#BNFestBuzz announcement!

I have an event!!!

I’ve been invited, like totally out of the blue, to be one of the authors at the Teen Festival thing at the Hadley, MA B&N!

What’s weirder?  I agreed!

Have I mentioned before I’m shy?  I’m going to be doing a book signing, and there was mention of something involving the words “reading” and “excerpt” …

What have I got myself into?

Look, if you’re in New England and want to have a copy of my book signed by me in person like face-to-face and all that, I’ll be on Sunday 12 June at 3PM EDT.

This, by the way, would be some of that other 10% stressful stuff from my previous post.

Rant over modern series writing

(Sarah is a cuckoo—a breed of human-looking cryptid that’s biologically more like a giant wasp than any sort of primate, and telepathic to boot. Evolution is funky sometimes.)

Excerpt From: Seanan McGuire. “Midnight Blue-Light Special.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/midnight-blue-light-special/id592216584?mt=11

So, at the moment, I’m rereading Midnight Blue-Light Special.  And it made me have to say something about why I don’t read a lot of newer series.

There are 3 fundamental approaches to series.

The Discworld Model:

This is for series like Bernie Rhodenbarr, the Rita Mae Brown & Sneakie Pie Brown mysteries, Discworld, Mithgar, and similar.  In these (and Mithgar is, quite possibly, the most amazingly perfect example) the books stand alone.  There’s little reference to the prior events, or they’re referenced in off-hand manner if relevant to the moment in the same way you or I will make off-hand references to our own pasts.  Other than that the book of the moment is pretty thoroughly divorced from the books before and after.  You can literally pick up at any point in the series and not be missing anything besides the fun of the other books … which you can just pick up and enjoy as you go.

The Serial Model:

This is the classic Book 1, Book 2, etc model.  This is Now & Forever, this is Harry Potter, this is – frankly – most series.  This is “To Be Continued” through to “The End”.  Sometimes you can muddle through if you pick up part way in.  Harry PotterLittle House, and others aren’t nonsense if you pick up later than the beginning, but it helps.  Well … Little House might be more of a Discworld Model, now I think of it, but humour me.

The thing with these is that you write them assuming that the person reading book 2 read book 1.  If you write something that was explained in book 1 you don’t explain it again, you move on because you’re not worried about confusing anyone because they read book 1 or bloody well best have done.

The Modern Model:

This is one I really don’t like.  I’ve read things, namely InCryptid, that use it.  But it annoys the hell out of me and the stories have to be very good for me to let it slide and keep going … or you have to not do a very good job of it, thus begging the question of why the author bothered instead of sticking with the Serial Model (possibly the actual case with InCryptid … I’m not actually 100% certain).

In this you try to do the bastardisation of the Discworld Model and the Serial Model.  Your books are very “to be continued”, and rely heavily on what came before, but you try to accommodate the ones who are coming in a bit late.  Now, some series are a blending of these. Mithgar has Serials (duologies, trilogies, etc) tossed in amongst the larger tapestry of things.  Shannara too.  But series of Serials is a whole other kettle of popcorn.

I don’t like this one as a reader, nor as a writer.  It’s this philosophy that your Serial should be accessible to any and sundry who walk in 5min before the closing credits.  That really doesn’t work.  You have to insert little obnoxious infodumps that irritate those who have been there since the curtain went up, and unless you want to make your books exponentially thicker by basically reprinting the prior book into the following books –building them into an omnibus edition as you go – you’re going to annoy the mid-streamer who is like “well, she explained this, but why doesn’t she explain that?!”

There.  Was I going anywhere with this?

No, not especially.  Just saying that I don’t grok the modern method of serialising and it irritates me when I encounter it.  All the other crap about the other 2 methods was to illustrate what I meant.  Now, back to the book; it has Aeslin Mice in 😍

ZOMG! She lives!?

Yeah, that’s becoming a rather popular post topic for me lately.

