Category Archives: Opinion

How to WAFWing. (Wait! What’s WAFWing?)

 

I want to introduce a new writerly acronym: WAFWing. But first, let me backtrack a bit.

I have a mental list of Things Writers Do That I Admire, aka, When Writers are Brave. You probably do, too.

I always admire people who manage to have writing careers in addition to a day job. People like Stephen King and Danielle Steele who wrote in laundry rooms while the family slept. Or most everybody I know these days. Me, when I first started. Probably you.

I also admire people who saved up enough or made an arrangement with their partners/providers to take a year or two off the day job to launch a successful writing career.

Now I’m adding a third category of writers I admire—WRITERS WHO WALK AWAY.

  • Maybe they burned out on the writing, the prolific-ness required for success these days in commercial fiction,
  • Or maybe they had with the narcissist behaviour of the publishing industry,
  • Or maybe they just couldn’t take the marketing. It’s hard to scream, “Give me money! Buy my books!” all the time.

Once self-publishing came along, we felt that we had more options: traditional publishing, e-publishing, self-publishing.

But lately I see more and more writers taking the final option: the option of walking away.

One friend shared with me that she enjoys writing, but not editing or marketing. She’s a born storyteller; she cannot stop writing. So she writes the best first draft she can, then saves them to her computer. Maybe she even shares her work with friends and family. But she doesn’t do anything else with them at this point. She thinks she might someday. But right now, no harsh edits, no rejections, no scathing reviews, no bad sales numbers.

Nice to have options. This one is starting to appeal.

Back in my fandom days, we called it “gafiating.” According to Wikipedia, it stood for Getting Away From It All. Originally it meant turning away from real life and burying oneself in fanfic and other fannish activities, but by the time I became active in fandom (~1997), it had reversed to mean a fan who walked away from all things fannish.

So now I’m waving goodbye to some long-time writer friends as they gafiate back to real life. Or more specific to writers: Walking Away From Writing or WAFWing.

Bye. ::sniffle::

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I’m impressed! You?

So the new TV season continues. I just watched SPEECHLESS and I’m delighted. Now everyone on the show is perfect–husband supportive, wife crusading, kids adorable–but I’m still delighted. Because it features a child with disabilities as a major character and it’s very much time for that. In fact, it plays with a lot of stereotypes–the daughter is the jock, the wife is the alpha. We haven’t yet seen much of the young boy with disabilities personality yet, except to realize he has one. He uses his talking board to swear, among other things.

In the first episode, they deal with something I ran into in real life with a friend who uses a wheeled device to get around–that the garbage ramp is considered an acceptable “alternative access.” I loved Minnie Driver as the assertive-to-the-point-of-abrasive advocate. The world needs more of these kinds of people.

This is a show that’s going to be heartwarming on the surface, and advocate strongly for persons with disabilities underneath. You’re going to get your consciousness raised without even knowing it.

Plus it features some wonderfully appealing characters/actors. I keep waiting for Kripke to have his Big Bang Theory speech impediment, but that’s just me. And some pretty clever casting.

I’ll stick with this one a while longer.

speechless

Who’s watching…?

Welcome to the first few days of the Fall 2016 TV season. If you’re like me, this is the best thing about Fall. Now if only they could make it pumpkin spice flavoured.

I’ve already deleted “Kevin Can Wait” and “The Good Place” from rotation. Never even made it through the first episode of the latter. I’m delighted to have “Lucifer” back. “Big Bang Theory” didn’t start off with a big bang, but that’s okay. We’ll stick by our goofy gang of geeks for another season.

I did watch “This is Us.” I’m not sure why I bothered to record it because the promo ads didn’t make it look particularly interesting, and that’s too bad, because it was. By the end of the first ep, I found myself heavily engaged with all the characters, pleased with their actions, and whoo-boy, I did not see that twist coming. They played me like an aging arcade game.

So what’s it like, you ask. (Sure you did.) That’s a toughy. It’s dark and yet funny, in an almost Buffy-esque kind of balance, and yet it’s kind of an inspirational at the same time. Sort of “Love Boat” meets “Touched by an Angel” meets “insert serious drama here.” All those those. None of those.

