Interview with Marieke Nijkamp

It's been a great month here on the blog, talking about diversity in YA. Today we're excited to wrap things up with a very special guest. Who is this visitor you may ask? Please welcome, with much fanfare(while Loki isn't looking)...Marieke Nijkamp! Here's a little bit about her:

Marieke is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. She holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and wants to grow up to be a time traveler. In the midnight hours of the day she writes young adult stories as well as the occasional middle grade adventure. Her debut young adult novel THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS will be out from Sourcebooks Fire on January 5, 2016. Marieke is proud to be the founder of DiversifYA and VP for WE Need Diverse Books™. All views are her own.
Check out her Book, Website & Twitter

Marieke hasn't confirmed it but it's our suspsicion she is actually a superhero in hiding herself. Her bio basically wrote it out in big neon letters. She's awesome! However if you need further proof, look no farther. She has  grasciously agreed to do an interview and share her take on Diversity in YA. Just to remind you one more time (because let's face it, you probably didn't read the bio), Marieke is the VP for the We Need Diverse Books Campaign which took the book world by storm last year. We're so excited to see some of her thoughts, so without further ado, onto the interview!
Let's start with the basics, what exactly is We Need Diverse Books all about?
This is our mission statement, and I think it sums up who we are and what we do:

We Need Diverse Books™ is a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

How we define diversity:
We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
What drew you to begin working with the We Need Diverse Books campaign?
I’d been talking about diversity for a while now, especially through my own website, DiversifYA. In the weeks leading up to the campaign, a friend included me in the group and I was in the wonderful position of seeing the group and the movement form right from the very start.

But if you’re asking why advocating for inclusiveness is so important to me? Because I know what it’s like to be the other. I know discrimination. I am queer, I am disabled. I reached for books to find a world where I belonged and instead I found stories that still ignored me or even erased me. And that needs to change.
Why is diversity such an important issue in our world today?
Malinda Lo said it best when she said: diversity is reality. Our world is diverse. We – writers – and we – readers – are diverse. We need stories that reflect the whole, wide spectrum of experiences. Of race and ability, of love and identity. And that’s by no means a new discussion. We have always been talking about it. We’ve always claimed our place.
Do you think is it enough for writers to simply understand the importance of diversity?
If that means they understand the importance and then go about their day not changing anything? No, I don’t think it’s enough. Let’s be clear here, I do not want tokenism either. What I do want is for writers to ask themselves why they make the decisions they make. Why every character has to be white, cishet, non-disabled. And what kind of implicit message they’re sending to their readers in making those choices. It’s not enough to simply think about it and understand it, we have to understand the consequences and challenge the choices we make.
When writing about diversity is there anything we as writers should keep in mind?
Whether or not you’re writing from your own experience, it’s important to do your research. We internalize a lot, and it’s so important to be aware of harmful tropes and stereotypes, to be aware of what the stories before yours have done.

And, whether or not you’re writing from your own experience, find beta readers who share that experience. There is no one way to be diverse. There is no one way to be asexual, for example, or to deal with chronic pain. One experience is exactly that: one experience.
Can there be diversity in a book without specifically focusing on a diverse subject?
Can you have characters who are into stamp collecting without specifically focusing on just that collection?

Now of course diversity goes a bit further than a hobby alone. The way I identify is intrinsically interwoven with the way I look at the world, the way the world looks at me, the decisions I make, my hopes, my fears. But the way I identify is not just as queer, is not just as disabled, is not just as autistic, is not just as ace. I identify as a writer too. As a dreamer. As someone who suffers from wanderlust. My identity isn’t a singular but another spectrum of experiences. Those things that make me diverse inform me, but do not define me. And I think we too easily forget that. We are as human and as complex as any other character.

