Valentine’s Links

Corazon by IlhhHappy Valentine’s Day!
I hope you’ve love these links I’ve gathered for you.

In Defense of the Gatekeepers
Hilary Monahan on why the much feared gatekeepers of publishing are a good thing.

2) Quality control exists in every facet of our lives.

Every part in your car was inspected by number fourteen to make sure when you put your key in the ignition, your gilded chariot doesn’t explode in a fiery ball of death. Every implement in a doctor’s hands was inspected to ensure it passes standards before the doctor removes your spleen. Your jeans were inspected to make sure the stitching is secure and your fly doesn’t stay down exposing your tallywhack to children at the mall. Your goddamned CHEETOS were inspected to make sure you don’t get some conjoined twin giant Cheeto in your bag of snacks. Quality control is, by and large, a great thing that improves our lives. Until it’s not working to your personal advantage, I guess?

Bite Me
Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb on the limits of where it’s okay to criticise an author.

Readers are absolutely entitled to opinions, and there are a zillion places on the internet to express any dissatisfaction. I’m not going to go onto those sites and debate with a reader over her opinion on my work. But these are my pages.

Let’s talk productivity and limiting beliefs
Aleksandr Voinov on how “limiting beliefs” can harm a writer’s productivity.

NLP works at identifying “limiting beliefs” – in short, convictions that we all hold that are counterproductive to achieving our best. If you look at the paragraph above, there’s a limiting belief right there – one that a lot of writers have: Having fun and getting paid for it is a conflict. It’s strange to get paid for “having fun”. It’s kinda cool, but it’s not what work is ABOUT, right?

Speech is free and silence is golden
KJ Charles on the right to not speak up about a subject.

Some people don’t want to be drawn into the argument in the first place. That’s a valid choice that deserves respect. We aren’t obliged to engage with every topic, even when we feel strongly about the subject, and we’re probably happier when we don’t.

Chris Jane on the power of gender in an author’s name: Right, Like a Man
Chris Jane on the difficulties of selling and marketing a war story as a woman author.

Because males were clearly having better luck selling their war stories, it was hard not to imagine a parallel universe in which Pretty Much True had been published under a male name. Men writing a lot like women, even about women, generally achieve higher literary acclaim and garner more universal interest than do women when the story has nothing to do with war (Irving, Eugenides, Franzen), so wouldn’t the same be true if it were a story about a female during wartime?

My Book Is Not My Baby, Though Sometimes It Does Reek of Poo
Heidi Cullinan on why you must lose the tendency to treat your books like your children.

When I write a story, there’s definitely a big stage where the thing is unformed, but it’s not an infant I’m teaching to walk or hold its head upright. I’m trying to find eyeballs and get rid of that weird third ear on top of its head. It’s clay, not flesh. Absolutely I talk to it and nurture it, but I also rip it apart, and kick it, and yell at it—if my books were my babies, they’d all be taken away by child protective services.

Characters extra – piling on the Angst
Sally Quilford on resisting the temptation to load your characters up with extra helpings of painful backstory.

It is too easy, when you create your heroine (or hero) to pile on the angst in order to make your readers sympathise with them. My own heroines are often orphans, but I generally put their sad events way back in the past so that by the time the story begins, they’re still orphans but they’re also getting on with their lives.

It can be too easy to pile on the angst so much that in the end your reader actually thinks, ‘No? Really?’

24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing
Curtis Sittenfeld on Buzzfeed shares some of what she’s learned from 10 years in the writing and publishing game.

13. Female writers are asked more frequently about all of the following topics than male writers: whether their work is autobiographical; whether their characters are likable; whether their unlikable characters are unlikable on purpose or the writer didn’t realize what she was doing; how they manage to write after having children.

6 Mistakes that Can Sidetrack New Writers
Anne R Allen on some common traps new writers fall into.

I heard from a writer recently who had already paid a vanity press a huge amount of money to publish his book, but he’d never had the manuscript read by anybody. He wanted to know where he could find beta readers. Arrggh! He had the process completely backwards.

Learn to write before you try to find a publisher! You need to have a manuscript (or two) polished, critiqued, edited and polished again before you even think about publishing.

3 Ways We Writers Are Too Hard on Ourselves
Victoria Grefer on the Crimson League blog about some of the ways writers make writing even harder.

Writing a great short story, or a novel that is engaging and inspiring enough to touch SOMEONE and make just one person’s life a little more fruitful… That’s what we aim for when we write fiction. At least, that’s what I hope my fiction might accomplish.

And that is the beginning of the problem, at least when it comes to my approach to fiction. Writing is wonderful, and a worthy aim, but it is not an easy hobby or job, for a number of reasons.

Writing Tips Index
K.J. Charles has compiled an index of her many useful and awesome writing advice posts. Posts on editing, general writing, publishing, reviews and social media and for giggles…

10 Things To Stop Doing To Yourself As A Writer
The Writers Write blog on some self-sabotaging things writers do.

2) Stop wasting time. Stop thinking about writing and write. Stop dreaming about book deals and learn the craft. Confront your issues and get on with it, but remember that getting what you want often involves risk and sacrifice. Are you ready for this? ‘You can’t sit around thinking. You have to sit around working,’ says David Long. Nobody ever feels 100% ready because adventures – even adventures in writing – force us beyond our comfort zones.

