Books, Books, and more Books (AKA, Update from Quarantine Day ???)

So, it’s been a minute. With transitioning to taking my graduate classes online, interning via Zoom, learning about the power of stories from my elementary school students (that could be a whole other post) and reflecting on my various privileges, I’ve been trying to take as much offline time as possible. That’s meant this blog has fallen by the wayside.

I’m currently reading Bethany C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water. It’s a powerful story of a Black teen siren navigating a world bent on suppressing her voice, and the parallels to our real world are striking. And of course, the push for diverse voices in books is inspiring some thoughts.

In these times, it’s been easy for some white authors to think that their voices are being silenced in favor of authors of color, that a Black person’s book is taking their spot. I quickly realized there’s no point in thinking this way, because there are many reasons why any book could get rejected at any given time, and most of them don’t have to do with merit or the actual quality of the work. Publishers consider their own tastes, the market, and current events.

But that brings me to another point that is actually problematic for many writers and allows myths like “that book is taking my chance” to proliferate: the lack of transparency in the publishing industry. No, often times authors won’t know why we get rejected. We make our own closure after vague, subjective responses from agents and editors. It’s not their fault–you can’t quantify exactly why you didn’t connect with something.

But beyond making it near impossible to know how many books authors actually sell, what actually happens when you’re on submission, what goes into a book deal, what’s a typical book deal, what a healthy author-agent relationship is supposed to look like, the culture of “I have big news and I can’t talk about it yet”, as exciting as it is, is shrouded in mystery and power dynamics that make it all too easy for predators and narcissists to take advantage of less experienced writers who don’t have a network.

Over the past few days, I’ve seen so many authors and agents come forward with stories of abuse and grooming and generally gross behavior. I want to thank them for their bravery, and I hope this does a little bit to help querying authors like me as we start our journeys.

I’ve been reviewing new music, working on my books, stressing about schools reopening, taking time to care for my garden, being absolutely befuddled at people who refuse to wear masks, and doing a lot of reflecting, both on my own and with friends and family, trying to be a better citizen and thinker. In the next few months, I’ll have a poem in I’m Not Crazy, She Will Speak’s mental health-themed anthology, and my first ever fiction publication in a real lit mag, The Blue Mountain Review. I’ll be sharing details as soon as I have them.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you’re able to take time and space for what you need to do.

PREMIERE: Flynn Tanner Offers Bright New Single “Let’s Talk About”

Toronto-based singer-songwriter Flynn Tanner has a lot to talk about. After a decade of building a following in his hometown by opening for The National, Iggy Pop, and Shaggy, the twenty-year-old singer-songwriter and Berklee student is stepping out with his own guitar-based solo project.

The first fruit of this work, single “Let’s Talk About” (June 5th), showcases Tanner’s range as a singer, instrumentalist, and producer, as he has done everything on this track himself. It opens with a slick guitar lick and lyrics that recall lazy summer memories: “Red hot and sunny sky / laying down in the heat of July / done playing with the other guys / we talk a little and we close our eyes“. As the drums pick up, the chorus shifts to lyrics that are particularly poignant during this time of quarantine, where memories of face-to-face interactions with loved ones might be all we have: let’s talk about where we used to go / we would drive around and listen to the radio / let’s talk about what we used to be / you said you never needed anybody else but me. The last minute of the track expands and dissolves into fuzzy surf rock with energetic electronic elements, evoking both nostalgia and excitement for a return to something resembling normal.

“Let’s Talk About” is perfect for your next beach party, if it’s only in your mind. Available on all streaming platforms, listen here.

For fans of: Morningbird, Vampire Weekend, John Mayer

New Poem at iO Literary!

It seems odd to be celebrating something as minute as a poetry publication in the middle of the largest civil rights movement in history. As a white woman, over the past few weeks, I’ve been challenging myself to do more and be better to promote justice, particularly challenging others.

But if you want to read a poem I wrote in like two minutes about a year ago, check out “All You’ll (Never) Know” in io’s Refractions here.