If you do not define non-diverse characters by their straightness or whiteness or non-disabledness, but you only see us as our diverse identities, that isn’t inclusive. It’s just as Othering.
What diverse topics do you feel have not been addressed yet and should be brought to light through more literature?
Can I put in a vote for more intersectionality? And more queer characters who are not L or G, but B or A or I or T. I want more non-binary characters. I want more disabled characters with agency. I would love to see a YA fantasy that deals with mental illness, or one with a OT3. I want stories to tell me of worlds and experiences I do not even know exist. I want them to challenge me and help me continue to challenge myself, to break through stereotypes and celebrate the wide range of the human – but especially the YA – experience.
Can you recommend some of your favorite diverse YA (or otherwise) novels to our readers?
2015 has been a really good year so far, in the diverse books I read. I absolutely adored Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn, Sarah Benwell’s The Last Leaves Falling, Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Chessie Zappia’s Made You Up, and Dahlia Adler’s Under the Lights. I loved how both I.W. Gregorio’s None of the Above and Aisha Saeed’s Written in the Stars transported me to their main characters’ lives. And I only discovered it earlier this year, but Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy is an absolute treasure.

Meanwhile, 2016 is shaping up to be amazing too, and I’m so incredibly excited about the books I already had the privilege to read, such as Audrey Coulthurst’s stunning debut A Hidden Affinity and Corinne Duyvis’s wonderful sophomore novel On The Edge Of Gone, and the many books I still want to discover. We want more, we need more, but let’s celebrate the fantastic diverse books that are out there too!
Finally, how can we help promote diversity?
Buy diverse books, or request them from the library
Tell your friends / readers / local bookstores
Leave reviews on the retail sites and Goodreads
And read this amazing post, because Dahlia really says it all: How to Effectivly Show Support 
Thanks so much for stopping by Marieke!
There you have it folks! Weren't her comments awesome? Now that the team has spoken, and Marieke has shared her thoughts, it's your turn. Let us know down in the comments your own take on Diversity! We'd love to hear. Happy writing heroes!

DIY Diversity

Culture is all around us.  It decides what we think is normal and what we think is weird.  Do you fit the stencil of this culture?  If not, you're probably in for a rough time.  If so, great!  Carry on.

No, I'm not just talking about American culture.  All cultures do this in one way or another.  Look at fan culture, for instance.  If I wear the red, white, and blue into an SF/F convention, I'm one of millions.  No one recognizes me, no one minds.  I might get a couple comments-- the suit's not tight enough to be authentic, my hair sticks out of the sides of my cowl-- but I'm accepted for the most part.  I'm in my element, among people who like to dress up before doing anything special.  It's a specific culture.

On the other hand, if I walk into my grocery store, I begin to get weird looks.  People judge my casual purchase of seven chocolate bars and a root beer.  (If Spider-Man asks you for food, the answer is no even if you're stuffing your mouth right in front of him.)  People look from the bag of Doritos to my face and back, and decide I'm just a weirdo.  Fan culture barely exists in a grocery store, except in eight-year-olds.  I feel rejected.

Think about it.  Culture defines diversity.  In a grocery store, my bright outfit is diverse.  Sam Wilson, while brilliant, tough, and slower than me, is considered diverse in many cases.  Some wonder about my relationship with Stark and consider that diverse as well.  All of this diversity-- everything we talk about this month-- depends on our culture.


Enough about the real world.  Culture defines diversity, and in any YA that is not sci-fi/fantasy YA, that means you need to start researching.  Look around at the other posts this month and consider religion, gender, sexuality, and race.  But what happens if you redefine culture?  How does that affect diversity?

Consider a cabal of magicians.  Working in secret, they strive to keep the world free from dangerous phenomena such as asteroids, monster attacks, and bad reboots of classic movies.  (I thought I could catch up on stuff by watching the reboots.  No, Steve, bad idea.)  Of course, they aren't always successful, but their greatest successes come from large magicians.  I don't mean tall, or big-- large.  It's difficult to say tactfully, but the more mass the magician possesses, the greater things they can achieve.

