Publishing Industry

I’m On the Nebula Awards Recommended Reading List!

The title says it all!

I’m so shocked and SO SO HAPPY!

You can click on this link to see my name up in lights with all the other writers, a lot of whom I admire and can’t believe I’m keeping company with!

I’m recommended reading!

shocked kimmy schmidt GIF by Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Me!

happy disney GIF

No idea how it happened, but I’m taking it!

happy wonder woman GIF

(P.S. apologies for all the exclamation points and gifs, but yeah…you know how it is… 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

The Official NOC #CrossLines Reading List

This has been up since May and I had no idea my book was on such a great list. Seriously, the company I’m keeping is far above my station. It also happens to be a kick-ass list for fiction by and about people of colour.

My only quibble is the link to my book leads to someone else’s book instead of mine. You can find mine here, or you can just click the link right here on my blog. You know, if you still care and all, seeing as this was posted in May and we’re in November. But some of you have Christmas presents to get right? Well, here’s a list full of good options. Go have fun with it!

thenerdsofcolor

This past weekend in Washington DC, the Smithsonian’s historic Arts & Industries building was home to the most important gathering of artists you have ever seen. The CrossLines pop-up culture lab on intersectionality brought together over 40 artists and scholars to explore race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, disability, etc.

I was fortunate enough to be invited and helped organize a Reading Lounge and live podcasts — while artist Matt Huynh painted a mural in real time the entire weekend. One of the questions I got asked the most was about the books we included, so after the jump you can find a complete list of books we had in the Lounge!

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Meme Explosion: The Written Word

Last week was for the TV shows. This week, we will have fun with books, reading and writing. So without further ado, some of my favourite memes from my Pinterest site that have to do with the written word!

Hehe:)

Waterstones, London, UK | 15 Hilarious Bookstore Chalkboards

Thesaurus

I often frequently commit this sin repeatedly, regularly, and time after time :)

Seriously...

I've done this!!

I know this feeling...

What Is This

Fact.

Stray books

Not bad agreement reaction gifs

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Writers Write Different

A while back, there was a conversation on one of my email lists about an award-winning author who had announced her intention to quite the publishing game. I can’t remember her name (it was QUITE a while ago) but I remember she was a British literary writer who had won awards. Her problem, as far as I can remember, was that she felt she couldn’t produce her best work within the timeframe and pressure of publishing deadlines. She was a fairly slow writer who took years to get to the end of a manuscript and the pressure of deadlines was stifling her, so she announced she would no longer be publishing.

What surprised me was the vitriol on my list toward her. I wasn’t participating on the list at the time, due to some deadlines of my own, but I was reading the posts and every one of them went something like, ‘How dare she? I would kill for her publishing deal and the ungrateful [insert uncharitable phrase] is throwing all that away because she’s SLOW?!’ Followed by contemptuous recountings about how many books they could finish a year (ranging from two to one a month), and how she should just suck it up and stop whining.

Personally, I completely get how that writer felt. I’m fairly slow for a writer depending on what I’m doing. I’ve been working on one novel for several years, for example. LEX TALIONIS took me 6 months to write and another 6 months to edit to my satisfaction. It then took me several agent and publisher submissions and huge rewrites over several years to get it edited well enough to publish, but that’s another story. (Hint: You never stop editing. Never. The book will be on the shelf, available for sale for months and you’ll see another typo and pull your hair out.)

However, I also finished a book in one month once, and a story (which I published) in a total of 2 hours writing time and about 3 hours editing time spread out over a week as beta readers responded. I’ve noticed that I wrote more, and faster, when I was younger and making a lot of mistakes, and that as I mature in the craft, I’m getting slower on the bigger projects (like series) and faster on the stand-alones (like stories).