I have no idea where the show is going or even what they’re going to do for the next episode since the set-up was pretty damn grand. For once, I feel that the writers actually have a plan. Let’s hope they get the chance to show it to us.

Check it out.this-is-us

Added bonus: Will Wheaton!

I started listing to the audiobook of Ernest Cline’s ARMADA. Having loved READY PLAYER ONE, I was delighted to find it available from my library (via Overdrive). I’m already on phase 8 (of 26), because I multi-task: walk the dog, play Pokemon Go and listen to an audiobook. Go, me!

The absolute icing on the cake was to discover it was narrated by Wil Wheaton, who is a terrific voice actor.

I’ve had such great luck with audiobooks lately:

Christopher Moore’s SECONDHAND SOULS, the sequel to one of my all-time fave books, DIRTY JOB.

Then Simone St. James’s latest “between the wars” ghost story, LOST AMONG THE LIVING. If you haven’t tried one of Simone’s books, you definitely should. It’s like “Murdoch Mysteries” with ghosts.

Then I listened to an older book by Carl Hiaasen, BASKET CASE. And now, ARMADA.

books-i-have-read

Note to self…

Dear Self,

In future, when you quit for the day and think you’re leaving notes to yourself for tomorrow, make sure you make the notes clear. This cryptic bullsh*t has got to stop. redpencil

No love,

~ Stormy

 

When is not a twist ending a twist ending?

When reader expectations for the genre call for a twist ending, but the author gives them the straight-up plotline. Yup. He dunnit.

Just finished reading an excellent book which I will spoil only to say it’s “this year’s big blockbuster.”

All through the book I’m trying to figure out what the big reveal at the end is going to be. And it turns out to be the straight-forward solution. Ha! Well done, author, well done.

There’s nothing I love more than an unexpected ending, and this, while not being a twist, was the least expected ending of all.

YMMV

Plot twist ahead

 

Or not.

Nobody Wants to Read your Sh*t (And what you can do about it.)

This morning, I re-wrote the dark moment/all is lost scene in UNPLUGGED even though yesterday I’d declared it done.

Why? Because I’ve been listening to this awesome free book. BUT… It’s only free till the end of June, then it’s back to nearly $10 on Amazon just for the ebook. Me? I converted it to text and had VoiceDream read it to me while I walked the dog. Awesome learning and an entertaining read.

I’ll be checking out his “War of Art,” too, when I get the chance.

Steven-Pressfield_Nobody-Wants-To-Read-Your-Shit

 

Why do you write? No, really. I wanna know.

In this recent post, “I Hate Self-Promotion,” Tim Grahl, one of the marketing gurus who offers good content for free, asks, “What is Your Why?”  In other words, why do you write?

He says that if you understand your “why,” you will stop hating self-promotion. So I’m thinking about my why.

I know I write to entertain. My books usually contain humor–either direct jokes and puns, or humorous situations–but that’s not enough. My latest book, UNPLUGGED (title subject to change), deals with tragedy. Oh, sure, my hero has a wry wit and a keen sense of observation, but it’s not exactly funny. So entertaining, yes, but is that enough?

After more thought, I realize I also write to encourage diversity. My characters always represent my real world: they’re not all white, able-bodied, straight people. I feature characters of color, differing sexualities, and physical disabilities.

Since I’m a “think out loud” kinda person, let’s talk about it. Food for thought has very few calories, right? So let’s all answer the question: Why do you write?

Why do you write graphic

Marginalization or Marketing?

WARNING: This post contains opinion and controversial subject matter.

I wasn’t there, but apparently at the last RWA conference, Pocket’s spokesperson said (and I paraphrase) they funnel their black authors into a black line. (And Latinos to a similar line.)

From the RWA update: During the Spotlight on Pocket at the 2015 RWA Conference, an attendee asked Executive Editor Lauren McKenna, “Are you working at all on diversifying your author list?” When McKenna requested clarification, the attendee observed that it seemed most of Pocket’s authors were white. McKenna then responded:

“Right now, we [Pocket] don’t have an African-American line. Our sister imprint—because we are all Simon & Schuster—we are just two different imprints that we spoke about today within Simon & Schuster.

