Writing & Snacks

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weneeddiversebooks:

Read This: Gene Luen Yang’s rousing comics speech at the 2014 National Book Festival gala
From the Washington Post, article here.
GENE LUEN YANG, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building:
Good evening. Thank you, Library of Congress and National Book Festival, for inviting me to share the stage with such esteemed authors, and to speak with all of you. I am deeply grateful for this honor.
I’m a comic-book guy, so tonight I’d like to talk about another comic book guy. Dwayne McDuffie was one of my favorite writers. When I was growing up, he was one of the few African-Americans working in American comics. Dwayne worked primarily within the superhero genre. He got his start at Marvel Comics but eventually worked for almost every comic book publisher out there. He even branched out into television and wrote for popular cartoon series like “Justice League” and “Ben 10.”
Dwayne McDuffie
Dwayne McDuffie is no longer with us, unfortunately. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 49. But within comics, his influence is still deeply felt.
I was lucky enough to have met him once. About a year before his death, we were on a panel together at Comic-Con. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.
In a column Dwayne wrote in 1999, he talked about his love of the Black Panther, a Marvel Comics character. The Black Panther’s secret alias is T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He has super senses, super strength, and super agility. He’s an Avenger, though he hasn’t yet made it into the movies.
The Black Panther wasn’t created by African American cartoonists. He was created in July of 1966 by two Jewish Americans, Stan Lee (who was born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (who was born Jacob Kurtzberg).
By modern standards, the Black Panther is not a flawless example of a black superhero. In their first draft of the character, Lee and Kirby called him “the Coal Tiger” and gave him a goofy yellow and black costume. Even in his final form, his superhero alias includes the word “Black.” This is true of many early African and African American superheroes, as if what makes them remarkable is neither their superpowers nor their heroism, but their ethnicity. Most problematic, though, was that Marvel made their most prominent black superhero the star of a series called Jungle Action.
All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”
Dwayne’s love of the Black Panther eventually blossomed into a love of comics in general. Dwayne was a smart guy with a lot of options in life. He’d earned a master’s degree in physics. But he chose to write comics as his career. I would argue that without the Black Panther, this flawed black character created by a writer and an artist who were not black, there would be no Dwayne McDuffie the comic book writer.
Dwayne wasn’t just a writer — he was also a businessman. In the early ’90s, he teamed with a group of writers and artists to found Milestone Media, the most prominent minority-owned comic book company that has ever existed. The Milestone universe have since been folded into DC Comics, so these days characters like Static Shock and Icon – characters Dwayne co-created – fight crime alongside Superman and Batman.
In the early ’90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called Xombi, published by Milestone Media. Xombi is a scientist who became a superhero after he was injected with nanotechnology. He allied himself with a secret order of superpowered nuns. One sister was known as Nun of the Above, another Nun the Less. Together, they protected the world from all kinds of supernatural threats.
Xombi was inventive and fun, but he stood out to me because he was an Asian American male carrying in his own monthly title. And even more notable – he didn’t know Kung Fu. Xombi wasn’t created by Asian Americans – his writer was white and his artist black – but he did make Asian Americans a little less invisible.
We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.
But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.
This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities. After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.
I told you the story of Dwayne McDuffie to encourage all of us to be generous with ourselves and with one another. The Black Panther, despite his flaws, was able to inspire a young African American reader to become a writer.
We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.
Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.
Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them – definitely correct them – but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.
And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.
Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.

weneeddiversebooks:

Read This: Gene Luen Yang’s rousing comics speech at the 2014 National Book Festival gala

From the Washington Post, article here.

GENE LUEN YANG, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building:

Good evening. Thank you, Library of Congress and National Book Festival, for inviting me to share the stage with such esteemed authors, and to speak with all of you. I am deeply grateful for this honor.

I’m a comic-book guy, so tonight I’d like to talk about another comic book guy. Dwayne McDuffie was one of my favorite writers. When I was growing up, he was one of the few African-Americans working in American comics. Dwayne worked primarily within the superhero genre. He got his start at Marvel Comics but eventually worked for almost every comic book publisher out there. He even branched out into television and wrote for popular cartoon series like “Justice League” and “Ben 10.”