My point is this: writers do not approach writing the same way. Writers write different. And sometimes, the same writer writes different. Some writers take 10 years to finish a novel, and I know a writer who once took 10 days. Some writers do better with deadlines, and some feel pressured and can’t produce at all under one. Some writers can be all of the above on different projects, or days. I’m like that. Sometimes a deadline helps me focus. Other times it paralyzes me. A famous writer once said, the best gift you can give a writer is free time. Without it, I feel pressured to get the housework done, or focus on my paying job, rather than give myself the time needed to write. I know from talking to other writers that I’m not alone.

Look, rather than let our petty jealousies about awards and publishing deals get in the way, let’s give ourselves permission to acknowledge and respect each other’s processes. The writing craft is hard, time intensive and doesn’t ever end. Anyone who has managed to get a book out of it deserves respect. Anyone who has managed to get someone else to pay for that book has accomplished a freaking miracle. And all of us could use support whether we get there or not.

Part of my process involves taking forever on some things, and finishing others in a flash. But quality is not determined by speed of production. A writer should not be condemned because they chose to be honest about the way the publishing world affects their craft or the way they get to a manuscript they feel proud of. In fact, writers can learn a lot from each other and the different ways we go about things. I know the best part of learning to write was all the time I spent reading and making friends with other writers on the OWW. I knew writers there who worked on books for years and others who worked on them for months. They were all eventually published. You know why? Because readers, publishers, agents–they only care about the work.

It would do a lot of beginning writers a lot of good to realise that’s all they should care about too. Criticizing people who already put themselves out there does no one any good and only serves to make you feel self-satisfied.

Here’s a better idea. Learn from other writers. Don’t repeat the mistakes you think they make. Do copy all the things they do right. Respect and support other writers. And most of all, keep writing the way that works best for you. Let the awards fall where they may and the criticism come from elsewhere because you are too busy being true to yourself.

In the words of Kid President, ‘Be Awesome!’

Because, life is too short, you know?

High five reaction gifs

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Taylor Swift Is Alright With Me

I like Taylor Swift and I’m not ashamed to say it.

I don’t, in fact, think she writes bad music. I like her tunes, I rock out to them all the time, and her Bad Blood video was everything, dahling, just everything.

Does she sometimes come across as the branded version of every good American girl a good American guy ever lusted after in a John Hughes movie? Sure. But it’s not her fault she happens to be blonde, talented and beautiful. And good for her, she also comes across as someone who has a sense of humour about herself and doesn’t really let what others think of her change what she likes about herself. As a feminist, I enjoy seeing a young woman move through the world confidently, living life as exactly the kind of woman she wants to be, and although the music industry famously warps everyone, Taylor still seems to be the same kind of likable girl we met when she was in her teens, despite the best efforts of most tabloids. In that, at least, she has beat out Miley, Lindsey, Hilary and a bunch of others.

However, what really made me like her recently is her stand against not being paid for what she does. Few artists have used their likability and success to actually stand up for principles that benefit the little guy. Most just use it to bankroll themselves. But twice now, Taylor has taken a stand against systems in the music industry that don’t pay performers properly for music. Withholding her massively popular album has served to spotlight practices at Spotify. And now, she has done the same thing with Apple, who intended to withhold royalties from artists whose tracks were downloaded during a user’s free three month trial period. Her latest stand against Apple was brilliantly explained. Apple does not give away its services for free, so they should not ask performers to do so. Only someone possessing no heart could fault it.

I never thought Apple had a heart (or rather, if it had one, it was a monstrous, misshapen entity, made up of the madly beating nerd hearts that gave out while standing in line for the newest variation of iPhones and iPads). But heart or not, they actually responded to her elegantly stated position by changing theirs.

This is big. Really big. Because for too long now, the internet has encouraged an entire generation to believe that entertainment should be free. Piracy is rampant in the music, publishing and film industry and in order to combat it, some industry leaders have tried and failed to plug leaks, while others have simply made as much content as possible free, at least for a time.

Giving away work for free is not a solution. What it does is enrich corporations, who can wait for profits, while seriously hurting artists, who are often on the bread line before they see a penny back from those long hours in a garage putting together demos and tracks. In the case of writers, it takes years to get novels done, and we already get paid a fraction of the sticker price of our own work unless we jump on board the Smashwords and Apple train, or sell our soul to sites like Amazon.

