Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Writer Diaries - Micropoetry, September 2016

It's that time again dearest nerdlets! September is rapidly skimming out of view, and I have more micropoetry to share with you.

Sorry if several of these are kind of a downer - I learnt that someone I knew in school had died and... yeah.

I kind of worked through some stuff (the poems for 13th Sep will show you that,) so feel free to skip anything that's bringing you down!

9th September

Nothing deserves pity
More than those
who fear love & compassion
& turn instead to hate
Poor lost soul,
Find your way home soon

13th September (I)

How am I supposed to feel?
They say you died;
A casual friend;
I hadn't heard your name in years.
How am I supposed to feel?
Tell me.

13th September (II)

Do I have a right to grieve?
5 years or more -
Must have been
Never close, even then
Just two birds of the same flock
One bird now dead

13th September (III)

A background fixture,
Left behind when I left the room.
Weren't you younger than me?
Or was it a few days older?
Young & pretty & dead

17th September

No matter
How dark
It may be
There is light
There is good
You are loved

23rd September

The year of mean.
Have my tears,
But cariad, I'm gonna sing

Over the heads of abject liars -
Reaching ears that may hear

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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Banned Books Week 2016 - Dangerous Words

As part of Banned Books Week 2016, I figured I'd look at some quotes from books that are often challenged.

So, are words really that dangerous?

I thought that I'd throw together just a few quotes from some of the books featured on the 'most challenged' list of 2015. See what you think ;)

All quotes are from the Goodreads page for that title.

"I am going to take this bucket of water and pour it on the flames of hell, and then I am going to use this torch to burn down the gates of paradise so that people will not love God for want of heaven or fear of hell, but because He is God." - Looking For Alaska by John Green

Amazon links: UK - US

"Don't place some vague moral judgement on yourself based on what others might think. Don't waste your energy." - Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Amazon links: UK - US

"There is no reason that we should ever be ashamed of our bodies or ashamed of our love." - Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Amazon links: UK - US

"What would happen if we spoke the truth?" - Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Amazon links: UK - US

"The Sufi saint Rabi'a Al-Adawiyya was seen carrying a firebrand and a jug of water - the firebrand to burn Paradise, the jug of water to drown Hell...

So that both veils disappear, and God's followers worship, not out of hope for reward, nor fear of punishment, but out of love." - Habibi by Craig Thompson

(Yes I chose this one because the similarity to the Looking For Alaska quote struck me!)

Amazon links: UK - US

"I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them." - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Amazon links: UK - US

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Monday, 26 September 2016

Banned Books Week 2016 - Diverse Books Under Threat

Given that diverse books make up a relatively small amount of the total books available (in English, at least,) it should be eye-opening that the most challenged and banned books are those which allow diverse voices a platform.

A look at the 2015 list of the 10 most challenged books should show you the truth of this.

Except for The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, each of these books either has an author from a diverse community, and/or has diverse characters.

(Even Looking For Alaska, I'm told (by Wikipedia,) has a PoC character.)

This year's Banned Books Week from the American Library Association (yes, I know I'm not American - but dudes, when America sneezes, the world catches a cold,) is focussed on celebrating diversity.

And the banned-books-flag is starting to be flown over here in the UK too.

Diversity is not a threat. Diversity is under threat.

Diversity is vital. Diversity is wonderful. Diversity gives you the opportunity to hear other people's voices.

Why would you think hearing the voices of others is a bad thing?

And a little food for thought...

All graphics & infographics are from the ALA/Banned Books Week Coalition

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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Nerd Church - Sing It For The World

This week, dearest nerdlets, I'm going to get all multimedia on your butts in an attempt to explain why your voice - and everyone else's too - is important right now.

(OK, so I ramble and get off-track a bit in this post, but hopefully there's a point in here... somewhere.)

It's inevitable that you're aware of the general feeling in the world.

The Trump threat, Brexit, and the rise of the far right here there and everywhere, means that never has it been more important for you to raise your voice for this world.

The legacy of this generation can not be the rise of intolerance and bigotry. We have to work to make this world a better place.

One MCR song comes to mind. 'Sing' is about refusing to give up and just let sh** happen to the world.

