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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Curl Up With A Nice Banned Book

It’s that time of year again—Banned Books Week. And what better way to celebrate the narrow-mindedness of others than by picking up one of the most banned books of the year and giving a read. Call it our book nerd way of sticking it to the man.



So, what are were the most banned books of 2009? Glad you asked, here’s the list according to the American Library Association.

1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: drugs, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
2. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality
3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group
4. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
6. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
7. My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
9. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
10. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

I have to say, of this list, my favorite is banning Twilight for being “sexually explicit.” Seriously? I would love that book banner to send me the page I must have missed where Bella and Edward got down and dirty. ‘Cause I’d love to read it. All my books have is a bunch of “dazzling” images of Edward’s face and some dizzying kisses. Oooooo, kinky.

And of course, there’s the infamous gay penguin controversy of And Tango Makes Three, which I think couldn’t possibly be summed up better than by the author himself:

“We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families. It's no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks.”

—co-author Justin Richardson,
New York Times (2005)


So as an author who can only hope to one day have her books banned with such prestigious company, I encourage you all to head to local library and check out one of the 2009’s Most Taboo. You can even read it under the covers with a flashflight just to feel extra sneaky.



POP CULTURE RANT: Thursday Nights
Why does every network insist on putting all its best shows on Thursdays? Is this some misguided effort to reclaim the good ‘ole days of the Seinfeld-fueled line up of Must See TV? Because it seems whether it’s Project Runway, Vampire Diaries, Big Bang Theory, or The Office, it’s all on Thursday night. My DVR can only do so much. Spread it around, networks, will you?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Few Things I Learned in Disney World

So I was off on a post-Labor Day vacation in Florida and now that I’m back I thought I’d compile a list of the wisdoms I gathered during my travels. Because let’s face it, it takes a brave person to visit the Sunshine State during hurricane season, and an even braver one to spend early September in the heat-ridden oven that is Orlando.

Here’s goes:

What I Learned on My Disney Vacation

1. The parks are EMPTY post Labor Day. We only waited in one line, and that was for the new Toy Story ride at Hollywood Studios. The rest we either had Fast Passes for or the wait was no more than 10 minutes. You could ride everything twice (including Soaring! Best ride ever!)

2. You can't buy a breeze in these parks. And somehow it is hotter in the Mexico-themed country of Epcot than any other country there. Freaky.

3. Do not fall for the Chronicles of Narnia ride at Hollywood Studios. Actually, the DH and I have nicknamed it the “Commercials of Narnia,” because the entire “ride” is you standing in a room watching a 15-minute movie trailer. That’s it. Then you leave. It was insulting.



4. See the Fantasmic fireworks show. It is so awesome, the DH spent the rest of the trip practicing his wand-waving in case his dying wish of being cast as Mickey during this show is ever fulfilled.

5. The “American Adventure” video in the Boston-themed part of Epcot takes itself very seriously. And it's like 40 minutes long. By the time we got to the very dramatic ending, I had to work hard not to laugh (especially when the image of Tiger Woods came up).

6. Go to the interactive “Turtle Talk with Crush” experience at Epcot. The guy playing the Nemo turtle is "totally" hysterical, and I still have no idea how that animated character on screen was able to respond to the crowd. Righteous.

7. If you volunteer to be on stage during the Backlot Tour, they will dump a few tons of water on you. Seriously. And that raincoat they give you doesn’t really stop your jeans from being wet the rest of the day.

8. Full grown men can go down the waterslide at the gigantic pool in the Beach Club resort. They don’t get stuck.

9. I think the same woman sings all the “dramatic montage” songs in every country. And you will find yourself begrudgingly humming “Canada! Oh, Canada!!!” for days afterward.

