[Reblog] What I’ve Been Reading And How It Disproves Some Common Self-Pubbing Wisdom

I’ve commented on this quite a lot myself.
I don’t believe that a great many bits of “self-publishing wisdom” are anything but nonsense.

I’ll admit, I’ve a photographic memory, so I don’t have to hear of something multiple times to remember it.  And hearing about something multiple times doesn’t make me read it.  I’ve heard of Name of the Wind several times.  My wife has a copy and has informed me repeatedly that I really ought to read it.  I haven’t yet.  I intend to because aspects and quotes from it seem interesting, and I’ve found Pat Rothfuss to have a rather charming and engaging way with words that I hope translates into his fiction (not everyone’s does; I rather like John Scalzi‘s blogposts more than his fiction, for example).

I strongly suspect that, in reality, most people select a book because

A) Someone whose tastes in books they respect recommends it.  This is why I read about half of what my wife recommends to me: she has peculiar tastes that sometimes overlap mine.  I give her time to tell me enough about them first.  I don’t know why she so rarely reads what I recommend as she is wont to loving anything I finally convince her to.

B) They notice it because it’s interesting looking.  AKA: Browsing.  Neat cover art, catchy title, whatever.  It calls to them.  I suspect that, unless the person has disposable income to actually impulse by us$10+ that this works better in libraries, or bookstores conducive to sitting down and finding out if you like a book first (yay ebooks and the sample thing!!)

C) They saw the movie/tv series.  Hey, it’s why I read Game of Thrones.  Now, I need to get around to reading the second book … though it’s been a few years since I read the first or watched the first season … as in … did I ever watch series 4?  I know I haven’t 5 and 6 and what are they on now?  It was back then I read it.

D) They love the author.  I love Terry Pratchett and search for his books when I’m eager for something to read.  I have other authors with books I love that I approach with caution because they have books I do not love.  Spider Robinson, J R R Tolkien (I really don’t like LotR that much, except for Fellowship of the Ring), and others.

E) I forget.  I’ve been ill and my head aches so I’m going to just stop writing, format this, and go have some coffee.  Don’t forget to read Ms Haddock’s blogpost which inspired this, excerpt is below and there is linkage to the rest … which is about 3-5x the excerpt … no, seriously, it’s a little long.

What I’ve Been Reading And How It Disproves Some Common Self-Pubbing Wisdom

(Damn, am I good at short and pithy titles or what?)

Long story short, I live in a place that is not exactly conducive to either reading or writing. To somewhat mitigate the negative effect this has on my sanity, I’ve been spending a couple of afternoons a week at the library.

Now, was my OCD still completely out of control, I have no doubt what I’d be doing is working my way through my over 1400 book long “to read” list on Goodreads. Since my OCD is more-or-less managed right now though, instead I’ve been wandering pretty aimlessly through the library and reading whatever grabs my interest at the time.

So, here’s a list of books I’ve either read or at least read a significant portion of in the past few weeks (There’ve been others I’ve tossed aside after a chapter, usually non-fiction that was blatantly stupid or dry enough that the subject matter would have to be something I found very interesting for me to push past it to read the damned thing.) (Goodreads links included, in case any of my readers may wish to find out more about any of these.):

Source: What I’ve Been Reading And How It Disproves Some Common Self-Pubbing Wisdom

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Puppies …

No, I’m not doing a post about young canines.  I wish I were, actually; instead I shall be venting some steam on a matter.

I know I write romances, but I’m also a fan of speculative fiction.  This means I tend to be somewhat aware of what’s going on around the matters of WorldCon and the Hugo awards.

For those of my readers (is it pretentious to actually think of anyone who follows this blog or reads my books as “fans”?) who don’t keep up with the SF/F universe this post might not interest you, but you may wish to keep reading anyway if you like reality TV a la Jerry Springer and … buggered if I know, I really haven’t watched TV since 2002 in any capacity that is worth considering.

Oh my gods, where to begin?  Look, if you keep up with this stuff can I assume you’re familiar with the vitriolic, misogynistic, sociopathic troll who calls himself Vox Day?  (No, seriously, this is me being my usual sunny and kind, sweet self … if I weren’t I’m pretty sure I’d have to resort to Russian and German as English lacks the requisite vocabulary to voice my thoughts)  Is it also safe to assume that you’re marginally familiar with the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies?

