Saturday, January 14, 2017

ORGANIZE. FIGHT. WIN.

     It's so strange.  It's been so long since I've had the heart to post, and yet my blog stats (the number of views I get per day) remain steady.  It makes me a little nervous to actually post something, to be honest.  What if people like my blog better when it just sits there and shuts up?
     Ah, but having a blog isn't just about collecting hits.  It's about communicating thoughts and feelings and, occasionally, even facts.  So let me share this fact:  I'm headed to Washington, D.C. this Thursday night, along with my daughter, to participate in the Women's March on Saturday.  It does make things convenient when you have a son who lives there and whom you don't see nearly often enough.  And when your daughter announces that he'll be kicked out of his bed for the three nights you'll be there and relegated to the couch so that she and you can sleep in comfort.  But I would be going anyway, and I expect to have plenty to say here when I get back.
     I still can't talk about my Secret Project.  It may or may not still be viable (having pretty much zero seed money doesn't help one bit).  But there's something else I want to share.
     If you want to become politically active but have no idea how or where to start, you have to check out the Indivisible Guide.  It's a very sensible, step-by-step manual designed and written by former congressional staffers for making your voice heard on a local level, and in a few short weeks it's gone viral.  These millennials watched the Tea Party spring from nothing and grow to take over the Republican Party, and they want to share those successful tactics with individuals who are committing to fighting the Trump agenda.  I saw one of Indivisible's founders interviewed last night by Rachel Maddow, and he said that Indivisible groups have now formed in every Congressional district in the country.  There is power in numbers, folks.
    Every day the media report on new outrages, and it becomes easier to think that we're living inside a Twilight Zone episode.  But we're not.  All of this is really happening.  Much of it is beyond our control, but I believe with all my heart that we can make a difference.  Working together, we can bring down this vile pseudo-President and his vile henchmen.  Please, please, leave me comments and let me know what you're doing to fight back!!  And I'll let you know what I'm doing just as soon as I can.

 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR?


     Yes, this is what 2017 holds in store.  But we can fight back.  We must, and we will.
     It's been a rough few months.  I haven't been steady enough to even post anything here since the end of November.  But now I have something I can't talk about yet because it's still in its baby stages, but it's starting to bring me hope that all is not lost.  Please stay tuned. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

RESISTANCE

     It feels like eons ago since I last posted.  It WAS eons ago.  Aside from identifying my daughter's sketch the day after the election, I haven't been able to find words adequate to the task of expressing what I'm feeling.  I've derived some grim satisfaction since then from being Bitter on Twitter (@unpubYA, in case anyone's interested), expelling short and mostly vicious bursts of sarcasm to describe the betrayal I feel at the hands of this country I've called home my entire life.  But putting together a coherent paragraph seemed beyond my ability.
     I went to my doctor a week ago Friday for a long-scheduled annual physical.  He told me my blood pressure was up, and started questioning me to figure out why.  No, my diet hadn't changed, my salt consumption hadn't changed, nothing had changed except my lifelong belief that America could never become a fascist state.  He suggested I was overreacting.  "The environment will be irreparably harmed," I said, for starters.  He waved that away as a minor concern; what was really important right now, he said, was that the country have a leader who would grow the economy, bring back the  manufacturing sector.  I talked a little more about the global economic abyss of eight years ago and the extraordinary job Obama had done since then to lower unemployment and lift us out of deep recession, but I gave up after a little while.  My doctor clearly wasn't buying any of my arguments.  He was a kind, intelligent, educated man who had obviously voted for Donald Trump, the most profoundly ignorant person who will have ever held the job to which he will ascent in exactly two months.
     Meanwhile, David Duke publicly exults at Trump's staff picks, a swath of hate crimes erupts across the country, and Trump repeatedly takes to Twitter not to condemn either of these things, but to excoriate both the press and private citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.  Every pick he has named so far has been worse than appalling.  The only way the nomination of Sessions as Attorney General could get worse would be if the Senate rolls over and approves him, thus cynically declaring that the fox would do a bang-up job of guarding the henhouse.  This is a man who believes that the concept of civil rights for minorities is un-American.
     I've tried to do a few things.  I closed my Amazon and Macy's accounts, specifying that I was doing so because of their continued entanglement with Trump business interests.  I've contacted both of my senators.  I've signed onto my friend Julie's secret project which is going to be amazing and empowering.  But I've spent a lot more time feeling enraged and powerless and hopeless.
     But last night I had an idea.  I attended an SCBWI writing craft conference last weekend, and I came back knowing that I have a lot of work ahead of me to revise my current work-in-progress.  A lot of cutting.  Establishing more clearly right up front what the main character wants.  And as I was struggling last night to implement some of these changes, I started thinking about how crucial diverse books are to the kidlit world, especially in these dark times.  And I remembered everything I've read and heard from editors and agents about how much they'd love to see books that have diverse characters but that are not ABOUT diversity; the diversity is not a plot issue, it's simply part of the fabric of the story.
     I thought about all of this for a long time, and at the end I decided that I want my protagonist's best friend, whose ethnic identity is currently unspecified, to be Muslim.  I want him to be part of a somewhat secularized American-Muslim family, but otherwise to basically remain unchanged from the person he already is.  I don't plan to include any didactic lessons about inclusiveness.  He'll just be a regular American kid, which is of course what Muslim kids are.  But I'll know the difference.  And maybe someday if and when this book gets finished and published, it will make some middle-graders think about the world a little differently than they otherwise would.
     I'm a writer.  I am living in deep dread of the damage one hate-filled demagogue and his minions will be able to inflict on my country and on the world over the next four years.There aren't many things I can do single-handedly to change the outcome.  But I can, and I will, change my book. 



