writers

14 Writers Who Rock

And who happen to be women.

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Huffington Post has an article about women who write scifi and fantasy and stand head and shoulders above all others. It’s not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it is a good place to start if you want to add to your list of great women writers.

I’m extremely pleased to see Nalo Hopkinson on the list. Her ‘Midnight Robber’ blew my mind when I first read it in school and I couldn’t understand, then or now, why it wasn’t required reading in our English classes. I haven’t been in a school in ages, so I’m hoping that has changed, but even if it hasn’t, here’s hoping it does eventually.

I have heard of Sophia Samatar, but my reading list is so far behind, it pains me to even look at it. At the moment, I’m reading Nnedi’s Who Fears Death and enjoying it, so at least there’s that.

Let me know who on the list is your favourite and why in the comment section.

Catch you on the flip-side!

Punctuation Love, Or, There’s a Mark For That!

Was toddling around and found this old article about punctuation marks that are extremely specific, denote all sorts of useful stuff, but aren’t in wide use.

My favourite parts include:

9. SARCMARK

The SarcMark (short for “sarcasm mark”) was invented, copyrighted and trademarked by Paul Sak, and while it hasn’t seen widespread use, Sak markets it as “The official, easy-to-use punctuation mark to emphasize a sarcastic phrase, sentence or message.” Because half the fun of sarcasm is pointing it out [SarcMark].

10. SNARK MARK

This, like the copyrighted SarcMark, is used to indicate that a sentence should be understood beyond the literal meaning. Unlike the SarcMark, this one is copyright free and easy to type: it’s just a period followed by a tilde.

And…

Which I send out to all you faithful followers and readers of my blog.

Have fun finding out if there’s a mark for that!

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

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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?

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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.

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Stay thirsty my friends!

LEX TALIONIS – An Article About My Appearance At The Bocas Lit Festival South

Heh.

Look, Ma, I’m famous.

The Trinidad Guardian wrote a small article on my panel at the Bocas Lit Festival last week Sunday. 

They mentioned me and everything.

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It’s a proud day, I tell you.

I had a marvelous time at that Festival, mostly because I got to hang out with KAREN LORD!

You heard me. You can totally be jealous now. I can take it.

More about that and pics to illustrate later this week. For now, getting back into the work groove and catching up on what needs to be done.

A girl’s got to eat after all.

In Her Own Words – Meet Lex From My Novel LEX TALIONIS

I posted this a while back on Angela Highland’s website, but I’ve had a few more followers drop by since then, so I thought it might be a good time to repost it. 

Without further ado, here’s Lex. And no, she’s not your average girl…

I would introduce myself, but I don’t know my name.

My life began a couple of weeks ago, when I died in the Emergency Room of the Mathis Clinic on the planet Serron. My doctor, Colin Mayfeld, was about to write his final report when a little humanoid alien broke into the room, sat on my chest and brought me back with one touch.

I don’t remember any of it.

I don’t remember being in an alley near Bradley spaceport,  even though that’s where I was found, barely alive but still breathing. An unconscious girl in a bloody spacesuit, with no ID chit.

I don’t remember talking to the alien when  it brought me back, but Dr. Mayfeld says I did. The funny thing is, he says I didn’t speak Universal–I spoke Latin. And I asked the alien for help.

I’ll have to take his word for it. About what I said, that is, not about speaking Latin. I know I can speak Latin because I have had the same phrase going round and round in my head since I was able to make a coherent thought.

Lex Talionis. The law of retaliation–of revenge.

That’s the other thing I know.

I want revenge.

Someone killed me. Someone beat me, tortured me, raped me and left me for dead in an alley. Someone is walking around out there thinking I’m gone and never coming back. Some bastard thinks my story is over.

Well, it’s not over.

I’m not an ordinary girl. I’m healing faster than Dr. Mayfeld expected. I’m getting better every day.  It’s because I’m an N-gene. I was genetically engineered in vitro to be smarter, stronger, faster. Whoever did this to me might have over-powered me once, but they’re never going to get that chance again.

