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Moving, Pardon the Dust

May 11, 2010 2 comments

My author website is almost done, and I’ll be updating the blog there starting… soonish. Pardon the dust.

Guess it was time I had an author website. The best editor in the universe just pinged me to say CP is acquiring my second novella. Scuze while I faint, cheer, feel proud of myself, and then get back to folding laundry. Even TWO TIME PUBLISHED WRITERS have to do chores until I can teach the dogs how to handle the delicates load.

Categories: publishing, Thinking Tags:

So Crazed

This morning, I have:

- Written two freelance articles for publication
– Done an in depth analysis of user trends on a product
– Completely forgotten about the report I write every Monday before my kid wakes up, and I can hear him waking up now

What I have not done this morning:

- Put any words into at least one WIP. I try to do 250 words every morning. My real writing time is in the evening, but getting one manuscript page complete each morning sets such a good tone for the rest of the day.

What I wish I was doing:

- Reading the copy of Gwenhwyfar I got for Mother’s Day.

I’m only a chapter in, and already I’m so excited. I cut my fantasy teeth on Valdemar, and loved it more than anything, and I know I’m not the only reader who started feeling a bit… disappointed. Like the well had run dry and someone was still making Mercedes Lackey throw down the bucket. Her “romance” series for Luna made me feel a lot better, because they were great reads. Still, there was sometimes a sense of automatic pilot. But this Arthurian book is the good stuff, the vintage Lackey but now with all of the craft and power an author with years of practice can command.

I used the word romance in quotes there because it’s a freaking fantasy series, but it was branded as a romance, which irritated… huh. There’s a whole pile of assumptions to be examined right there. I’ll get to that one of these days when I’m not so crazed.

Romance Writers: The Country Music Stars of the Book World

Rock stars are cool. They are mysterious, tortured beings, and if they aren’t, they sure pretend to be. Country music stars, on the other hand, specialize in being “just folks.” They go to a lot of trouble to create approachable images, even if they are bajillionaires.

Rock stars go to a lot of trouble to talk about their art and how they suffer (oh, how they suffer) to bring it to a cold, unfeeling world that doesn’t appreciate genius. Country stars bust their butts to give us the impression they knock out their songs over the weekend over a six pack of beer.

Rock stars are better than you. Country stars are you.

After a show, a rock star gets his butt on his bus, or minimum into his hotel room, and drinks (or uses some other substance) in order to relax from three hours of running, climbing, dancing, singing, changing costumes, avoiding the pyrotechnics, and pouring his own personal energy like a balm across a roiling ocean of fans. The country star puts on the exact same show, and afterwards, acts like their fondest wish is granted if they can take pictures and sign autographs and kiss babies.

Except for the running and jumping, these two sound remarkably like another set of artists I know.

Ever notice how literary stars go out of their way to look depressed and take up smoking or drinking in order to have props? They bitch about the burdens of success even while they dress in cool clothes. Also, the minute they get popular, they take it as a sign of having sold out, and run off to write something incomprehensible that may or may not be an extended metaphor for sex.

Not romance writers. They interact on message boards and carry around bookmarks and pens in case you’d like an autograph. The billionaires go to quite a bit of trouble to wear jeans and talk about their crazy times being a mom. Also, they don’t bother with metaphors, at least when it comes to boy-meets-girl-in-the-sack. They like sex. They also like their fans, and are appreciative of anyone who buys a book.

I was never cool. I do think appreciating fans is cool. Does this mean I can wear a cowboy hat here in suburban Maryland without irony?

Categories: Thinking Tags:

I’m Kathleen Freaking Dienne

Warning: The link contains language that is NSFW (not safe for work, if you’re new to acronyms). I don’t know why you’d be visiting an erotic romance author’s website if the f-bomb troubled you, but better safe than sorry.

At any rate. Kate Harding is a wonderful writer. She writes essays and blogs on feminism, fat acceptance, and more. I came to her site originally when I was asking Google for help with a friend’s situation – his wife had been a big woman before they got engaged, lost a lot of weight right before he proposed, and was back up to her normal weight before the wedding, and I was trying to tell him “Dude, this is the shape she is and all the weight loss tricks and products aren’t going to change that in the long run.” Kate says that with biting wit and incisive observation.