Sorry about that.  This has just been a year of hell for me.  Some ups, certainly.  Moving to Massachusetts has been pretty cool if not without its sour notes.  I’ve become addicted to Doctor Who which is bloody fantastic, but Netflix (henceforth referred to as ‘the meanie bad people’ for short) haven’t got series 9 yet, so I don’t get to find out what’s been going on.

I’ve been managing to write.  Not as much or as often as I’d like.  Some of it has been a lack of time.  Since 12 November I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of days and hours dealing with my jobs, but that’s starting to mellow out.  The time I have had that could be spent writing has been spent in the sorts of things one must do in order that stress does not eat her brain … and sufficient stress of the wrong sort is bad for people with chronic depression (and I are one such person), and if you’ve ever tried to write when having attacks of depression you know it tends to make the stories go in dark and unhappy directions.  Dark and unhappy can be fine, here and there, but we’re talking the kind of dark and unhappy that gets you the “the dog dies” award (sorry, forgot its name, lots of kids books I never liked at all have it – to the point I treat it the same as a skull and crossbones on a bottle in the cupboard).

So far, as of the same sorts of dates that 2015 had started looking down (early December 2014, no lie), 2016 is starting to look really up.  So, that said, I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for a summer 2016 release of the, still, unnamed Book 3.  I’ve gotten more than a page into the first Færie Patrol which is turning out interesting and teaching me fun things about the world and characters.  Can’t recall if I ever got any further in the story about that transgender girl I started one day on a whim (no link because I’m buggered if I recall where I mentioned that).

I’m going to try to be a little more active here soon.  Some of it is going to bend my guidelines RE talking politics (read:  I’m going to bloody well talk about a few things, and I may as well warn I use words I learnt from my wife when Donald Trump and the GOP get brought up these days), primarily US politics. I might not, though.  I also may talk about some of the quirkier trans* issues.  I shan’t be discussing the new Star Wars film because I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to see it due to being, currently, unable to afford a ticket (while I’m not saying this in hopes people will donate a ticket, this is the internet and I’ve seen it happen too many times to not point to the contact link above for anyone who takes this notion into their head.  This said because I may as well – if I explicitly said “please do not …” people would anyway, so screw trying).

As per usual, Happy Holidays.  I’m in a sufficiently high Jewish populated area to know that Hanukkah is over or nearly so, so happy belated that.  Merry Christmas coming up for those folks.  Solstice/Jül/etc is coming up later this week for my Pagan loves, so enjoy – no over indulging in the holy water for you ADF folks.  Turns out there’re almost as many Muslim holidays in December as there are days in the year (just kidding, but there are a lot) and I can’t spell any but Ramadan, but as especially fond happy/merry/blessed series of celebrations for you folks; sorry for all the crap people are giving you, please know some of us do wish you well and would love to punch certain people in the mouth on your behalf.

Happy Mothers’ Day!!

Česky: Matka a dítě. עברית: אם ובנה, 2007. Sve...

I know it’s not Mothers’ Day all over the world.  Sue me, I’m in the U.S. and I didn’t even realise it was this weekend here until Friday leaving work, okay?

Anyway, Love or Lust is 100% off anywhere I could set it.  Ready or Not is 50% off in all the same places.  Oh, did I mention this sale is going to run all week?

As usual I’ve too little practical control over Nook and Kindle pricing.  Amazon will probably eventually price match me, but I can’t say when.  Kindles and Nooks can read the files you’d get from All Romance eBooks, so I recommend users of those devices consider that source.

I know, a Lesbian Teen Romance, what kind of Mother’s Day gift is that?

I don’t know.  I suppose I was thinking about all of those lesbian mothers out there who in the past year have seen their lives validated and vindicated somewhat in … is it 38 states, plus DC and Puerto Rico now?  Some people prefer YA/Teen fiction; I mean some of the best new books I’ve read in the past decade was the Harry Potter series.  Maybe it could be a way for some of my lesbian/bi female readers to prime their mother(s) for letting her/them know about the new fiancée and future daughter-in-law they’ll be meeting today?  Give me a break, it makes more sense than some of the places out there having a sale this weekend.

