“The Significant Burden of Being a Grownup”, by Andrew Smith

I don’t know Andrew Smith’s work but will definitely be looking out for “Grasshopper Jungle”. Because I LOVE reading YA literature, firstly – not all of it; I dislike the really dark stuff (and it’s out there), and I REALLY dislike the stuff about nasty girls doing mean things to each other. But beyond that crud, you’ll often find the most creatively adventurous out-of-the-box imagining in YA lit.

What particularly encourages me about Smith’s comments here, however, is his statement that YA is a genre, it’s not about the age of the readers. That is so true, yet it had literally never occurred to me! It gives a whole new perspective to my own book, “Raven’s Way”, and for the first time in a long while I feel inclined to dig it out, throw off the restrictive bs I’ve “learned” about “writing for kids”, and get serious about rewriting the story I want to tell, the way I want to tell it.

Nerdy Book Club

In the summer of 2011, an awful lot of terrible things happened to me. It was kind of like the end of the world in many ways (cue apocalypse inspiration). My son, who was only 16, was getting ready to leave home and go away to college, and then one of those predictable and periodic internet/social media firestorms erupted over an opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal describing the harm inflicted on young people by the dark and negative content in Young Adult literature.

You know the piece, I’m sure. The author happened to name me first, quoting from my novel The Marbury Lens, as though I were some sort of apex predator in the Axis of Child-Damaging Literary Evil.

I take things like that really personally. I know I shouldn’t, but as a parent, and as someone who is very involved with young people, being labeled…

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And then there was the time an octopus asked for my help

Sometimes you read something a blogger wrote and you think, “I want you to be my friend. Maybe my best friend. Maybe you could even adopt me.” That’s how I felt this morning when I dipped into Vanessa-Jane Chapman’s blog and found this heartbreaking post. I know just how it feels to see a wrong … to fantasize about doing something to right it … even to INTEND to do something … but instead to walk away. Because it’s too hard, or I’m too busy / broke / overwhelmed / distracted just then, or I simply don’t know what to do.

No matter how good the excuses may be, the shame sticks with you forever. In the long run, it’s better to just grit your teeth and tilt at those bloody windmills.

And then there was the time an octopus asked for my help.

Can we please stop calling wild horses invasive?

The Contemplative Mammoth

The horse has a complex and fascinating environmental history. Wild horses have become such an icon of the American west that it’s easy to forget that humans introduced them to the continent five hundred years ago, during the age of European exploration. Horses quickly became part of Native American livelihoods and played an integral role in Western expansion, from Lewis and Clark’s expedition to the establishment of the open range ranching culture that still exists today. For centuries, horses played a central role in exploration and human livelihoods, until horse power was largely replaced by fossils fuels. Now, the human-horse relationship is shifting once again, and in contentious ways.

Wild, free-roaming mustangs. Wikimedia Commons. Wild, free-roaming mustangs. Wikimedia Commons.

In this piece on wild horses published in Slate a couple of weeks ago, Warren Cornwall wrote about managing horses as an “invasive species.” Certainly, horses have been a continual source of controversy in recent decades, as American and Canadian land managers, animal rights activists, and ranchers fight

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