Replies to SFWA's YA/MG group

I told SFWA's YA/MG special interest group that I would not derail their discussion further by continuing to talk there about why they're restricting the group. They've made their decision and they don't want to re-hash it, and I understand that.

It's awkward now, though, because I've had a few responses to my original post there. To answer those responses would be to continue a discussion they don't want. To not answer allows their assumptions about me and other SFWA members to go unchallenged. So I'm going to respond here, where they don't have to be bothered by it unless they actively seek it out.

I just got a mostly polite response from a writer who said that she spends enough time teaching writing already, and just needs time to hang out with her peers. That assumes that I and other SFWA-qualified-but-not-yet-YA-published authors want to join the group because we want or expect active teaching on their part. Actually, I just wanted to read the posts, and planned to respond only if I felt I had something in particular to contribute. I certainly did not intend to ask someone to recommend me to their agent, or to tell me how to break into YA, or to tell me how to write a query letter, or to explain what YA is.

I had also gotten a snarky response from someone who has a reputation as a bit of an ass. He told me with false and sarcastic humility that even though he's published xyz amount of YA, he was satifisfied just to be there and listen to and learn from the experts, whereas I wanted to whine about why they don't consider me an equal. However, if they had let me simply listen to and learn from the experts in the first place -- in an organization for which I've already jumped through the membership hoops and for which I pay the same dues he does -- I wouldn't have had reason to post my objections to their exclusinoary policy in the first place. (In the interests of full disclosure, I repsonded to that post by saying that I had asked a question, gotten an answer, apologized for not knowing where to find the information myself, said thank you, and said I was dropping it. I did that because I thought his would be the last response to my post. But once I got another response, the more polite one from the other author, I decided that I would respond here if I felt the need.)

Ironically, the snarky author had already annoyed some of the others in the group by asking the very type of YA-101 question they wanted to avoid. It's a question I wouldn't have needed to ask because I read a whole lotta YA genre fiction.

They claim to have wanted a safe place to have their discussions, which I guess means a place they won't be badgered by their fellow SFWA members. Because of their exclusionary policy, with which a lot of people have expressed disagreement, they do feel badgered. But they don't seem to understand the irony that they created the very "badgerment" themselves.

Clubs within Clubs

Hmmmm, I'm having very mixed feelings about SFWA's announcement today about their new SFWA Middle Grade and Young Adult Writers group-within-the-group. Essentially, it's a list-serv for those who have published or who are about to publish (ie, have a contract) in the middle grade or YA markets. Back when this was first floated, I sent an e-mail to the SFWA President expressing my surprise, and asking if SFWA had ever had other offical groups-within-the-group that had additional membership requirements. I said I would have thought qualifying for the organization in general and a stated interest in the special topic would be enough, and that there could be authors who have not published or contracted such a work but who may have written one, for whom this group might be useful. I also said I'd like to know how and why the decision was made to limit the group. John Scalzi's response said he would take my comments to the board. I did not hear back again, although to be fair, the announcement today does include this addendum from John:

"For now, the SFWA YA/MG list is open to SFWA members whose published credits in young adult and middle grade fiction mirror the membership requirements for SFWA. This means that not all members of SFWA will be able to be part of the list. This is an experiment on our part to offer those members of SFWA with a YA/MG focus a laboratory to discuss issues and concerns specific to their field."

However, for me that does not really provide a rationale. I don't understand how, for instance, allowing a SFWA member who has written a YA book but has not yet managed to sell it (*) to participate would be counter to the goal of offering a "laboratory to discuss issues and concerns specific to [the YA/MG] field." My hypothetical SFWA member has a great deal of interest in those issues and concerns, and having been recognized as a professional, hopefully can be relied upon to behave appropriately.

The online announcement ( also states that "The primary purpose of this group is to create an integral community within SFWA that is comprised of MG and YA SFWA authors for mutual support and knowledge sharing, recognizing that MG and YA SFWA authors work in markets with demands that are different from adult SF/F/H. Secondarily, this group aims to provide information to the broader SFWA membership about MG and YA via educational outreach on the SFWA blog, the SFWA discussion forums, the SFWA Bulletin, and at SF/F conventions."

On the one hand, I don't want to go with my gut reaction because it's a gut reaction, which means I'm not entirely sure it's as rational as it can be, or that I've managed to find and examine all the angles. On the other hand, my reaction hasn't changed in the months since I first became aware of this. It feels to me that perhaps the board thinks there are fully qualified SFWA members who cannot be relied upon to keep the list-serve on-topic, or who would somehow dilute or pollute the discussion. It also feels slightly wrong that the organization is taking whatever minuscule (I know it costs next to nothing to run a list-serv) percentage of members' dues and applying it to a restricted activity in which not all members can partake. And I find the [paraphrased] concept of "it's OK, we'll share information with the rest of you occasionally" kind of condescending.

