Site housekeeping

I switched site themes, to something that I think will work better with the way I’ll be using the website for the next while. Still purple, though, because that’s the best colour.

I’ve also updated other works with links to several new short stories I’ve published on Amazon.

You may have noticed I haven’t posted a lot of reviews here lately – and that’s the way it shall stay until I’ve finished with this year’s classes, at the very least.

November 2016 recap and links

I reviewed:

Making Books: Contemporary Australian Publishing on the 2nd;
Caliban’s War and Bird by Bird on the 10th;
The Hanging Tree on the 14th;
The Weekend Book Proposal on the 16th;
My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs on the 19th;
The Dark Wife on the 23rd; and
Weird Dinosaurs on the 30th.

That’s a lot more reading done last month than I realised.

Some interesting links:

How a Publisher Markets Your Book by Jessica Faust.

A profile about Leonard Cohen in The New Yorker, looking at his new album, from before he passed on. RIP Cohen, a musical great.

Elena Ferrante, Charlotte Brontë and how anonymity protects against female writing stereotypes by Erin Nyborg at The Conversation.

20 Typography Mistakes Every Beginner Makes – And How You Can Avoid Them by Janie Kliever at Canva Design School.

Remembering Sheri S. Tepper, Eco-Feminist Sci-Fi Firebrand by Genevieve Valentine at npr books. Tepper is a complicated figure to look back on, because she was an outspoken feminist but also in favour of eugenics, and it can be difficult to reconcile those two things.

The prospect before us by Patrick Nielsen Hayden at Making Light about writing SF/F in a world with US Pres-elect Trump.

Why Fiction Matters by Nancy Jane Moore at Book View Cafe.

Death of the hatchet job: Book reviewing used to be a blood sport. How has it become so benign and polite? by D J Taylor at New Statesman. Interesting read. There’s still plenty of amateur reviewers willing to say you’ve written the worst book in the history of humanity on goodreads but I have noticed in certain sectors pro  and semi-pro reviewing is somewhat timid. Also even amateur reviewers of romance novels seem more likely to say ‘I didn’t enjoy but it was okay, 4 stars’, which is fascinating. This article OTOH locates trends of reviewing within the history of reviewing.

The Gone Girl With The Dragon Tattoo On The Train – Why are there so many books with “girl” in the title? by Emily St. John Mandel at FiveThirtyEight. I’ve definitely linked other articles of people noticing this phenomenon before.

Who is the Genius Behind Merriam-Webster’s Social Media? In Conversation with a Dictionary by Emily Temple at LitHub.

October 2016 recap and links

I reviewed:

Authorpreneurship, The Perfumer’s Secret, Leviathan Wakes and The Countess Conspiracy on the 5th; and
The Road to Somewhere: A Creative Writing Companion, The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing and The Game Plan on the 20th.

Some interesting links:

Why I review everything I read by Teresa Preston at Book Riot.

SEXtember: What reading romance taught me about sex by Natalie Ng at meld magazine.

An interesting interview with Jill Shalvis at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. It’s fascinating to see how many writers assume it’s only them that write messy drafts while other writers must be writing such clean drafts.

Pro-”Gay For You” Arguments In The Romance Genre (And Why They’re All Still Bi/Pan Erasure) by Jenny Trout.

5 Years a Novelist: A Retrospective on the Writing Life by Kameron Hurley.

An AMA with Wesley Chu.

An awesome article in The New Yorker about Ursula Le Guin.

An interview at The Design Files with Penguin book designer Allison Colpoys.

Working with Time I Actually Have, Not the Time I’d Like To Have by Peter M. Ball.

On the horror genre: Guest Post: “New Voices” by Mark Morris at Civilian Reader; The Hidden Horrors of Craig Davidson by Tobias Carroll at Electric Lit; and Interview with Victor LaValle by Maurice Broaddus at Nightmare Magazine.

Margaret Atwood: ‘All dystopias are telling you is to make sure you’ve got a lot of canned goods and a gun’ by Charlotte Higgins at The Guardian.

On editing: An intimate relationship: editors and writers at the Radio National archives of The Book Show (it’s from 2008 but it’s still interesting) and What is structural editing (from 2007); Teaching Stuff: Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic by Richard Chwedyk at the SFWA blog.

Why I Don’t Want to Be a Queer Book Detective Anymore by Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian.