10. Dress socks with little Mickey heads make an excellent gift for your cat sitter.



POP CULTURE RANT: Vick -vs- Kolb
So Andy Reid has recently named Michael “I Kill Dogs for Fun” Vick as the starting quarterback for the Eagles for the rest of the season, benching Kevin “The Future of the Team” Kolb until further notice. Kinda harsh. Kolb only played one half of one game before his concussion, and granted, it wasn’t a very good half, but still. I thought they would at least give him another try. I’ll admit Vick played some awesome football these past couple weeks, but Detroit is a sucky team. He might as well have been playing against my old high school. And as much as I think Vick is the better quarterback, I find it hard to support anyone who is capable of torturing dogs for kicks—though I am looking forward to all the headlines the Philly Daily News will dream up. This one is pretty classic.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Vampires Wear The Best Clothes in GCC Member Lucienne Diver's REVAMPED

Gotta love a vampire series where a fashion diva is cursed without a reflection for all eternity. How will she know which shoes go with this outfit? It’s an intriguing, and witty, twist on the vampire genre tackled by Lucienne Diver in the second book in her YA series, REVAMPED. It recently debuted through Flux.

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

In VAMPED, Gina and her minions defeated a vampire vixen, a psycho-psychic and the vampire council of Mozulla, Ohio. Gina was all ready to expose vampires to the world in all their fanged fabulosity…until the Feds arrived to sweep everything under the rug and make them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

In REVAMPED, Gina and her boyfriend Bobby are sent undercover to infiltrate a New York high school where some seriously weird stuff is going down. Worse than that, Gina’s new super-secret identity is as goth-girl Geneva Belfry. No color palette to speak of. More chains than a bike rack. And don't even get her started on the shoes. At least she won’t be too worried about blood spatter when kicking the butt of her newest nemesis, who’s decided that the high school makes a perfect playground.

Here’s what Lucienne had to say:

Q: In AMIGAS AND SCHOOL SCANDALS, Mariana takes a road trip to Cornell. What’s your funniest road trip story?

Lucienne: When I was about seven years old, we took our first family trip up to Lake George, NY. It was a hideously hot day, and I don’t remember whether our car didn’t have air conditioning or if it just wasn’t up to the task, but we stopped frequently on the drive to cool down at the rest stops and rehydrate.

On one of our stops, I picked up a passenger, although I didn’t know it yet. Now, keep in mind that I have an insect phobia…

We’re riding along and I can feel something crawling up my leg beneath my jeans. I’m starting to panic, and my father (with his voice like Lurch from The Addams’ Family) is trying to convince me that it’s just sweat running down my body and getting irritated with me when I don’t take his word for it. Finally, he finds another rest stop, pulls into the parking lot and right there has me take down my jeans (I was only 7). Sure enough, there’s a walking stick the size of my thigh staring at us.

I scream and he tries to give my sister and I a nature lesson…A NATURE LESSON! While holding the insect that has terrorized me for the past ten miles or so!

I finally convince him through reasoned logic and no small amount of screaming that I’m not going to retain any of the fascinating information he’s relaying while I’m jumping out of my skin, and he releases it into the wild, very gently placing the clearly demonic insect on a tree branch while orating on how well he blends in. Sigh.

We get back in the car, by which point the crayons my sister and I had been using to color in our books have melted all over the back dashboard of the car. My father is oh-so-thrilled. By the time we reach our cabin in the woods, we’re hot and cranky and can think of nothing more than taking a dip in the pool of our cabin complex…

Um, I can go on, but I think the full story takes up a guest blog all by itself. Let’s just say that after that there were encounters with squirrels sharing our cabin, blood, stitches, a trip to the hospital, swimmer’s ear, a drop-sided toaster and… what am I forgetting?

As a fellow Entomophobic, I share in the horror of finding that bug on your leg. In fact, now I feel itchy.

Q: I often talk about how I didn’t always “know” I wanted to be a writer. Did you? Or did you have other plans when you were little?

