Links that are hotter than July

Some links to read while sunbathing.

Are you ‘in the closet’ about M/M?
Kate Aaron talks about being secretive about what you read.

Here’s the thing: people’s minds don’t just change overnight. There are plenty of folks who think they don’t know anyone who’s LGBT, or who really gives a damn about LGBT rights. They’re aware that out there somewhere in the hypothetical realm this stuff matters, but they don’t think it matters to them. That’s why we keep coming out, to show people that they do know queerfolk. We are the human faces of a heated political debate. Just look how many Republicans have changed their minds about same-sex marriage since their children came out.

Do You Know How To Edit AND Proofread Your Story?
Jenny Hansen talks about the differences between editing and proofreading and how to do both well.

Like most writers, I hang out with a boatload of other writers. Still, I never saw much of other peoples’ works in progress until I coordinated a contest several years ago. Coordinating contests changed the way I see writing. Period. It was a window into both sides of the submission process.

Plus, I saw firsthand one of the important talents that separates the amateurs from the professionals: the ability to both edit and proofread.

Echoes – Repeat Offender
Sharla Rae on Writers in the Storm blog about finding those unintentional repeats of words – and a very useful list of the commonest ones!

Common Causes of Echoes:

Using lame and boring “to be” verbs. When used, they often produce not only echoes but also wordy constructions.

Many echoes are subject oriented. For example, let’s say that in one chapter a wagon plays a big part in the action. Echoing “wagon” may be your repeated offense. Subject oriented words are sneaky. At first, they seem absolutely necessary. A closer inspection proves otherwise.

Lucky in Our Genre
Julie Bozza on the UK Gay Romance blog about what it is that makes us writers and readers of m/m lucky to be in this genre.

The fact of the matter is that our genre isn’t one that the mainstream publishing industry is interested in. Some of us might regret that, and wish it were otherwise. However, I like the freedom that it leaves us.

Why does it have to be so hard to categorize gay fiction?
Caddy Rowland about the trials and tribulations of categorising gay fiction on Amazon.

Not only does Amazon make it damn near impossible, authors and readers do the same. Just how complicated do we have to make categorizing fiction with characters that aren’t straight? Especially main characters? Since I’ve only written straight or gay main characters so far, and since fiction with straight characters doesn’t have this category problem, I’m going to keep this post about gay fiction. You could, however, substitute “lesbian”, “bi”, “transgender”, etc for “gay” in regard to this problem.

Any Lawful Impediment: Conflict in Romance (especially m/m)
Kate Sherwood about the difficulty of finding sources of conflict in romance in general and m/m in particular.

This may be really obvious to others, but after writing more than a dozen romance novels it still came as a lightbulb moment to me: The challenge of writing romance is convincing readers that the central couple is meant to be together, while also convincing readers that there are good reasons for them to be apart for most of the book. And then convincing readers that those good reasons have been resolved enough to allow a satisfying Happily Ever After.

The Jossing of M/M
Alexis Hall’s reply to Kate Sherwood’s post above.

Broadly speaking, I think you can define the obstacles or conflicts in a romance novel as either intrinsic (inherent in the characters) or extrinsic (inherent in the world). I don’t want to over-generalise, but I think often the sub-genres (paranormals, romantic suspense, historicals, and so on) tend towards extrinsic conflicts (he’s a vampire/she’s a werewolf, people are trying to kill them, he’s a lord/she’s a match girl) while contemps have a tendency to focus more on intrinsic conflicts. Contemp m/m is unusual in this regard in that homophobia often represents a source of extrinsic conflict and, to an extent, it’s one of the few sources of extrinsic conflict you can get away with in a contemporary romance set in a western, liberal democracy.

How to Write the Last 10% of Your Novel
Brian Klems on making the final changes that get your novel to publishable.

When you build a story from moment to moment, each event in the story doesn’t necessarily impact the final outcome, let alone influence the overall arc of your main character. Often, late-stage manuscripts are filled with scenes that start off strong but don’t go anywhere important. High-action openings to such scenes may grab our attention in the short term, but if you haven’t given your character an internal dilemma that is significant enough to rival the external conflicts on the page, the story is sure to falter.

One Type of “Small” Edit That Makes A HUGE Difference In Your Writing
Victoria Grefer about how small edits in your MS can make a big difference to the pacing of the story.

Cutting down on your word count can be a difficult task for any author, though this is a large part of editing. The very vast majority, if not all, of us have a lot of unneeded information in our novels that we just don’t need.

