Today in stupid advice

I can’t even pretend to be polite about this. It’s ridiculous.

Yes, some of the greatest SF/F writers out there love to read SF/F, some don’t.

As a writer you should love to read. If you don’t read you … it’s hard to explain but consider it Furthering Education or whatever the devil that modern phrase for it is when teachers are required to go back to college every few years kinda thing.

But reading should be something you love.

This and it’s myriad copies (seriously, I find it both terrifyingly cult-like as well as exceedingly telling that these are always worded nigh identically) are phrased in a way that clearly implies “so you known what is selling right now and you can write that”.

I call bullshit.

Don’t believe me? Follow editors and they’re all wanting to see something new and different and lament all the agents who’re only accepting the tried and true.

Look at how many clones of Twilight failed to garner its numbers. The Harry Potter knockoffs. Too, look at the insane number of people of all ages who prefer YA because it’s where they can find something different … to say nothing of YA not actually needing a special genre tag for “this isn’t depressing, dark, etc”.

In short the people like Ms Dawson who say this are horribly out of touch.

You want advice on writing? Look to the successful writers: Ed Greenwood, Neil Gaimen, Terry Pratchett, Spider Robinson, J K Rowling, Saladin Ahmed, Jeph Jacques …

What do they all have in common? They didn’t look at their own genre for anything. Not really. Pratchett’s Discworld stuff started out parodying Dragon Riders of Pern which is a fantasy novel, but I’m pretty sure that is not what the Dawsons of the world mean.

In many cases they utterly defy genre. Ben Bova acknowledges that Spider’s stuff is not, strictly speaking (and doubly so back when Ben was editor of a major SF magazine!) SciFi, but where the hell else could Spider’s stuff find a home?! It definitely wasn’t Romance, Horror, Mystery, or Western. It could be called SF/F if you squinted and turned your head upside-down … so, what the hell! True, Spider reads SF/F … because he likes a good Heinlein, not because it has anything to do with his work.

Ed Greenwood is a librarian whose home is packed to the gills with tens of thousands of books, all of which he has read. So, okay, yeah he reads Fantasy … and cooking, and architecture, and biology, and mystery, and horror, and poetry, and … he just likes books. And that diversity of tastes influences his work.

The thing is, do your thing. Whatever that thing may be. Try to sell it to an agent if you like, but agents are … no one’s sure why … a bit obsessed with finding the next big clone of the current hot trend; like it costs them anything to accept something great and just actually do their flippin’ job! But publishers won’t let their editors accept unagented stuff anymore. But luckily traditional publishing is really just great for an advance which is pretty paltry and for being distributed by Ingram which I probably misspelled and don’t care but is also pretty much the distributor for All Things Book for US audiences (sad but true, Reagan & Bush’s dismantling of antitrust laws was a Bad Thing … not that publishing much got enforcement of them anyway).

Still, as truly awful as they are (and words can’t express how awful they are) it’s as effective or more so to be available on Amazon which is easy enough to do. Though I’ll be damned if I’ll engage in the modern day slavery of Kindle Unlimited (exclusivity to Amazon and I make a piece if an arbitrary sized pie made of pocket change that Amazon sets?! Fuck that.)

But read what you like, write what you like. And remember: Ursula Vernon doesn’t read SF/F. But she writes it and can’t seem to stay off the bestseller lists 🤷‍♀️.

Romantic Inclusivity

Now, I’ve said before that Romance is not a genre I’m well acquainted with. It mostly bores me and drives me up a wall.

To be fair I do watch good rom-coms like Imagine Me & You, But I’m a Cheerleader, For a Good Time Call …, Pretty Woman, etc.

But it isn’t something I read I’ve tried but I can’t get into it.

I realised today, thanks to @NeolithicSheep just what the problem I have is.

She decided to tweet-stream a book. And I mean zero criticism to the charming Comrade Shepherd herself; she’s merely a catalyst and her tweet-stream is quite entertaining … far more so than I find the story itself.