And, whether you’re a mother of human kids or furry/feathered/scaly ones have a happy Mothers’ Day whether you grab a copy of my books or not.

Another SALE!!!

allromanceebooksI thought it was kind of fun putting up that little single source sale the other day, so I decided to do it again! This time it’s over at All Romance eBooks

81KX3TFsgwL._SL1500_Ready or Not (concept only)Once more Love or Lust is absolutely free.

And Ready or Not can be had for 75% off ($1 by the way ARe rounds the fraction, sorry; take it up with their coders)

iBooks Sale

81KX3TFsgwL._SL1500_For not real reason beyond “I can” I’ve put Love or Lust on sale for 100% off (that’s free for those who may need another cup of coffee before following maths) and Ready or Not is marked down to 99¢!  Just for today.  It ends some time tomorrow.

71jhJo-DxUL._SL1500_Other ebook stores?  No, not today anyway.  I might randomly work my way through all of them, and the sales may not be exactly the same on all (especially given some don’t allow the same sorts of sales options), but my Apple using fans have a treat this Sunday.  You’re welcome.

Why Apple first?  Possibly because I have a new Android phone (it was $20 and my Samsung flip was so old it wasn’t fully compatible with texting anymore so it seemed like a good idea at the time) and while I kind of like the hardware I want to slap whoever designed Android, so there’s possibly a subconscious impetus behind starting with Apple.  Or, I might be starting with A.  I don’t really know.  This was, frankly, a whim that came to me like 1minute ago while I was perusing Twitter.

Enjoy!

Back on track soon

Now & Forever‘s third book should be back in front of me to get back to work on by the end of April.  I’m still wanting to try to write a Færie Patrol short story for Queers Destroy Fantasy otherwise it’d be by the end of this week.

Things are looking up.  Including the possibility of living in a less hellish state before the end of summer.  If that happens my writing may pick up since I won’t have to drive for 30-45min to get to somewhere conducive to thought.

In any case I’m going to rough guess Book 3 for a Christmas 2015 release at the earliest, with an Easter 2016 release more likely, and June 2016 as an outside figure.

We’ll see what happens.

Gods, what a time

Well, stress of life is coming to an end and I’m finding myself with inclination to write even as I return to having precious little time for it (day jobs suck).

I’ve found a new job, I look slightly more forward to grating my own face with a nutmeg mill than the job in question, but I might’ve found a more appealing one that, besides being no less appealing than painful self-mutilation (dare I say more appealing? Hmmm could be, I’ll hopefully get to find out) it also gets me both out of the wretched state of Georgia but also out of the south altogether! Amusing coincidence: it would put me less than 30 min from the town I geographically based Salencia’s hometown on, Estes Park; that could be fun!

I’m not yet back into Book 3. I swear, I will be by end of summer if not sooner, but I need a working break from it to get back into the swing of things. I’ll be working on some short stories and some pet projects of uncertain nature, then try to get back into my Now & Forever groove; I have to! Don’t know about anyone else, but I’m curious to see what their wedding turns out like! (I am not calling that a spoiler, I don’t even know which book it happens in and anyone who didn’t see it coming during Love or Lust clearly hasn’t been paying attention)

I’m really sorry to delay things. But I don’t believe in writing just for the sake of word count. I want quality, not quantity. I’d have thrown out so much of what might have git written these past few months and got myself so thoroughly mired in nonsense that it would only have made things worse to force the matter. Please be patient, I promise you’ll appreciate the resultant book a great deal more.

Cheers!

Beautiful characters

Have you ever noticed how often the characters of our novels and stories are beautiful?

What I find fascinating is, sometimes, they aren’t or at least aren’t explicitly described as such – we merely assume they are.

I think this has to do with escapism and romantic notions.

Too, I think it’s down to perceptions.

