Rosemary Clement Moore just arrived back from the Sirens Conference, where she was the keynote speaker. She had only good reviews about the attendees, the hosts, and the atmosphere. The conference focuses on women in fantasy literature, and is both an academic and networking retreat. She’ll be there next year too, so join her and enjoy the company along with the Pacific Northwest weather.
Meanwhile, member Harry Hall is gearing up for his November 13th book launch at the University of Dallas. Pedestriennes hit the shelves just this week, so grab your copy and catch him at his 7:00 pm reception and book signing in Haggar. An hour later, he’ll present in Lynch Auditorium and give away goodies from Luke’s Locker, Brooks, and Cassie’s Gourmet Popcorn. Details can be found here.
Finally, we will soon be waving our handkerchiefs at A. Lee Martinez as he departs on a quick trip to Chicago, where he’s the Guest of Honor at WindyCon. This conference, held November 14th-16th, is the oldest science fiction convention in the city and 1,200 attendees will pass through its doors to catch a glimpse of our very own.
So, there you have it…at least until Thanksgiving.
And succeed she has. Long ago, she spun tales to entertain her little sister. Now, she's entertaining us all.
We are very excited to announce the release of Carolyn’s debut novel, Romancing the Gold, published by Muse it Up. It’s a romantic suspense with everything you could want – bullets flying, people dying, and a healthy serving a forbidden temptations and physical attractions.
Alongside the purchase of her book, you can catch a recent interview she did for Caroline Clemmon’s blog, A Writer’s Life. There she mentions one of her favorite quotes is by Marjorie Holmes: “You haven’t failed until you quit.” Is this any wonder? Not for those of us who know Carolyn. She's earned this one, and we cannot wait for the next.
When you see her, don't forget to shake her hand and congratulate her -- because word is that tenacity is contagious. We've hung out enough with Carolyn to believe that's true.
Happy Banned Books Week!
This week always gets me thinking about censorship, free press, and the fear of the advent of a Brave New World or Handmaid’s Tale type of societal control. I was so glad when the DFW Writer’s Workshop decided to donate banned or challenged books to a high school this year. The sad fact is that 33% of high school students and 42% of college students will never read another book after they graduate. Maybe part of the reason for that is they haven’t read books that ignite in them a joy for reading, for whatever reason.
As a teacher, I try to get my students fired up for reading, but in this age of screens as entertainment, it gets harder and harder. So, maybe we should worry less about keeping books out of kids’ hands and more about putting books into them, even if the book that gets them interested in reading might make us uncomfortable.
My donations this year, for the most part, were inspired by both this philosophy and the “We Need Diverse Books” campaign. So here’s my list:
- Our Bodies, Our Selves by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective: Honestly, I was shocked to find this book on the list. A shocking number of women do not understand their own bodies because they were never taught and didn’t ask questions. This is not only an act of societal mysogynism, but also a health risk to women. Anyone who watched the episode of Orange is the New Black, “A Whole other Hole” saw a comedic depiction of a real problem.
- I knew that Geography Club (Brent Hartinger), and Annie on my Mind (Nancy Garden) would be challenged and wasn’t shocked to see them on the list. These are books about LGBTQ teens finding their way in high school. A message that is important in this day an age when we see so many LGBTQ teens contemplating suicide because they feel alone, or bullied. In order to develop tolerance in our kids, they need to learn about all kinds of people. That means all kinds of protagonists in their literature, and kids who identify as LGBTQ need to be able to find protagonists like themselves in their literature.
- I know that Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman) has some of the same objections from the book banners as the above texts. But come on, how could you ban work from such an American poetic treasure?
- Am I Blue (ed. Marion Dan Bauer) is a collection of short stories by LGBTQ authors designed to teach tolerance for LGBTQ individuals to all students, while Revolutionary Voices (ed. Amy Sonnie) is a collection of reflections written by LGBTQ youth of color on their own unique journeys. Again, I feel these are an asset to a high school library, not something that should be put away in shame as if we are shaming the writers and readers as well.
- I know the above selections were a bit “cause-y” and while the causes are important, reading is also fun. So, I ended my donation with: Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, and Queen of the Damned (all by Anne Rice). There is a very simple reason for this. I needed teens to realize that real vampires DON’T SPARKLE. Okay, so it was a different kind of cause...
