I’m Not Posting Today

Because the only things I can think of to talk about are the fact that I made a Patreon and all the craptastic garbage fire of sexual assault exposes going on both in media and social media rn, and I’m not peppy enough for a sales pitch, and I’m way too ragey to write anything useful on the other.

Enough is enough. Be kind to people. Believe survivors. Everyone deserves respect. This is not complicated.

#EpicWorldFail.

Link-a-bet Soup

Some great reading I’ve been doing lately that’s really made me think.

Freedom not to choose is a faith worth believing in – discussion of Britain as a state-religion-less society. Not sure I agree 100% (I mean, their anthem is still literally God Save The Queen), but it’s definitely an interesting concept.

Welcome to The Matrix: You Work for FREE & There IS No Payday – For writers, the first in a series of posts about why working for ‘exposure’ is madness, unless you’re in control of said exposure. Some nuggets in here even for people who think they already have a handle on the concept of exposure.

Hundreds of mysterious stone ‘gate’s found in Saudi Arabia’s desert – Google Earth reveals structures some 2000 – 9000 years old, and we basically have no idea at this point what they were used for. IDK about you, but this smacks of plot bunnies to me 😉

Book Review for All The Crooked Saints – I’m hanging out to read this one since Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favourite authors, but I want to wait until I have guaranteed uninterrupted time – which means it might not be for another 5 weeks when school lets out. In the meantime, I’m satiating myself with reviews.

Has the Smart-Phone Destroyed A Generation? – a long read but definitely interesting. A balanced discussion of the psychological effects, both positive and negative, that we are seeing in the rising generations who have been born essentially with a smart screen in their hands.

Pricing Silliness and Learning A Lesson – another one for authors on how pricing seems to be working in 2017, which is quite a bit different to how it worked three years ago. This one has prompted a revamp of Inkprint Press’s pricing policies, which is good for you guys, because many of my paperbacks are now significantly cheaper 😉

What have you been reading lately? Feel free to leave books or articles or anything you recommend in the comments! 🙂

Why Artists MUST Be Paid

Writers deserve to be paid. Artists deserve to be paid.

The reason is this: If you don’t pay people to make art, only those who can afford to will make it. Only those who have sufficient income to allow them leisure time, time spent not actively pursuing ways to ensure the survival of their family, will make art. Which is fine, until you realise that it’s playing into the very trap we modernly denounce history for: it’s privileging privilege. The reason we don’t know a whole lot about the lower classes of a lot of historical societies, not first hand at any rate, is not because these people weren’t educated/literate and thus able to write down accounts of their lives. That’s part of it, sure, but written literature is only one of a handful of ways of learning about a people.

Art is another. And art, historically speaking, was almost exclusively made by those in a position privileged enough to allow them the time to make it. No, these artists were certainly not always upper class; but when they were not, they usually operated under some sort of patronage system. The rich may not have physically, mentally made the art, but they sure as heck paid for it and dictated what was to be made. There are good reasons why Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Richard III, and others are they way they are, and every one of those reasons is political. He was paid by the rich to entertain them; you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face, not if you want to keep having a face. (Ha ha).

So. This is why we must pay our artists, and pay them well enough to live: that people from all walks of life may make their art. All walks, not just the privileged.

And if you can’t see why that is important, well… Eh, that’s a whole other post.

Writing Fast and Slow

GRRM (George R.R. Martin) is what we call a sloooooow writer. Stephen King is what we call a fast writer. In Chuck Wendig’s 2016 Mandate post, he refers to a comment that he once received from a reader stating that his books were no good and that he ‘settled’ because he wrote too fast. This is, sadly, a terrifyingly prevalent attitude, particularly amongst the literati: slow work is artful work, fast work is hack work.

Excuse me while I go bash my head against a wall for a minute here.

Look, let’s break this down with the obvious:

For years, I have been a SLOW WRITER. My first novel is coming out in June (!!!!!) (More on that next week), and it’s one I have been working on essentially since 2009. Yup, that qualifies me as a slow writer.

In that same amount of time, Shakespeare wrote Henry VI parts II, III and I; Richard III; Comedy of Errors; Titus Andronicus; Taming of the Shrew; Two Gentlemen of Verona; Loves Labours Lost; Romeo and Juliet; Richard II; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; King John; and The Merchant of Venice.

OH YES I AM AN ARTFUL WRITER AND SHAKESPEARE IS A HACK WOW YOU ARE SO RIGHT. #MicDrop.