Problem is, Amazon is also a big company who can wait for profits. So it does things like arbitrarily reduce royalties on audio books after buying up Audible. Or change the rates on a programme because writers, you know, joined it. It can change the way it decides to price or market your book in KDP select without any consultation.

This basic disrespect of content creators comes in part from the false ideas that everyone can be a writer, and readers will pay for any book because they don’t care where they came from, they just care about the book. That’s not true anymore, if it ever was. Frankly, not everyone can be a GOOD writer, and most readers would like to pay for something that’s good.

There is some evidence that ebook sales are leveling off. More importantly, self-publishing and making money from it are not, and have never been, the same thing. Still, every writer should choose the path to publication they are most comfortable with because every path has drawbacks and positives. For me, not getting paid has never been something I’m comfortable with. I love writing. I want to do this full time. But I have a family who depends on me. If writing doesn’t pay my bills, I will have to try something else and let writing remain a beloved hobby. I’d rather not do that.

The creation of content, written, audible or visual, demands real money, time and work. Just because you can get something without paying, doesn’t mean it cost nothing to make. Artists deserve to be paid for it the same way everyone else gets paid for their work. Deciding that because it’s on the internet it should be free is simply a way of saying you don’t care what it takes to create content and you don’t want any more of it. If you like something, the only way for an artist to produce more is if they can feed themselves and their family doing it. If they can’t do that, why should you expect them too keep feeding your hobby? To keep entertaining you for free?

So I’m with Taylor. If you want to give people a free trail, do so by all means. But bear the cost yourself. Don’t ask artists to do it. If you want to enjoy an ebook, or music, or a film, consider buying it first. Respect the creator enough to acknowledge their right to earn a living from their own work.

But if you really can’t do that (writers and musicians are just a subset of broke people, after all), then at least advocate for what you love. Help boost the signal. Leave reviews for books on Amazon and Goodreads. Tell friends about your favourites. Someone with the money to buy the product might see your review and give a new artist a chance.

Support your habit. Support artists. Pay it forward. Because I suspect Taylor Swift is totally down with that too.

Taylor Swift Zendaya animated GIF

Stay thirsty my friends!

How Is Freaking Out Over Every Little Thing Supposed To Help Us? Answer: It Won’t.

I’m no shrinking violet. And I’m certainly not someone afraid to call anyone out on truly unacceptable behaviour, no matter what it is.

But I am starting to think that society is spending a lot of time freaking out, admonishing individuals and being voyeurs, while missing the big picture.

If I’m offended by something someone did, or said, I’ll talk to them. To their face and in private, if possible. We can go from there depending on what the problem was and how we get along while resolving it. But I find my stomach turning a bit these days at how easy it is to get people to Rage Against the Machine. Readers attack authors, movie fans bash directors, celebrity watchers search for the most unflattering news and pics of entertainers, just to make fun of people who already spend most of their day trying to look and act perfect in the hope that they’ll be allowed to work and pay their bills.

And it’s not just the internet. If all this stuff was just on the internet, I’d be okay with it, but the media seems bent on promoting this nonsense as well. Growing up, the news was about local, foreign and sports. You found out about the important stuff that had happened that day to change the world, for better or worse. Now, the news is sports and a bunch of celebrity and human interest stories squashed in between local crime reports and 5 mins of foreign headlines.

That’s ridiculous. The world is changing before our very eyes, morphing into something brand new that we don’t understand yet. There are wars on almost every continent and governments making huge decisions every day that will change the very nature of our society. We have economic inequality and poverty even though we have more than enough money and food to feed everyone. It’s 2015 and most people don’t trust their police or their politicians. And we still live in a world where despite being in the majority in terms of global populatio, people of colour are referred to as ‘minorities’. In short, it’s chaos and confusion and a struggle for growth and order every day.