Banned Books Week is very close to my heart because if we hide or shame a subject matter in a book we are also hiding or shaming people in our society for whom that subject matter is part of their identity, be them people of color (The Invisible Man by Ellison), women (Our Bodies our Selves), alternative sexualities (my above selections) or anything else. So even if you disagree with the book, read it so you can better understand and we can all grow more tolerant. Kids who are taught tolerance don’t become bullies.
Banning books makes our schools less safe.
--Kat Cook, DFWWW member since 2013
Tony Skur, a longtime member of the DFW Writer’s Workshop and author of Christmas Help, More to Come, and One More Time, passed away on September 21. He was a true gentleman and patriot who will be sorely missed.
Tony was born in Ohio in 1931 and joined the US Marine Corps Reserve at the young age of seventeen. Three years later, he enlisted in the US Air Force and was accepted into the aviation cadet program in 1952. His first assignment was flying the F-86D Sabre Dog, an early all-weather swept wing jet interceptor.
Volunteering to serve in Vietnam, Tony flew in the Special Operations Wing, piloting one of the most bad-assed piston-powered aircraft ever built. The A-1 Skyraider, originally designed for the Navy in World War II, was the first airplane capable of carrying more than its own weight in ordnance. And carry ordnance he did. Where most planes of the era streaked across the sky at high altitudes, Skyraider pilots flew in the weeds, eyeball to eyeball with the enemy, providing close air support for our ground forces and performing rescue operations for downed airmen. He retired from the Air Force in 1978 with the rank of full colonel.
Tony wrote about flying and he wrote about war, but he also wrote about love, for it was love that filled his heart. While based at Perrin Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, he met the beautiful Kathleen Mayberry and proposed nine days later. Together they raised three sons and a daughter, living in wedded bliss for 59 years. During Kathleen’s later years, Tony lovingly cared for her as Alzheimer’s slowly took her. She passed away in September 2013.
A life of service is a life well lived. Not only did Tony serve his nation in war, he spent much of his time in service to others. While stationed in Tokyo, he helped keep an orphanage supplied with food, clothing, and school supplies. In Alaska, he was asked to prepare 30 children for their first communion, earning him the nickname ‘Pope Tony.’ Until his last days, he volunteered with Meals On Wheels, delivering food to senior citizens in his Keller community.
A month ago, Tony was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. Even though he had a rough start with chemo therapy, he fought hard and kept his spirits high. Unfortunately, he passed away in his sleep Sunday evening, September 21, 2014.
Always a gentleman and a true gentle man, he will be sorely missed by his family and friends, but we can take solace in knowing he is forever reunited with his beloved Kathleen. Colonel Anthony Skur, my dear friend Tony, rest in peace.
-- George Goldthwaite, DFWWW Member since 2009
The first banned book I ever read was Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I can’t remember what grade I was in, but my mom had to sign a consent form in order for me to read it along with the rest of my class. She also had to sign a consent form when we watched Franco Zeffirelli’s version of Romeo & Juliet after reading the play.
Even though the main characters die at the end, I think that form had more to do with the fact that we got to see Romeo’s butt, a quick flash of Juliet’s breast and a totally covered post coital smooch. It’s amazing, but we survived.
Even though I can probably still quote a few lines from Romeo & Juliet, it didn’t make an impression on my teenaged mind. It had nothing to do with Shakespeare’s mad writing skills. I just couldn’t connect to Romeo and Juliet. But Holden Caulfield was a different story. Even though he was a different gender, I felt like we were on the same floor in the angst-ridden department. After all, not all teenage girls are lovesick or pining over their own star-crossed lover. I was moody, cynical and probably clinically depressed. And Holden’s story made me feel as though my thoughts and feelings were valid. He had them too.
Yes, there’s a lot of swearing, a prostitute and underage drinking, but in this day and age, that’s totally PG-13. I pray they never make Catcher in the Rye into a movie because there’s not much of a plot. (I know it hasn’t stopped Hollywood before.) It’s a simple character study about a depressed young man coming to terms with becoming an adult. It’s a book that I’ve read several times throughout my life and each time, it’s like visiting with an old friend.
I’ll leave you with my favorite passage.
I was the only one left in the tomb then. I sort of liked it, in a way. It was so nice and peaceful. Then, all of a sudden, you’d never guess what I saw on the wall. Another “Fuck you.” It was written with a red crayon or something, right under the glass part of the wall, under the stones.
That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write “Fuck you” right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it’ll say “Holden Caulfield” on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it’ll say “Fuck you.” I’m positive, in fact.