Dwayne McDuffie is no longer with us, unfortunately. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 49. But within comics, his influence is still deeply felt.

I was lucky enough to have met him once. About a year before his death, we were on a panel together at Comic-Con. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.

In a column Dwayne wrote in 1999, he talked about his love of the Black Panther, a Marvel Comics character. The Black Panther’s secret alias is T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He has super senses, super strength, and super agility. He’s an Avenger, though he hasn’t yet made it into the movies.

The Black Panther wasn’t created by African American cartoonists. He was created in July of 1966 by two Jewish Americans, Stan Lee (who was born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (who was born Jacob Kurtzberg).

By modern standards, the Black Panther is not a flawless example of a black superhero. In their first draft of the character, Lee and Kirby called him “the Coal Tiger” and gave him a goofy yellow and black costume. Even in his final form, his superhero alias includes the word “Black.” This is true of many early African and African American superheroes, as if what makes them remarkable is neither their superpowers nor their heroism, but their ethnicity. Most problematic, though, was that Marvel made their most prominent black superhero the star of a series called Jungle Action.

All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”

Dwayne’s love of the Black Panther eventually blossomed into a love of comics in general. Dwayne was a smart guy with a lot of options in life. He’d earned a master’s degree in physics. But he chose to write comics as his career. I would argue that without the Black Panther, this flawed black character created by a writer and an artist who were not black, there would be no Dwayne McDuffie the comic book writer.

Dwayne wasn’t just a writer — he was also a businessman. In the early ’90s, he teamed with a group of writers and artists to found Milestone Media, the most prominent minority-owned comic book company that has ever existed. The Milestone universe have since been folded into DC Comics, so these days characters like Static Shock and Icon – characters Dwayne co-created – fight crime alongside Superman and Batman.

In the early ’90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called Xombi, published by Milestone Media. Xombi is a scientist who became a superhero after he was injected with nanotechnology. He allied himself with a secret order of superpowered nuns. One sister was known as Nun of the Above, another Nun the Less. Together, they protected the world from all kinds of supernatural threats.

Xombi was inventive and fun, but he stood out to me because he was an Asian American male carrying in his own monthly title. And even more notable – he didn’t know Kung Fu. Xombi wasn’t created by Asian Americans – his writer was white and his artist black – but he did make Asian Americans a little less invisible.

We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.

But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.

This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities.
After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.

I told you the story of Dwayne McDuffie to encourage all of us to be generous with ourselves and with one another. The Black Panther, despite his flaws, was able to inspire a young African American reader to become a writer.

We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.

Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.

Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them – definitely correct them – but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.

And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.

Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.

(via cindypon)

55,945 notes

vambrace:

Hey there! So, you may have seen these body pillows around. You may have thought, “Wow, I sure want one of those.” Well good news! I take commissions for these cuddly lil nuggets!

THE SQUIDS:
Each squid is handmade with love from fleece, cotton, and felt, and stuffed with hypoallergenic 100% polyester filling.

SIZES:
Two sizes are available: an 8-foot body pillow, and a 4-foot cuddle buddy or travel pillow.

COLORS:
I can find just about any color, within reason. I am limited by what the fabric store has to offer, but the selection is great, so I can try my hardest to get the exact color you want.

UNDERSIDE PATTERNS:
Again, I am limited by what the fabric store has to offer, but I can find just about any pattern from paisley to polka dots in nearly any color. If you wish, you can request that I choose an underside for you based on the main color you choose.

OTHER OPTIONS:
I can fit the squids with an eye color, if you so desire. If not specified, your squid will come with traditional black and white eyes.
Also, three different highlights are available for your squid: original (photos 4 and 5), circles (photos 6 and 8), or crescent (photo 7). If not specified, your squid will come with original highlights.
Additionally, you may request the firmness of your pillow. There are three firmness options: firm, regular, or what I call squishy. If not specified, your squid will come with regular firmness.

PRICES:
Large squids are $75 (shipping not included) and small squids are $40 (shipping not included). Shipping will be $20 nationwide. International shipping is available, and those shipping prices can be viewed here.