So what happens?  Obesity in this cabal is not only acceptable, but powerful as well.  Fat people are the future, if you'll pardon my bluntness.  The cabal is still secret.  America still believes obesity to be an epidemic.  But in this worldwide circle of magicians, the fat are respected.

By changing the culture, you change the definition of diversity.  Someone straddling the magical and mundane worlds might get really confused; should she be fat for magic's sake, or should she be skinny for a better plainclothes operative look?  On the other hand, skinny people would get the short end of the stick in the magical realm.  They might be teased, or avoided, or considered worthless.  The tables have turned because the culture has changed.

If it doesn't stick to your ribs, it's not worth the time.
That's sort of an urban fantasy example.  What happens if you go completely other-world fantasy, without any of the constraints that earth has laid upon culture?  In another world, you can treat racism the complete opposite way, or ignore it completely.  You can make homosexuality the norm for a governmental population control.  How is magic treated?  Is it beloved?  Is it despised?  It's a new world.  You create the cultures, so you decide what becomes diverse.

I've only read a couple of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, but the way he dealt with gender struck me.  The women are completely in control of government, almost constantly.  They also have a monopoly on magic, because the moment a man is blessed with great cosmic power, he goes crazy and burns half the world.  Magic is definitely feared, but respected.  It isn't that men are always itching to be the equal of women-- the moment a man becomes a woman's equal, he's probably going to kill his family and put a new mountain in the middle of a marshland.  Men and women still have their differences, but gender roles get wiggled in interesting ways.

Because of that culture, a woman who seems to have magic is respected, feared, and has complete power over normal people.  Men drink and work and fight, but have little say in government.  This is the norm, and this is how we judge diversity in the series.

Now, this is all very general.  If you've read Robert Jordan's stuff, you're probably clamoring in outrage at this point-- what I just described is not the whole picture.  As the characters move through different countries, these norms change.  Gender is addressed differently.  Clothing is addressed differently.  Depending on the country, the culture changes, and thus the diversity changes.

This is your job too.  You can create a mythos that puts pale-skinned people next to demons (they get sunburned, so they're obviously closer to eternal flaming torture than normal people)-- but is that true in a country with a colder climate, where skin color is rarely seen because everyone's bundled up so often?  The mythos might be the same, but sunburn is much rarer, and skin color is not a concern.

Let me tell you, sunburn is not a problem here.
The United States is a big country.  Maybe you don't live here, and you laugh at our silliness, but we US writers have a bit of a problem.  We tend to think the entire world is just like us.  When someone arrives that is not like us, we get confused about it.  This affects your worldbuilding all the time.  Even in a giant melting pot of cultures, different ones will shine through as diverse or normal.  Not every country has the same beliefs.  Not every country has the same opinion toward a certain class, race, or gender.  Ignoring that, and having your characters travel through countries just like their own, will show how little you think about diversity.

That said, thinking too much about it is probably unwise.  Even if you have your entire world figured out from the moment you start writing (I'm looking at you, Tolkien), you won't be able to fit in every last detail about how diverse your world is.  Diversity is something that shows up in little bits, especially in a story where the entire world is technically diverse.  Aliens are not really normal around here, if you haven't noticed.  Be careful.

But I applaud you for thinking about culture and the way it affects diversity.  Bonus points for making it part of your plot.  Seeing a culture that uses hats as a form of nonverbal communication is great-- being thrown in jail because you accidentally insulted the queen's consort by curling your hair the wrong way is so much better.  Have fun thinking about this, and may diversity thrive in your writing.

~Captain America

Queerer And Queerer: Iron Man On Diversity

Oh, look who it is, the prodigal blogger.