Now, it’s no good talking about the ruggedly handsome specimen of masculine archtypicality John Carter, Warlord of Barsoom.  I suppose there are reasons we could, he’s described in pretty fair detail so we could make and reject all manner of philosophical debates about it; especially since it’s never explicitly stated he’s supposed to be remarkably handsome, only the kind of handsome that comes from being a healthy and fit human with self-confidence.

I’m going to use my own writing for this, though, because they’re my characters so I know them intimately.

Sally, Lauren, their friends:  are they beautiful?

Oh sure, Sally describes Lauren as quite gorgeous repeatedly.  Thing is … is she a reliable narrator?  Most descriptions wherein Lauren is any remarkable beauty are (… wait for it …) from Salencia’s point of view!  Sally’s biased.  For one, Sally loves redheads.  Why?  Dunno, she just does.  My high school girlfriend was a redhead, and I’ll admit she had a certain charm, and my wife certainly loves my red hair, and for that matter a lot of women I know (men too, come to think of it) … I suppose it’s something about redheads.  Still, no one else describes her as beautiful beyond circumstantial points or when talking about her spirit and personality.

Lauren is not ugly, I would imagine, no.  Simply put it is hard not to be attractive when you are healthy, fit, and take a certain measure of care in your choice of hair and clothes not in regards to societal expectations, but rather in regard to what suit both your body and your personality.  Suffice to say, I do not have either the face shape nor personality to pull off a Pat Benatar or Joan Jett look, on me it’d be unattractive whereas on them it’s bloody stunning.  She is what she is, a petite redhead with freckles, and a demure hippie fashion sense, and the musculature of a dancer; she’s healthy, she’s trim … and it’s important to note that healthy is specific.  You can work out to the point of unhealthy, all muscle is not actually any better than all fat with regards to your overall health.  If coppertopped pygmies are attractive to you, then yes, Lauren is quite beautiful, but if you’re not into that then she generally falls into the realm of “cute”.

Sally, on the flip side, does trend toward more universally beautiful.  To each her own, not everyone digs the exotic skin tone, dark hair, etc.  But on general terms, while Lauren probably wouldn’t have much of a modelling career, Sally could.  She’s something between 5′ 6″ and 5′ 8″ (167 – 173 cm), proportioned like Shakira, with lots of leg, and features reminiscent of Aishwarya Rai (especially with regards to her hair); Sally could model pretty successfully (well, if she had the personality for it).

The rest actually aren’t described.  They’re as pretty or ugly as you’re comfortable picturing.  Though from my point of view the characters are all fairly attractive in that generic way that comes from good health.

I mention this because it’s an odd criticism that comes up about fiction, that the characters shouldn’t always be so spectacularly stunning to look at.  On principle, I agree.  I mean, Bilbo Baggins isn’t supposed to be some playboy with all the lady hobbits fawning over him, and maybe that puts an important detail into his character.  I also agree that some fiction goes too far and … just peruse some of the not-so-good fanfiction some time for easy access to an example (though the gods know there’s plenty of it on store shelves too).  Romances … okay, they’re given some leeway, for one thing they’re probably narrated from a POV that, like with Lauren, tends toward a bias, the rest is just tradition … for whatever reason, we’re happier with Westley and Buttercup than we are Miracle Max and his wife (whose name utterly escapes me now, even though she has one in the novel).  Still, I think, if we look strictly at the text as given, we find more cases where the characters aren’t especially pretty nor especially ugly; generally the heroes are going to need to be healthy and fit, so a measure of attraction comes with that, but beyond it … I think a lot of character beauty is perceived, not narrated.

Verity Price, for example?  Is she a Sally or is she a Lauren?  She’s in really good shape, and depending how you like the look she cultivates, you could probably go either way; but the real point is … nothing explicitly says one way or the other.  My vote is more of a Lauren.  Dominic, however, is more of a Sally.  He’s got the muscular Fabio-esque euro-hottie vibe turned up to 11 … well, until he talks, anyway.  (see: Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue Light Special.)

