Tuesday, March 29, 2011

See, This is Just Insulting

images (1)Don’t worry, I don’t plan to make a habit of just posting links and complaining about them, but this really is stupid.  I was never particularly an avid reader of the Miss Marple books, but still, this really is stupid (did I say that already?)

Another one of Hollywood's "brilliant" ideas.

I don’t know if I should be more insulted as a book lover or a soon-to-be old person.

What’s next: “Okay, we’re remaking Moby Dick, except instead of a grizzled old sea captain, he’ll be a sixteen-year-old pop star, and instead of a whale, he’ll be chasing a hot female half-vampire/half-werewolf.  At the end they’ll have a dance-off or something.  Can’t miss.”

Hollywood, leave the literary world alone unless you commit to doing justice to the works you coopt.  Please.

What do you think?  Am I overreacting?  Would you go see this movie?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


SONY DSCThis is one of the signs of the apocalypse, you know.

New dictionary "words"

OED, I am so disappointed in you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Genre Discrimination

Everyone seems to be using the same word to describe the publishing industry today: Shrinking.  Sales are shrinking, bookstores are shrinking, readership is shrinking.

However, one aspect of the literary world that isn’t in contraction, and in fact seems to be flourishing like never before, is the prevalence of genres.  Brand new writer?  Need a niche?  Just grab a dartboard and some Post Its.  Check out this list for just a “few” examples:

Literary Genres

I acquired this list from just a glancing blow at Wikipedia.  Deeper digging turned up even more genres, sub-genres, and basically just made up genres.  And you know what?

My MS doesn’t fit into any of them.

imagesIt’s easy (and not at all wrong) to be a fan of, say, urban fantasy, or historical romance, or hard science fiction, and decide you want to write in that genre.  You know the rules, the guidelines, and you can craft your MS within the safety of those boundaries.

But what happens when you just write a story?  When you give yourselves over to the characters and let them take you places even you couldn’t have imagined, must less a marketing department at a publishing house?  What happens when your YA tops 100K – by a lot?  Or when you have a novel that’s not quite science fiction, but not quite isn’t?

If you don’t fit neatly into a genre or a word count, people will tell you that your work is not marketable.  Does that mean it’s not good?  Not necessarily.  Traditional publishing is still a business, and the first goal of any business is to make money.  That’s not altogether a bad thing.  The prospect of profit will motivate a publisher to work hard to make your book the best it can be.  It’ll make an agent fight hard to get your MS sold.  On the other hand, it makes agents and publishers less willing to tread unproven ground, which means unless your MS fits neatly into the genre box, you’re less likely to get someone willing to take a chance on it.

I’m seriously considering inventing my own genre.  If there can be a genre called “post-cyberpunk,” then why can’t my characters have their own?

This is just one more reason the siren song of self-publishing is getting louder and louder.  I haven’t given up on the traditional route just yet, though.  Hopefully it won’t give up on me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blog Awards and Stuff

I got a couple of awards last week, both of them from Zan at In the Shade of the Cherry Tree.  The Stylish Blogger Award and the One Lovely Blog Award.*  Thanks, Zan!

Stylish-Blogger-1One Lovely Blog

We all know how this works by now, so I won’t bother you with the rules guidelines.  I’m suppose to write seven interesting things about myself and then pass the awards on to fifteen other blogs.  The passing on is no problem, but I’ve tried to come up with seven interesting things about myself, and guess what?  I’m not all that interesting.

In light of this unfortunate realization, instead of listing seven facts about me, I’m going to open it up you guys.  Ask me anything you want, and I’ll answer it.  It doesn’t even have to be about writing.  Go on, it doesn’t matter how private or potentially embarrassing.  I’m not currently under any gag orders, so do your worst.

Anyway, onto the awards:

These blogs, and many others, always brighten my day with there wit, insight, and just downright awesomeness.  I won’t say Congrats, but instead Thank You.

*I am lovely, if I do say so myself.

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who’s–Well, You Know

It took me two weeks to get around to this post, but I guess I’ve done enough wallowing.