Yeah, yeah, whatever. I disappeared for two months. You guys can totally cope without me, right? (Or not, looking at the state of YAvengers Tower…) I’m a busy guy. Things to do, worlds to save, suits to build. And really, you can’t expect me to remember to post while I’m mired in that kind of thing.

whatever

But who cares? I’d say sorry, but I’m not exactly the apologising type, so I’m just gonna go right ahead as though I was here all along and I’m pretty sure by this time next month you’ll all have forgotten that you missed my wonderful insights on voice and … whatever the other thing was that this lot talked about. I don’t even remember. That’s how awesome it was. I’m just so gutted not to have made it, truly.

I’m here right now to talk to you about diversity, though, and specifically about LGBTQ+ characters. See, they’re hugely underrepresented in literature, particularly books aimed at kids and teenagers. People think it’s inappropriate for children, forgetting that kids can be queer too. And straight authors are often afraid to approach the issue in case they somehow get it wrong, so I’ve got a few tips to help with that.

And I’m decorating it all with gifs of Felix Dawkins from Orphan Black because it is a quality show with quality queer representation. Deal with it.

we can work with that

It’s easy to think you’re gonna get something wrong when it’s not your personal experience. Even I get things wrong occasionally, because hey, I’m a white guy, there are a lot of things I don’t experience myself. Plus, it can feel like whatever you write will always upset or offend someone. It may be a picture-perfect representation of your lesbian neighbour, but to others, it seems inaccurate.

How do you get around this?

include more queer characters

This actually goes for other types of diversity and it’s the most important point I’m gonna make in this post. The more representation you have, the better chance that you’ll provide a well-rounded perspective and avoid stereotypes. More of your audience will be able to see themselves in your work.

So while one character might encounter homophobia from their family, another might have had supportive parents who reacted wonderfully. One character might have struggled and fought against their identity, while another might have embraced it. Stereotypes are usually based on fact, but they’re rarely representative of a whole group.

Yeah, so you could have a super butch lesbian with short hair and a propensity to fight people, but you could also have a very feminine one. Some bisexual characters might be very flirty and promiscuous, but others could be shy and inexperienced in relationships. Some asexual characters might struggle to engage with close friendships, while others surround themselves with intense platonic friendships. The camp gay man exists, but so do many who appear more traditionally masculine.

fetch me something gay

And to be honest,  having more characters is more realistic, too, because…

queer people travel in packs

Seriously. What is with this trend of writing about the token gay friend? Since when did LGBTQ+ folks surround themselves with straight people deliberately, so that they’re isolated and out of place? Okay, so this happens sometimes. In some environments, queer characters will be isolated, perhaps if they’re closeted and don’t want to be seen associating with other LGBTQ+ people in case it outs them.

But a lot of the time that’s not the case. Queer teenagers going off to college or uni for the first time seek out the LGBTQ+ society or some kind of GSA. Why wouldn’t they? They’re out of parental supervision and this is their chance to get to know people like them, maybe even form relationships. gay friend

And a little amusingly, this often happens accidentally, too. I once knew some folks who started hanging out back when they all thought they were straight. A few years later, only one of them still identified that way. People change, and for some reason, they find each other even before that happens.

Birds of a feather stick together, and that’s important to bear in mind when you’re writing diversely. If they’ve got a choice, it’s fairly unlikely that your one queer character will deliberately surround themselves exclusively with straight people.

queer characters deserve friends

Fun fact about your gay or trans or bi or ace or intersex or other queer character: they deserve to have friends just as much as your straight cis character does. They’re not there to have a tragic / secret / unhealthy / overwhelming relationship in the background. They deserve to be a part of the storyline.there's no place for me here

Pepper pointed me towards a post about love interests that is relevant here, too. Regardless of gender, your love interests should be party members: a part of the action, with their own desires and strengths and flaws, not just a cardboard cutout.

Don’t relegate your queer character to the background by making them all about their relationship (which is usually with someone outside the group). Give them friends, straight and queer alike. Friends who’ll stand up for them and defend them. Friends who are there.

Treat them like a person.