But what got me going most recently was this link, which was actually in response to someone else.

Women, generally speaking, waste so much time with self-deprecation. We don’t wait for the world to dismiss us. We come up with all the reasons why we’re not good enough to be successful. That’s some seriously internalized bull doots, right there. But wait, there’s more.

Erotic e-publishing is something nearly everyone does under a pen name. Some of us are doing it to protect professional reputations in other fields. But here’s the thing – out of all the various types of publishing, erotic e-publishing is the only genre where other writers sniff and say “Oh, you’re not really published.” Oh? I’m not? I’ve got a contract with Harlequin that says I am. “The standards are lower with erotic e-pubbing, anyone can break in.” There are a lot more e-pubs out there, because the demand for these stories is so high. New publishers that can’t pay well due to the lack of volume do exist – but at least they exist. New publishers don’t try to open in other genres nearly as often.

It’s for women, written by women, published by women, and acknowledges the sexuality of women, and therefore no one takes it seriously as art or commerce, despite racking up some of the most respectable and fastest growing sales numbers in the industry. And the people who write it do half the dismissing.

No. Today, I am Kathleen Freaking Dienne.

Categories: Thinking Tags: , , ,

Fighting For Reality

April 29, 2010 5 comments

There are some unwritten rules in erotic romance that I’m okay with following. The heroes are always well-hung, for example. TOTALLY okay with that rule.

But there are other “rules” that don’t sit so well with me. Hair, for example. Real men have hair. They have it on their faces, backs, chests, and bellies. I don’t go out of my way to describe a hairy back, mind you, although I personally like it (there, I said it) but all of my heroes have chest hair – crisp, curly chest hair that holds the scent of soap and warm skin – and that hair gives my heroines tactile pleasure.

I was just reading a study where women’s preferences can be correlated to local health. In areas where the overall community health is bad, women dig men with lots of hair, thicker bones, visible musculature. In areas where community health is good, women go for thinner bodies, more delicate features, and less to no hair. The conclusion is that the heavily apparent secondary sexual characteristics are survival markers – denoting men whose genetic health gives them an advantage in an environment without a lot of available interventions.

I wouldn’t want any man who couldn’t defend me during the zombie apocalypse. Some of my heroes are gentle, kind of nerdy men, but they’re still men capable of kicking ass, taking names, and lifting heavy things. My guys don’t just act like alpha men – they look like alpha men. That means hair. Down with waxing! Up with surviving the apocalypse!

Man Up, Sacky.

April 28, 2010 2 comments

I love Dan Savage. I could go on about how he’s the only advice columnist anyone can trust, and I could babble on about how much I love his books, or I could just give you the latest reason for my affection:

You are a huge pussy, CTOAC—excuse me, sorry. Pussies are powerful; they can take pummeling and spit out a brand-new human being. What you are, CTOAC, is weak, vulnerable, and far too sensitive for your own good.

What you are is a ball sack.

I don’t think people realize the cumulative effects of having your body parts used as an insult. It’s like water on sandstone – eventually, there’s going to be a big empty space any passing animal can pee into. If you want to suggest someone is wimpy, worthless, or somehow lesser, call them something that boils down to “a girl.” A “dick” is someone who is a jerk, who takes what he wants regardless of how other people feel, who makes himself happy. Someone with power, and even when you’re insulting him with this pathetic and flaccid excuse for a pejorative, you’re still acknowledging his power. (Tellingly, “flaccid” is a much stronger insult in the context of our language and society.) But a “pussy” isn’t worth any respect at all. And when we use the words of the dominant culture to express our own frustrations, we’re declaring our support for that dominant culture without regard to the costs to ourselves.

Words matter. Don’t use them casually.

Not Period Correct.

I needed two of my characters to not have sex. Fear of pregnancy is certainly a very good reason. I thought about having my heroine count the days, but just for giggles, and by giggles I mean “because I am a hopeless research nerd,” I looked it up to make sure the Victorians knew about that tidbit.

Women didn’t know about counting the days from one’s last period to determine the fertile window until the 1920s.

Holy hell.

This was made worse by the fact that condoms were not widely available, and in some places only sold to married men.

