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Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.

text that says Renay's Section

➝ Explanation of my life recently in image form and also possibly why I am a mass of uselessness:

image showing a person growing increasibly depressed

➝ I have also followed a version of this advice for years, but have this photoset bookmarked for the really tough times I've been having, and will be having, in the upcoming months:

First of all, who cares if people hate you. There's always a guarantee certain people will dislike you. There's never a guarantee that anyone will like you. So if anyway likes you at all, you've already won!

➝ Neil Gaiman! I really don't like your fiction most of time, but your nonfiction is aces. Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012.

➝ I have grown extremely fond of M.I.A.'s song, Bad Girls. Apparently I like M.I.A. now, which is something I wouldn't have discovered had I not made 2012 a year I listen to more women than men. Thumbs up!

I've never made it much of a secret that since 2009 I have found The Story Siren brand to be, at best, low-quality and at worst, actively detrimental to the process of engaging honestly and thoughtfully with books. The Story Siren is to the YA community what the Kardashians are to pop culture: flashy, full of gimmicks, scripted and fake, and empty of any depth. The most useful feature of the site (for me) early on was the often the most controversial. Mailbox Mondays was, from my perspective, one of the driving forces of the Advanced-Reader-Copies as status (which makes me uncomfortable on several levels, see my story about meeting Cherie Priest for an example). It was, in a world where publishers utterly sucked at making their upcoming books available to lay-people (so we could, say, maybe plan our book budgets?) a bright beacon of advertisement that slowly came to skeeve me out. I stopped reading the reviews there; they were badly written and there was no sense that the owner was in a critical place to evaluate the content being poured into the brand. I eventually stopped following this blog in 2010 after it became clear the owner was very obviously not self-critical or very willing to deal with criticism of the brand being built. I mean, not to say I told you so, YA community, but well...I told you so. This is what happens in self-congratulatory, non-critical vacuums: the fans protect a brand owner from being called on their bullshit and it only backfires. They learn nothing and eventually do something so monumentally ignorant not even the fans can dig them out. Nope, all that's left at that point is, what? Verbal and emotional abuse of victims the brand owner stepped all over on the way to glory and fame on the Internet? Yeah, stay classy, TSS fans!

And out of the ashes of this clusterfuck comes the greatest, most absurdly beautiful series of posts on plagarism that include various authors abetting and trying to prop up this brand that I have ever seen. Talk about authors I'm never going to read. Let this woman deal with her mess herself. I don't give two fucks about that an author thinks she's swell. Sorry, author, you're not that important, but nice try. All I've seen as I've caught up on this issue is person after person after person trying to sell me on what a great lady this brand owner is, but ugh. It's not about who she is, it's about what she did. I don't care what she's done for the YA community. She could rescue orphaned kittens and volunteer at a homeless shelter 102 hours a week; doesn't change the fact that MOST of the apologies and restitution I've seen happening have come from everywhere but her. It's been Fauxpology Time where the person who built the brand is concerned. Keep on fighting the good fight towards digging deeper, I guess. I'll sponsor the shovels as they wear out, because that's a terrible and beautiful sight all at the same time.

The best communities I have been in have never been hierarchical with one or two people reigning supreme over everyone else. They've been collaborative and supportive, a safe place to grow and learn and share ideas and become better, more thoughtful people. That's not the type of community The Story Siren brand promoted; it created one of divisiveness, cliqueness, a have/have-not divide. It's also likely not one it will resolve to once the dust settles, either. I doubt it will, as it should, lose most of its following and publisher support (I have zero respect for the publishers still propping up the brand), but I remain glad that in 2010 I took it off my radar and mostly left that community behind. That's some serious toxic, anti-critical garbage going down in that section of the YA community. Good luck to the people still hanging on. They'll need it.

text that says Ana's Section

"Tell me not to trip or to lose sight": Heather Browne on Sharon Van Etten. I know I keep going on about her, but the other reason why I'm including this link here is because I love the way Browne writes about music.

➝ Speaking of music, new Regina Spektor! This makes me very happy.

➝ The finalists of the 2012 Mythopoeic Awards have been announced. Lots of great speculative fiction by ladies on the list.

Life on the Lowest Setting: Christopher Barzak expands on Scalzi's "lowest difficulty setting" analogy and talks about his experiences as someone who identifies as working class. The comments are also very much worth reading. I really hope Theodora Goss gets around to writing about the relationship between class and her experiences as an immigrant, as this sounds like a post I'd be very interested in.

This book, ugh. :\ Moore is right, though, that "it is entirely possible to understand that many men are suffering at the moment without scapegoating feminism" (or women in general, I'd add).