Why Backstory is the Spine of Your Story And How to Use it to Make Your Story Stand Tall
Sonali Dev on Romance University blog about why you shouldn’t be afraid of the much maligned backstory of your book.

Wow, you’re all here despite that dreaded word in the title of this post. Backstory. Shudder. Horrors. Yikes. Go ahead, tremble, throw up in terror, then take a breath and come back.

Backstory might have become the rap on the wrist all newbies have learned to fear, what with ‘backstory dump’ being every critic’s handy-dandiest tool. But relax, down this way lies freedom from backstory-phobia.

When Heroes Fall
Amy Jo Cousins about how it feels to be a fan when your idol is revealed as having feet of clay.

My heroes, writers whose work I have loved with a passion, who I have admired and promoted and hoped to emulate some day, have turned out to be . . . Oh, what’s the phrase I’m looking for?

Idols with feet of clay?

Less than perfect?

Ah, no. I’ve got it.

Horrible fucking human beings.

9 Deadly Sins of Writing Back Cover Copy
Wise Ink blog has some tips about what to avoid when writing blurbs.

Good BCC will make readers snap up a book in a heartbeat. Bad BCC will leave it lying on the shelf.

This is because BCC is not just what your book is about. It’s sales material just as much (if not more) as summary.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of the 9 deadly sins that indie authors make while writing their BCC.

Want to traditionally publish? Here are 8 things you need to know.
Alyssa Hubbard with a list of useful things to know before you embark on trying to get published.

Read the submission guidelines thoroughly.
The number one reason for rejection is because people did not read the submission guidelines. Don’t make this careless mistake. It is easily avoided. Most people assume that if they follow the standard manuscript format, they’re in the clear, but every publisher works differently. Don’t assume the standard can just be passed around anywhere. Just read the damn guidelines.

AUTHORS: 2 cases to consider cutting a paragraph before fighting to make it work
Victoria Grefer on the Crimson League blog about when it’s time to forget the red pen and grab the scissors.

First and foremost, perhaps, is the lesson not to wait to ask “Can I fix this problem by cutting?” Don’t waste time trying fruitless to fix something, or fixing it up halfway , only to realize you really haven’t solved the problem.

Make sure you ask “Can I make a cut?” FIRST. It will save you a lot of frustration and a lot of time.

Book cover clichés: why using them will actually help you sell more books
Book designer Derek Murphy about why supposed cliche book covers might still be your best bet.

Recently I’ve seen some arti­cles cir­cu­lat­ing about “Book Cover Clichés” which put a hand­ful of book cover designs from the same genre together to point out the sim­i­lar­i­ties. The point of such arti­cles, I infer, is to shame those cover design­ers who went for the easy, the obvi­ous, the “cliché” designs instead of try­ing to make some­thing more unique and original.

How­ever, these arti­cles are founded on a false pre­sump­tion — that book cov­ers should be totally new and unex­pected — which is down­right dan­ger­ous and mis­lead­ing for indie authors who don’t under­stand the pur­pose of book design.

Time Management for Writers with Jeannie Moon
Jeannie Moon with some practical tips on making time for writing in your already busy life.

Time management is one of those things that we all acknowledge we need, but rarely ever master. As authors we spend our days at regular jobs, tending to our homes and families, doing chores, running errands, we do have to fit some sleep in there, and often, when time is at a premium the first thing cut from our daily schedule is our writing.

Whether you are a multi-published author or a newbie trying to finish your first book, making and sticking to a writing schedule should be something you get in the habit of doing. It’s important before you are published and even more important after when you are faced with deadlines.

Top 10 Self-Sabotaging Mistakes of Author-Bloggers
Anne R Allen with a “what not to do” list for authors who want to blog too.

Before I started blogging, if you Googled my name, you’d find no mention of me until maybe page five. (I strongly suggest all authors Google themselves regularly to see what’s happening to your name. It’s not vain; it’s more like checking in the mirror to see if there’s any spinach on your teeth.) These days,If you Google “Anne R. Allen” you have to go the bottom of page 12 before you find an entry for somebody else. (Carrie-Anne R. Allen, I apologize.) Almost all those entries relate to my blog.

My take on women writing MM Romance
Jamie Fessenden with thoughts on the never ending debate about women and m/m romance.

Not to put too fine a point on it, MM Romance does not owe its origin to mainstream gay fiction. It comes from slashfic. I’m not saying it’s the same thing as slashfic. Certainly not. It’s evolved away from its origins. MM Romance is original fiction and much of it is well-written and professional. But it descended from slashfic, and the gender demographics haven’t changed a lot. The majority of writers are still female, and the majority of readers are female.

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