Can we really afford to take our focus and our anger and our frustration and need for solutions and waste them fretting over whether a TV show reflects a book enough or not? Or whether our favourite author shares our political views? Or whether someone who made a sexist comment is really sexist or just considered their words badly? Is that really where our rage and desire for change should be directed?

Because I believe we’re allowing our petty minds and our profit-driven media to distract us from what really matters while the world around us is shaped by those who may or may not have our best interests in mind.

Maybe I’m being naive here, but I can’t help thinking about how much real, positive change we could effect if we decided to freak out over the big things the way we do over the little things.

My two cents and worth what you paid for it.

LEX TALIONIS Has Won An IPPY Award!

I’ve been sitting on this for a few days, ever since my last day at the BOCAS Lit Fest actually, and I still can hardly believe it myself.

But the proof is right here.

LEX TALIONIS, my debut novel, was just awarded the Silver Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook by the Independent Publishers Book Awards. It’s the first award for my book, and the first time I’ve won a prize in a writing competition since I was a teenager.

How do I feel about this, you ask?

Hmmm…let me see…

Dance party hard reaction gifs

Dance party hard reaction gifs

Nailed it amazed excited reaction gifs

Nailed it amazed excited reaction gifs

Any more questions?

No?

Then excuse me because I have alcohol to drink.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Happy New Year! Time to Start Writing Now.

Yep. We had a great time eating the food and drinking the drink. Marathon watching TV shows on Netflix and going to the cinema to cheer for the final chapter of The Hobbit. So we are all refreshed now and should be ready for what comes next.

A year of great storytelling.

We will be writing until we are done, my friends. So get a good chair, crack your knuckles and be sure to check back here three times a week to see how you and I have done. Feel free to leave your word count, page count or sentence count when you visit. I’ll be happy to know I’m not the only one down in the salt mines. I’m giving you today off because it’s New Year’s Day and we know what you did last night. But no mercy tomorrow.

And weekends count for extra. Or you can just leave them for your family and fun, as I plan too. I have to recharge often, and weekends do that for me. I have too much to do in those two days, so I’d rather use my spare time to get ready for the rest of the week.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, lots of writing and plenty of online friends (me included!) to share your trials and tribulations, successes and achievements with.

Welcome to 2015!!

And just for fun, here’s how a writer’s mind works most of the times…

Still Here and Still Working

I know I’ve been gone forever. I have a great excuse. At the end of October, I came down with Chik V. This was just before a very important week of meetings at my job during the month of November. I managed to get my work done, but I was lucky enough to be one of those people who suffer from the chronic stage of the disease, which means even now I still have lingering pain, numbness and other symptoms. I’m not alone, of course. Lots of Trinis have the same problem. The virus has spread like wildfire here. And let me tell you, this virus is the sickest I’ve been since I was a child.

November and December then became consumed with catching up on the work I had to drop for two weeks, trying to write every day, cleaning the house and generally getting ready for Christmas. Christmas turned out great and I’m finally enjoying my vacation. But the plan for the new year is to get back to working out and writing every day again. The fatigue has let up enough for me to return to my regular schedule, I think.

I want to thank all of you who came by, followed me, or just commented. Sorry I haven’t been around, and I will be by all of your blogs before the end of the year to remedy my absence.

I’m currently cleaning up the first part of the sequel to LEX TALIONIS, which I’m calling IACTA ALEA EST (The Die is Cast) for now, so I can get some more forward movement on it. I’m pushing on with THE NIGHTWARD (also known as the ‘Hand of Gaia’) because it’s in my head right now. But if you read LEX TALIONIS you’re probably wondering what the sequel looks like. It’s rough right now, and there’s stuff that needs to be edited, but have a sneak peek at the opening below:

The C.S.S. Invincible

The technician screamed, the smoking stump of his hand smearing his lab coat as he held it to his chest. Through watering eyes, he looked up at the two soldiers standing over him, their faces hidden behind the wavering diamond reflection of distortion masks. The ship’s flashing emergency lights limned their black armour, turning the figure-hugging contours scarlet, then black, then scarlet again.

