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Hey, ya wanna hear a good one?

First of all, I want to thank everyone who hasn’t berated me for not exactly sticking to my Blog Manifesto mandate of blogging every Monday. (Those who’ve berated me? A pox on you.) I try. I really do.  But, in the words of the immortal Trekkie Monster: “Me busy.”

So, it will probably come as no small source of amusement to learn that, despite my inability to keep what should be a fairly moderate schedule, I’ve joined another blog, in addition to my activities here. The redoubtable Holly Schindler used her wiles and influence (AKA, she put me in a headlock and gave me the Noogie of Death) to get me to join Smack Dab in the Middle, a blog written by a diverse collection of middle grade authors.  Never mind that my first middle grade book won’t even by out until late 2012.  I’m diving in now and making my presence known there.  Holly won me over with the promise that I would only HAVE to blog once a month–on the 25th. I figured that would be doable.

I didn’t mention that I’d completely failed to even do ONE post during the entire month of February.  You know, just shortly after issuing the Blog Manifesto.

If nothing else, ya gotta stick around to watch me self destruct while I try to juggle what, in all reality, should be a completely manageable blogging schedule, yet I’ll find a way to change it into an earth-shattering cataclysm.  I am here, if nothing, to entertain.

My first post is up today.  We were asked to blog about why we write middle grade.  All the good answers were taken so I chose an unusual course: blunt honesty.

To be clear, I’m not giving up this blog. I will continue to blog here EVERY MONDAY (go ahead: laugh).  I will talk about the imminent release of my debut YA novel, WITH OR WITHOUT YOU (in stores just shy of one month from now).  I will talk about work on my middle grade series.  And I will talk about whatever else pops into my somewhat demented mind.

Lucky, lucky you.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 10:36 am  Comments Off on Hey, ya wanna hear a good one?  

The WHO Connection

With the new series of DOCTOR WHO starting in just two days, I had started a rather lengthy, rambling post about my lifelong love of the show with a butchered attempt at explaining my fondness.

Then Lis Sladen died.

I looked over what I’d written—an analysis of how gay men tend to be drawn to escapist fantasy and how DOCTOR WHO epitomizes the ultimate getaway—and it didn’t make sense to me anymore. I’m sure a psychologist would zero in on these reasons for my attraction to the show.

But really, I loved the show because of Sarah Jane.

Steven Moffat, the current showrunner, once commented that DOCTOR WHO isn’t about the Doctor. It’s about the companions. They’re our surrogates. We get to live the adventures through them. And while the Doctor has indeed flown solo a few times, he always manages to surround himself with people the audience can identify and sympathize with.

Sarah Jane was the first companion I knew. She was my first connection to the show. Sure, I was thirteen and a sci fi geek and that alone should have drawn me there. But being drawn there and staying there are two different things. And I stayed for Sarah Jane. She was funny. She was flawed. She was clever. She was strong.

Companions came and went like the Doctors but losing Sarah Jane was hard. She’s one of what I call “the tragic companions.” The list is relatively short: Jamie, Zoe, Adric, Peri, Rose, and Donna. Most of the Doctor’s companions left of their own accord. They chose to leave on their terms. Turlough returned to his homeworld, Jo got married, Mel went to explore the galaxy with Sabalom Glitz. The tragic companions didn’t get a choice. They had to leave the Doctor. Their departures tend to hit me the hardest. Largely because it’s obvious that most wanted to travel with the Doctor for much longer. Lis often said how much she treasured her association with DOCTOR WHO and how it brought so much good to her life.  I can’t help but think that, when she passed, nothing pleased her more than to know she was still making children happy playing Sarah Jane, some 30 years after originating the role.

I’ve met a few of the WHO actors over the years but I regret never having met her. The online tributes have been astounding and the one consistent fact in everything people are saying is what wonderful person she was. Sure, everyone says that when somebody dies. But not this effusively. Not this convincingly.

In many ways, I owe my writing to DOCTOR WHO.  But that’s a story for a different time.

Thanks, Lis, for having such a profound effect on my life. When the TARDIS flies again on Saturday, your presence will be felt.

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm  Comments Off on The WHO Connection  

It’s time to play the music.

The New York Times has an interesting article on the history of the Muppets franchise and how, essentially, it’s been almost destroyed several times over by mismanagement since Jim Henson’s death.

I’m a huge Muppets fan. HUGE. Don’t believe me? Here’s our wedding cake.

While the article refers to MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL and MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND as bombs, I liked both movies.  Liked, but didn’t necessarily love.  They both have their moments.  Odd as this may sound, I believe one of things that’s led to a sense of disembodiment for the Muppets is the strange decision to put Kermit into the background.

In both the aforementioned movies, Gonzo has a more prominent role and the disastrous MUPPETS IN SPACE centers around him.  MUPPETS TONIGHT (which I did love, if it was a little uneven) gave hosting duties over to Clifford. (I like Clifford a lot but, again, I kept wondering why Kermit wasn’t featured more.)  I think in most people’s minds, Kermit is the heart and soul of the Muppets. It’s always been peculiar to see him relegated to second banana duty. (Full disclosure: I’ve never been much of a Gonzo fan.  He tends to irritate me. So my analysis may be biased a bit. But you can’t deny a correlation between the downward spiral of the Muppets and the sudden, inexplicable prominence of Gonzo….)

I agree with the article that the Muppets are best when they’re being themselves, not when they’re taking on roles in THE WIZARD OF OZ or such. I have high hopes for the movie that’s coming out this fall.  It sounds like the people working on it have returned the Muppets to their roots.  Definitely a step in the right direction.

I still watch episodes of the original Muppet show and wonder why they aren’t more prominent in today’s culture.  There’s something timeless about the sketches. (OK. Not all of them.  The Mummenshanz?  Seriously?)  Or maybe nostalgia provides a sheen that mimics timelessness.  Sales on the DVDs have been iffy at best.  I just don’t get it.

Well, I sort of do. I think this article hits on some ugly truths.  And an ugly reality is: can the Muppets unique style and brand of humor compete with evolving tastes and technology? DOCTOR WHO essentially re-invented itself when it rebooted in 2005, shedding the shaky sets and awful SFX for cinematography and spectacle more in tune with 21st century audiences.   BATMAN was been re-imagined so many times, it makes the original comic books look cutesy and quaint by comparison.  Is there such a revamp that can make the Muppets hip again? Or are they destined to become memories of a different time with a different sense of humor, going the way of Little Orphan Annie, Captain Kangaroo, and Kukla, Fran, and Ollie?  And will such a reboot remove what made the Muppets who they are?

A lot is riding on this new movie. No pressure, though.

Published in: on April 11, 2011 at 8:57 am  Comments (2)  

And so it begins….

My debut novel, WITH OR WITHOUT YOU, is out next month. May 24, to be precise.  A bit earlier than I’d anticipated. Yay for being out early but AAHHH! now must think promotion sooner than I’d planned.

But, thankfully, the internet works in mysterious ways. (Or rather, I’m learning I have very cool writer friends who hook me up with very cool websites.)  See my first official GUEST BLOG POST over at Gay YA where I talk about resonating with readers and one YA book in particular that did so with me.

I guess I consider this the official kick-off to my WOWY (ain’t that a great acronym?) media blitz. Other promotional plans (a blog tour, for example) are in the works AND a contest.  In fact, TWO contests!  Details forthcoming in early May.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go avoid spoilers for the upcoming series of DOCTOR WHO, which premieres three terribly long weeks away on April 23. (Seriously, if the anticipation doesn’t do me in, fighting off the temptation to read spoilers will.)

Published in: on April 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm  Comments Off on And so it begins….