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Hello everyone! I’m still alive (mostly,) and typing. I’m sorry for the unannounced hiatus, but after focusing my efforts on publishing school, I’ve been working on figuring out what direction I wanted to take this site in. I’d already been heading in a gender and narrative media sort of direction, and I’d like to continue that, with a new focus on my experiences in publishing school.

Yes, for those of you out of the loop, which I’m assuming is most of you, last week I started a Master’s degree program in writing/publishing. And it’s oh so very exciting and exhausting.

It may take a couple of weeks for me to get back into the swing of things because, frankly, I’m a little tired at the moment, settling into a new routine and figuring out how to balance my work load with my life, but I hope to be writing in here again soon. Take care everyone, and I’ll be back before you know it!

Every year, Portland hosts Wordstock, a giant book convention celebrating writers, local small presses, and bibliophiles. Last year, going was something of an inspiration; I had an inkling that someday I wanted to be part of this group. I browsed the stalls with excitement, asked questions to the independent writer’s guild, and bought my first Chin Music Press book. I attended a panel on the future of book reviews feeling fired-up and ready to write.

This year was a little different. Having just applied to PSU’s really exciting publishing program (yes, exciting is an odd adjective, but, really, what else do you call a publishing school that lets you work at its press for credit,) I approached the stands with a little trepidation. The state of being in application limbo colored my mood; I wanted to be their peers, and though I don’t need a masters to do that, it feels like I do simply because I applied to the program. Somehow taking steps to accomplish my career goal made me feel more like I had something to prove, which was frustrating when I just wanted to enjoy myself. It probably didn’t help that there were less panels I was interested in/could make.

Nevertheless, I had a great time. I finally got to meet Bruce and Josh from Chin Music Press, which was great because, as I’ve said in previous posts, I really admire their ability to create artful books that are as focused on the text as the object. (*waves* hi guys!)  I’m always floored by the sheer number of interesting publishing projects going on in the Pacific Northwest: Oni Press, which publishes Queen and Country (my current pleasure reading) is here in NE Portland, Fantagraphics in Seattle, Little Otsu, a clever graphic press out of San Francisco and Portland (and run by super nice people, btw,) a whole slew of literary journals, Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center, and Bitch Magazine, just to name a few. I hope someday to truly call these creative people my peers: their creativity, talent, and attitude really prove that paper publishing can still be relevant in the midst of today’s digital age (or some other such cliché name for it.)

I’m afraid I don’t have as many analytical things to say as last year because the panel I got to see was not on a particularly controversial topic. I went to see Karen Cushman’s panel on creating worlds in historical and fantasy fiction. She invited some of her peers of the young adult writing world: Susan Fletcher, Ellen Howards, Jodi Sensel, and Mary Jane Beaufrand. Strangely enough, I think this was the only all-female panel at Wordstock, though it’s difficult to know if this is because Karen Cushman knew more women who were well-suited to the panel or whether women writers find that they get more respect in the realm of YA literature because they don’t get dismissed as chic lit or niche lit. (I also sometimes get a sense that a lot of really good plot-based fiction gets published as YA because it’s not dismissed there either.). I’d like to do an entire post on this, but I don’t feel I know enough to write it. Maybe someday.

Now if I don’t suddenly get the plague again, and don’t die of “waiting to hear back from grad school” anxiety, you’ll hopefully get some more posts coming your way. I’ve got some thoughts about the depiction (graphically and textually) of Tara Chase in Queen and Country, some musings about writing about people who are different from you (Aka- I’ve just started reading David Mack’s Kabuki because I’m on a graphic novel kick, and for something that so far seems to be about a woman and her relationship to her identity and her face, I’m surprised that he does not list a single woman author or artist on his list of works that inspired the series. I can’t really make a judgment on the series yet as I’ve only read a few chapters, and I’m certainly not saying that this automatically dooms the work, but it’ll be interesting to see just how convincing he’ll be.) and, who knows, maybe some other stuff. Maybe I’ll do a giant rant about “The Big Bang Theory.” Who knows? I have the luxury of not having to post here uninspired, but I’ve been taking advantage of that too much lately. I’m still here, thinking, but life and work, for better or worse, have to take precedence.