And I may have made a brief subtweet on the subject of today’s blogpost but there’s zero point linking to that because I’ll say the same thing here with LOTS more words.

In fairness to the authors of these stories, I do not have the faintest idea how monochromatic they are. For all I know the were-bears are Iroquois, and were-tigers are Nepalese, and … stuff. Which, I’m sure, Tumblr-folk (look, they haven’t settled on a new platform so the name can’t change yet) will complain “that’s so problematic!” but there’s a reason nobody takes the Tumblr crowd seriously: They’re the looking for reasons to be offended sort and I’ve no patience for that; won’t even argue with it, occasionally contemplate slapping the snot out of it but mostly I roll my eyes and move on, because there’s no discussion or debate with that sort. They’re basically the alt-left, the liberal-Nazi … you know, the opposition’s morons. But to return to my point, the cast may be if divers skin tone, accent, religion, and nationality 🤷‍♀️.

But, you know, despite my wife’s cruel sense of humour including reading about all these crazy subgenres of Romance she never hits a single lgbt+ example?!

Not among were-erotica romances, not among the 50 Shades knockoff garbage (I abhor 50 Shades as much or more than Twilight), none of it. The Romance shelves are barren of a Red Sonja-esque Fabia with a damsel draped in her arms. Of a Sean Connery kissing a Valentino. Of … gimme a break, Romance covers don’t get very creative.

I mean, if you’re diligent enough you will find a het-romance with a male POV character or a 3rd person that is either over his shoulder or includes his perspective in the omniscience. That bends the mould a little.

But where’s the shattering?!

I mean, literally – near as I could determine it after weeks (months?) of scouring both trad & self pub – Now & Forever is either first of its kind or damn-near-so as being gay fiction that’s happy. I wrote the Male POV Bodice Ripper of Gay Teen Romance (note: Both girls’ bodices remain intact in the only occasion any bodices are worn).

Now, I’m probably going to have were-things in Færie Patrol because why not. And they’re going to be anywhere on the gender spectrum and anywhere on the sexuality one as is my wont.

But where’s the cliché, formulaic nonsense about A Woman and a Were-Tigress? The Alpha-Bitch taming the New York Banker Man? The (oh gods, I can’t not go here) Were-Bear Bear Couple? (Sorry, not sorry) The Trans Marine Time-Traveller and The Viking Princess/Prince?

Nowhere to be seen! Even in the nightmarish dregs of Smashwords‘ strangest tags (not for the faint of heart, it’s safer to go have tea with a Lovecraftian Horror) I found nothing.

I’m sure it exists. Schrödinger’s Novella mandates it must; but then again, Law of Cliché Themodynamics may overrule and state that no one has actually tried to counter the cis-het momentum in any meaningful way! thus it actually does not yet exist! Which, of course is in keeping with Schrödinger’s Novella because quantum cheats by maintaining strict neutrality.

Why, my dears, must we all suffer at the hands of [Insert culturally stereotypically masculine animal] were-bro of muscles, machismo, misogyny, and let’s collectively vomit 🤮 now wins the vaginal canal (surely he wouldn’t know a clitoris if it bit him on the pecker … oh! An Akira twist! I love it!) of the Lovely Lady With Humdrum Life (or sometimes a bit Kardashianesque Life) which the author conflates with her heart and they all live abusively ever after, amen 🙏?!

I say bollox to all that. Go forth, my lovely minions! I say: Subvert, pervert, and anything else ending in -vert all the Romance Genres! Flood them with lesbians, Enbys, aces, bisexuals, transsexuals, transvestites, drag queens, bears, and twinks, a veritable Pride Parade of queery awesomeness 🏳️‍🌈! Drape the cover models in rainbow flags! Have the Naga Queen with the mostly nude virgin in her clutches from behind have her hand upon yon maid’a crotch and breats the embrace rapturous rather than terrible!

