Monday, March 27, 2006

Of Nerd-Girls & Nibelungs

Right now, the SciFi Channel's showing a miniseries version of the Ring of the Nibelungs. I'm really enjoying it, LOL.

Years ago, when they showed the first inkling of a preview for the Lord of the Rings (which was very influenced by this), I was sitting with my best friend and very nerd-girl-like said "YES!!!" (while pumping a fist) at the movie theater. Um, mind you, this was before everybody knew what the heck it was and I was in a largely African-American audience when I did this. Let's just say I had a lot of folks looking at me like I lost my dang mind.

Growing up, I read a lot and always felt weird reading all the things I did. I loved history, myths and legends, heroes and warriors, faeries and dragons, epic journeys, and travels to exotic or alien lands. It was an escape for me from the realities right outside my window and growing up where I did in D.C., it just wasn't cool. I might as well have had "Supergeek" stamped on my forehead, but it was me. That's the only person I could be, right? I was lucky that I had a friend who was into it too and if you're somehow somewhere reading this, I just want to tell you that I had so much fun with you. Thanks for being a nerd-girl with me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Standing in Borders

When asked if she'd like to chill and talk over apple cider at Starbucks or to go to a bookstore, my 13-year old cousin Brianna was a girl after my own heart. "Let's go to the bookstore. I'd love to see what's out right now!"

It's always fun to go shopping with someone who is the age group you prefer writing for. I was genuinely interested in seeing what she'd choose. The young adult section at my local Borders is about two stacks full. She wandered around both sides, skimming the spines. On the other side, another girl stood looking pretty much the same way as my cousin.

"Excuse me, sorry to bother you," I told her. "How old are you?"

"13," she said, smiling.

"Is it me, or are you having a hard time finding books about Black teen girls too?" I asked. She smiled even bigger this time and said, "Definitely. There just aren't very many of them at all." She recommended two authors to me. My cousin seconded the girl's statement. For both girls, judging from the books in their hands, they had no problem reading stories with non-"ethnic" main characters, but I know from talking to them and seeing the section with my own eyes that there's a hole--a need--there and it became glaringly obvious to me that night.

The next day I told my friend Sylvia, who is Mexican-American, about my experience and she told me, "You know, I think girls 'of color' like us need fun stories about us doing positive things."

I agree.

Brianna's picks: The 310: Life as a Poser by Beth Killian, How to Survive Middle School by Rick Bundschuh, Girls Rule by Ashley Rice and a book of poetry, What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Great Art in a Heat Spell

Last week, we had a bit of beautiful weather--we're talking in the 80s here in D.C. I just wanted to get outside and walk and explore. Ran into some co-workers who gave me their extra strawberry-banana smoothie (yay!) and I was off. I walked past the National Geographic headquarters building, popped into a store, bought cool shell earrings from a West African vendor and used my Potbelly gift card for a sandwich. Ahhh, the life of a worker downtown, lol.

As I was nearing my job, I heard calls of "Portraits for 25 cents! Get a portrait done!" I couldn't resist. Students from the 2nd grade class at the SAIL charter school at the Washington Very Special Arts program were sitting on the stairs of their school, surrounded by pastels and clipboards with paper. One young businessman was already standing there posing with his suit and briefcase. He looked at me and smiled. I stopped and said, "I'd love one! Who's going to draw me?"

A young lady named Amber said "I will!" and proceeded to sketch me with her pencil, paying close attention to what I was wearing and my hair (which she declared as "really long", lol) and even got my sunglasses on my head. She was thrilled when I paid up and her friend Tanyia (pictured above) declared, "Well, I'd like to draw you too! Have a seat!" I was too tickled and plopped myself down. Her class was winding up behind us to go back in and she asked for more time to finish. Her teacher, Mr. Pierce, sat with us and enjoyed the day as Tanyia sketched and blended. I was really happy and gave her a dollar--you know, for the extra time and because it was for a good cause--they were raising money for the homeless. As we were sitting there, a man--who may have been homeless himself--came over and gave her a handful of change.

This experience really made my day.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Being Productive


I'm going to sit down with the 2006 Children's Writers and Illustators Market and ID some companies to a.) send postcards to, and b.) send manuscripts to.

It can be rough trying to get published, isn't it? I think it's a combo of luck, studying your industry and talent. You can be plenty talented, but if you're not putting yourself out there, who'd know?