Hope you’re all enjoying fall–it’s my favorite season. So gorgeous here in Portland today.

Hello everyone, I’m sorry for the long silence.  A combination of applying to publishing school, a surge of freelance jobs, and some family issues has been keeping my attention elsewhere. Hopefully I’ll be able to fall back into a regular updating pattern again pretty soon. I hope everyone enjoyed their summers (I’m planning to do a giant summer-reading post pretty soon!). In the mean time, enjoy the short piece below on fiction and history and what happens when fiction makes history less, instead of more, real.

Also, I’m thinking of futzing with the layout when I have a moment.

As I mentioned before, I’ll be guest blogging on Feministe this week (This fact is still so surreal to me that I’m probably going to say it a lot, just to make it sink in.). Wish me luck! I’m going to cross-post all my posts, so be prepared for some major updating. Joy!

Hey everyone!

Sorry for the silence; I’ve been largely occupied this month with some freelance jobs, and so I haven’t been able to get any posts past the mental brainstorm stage. Stay tuned for some thoughts about Emma Peel and gendered spaces, a look at what I mean when I talk about subtext, and possibly some thoughts over some female artists who get overlooked like Vienna Teng or Terami Hirsch.

But the title of this post is “Big News,” and so I’ll move on to that: I’ve been invited to be a summer guest blogger at Feministe! I haven’t decided what I’ll be blogging about yet (ideas and requests are more than welcomed,) but, as you can imagine, I’m incredibly honored and excited. I’ll be posting the week of July 27th, and so be sure to tune in!

In the mean time, even if Feministe isn’t in your daily reads, take a gander at the other awesome guest bloggers they’ve got lined up this summer.

As I’ve been trying to feel out what sort of content I want this blog to focus on, I thought it might be fun to try doing some pieces on iconic fictional characters. You’re probably wondering why it’s worth looking at fiction when there’s so many incredible, real feminist icons out there to talk about. You’d be right, of course, that reality is perhaps more powerful and inspiring, but I’m still interested in the fiction.

This is approximately my 23rd time trying to write this paragraph, so let’s see if I can explain this without lapsing into academic-ese or turning my prose into pudding. In the conventional wisdom of cultural/media studies, the characters who capture our imagination do so because they speak to deeply held cultural beliefs.  They reflect our struggles, our ideals, our challenge to find a place within these ideals, and/or the fantasies of breaking or embodying these ideals. Looking at fictional characters can’t, of course, tell us how people really lived in any given time period, but it can give us an idea of how people imagined themselves.

This series of posts will include female characters (primarily American with a dash of British because, well, I am but one woman with one brain. I only feel comfortable working within the context of the culture that I know well [or reasonably well. Believe me, I know that Britain and American are more different than one might think]. I would like to add more diversity though, and if anyone has ideas, suggestions, or would like to do a guest post, I’d be happy to oblige.) from a variety of media who were somehow iconic in their eras. Granted, when I talk about “eras,” I sound like I’m limiting this to the past. I’m not. Dana Scully, will certainly make an appearance. Perhaps Xena will too. Maybe I’ll even jump way ahead and talk about a current TV show (President Roslin? I guess I’ll have to finish watching “Battle Star Galactica first.) We’ll see. My question is not “were these women feminist,” which is so incredibly arbitrary (also, if a character is popular, most of the time she usually somehow works within or around the gender norms of her society.), and I’ll probably even look at a few characters whom no one would even think of considering feminist. The fun is in seeing how different eras imagine women differently and what kinds of messages we can find in popular media.

If you have suggestions or would like to do a guest post, please comment or email me and let me know. :)

Hey everyone, I’m afraid that I may or may not be able to include an actual article this week other than the Snazz because all my FtCM allotted time has been taken up with a secret surprise that I’ll hopefully get to unveil next week. This is what happens when you hang out with creative folk–they convince you to devote endless time and energy to creative projects. I’m also working pretty hardcore analyzing some fanfiction for an article I’m writing about the weakening of strong women in het romance fics (it’s actually quite disturbing).

Also, I’ve been thinking of doing a series on posts on  tv/radio/film/novel heroines (both classic and contemporary), taking a look at them in historical context (how they were portrayed by advertising, how did they relate to their cultural climate, etc.). Does anyone have a favorite they’d like me to research?

