Changing the SFF World, One Boy at a TIme

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

And now, my gift-shopping is not done. It’s only partly begun. I’m thinking about it though, making my lists, and I have high hopes for the weekend.

So, I’ve been noodling what books to get for my nephew. He likes a lot of fantasy, so I’ve been introducing him to my old favorites for Christmas and birthdays. On the last go-round I gave him Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. My nephew really liked them (of course) and, amusingly, informed me in a serious tone that I have good taste in books.

Yeah, kid, listen to the master.

For this year, I was mulling how what he might like, and might not have read already. With Anne McCaffrey’s recent passing, I thought I should give him some of her classics. My next thought was, oh, those might be too girly.

Which brought me up short.

Over and over I see discussions of how women will read both male and female authors, but men tend not to read female authors. This preference is often blamed for further imbalances: male authors receiving more awards for their books, lists of “classics” and “bests” that heavily favor male authors. All of this despite the fact that female authors outnumber male authors by a rather significant amount.

(No, I didn’t go Google the statistics, but I’ve seen them repeatedly.)

Subjectively, I think this phenomenon is even worse in Science Fiction and Fantasy, which seems to be the last bastion of the boy books. You know what I mean. Lots of sword-swinging and female characters present mainly as cardboard cutouts, with no discernible personality. (Jim Hines writes about this very well. Here’s one example.) It just kills me when I see the SFF canon listed with maybe two female authors. No, I won’t post links to those, because they annoy me. In my annoyance, I think, “if these guys would just read the female authors, then this would change.

And here I am, not wanting to impinge on my nephew’s masculinity by giving him Anne McCaffrey.

Totally part of the problem here.

So, I’m going to give him books by female authors this Christmas and we’ll see what happens.

After all, I have really good taste in books.

Burble Burble

Our rain finally changed into snow and it’s looking quite picturesque here.

I did have a thoughtful post planned for today, but I think I’ll have to save that for tomorrow. I’m just all pleased and burbling over with the news that Sapphire received a Top Pick from All-Romance E-Books (ARe Cafe). Even better, the reviewer totally “got” the story and that’s the best part for any writer.

So, I just have to share:

I expected Taylor to evolve, but in Ms. Kennedy’s capable hands, her transformation is surprisingly original and completely unexpected. She’s intelligent and driven, and those qualities do not disappear just because she’s met a man with a great set of whips and chains. Even more shocking, Adam, who I wasn’t sure I liked for half the story, also comes out of this a better person. I love that the submissive isn’t the only one who is floored by an encounter.

At the end of the story, there’s an unexpected twist that I don’t want to give away, but it blew me away. Nothing ends up being generic. I love stories with strong women, and I love hot, sexy, erotic, BDSM stories. Jeffe Kennedy delivered on both counts, compromising on nothing. The result is one of the highest-quality BDSM romances I’ve ever read. It’s a stunningly original love story with complex characters and sizzling sex.

So, here’s the link, though you’ve already read the good stuff.

And, I know – that makes two shameless promo hits this week. Must be the commercialism of the season invading my brain.

Want a cookie?

On the Job, Naughty or Not

Something about these bird tracks in the snow seems heartbreakingly sweet to me. They make good neighbors, the birds. Yesterday they were busily eating all the seed they could, ahead of this storm. They must be tucked in somewhere today because it’s very quiet out there.

I’m at one of those funny crossroads places.

I mentioned yesterday that I’d finished The Middle Princess. Now I have a brief window of time before I get edits for The Novel Formerly Known As Obsidian. That’s right – we’re retitling. It’s my own damn fault. With Sapphire out there, Obsidian sounds like a sequel, which it is most decidedly not. So, if any of you who’ve read Obsidian – hell, even if you haven’t – feel free to suggest better titles. Something that suggests the fantasy/science theme. 

Get busy, would you?

My plan is to write a new BDSM short, to please at least one of my editors, but I’m not feeling it. Part of my mind is still with my princess and her adventures. A huge part is taken up with better ways to present the graphics for this deliverable for the #dayjob. And still more is lining up when I can put up the Christmas tree and which cookies I should make. Kinky sex is just not in the mix right now.

But this is where I have to pull out the professional chops.

I know, I know – it sounds ridiculous to refer to writing naughty stories as buckling down and getting serious. Still, just like I have to make myself work the #dayjob when I don’t want to, some days I have to apply the will power to focus on a writing project that contributes to the career.

Maybe I’ll sneak in a batch of Christmas cookies, too.

On Not Being Finished

We have a Winter Storm Watch in effect and the moon is giving its own misty ring of warning.

It’s funny, when I finished drafting The Middle Princess last month, I didn’t feel much of anything. No exuberance. No post-partum sorrow. I’m not sure I even mentioned it here.

I understand now that this is because I knew I wasn’t really finished with it.

Oh, I’d written clear through to the end. I’m a beginning-to-end writer, writing the story as if I’m reading it. Which is often how it feels: write the next page so I can find out what happens! But I also knew the ending wasn’t right. I had an idea of how the problems should resolve and I kept thinking it would pop up. Maybe in the next scene? And then the story was done and this magical thing I thought would appear never had.

So, I went straight back to page one and started revising.

I knew all along I’d have to immediately revise. I’m starting to learn my own process and that’s just part of it. Now, let me make clear that this was a painful growth step for me. I know – it sounds absurd. All writers have to revise. But I don’t like it. (Though apparently I do like italics, especially today.) Back in my younger and far more arrogant days, i.e. college, I composed all of my papers on a Brother Correctronic typewriter. For those of you young-uns, this was before the popular use of the home computer and word processing and my typewriter could remember and correct an ENTIRE LINE of text. This was a miracle after years of struggling with white-out and correction tape. In the snow. Uphill both ways. Seriously, people in my dorm lined up to use my typewriter.

Anyway, I wrote all of my papers in one sitting, composed on the typewriter, with no revision. I mostly got away with it, too.

But what I’ve learned about myself as a fiction writer is, because I don’t (can’t) pre-plot, the story drifts as I go. I discover new things about the world and the characters that I didn’t know at the beginning. I’m now more resigned to the ugly need for a “do-over” on each draft.

This is totally how it feels to me. Like I didn’t get it right the first time and I have to do it again. In my head, I understand this is not a reasonable attitude, but…

So, I went back to page one and began revising, reworking and smoothing the story as I went. Making the histories consistent. I hoped that, as I approached the end for a second time, this magical something would appear.

It did.


I don’t know how I missed it the first time, but last week, I found the missing scene. The one that ties up all these little clues I found along the way. I wrote it yesterday and sped right through to the end. Everything fell into place.

This time I felt the relief, the exuberance and sorrow of finishing.

I only wish I could have whipped that final page out of the typewriter with a triumphant flourish.

I kind of miss that part.