Really? Again? SPEAK labelled pornography



Oh, for heavens sakes.

A guy named Richard Swier in Florida thinks that SPEAK is “child pornography.”

I wish I were making that up.

SPEAK is cautionary tale about the emotional aftermath of rape. It tackles bullying, depression, rape, sexual harassment, and family dysfunction. It teaches children that when bad things happen, they need to speak up, even when it’s hard. It has given hope to tens of thousands of readers since 1999. It is a standard in curriculum across the country.

Swier’s quest would be laughable except that there are a couple of uninformed people who think that he knows what he’s talking about. Since he has picked apart my work, let me return the favor.

In this “article” (and I use that term loosely), Dick tries the fan the flames of horror. 

(Note to people who want to burn my book but can’t be bothered to read it in order to track down the swear words. Swier has done your job for you, complete with page references. Great job, Dick!)

Dick is a Tea Party activist. He has a lot of fascinating opinions. Writing for the Tea Party Nation in 2011, he said “The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) population in America is headed for extinction and with it our economy, well-being and survival as a uniquely America culture.”

Dick says the bullying of LGBT kids is not bullying, “It is peer pressure and is healthy. There are many bad behaviors such as smoking, under age drinking and drug abuse that are behaviors that cannot be condoned. Homosexuality falls into this category. Homosexuality is simply bad behavior that youth see as such and rightly pressure their peers to stop it.”

He also thinks that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the White House.

A round of applause, please, for the review committee at Laurel Nokomis School in Sarasota County, Florida, who, according to their policy, reviewed the book and decided to keep it.

The challenge now moves to the district level.



Showing Fangs, Seeding Ideas & WFMAD 22

Our wood for the winter should arrive this week. Whatever day it gets here is guaranteed to be 90 degrees and humid. It’s a law of physics. Wood needs to be stacked in garage = unseasonably hot weather + new hatching of mosquitoes and deerflies. But it’s comforting in a weird, sweaty way, to know the wood is coming, because it means I can start thinking of cool fall nights with a fire crackling in the fireplace.

Since I have starting fires on the mind, I might as well share my curmudgeonly opinion about whether YA books get enough respect in the field of literature. (Chasing Ray is doing a great job gathering opinions about this.)

This is a generalized opinion, not specifically tied to any one article or blog post. It comes after nearly a decade of being introduced as “the lady who wrote SPEAK.” If you are easily offended or irritated, you should probably change the channel now.

They don’t respect us for writing YA? Who gives a damn what they think? People who don’t understand the significance of YA literature to our culture are either ignorant or they are idiots.

Ignorance I can deal with. Lots of folks have been busy for the last fifteen years. They missed the revolution and are just now beginning to hear about this thing called YA. They lack information. Without information they are not in a position to judge. So if they look down on me for writing books for teenagers, it’s easy to shrug off their opinions because they are grounded in nothing.

Idiots don’t deserve my time or energy. They are the ones who make grand pronouncements on literature, who believe that the best way to educate a 14-year-old who reads below grade level is to shove Great Expectations down his throat. Then, when the kid says that the book sucks and that all books suck, and he reaches for his game controller, they are shocked and appalled at this horrifying, illiterate generation.

Idiots sometimes write dense short stories in which nothing happens that cause a sub-section of erudite inhabitants of Brooklyn to twitter and fawn, but leave the rest of the reading world scratching their heads.

When idiots look down their oh-so-refined noses at the raucous world of children’s and YA literature, it says oodles about the condition of their own spirits without contributing to the discussion at all. So I guess instead of flipping them the bird, I should try and be a little more understanding.

Or maybe not.

Are you sensing something defensive about this rant? Something snarly, cranky, maybe a little over-the-top? Yeah, I’m feeling my adolescent oats. I suspect I always will. That’s part of what makes me an enthusiastically happy YA author. I adore teenagers and I have a lot of empathy for what the culture puts them through. They are disdained, disrespected, patronized, criticized and scorned.

Gee, that’s the same attitude YA authors often run into.

So maybe the ignorant and the idiots are good for us. Maybe we need them to keep snubbing our work and dismissing our dreams because it reminds us what our readers are facing every day.

Any thoughts?

WFMAD Day 22

Today’s goal: Hasn’t changed. Write for 15 minutes. Don’t stress about the number of words you produce. Your brain is not a factory making word-widgets.

Today’s mindset: hopeful

Today’s prompt: I’m thinking ahead to what seeds I want to order for the garden next year. (BTW, if anyone has had success with using nematodes to control Japanese beetles, please tell me about it.)

I keep a gardening journal. As ideas come up for long-terms gardening adventures, I write them down. I need to ponder some ideas for years before I can really see the best way to execute them.

The same thing goes for books. There is a Future Projects file on my computer that is huge, and notebooks stuffed with ideas. These are the seed packets for my writing for the next decade.

Use your fifteen minutes today to write down seed-ideas for your writing for the next ten years. Let your imagination go wild.