Read the rest Here: Update on RWA2015 Spotlight on Pocket Books.

Now, I always feel we should cut speakers some slack. After all, I wouldn’t want to be held accountable for every word I said when I was up in front of an huge audience, nervous as heck and answering questions I hadn’t prepared for.

But in this case, I think we should.

The RWA called their statement “objectionable,” “insulting and unacceptable.”

Eventually, Simon and Schuster threw their exec under a bus and wrote this in reply: Open Letter to the RWA from Pocket

It’s corporate speak for we’re great guys. I know, I worked in corporate communications most of my career. I’ve written stuff like this.

But here’s the thing. They never answered the question. She answered a different question, instead.

Before we get to that, we need to define our terms. As an author of books containing gay main characters, I’ve often been called “a gay author,” but I’m not actually gay.

I’m white, but two of my books feature black main characters, Lost Boys 2.0 and Mysterical. Does that make me a black author?

Mysterical is a YA. I’m sure no teenager.

So where do you publish my books?

What if a black person writes a book with a white main character. Which line should publish that?

And if her next book features a black main character, does it get moved elsewhere? Does she take a new pen name?

Studies of sales show that books sell better when they’re separated out. That black fiction sells better when it’s located with black non-fiction than when it’s located with other fiction. Same with gay books. (I’ve read these studies but can’t link to them right now.) But, depending on your perspective, this can be considered “ghettoizing.” As an author, I want more sales. If I were gay or black, how would I feel then? Conflicted, probably. Let me know in the comments.

It’s easier with online book vendors—you can tag your books by several different categories: So using Lost Boys 2.0 as an example, it’s a gay, action-adventure, romance, African-American. It’s other things, too, like paranormal, urban fantasy. Has a couple of graphic sex scenes… etc. But sadly, I can only use 3 or 4 tags on each book. I’m sure that will change in time. (I’m looking at you, Amazon.)

But where would you shelve it in a book store? To traditional publishers, that’s still exceedingly important: Where would I shelve it that it will sell best?

So I think the question S&S’s exec actually answered wasn’t the one asked. Instead, it was this: Why are books featuring black characters published by a separate line?

The answer is: because it’s better for sales.

But the question she was actually asked was: [Why are] “most of Pocket’s authors were white?”

And that’s the important question. So Pocket… First, is it true and second, why is that? 

Is it really because all your black authors are writing black main characters? Really?

And if that’s the case, is it affecting your acquisitions? Sorry, person of color, you’ve written a book with a white main character and we don’t know what to do with you, so no deal.

I dunno. I said at the outset this was an opinion piece, but really, the only opinion I have is we need more information before drawing conclusions.

In the interest of full disclosure, my Reaper books, featuring white main character, are published by Pocket Star, Pocket’s “digital-first” line. And I’m white.

So… your thoughts?

LB + Myst

 

What did you read in 2015?

In 2015, I didn’t writbest books of 2015e much, but apparently I read a whole lot.

I finished 70 books—some paper, some e and some audio. (There were 5 more I started but didn’t finish.)

The way they break down is interesting:

1 ghost story romance
2 literary novels
3 middle grades
10 mysteries
7 thrillers
8 urban fantasies
1 sci-fi
And 37 Young Adult novels

But Gina, that’s only 69.

Yes, 1 read only 1 non-fiction book this year.

And of that 70 books, 4 were re-reads.

Each year I vote for BOOK OF THE YEAR.

Of the 37 YAs I read in 2015, I’d say my fave was ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL by Jesse Andrews, although DUMPLIN‘ by Julie Murphy ran a close second. And if you liked DUMPLIN’, read THE JOCK AND THE FAT CHICK by Nicole Winters.

Of all the others… The two Cormoran Strike mysteries, CU
CKOO’S CALLING
and THE SILK WORM by JK Rowling w/a Robert Galbraith. Interesting to contrast Striker with Reacher, having just mainlined 32 of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books before reading the two Galbraiths. And there’s a third Cormoran Strike book out now. I’ve put a hold on the various versions at the library. Whichever one comes first: audio, e or print, I’ll grab that and cancel the others.

So that’s what I read in 2015. How ’bout you?

 

 

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