This week at the SFF Seven, we’re talking about our favorite heroines that we didn’t write.
I think you all know me by now, and thus know I don’t much like picking favorite anythings. There’s a lot of room in my universe for all the stuff I love and I don’t really think in terms of ranking. All that said, I just completed a reread of Patricia McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, one of my most cherished books of all time. It’s a brilliant fantasy novel and one I wished I’d written. The heroine and protagonist is a wizard woman named Sybel.
Don’t pay attention to the stupid listings that call this book young adult (YA). First of all, in 1974 when this book was first published, there wasn’t a YA category. Secondly, the only reason this is listed as YA, I assume, is because it’s written by a woman with a female protagonist. If this deeply layered, fucking brilliant fantasy novel is YA, then so is The Lord of the Rings.
Sybel is simply a brilliantly drawn heroine. She is a product of her upbringing, isolated physically and in her immense power. Living among the magical, nigh-mythical creatures she cares for, Sybel has to learn to deal with human beings. She is unflinchingly strong throughout the story, cleaving to her own sense of self, even when others try to rip that away from her. In her learning to first love, then to hate, then to move past both, she achieves her own mythic status. Even as the reader follows her self-destructive path, dreading the inevitable outcome, we also believe totally in her reasons, never failing to cheer her on. Sybel is the awkward, bookish, shy girl in all of us, who wrestles with the tumult of the wider world.
In rereading, I found so many ways this story has infused my own work, though I despair of ever reaching this level. And Sybel is in all of my heroines. Maybe even a bit in myself.
Superpowers, immortality, and whether we’d keep everyone alive forever if we could. Also the movie She Said, reflections on the naughty Tumblr I used to have and how the #metoo movement changed so many things for me.
Some industry gossip on the author who pretended to commit suicide to sell books. Also, an online romance book club! Then thoughts on the Mary Sue character and whether we’re really still talking about this.
On happiness, success, becoming addicted to the admiration of others, being true to your art, and the effects of monetization on creativity, e.g. what happens when you can make a living with your passion.
Introducing my new supervisor: Killian! He loves being present for the podcast, this blog, and morning wordcount, though he has a tendency to fall asleep on the job. Still, I have high expectations and the Cuteness Quotient™ is off the charts.
This week at the SFF Seven we’re talking book clubs. We’re asking each other what bookish groups we belong to and what do they provide?
Oh, I have belonged to book clubs in the past. I was in one for a while back when we lived in Wyoming – though it was, in part, a thinly veiled subterfuge to get people to read MY newly published book. Which they did! And discussed, which was fun. Mission accomplished.
Otherwise… I don’t love being in a book club. It’s fun to chat with people and I love to talk about books. Book clubs are, however, rather noteworthy for not actually discussing the books (or reading them) and devolving into gossip instead. I’m also a steady reader, finishing a book every two-three days, so I don’t need incentive to read. I find I don’t like “required reading” either. One cool thing about book clubs is they get you to read books you otherwise wouldn’t; they also get you to read books you otherwise wouldn’t because you don’t want to. While I know there are genre book clubs out there, most tend toward the erudite and fashionable books, and not the kind of thing I love to read.
Besides which, I can always find people to discuss the books I *do* love to read. Or there’s always the cats. Killian’s reading comprehension needs work still, but he’s an excellent listener.
A bit more on how I’ve increased my author income stream over the last 7 seven years so that I can make my living as a writer, my strategies, why a robust backlist is key, and how I’m refining my approach for 2023.
I’m reviewing my author earnings for 2022 as compared to prior years, talking trad vs. indie income and how a robust backlist is key to earning a living as a write. Also some distressing news about Robin Perini.
Looking at some of my metrics for the year and the implications. Also a discussion of ideas for writing, how it’s different for newbie writers, how you know if an idea is good, and how to keep track of ideas.