Confessions of an Irritable Romance Novelist
KJ Charles replies to yet another article from someone who thinks anyone can dash off a Romance novel, unless they are just too discerning and refined like her.

I saw so many ‘knock it out for the money’ submissions in the slush pile. So many clichéd, spark-free, lifeless, lazy, dull, grating, cranked-out MSS that someone had the unmitigated gall to think ‘would do for Mills & Boon’, without knowing the trade, or the market, or the readership. With the very natural desire to make money by writing, but completely lacking the bit where the author wanted to write the book, or had any gift/inclination for doing so.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
Mark Manson with an important life lesson – not giving a fuck about things not worth your fucks.

The point is, most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too many fucks in situations where fucks do not deserve to be given. We give a fuck about the rude gas station attendant who gave us too many nickels. We give a fuck when a show we liked was canceled on TV. We give a fuck when our coworkers don’t bother asking us about our awesome weekend. We give a fuck when it’s raining and we were supposed to go jogging in the morning.

4 thoughts on “Valentine’s Links

  1. I love the first two entries — “Quality Control” juxtaposed with “Bite Me.” Yeah, that’s about my response. Because seriously, there’s a huge difference between the quality control that’s there to prevent a car or a surgeon from literally killing me and “quality control” where a literary snot and an accountant with an eye on the bottom line get together to decide on my behalf which items of entertainment I’ll be allowed to choose from. Who the heck does this person think she’s kidding to frame the “quality control” applied to gatekeeping in fiction as being of the same use, of the same value, as the quality control in industry and medicine??

    If it were up to the literary gatekeepers in New York, there’d be no m/m subgenre of romance. Good thing small presses, and later indie writers, decided to ignore the professional literary gatekeepers and let readers decide what they want to read. And I say that as a reader, not just as a writer. Because yeah, as a reader, having the lit snobs control what I’m allowed to choose from when I go browsing for fiction does not benefit me.

    Applause to Heidi Cullinan for blasting that idiotic “my book is my baaaaby!!!” meme. Reminds me of a big-name New York published writer who insisted that fanfic writers writing sexy stories about her characters was literally the same as if they were raping her actual children. Which was not only horribly insulting to actual rape victimes, but would’ve grossly offended me if she were my mother, so I guess it’s a good thing she’s not.

    However much we might be attached to them, our books are not our babies or our children, and acting like they are isn’t healthy.

    I’m with KJ Charles on people thinking they can just knock out a romance novel. I was in a workshop once and read the first couple of chapters of someone’s romance novel. There were a few issues with it, but the main one was that the dialogue was really awful — stiff and stilted, melodramatic, not at all natural sounding. I spent a thousand words or so explaining what the issue was, with examples from the text, suggestions of how to fix it, and some exercises the writer could do to improve her dialogue. Her response? “Oh. It’s a romance. I thought it was supposed to be sappy.” o_O Yeah, that explained everything. Someone who’s not a romance fan, clearly doesn’t read romances for enjoyment — since “sappy” is inherently pejorative and no one would use that term to describe a genre they liked — and probably thought knocking out a romance for all those silly women who read them would be easy. Do us all a favor, hon, and write something you yourself would want to read. [sigh]


    1. Indie publishers and self-publishing has certainly shaken things up in terms of gatekeeping. I think with indie publishers they’re still gatekeepers to the extent of selecting work that’s good, but because they’re open to content that the mainstream publisher aren’t – M/M of course, but plenty of other stuff too that wouldn’t be considered commercial enough.

      I was reading a comment on Absolute Write about the hoops people have to jump through to get published in Australia. It sounds crazy! Like trying to get into a castle with a moat full of piranha, and if you get past that, finding a troll on the gate, carrying a club with a nail in it. Indie publishing and self-publishing witll definitely have disrupted that.

      “supposed to be sappy”. Like you say [sigh] All these people who think “hey let’s crank out a romance, that’ll be easy” have usually not read a romance for twenty years and assume they are still exactly the same. But nothing changes faster than romance.

      Thanks for the great comment, Angela!

  2. I was reading romances twenty to thirty years ago, and even then the good ones weren’t “sappy.” :/ The bulk of the readers had some different tastes, social awareness was different from what it is now, that sort of thing. The writing was still good, though, and even then there were people who thought they could just crank out a romance for the money, and who were just as mistaken as their descendants are now.

    I suppose you can call an individual indie writer deciding what to publish or when something of theirs isn’t ready for prime time “gatekeeping” and be technically correct, but the term loses its practical meaning in that context. Gatekeeping, the way the current discussions/arguments use the term, is something done by a small number of agents/editors/publishers acting upon a large number of writers, only letting a few through. I’ve written some stories that haven’t turned out as I’d like, and which I wouldn’t publish even on my own, but that doesn’t really add anything to the pro- and anti-gatekeeper conversation publishing is having.

    I think the proper place to put a gatekeeper is in front of each individual reader’s wallet. 🙂 I choose what to buy and what to read. I have my preferences and my standards, and limits to what I’m willing to spend for different kinds of books. But those are my own standards, and they apply only to my wallet and my reading time. I have reviewers whose posts I read for information, and I get a lot of book info from Goodreads. I get recommendations — both positive and negative — from friends. But my deciding not to buy a book doesn’t mean nobody else can buy it either. That’s the best kind of gatekeeping, I think, although it’s not the kind the various factions around the industry are discussing.


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