September 2016 Recap and Links

I reviewed:

Wannabe a Writer? on the 7th;
Will Write For Shoes, The Writer’s Reader and It’s so Easy and Other Lies on the 21st; and
Writing 21st Century Fiction on the 28th.

Not a great or interesting month for me and books, I have to admit.

I released:

The People Want Dance Pop on Amazon. It’s the second in my series about a bunch of musician bros, but if you’re just interested in the romance, you can skip this one as it’s coming of age angst + binge drinking.

Some interesting links:

On writing

The kinds of questions we ask ourselves by owlectomy – Riffing off an older post about the kishoutenketsu structure in traditional Chinese and Japanese narratives, and the differences between ‘Western’ and ‘Eastern’ storytelling.

Simplicity or style: what makes a sentence a masterpiece? by Jenny Davidson at aeon.

5 Writing Rules Destroyed by the Dictionary at Merriam Webster.

Identity & Narrative: A Response to Lionel Shriver by Foz Meadows. (A quick web search of Shriver + Brisbane Writers Festival can bring up the mess that Meadows is responding to. As Shriver is a privileged out of touch white person beloved by the literary establishment, some of the responses towards her speech may be fawning. Tread carefully.)

Writing Strong Women by M R Carey at Civilian Reader.

At Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: 211. Writing Emotional and Erotic Tension: An Interview With Molly O’Keefe.

The Best Female Characters Come From Books by Meg Miller at The Atlantic. Largely about film.

Let’s Talk Numbers: How Long Should Your Series Be by Travis Bach at Pretentious Title (Rachel Aaron’s blog).

Let’s Talk About Stets by K J Charles. I learned all these editing notation marks at secretarial college, which at least means (despite how hilarious people find that) it was worthwhile.

By Cyriaque Lamar at io9, a post from a few year’s ago I was just reminded of: The 22 rules of storytelling according to Pixar.

Tips for Writing Romance from A Passionate Defender of the Genre by linkeepsitreal @ Tumblr.

On the Invisibility of Middle Aged Women by Dorthe Nors at Lithub. Don’t read the comments.

On romance novels

For the ‘Oscars of Romance’, Representation Matters by by Sonali Dev at NPR Books.

Two different perspectives on gender and Mills and Boon at The Guardian – Mills & Boon romances are actually feminist texts, academic says by Mark Brown, and Mills & Boon: zero shades of feminism by Julie Bindel.

A primer on the romance genre at Tumblr. I’ve linked a reblog because it seems the original poster has deleted.

Romance Novels Brought Me Closer To My Mom, Even After She Was Gone by Adam Minter at Bustle.

On research fails in a ballerina romance by Sonya Heaney.

On writing as a career

Writing Dreams and Harsh Realities by Tim Waggoner.

On Being a Pro Writer (Hint: It ain’t all tour buses…) by Delilah S. Dawson, storifyed at whimsydark.

Does having an ethnic name affect book sales by Dilvin Yasa at SBS.

When to quit your day job by Kameron Hurley at Locus Online.

Other

On Not Reading by Amy Hungerford at Chronicle.

Grading: The Method to Our Madness at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, explaining how the reviewers came up with grades in each book review.

Why It’s Difficult For Your Library to Lend Books by Adam Vaccaro at boston.com.

Nick Offerman on middle-aged sex and what people get wrong about Ron Swanson by Marah Eakin at A V Club. It’s AV Club so you probably should read the comments, no matter how irrelevant they are to the article.

The 24 most fashion-forward characters of the ‘90s, from Alex Mack to Shelby Woo by Victoria McNally at Revelist. I dressed most like Clarissa and Sabrina in the 90s. I probably dress most like Elaine Benes and Prue Halliwell now.

August 2016 recap and links

In August I reviewed:

War for the Oaks and Music Business for Dummies on the 3rd; and
Sleeping with Her Enemy, Dirty, Music Business: a musician’s guide to the Australian music industry, The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law, How to Write Your Blockbuster and Strong Signal on the 25th.

Some interesting links:

At The New York Times: Criticism’s Sting: The Author Curtis Sittenfeld on Book Reviews by Jennifer Senior

At The New York Times: 1896 | The Book Review Is Born by David W Dunlap.

Storyteller’s Rulebook #69: A Good Movie Has An Hour of Plot by Matt Bird.