Mozart crafted possibly the most beautiful musical works the world has ever known.  Marilyn Monroe became a cultural icon whose popularity has hardly waned.  Joan of Arc rallied the apathetic French against the professional, disciplined English military and changed the course of history.  Alexander the Great?  He just conquered the world, is all.  Slacker.  Despite their historical, artistic, and cultural superiority, I’ve managed to do something none of them ever could.

Put forty candles into my birthday cake.


Yes, two weeks ago Sunday I hit the Big Four-Oh, or rather, it hit me.  And to be honest, I’ve been in kind of a funk about it that I’m just now pulling myself out of.

Yes, it’s only a number, significant only in base ten, an arbitrary number system based on the number of fingers we happen to have.  But of course, we all know that’s not true, and there’s more to the number than that.  Why else would there be “best writers under forty” lists, or “hottest actresses over forty” for that matter?  A number is just a number, true, but it’s also a symbol. 

In our society, symbols have power.  Whether it’s forty, thirty, twenty-one or sixty-five, the number means something more than just rings to a tree.  They define, to some degree, our experience and our potential.  Look at a twenty-three year old football player, and you see someone who can contribute to your team for years to come.  Look at a thirty-five year old footballer, and you ask, “How many good years does he have left?”  Look at a sixty year old presidential candidate, and you see an elder statesman.  Look at a thirty-five year old presidential candidate, and you wonder how someone so young could think he could lead a nation.

We are all defined in small part by factors we can’t control: gender, ethnicity, orientation.  And age.  The problem with age is that unlike the rest, it’s not static.  Up until last month, I was in my thirties.  Now I’m forty.  I’m only a couple of weeks older, but culturally, the two are worlds apart.  Forty’s not a deal breaker, but I’m not na├»ve enough to think that an agent or a publisher will look at me the same way as they might a twenty-one year old at the same stage in his career.  Or a seventy year old, for that matter. 

Anyone who says age doesn’t matter is simplifying the problem.  Age does matter.  It’s too important to pretend you’re not a certain age, or not yet a certain age.  What we can do, however, is to defy the number and the symbolism behind it.  I’m forty.  I’m middle-aged.  There’s no denying that.  To the teenager and early twenty-somethings I see as the biggest audience for my books, I might as well be the Cryptkeeper.  But I don’t have to give up.  I see medical students in their fifties.  I see seventy year olds skydiving.  I’m not thirty-something anymore, and my twenties are ancient history.  But I’m still here.  I’m still fundamentally the same person I was two weeks ago.  I’m just older, but then so is everyone.

It’s not about how old you are; it never is.  It’s about what you’ve done.  More importantly, it’s about what you’re going to do.

I’ll likely be posting a sequel to this post in about ten years.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sanguine Something or Other

I’m not dead.  I don’t think.

Writers_Block_1I haven’t been blogging lately.  Haven’t been doing much of anything, in fact.  I’m on vacation, you see; I go back Thursday.  I thought I’d spend a good part of my time off work putting together some posts when I wasn’t kicking out page after page of my WIP.  There’s just been the one problem, though.

I don’t have much to write about these days.

I started this blog as sort of an online journal, a written record of journey as a writer: querying, revising, starting new projects, building a platform.  The thing is, I haven’t done any of that lately.  And for the first time in months, it’s not because I haven’t had the time.  I just haven’t felt very literary lately.  I don’t know why.  Aside from doing some work around the house, I haven’t done much of anything.  Maybe it’s because for the past few months I’ve been so busy I could hardly think, so when I finally get a chance to breathe, my mind and body have ganged up on me and refused to participate in anything remotely resembling activity.

Don’t worry though, I’ll snap out of it.  I can coerce mind and body into functioning again – I have dirt on them.  Soon the words will flow, and soon I’ll be back at work, time off once again nothing more than the hint of a distant land on the horizon.  It’s okay, though.  I seem to do my best when I’m overwhelmed.  

Go figure.