You don’t think about just how liberating birth control was, just how great a degree of freedom is conferred by managing one’s own fertility, until you get smacked in the face with it. I have never known a time when I couldn’t just bop into 7/11 for condoms, or wander into a clinic and emerge with birth control pills, or at bare freaking minimum count days and say, eh, the curse starts tomorrowish so we’re probably clear. Also, while the consequences to getting pregnant unintentionally and outside of marriage would have had a massive impact on my life, I would not have had to cope with any societal disapproval, nor would my single mother status have any impact on my ability to be employed or rent an apartment.

What an impact this would have on a sexual relationship!

This is why good historical fiction isn’t “girls like us but in costume.” Some aspects of being a woman are universal across time and space, but other things are so anchored in context as to be meaningless without it. I hope I’m up to the challenge…

Of Dogs and Fleas

I love DA’s industry news links. I especially love it because I am completely slammed between work, writing, and family (like, um, well, most of the authors I’ve met lately, so it’s not like I’m special). The roundup from Wednesday contains a lot of news important to both readers and writers, and it saves me the time tracking it all down myself. It’s not all serious – I mean, the bit about librarians and how many of them find nookie in the book stacks was pretty hilarious, and hey, that gives me an idea… NO, NO MORE IDEAS UNTIL I WRITE UP THE ONES I HAVE.

Anyway, one of the tidbits was how Barnes and Noble is advertising their Nook on a pirate site. It may not be intentional in that the ad went out to any site on the ad network. It is intentional in that B&N can exclude sites by keywords (like “file sharing” for example) and is getting a report from the ad seller showing the breakdown of results by site.

I’ve bought and sold online advertising. Here’s what I posted to DA:

“…one of the (admittedly minor) considerations is how the placement of the ad will affect the brand. Someone made the conscious decision to link the Nook with reading digital files however those files are acquired.

Now, I’m one of the people who said if Bob buys my future hardback, I don’t care how Bob “acquires” my digital file. But B&N isn’t Bob, and doesn’t care that most of the fans of a site like that don’t think like Bob.

“By any means necessary” is not acceptable doctrine when we’re talking about a luxury device. A more apt cliche is “when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”

I’ll have a bit of a rant next week about piracy and first time authors. A topic that is very near to my blackened heart.

Categories: publishing, Thinking Tags:

Self-Employment Downside:

No sick days.

If I don’t work, I don’t eat. Maybe not today, but on a future day where the crops sown today are harvested, there will be no harvest unless I get the seeds in the ground, the words on the page, and the websites updated.

Meanwhile, I want to go back to bed and have someone bring me juice with a bendy straw. I’m tempted to take the laptop to my bed and work there, but the sick kid is in that bed, and he’s not so sick that he wouldn’t want to touch the magic! buttons! All of them. Particularly the off button right when I’m in the middle of a hot idea.

Anyway, 1600 more words and I can go lie down. Today’s protip is “wash your hands after touching your friend’s boogery baby.”

Sonnets, Golden Age Science Fiction, and Category Romance

April 19, 2010 2 comments

Because it seemed like a nice day for tilting at a windmill, I posted in a message board discussion where one of the participants was slagging category romance. (If you’re not a romance reader, a category book is one of the very short books found in grocery stores as well as bookstores, with a cover that highlights the brand, not the title or the author. They come in categories – suspense, average girl heroines, rich man heroes, etc. Most category romances are published by Harlequin, so some people just call them “Harlequins,” even though Harlequin publishes tons of other stuff.)

Here’s what I said: “I liken category fiction to sonnet writing. A strict form (so strict that deviating from that form literally makes the result not a sonnet/category book), but total freedom to say anything within the form.

“*Most* books have the same plot, conflict, and resolution.”

I have tried to write category, and I have failed. Flat on my face, failed. I can’t work in all the requisite elements with enough development of any of them to satisfy a reasonably bright housepet, let alone a reader who consumes dozens of these things a month and won’t buy me a second time if the first one is crap. Anyone who has said, garsh, I’m gonna write me one of them Harlequins and make a million dollars has not actually tried to do it.

I don’t write them, so why defend them? The answer is that I adore golden age science fiction. Many of the arguments used to mock and belittle category romance were used against my favorite stories, with an extra vengeful little twist of misogyny. Me, I see a parallel.

Categories: Thinking Tags: ,
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