At Black Gate: Three Ways to Write a Cast of Supporting Characters Without Confusing the Reader by M Harold Page.

At Romance University: How To Vividly Describe a Setting That You’ve Never Visited by Angela Ackerman.

At Read a Romance Month: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan – Can’t Resist Romance. The ladies from GFY talking about their favourite romances.

At Observer Culture: The Fascinating, Complicated Art of Designing a Book Cover, An Interview with Paul Buckley, Creative Director for Penguin Classics by Dana Schwartz.

At All About Romance: The New Age of the Series – A Reader Rant by Janet Boatman. I have to admit I often find the idea of starting to read a new series daunting or exhausting. Sometimes you just want a stand-alone story.

On the Reddit fantasy board, a comment on the idea that ‘quality rises to the top’ in book publishing and how it’s not true. Beautifully illustrates the difficulties with getting any book read by anyone, let alone liked by many, and how many layers of gatekeepers and fumbling marketers are between the author and the readers, whether trad-pub or indie.

Women, Work, Creativity, Leisure and Time. Because Time is a Feminist Issue. by Kelly Diels.

At The Creative Penn: Self Care And Productivity For Authors With Ellen Bard.

Apologies

No review post tonight. Between feeling unwell, packing for a trip, and madly trying to finish In Tune 2 & 3 I’m just too tired for it.

July 2016 recap and links

In July I reviewed:

Roller Girl and This Tender Melody on the 3rd;
Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll: the science of hedonism and the hedonism of science and Liberator (Flights of Love book one) on the 14th;
A Separate Peace on the 19th;
Neuromancer on the 20th, as well as Modern Romance and The Cybernetic Tea Shop;
Dying for a Living on the 25; and
Queer Wars on the 27th.

Some interesting links:

Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast interview with Emily Nagoski about Cross Stitching, Neuroscience, ethical porn, rape culture and fantasy. Fascinating. And another of their podcasts: Ashleigh Gardner on Muslim Romances at Wattpad.

Closing the Gap: The Blurring of Fan and Professional by Mark Oshiro at Uncanny Magazine, which talks about professional fandom and internet fame, among other things.

The Delicate Art of Character Folding by Rebecca Makka at The Masters Review talks about the some time necessity of folding multiple characters into one in the redrafting and rewriting processes.

Hilary Clinton (yes really) posted a note on The Toast about its closing which omg is amazing.

I love this post from The Rejectionist about, among other things, “Watching a woman repeatedly subsume her entire emotional and artistic life to a totally worthless man for years”, how these stories are not really that much about women as they are about dudes, and the closing out of queer possibilities in these kinds of books.

How to Finish Your Book in Three Drafts by Stuart Horwitz at Jane Friedman’s blog.

S.L. Huang: On The Subject Of Manpain.

5 Pieces of Writing Advice You Should Ignore by James Scott Bell at Jane Friedman’s blog. I might disagree a bit about the importance of reading writing guides (because how can I guarantee that the person who wrote that guide is any more qualified to tell people how to write than I am?) but it’s fun to talk about advice to ignore.

At Tor.com Rachel Cordasco talks about Translating the Alien: Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem which discusses the difficulty in translating works from one language to another and what a delicate art it is.

At Go Fug Yourself: Your Afternoon Chat: Your Favorite Romance Novels.

Alexis Hall about LGBTQ+ RITA wins and correcting their own assumptions, bisexual erasure, etc.

Victoria (V.E.) Schwab on the slow pursuit of overnight success.

Mid-week Reading 14 July 2016

What I Just Finished Reading

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll: the science of hedonism and the hedonism of science by Zoe Cormier – Interesting. There were some places I wanted more information and sometimes I felt things were dumbed down a little (as you’d expect from a popular science book) though from what I see on goodreads some people felt the opposite. I loved reading about how all three things in the title affect the brain and I think what I need to find next is some popular science books about hormones and neuroscience because that is interesting stuff. One of the best bits was Cormier musing on what music is, a thing you don’t realise is difficult to define until you try. Beautiful math is a charming way of putting it, not that I’d necessarily agree.