Why? Because it’s getting boring around the genre. I used to boggle at the “plot” crap my wife would torment me with from this stuff and now I just shake my head and finish washing the dishes.

Let’s shake things up like the megaquakes that broke Pangea!

P.S. I proofread this twice. Any typos have earned the right to live via natural selection.

Whoa … I’m …

So, there’s a Thing that’s a bit viral on Twitter.

Seems a young lady in a Minnesota school found herself assaulted by staff of said school.

Oh, yeah, see, there’s video evidence. One mo, and I’ll fetch that for you dears:

So … yeah, I mean I suppose that in some ways it could be argued it’s not assault … using a dictionary. Legally, however, there’s a few child sex crime kind of laws in violation by the adults seen. To say nothing of a little thing called psychological assault in violating her privacy like that and by misgendering her so thoroughly.

I kid you not, this has created an uproar. Twitter seems to actually be in consensus about it (only other time Twitter was in consensus about something Joffery had been poisoned). I mean never mind any trans rights debates, everyone is enraged about treating a child that way. Oh and maybe because they didn’t issue an apology, they issued a statement and were then suddenly worried about ‘privacy’.

So I had a little something to say to such a non-apology:

As did the amazing Amanda Jette Knox (this one a thread):

And hundreds more with thousands of reactions that basically come to ‘I’m with you, mate!’

Ready for my new career in sports journalism!

Last night I live tweeted a football game.

I think I did really well!

Someone start a letter writing campaign to ESPN, I’m totally ready for that journalism salary.

(Psst it’s a whole thread for those unfamiliar)

That was fun

It looks like the amusement is wearing off but I seem to have attracted the attention of some sort of men’s … thingy. For want of a word, movement.

So that’s the Twit I made that got their attention.

Yeah, it wouldn’t have if I hadn’t made it a hashtag but I honestly didn’t really care. I think part of me held out hope it might spark conversation.

The first replies were pretty typical apemen on Twitter fodder so I sassed.

I will provide the context to my introduction to the term too because, frankly, Ursula Vernon has a remarkable way with words (Castle Hangnail is a favourite of mine)

Anyway … I’m probably going to mute the thread soon because I’m getting bored with it. But who knows 🤷‍♀️ maybe it’ll get fun again.

Where’s Twitter?

English: George Takei at the 2011 Phoenix Comi...

English: George Takei at the 2011 Phoenix Comicon in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gone.

I don’t use it.  I find it even more useless than Facebook … which is saying something since Facebook’s psychotic algorithms for deciding what to actually show you in your feed (because the things that you’ve followed can’t possibly be the answer to such a nuanced and complicated question) drive me insane usually.

I’ve got a private, personal Facebook.  It’s for cat pictures and the like.  Twitter wasn’t even that useful.  I don’t have a personal Twitter, and as of this morning I’ve quit having a professional one.  That’s that much less SPAM in my email, that many fewer notifications for which I give less than no damns about showing up on my phone, and that many fewer potential security holes in my personal data.

I’m not sorry to have got rid of it.  I’m sure none of you were all that ardently following me on social media, and it seemed silly to “keep a social media presence” when I don’t use social media, do not follow social media … noticing a pattern here?  Seriously, if the iOS News app thingy had an option for “funny things George Takei has shared”, I’d have virtually no excuse to have a private Facebook; the remaining reasons being that’s where my high school reunion is usually planned and some family event things tend to get announced.

Tumblr may be next on the list, but as it’s sort of a blogging platform more than it’s a social media platform I am more inclined to keep it – makes a somewhat handy mirror of my blog … until I recall that it only posts excerpts with a link back to here … okay Tumblr may go some time soon too.  Who knows, I usually forget I have it and am not 100% sure I even know the password anymore so it’s obviously far less intrusive and obnoxious so can stay just because it’s forgettable.

I can’t be the only one, right?