It's a song that my fellow Killjoys, MCRmy, and members of the Black Parade will know well. But to those who might not, this song is a battle cry for speaking out. It says that you have to keep trying - no matter the odds.

Please, if you get the chance, listen to it; and pay attention to the lyrics. There's a lot of truth in there.

It's more than a little concerning just how relevant both the album Danger Days, and the Green Day album 21st Century Breakdown, are, given that they're both dystopian-set.

Then there's using your voice as a well-known figure to try and do some good.

(Like the Save the World campaign did this week. Please, Americans - let the world see Mark Ruffalo naked!)

But it doesn't always take big things to change the world.

Do you want to hear about something beautiful that made me tear-up this week?

The actor Nico Tortorella has a new podcast available called Love Bomb.

Love Bomb is all about sexuality and understanding each other, and is generally awesome sauce.

The beginning of the first episode is a spoken-word poem-type thing. It's also at the start of the extended preview which you can check out on iTunes here. (Please do!)

That first spoken-word poem thing is about being sexually fluid.

Nerdlets, do you know what it feels like to hear the things that you haven't been able to put into words? Do you know what it's like to know that there are people out there - albeit a continent away - who feel like you do?

So yeah, I teared-up.

I also tweeted about it - cos dudes, I'm aware that most people don't understand sexual fluidity; and this meant a lot to me.

Then, something awesome happened:

So yes, that felt... completely amazing! XD

Cee, you seem to have got off track.

This may very well be true dearest nerdlets - but I had a point! (Somewhere... at some point...)

My point, (I think,) was that we can all change the world - we can all have an impact (even if it's only on a 20-something book-nerd in her front room in South Wales.) 

We can all mean something.

Yes, we can all change the world. But you have to raise your voice.

'...You've got to make a choice
If the music drowns you out
And raise your voice
Every single time they try and shut your mouth...'

Nerd Church is a weekly post where I try to keep the world from going to sh** all on my lonesome - feel free to come and help me out! ;)

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Saturday, 24 September 2016

5 Simple Rules For Reading and Reviewing LGBTQ+ Books

I don't claim to be the expert when it comes to reviewing queer books - far from it.

I'm human, I make mistakes. I may even make mistakes in this post (but I'm damn well gonna try my best not to.)

But, I don't want people to be afraid of reading and reviewing books with LGBTQ+ characters.

So I figured I'd give you some tips which seem common sense, but, as you may have seen this week, clearly need to be spelt out.

So listen up my nerdlets, hopefully this will be helpful (and feel free to correct me if I do make a mistake,):

1. Neither sexuality nor gender are a lifestyle or a preference.

Would you refer to a straight person as having a heterosexual lifestyle? I doubt it.

I know that a lot of the time, referring to LGBTQ+ people as living a certain lifestyle, or having a certain preference, is well-intended.

I may even have done so in the past myself.

Some LGBTQ+ people may not have a problem with it; a lot do.

It gives the wrong impression.

To a lot of LGBTQ+ people, it is offensive. It feeds into the idea that this is something that people could 'choose' not to be - which is just wrong.

It can also give the impression that you find their sexuality too disgusting to even talk about in the open - which is hurtful.

Sexuality is not a lifestyle or a preference. Gender is not a lifestyle or a preference.

I know that what language is acceptable, and what is not, has changed a lot over the course of the 20th, and even 21st, centuries.

(And I will never get elderly relatives to understand that times have changed *face palms.*)

But please understand that a heck of a lot of people do not like it when people refer to their sexuality that way. It's a misconception at best.

2. Sexuality does not require a content warning.

Sexuality is not the same as a sexual act. Sexuality is not in any way explicit or pornographic.

I am sexually fluid - but haven't had sex, with anyone; that doesn't change the fact that I'm sexually fluid (I'm ok with the term queer too, by the by.)

(I know, if a dragon comes I'm going to be the one with my a*s tied to a rock as sacrifice.

But I have too much respect for myself to be with someone who I'm not in love with, and I simply haven't found that person yet. #DealWithIt.)

Likewise, you can be involved in a sexual act which doesn't conform to your sexuality.

See the difference?

So, unless you are planning on putting a warning in for cis-het characters too, please do not put one in for an LGBTQ+ character.