And finally,

not all LGBTQ+ characters need stories about being LGBTQ

By this I don’t mean that their sexuality should only be referenced in passing and then never seen again. People respond to their own identity in different ways. Some make unsubtle jokes about it (‘my hair’s the straightest thing about me’). Some are touchy about the subject. Some seek out books with queer characters, while others avoid romance altogether because it makes them feel different.

It is going to be a part of your character’s life, but it’s not their whole life. Maybe they’re a wizard. Maybe they’re a police officer. Maybe they’re a modern-day knight, fighting anarchists alongside their girlfriend, who just so happens to be the leader of a group of predominantly queer students who are also knights. (Such as one particular novel of my alter-ego’s creation. Of the main characters, only one is canonically straight.)

Give them a storyline that doesn’t erase their sexuality. Give them relationships and crushes and difficulty buying clothes that outwardly match their inner self. Give them crises when they look in the mirror and confusion when somebody flirts with them and amusement when somebody makes a comment about their future which clearly displays their assumptions. Give them the chance to state their identity, and give them the chance to respond to it. Let them tackle what comes with who they are.

he's transFelix is not here for you to misgender
clones of his sister.

But give them a life outside of it. Let them save the world. Let them learn magic. Let them travel to another planet. They’re a person too.

Okay, that was a long one. Ought to make up for my absence, don’t you think? Any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments. I probably won’t answer, but maybe I can get JARVIS to pretend to be me and answer them for you. Because I care. I care so much.

-- Iron Man

Diversity in Belief


Good day, dear writers.

As I'm sure you have heard from the Spider-Whelp in that blasted wrap-up (why the good Captain thought that a wise move is beyond me) we are discussing DIVERSITY this month. It is a subject close to all our hearts, and one we, along with most of the YA community, feel strongly about. Being the resident god of the team (the good one, anyway) I thought it would be appropriate for me to discuss with you some different angles you can take on diversity in Faith/Belief/Religion.

Regardless of the church or lack thereof you have in your story, it is important that your characters have differing beliefs. People in the real world vary widely in what they believe. It is true that most people have some basic sense of morality (i.e. kicking puppies is not a nice thing to do) but even the simplest things can be a point of argument for some people.

As an Earthly example, take abortion. If my facts are straight, some people believe that it is wrong to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body, and that therefore making abortion illegal is taking away a woman's right to choose. Other people believe that an unborn child should also be granted rights, that abortion is an act of murder against that child and should be illegal.



Now, I am not here to tell you how to live or believe. I am not here to tell you which is right or wrong. All I know is that these two arguments are argued religiously and with great fervor. And I can tell you this: you will never stretch yourself more as a writer than when you write a convincing character who believes differently than you do.

In the past, especially in SFF, authors would put in one single character who believed differently than the others. This character often came across as weak and his/her arguments were always overshadowed by the "believers." This character often "converted" or had their mind changed by the end, in order to prove a point.

That is NOT diversity. That's called a "straw-man." A single character to stand in contrast against the rest only to show how right the rest were. This kind of writing is weak and lazy. Do not do it. You'll only offend people who really do agree with or relate to the straw-man.

(Note, a straw-man can be in any type of diversity - race, class, ethnicity, gender, etc. - not just belief.)

Even in a group such as the Avengers, which is dominated by white males, we have an interesting take on diversity in our belief systems. Myself, a god from another world -- an alien, some would call me -- who values my friends and fighting evil. The Captain, a man from an older age who values kindness and decency. Tony Stark, who values himself and trusts very few. Dr. Banner, who values science and serenity. Natasha, who values her orders. The Hawk Man who values accuracy and his peers. And of course, Phil Coulson, who values us all.


Despite the disagreements we have -- which I'm certain you've seen -- we are able to band together and fight for the greater good.

As the good Dr. Banner pointed out, many writers fear they will get diversity wrong, that they will unintentionally write a straw-man or a "token" character. The way to avoid this -- and I'm certain we'll all be saying this all month long -- is RESEARCH.

