Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fall in Love

Summer has been officially over for days. As much as I enjoy two months off from work, fall is my favorite season. This probably stems from the fact I always liked school. (The new clothes! The new notebooks and pencils! Turning over a new leaf, ha ha.) Plus, my birthday's coming up. While it no longer holds quite the excitement it used to, I am grateful for every new year.

Here in Maine, the leaves are indeed turning. And falling. The nights are cold enough to crank the heat up. I'm still stubbornly clinging to capri pants and sandals for work, but pretty soon I'll have to find matching socks.

What's your favorite season? Does the time of year play any part in your books? The trilogy I'm working on starts in the late spring/summer of 1820. I'm going to see if I can't get the last book into the fall and crunch some leaves underfoot!

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Banned Aid


I just finished putting up the display in the library for Banned Books Week, which is September 27-October 4 this year. "Closing books shuts out ideas" is the theme. I found several other quotes---"Free people read freely," for example. Here's a list of the ten most challenged books of 2007:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language

7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

We have eight of them in our high school library, and lots more that hit the Top 100 Banned Books list year after year. To see them, click here.

Locally, a woman recently stole a sex-education book from a Maine public library, claiming it was pornographic. She refused to return it or pay for its replacement, so her pastor did. Interestingly enough, several library patrons replaced the book and there are about six copies now instead of one. With the revelation that the Republican vice-presidential candidate asked her town's librarian the "rhetorical question" (I believe she meant hypothetical question) on how one went about banning books, Banned Books Week has taken on an even greater interest to me.

The image of a librarian is a conservative one---the glasses, the bun, the sensible shoes so one can creep up behind miscreants who are defacing books. But beneath that veneer lies the wildly beating heart of a libertarian. I don't have a Masters in Library Science, but I believe I have the right to make my own decisions as to what I read, or , when they were younger, what my children read. I agree with Granville Hicks who said "A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to." I'll leave you with some other thoughts to ponder.

"I am opposed to any form of tyranny over the mind of man."-- Thomas Jefferson

"Censorship of anything, at any time, in any place, on whatever pretense, has always been and always be the last resort of the boob and the bigot."-- Eugene O'Neill

"Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose."-- George Orwell

"Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime."-- Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart
Getting off the soapbox now. Go read a banned book!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pulling Up Weeds


We had to tear out the tomato plants the other day. Maine was very rainy this summer, and even though there were lots of green and pink globes on the vine, they were rotting and bug-infested. Being the cautious soul I am, I wanted to look over each one, just to make sure. My beloved husband just ripped them out and threw them into the woods.

This approach to the tomato plants can be viewed on so many levels. Me: I make excuses, I live in hope. Venus. Him: Scorched earth, take no prisoners. Mars.

I wonder how people can see the same things but interpret them so differently. This political season is particularly rife with diametrically opposed viewpoints. I wonder what it is about my face that indicates I'd like to engage in debate. I'm an independent voter, so there's no bumper sticker on my car. I don't wear buttons or partisan T-shirts. But I listened politely as the furnace repairman lectured me on socialism in my basement yesterday. I kind of wondered what century he was living in. Just last week the copier repairman gave me the same spiel in the faculty room at school. There must be something in the toner or on talk radio.

But getting rid of the bad tomatoes reminds me of editing. Sometimes you just have to delete the words. Root out the evil. Vote the bums out.
I have a bumper sticker now.
Is this campaign season affecting you? Are you a proponent of the Venus-Mars theory? How did your garden grow?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Webbed Foot


I had the shock of my life yesterday. Well, perhaps I exaggerate---I write fiction, that's what I do. I visited my agent's website to look over the list of her authors. I wanted to check out their websites. Despite an aborted effort trying to build my own (can anyone say decisive, diffinitive disaster at least 10 times?), I'm still curious about more of a web presence than this blog. I clicked under 'Our Authors.' There I was, Maggie Robinson, listed alphabetically by first name, with a link to this blog! So you could go there, and get right back here! It made my whole writing journey feel more real somehow. Thank you, Laura Bradford!

So once I get domain name issues straightened out (there are other Maggie Robinsons out there), I'd like to become a www. What makes a good writer's website? Any advice appreciated.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I'm Singing Her Song!


Congratulations to critique partner and Vixen Extraordinnaire Tiffany Kenzie for finaling in the Melody of Love Contest with Jinan (Hidden Beauty)! Yay, Tiff! Let the harem girls dance!
Update! The results are in for the Golden Claddagh Contest. More congratulations are in order for Elyssa Papa's second-place win in the contemporary category for Take a Chance on Me! My Mistress by Midnight came in third in the historical division. Bring on more dancing girls!