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Saturday, March 31, 2012

On women's fiction, women writers, and initials

I just came across this very interesting, although not particularly surprising, piece in the NY Times about differences in perception and treatment of men and women writers. Not just treatment by readers, but by the whole publishing industry--from cover fonts and art to placement at the bookstores.

Of course this isn't surprising. At the last writers' conference I attended, agents (both male and female) made a big deal about "chick lit"has evolved into "women's fiction." But, the grown up version of chick-lit is still relegated to the bottom shelves, next to the romance novels. Whereas a man and woman might write the same story, the male author will get the more interesting, gender-neutral cover with a bolder title font, and a book blurb with more focus on the action and less on the heroine.

Is it any wonder Joanne K. Rowling wrote as JK rather than Joanne?

Is it any wonder I considered only using LM for Chupacabra?

I don't write chick-lit, I don't write romance, and I don't write about knights riding to the rescue of the damsel in distress. In Marina Melee, George's eventual romantic interest had a very minor role and wasn't even present at the end of the book. The romance was secondary to the madness and mayhem George faced on Sao Jorge. The sex wasn't, but that was separate and apart from the romance. The sex was just part of who George was, right along with the drinking, gambling, and golf. It's a guy's story. It just happens to be written by a woman.

According to the NY Times article, that means the audience who would most enjoy it, who should most read it, won't ever pick it up because it's written by a woman. I don't have any doubt it's true since a male friend who knows I don't have a romantic bone in my body, assumed because I'm a woman writer, Marina Melee must be a romance.

Once again, I'm considering publishing Chupacabra as LM Hinkey, rather than Lynne (that damn "e" keeps prevents any possible ambiguity a "Lynn" has). Maybe I need to find the correct box to put myself in, but for now, it eludes me. The boxes that people expect don't fit. In the south particularly, people expect women to write southern fiction. I don't. I just live here. And I don't write "women's fiction," as I'm expected to do, either. I'm a female writer. And I don't write paranormal romance with vampires and werewolves, even though there is a supernatural beast in my current work.

My paranormal murder-mystery has no romance (okay, the dog is a bit randy), no sex (except for the dog), it isn't set in the south, and the protagonist is a man. True, there are some strong female characters like Kiki, Senora Milagros, and Carmen, but their estrogen-laden presence is balanced by the equally strong testosterone of Jack, Eddie, Flaco, and Norbert Ellis.

For now, I'm holding my breath that the agent I would love more than anything to represent me, and who represents a number of my favorite (male) authors--those who I emulate (at least I try)--will like Chupacabra despite it not fitting in the boxes I've been handed. Of anyone, I would trust her to guide me and my MS through the process to ensure my work is read and marketed as the quirky, satirical look at gods, monsters, and human belief in both of those that it is.

What do you all think? Do women author's get pre-judged and labeled because they're women? Is it just a sad reality of our world that if women authors want men to read their books, they have to use initials or a pseudonym?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

How does a boy grow up to be that kind of man?

My nephew's middle school was under lockdown one day a few weeks ago. An eighth grade boy came to school with a gun. Being an eighth grade boy, he of course showed the gun to his friends and told them his plan: to scare the girl who turned him down when he asked her out.

Lucky for all, the boy's friends told their teachers. The principal confronted the boy, made him empty his pack and took the gun. I'm not sure if the principal is brave or stupid, but that's another blog.

The incident made me wonder: What makes a boy think that's an acceptable response to being turned down by a girl? Does he really think all girls have to say yes to him? And what kind of man will this boy grow up to be?

That was three weeks ago. Right about the time Rush Limbaugh was calling a young college girl a slut for being responsible about her own health and body. he started an avalanche of misogynistic legislation and rhetoric from right wing-nuts, the moral "but-only-to-impose-my-version-of-morality-on-others-but-it-doesn't-apply-to-me" majority, and various other legislators and activists who must have failed both health and biology classes.

This sudden eruption of Orwellian "big-brother is watching" legislation that considers women as nothing more than a machine to produce babies made me wonder, what could bring a man to the point where they feel so very threatened by females that they have to ensure women are forced into submission with regard to childbirth?

If you doubt that this is going on, here's some of what's in the news:

  • Limbaugh called a college student a slut for being on the pill, even for medical reasons.
  • Perry turned down federal funding for prenatal health care because it comes from the same pot of money as Planned Parenthood.
  • Arizona's senate has passed legislation allowing doctors to lie to women about dangers to their own health, health problems with the fetus (including stillbirths) in case the woman might possibly consider abortion.
  • Pennsylvania's governor proposed a law mandating an ultrasound prior to a woman receiving an abortion. ("But the woman doesn't have to look," according to the governor.)

This should scare the crap out of any logical, sensible, sane American with opposable thumbs and capable of abstract thought.

What's missing in all this, of course, is the male side of the equation. Women don't become pregnant alone. If women are out there having sex for recreational purposes, aren't men? I don't see these same legislators and windbags calling for equal responsibility and risk by males. And why is it okay for them, but not for the women? Women who have sex for reasons other than reproduction are "sluts" according to Rush, but when he brings back vials of Viagra from his DR vacation (I guess the Dominicanas are too smart to have sex with Rush), that's okay. Does anyone really think he was planning to use all that Viagra for reproductive purposes, only? And, if he was, how much money did he leave behind in the DR for child support?
Just an aside to Rush...if you're going to argue morality and God's will, then isn't erectile dysfunction God's way of saying he doesn't want your genes passed on?