Thoughts? I really want to know what other people think. What angle am I not considering? I'm usually a fairly go-with-the-flow type person. I attend all the SFWA business meetings that I can. I don't constantly demand "what can SFWA do for me" -- I've always seen the value in this type of organization and have defended it to those who say SFWA is useless or irrelevant to them. But wow, I did not get much of a response to my concerns on this.

[* I am not this hypothetical member. I have not written a young adult or middle grade novel. And besides, I think I could qualify for this sub-group under the affiliate membership option. So my objections here are not purely selfish.]

Anthony's adoption page

Remember the cocker spaniel puppy? He is currently being fostered by Cocker Spaniel Rescue of East Houston, and here is an adoption page. I love the photo -- his eyes look terrific! (We had to have a minor procedure done to correct his eye "cherries.")

Since we boarded him at our vet's, he was never in our house, but I still miss him! I hope he finds his new home soon.

Puppy Handoff

On Saturday, with great relief I handed off the stray cocker spaniel puppy to Cocker Spaniel Rescue of East Texas ( They were having an adoption event up in Katy (northwest of Houston) and we decided that the easiest thing to do would be for me to pick him up where we'd been boarding him at our vet's and drive him there to meet his new foster mom. The ladies of the group all crowded around to see the newcomer! You can tell they love dogs with every fiber of their being. The puppy has big paws so some of them thought he was an older dog at first, but his teeth (not to mention his personality) say "baby," about 7 months old now. If he grows into those paws, I think he'll be slightly larger than average for a cocker.

His new foster mom decided to call him Anthony and advised me to keep an eye on the group's web page to find out when he gets adopted. They're very optimistic because he's so young and in good shape physically now that his few minor issues have been addressed. This morning I went back to their webpage and was astounded to see how many cocker spaniels they have in their program. Some of these foster moms are keeping 9 and 10 dogs apiece.

What's really humbling is that these ladies kept thanking me for boarding Anthony for as long as we did, and paying for his medical care. Whereas I kept wanting to thank them, for accepting him into their program when they're clearly already overwhelmed with puppies and dogs needing good homes.

Cocker Spaniel Puppy Update -- Home Still Needed

Hi folks! The still-unnamed cocker spaniel puppy is scheduled for his neuter surgery tomorrow, as well as a minor eye procedure to take care of the "cherries" that are common to this breed. I have been in touch with the local cocker spaniel rescue group in the greater Houston area, and they have provided helpful info and are looking into whether or not they can help us find a foster or permanent home for the little guy, but I'm a little worried on that count because I know they are overwhelmed. I'd appreciate it if folks would continue to pass the word, as I'm also a little worried at the prospect (both for him sake and ours) of boarding him indefinitely at our vet's office!

The woman from the rescue group told me some things about cocker spaniels I did not know, which potential adopters would need to be aware of:

1) the breed is prone to allergies and ear issues which can make their veterinary care most costly than the average dog

2) while some cocker spaniels are good with kids, they are generally not the best with toddlers and babies

3) they are a strong-willed breed, and require training/discipline

4) the group only allows dogs to go to homes where they will be kept indoors. That's not to say they can't spend some time in a fenced yard but they should not be primarily kept outdoors and should certainly not be sleeping outdoors

Additional considerations:

5) based on my recent visit with the puppy, he unfortunately is not yet housebroken, or he was but has regressed due to his time outside on his own

6) he will have to wear a cone collar for a week to keep him from rubbing his eyes, and cannot run or jump for 5 days due to the neuter surgery. If someone is interested but wants to wait until he is completely recovered, that's fine

7) I am willing to drive this puppy quite a distance to get him to a new home, so please pass this on to friends even if they are not local

8) All medical costs to date will be covered, and his shots are now up-to-date

9) I can e-mail pictures to anyone who is interested


Yesterday I found a 6-month-old cocker spaniel.... please spread the word!

This makes dog # 5 that I've picked up since we moved to Houston a little under 8 years ago. This sweet little cocker spaniel was limping across the street in heavy traffic. He is now at our vet's office (we can't keep him at home due to our cat situation) and has been assessed. The vet thinks he is about 6 months old, and likely purebred because his tail has been docked, which usually suggests a breeder was involved. The limping was due to a minor fracture on his front paw that does not require treatment other than a little pain med. He is sweet, came right when I called, is not a barker (we've not heard him bark even once yet), and has some puppy energy now that he has some food in his tummy. He was filthy, covered with fleas, and very hungry, so he appears to have been outside for a bit, but he obviously knows and loves people. He was not chipped, unfortunately.

