How Emotions Are Held in Contempt

First things first: Love in Panels is sponsoring Romance for RAICES, a silent auction to raise money for the heroic lawyers helping people in the internment camps at the border. I’m a huge fan of their work, so I’m participating with a first chapter and synopsis critique, along with some author coaching on figuring out how to position the story genre-wise. This is really helpful for people writing cross-genre, like me, especially in SFF + romance. It’s a great cause and I promise to do my best for you. 🙂

Some updates for those who don’t listen to my podcast (I’m not saying you should, just that I tend to give a lot of the most immediate news on my writing life there):

  1. THE ORCHID THRONE, Book 1 in my new series, The Forgotten Empires, comes out in two weeks!! Can’t believe it’s almost here. Eek!
  2. The sequel, Book 2, THE FIERY CROWN, comes out May 26, 2020, which isn’t an *awful* wait time, right? I’m doing a final read-through/polish on the content edits right now, then back to Editor Jennie it goes.
  3. I have a New Shiny going out on submission, something I’m super excited about. Cross your fingers and stay tuned for news!
  4. Next I’m turning to THE FATE OF THE TALA, the climactic book in The Uncharted Realms. (And kind of for The Twelve Kingdoms, too.) It’s looking like I’ll have that out in early November. I’m also planning a spinoff trilogy that takes things up with the next generation – a certain pair of twins and their younger buddy, who will be born during FATE. 🙂
  5. If you like to read in French, LA GUERRE DE LONEN, the French translation of LONEN’S WAR, Book1 in my Sorcerous Moons series, will be out October 4.

All exciting stuff!

I’ve been reading (listening on audio to) Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC, which I’m enjoying. She has terrific insights into the way creativity and the universe work. However, she slides into dissing genre books. She mentions a story idea she had that Ann Patchett ended up writing (which became STATE OF WONDER), unbeknownst to each other and through a strange synchronicity. As evidence of the extreme coincidence, Gilbert clarified that this was a specific and unusual story idea, not a “vampire novel.” She, of course, doesn’t specify *which* vampire novel, but it doesn’t take a lot of cogitation to figure she means something like TWILIGHT and not INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. Though could be she lumps all vampire novels together, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

I know she’s being flip, but see how absurd it is to act as if all vampire novels have the same plot?

Later she discusses Harper Lee and how she never wrote anything after TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Gilbert makes great points about competing with yourself creatively and being intimidated by previous success, but she follows up by saying she wished Lee had “churned” out some fast, cheap novels, including a “light romance.” She mentions other genre books in the same breath. All clearly NOT art. All easily written and just as easily discarded.

I find it ironic, because although I’m no luminary author like Patchett (one of my all-time favorites) and Gilbert, if she’d asked me I’d tell her that there’s big magic in fast writing. The flow comes fast and furious when I get it going.

Anyway, I know we’re all familiar with the Literary Writing vs. Genre Writing bias. It’s something that continues to bemuse me, how people decide what’s art and what isn’t. What’s valuable storywise and what’s “cheap.” I know I have a different perspective than many people because I became disenchanted with academia long ago, and I’ve never been much interested in the posturing over what we *should* be reading.

Still, one thing I’ve noticed is that some of this falls out along the lines of emotion vs. mind. Or even vs. spirit or body. Stories that have strong emotional content are considered female in general, and not particularly valid. The occasional article that disses romance in favor of things like thinking about how the Amazon jungle is burning, always carry the implication that intellectualism is more valid and valuable than emotion. Spiritualism is usually elevated even above that. Even the male writer navel-gazing on their sexuality is considered more important than emotional lives.

This goes hand in hand with the way women are often told they are too emotional, or unable to control their emotions. Of course, those are only certain kinds of emotions. The soft and suspect variety.

Anyway, this is what I’m mulling these days.

Answers to Reader Questions

These rainy days and chilly evenings have made for a cozy autumn. So lovely to build a fire, put on a warm robe, and read by the fireplace. 

I sometimes get questions from readers – for the most part through my website contact form, Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter – and usually I answers those questions where they’re asked. The other day, however, I received an email via the website contact form, with enough questions and enthusiastic thoughts, that I asked for permission to share it here. Pretty much the fun version of asking the question so the whole class can hear, because other people probably have the same question. 😉

Here’s the email from Ellen: (I added the handy links)

Hello! First of all I have to say that I’m a huge fan! I recently discovered you through another favorite author of mine, Grace Draven. I started with “The Mark of The Tala” and then literally binge read every book in your entire 12 kingdoms universe in a matter of weeks. I absolutely loved how you tied in all the stories and I’m so excited to see what happens next, especially with war on the brink! That being said I do have a few questions I was wondering if you can answer (if not I totally understand!)

I always try to answer questions! Plus, I love to hear what readers love and what snags their curiosity. So here are some answers!

1) many of your Dasnarian characters use the term “cvan”, however I can’t find a definition for the word anywhere in your books. What does it mean? (On a side note it might be cool if future books had a glossary of terms. Just an idea! )

That’s a great idea to include a glossary of terms and Assistant Carien is on it! I don’t always define terms in my books unless I can find a way to make it a natural part of conversation. “Cvan” is a Dasnarian word that I made up, working off Old Norse – which is the springboard for all of my Dasnarian language – and means essentially “my lover.” Because that’s meant in a very sexual sense, there’s rarely opportunity to work into conversation a discussion of the term!

2) I understand both of Ami’s twins can shift, due to the barrier expanding, but what does it mean that only Stella has the “mark”? Before I thought the mark meant that she had enough magic to shift, so now I’m just a bit confused as to what the mark means. Is it in reference to her magical gifts? Like Andi with the foresight and Stella with emotions?

Aha! This is still somewhat mysterious and will not be explained until the final book. There are lots of guesses out there, and it’s nothing that people probably haven’t already intuited, but it’s not surprising that you’re confused since I’ve never come right out and explained. You’re on the right track – that it has to do with the magical gifts.

3) Will we ever find out the significance of Salena’s sea shells and the connection of them with Rayfe’s mother?

It’s funny, Carien had to go look for this for me, to remind me of the reference. For those wondering, the scene Ellen references comes at the end of THE MARK OF THE TALA, in the vision Andi experiences. Really there’s not much significance to this. Andi tells Rayfe’s mother, Garland, about the seashell because it’s part of showing that it truly was a message from Salena – something only Salena and Garland knew about. It was simply a memento of their friendship.

4) I can’t wait for “Seasons of Sorcery,” after that will there be any more “Uncharted Realms” releases? I’m so curious to see what future POV characters will take the main stage!

Right now I’m planning one more book in The Uncharted Realms series, which will tie up all the current threads and reveal some answers to questions posed back at the beginning of The Twelve Kingdoms. I haven’t publicly announced this anywhere yet (I think) because I was still noodling it, but that book will be called THE FATE OF THE TALA, and if all goes well, it will be out in May of 2019.