October 15



Quill_Pen_BlueA kind of follow-up on last week’s post. [this might have been better as a Father’s Day post.]

I’ve discovered I give my characters a lot of the values and ethics that I was raised with.

My father was honest to a fault and prized honesty highly. He was also a kind man. A neighbor came over to help with some work on the farm. When the neighbor left, my Dad’s brand-new winter denim work coat was also gone. Now we weren’t rich and there definitely weren’t any $ to replace that work coat, but rather than get upset or vindictive, all my dad said was, “He must need it more than I do.” and used his old, thread-bare coat the rest of the winter.

Don’t get me wrong. Dad did not condone stealing or dishonesty. As children we quickly learned that telling the truth and taking the punishment for our actions was definitely the preferable route to take.

My dad loved to fish, and he was very good at it. If he knew any family in our community that were having hard times, he would always fish long enough so that he could take them enough fish to feed their family for several meals.

We were always taught that you are no better than anyone else, nor were we anyworse than anyone else.

About a week ago I fractured a disc in my back… if this post sounds maudlin I blame it on the pain pills.

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Stack_of_booksI frequently take historical facts from “this” world (mainly European-based or American-based) and translate them into events in my broadly European-based “fantasy” world.

Wars, plagues, the 1922 flu epidemic–which killed many in my family–etc. have all been appropriated (although moved to a much earlier time with details changed).

I’ve also used information from the genealogy research I did multiple years ago to create scenes etc. When researching some of my ancestors and branches of the family tree, I discovered a [Roman Catholic] nun’s (well she wasn’t actually a nun yet because she hadn’t taken her final vows) description of the clothes she was forced to wear and what she thought it symbolized (since she had not entered the nunnery willingly but had been placed there against her will by her family).  Because she and others in her same situation had not taken their “final vows” and were not yet “brides of Christ”, in addition to the normal habit (covered from head to toe with only face showing), they were required to wear veils to cover all of their faces besides their eyes–since the nun’s believed that their faces might tempt men who saw them into the sin of lust.

She described herself and others in her position who were at that “facility” as property — since in her mind she had been pretty much sold into slavery to the nuns.

Although I do not have convents and/or nuns in my world, I used her description of her clothes and  what it symbolized to her in a story.

Another genealogy item I used was a description of my great-grandfather who I had never known. A lady described him and noted that what she remembered most was his startling blue eyes and his nanny-goat beard. For a very much younger me that struck a marvelous picture in my mind that I have since used in stories.

There are still other genealogical stories/tales about my ancestors that haven’t yet made it into any story… but they are waiting on the sidelines to be included and will be one day.

When I think about it, I frequently surprised at how much I take from this world/life and put into my fictional world.

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September 11, 2001

A day I will never forget!09-11-01

Perhaps for my generation it was the equivalent of Pearl Harbor–it was for my family. This is what spurred my son to re-enlist in the military. Hard to believe that it was 17 years ago. Seems like yesterday.

I still remember where I was, what I was doing… and what I did for most of the day. I spent many hours (until they were told they could go home) in an internet chat room keeping a friend who was in one of the other world trade buildings updated on what had happened/was happening. She didn’t know. No on in their building knew that the two towers had been hit. Their building had no working radio or access to news and couldn’t see anything besides clouds of dust. For some reason her computer would only access the chat room and not any news etc.

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Eye Opener follow-up

Stack_of_booksApparently things are worse than I thought out there:

Discrimination in the Writing World

A few days ago, I saw a Facebook post from a woman who complained that she didn’t want to see panels by “boring, old, white, cisgender men” at the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention. Now, I’ve always fought against discrimination based on age, race, sexual orientation, and gender, so I was kind of surprised that this person managed to offend me at every single level. I can’t help it if I was born sixty years ago, male, white, and cisgender.

There is a concerted effort by some special interest groups to push certain agendas. More than twenty years ago, just before the Nebula awards, I remember hearing a woman talking to others, pointing out that if they all voted for a certain story by a woman, then she’d certainly win. Apparently the ethics of judging stories based upon the gender of the author eluded her, but it worked. The story written by the woman won.

With the Hugos, white men in particular are not even getting on the ballots, much less winning.

The question is, if you’re a writer, what do you do? What if you write a book, and you don’t fit in the neat little category that publishers want?

For example, what if you’re male and you want to write a romance novel? What are your chances of getting published? How well will you be welcomed into the writing community? Isn’t a good story a good story no matter who wrote it?

Apparently not. I had a friend recently who created a bundle of romance novels and put them up for sale. She had ten novels, nine by women and one by a man, and it sold terribly. Why? Because the nine female romance writers refused to even tell their fans about the bundle because there was a male author in the bundle. So instead of selling tens of thousands of bundles, as she expected, she sold only a few hundred.

Of course, discrimination is pretty well institutionalized in the publishing industry. By saying that it is institutionalized, what I mean is that in certain genres, your chances of getting published are based upon your gender.

For example, a few weeks ago I heard a woman grousing about how in the young adult category, she felt that men got all of the promotion. That’s just bullshit. Young adult is not a genre where men flourish. Of the 24 novels purchased last month (as listed on publishersmarketplace.com), only two were written by men. Not only do men not get promoted disproportionately, they can’t even get published.

A young adult novel with a male protagonist, written by a man, is referred to in the industry as a “boy book,” and editors, who are usually women, are convinced that young men won’t read them. So they won’t publish them. Because of this, young men tend to abandon the genre by the age of 16 and move straight to other forms of adult literature, like science fiction and fantasy. That’s what I did.

But it seems to me that this attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If books were published for young men, I suspect that they’d read them. It might take some time to build an audience, but it would come.

Of course, it isn’t always the men who get discriminated against. Ten years ago, it was very difficult for women to get published in the thriller market, but that is changing. Of the 20 thrillers purchased last month, more than half were by women.

So, what is the answer to discrimination in the publishing industry? I think that there are a few things that you can do.

First, work harder and try to write better than your competition. Make sure that the quality of your work stands out.

Second, forget about awards. So many of them are rigged nowadays that they don’t mean much.

Third, as you build up a library of well-written books that can’t find a publisher, maybe you should just consider self-publishing your works.

Fourth, many authors try to create gender-neutral names to hide their identity, and some authors even go further, creating pseudonyms that misidentify their gender.

And if you’re really desperate, you might consider moving to a genre where you will be accepted.


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Target Audience

Stack_of_booksA bit of drivel based upon my “eye-opener” post of a week or so ago.

I started calculating what/who my “target audience” might be for the WIP I posted about a few weeks ago. [Note I have no idea about the accuracy of the numbers quoted in various studies I found.]

Supposedly 80% of all book purchases are made by females.

90% of that 80% won’t read unless there is a female main character.

So for every 100 people who buy books 80 are female and 20 are other.

Of the 80 who are female: 90%  won’t read/buy a book without a female mc, so I loose 72 of them [80-72=8]. So for every 100 people who read/buy books, my possible target audience is narrowed to a little more than 1/4th. Yet of those 28 potential readers, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t all read fantasy… so probably 30%-50% more drop out.

For every 100 people who purchase books my potential readers (optimistically with 30%) = 20; or pessimistically  = 14.

Now all I have to do is figure out who they are 🙂