RESEARCH - RESEARCH - RESEARCH

Do you have a very orthodox character? An Atheist? Agnostic? Whatever a person's level of faith or belief, find someone who believes similarly and ask them what kind of things they deal with on a daily basis.

What are their core values?

What do they get SO ANNOYED by from people of other beliefs?

What is the one thing they ALWAYS have to explain when asked WHY they believe as they do?


Do you see? Find the words those people use, and use them in your work. (Not exactly, unless you have their permission.) Otherwise they'll never feel properly represented.

Whether you're writing Contemporary, Fantasy, Dystopian, SciFi, or whatever else there is, people always believe differently, and it can always be a source of conflict, major or minor, in your story. Use it to the best advantage possible, make your cast diverse in more than just one aspect, and you will see your characters come to life.

Good luck,

THOR

Doing Diversity



#DiversityinYA and #weneeddiverse books are ideas that are trending in both the publishing world and the Twittersphere, and for good reason. Even a casual look at the YA section of most local bookstores will reveal that the overwhelming majority of books are about white characters. "Where is the Mexican Katniss?" writer Matt de la Pena wrote a year ago, and he's been quoted everywhere from personal blogs to CNN. There are few books with LGBT protagonists or teens with disabilities or non-"traditional" Christian characters as well. The world is a big place with all kinds of people in it - why shouldn't our bookshelves reflect that? And very few YA writers disagree.

Given the popularity of this demand, you'd think that everyone and his brother would be out there "doing diversity", writing that big bestseller that features a collection of characters right out of Dinseyland's It's a Small World ride. So why aren't they? Maybe because they're not as cynical as I am. Or maybe because my joke reveals a kind of truth: a lot of writers are afraid of making characters that seem like cartoon caricatures of "diversity."
Or they're afraid of getting it wrong.

One writer I know went into a panic recently thinking about the "best friend" character she'd created in a series of books. If her main character is white and her best friend is African American, she worried, does that make the best friend the token "black best friend" figure in these stories? Another writer worries that a character she's developing in her work-in-progress could be construed as the "sassy gay friend" because he's sort of sassy and, after much animosity between them, is befriended by the protagonist. Does this automatically slot him as a stock character?

No one wants to write stock characters and no one wants to be accused - or have it gently pointed out to them - that they've missed the mark with any character they develop, and it's an especially sensitive issue when there are so few "diverse" characters. This is not to bemoan the hardships of the well-meaning white writer in a PC world. And white writers aren't going to solve this problem alone. We need many more voices like de la Pena's and other writers who can bring their experience and perspectives to YA books and share them with a variety of readers of all ethnicities and creeds and orientations and abilities. That's what reading is all about, isn't it - opening up your world?

A few days ago, Jessica Pryde wrote on Book Riot about "Why We Need Inclusive Lit, Not Just Diverse Lit". She calls for "more stories, period" written from a variety of perspectives. Not just "gay books" and "wheelchair books" and "deaf Chicana transgender polo player books" but all of these books. Put all kinds of characters in your books and strive to make them more than one-dimensional and you won't incur the wrath of some imagined PC posse ready to hang you from a rainbow flagpole for violating some code of diversity. Include characters as they would appear in the real world - multifaceted, multidimensional, multiethnic, multi-human.





Before I sign out, I want to extend a big green hug and welcome Spider Man to the team. He is indeed a "little bean of a person" but occasionally humorous. He's certainly no more annoying than Iron Man.

Sticky Fingers Anonymous-- March Wrap-up

Hi, I'm Captain America.  I'm named after a continent, I wear the flag of Puerto Rico to all my pajama parties, and I have a really big Dickens collection.  I get to post twice in a month because I'm that much more of a superhero than everyone else.  Ta-da, me me me.

April Fools!  I am not Captain America.  I am not named after a continent, I wear no flags, and while I am pretty awesome, I don't usually post twice a month.  In fact, I usually don't post at all.  Who am I really?  I'm your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!