Which all brings me back to the original questions: What can bring a boy to think threatening a girl's life is an acceptable response to being turned down for a date? Does he really, seriously think all girls have to say yes when he asks them out? And what kind of man will a boy like that grow up to be?

In the past month, we've seen the answer to that last question pretty clearly. I'd be willing to bet all of these men proposing legislation designed to "put women in their place" were the boys who girls did turn down all through junior high and high school. Girls picked up on their creepy need-to-dominate -girls' vibe. And it fueled the little boys' warped need to "show" these girls who's boss. They grow up to be men who are still incapable of coming up with a sane, rational response to women who are smarter than them, women who flee from their creep-vibe, women who are strong enough to say no.

Little boys who react so disproportionately to a girl saying no, who think all girls should do whatever they say, who couldn't (and still can't) hide their misogynistic, sadistic streak, so girls shun them, grow up to be men like Rush Limbaugh, Rick Perry, and Tom Corbett. Little boys who never learned any other way to deal with disappointment than pulling out the guns to "prove" they're big men.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lucky 7!

I've been tagged by Guilie of  Quiet Laughter for the Lucky 7 Meme--thank you, Guilie! This is a fun, social media version of a chain letter for writers.

So what do I need to do?

1 -- Go to page 77 of my WIP (okay, if I tagged you and your a blogger, chances are you don't have 77 continuous pages, so pick a 7 of some kind - page 7, paragraph 7 or 77, line 7 or 77, etc and skip to step 3, adjusting as needed - 7 lines, sentences, words, letters...).
2 -- Go to line 7
3 -- Copy the next 7 lines, AS ARE (no cheating, no tweaking, no polishing for any reason at all) and paste them into a blog post (thus here we are) to share with the world
4 -- Tag 7 other authors (including bloggers) (see? it's a chain letter!)

And if you're tagged by me, what do you need to do? Steps 1-4 above!

My 7 lines come from my WIP, Chupacabra. I'm finishing a last round of edits and getting ready to query. If you like  what you read (and you can read more - I posted the first chapter in a previous blog post), keep your fingers crossed that I find an agent and publisher for it soon!!

Here the are:
Jack lost count as John Cristatello continued to thrust one book after another at him with an apologetic, "Oh, wait, this one too," and, "Maybe just one more, if you don't mind." He was torn between gratitude and disappointment when Linda Cristatello stuck her head in the office door and put an end to it.

“Jack,” she greeted him like an old friend. “It’s good to see you again.” She offered him a drink and led the men and Kiki to the veranda to watch the sunset. “Did you hear Angel Martín’s show today by any chance? Our mayor invited you on a chupacabra hunt.”

Jack groaned. “Oh, dear lord, do people actually listen to that show? I was on the other

Now to figure out who my fellow Lucky 7 will be...


Check out these fellow authors and bloggers - you'll enjoy  reading and following them! I do.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Social Media Snob? NOT I, said the inconsistent blogger

Jonathon Morrow of CopyBlogger has a great post today: 21 Warning Signs You're Becoming a Social Media Snob. I found it through fellow Internet Writers' Workshop member Robin Cain who shared it with the IWW writing discussion list. Blogging and other social media as tools to build your author's platform are hot topics of discussion right now.

Sadly, but typically, I'm the naysaying footdragger to this party. It's not that I don't believe social media tools can be powerful allies in an author's writing and marketing toolkit, but that I think they've become overrun with meaningless drivel. It's all ready hard enough to separate the SoMe wheat from chaff without me contributing more chaff to the grist mill. Once I figure out my true purpose for my own SoMe blitz, know my purpose and focus, I'll come up with a more sound strategy than the current one (post when I feel like it about whatever). Until then, I definitely am NOT a social media snob. I couldn't answer 'yes' or even nod in recognition of any of the warning signs listed in Morrow's blog and listed below. 

Maybe that makes me an antisocial media snob?

Excerpted from:

So, how can you tell for sure if you’re a social media snob?

Well, you can’t, but there are warning signs.

Here are a few that immediately come to mind. No single warning sign damns you on its own, but if you find yourself nodding to many or even all of these, you may be in trouble.

• You can quote your traffic stats, but not your bank balance
• You’ve spent more than 5 minutes trying to think of something witty to say on twitter
• You know your Klout score by heart
• You talk about cool things, but you never seem to do cool things
• You worry about how the use of emoticons reflects on your personal brand
• You refuse to promote affiliate links, even for products you love
• You know how percent feedback is calculated on Facebook
• You are annoyed that LinkedIn doesn’t display your true number of connections
• You unfollow your friends because they don’t tweet your posts
• You share quotes just to get a little attention
• You’re so inundated with email you’ve started to ignore people you don’t know
• You write posts about social media snobs (oops)
• You are so angry with one of the social networks that you are rooting for it to fail
• You have nothing for sale, and you look down upon those who do
• You only comment on the Facebook walls of celebrities in your niche
• You refuse interviews because they don’t have enough followers/fans/subscribers
• You spend more money on redesigning your profiles than you do on advertising
• You no longer read your blog comments
• You believe information wants to be free
• You ignore the endless, silly questions from beginners
• You can’t remember the last time you thanked your fans