I’ve given myself a name–Lex. And I have help. The alien that saved me can’t speak, but it’s still with me. I think it knows something. I think it can help me remember.

Dr. Mayfeld is doing what he can too. He has friends who might be able to assist the Troopers as they investigate the attack on me. There are ways to work on getting my memory back. He’s going to do whatever it takes to help. I don’t know why he cares. But he does.

I only care about a few things right now. I care about remembering my past. I care about being fully healed. And I care about finding who did this to me.

Because when I do find them, I’m going to make them wish to all the Gods in all the galaxies that they had killed me right the first time.

Cover - Final

LEX TALIONIS Will Be Available Soon At The American Book Center!

Yes!

I am not kidding!

The largest source for English language books in Europe, and one of the best bookstores in Amsterdam, if not THE best, read my post on Tobias Buckell’s blog yesterday and ordered copies of my book!

It’s my very first bookstore buy, and I couldn’t be happier! I hope people passing through Amsterdam like what I have to say so they come back for seconds.

And a big, big thank you to The American Book Center!

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LEX TALIONIS Is Now On Kindle!!

Get your Amazon on, people!

My debut space opera mystery, LEX TALIONIS, is now available on Kindle!

And for those of you who purchased the paperback, we have a special offer.

You can get the Kindle edition for just $3.00! That’s $4.00 less than the retail price.

A little thank you to those who were kind enough to NOT wait.

For those of you who want to know what LEX TALIONIS all about, here’s the Publishers Weekly review.

You know what? I think they liked it. I think they really, really liked it!

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

 

 

 

The Best Writing Advice Ellen Datlow Ever Gave Me

It was the only advice she ever gave me, and it was really freaking simple.

She said, join a critique group.

That’s it. Nothing else. Join a critique group.

It’s not like she knew me or anything. I was a random newbie who had been writing for years in private and sent her a story in the hopes of seeing it appear on the website she was editing for at the time. The story was rejected, but I decided to use the personal email provided on the website and send her a note asking why.

Totally the wrong protocol. That’s how new I was, by the way. Note to new writers–never, ever write to an editor that has rejected you asking him or her to explain why. It’s rude. And most people are not as nice as Ellen Datlow and will not remember you kindly for it.

So anyway, she told me the truth, which was that it hadn’t been good enough to make it to her desk to read, so she had no idea why it was rejected. But she told me that her foolproof advice for a new writer was to join a critique group and learn from others. She even recommended one. The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. It was the best one out there, as far as she was concerned.

That was 14 years ago. Joining the OWW was the best decision I ever made. Everything I learned about how to write, every contact I made, every thing I learned about agents and the publishing industry and how to navigate both, I learned there.

It wasn’t easy. It was a lot of work. I took some hard hits. And joining a workshop doesn’t work for everyone, as Stephen King will tell you. As good as the experience was for me, there were people who left all the time because they felt like they weren’t getting much out of it. Back in those days, Del Ray was the sponsor, so it was free. Now you pay a nominal fee, but if you are willing to review for others–which is frankly the BEST way to learn–you will get way more out of it than it will ever cost you.

There are other groups, of course. Critters is another good one. And everyone knows about Wattpad and Book Country. You can even start your own face-to-face group. I can’t guarantee you it will be a successful venture. Hell, you may end up hating everyone you meet and leave in  a huff.

But I can tell you it’s worth the risk to be a better writer. To get feedback from someone who knows what you’re going through. Someone who feels the same way you do about telling stories. Someone who won’t pull any punches, and someone who will encourage you all the way. Every writing friend I have, I found in my critique group.

And if nothing else, you will know if you’ve got the stomach for this.

Because I’m telling you now, if you’re in this as a hobby, that’s fine. But if you want to tell your stories to others; if you burn inside with the desire to show the world the dreams that come to you in the dead of night; if envy eats you up inside every time you see a new publishing deal announced; if you’re willing to risk sanity, pride and bad habits right down to the bitter end, then it’s a writer’s life for you.

And a group of friends who will tell you the truth and love you and your story babies the entire time is a great place to start.

Stay thirsty, my friends.