Now, to prove that it’s not always just the men who get to be the supreme hotties.  Let’s look at Barsoom.  Dejah Thoris is, admittedly, not explicitly described possibly to keep her look more timeless, since within Burroughs’ lifetime the epitome of feminine beauty had shifted a few times before he wrote that book.  Still we’re given enough to agree with his assessment, and little enough to fill in the blanks with our own opinion – in short, Dejah Thoris is the most beautiful woman on Mars both because you’re told she is, and because she’s put together in the right way to somewhat ensure this.  Our good gentleman, John Carter, on the other hand is described in detail.  Yeah, he’s got a lot of dashing hero tropes, so he’s going to be handsome in that fit fighting man kind of way; but he’s also described in rather generic terms.  He could be any of our brothers, fathers, sons, etc. if they only had spent so much of a lifetime relying on the strength of both their wit and arms to keep them alive.

What’s the point?  Why does it matter?

I’ve wondered that too, somewhat.  Why should it matter if there’re characters with crooked teeth, or characters with perfect teeth?  Both sides, in other words, confuse me.  Why are describing teeth unless it’s important?  At that point, they’re perfect or crooked based on the dictates of the character.  And, I’m sorry, but some people’s teeth grow in quite neatly without orthodontia (which, I might add has existed since the mummies were still being entombed in Egypt) so a pre-modern character can still have perfect teeth (just now you’ve a reason to mention it).

I don’t understand this idea of forcing “unattractiveness” on characters as some kind of Thing.  This idea that making all the characters flawless beautifies as some kind of Thing is equally strange.  Why can’t we just make characters people?  More importantly, why do we need to describe the characters in such tedious detail that the only explanation of why would have to be that we’re jumping up and down going “look! not conforming to unattainable standards of beauty!” or “lookit how pretty (s)he is!!”.  Oh, yeah, sometimes you gotta if the bloody point is how (un)attractive the character is.  But must you do so for everyone?

I’m starting to sidetrack myself with rambling.  Simply put:  who cares?!  Why should we care?  Lauren an Sally only need to be pretty to each other everything else is just decoration; Sally being so remarkably pretty was because that’s what she looked like when she popped into my head as a character … maybe I’d been looking at a lot of Bollywood and Tamil actresses at the time or something.  I mean, I don’t think it’s good writing to have every character be this flawless thing nor the opposite.  I also just don’t agree with everyone thinking someone is oh-so-gorgeous/ugly.  Even people who are considered “classic beauties”, in other words they fit the biological mould of healthy, good genes, fertility/virility, etc. like Marilyn Monroe, Aishwarya Rai, Chris Hemsworth, and Clark Gable aren’t universally adored as beautiful.  Some people really just have a thing for this hair colour or that, for darker or ligher skin, etc.  Also, Rodney Dangerfield was nothing much to look at, but as I recall the man was married and had children … clearly someone dug something about him, probably even found him attractive.

“Darling, did it ever occur to you that, if Salencia had a six foot nose covered in warts and no teeth and a squint and a great big hairy mole in the middle of her forehead, if you loved her then you’d still see her as beautiful? You’d see past the … mess to the person and heart inside and suddenly … well, very few happy and loving couples don’t think one another beautiful, quirky old songs notwithstanding.”

Excerpt From: Jaye Em Edgecliff. “Love or Lust.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/0Qu1N.l

Extremism.  It’s rarely good; not never or that’d be a paradox and therefore nonsense.  We should stop criticising works for having characters who are beautiful or not, and start looking at criticising the works that put big flashing neon signs over it needlessly.  Not even for the act itself, but rather for the sloppiness and laziness that it embodies.  Believe me, I’ve rarely met a story that was explicitly trying to make people stunning or hideous that wasn’t just all ’round badly written.  When telling a story it’s down to that balance thing.  Like Show vs Tell – sometimes you should have one, sometimes the other, generally a bit of an ambiguous blending of the two.