So, remember that little section I used to have called “The Snazz?” It was a place where I used to post the snazzy media that I was reading/watching/listening to/ seeing/etc.. In any case, you might notice that it’s gone. Vanished, for good and for better. I decided that the format just wasn’t working–the page wasn’t serving any purpose whatsoever. But, because a cultural critic should be steeped in media, and blogs are meant for sharing, I’m revising The Snazz.

So here we have the new and improved Snazz: Every Thursday I will do a post about the media that I’m indulging in this week, and you can share your

I'm going to see Coraline this weekend!

I'm going to see Coraline this weekend!

recommendations, rants, comments,  concerns, musings, etc. Links may include anything: blogs, comics, games, YouTube videos, magazines, etc. Because with so much frustrating media out there, we need some snazzy stuff. (All book links go to the Powell’s website because I’m a snob like that.)

I’m reading:

  • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie- I’m very torn about this one so far. Rushdie gets a little too symbolic for his own good. Also, New York Times, it’s very problematic of you to label a single novel as “A continent finding its voice.” Just saying.
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore- This book does insane things with genre, and I love it for it. Also, the ending makes me profoundly uncomfortable, in a very good thought-provoking way. I’ll stop there to save space.
  • The Feb/March issue of Bust (my subscription finally arrived!)- Still delving in.

I’m Watching:

  • Zaïna @ The Cascade African Film Festival– A Moroccan film about a very awesome 11-year-old girl! Includes nomadic life, horse racing, and the impersonation of ghost queens.
  • Coraline (tonight or tomorrow! So excited!)- Yes, I’m a Gaiman fan like everyone else.  This Bitch blog post makes me a little bit sad about the production though. I’m still going to see it and probably love it. I hope the puppet-sculpting crew members end up getting A) jobs and B) the respect they deserve.
  • the “X-Files” (though there’s nothing really new and exciting about that)-because I find watching Scully in all her geeky genius to be a very cathartic activity.

Also, I’m going to try and make it to the Portland International Film Fest at some point, if I can. I’m thinking of adding “Mad Men” to my tv watching line-up. Anyone seen it?

I’m Listening:

  • Wir Sind Helden– Die Reklamation- Totally danceable German rock. (Link goes to their official page, which is in German. Don’t feel bad–I can’t read it either. For all I know, their songs could about killing puppies, but my flatmate assures me otherwise.)

I’m Seeing:

Mandy Greer Dare alla Luce @ The Museum of Contemporary Craft – (okay, so I saw this last week. I’m stretching my rules.) An incredible installation of textile art at my favorite free museum in Portland. It’s mind-blowingly beautiful (and about a Roman myth in which breast milk created the Milky Way). Snazz indeed.

So, everyone, what are you reading/watching/listening to?

Here’s a secret: I’m pretty skeptical about Twitter. I’ve mostly seen it used as a kind of Facebook status log of silliness which ends up not being nearly as interesting or useful to anyone as the person updating it thinks: “I just saw a rainbow!” “Now I’m eating soup.” “A bunch of zombies attacked the MAX!”

Nevertheless, I’m trying to keep an open mind and have created an official “From the Cracked Mirror” Twitter Feed. Subscribe to get updates on new posts and edits to pages, exciting news about FtCM, and anything else relevant I can think of. I promise it will contain no boring posts about soup, rainbows, or zombie attacks. Is this a good idea? I don’t know; I guess we’ll see.

Writing a note on a blog is always a little bit like shouting into the dark: there may be people listening, but you can’t quite be sure. I shout anyhow, I guess, because I have a death-wish for my vocal chords. That or I just figure it’s better than not writing at all.

In any case, I’m sorry for my brief silence; you’d be surprised how much life can disrupt an unemployed college graduate and occational feminist blogger’s blog time. I’ve got some articles in the works, though, and content will be coming regularly again really soon.

And, if you’re reading this, thank you. I mean it.

Welcome

From the Cracked Mirror is a blog about culture, both high and low, including art, literature, film, food, and advertising from a progressive and feminist perspective. I’m here to critique, elucidate, wonder, and gush...

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