    
      

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

LIBERTY WEEPS



(I commissioned this drawing from my daughter the artist.  I knew she could execute what I was seeing in my mind's eye, and she did.)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

CONTEST RESULT!

     Thanks to those who entered my giveaway contest for WRECKED!  My favorite comment came from Jess at DMS.  So Jess, email me your mailing address at muranosb(at)gmail(dot)com, and the book is yours!  Congrats!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

HEY, HEY, BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!

    



     I haven't run a book giveaway contest  in quite a while, and given what this book is about, the timing seems right.  So read on!  A free book awaits you!
     Have I ever mentioned that my husband's hobby is entering contests?  He doesn't just do it for himself, either.  He enters contests to win tickets to events in Washington, D.C., where our son lives; tickets to events in New York, where our daughter lives; and, for me, he tries to win books he thinks might interest me, particularly young adult novels.  And I speak with authority when I say that if someone spends A LOT of time entering contests, they have a pretty fair shot at winning some of them.  A couple of weeks ago we went to a movie for free, as a matter of fact.  And now that you know about my husband's contest-entering fetish, it brings me to the subject of THIS contest.
     Through no action of my own, I am now the proud owner of a pristine copy of a newly-published YA novel entitled WRECKED, by Maria Padian (Algonquin Books, 2016).  To me, the timing seems right to run a giveaway of this book because the subject is an allegation of sexual assault between two students on a college campus.  A bookish freshman goes to a party one night, gets drunk, passes out, and wakes up to find herself being raped ... or does she?  The novel examines a range of divergent people and their viewpoints: Jenny, the alleged victim; Haley, her roommate; Jordan, the accused; Richard, a housemate of Jordan's; Jenny's controlling parents; the college dean assigned to investigate the incident; and a number of other students, including Carrie, a volunteer for the school's sexual assault response team, and someone who starts an anonymous online conversation thread about Jenny called "Lying Bitch."  According to the book's jacket flap, reading it "will leave you thinking about how memory, identity, and who sits in judgment shape what we all decide to believe about the truth."
     I flipped through the book but didn't read it, so I can't personally provide a recommendation.  But you can learn about the author here and look at reviews of the book here and here.  You can also read a Q & A with the author on the publisher's website, AlgonquinYoungReaders.com.  And honestly - it's a giveaway!  As my husband might say: the price is right!!  So now that you're convinced that you want to enter this contest, let's proceed to the rules, shall we?
     The Rules: the contest will begin as soon as I publish this post, and will continue until next Wednesday, November 2nd, at midnight, U.S. eastern time.  In order to enter you have to do two things: (1) become a follower of this blog (or let me know in a way I can verify that you're already a follower), and (2) leave a comment on this post.  That's it.  How much simpler could it get?  I'll choose my favorite comment and send the book to that person.
     Let the games begin!  And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I'M AFRAID

     I haven't blogged directly about the presidential election until now.  I felt that there were many very smart people who were expressing my sentiments better than I ever could.  But I'm posting about the election now - not because I think I'm brilliant, not because I think I'm articulate, but because I'm haunted by fear and I just need to talk about it.
     Donald Trump is a serial abuser of women, and if that's what brings him down, I'm glad.  His attitudes and behavior towards women and girls are degenerate.  In his twisted mind, he has kingly authority over half the human race because he possesses wealth, power, and a penis.  The fact that we as a society have finally advanced to the point where such Stone Age views can actually cost someone an election is heartening, but even that result isn't a sure thing, and of course if it does happen it's pathetic to even count it as a triumph.  Still, no one will be happier than me to watch Trump crash and burn on November 8th because some diligent reporter discovered that 20-year-old videotape.
     But I am very frightened whenever I consider all the revelations about him that haven't, even potentially, brought him down.  When Trump was a young man, he and his father were charged by the government with racial discrimination in their hiring practices, and former employees have given statements indicating that the policies did indeed exist and that they were blatant and deliberate.  He has mocked a reporter with a physical disability, and reportedly referred to the actress Marlee Matlin as "retarded" because she is deaf.  He proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, and comes very close to equating all Muslims with - one of his favorite phrases - radical Islamic terrorists.  In a supreme irony, he calls Mexicans "rapists."  He is an outspoken fan of Vladimir Putin, whose critics in his country have disappeared with alarming regularity.  In fact, Trump has invited Russia to hack into Clinton's emails - an invitation Russia appears to have accepted.  He has threatened to jail Hilary Clinton, and makes no effort to silence his supporters when they speak of executing her.  His major theme is that, due to the machinations of a vast ring of conspirators, virtually everything is wrong with this country, and that he alone is strong enough to fix it.  In short, he is an ubermensch.
     Is it just me, or does this man remind you of anyone?  Trump is proud of his ignorance, which does not mean that the rest of us can forget history.  Have we learned nothing in this century about the dangers of following narcissistic, populist cult leaders/demagogues?  Is it a coincidence that white supremacists and neo-Nazis deem Trump the first mainstream politician to whom they can pledge wholehearted support?  Is it a coincidence that both Trump and his son have reposted items from white-supremacist websites?  IS ANYONE LISTENING??
     I don't believe that it can't happen here, in this bastion of democracy.  I believe that this country is in grave danger from Trump, his supporters, and the do-nothing bystanders in the Republican party.  And I can't remember ever having felt so afraid.