…I really actually don’t need to say any more, do I? Q.E.D.

You Can’t Just Cut And Paste!

Urgh. Doing the last little bit of research for #FGU (more properly known as From The Ground Up: Building A World That Works) and I’ve been doing a bit of comparative work with some of the other worldbuilding books that are out there – and trust me, there are surprisingly few, which is why I decided to write this book in the first place. And not only are worldbuilding books actually far less common than you’d believe, every single one I’ve found so far suffers from one of two flaws.

Either it’s too technical and dense and only helpful if you’re the kind of worldbuilder who wants to know EXACTLY HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE to walk to those mountains over there on the horizon and what formula you can use to calculate it,

OR it assumes that worldbuilding is entirely a matter of chance. Pick one from column A, one from column B, two from column C, throw them together and you have a world.

Um, NO. Please. For the love of logic and sanity, NO.

See, what most people don’t realise is that worldbuilding, culture-building, is an inherently logical process. There are REASONS why tropical cuisines involve spices, why no society is born with a democracy, why populations with high tech usually have low birth rates, why population centres get spaced out the way they do – heck, even why elephant-sized mice are impossible. REASONS. Worldbuilding is LOGICAL.

And if you try to sell a book that claims otherwise, that claims you can just pick a climate and pick a style of government and pick a type of art and pick a type of economy and throw them all together and it’ll work fine   – and worse, if you try to claim that food, architecture, weapons, clothing and tools are just decorations – look, worse case scenario I’ll sit here weeping and gnashing my teeth at you, really, but PLEASE. JUST DON’T.

You guys, this is not the way populations work. It’s not the way worlds work. There’s a very specific chain of logic that leads literally from the plate tectonics of your world all the way up to what kind of food different populations will eat, how many children they will have, what their attitudes towards old people will be, how long they will be expected to work for, and so forth. Seriously.

And if you don’t believe me, just wait until From The Ground Up comes out. I defy you to read it and NOT recognise the truth: Worldbuilding is inherently logical. You can’t just throw it together piecemeal and expect it to make sense >.<

/rant. O:)

What To Do When You Accidentally Wrote An MG Book

1) Panic, because the book was supposed to be YA.

2) Research the heck out of the difference between MG and YA. Some good starting points are here, here, here and here (this one may contain ‘language’).

3) Ask for a bunch of volunteers to read the book for you. Look for volunteers who read MG and YA regularly, who can spot the difference between the two.

4) Convince yourself in the meantime that everyone’s feedback will come back agreeing with your original intentions and all will be well.

5) Receive feedback that unanimously agrees you’ve written an MG a book, not a YA one.

6) Cry.

7) Realise that editing the book to fit MG conventions will take a LOT less work than editing it to fit YA conventions, and stop crying.

8) Plan your attack on the manuscript.

9) Edit.

 

…But in all seriousness, it’s really important to listen to your readers in matters of genre. As the writer, you always see what you meant to write, and that can really cloud your perception of genre. “I set out to write an urban fantasy that defies conventions and does X, Y and Z instead of A, B and C.” Well, cool, but the result probably won’t be urban fantasy, because the entire point of genre conventions is that the stories in that genre conform to them for the most part. So listen to your readers. (I’ve actually seen several cases of authors who didn’t, and it never works out well sales-wise.) Even if you thought you were conforming entirely to a genre’s conventions, if readers tell you you haven’t, it doesn’t matter what you intended.

Listen to your beta readers, take a deep breath, and dive back into those edits.

 

Reading Young Adult

So I meant to post this like a month ago when it was a Hot Topic, but we all know I’m less than timely when it comes to blogging, so meh. Better late than never. With the context that a top news site released an article essentially degrading adult readers of Young Adult (YA) fiction, the internet exploded – especially Twitter, where a lot of authors hang out. Shannon Hale, a well-known YA author, had a particularly lucid analysis of the situation, which I storified below for ease of access. I especially like what she had to say about caring about the teenage mindset and caring for teens in general; as a high school teacher, it hopefully goes without saying that I value teens and believe in the importance of nurturing them, validating their experiences, and helping them to process the world around them through increasingly-adult lenses. I don’t love all YA books; I don’t love all the books in any genre. But I do read a heck of a lot of YA (about 50/50 with adult novels in any given year), and it’s not because I’m mentally deficient, or wish to return to my teen years (heavens no, I’m good, thanks).