If not, you can get a really awesome education about them on the blogs of Messrs John Scalzi and George R R Martin.

I just want to chime in with this:  What the fuck guys?!  I mean, seriously?!

There.  Okay, first off, you really spoil your arguments when you can’t keep your story straight from one day to the next.  It doesn’t.  If it’s about diversity in the genre, then stick with that and when it’s pointed out that you’re idiots because Exhibit A, B, C, D … QQ, RR … ZZ1ZZ4%3ERT, etc then just sit down and shut up.

Do not, instead, decide that it’s about bringing back the good ol’ adventure yarn in place of “message fic” (also do not knock “message fic” while it is possible to witness the orgasmic pleasure you derive by merely typing the name Robert A Heinlein, it REALLY spoils your point), but then start bitching that things don’t qualify when numerous items are pointed out, but those items just happen to have females who play a role other than damsel in distress (Uh, one word for you, buddies, little thing you probably never heard of from the early 20th century Triplanetary … she wasn’t a damsel in distress), characters who incidentally are gay or trans or black or fuchsia or vegetarian or ¼ amphibian … If you’re trying to claim you aren’t over-privileged, white-supremacist, homophobic, transphobic, etc it’d help if you didn’t call things that are exactly the old-fashioned classic adventure yarn you claim to want “message fic about gay issues [for example]” just because a character is gay.  Trust me, there’s a difference between a character being gay and a story dealing with gay issues.  My stories touch on gay issues, they aren’t strictly about them, and in SF/F there frequently is the conceit that the society has no gay issues in the first place (some of the talented Ed Greenwood‘s work, for example).

Just … no.  The whole thing?  You can’t have a secret cabal of 8000 people dictating an award you can’t even make up your mind if it is relevant & important or not.  You certainly can’t say various different authors giving non-identical lists of books they liked which number more items than can be Hugo finalists are setting up the ballots and then turn around and create slates of specific items that should be nominated and voted into certain orders.  No.  Just, are you people serious?  Also, you’re authors, have you ever heard of using capital letters?  What are you all … was it Hemmingway who never touched his shift key? [Edit:  Apparently that’s E E Cumming, either way no one I liked trying to read]

Of course these clowns won’t read my post.  It’d be funny if they did, not.  First off, I’m a woman, so they wouldn’t take this seriously, they’d just leave trollish comments that I wouldn’t bother to approve unless they’ve started leaving more intelligent comments than the last ones I saw elsewhere.  I’m trans, so they’d have terrible things to say which would probably make me cry and then my wife would be in jail for murder because she lacks the requisite subtlety (especially when angry) to make sure the case is of “a missing person presumed dead” instead.  Oh, and I’m a lesbian, and they’re pretty ugly about that too.  And I don’t write SF/F so somehow this makes my opinion about the genre I’ve loved most of my life invalid (I was born in 1981 and have a few fragments of memory of seeing Return of the Jedi in a cinema for crying out loud!).

Oh, this would be further evidence that their own arguments are invalid given that they are often so dismissive of people who are openly Other.

P.S.  Question:  If I ever were to win a Hugo, since Færie Patrol books would qualify for it even if the genre rarely gets any attention at WorldCon … would it be wrong of me to make some kind of off colour joke about the trophy and its profound resemblance to a sex toy?  Something like “Cool … are batteries included?  Where’re the speed controls?” 😇

News

Well, here we are, it’s December.  If I were to keep to the schedule for Love or Lust and Ready or Not I ought to be done writing Book 3 in a couple of months, and be ready to publish it this summer.

That’s not looking so likely.

It’s not impossible, but to be honest I’m not making a lot of progress in it right now.  The story itself is fine, and it’ll flow and finish pretty easily, I think, but I’m having issues getting any work done on it; Life keeps getting in the way.

