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That book has cooties!

As a soon-to-be self-published author, I spend an inordinate amount of time reading articles and blogs about the publishing industry.  Today, one particular article caught my attention:  Coverflip by Maureen Johnson at HuffPo. In it, Johnson talks about a Twitter challenge she sent out to her followers, asking them to reframe a familiar book cover as though the novel were written by an author of another gender.  The results were both amusing and depressing, as such things often are. Take, for example, the well-known minimalist cover of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.  Simple, blue background, sword positioned horizontally across the cover.  Emphasis on the title and author's name.  The flipped version: OW MY EYES It's busy and awkward, and I assume it was meant to be that way for the challenge.  But it's also so damn ... girly.  The font choice is ornate.  There's all this soft focus and lens flare.  And the only characters depicted are female. As a kid, a book with this cover would have been a hard sell.  It looks soft and fluffy, and as though it's full of romance and icky girl things that even as a girl in elementary school I knew were looked down on by a large portion of the world.  This despite the fact that the females depicted on the cover are some serious bad-asses.  I would have passed simply on the look. An alternate example is Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass.  This YA fantasy has an original cover featuring the photo (what is it with YA and actual photography vs. artwork?) of a young blond woman with a knife strapped to her arm.  (Interestingly, the trade paperback [...]

By | May 10th, 2013|Meta, self-publishing|Comments Off on That book has cooties!

Literary Pet Peeves

Every reader I've ever spoken with has literary pet peeves.  One of the challenges of being a writer is identifying when an editorial suggestion is valid across most of her potential readers, and when it's a matter of personal preference. I recently joined an online workshop, and it's been extremely useful.  The reviews and critiques I've gotten have pointed out writing tics and quirks that I probably wouldn't have noticed myself.  Being too close to one's work means that I see the pores of the writing, but I couldn't possibly recognize problems like repetitive structure and reliance on clichés in my style.  I'm a new writer, and it's entirely normal for me to have these issues.  Getting those sorts of critiques is an exciting experience for me!  It gives me the opportunity to pull back and say what I really meant to say, without feeling hackneyed.  It's like washing grit from the pretty stained glass I've made. There are also critiques that are hard to hear but incredibly necessary.  No one wants to hear that they've left an immense plot hole in their novel.  It made sense when I was writing it down, dammit!  But these sorts of problems are critical.  Anything that throws the reader out of the story and makes the suspension of disbelief come crashing down MUST be fixed.  Thankfully, the holes in Prisoner of War were found in early edits, and I had ready answers for them.  It was in my head, just not on the page. Then, finally, there are the pet peeves.  For example, any story, anywhere, that starts out in either present tense (she moves to the door) or is written in second person (you moved to the [...]

By | April 7th, 2013|Meta, self-publishing|2 Comments

About that Sex in SF panel …

My best friend emailed me yesterday about my last blog post, where I described the Sex in Science Fiction panel as going "about as you'd expect", and asked me to 'splain her.  I looked back at what I wrote, and yeah, it's a bit off the cuff and vague. Mostly on purpose. You see, I felt odd about digging into this particular issue so damn early in my writing career.  I don't like to raise a fuss, which probably tells you very correctly that I am both female and raised in the Midwest. Anyway, I thought about it for a while, and decided to get into more detail. I was really excited for this panel, partly because I have an Opinion on the subject, and also because one of my favorite authors was going to be there.  This was my first convention as an honest-to-god author, my first public reading ever was just a couple hours before, and there were tons of people there!  It was going to be brilliant! And it totally started out that way.  Once we got past the obligatory scoffing at Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight, we talked about Samuel Delaney and Heinlein and In Conquest Born by C.S. Friedman The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and Lust by Geoff Ryman and more, and discussed the varying benefits of graphic description versus elision versus "fade to black" versus focusing only on the emotional rather than the physical action. And then it got a little ... overly emphatic. Now, I'm not saying that people can't go to cons and discuss their sexual preferences.  Hell, the panel was *about* sex, and it's hard to separate one's own kinks from an academic discussion. [...]

By | April 3rd, 2013|Conventions, Meta|Comments Off on About that Sex in SF panel …