Anyway. Shannon Hale on adults reading YA. Hurrah.

Men Are Not Brainless Sheep (Shocking, I Know)

“Shocking? What? Why should this concept be shocking?” I hear you ask. To which I counter: why is it not? How is it not, when so many of the fundamental assumptions our society is based on are designed to tell men that they are wild, uncontrollable, savages to be tamed, creatures of undeniable violent instinct who, when confronted with a flash of skin, a hint of cleavage,  or – heaven forbid!! – butt or upper thigh, cannot help themselves; they MUST HAVE THAT FLESH NOW.

Yes, I’m talking about feminism. I’m talking about rape. I’m talking about ‘they deserved it’ mentality and slut-shaming and all those sorts of things, and you know what I’m saying? They’re disrespectful to men, too.

Dude, I KNOW that the primary victims of these patriarchal paradigms are women, but if we’re going to convince men that feminism – real feminism, not “femi-nazis”, not man-hating, not these things which are just as bad as patriarchy, only in reverse – no, real feminism – if we’re going to convince men that this is something they need to get on board with – and ladies, lest you think we can do it alone, never forget that while we make up about 50% of the population, so do men – we need, as a culture, to recognise why these ingrained narratives are damaging not just to women, but the whole of society.

Men are not brainless sheep. I have a husband who, shockly enough, is a man. While we don’t always see eye to eye on things, we have tremendous respect for each other and for each other’s opinions and individual lives. And my husband, whom I have been married to for seven years, whom I have been ‘with’ for over ten, whom I met and started dating at sixteen – sixteen! – has never, ever once touched me without my permission. Not once. Ever. Not before we were married; not after. Not when I was dressed in sweats, and not when I was dressed provocatively. Never. NOT. ONCE.

Please take a moment to absorb the implications of that.

My husband, you see, is not a brainless sheep. He is not a bundle of uncontrollable impulses, something that is triggered by the appearance of womanly flesh and cannot be reined in, denied, constrained. He has a mind, and willpower, and morals, and knowledge of right and wrong – and he understands – really, truly, deeply understands – that women – even beautiful, attractive, scantily-clad women – do not exist for his gratification.

Husband? I know you will never read this, but thank you. With all my heart, thank you.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for society. And I do mean society as a herd rather than individuals; I think most people in isolation are fundamentally decent (whether because I am an optimist or have a restricted circle of acquaintances, I leave to you :D). But the paradigm in which we’re operating is designed to bring out the worst in people. It’s a paradigm where someone can hit you in the face, and it can be your fault. It’s a paradigm that says humanity is foundationally brainless, that women are empty vessels and men are mindless urges.

This comes because I was reading Elizabeth Esther yesterday, and in a link-click-link spree, came across this:

Rick Warren came out and said that a battered woman was not allowed to leave or divorce her abusive husband. In the ensuing cries, he backpedaled and said a woman could leave her husband physically “in the heat of the moment,” (as if a man so crazed that he is beating his one-flesh partner whom he is supposed to honor and sacrifice his own life for would allow her to walk out on the beating) but must return when things have “cooled” and submit to his authority. At no time have I seen him following up with a statement, “Men, you cannot beat your wives for any reason. It is a sin and a crime.”

(Source).

I hope, if you’re reading my blog, you will find the above horrifying on many levels. Yes? Good. Actually, the source is a good article, discussing the recent phenomenon of prominent (male) Christian leaders going out of their way to emphasise the sexiness of their partner (wife), and how this is just wrong on so many levels (But it’s monogamous sexual objectification!! That’s practically Godly!). But the takeaway point for me was as above in that quote: while we are busy reminding young women not to ‘put themselves in risky situations’, society is doing very little by way of reminding young men that this kind of behaviour is not, actually, acceptible. We’re operating from the default position that men cannot control themselves and so it’s up to the women to remove all temptation, and if something goes wrong, well, we told you the boys couldn’t control themselves, what did you think was going to happen?

Men: our culture has been telling us for so long that you are the ones who deserve to be dominant because you’re smarter, stronger, faster, all the while pulling the rug out from under you, insidiously operating on the assumption that actually you’re just a bunch of dumb impulses. Society is lying to you, just like it’s lying to women. But now – now is your chance. Don’t buy into that crap. Of course you’re not a conglomeration of lusty, violent instinct; you’re an intelligent human being. I know. I married one of you. You can do this.