What about life?  What could be in the way now that wasn’t for the last two books?  Aspects of my job itself, the fact that I’m now forced to concentrate on finding a new job as I’ve been laid off (I’ve considered an online tip jar type service to see if my fans are interested in putting forward enough money to let writing be my day job, but I’ve not clear idea how, with whom, and maybe I’m being too humble, but I just don’t think that’d work out), various factors relating to the very real chronic depression I have an on again off again issue with …

Excuses?  Some, yes, perhaps, but authors are not machines and some things make writing entirely too difficult to concentrate on.  I’m sure, if I tried, I could get a few hundred to a couple thousand words onto a page every day.  That’s nothing difficult.  If word count were ever my goal, I could do that easily enough in a matter of seconds with a Lorem Ipsum generator and the computer’s clipboard function.  I want content, words worth keeping.  I’ve none in me right now.  I will again, I can promise that.  I still hold to my only promise regarding the release of the books:  I will finish them.  I can’t control disaster, I mean if Ragnarok takes place tomorrow then I can’t keep my promise – but in my own defense, I can’t exactly plan for that so probably shouldn’t be held accountable.

The search for a new job is, so far, seeming to go well.  So hopefully I’ll have that much less stress very soon.  That doesn’t let me off the hook for everything, but it’s a start.  Many of the more promising jobs are for more money, so there’s other stresses gone.  I sincerely believe that Book 3 will be finished this year and, depending when this year I finish it, published this year as well.

I understand there are people who get so upset with the likes of Patrick Rothfuss, George R R Martin, and others for long delays between books.  I could never understand that.  I mean, sure, I’m anxious enough to know what happens next in a series, but if I enjoyed it, it’s worth the wait for the author to make sure that what happens next is something I’ll continue to love.  I found out, recently, though, that there are actually people who won’t read another author until they’ve read everything by the author they’re currently reading, and if there’s an incomplete series, they don’t read anything else while they wait for that series to wrap up.  I hope that was an exaggeration, but it doesn’t seem to be!  That’s an obsessive disorder, like P-OCD, you might want to seek therapy if you’re like that.  Really, I’m terribly sorry that Book 3 will, by all probability, not come out this summer, but no worries:  lots of other great stories out there you can read in the mean time.

Personally?  I do recommend Game of Thrones, and my wife highly recommends Name of the Wind.  Sir Terry Pratchett‘s books are phenomenal.  Dennis McKeirnan is another good one.  A little story called Black Trillium is worthwhile.  For more of the sort of stuff I write uhm … I wouldn’t know, actually, I don’t read much romance, but you might stop by the RWA and see if they’ve any suggestions, or you could check out the various places my books are sold to peruse the “customer also bought” or “related titles” listings.  Please, enjoy someone else’s work while I get things sorted out enough to give you more of mine – it’s not a competition, I would feel rather better if you liked other people’s books too :).

About me Q & A #1

I have no idea how often or how regular I’m going to do this, but I’m bored to the point of whimsical right now and felt like doing this to amuse myself.

I’m going to interview myself about whatever happens to come to mind.

Future versions of this might feature favourite questions from comments, emails, Facebook, or Twitter.

Are you a vegetarian/vegan?

No.  Though I was until I got married to someone who I can’t seem to convince that humans aren’t carnivores – I didn’t grow up not eating meat so it was no hardship to give in to the fact that I was not going to win the argument against cooking steaks, chicken, pork, etc.

So you’re married?

Yes

To a man or woman?

Yes

Tea or Coffee?

Tea by preference, though if I’ve an empty stomach I have to keep it to specific herbals or just go with coffee.  Tea on an empty tummy makes me extremely sick for no reason I can understand.

You use a peculiar grammar and spelling, where are you from?

Books.  Seriously, I learned most of what I know of English from reading so much; I read a great many English authours and American authours from the days when the written languages between English and American weren’t as different, but I do read some newer American authours which causes some of the peculiarities.  Where I was formally educated really is irrelevant since I don’t actually remember a damned thing from my English lessons, and my family speaks with a rather eclectic mix of dialects and accents.

Your books seem a little mixed on the subject of feminism, but you admit that you’re a woman.  Are you a feminist or anti-feminist?

Neither.  My feelings on the matter of this stuff I think can be best stated by Ms Emma Watson in her amazing speech to the U.N.  I believe in equality.  A woman who wants to be June Cleaver and a woman who wants to be just this side of Teddy Roosevelt after male-to-female transition are both advancing the cause of feminism since the whole point comes down to having the freedom to choose, and I think that (as Ms Watson said) we too often forget the poor gents in the subject.  They have their own degrading stereotypes as well – what business is it of mine if Dennis Rodman wants to wear a dress?  I’m not going to tell him he’s any less a man for it.