So I was reading this really cool article (with me it’d be #2 99.99999% of the time, the remaining fraction would be #7 in parallel universes where I’d go to things like that without having an anxiety attack).

It made me wonder:  how abnormal or normal am I for a writer?

I mean, am I the only one whose wife would have to drag her kicking and screaming to the RITAs or Hugos or Nebulas or whatevers if I were nominated (or gods forfend, actually win and then have to give a speech?!) to be fair I’d love the excuse to go shopping at Utsav and wear a super pretty dress, and would have to use an elephant tranquilliser to get my wife in something appropriate.

Not that I wouldn’t be honoured!  No no no no, not that.  I just don’t want all that personal attention.  I’d be happy, ecstatic, elated, and probably six other words starting with an E (happy should start with an E as well, damn it).  I mean, hello?  Authors, notoriously introverted, reclusive, anti-social, etc?  What sick mind came up with the idea of a big formal (authors, in formal dress?!) party and award ceremony?!  Seriously?

Proper award for writers: Announcement in paper that [Title] by [by-line] has won [Award] beating out [nominees with by-lines] in a few big papers, a lovely little mantle decoration of some kind arrives on the writer’s doorstep delivered by an anonymous UPS guy.  Yay!  Virtual hugs and silent clapping!  No where’d I put that damned teapot?

Goodbye Sir Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett enjoying a Guinness at honorar...I honestly don’t know what to say about Terry Pratchett‘s death.  So much for he and Neil ever getting together and doing a Good Omens sequel.  No more Rincewind, no more Granny Weatherwax, Tiffany Aching.  The Luggage has moved on, and so many more.

Scott Lynch managed something articulate and good to say.  I’ll settle for reblogging that here:

I was surprised by my own mild reaction when I woke today and saw the first of many subtle tweets about Terry, though I guessed immediately what they meant. I was surprised by just how many of those tweets were also some flavor of subtle or mild or restrained. I didn’t see many all-caps primal screams or 140-character duets for Emoji and exclamation point.

Of course, I peer out at the universe through a knothole as tiny as anyone else’s and the plural of “Twitter stream anecdote” is surely not “data,” nor even a distant relation to data, nor even a part-time and barely convincing cosplay of data.

And yet I think there’s something natural and inevitable about this quiet reaction. It’s not merely that we’ve all known for some time that Terry had to be passing soon, that we’ve been forced to think about it, that he had the chance to say so much about it.

When some people die, they leave the rest of us with a sense that they’ve packed their words and warmth and hauled them along like luggage for the trip, that we can never hear from them again. Terry gave us so much of himself, though, so damned MUCH– seventy books, just for starters, and a world and its inhabitants that might as well be a religion for millions. A good religion, a useful religion. The sort where there’s always a little golden light flickering behind one of the church windows at any hour of the night, so you know there’s someone there to talk to you about anything, and they won’t have locked the doors. They won’t even have put locks on the doors. Some asshole suggested putting locks on the doors once, many years ago, and everyone else in the church carried that person out of town and threw them into a pond. That’s a Terry Pratchett sort of church. That’s a Terry Pratchett book. And he walled us in with them. He stacked them high all around us, and they’re all him, they’re all still here, and they’re going to be here so very long after you and I and everyone else reading this have gone off for a last walk WITH THE ONLY PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE WHO SPEAKS NATURALLY IN ALL CAPS AND WE DON’T REALLY MIND AT ALL, IT’S JUST THE WAY THINGS HAVE TO BE.

Terry Pratchett can die, and fuck everything for that sentence. Fuck those four words. I am feeling the cracks starting to appear in me now. I’ve lost the mildness and quiet I had this morning. But here’s the point. Terry Pratchett can die, but he can never go away. (Continued here)

A Twit … in more ways than one

Murdoch is such an arse.

Rupert Murdoch thinks all Muslims should apologise for terrorism. So on behalf of white people I’d like to apologise for Rupert Murdoch.

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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! 🙂