Paul and I are happy to pay for his medical costs until he finds a home. We will be having him neutered next week. He also has "cherries" in both eyes (inflamed tear ducts, very common in cocker spaniels) that the vet will first treat with antibiotics/steroids, and then with a minor surgical procedure if necessary, which we will also cover. That's why we're holding off on the neuter until next week, because we'll know by then if the eye procedure is necessary, and the vet can do that at the same time as neutering.

No photos yet -- I never remember my camera because I'm so concerned about getting them to the vet. I'll try to find a way to get some photos posted ASAP. In the meantime, I'm putting the word out on Facebook and Livejournal, and will be looking for a cocker spaniel rescue group in Houston. But I would very much appreciate if you could spread the word! As usual, I am willing to drive this little guy where he needs to go. I'm pretty resourceful when it comes to finding ways to get animals to their new homes! :-)

A few other notes: the vet said that anyone taking in a cocker spaniel puppy should understand that it is a strong-willed breed, so he will need training/discipline or else he will think he rules the house! I think he is a good candidate for an apartment dweller due to his small size (currently 19 lbs) and lack of barking. Finally, they are running a heartworm test but said that false negatives can happen with such a young dog, which means he will need to be re-tested in the next year or so just to be safe. But it's been an extremely low year for mosquitoes because it's been so dry, and they are giving him preventative which would stop the development if he does happen to already have heartworm. Heartworm is treatable but the treatment can be pricey. If someone wants him but is leery about this, I'm sure we can work something out if he turns out positive.

Boosting the Signal -- Dog in need in Houston area

UPDATE: Abby has found a home! Thanks to everyone who got the message out!

[A friend passed this on to me and asked me to repost/resend.]

"The staff at Meadowlake Pet Resort is trying to find a good home for Abby, a dog who is basically very sweet but needs some special care due to anxiety issues and problems getting along with other dogs, the result of not having had a stable home environment for a long time, and more recently, trauma she suffered when her previous owner hung himself (Abby scratched up his legs in an apparent attempt to get him down, and put all of her toys underneath him). His ex-wife and her partner adopted Abby, but the new place they just moved into will not allow them to keep her, and they're concerned for the safety of their other dog, also. The Meadowlake staff have been trying to better socialize Abby and help her adjust. She improved a great deal, but had to be separated from other dogs after she bit one of them.

The owners will have no choice but to euthanize Abby if they cannot find another home for her soon. The Meadowlake people feel that in the right home, Abby will be okay, that putting her to sleep is not necessary. Obviously, not everyone is up to the challenge of caring for a dog like this - but if we all spread the word, hopefully this will reach someone who can and will take Abby home. Her picture is attached.

For info, call Meadowlake at (713) 413-1633 and ask for Jan, Whitney, or Stacy. Thanks!"

From May 17, 2011

How to contact a blogger on Blogspot?

So far I have had zero luck on my search for anyone who has ever read a career romance novel that was not Cherry Ames or Sue Barton!

Well, not quite zero luck. I have found three different blogs, all on blogger/blogspot, by women who have sporadically reviewed some of the books I'm interested in. But I can find no option to contact these bloggers. Am I missing something obvious? Or is it more likely they just turned off any option for contact info?

On at least two of these blogs, I can't even leave a comment! One has all comments turned off, the other is restricted to team members. Sigh....

Ladies, did you (or your Mom) read girls' career romance novels?

Have you ever read, or do you recall your Moms, sisters, aunts, etc. reading "girls' career romance novels"?

In addition to series such as "Cherry Ames", publishers also put out "thematic series" in which each book had a different author and a different main character pursing a different profession. Some titles were "Katie and Her Camera" (photojournalism), "Kate Brennan, Model" (modeling), "Orchids for April" (horticulture), "Girl Pilot" (aviation), and "Allison Day, Weather Girl" (meteorology). There were hundreds of these books!

One publisher series was called "Career Romances for Young Moderns." Another was the "Dodd Mead Career Books for Girls" series. Across the pond, there were British series such as the "Mary Dunn Career Novels" and the "Bodley Head Career Books for Girls." In addition to series, some authors such as Marjory Hall and Adele de Leeuw did not write for any one series but they did write a number of career romance novels for different publishers over their careers.

This link shows a bunch of gorgeous book covers from the career romance books in my collection.

I would love to hear from anyone who remembers reading these books. Although most were published between 1940 and 1965, they were still in libraries years later when I was a kid. I am writing a paper for a school project and would like to ask a few questions of anyone who read these books in their formative years (whereas I myself came to them years later as an adult). My e-mail is amy.a.sisson at gmail dot com. Please feel free to pass this on to anyone who might be interested!

I'd appreciate if you pass the word to anyone who might be interested! (Cross-posted to Facebook)