Your “biography” page says you don’t speak Swahili.  Do you speak any other languages besides English?  Your books have French and Italian in them …

And I’m quite good at faking those languages with a little help from a dictionary and the Latin I studied in school.  I, sadly, no longer have any functional proficiency in Latin even though I adore the language (far too little opportunity to use and expand, the dangers of studying a dead language), but I remember enough of the core of the language to understand how to use what I look up when translating out of English and into the French and Italian used in my stories.  English is my only fluent language, though I’m conversant in American so long as the topic doesn’t stray too far.

You mention that your writing only pays your power bill, what do you do for a living?

Telephony switch engineering.  I work for an internet/cable/phone company fixing switch issues with customers’ phone features and phone services.  Before that, with the same company, I worked various permutations of technical support for either the customers themselves or the in-field technicians.  Mostly it’s a very boring job, and I’m not sure with what it pays “a living” is a strictly accurate term, but it pays the rent.

Mac or PC?

Amiga.  Sadly they’re getting more than a little dated, so I use Macs.  If I must use a PC I put Debian Linux (Testing) on it … or, by ultimate preference, DOS.  I’ve been using computers for a long time.  I’ve used a plethora of hardware, OS, software.  I’ve things I like and hate about most things, Windows and most Microsoft products are the sole exception:  I find nothing positive to say about their products that couldn’t be said about anything else like them and couldn’t have been said about those other things first … but could go on at length about all the things I hate.  The single positive thing is that MS Word does make putting different page numbering in one part of a document versus another easier than any other current word processor.

iOS or Android?

Neither, or iOS.  For a tablet I prefer iOS.  I have rather mixed feelings about smartphones.  Android, by-and-large doesn’t impress me, though I’ve nothing against it in theory, just in specific details of how it’s implemented.  Most reasoned arguments against Android generally echo my own feelings about it.

And I think that concludes for now.  I’ve run out of ideas, and probably should stop goofing off now anyway.

cheers! 🙂

A discussion, I hope.

English: Ellen DeGeneres in 2009.

English: Ellen DeGeneres in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was an article I found on Facebook, shared it too as I recall.  The Best Way to Change Minds:  Come Out, Stay Out, and Speak Out.

Of particular note, for me, is the first paragraph:

Last week my friend, Professor Jenny Boylan of Barnard College, penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Trans Community Can Change Minds by Changing Discourse.” I think it’s very important that our scholars are finally being provided with a platform to reach a far wider audience, and Jenny is one of our most articulate spokeswomen. It’s also important to note that — gasp!trans women are Ivy League college professors. I will even go so far as to say that what she said is less important than the fact that she is published in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. That will have a great impact on accomplishing what she stressed as the goal of her piece: changing the nature of the public discourse around trans persons and the experience of being trans.

Now, of course, it’s about the transgender community.  Applicability, a word I learnt from the late Professor J R R Tolkien‘s lovely writings on the subject of storytelling, though means it says so very much more.  Amazing how much storytelling and life can have in common if you take a moment to look around and see it.

I’m rather torn on the subject myself.  This is why I hope this will be a discussion in the comments.  It’d be interesting to see the varied opinions and discourse on the matter.  I’m a private person.  I don’t like, as I’ve said before, giving details about myself.  I’ve no problem standing up for people.  Race, sexuality, gender expression, gender identity … we’re all people.  I stand up for people because first off, it just seems the right thing to do.  None of my business if someone is a woman, man, or other.  Doesn’t matter the slightest to me if they’re Buddhist, Pagan, Jew, Christian, Islamic, or pray before an old Pepsi can from 1973.  I certainly can’t imagine being too upset about anything that two or more consenting people might like to do with/to one another.  Above all else, I’m not going to say that someone doesn’t deserve the same rights as anyone else just because of who it is that they love and find attractive.

My point is; do people in the public eye – authors, actors, politicians, etc. – do we have some obligation to be out?  And out about any of it.  Out about being heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, pepsisexual, transgender, transvestite, transatlantic, or transmitted; anything.  Does it matter?