➝ The topic of transphobia within feminism was all over my Twitter feed and the feminist media I consume last week, due to the Radfem2012 conference's exclusion of trans women. This led me to this excellent Laurie Penny piece from 2009, about how transphobic feminism is not only discriminatory, but also logically inconsistent.

➝ On a similar note, Women born women? by Helen G is also a great read.

Last week we were discussing the process of becoming feminists here at Lady Business (as well as the occasional complicated feelings that pop up about all the knowledge we still lack), and I thought that Kirstyn McDermott's Feminism, My 23-Year-Old Self, and I was very relevant to this discussion. Favourite bit:

But here's something you don't want to hear: the world is really, really complicated. I know you think you have a whole lot of stuff worked out right now, but actually you've only just started. And you're never, ever going to finish. That's what life is like. Just when you think you have a worldview nailed, some pesky fact, experience, opinion or argument is going to come along to skittle things. Not completely, not always — you do get better at this, I promise — but enough to make you realise that issues are rarely black and white, that the world and its inhabitants are complex and nuanced and don't like to be put in a pigeon hole any more than you do. That's all right. That's how it works. The day you sit back and decide that you're done, that you have all the shit worked out and you never have to learn anything or refine your opinions ever again, that's the day you know you're in trouble. Seriously.

➝ And on a related note, I really loved Amy's post on bell hooks' Feminism is for Everybody, her own process of becoming a feminist, and her faith.

text that says Jodie's Section

➝ Liz Bourke will be writing about SF from a feminist perspective in her new semi-regular column at Tor, called 'Sleeps With Monsters'. I expect a lady writing about SF with bonus feminism will be of interest to everyone on the ladybusiness team and a lot of our readers. (via So Many Books)

➝ Renay, I know you love books and graphs so I thought you might find the results of new survey called 'Do You Love Your Publisher?' interesting. (via [twitter.com profile] stevefeasey)

I work in marketing. I currently work for an organisation that sells products business to business, so I admit there are differences between what I do and what a publishing company would does when it markets books, but still I feel like I have a reasonable handle on business to consumer marketing. Anyway, I spend quite a bit of time being quietly baffled by some of the marketing decisions that come out of the publishing industry. From what I can glean through anecdotes on the internet, my general reading about the industry and just watching marketing campaigns, I feel like sometimes publishers seem disinterested in gathering and organising primary market research (although, I should note, that I don't think this attitude is exclusive to publishing). So, I'm really excited to see that The Writer's Workshop conducted a survey where they actually asked authors how they felt about the marketing activities surrounding their own books. Actual data for the win!

➝ And look, more graphs and there's pie charts too. I am so good to you. :D Kate Hart revisits the question of darkness in young adult book covers. She looks at a large list of 2011 releases and branches this time around to talk about the races represented on the covers. She presents stats for a few other interesting areas of investigation, including the number of covers that feature characters who appear to be dead or dying. That means anyone talking about the troubling prevalence of this trend now has data they can use. Graphs are so useful.

Out for Marriage shows videos of various prominent British people confirming their support for gay marriage (disclaimer: I haven't watched all the videos yet, so if you see anything negative that needs flagging please let me know). I think the big lesson learned from Obama's public declaration of support was that it really does make a difference for influential people to say quite clearly that they're pro-equality and I'm glad to see British people making their support obvious.

➝ On a related note, the public consultation on gay marriage in the UK, comes to an end on 14th June. The survey also touches on issues of trans-equality. It's one of the few chances to make your opinions formally heard on this subject.

➝ Teju Cole tweeted about new tumblr Everyday Africa:

I want to tag each image "every 60 seconds in Africa, a minute passes." Great start, but hoping for more city life. http://everydayafrica.tumblr.com/

From the 'About' page:

'The picture is interesting in its mundane-ness, and therein lies the truth. Africa can be the place of extremes that we in the West see so often. Inundated with images of incredible poverty; occasionally we also see vast wealth. But Africa can be familiar. It can also, thankfully, be boring.'

I don't follow many tumblrs (I don't know why, maybe because I don't have a Tumblr hub myself, perhaps I should get on that...) but I want to keep an eye on this one. There are some lovely images being posted and we...we just need more of this.

What we really don't need is any more videos of Gary Barlow in Africa. I love the Barlow, but still...*glowers*.

➝ I'll wind up with some history. An excerpt about male devotional relationships in Europe in the Middle Ages is up at The Awl. It's fun to learn new stuff! (Someone on my feed retweeted this from [twitter.com profile] angrymalaywoman but I'm afraid I can't remember who.)
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