Video: Acknowledgments

In this month’s video, I give some advice on what you might consider for your acknowledgments page.

This video does apply to folks who don’t have a book deal or even those who haven’t finished their books yet. Start keeping these things in mind now, and I promise it’ll save you a lot of headache later!

Video: Writing to the Market

Here’s another new video from my writing channel offering a discussion of what it means to “write to the market” and what compromises you can expect to make if you want to be marketable.

Spoiler alert: The practical upshot here is that attempted trend-riding will get you nowhere, and attempting to be marketable should not lead you to compromise the soul of your work.

Pitch Wars Contest: Mentee Chosen

After receiving more than 90 applications from prospective mentees in my third year participating in Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars contest, I have chosen my mentee. (We did not get to have alternates this year.) I wrote over 55,000 words of feedback and critiqued every query letter and set of sample pages that came into my inbox.

Congratulations to Lynn Forrest, whose Adult urban fantasy THE MEASURE OF A MONSTER actually made me like a story about bloodsuckers and detectives, featuring queer characters and absolutely beautiful writing. I will be reading her entire book, shining up her query letter, and helping her craft a short pitch for the agent round of the contest.

You can see all the mentors and mentees here.

Hopefully, I will be able to post with agenting news for Lynn before long! But for now, as always, it’s back to work.

Video: What Goes In My Bio?

In anticipation of Pitch Wars giving me a whole new crop of query letters to leaf through, I decided to make this video about what authors should put in their query letter bios, with some tips about what to consider.

The takeaway:

  1. Be brief
  2. Be relevant
  3. Be humble
  4. Be recent
  5. Make it tailored

Video: “Strong Female Characters”

The “Strong Female Characters” title is in quotation marks because I mean it a little differently than people might think I do.

In this video, I explain how a “strong” female character is actually one that has agency and is an active participant in her own storyline. Often, these days, in a well-meaning attempt to diversify female characters and teach equality, writers and publishers are pushing an image of traditional femininity as weakness, and consequently presents girls and women in media who reject femininity and embrace more traditionally masculine attitudes, clothes, language, and roles as a way to show their strength. My video explains why this is not the only way to make a female character strong, and why we need other images of strength too.

 

Completed New Novel: Bad Fairy Trilogy, Book 2

Finished writing the second book of Bad Fairy!

Genre: Fantasy (fairy tale retelling).

Length: 26 chapters/320 pages/~97,000 words.

Tag line: “What happened before Sleeping Beauty slept?”

Keywords: FANTASY: Fairy tale retelling, medieval period fantasy, Sleeping Beauty, fairies, magic, magick, dark fantasy, reincarnation, elemental magic, identity issues, quirky narrators, epistolary, autobiography (character).

Protagonist: Delia Morningstar.

POV: First person, past tense.

About:

Delia Morningstar, fresh out of fairy school, has to find a way to make a living now that everyone thinks her life’s work is spooky and off-putting.  Her last desperate attempts to change the minds of those in power do not yield the desired results, so Delia’s off on her own . . . investigating the land of the dead.  Because that’s what dark fairies do for fun.

Because of Delia’s life and death connections, she’s able to help the king and queen of her kingdom conceive the baby girl they’ve always wanted.  But she didn’t count on the connection she would have with that princess, and a few sloppy decisions lead Delia to get blamed for cursing the baby.  Faced with the wrath of her old enemies the three good fairies, Delia may have to undertake extreme measures to stay alive long enough to save the princess from death. . . .

Next up: Editing begins. Eeeeeep.

Published Short Story: “Her Mother’s Child”

“Her Mother’s Child” was published in Kaleidotrope today.

Read it here.

kaleidotropesummer2015Kaleidotrope publishes mostly speculative fiction and prefers unconventional stories. My story, published in their summer 2015 issue, features a coming-of-age tale in a gently magical secondary-world setting, featuring goddess spirituality, queer perspectives, and a protagonist with an unusual disability.

 

 

Review (Novellum): The Invisible Orientation

Ian Wood of Novellum has posted an entirely negative review of The Invisible Orientation. In part, it reads as follows:

I am completely open to the possibility that this is an orientation rather than a condition. The problem for me was that this author comprehensively failed to make her case. I started in on this book hoping to learn something about his topic and I finished it (well, finished half of it before I gave up on it!) precisely as uninformed at the end as I had been at the beginning – or perhaps more accurately, no more informed than I was before I read it, and worse, no more convinced.

One problem with it was that is was one of the driest tomes I have ever laid eyes on. It was like reading a scientific paper, but without any science in it, leaving only stilted semi-scientific language, but with no vigorously beating heart of solid science underlying it. There were quotations, and references, and definitions galore, but nothing from scientific research. Almost worse than that for a book of this nature, it had absolutely no personal accounts whatsoever, not even that of the author! Not in the portion I read anyway. I think I would have learned a lot more, and empathized a lot more if I could have heard from people who experience this phenomenon/condition/orientation, and been able to read their input.

Though I don’t think it’s dignified or professional to argue with reviews, I do think it’s irresponsible for folks like this to claim “the book has absolutely no [x] whatsoever” while admitting to having read only parts of it. Especially since the book opens with personal content; the introduction is the only explicitly autobiographical section, though. I didn’t want the book to seem like a personal account; there are plenty of those on the Internet on asexuality blogs, so I only included a little bit of autobiographical info for context. The aforementioned “quotations” are also all other people’s personal content through box-quote anecdotes, which many other readers said they found really relatable and humanizing.

This fellow also mocked some data tables’ failure to total 100% of people surveyed, so it looks like he didn’t quite grasp what they were measuring. The tables were labeled to indicate that survey participants were allowed to pick more than one answer, which of course means numbers aren’t being represented as mutually exclusive parts of the whole. He asserts that this is confusing and contradictory, but I haven’t run across any other reviewers who were confused and said so. Hopefully that wasn’t the impression other readers got.

For the record, I don’t mind negative reviews at all. If someone doesn’t like a book or finds it too boring to read all of, that just means I didn’t satisfy that person’s taste; I know not everyone will find my tone engaging. And I know some people will complain that it’s not what they wanted (for example, some people’s reviews have said they wanted more personal content, while others said they wanted it to be more academic). But I do find it disappointing when someone misrepresents my book as failing to contain information it does contain, suggests that its numbers not adding up makes its message laughable or questionable, or throws out various “zinger” questions that they present as unanswered/unanswerable (“If a person is asexual, why are they identifying with any sexually-oriented group? The author doesn’t tackle this”), even though they are explicitly addressed (perhaps in the parts that the reviewer readily admits to not reading).

Folks who wonder if this reviewer is right about my total lack of scientific support are welcome to read any of the slightly more than two dozen scientific and academic papers I quoted (with footnotes) and listed in the bibliography. It is admittedly not a “scientific” or “academic” book; those exist already, while a layperson’s guide did not.

For anyone who mistook my book as universally beloved, you should know that this fellow and a small but not insignificant group of one-star reviewers do exist. 🙂

Please read the full review on Novellum.