I do feel that we should certainly speak our minds if we’re willing and able.  I’m somewhat able and somewhat willing, so I do.  But that’s not because of our being public.  I think that’s just a very good and human thing to do.  If you want to be objectivist about it and find some self-serving reason for it then how about Martin Niemöller‘s words:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Should it matter if you are gay or trans*?  Should it matter if I am?  Your cousin?  Should it be enough that you don’t feel that anyone should ever be treated as less than human?

So I do, I ask:  am I right or wrong?  Is it enough to speak out, even if I will not come out cis/trans/queer, gay/straight/bi/other? I am out on one point:  I’m an out redhead and an out woman.  I’m also an out writer (exceedingly vague reference to The Notebooks of Lazarus Long).  Does it add some weight to what I say if I am Cis or if I’m trans?  If I’m gay or straight?

The article seems to think so.  At least taken in an extrapolated form.  To be fair, the article itself isn’t talking so much about the Laverne Coxes, the Ellen Pages, the George Takeis of the world.  It’s talking about the guy who bags your groceries, the woman who delivers your mail, etc.  It’s about advocating by simple example.  By not isolating yourself, as a trans person, estranged from anyone who ever knew you as your assigned gender to begin fresh and reborn as your true gender in another town all alone … It points out that, if no one can really identify with an issue, put a real face and person to it they’re not really going to feel much point in supporting the cause.  Little girls like Jazz, women like Laverne Cox; they may seem unreal to people, or isolated curiosities.  George Takei and Ellen DeGeneres; same thing.  They plant the seed, the curiosity, the vocabulary.  They shout the issues from the rooftops, but the ones who prove them right are the gay parents at the PTA conference for their’s daughters’ school; it’s the little boy struggling to be allowed to play for the boys’ team instead of the girls’; it’s your trans brother and your lesbian sister-in-law, your bi cousin.  That point I don’t argue with.  Those who know me I’m out about my sexuality with, my marital status, etc.  What I can’t seem to make up my mind about is this:  does it matter in either direction to the public?

Funny I should say this, given my post about representation, but I guess it comes down to this:  representation in my work exists.  I’d assume that my characters present far more valid role models than myself.  You get to know them, you see their thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, all of that – you share a bond with them.  Me?  What am I?  A dyslexic typist who happens to occasionally take it into her head to string several English words together in something like a logical and coherent order.  Does this make me the kind of public figure whose personal details matters for representing anything or anyone?  I can paint landscapes populated by cis/trans/queer alike, homo/hetero/bi/pan/a whatever, but I can do that regardless my gender, race, height, weight, bust size, inseam, zodiac sign, sexuality, etc.

Still, perhaps I’m wrong.  I’d love to hear what others think:  does my sexuality, gender-status, marital status, etc. matter?  Never mind me specifically, I mean anyone.  Does J K Rowlings’?  Does Stephen King’s?  George R R Martin’s?  Neil Gaiman‘s?

Is it me or is that a long list of Caucasian, cisgender, heterosexual people?  Look, writing as a profession or even hobby doesn’t actually need representation, does it?!  I mean, the anonymity of the pen/keyboard?  How many authors use pseudonyms!  I mean … people know this right?  I mean were I gay or bi or whatever, that wouldn’t make a difference to whether or not some little girl who falls in love with my books decides to take up the quill and tell her own tales … would it?

Damn, now I can actually see arguments both ways.  Stupid blogpost … bad blogpost, no cookies!

Life would be so much easier if humanity weren’t so caught up on the idea of finding reasons to look down on one another.  I mean, aside from obvious ones like rape, murder, theft … people are starving, and there’re religious groups spending money and energy on fighting the legality of Portia and Ellen’s marriage.  Really?!

Still, these comments are no less moderated than any others.  Your comment won’t show up unless you have a previously approved comment or unless I hit the magical, mystical approval button.  But, you know, discuss away.  Between the comments and my own soul searching, maybe I’ll get around to writing up some kind of bio about myself.  Maybe I won’t.  I’m still leaning to “it doesn’t matter”, besides … could turn out I’m just as status quo as Ms Rowling; at least with the silence there’s a mystique.

The Big Idea: Seanan McGuire

Does making a post to link folks to another blog to read an article about another author’s work count as still more posting?

Meh, whatever.

Read this. It’s good for you.

The Big Idea: Seanan McGuire.

P.S. Read the book it talks about. It will induce laughter, laughter is good for the soul. Therefore the book it talks about is good for your soul, QED.