HOW TO ORDER:
It’s easy! Just email me at tentacle.club@gmail.com with the following information:

Color
Underside color and pattern
Size
Shipping Information
Eye color (optional)
Eye highlight (optional)
Firmness (optional)

I will reply to your message with the email address you’ll send money to via PayPal. If you would rather send a check or money order, I will provide you with that information at your request.

OTHER INFO:
Please know that these squids are not made in a pet-free home; if you are allergic to cats please be aware that despite my efforts to keep them away from my cat, he still might have sat on the fabric while I wasn’t looking. Also note that these are made with FLEECE; if you have a fleece allergy, please do not buy these pillows. The filling of the pillows is guaranteed hypoallergenic BY THE COMPANY, NOT BY ME. If it turns out you have an allergy to the stuffing, sue them, not me. I am not responsible for any injuries that happen from your enjoyment with my pillows.

Thank you all so much for the support so far! I hope you consider purchasing one of my squids, I have a 100% satisfaction rate so far. And please, spread the word!

30,777 notes

vambrace:

VAMBRACE’S SUPER SQUID SQUAD SQUIVEAWAY!!

You may have seen these delightful squid pillows before and thought, “I sure would like one of those, but I have no money!” Well I have good news for you! You can win a FREE or DISCOUNTED squid! How you ask? Let me give you some details!

WHAT:

There are three prize packages available!

GRAND PRIZE: One person will win the one-and-only Hodge Q. Podge (picture 1), made from the quilt I fashioned out of leftovers from commissions. You will also receive a lifetime of joy from his cuddles, and my eternal friendship.

If you are chosen as the grand prize winner, you may opt to choose second or third prize instead, and another grand prize winner will be chosen.

SECOND PLACE: One person will win a FREE squid commission of his or her design. You tell me what to make and I’ll make it at no (or at least little) expense to you! It can be any size, any color, anything at all. Doesn’t that sound swell?

If you are chosen as the second prize winner, you may opt to choose third prize instead, and another second prize winner will be chosen.

THIRD PLACE: One person will win 50% OFF the purchase price of ONE squid commission. For a large squid, that’s a savings of $35, and for a small, that’s a savings of $20! PLUS your shipping is paid up to $20! Whoa!

All prizes include $20 worth of free shipping. That is, shipping will be free for US winners, and should an international contestant be chosen, you will receive a $20 discount on shipping. While I’d like to offer shipping worldwide on this giveaway, it’s drastically expensive to mail a giant squid body pillow overseas. But you’re still getting a great deal! For international rates, check here: (click)

HOW:

1: You must be following vambrace.

2: You must reblog the original squid post at least once. You may reblog it as many times as you wish, but that will not affect your chances of winning.

3: You must reblog this giveaway post, and you may like it if you so desire. There is no limit to the times you can reblog it, but please be considerate of your followers. Don’t spam them with giveaway stuff! Each like and reblog will count as one entry in the giveaway. You can set up a queue, make a schedule, reblog in waves, whatever. As far as “giveaway blogs,” I don’t really care. As long as your conscience is clear, I don’t have a problem with who wins.

WHEN:

The giveaway will start July 8, 2014 and will end on August 7, 2014 at midnight (Central Standard Time). Reblogs and likes from 7/8/2014 to 8/7/2014 will act as names in a hat, and three names will be drawn on August 8 before midnight.

Winners will be notified by ask box, so make sure your ask box is open. If the winner chosen does not wish to take the prize package they are drawn for, they may decline, and another name will be drawn.

The winning message will include a promo code, which will be exclusive to you. To accept your prize, you must send the promo code to tentacle.club@gmail.com within 24 hours, along with your shipping information. Once you have accepted your prize, it acts as a ticket which you may use at any time to redeem your prize package. If you win third prize or are outside the US, you may send the remainder of the money via PayPal to redeem your prize.

Winners will not be publicly announced, but I will announce that all the names have been drawn and that giveaway is over. 

That should cover it! If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, you may contact me via tumblr ask box or at tentacle.club@gmail.com.

Best of luck to all of you, and Go Go Squid Squad!!

(via wedgex)

20 notes

If I was out walking in the woods and came across this I’d run like hell. Well, first I’d take a picture and then I’d run like hell. 

If I was out walking in the woods and came across this I’d run like hell. Well, first I’d take a picture and then I’d run like hell. 

(Source: superkatieblog)