Liberator (Flights of Love book one) by Shelley B Mcpherson – I picked this up because it was free on Amazon and it sounded interesting. And, look, the basic plot line is interesting, it’s just that the book itself felt very infodump-y and took a long time to get to the point. Once it got there I was excited (and the sex scene was all the more swoon worthy to read for having had to wait so long for it) but then it ends abruptly. Which is probably what I should have expected for a part one sold on Amazon. It feels a bit like a pilot episode. I might pick up the next book at some point because I am intrigued to see where the story goes.

What I’m reading now

Idol by Kristen Callihan – This might just be a DNF. I suffered through the male lead’s sexism early on (why again is there something wrong with the groupies when he’s the one who goes through women like kleenex?) but I’ve gotten as far as the first sex scene and his dirty talk is cringeworthy.

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz – My friend wrote this!

Neuromancer by William Gibson – I should have read this when I was a teenager in the 90s. I would have loved it because I was well into that sort of writing style back then. I’m only up to about page 58 right now so we’ll see how I like it. It’s interesting to look at the different conceptualisations of what cyberspace would be like that came about back in ye olde cyberpunk days, before we were all expected to be on the internet. Yeah, we don’t talk about jacking in any more. But that thing where Case finds it difficult to find people that accept cash because most financial transactions are electronic? We’re definitely going that way. And it perfectly forecasts current meme and youth culture:

Fads swept the youth of the Sprawl at the speed of light: entire subcultures could rise overnight, thrive for a dozen weeks, and then vanish utterly.
– p58

I feel like subcultures on Tumblr rise up and vanish almost overnight and memes spread so quickly that they become old news within a few days. That’s often the interesting thing about reading older science fiction (and by older I just mean, not super recent): seeing the ways in which things did or didn’t come true.

What I’m reading next

I have a to-read list several shelves deep and at least 30 unread ebooks waiting for me, and that’s on top of everything waiting for me at the library. So your guess is as good as mine.

June 2016 recap and links

In June I reviewed:

Some interesting links:

Malinda Lo on the film of Carol which I’ve also seen and loved. I love what she says about how the film teaches the viewer to notice lesbian desire and looked beyond the surface and society’s heteronormative assumptions.

Mishell Baker at i09 feels Audiences Are Finally Ready To Root For a Damaged, Violent Anti-Hero (Who Happens To Be Female). I think perhaps in some genres people are but I know in romance it’s a much harder sell. Nonetheless, a lot of people love Gone Girl and everyone I’ve forced to read Black Iris in the last year has loved it.

The Romance Writers of Australia blog has a new feature, talking to members about their writing life. I liked this entry talking to Anna Hackett.

@ NY Times J K Rowling Just Can’t Let Harry Potter Go, about writers who just can’t seem to let go of popular properties. Whatever you think about Rowling’s constant returning to her wizarding world, I know there have been several writers who’ve kept returning to properties I’ve loved (not just books) until they’ve ruined everything I liked about it in the first place. On the other hand, some successful book series seem to go on forever and keep evolving with their audience.

I liked the SBTB podcast with Sara Brady about copy editing.

Yoon Ha Lee discusses Kameron Hurley’s post on how relationships matter in publishing.

What romance teaches us about being heroines.

Loose Leaf Links #22 about cuts to cultural arts funding in Australia (under the For Writers heading) I found interesting (and sometimes infuriating).

All About Romance on Harlequin.

The Truth: A Three-Star Review Is Not a Bad Review by Brenna Clarke Gray @ BookRiot. I have to agree. Three stars is a passing grade. Not every book I enjoy has to be the greatest and best thing I’ve ever read.

May 2016 recap and links

Okay, this one is super late and I’m sorry for that!

In may, I reviewed:
Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl, The Duchess War by Courtney Milan and Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell on the 2nd;
The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan and Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff on the 10th; and
Trade Me by Courtney Milan on the 23rd.

Some interesting links:

On writing how and what you want to write, by Megan Derr.

11 Women Throughout History that Wrote about Sex at Huffington Post. I’m sure we can all think of many more than that.

At The Establishment, On the Inevitable Pettiness of Creative Work.

Staff and commenters at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books talking about their romance influences. It’s an interesting exercise to try to figure out what influenced what you like in fictional romance – I was definitely influenced by teen films and The X-Files, as well as the X-Men starting with the original animated series in 1992, and later the comic books when I could get to them.

Stop with the misogyny plot point – Ainslie Paton’s guest post at BookThingo about misogyny in romance novels.

And finally, something amusing: Why Everyone on TV has the Same Hair.