If there are sexual acts in the book, then you can point out that the book is sexually explicit in your review. No problem.

Otherwise, in order to convince me you're not being prejudicial, you're going to have to point out when straight characters kiss or fancy each other. #JustSaying

3. Gender and sexuality are not the same thing.

Yes, they are inter-linked. No, they are not the same. Just remember that. Please.

4. Refusing to allow genuine criticism is not acceptable.

People are allowed to question you. Take their feedback in. Apologise and correct your statement if necessary.

Under no circumstances act like a jerk and become aggressively defensive (yes, that's a thing that happens.)

Do not follow-up legitimate concerns by claiming that they are not legitimate concerns. Do not get personal in your response.

In case you need more, here's an example of a good response to criticism (albeit on a different representation issue):

I pointed out to a blogger that they had called a fictional character weak next to a gif of them literally committing suicide.

Their response was to apologise for the mistake (and I believe it was a genuine mistake,) profusely, and change the wording immediately.

This blogger's grace and acceptance (not to mention their genuine remorse,) actually made me think better of them than I had before.

5. Not all LGBTQ+ people are the same.

So your gay best friend read your review of a book about a gay person, and said it was fine.

Someone else read it, and was offended. But they must be making it up, mustn't they? After all, you got a gay person to look it over, so it must be fine. NOPE. Guess what? People are all different.

I - and a lot of LGBTQ+ people - don't like it when my sexuality is referred to as a lifestyle. There are people who are fine with this. That doesn't mean that no-one can be offended by it.

People's concerns are relevant. Please at least take the time to really think about what they're saying.

Doubtless, there are a million other things I could've said in this post.

But I just wanted to point out a few key things about how to approach LGBTQ+ book reviews.

Mistakes happen. It's how you react to them, it's how you learn and move forward, that matters.

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Friday, 23 September 2016

Friday Fics Fix - I'm On Fire

I love the way fanfiction can take an 'incidental' character, and run with it.

True, this is seen most extensively in the Harry Potter fandom - but other fandoms get in on the act too.

This week, my dearest nerdlets, I've picked a fic from the X-men fandom.

Now, X-men - over all media - has a giganormous (yes, it's totally a word dammit!) cast of characters, and yes, this series, more than many others, gives the supporting characters a chance to go 'hey look at me!'

But the movies have struggled, on and off, with the multi-narrative that decades of X-men comics have still only scratched the surface of.

Cee, this is soundin' kinda deep for Fics Fix!

Ah, yes, my nerdlets - but it's part of the wonderful paradox that is life, that the things that seem superficial are the things with the deepest of hidden depths! (Sorry, I'll try to sound less like a lecture from here-on out.)

Anyhow - let me explain a little more about this week's fic:

This week's fic, my dearest nerdlets, is about Pyro.

Who's Pyro? Well, he was actually in X2 and 3 (no, really.) He's the fire dude. Don't remember him? Still? Trust me, he's the fire dude.

And what I actually totally, completely, loved was the way the fic author here has taken the character... and added something so completely unexpected, but so insightful, and so perfect that it's hard not to be impressed.

(Oops, that was a bit lecture-y again!)

Because the Pyro in this story? People think he controls the fire. But the fire controls him.

This week's fic then, is:

Voices in the Fire by Hiril Moon

And yes, the spelling and grammar is a little so-so in places, but this is fanfiction guys!

Enjoy, and check back for more fanfiction goodies next week!

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Thursday, 22 September 2016

Comics Wrap-Up - Live Without Warning

TV Trailers

Marvel's Agents of Shield will be back soon! ...With Ghost Rider.

Yeah... I'm hoping this will work but... yeah... it's an interesting choice.


Also in the category of 'oh God, please don't have taken this a series too far' is the up-coming series of Arrow.

I love Arrow. Like, really love it - but we've already come to several natural endings to this series. So please forgive me for being a little wary of this latest continuation.

Single Issues

This week I wrote a mini-review of The Sun Dragon's Song #1 by Joyce Chng and Kim Miranda (UK - US.)

It's a beautiful book, and a great start to the series. The artwork is truly incredible.

Other Stuff

Annnnd this Toon Sandwich spoof of the Justice League trailer made me laugh.

There's a bunch of random violence - just to let you know.

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