quite thought of you through the whole Komen PR fiasco. I bet that was a fascinating discussion.

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  11. Looking forward to reading your review of Lily – I haven’t read that one yet, though I plan to.

    That book group sounds like fun!

    And I am so excited for the student doing the UF project. I have been keeping an eye out, and haven’t seen much discussion online of the subgenre from an academic standpoint. However, there IS a fair amount of scholarship about Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, which you could argue is part of UF, if not one of its foremothers. Okay, butting out now.

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  12. Looking forward to your review of A Wrinkle in Time! I was largely disappointed with my reread of it, but at the same time it was still fun to revisit some of the things that I’ve remembered about it since I was a kid. I don’t appreciate it as much as an adult, but I can’t wait for your review because I need to discuss it with someone who’s likely to delve into it more deeply than I did. My review was more about my reactions to how it made me feel, and my feelings were that I wasn’t nearly as impressed unfortunately. I found it hard to articulate why.

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  13. @Teresa:

    I do worry that it’s going to take even more of a “how to support the industry” or “be a good promoter” tone, which was already a bit of a problem last year.

    That’s really interesting to hear. This is exactly the kind of thing I was worried about. I’d just like to get a better sense of who is planning it and what their objectives are.

    @k reads:

    So far, all I’ve seen is the PR release announcing the change of ownership.

    I find this very strange given that the event is coming tight up in early June. I am hopeful that we will get more information soon.

    @KT Grant: You liked A Certain Slant of Light? I am so enjoying it! (still nto *quite* finished of course)

    @Liz Mc2:

    Like you, I don’t mean dismiss or denigrate the many comments of women who found the book . . . inspiring; I’ve had reading experiences like that myself. But there is something (self)-condescending (as you said in your review) or diminishing of this experience in the style of the piece, even as it seems celebratory. I think it’s partly the universalization of women’s experience, as if all North American women had a 50 Shades receptor in their brains: “just plug it in and mommy becomes a sex goddess.” But clearly that book, like every book, did not work for everyone. It flattens something that’s complex and interesting about our reading experiences.

    Exactly. And it doesn’t even celebrate the experiences of those women whom it accurately describes as crediting the book with rejuvenating their sex lives. This kind of press has more of a “point and laugh” feel.

    @Amy @ My Friend Amy:

    I also wondered about the changes to BBC, but I won’t be going so I guess I don’t really care that much. But it’s definitely a question that is being asked in private and should be addressed more publicly as well.

    Thanks for letting me know others are asking the question, Amy. This is a lot of money and a big commitment, and I think potential attendees should have a place to direct such questions.

    @SonomaLass:

    One teacher to another? That was your highest moment. Really.

    Thanks so much for that, Julie, and @HJ, @Pam Regis and @Jill Sorenson and @Carolyn Crane: !

    You made me feel better about it. I aspire to be the teacher who never forgets to be open to surprises from students, but failing that, catching myself being closed is a decent second best.

    @Tamara:

    I haven’t read (and don’t plan to read) 50 Shades, but I’m looking forward to that Porn for Mommies blog. You know, written the right way, that could be highly entertaining. ;)

    Thanks Mara! I’m totally doing it. ;)

    @Karenmc:

    I hope the soccer trip was fun for everyone.

    It was! Crossing my fingers for good news.

    @Rhiannon:

    I didn’t have any issues registering so now i’m curious why everyones having issues and what the price differences are? We’re still listed under non-editorial media (same as last year) and I got the price of 65$ if you attended the BBC (which included the BEA), which was half the price it was last year.

    I’m glad you are optimistic about the changes. Please let us know if you hear anything specific!

    As for the prices… I did non editorial media, which meant BEA was free, but somehow ended up spending $135 for BBC. Clearly I have to look into that. On Twitter, a number of people were getting all different prices and answers.

    @Victoria Janssen: Buffy, of course! thank you!

    @KMont: I was really disappointed too. I’m not sure I’ll have anything too deep to say, so we’ll be together in our inexplicable and apparently indescribable disappointment!

    sorry if I missed anyone — got to run.

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  14. I attempted to complete my registration for BBC today (again), but have run in to problems.

    Despite the stated Early Bird rate of $0 for the BEA All Access Pass, when I go to check out, I am being charged $159 in addition to the $72 to attend BBC.

    If I click on the None button for the pass, it tells me I must select a registration choice. (I don’t understand why there even is a None button if it is not a valid registration choice, quite honestly.)

    I’m going to give them a call tomorrow and try and figure out what the deal is.

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  15. @k reads: I’ve just seen that BEA Show Director Steve Rosato wrote an open letter to Book Bloggers about the 2012 Book Bloggers Convention

    He writes:

    Bloggers pay a flat early bird rate of $135.00 that includes their pass for BEA – end of story for our blogging friends (stop reading now if you are blogger).

    He is aware that some book bloggers paid less ($65) while they were working this out, and he will honor those registrations.

    Also, the new name of the event is BEA Bloggers Conference

    Like

  16. Thanks for this.
    He makes it sound very reasonable and easy.
    I still can’t seem to figure out how to register without being charged $200 plus dollars but, hey, tomorrow is another day!

    Like

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