He could smell his own flesh cooking, and vomit scratched at the back of his throat even as pain tore his nerves to shreds. If he turned around, he knew he would see what was left of his hand lying on the floor of the corridor behind him. But there was no point in turning around. His hand was gone for good. And he was a dead man.

The one on his left lowered the massive lasrifle to his waist, still keeping it at the ready. The soldier on the right held his weapon with the business end pointed at the floor. The soldier was silent for a moment longer, apparently studying the tech, though it was hard to tell through the distortion masks.

“Are you ready to speak to me now?” he intoned, his voice flat and expressionless through the mask.

“I told you, I don’t…”

The rifle came up again, sighting on him. He screamed and felt warm piss trickle down his leg.

“You waste our time,” the soldier continued. “If you will not help us, there are others. Doubtless they will want to live more than you.”

The tech heard the soft whine and click of the lasrifle and could not stop his tears. Above him, the computer informed them that Decks Five through Ten had been breached by intruders and that the Fire Squad should report to a blaze in progress in the Dining Hall. It was a detached report on a dying ship and he knew that if he did not do as they said, he would only suffer more pain.

He was a tech, a lowly tech, not crew and certainly not one of the fearsome security personnel who–inexplicable as it seemed–were dying in droves at the hands of these relentless attackers. Soldiers, really. Soldiers who were better than the best that Conway Enterprises had to offer. Better than men genetically bred to protect and kill. It was unthinkable.

As unthinkable as what he was about to do. Because the only thing he wanted as much as a way off the ship right now was no more pain.

“Shoot him in the–”

“Wait!” He felt every breath that left him as if for the first time.

“I…know where it is. I know where the room is. I can take you there. Please…let me take you there.”

The solider did not move for a moment, then he raised his rifle.

“Lead the way. But be warned–-if you attempt to mislead us, you will die. Slowly and in great pain. Get up.”

That’s all for now. I’ll post more from both books as I go along.

Have a great season and see you again soon!

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Amazon

Really, Amazon, really? This is what we’ve come to?

I won’t even bother to talk about the absurdity of trying to rope indie and self-publishers into your argument with a publisher they have NOTHING TO DO WITH. Smarter people than I have already done that.

And this is a reader’s perspective on this. If you have problems with the profane, you may want to avert your eyes, but she makes some really salient points.

I will say one thing. One last thing about this silly, never-ending story of two big companies throwing tantrums all over the book world.

Amazon, if you really believe that books will sell best at $9.99 and Hachette doesn’t want to give you the prices you need to do that, you should pick one of the two choices you have and run with it.

Let them swing by their own petard–after all, they’ll sell less if they price the book higher, according to the figures you won’t provide the metadata for. This will work out great for you as you will get all the sales they so foolishly left behind.

Or stop selling Hachette’s books. Since they won’t play ball with you, exercise the Walmart option and just take your business to the cheapest bidder.

Aside from these two options, I really don’t see what else you hope to achieve. Dragging indie authors into this mess is stupid. And I would add, I would LOVE for Hachette to keep selling at a premium. Readers will pay more for JK Rowling anyway. But my book might get their attention on the day they only have seven bucks to play with, and I’d like that to continue.

One thing I know for certain. As an indie author, I’m not interested in letting ANYONE set my prices for me. Nope, not even you and not even if you gave me the metadata to prove their figures. As the content provider, I will set my prices and let the customers decide what they want to pay, and they speak very clearly without any help just by walking on by when they don’t approve, thank you very much.

So put your money where your mouth is, Amazon. After all, if you’re sure you make more money at $9.99, then let Hachette eat cake. What do you care? You make 30% either way. And we’ll see the truth of it in the lowered profit reports next year, right?

Yeah, I probably won’t hold my breath on that one.

Popcorn dis gon b gud reaction gifs