August 2016 recap and links

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.

July 2016 recap and links

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 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.

June 2016 recap and links

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!

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.

March 2016 recap and links

Sorry for the radio silence! Turns out that while you can work and study full time, at the same time as writing and trying to review, it’s actually a terrible idea for your physical health. Or for mine. I shouldn’t speak for you – you could be a superhero who can do it all. Me, I can barely move off the couch.

What’s happening elsewhere:

This interview with Marjorie Liu about, amongst other things, the transgressiveness of romance novels, I found interesting.

At Huffington Post, 11 Women Throughout History Who Wrote about Sex. They’re obviously not the only women who write about sex, but it’s always nice for people to be reminded it’s not rare. (I’m more of a fade to black girl, myself.)

On the Inevitable Pettiness of Creative Work.

This link round up at Dear Author has a link discussing the ‘gay for you’ trope in m/m fiction. Interesting discussion (and further links) in comments ensues. I think they’re worth the read.

Kat Mayo’s speech at the Australian Romance Readers Awards dinner.

Week ending 6th March 2016

The Book Smugglers had an SFF in Conversation post with writers transitioning from writing short stories to novels or vice versa.  As a reader I often find it interesting to see writers talking about their methods and the different ways they write different types of stories.

SBTB has a post What’s on Your Romance Wishlist? Asking people what they’d like to see in romance. It’s interesting to see the variety of things people are looking for in books but have trouble finding. Be warned, though: reading through these comments may make you spend a lot of money.

Week ending 28th February 2016

Everyone has been talking about Trope Anatomy 101: Reader, I Didn’t Marry Him – I Kicked His Jerk Ass to the Curb at The Book Smugglers and Brief Analysis of Alphahole Trope in Romantic Fiction by Ilona Andrews.

My thoughts? I think it’s valid and important to analyse and discuss what shows up in romance fiction and what romance tropes show up in other genres of fiction, because romance is a mature genre that deserves the kind of criticism that means it’s taken seriously. Does that mean that most skewering of romance tropes do take the romance genre seriously? Not so much.

But also, I really really hate alpha male posturing in romance. And I hate most important gothic novels I’ve had to read and the ways a lot of people misconstrue them as beautiful love stories (I hate to read Wuthering Heights in high school and hated it, too). So I can see why many people would think those and the terrible Mills and Boon I read as a teen where the romantic hero throws his weight around and forces kisses on the heroine are two sides of the same coin. There are also plenty of stories (and not just in the romance genre) where in a heterosexual plot the female love interest is terrible to the male, or both are contemptuous of each other and this is passed off as romantic tension. So even though I absolutely 100% understand the criticisms of the first post… I sympathise.

And even as an avowed lover of the romance genre, there have been plenty of times when someone has assured me there’s no Alpha nonsense in a story and then I read the book and see the man holds his partner down to stop her from leaving or pressures her into rushing into things or makes all her decisions for her. Which makes me feel hella claustrophobic, let me tell you. None of this rant is necessarily addressing either of those earlier posts, but they do remind me of what bothers me about a lot of romance in fiction – and honestly most of the time I’m fine with stuff I’m not into existing, but I wish it was easier for me to read it out so I didn’t have to read it.

Earlier in the month Sonya Heaney posted the throught-provoking post The Girl Whose Daughter’s Husband’s Wife, about a trend in titling books that effectively reduces female characters to their relationship with a man. But also, I have to say it makes me want someone to write a story called ‘The twenty-four-year-old Boy with the Daffodil Tattoo‘.

In Tune: writing playlists

Here is a partial list of the music I am listening to while writing the next instalment of In Tune. Note, that while many authors will post play lists of really cool music, I myself mostly listen to really dance-y pop music. Also, while these songs get me in the writing vibe for matching the feel of the story, they don’t necessarily track with what the scenes I’m writing are about… or do they?

  • Birds of Tokyo – Lanterns
  • Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You
  • Concrete Blonde – Joey
  • Darren Hayes – Popular
  • David Bowie – I’m Afraid of Americans
  • Fall Out Boy – The Kids Aren’t Alright
  • Florence + the Machine – Delilah; Hiding
  • Kita Alexander – Like You Want To
  • Lana Del Rey – a lot but especially Sad Girl and The Other Woman
  • One Direction – What a Feeling (*note, this is a really adorable track where they try to sound like Fleetwood Mac)
  • The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979
  • Tori Amos – Cruel
  • Troye Sivan – Talk Me Down

Updates and website housekeeping

I’ve almost reached the end of my Christmas and New Year holiday (though not quite yet) so I thought I’d pop in to say hello to everyone before I go back to regular updates.

First, I’ve added a little more information to the site and re-jigged the menu to make things more clear and usable.

Second, The Rhinoceros Conspiracy Live is now on Scribd.

Third, a dear friend has a book out now with Less Than Three Press here – check it out now if you’re interested in lesbian fantasy novels.

I’m madly writing the next instalment of the In Tune series and I’ve got the beginnings of a novella in the works, so I hope to have something for you all to read very soon.

The Rhinoceros Conspiracy Live: Now at more places

Sorry for the radio silence here lately. I’ve been flat out at work in the lead up to the holidays.

But you’ll be pleased to know that The Rhinoceros Conspiracy Live is now up for pre-order on Apple Barnes and Noble/Nook and Kobo. (Unless you aren’t pleased but, ey, can’t win them all.) This also means that the remaining time you can read it via Kindle Unlimited is, well, limited – so if you were wanting to do that, get on it. By the way, there’s also a paperback version there if that’s what you prefer (come, read the book that critics are calling ‘definitely printed on paper’).