Lucienne: From the time I was eleven, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Before then it was a nurse (my father informed me YOU WILL BE A DOCTOR), an anthropologist (GEOLOGIST, my father insisted, that’s where the money is), a cryptozoologist (which shut him right up), an actress, Princess Leia….

Q: Throughout the AMOR series, Mariana and her friends celebrate their Sweet 16s (and 15s). What did you do for your Sweet 16 or Quinceanera?

Lucienne: We had my birthday party at my parent’s “yacht club,” which sounds all high-brow, until you realize that we called it “the tub club”…if you or your vehicle stayed afloat, you were in. We had a blast. Two of my friends, with whom I had a gag war going, presented me with a Butthole Surfers album, and we danced the night away.

Q: I wrote the AMOR series organically, no outlines. My new manuscripts, I’ve outlined extensively. How about you? Are you an outliner?

Lucienne: Oh, I’m definitely a pantser. Generally, I only “outline” a few chapters ahead, because by the time I get to the last chapter outlined, my characters have thrown me a curveball or things have veered off in a more natural direction or…. Plotting a whole novel from the start would be, for me, an exercise in futility.

Q: Where were you when you found out that your novel was going to be published? Tell us the story.

Lucienne: The call…a dramatic recreation:



Actually, I was at the airport when I got the news, but for some reason, they wouldn’t let me through security for the recreation, even after I explained!

Seriously, how cute is that slide show? Love her!

Thank you, Lucienne! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Learn To Love Your Fake Boyfriend in GCC Member Kristina Springer’s New Novel

A lot of kids have imaginary friends, but not all of them have imaginary boyfriends. Well, unless they live in Canada. Come on, all summer flings claimed to have taken place in Canada are fictitious, aren’t they? And apparently that isn’t the only land where fake boyfriends live, at least according to GCC member Kristina Springer’s new novel, MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS, which debuted through FSG this week.

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

Seventh grade was supposed to be fun, but Tori is having major drama with her BFF, Sienna. Sienna changed a lot over the summer—on the first day of school she’s tan, confident, and full of stories about her new dreamy boyfriend. Tori knows that she’s totally making this guy up. So Tori invents her own fake boyfriend, who is better than Sienna’s in every way. Things are going great—unless you count the whole lying-to-your-best-friend thing—until everyone insists Tori and Sienna bring their boyfriends to the back-to-school dance.


Here’s what Kristina had to say:

Q: In AMIGAS AND SCHOOL SCANDALS, Mariana takes a road trip to Cornell. What’s your funniest road trip story?

Kristina: The first road trip I took to Michigan with two of my best friends when we were 18. We were very silly and it was a ton of fun! We pulled over constantly to take pictures in front of funny statues, signs and dance in the streets.

Q: I often talk about how I didn’t always “know” I wanted to be a writer. Did you? Or did you have other plans when you were little?

Kristina: A rock star. Stage name=Tina Rockafina

Q: Throughout the AMOR series, Mariana and her friends celebrate their Sweet 16s (and 15s). What did you do for your Sweet 16 or Quinceanera?

Kristina: I had a big slumber party at my house. I seem to recall a Ouija board and bra freezing.

Ahhh, Ouija boards...I was raised Catholic, so I wasn't allowed to have one. Something about the Exorcist.

Q: I wrote the AMOR series organically, no outlines. My new manuscripts, I’ve outlined extensively. How about you? Are you an outliner?

Kristina: Same here. I wrote THE ESPRESSOLOGIST (my first book) that way [as AMOR] but the second book I wrote a proposal for so I did plot out chapter by chapter beforehand.

Q: Where were you when you found out your novel was going to be published? Tell us the story.

Kristina: My editor e-mailed me that it was a go so I was sitting in front of my laptop at the time. I had sold this book when I sold my first and at that time it was just “untitled book” so after we finished work on the first book I wrote a few proposals for a second book and sent them to my editor and she liked MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS.

Thank you, Kristina! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Copyright © 2008 Diana Rodriguez Wallach, All Rights Reserved