I'm here to wrap up March for you all.  I hear there were some great posts, and while, ahem, didn't read all of them...  Okay, I didn't read any of them.  But I can still wrap up the month!  Even though this is my first time, I'd like to be very Thoreau with this post.  Writers and photographers work closely together, you know, and I consider this a Tolkien of my appreciation for all you writers do.  Okay, I think I'll quit it with the puns, since Loki is Shake-ing his -speare at me.  Okay, I get it!  Let's get this wrap-up over, and I'll let you go on your Hemingway.

Hemingway?  I'll let you go on your way?  Get it?  You're right, that one made no sense.  I'll get on with it.

This month was Voice, Mood, and Style Month, which seems pretty simple to me.  You speak in a voice, you go through moods, and you don a skintight red and blue outfit to flaunt your individual style.  Apparently that's not what it means in terms of writing.  Let's get to the posts.

The Inedible Hulk posted first this month-- sorry, the Incredible Hulk.  (Is he mad about that?  He looks mad.)  He talked about being a geezer and writing like a little bean of a person.  I'm not sure how accurate all his tips really are, since he'd probably call me a little bean of a person.  Still, do what he says.  (If you really want a contemporary vocabulary, though, I suggest some Tolstoy.  No, don't read it-- throw it at a kid's head and write down whatever they yell at you.)

Woohoo, this is fun!  I could get used to the writing life.  Plenty of time to yourself, adoring fans, and the ability to pun your way out of any situation.  Yep, the hermit life would be good to me.


You know what, never mind.  Let's find some other posts.

I can't believe it!  Thor stopped combing his hair long enough for a post about character voice.  That knocks down about a third of this month's topic, so we're right on track.  Yessir, big boy, you can go back to your hair dryer.  It looks like things are covered from here.

And lastly (I know, only three posts-- I could have written more than that in a year, maybe), Captain Amy posted about mood books.  Supposedly, you can read books that sound like your books so you can copy them more easily.  It's so hard to copy when you've forgotten what you're copying, amirite?  So read words, kids, and make that plagiarism sing!

But you all know this can't be the end of the month.  Only three posts?  In order to cover all the complexity of Style, Voice, and Mood, they must have done one post on style, one post on voice, and one post on... Ah.  Well done, actually.  If I didn't know firsthand why Iron Man is known as Perspirin' Man, I'd be impressed.

I think there was also supposed to be a Twitter chat this month, but Black Widow's shadow puppet skills must have distracted everyone.  I think Thor still attempted it, but it didn't go very far.  He promised to try again next month.  Raise your hand if you'll be there!  ...No, I was scratching my head.  I won't be there.

Ahem, well...  Um...  That's it for the wrap-up I guess?  Have a nice month...

Who am I kidding?  You probably guessed that I'm no writer.  I've tried, you know, with journalism and a few short stories and a birthday card once (never again).  My fingers stick to the keyboard when I type.  Webbing somehow clogs up all my pens, and the pencils are too gummy to hold.  I actually kind of envy you all.  You get to do cool stuff and write in different worlds, and I'm stuck here with my camera, swinging forlornly around New York City as aliens attack.  Sorry, I shouldn't be so self-pitying.  BUT WHY ME?

Okay.  Sorry about that.  I'll let you get back to writing.  (I hear April is a NaNoWriMo month-- who's doing that?  ...Sorry, scratching my head again.  It's itchy, okay?)  Tune in next month for Diversity in YA!  How about some diversity in superheroes, amirite?  I bet you wouldn't want to see another wrap-up from Cappy.  More guest superheroes should come on this blog, and not just for obscure prankster-ish holidays.

Well, have a nice day/week/month/year/lifetime/couple of hours.  I hope I get to do something like this again.  It's fun.  I'm glad I was able to take the Brontë of this burden for the YAvengers this time.


--Spidey