October Links

Why You Should Write Your Novel From The Middle
James Scott Bell on the Romance University blog about a crucial turning point in your story.

Even though the writers may not have been conscious of it, they were creating something in the middle of their stories that pulled together the entire narrative. It was not a scene—it was a moment within the scene.

I call it a “mirror moment.”

Is Perfectionism Killing Your Writing Career?
Kristin Lamb on how perfectionism holds writers back.

No agent is asking for a perfect query letter. They want an interesting query letter.

We writers have to be really really careful about worshipping perfection, and I think fiction can be far more vulnerable because it is far more subjective. There comes a time when we simply have to SHIP. Just let it go. Time to move on to something new. We could edit forever. This applies to blogs, books, query letters and eyeliner.

Nerd Guys, Pandering, and “Forced” Diversity
Joseph Cain on The Mary Sue about how the people complaining the most about other people being “pandered to” are ones who’ve been pandered to for so long they don’t even know it’s happening.

To my fellow straight white guys, let me say this: You have been pandered to for your entire life. Nearly every piece of media you have ever consumed, from comics books to TV to cartoons, has been tailored made with you in mind as its primary audience.

In fact, pandering to us is one of the greatest driving forces in entertainment today. I’d go as far to say that it’s responsible for many of the creative shortcomings of today’s media.

How To Write Diverse Characters: A Simple Test
Sonali Dev on the Romance University blog, about how you can use a simple test inspired by a movie to help you write diverse characters.

I am told there’s a push for diversity in romance. Between #WeNeedDiverseRomance, the formation of a diversity committee by RWA, the presence of more diverse panels and workshops on the RWA National conference schedule than ever before, and the fact that a sum total of five whole entire books that touched collectively on diversity of race, culture, and sexual orientation finaled in the RITAs out of hundred odd books are all signs that yes, indeed, there is a push for diversity in romance. But all snark aside, all of this also underscores how badly there needs to be a push for diversity in romance.

Intimate Witnesses
Christopher Rice with an interesting take on the question of women writing m/m.

ou can only write what you know? Nonsense. Let me translate this statement. There is a certain type of writer (and reviewer) who believes the only legitimate form of fiction is the kind so directly fueled by a writer’s personal experience it’s almost impossible to distinguish it from memoir.

Why these individuals don’t just commit themselves to writing and reading non-fiction is beyond me. But I suspect they want to drag a little bit off fiction’s power – the power to give a complex, messy situation a tidy ending – without finding themselves lumped in with the practitioners of certain genres they resent for not being “literary” or cool.

Pseudonyms vs. Identities
And Nathan Burgoine has more mixed feelings on the subject.

Now, for the most part, the vast majority of feedback has been, simply put: Oh, who cares? I read the book for the content, not for the gender of the author. If the book is good, it doesn’t matter.

Do I agree? Yes.

And, deep breath, also no.

Now, please, understand. There’s a lot more to it than that statement, and I want to draw a very important divide between a pseudonym and an identity. I also want to talk a little bit about appropriation, about minorities (visible and nay), and – hopefully – make some sense in the process about why I both agree and disagree with shrugging off all instances of women-writing-as-men-while-writing-about-gays on the sole merit of the content.

Being Edited, or How to Take Criticism
KJ Charles on the important lesson on writers must learn about taking criticism gracefully and learning from it, but that you’re allowed to feel bad about it. Includes excellent use of the word “bobbins”.

Even unjustified criticism can hurt like hell; even trivial throwaway comments can sting for years. Negative criticism feels bad because it’s negative; you shouldn’t feel even worse because you aren’t Superman about it. Take your emotions out (BUT NOT ON TWITTER OKAY), give them an airing to the cat, scream in the bathroom. Face how you feel. Because, all the people telling you to suck it up? They feel just as bad when they get their MS slammed. And if they don’t, if they indeed have asbestos hands for criticism and shrug it off, I’m afraid I question their commitment to their work. I don’t care is a fine thing to say but if you actually don’t care about your book, I’m pretty sure I won’t either.

Writing Queer Stories: Beyond Coming Out
J. K. Pendragon on Queer Romance Month about two types of stories about queer characters and why it’s important to have that variety.

I tend to separate queer books into two different categories. First, the coming out, “issue” book: books that explore the experiences and difficulties of coming out and existing as queer in a cisnormative and heteronormative world. And second, the “incidental” queer books: books that contain queer characters, but ultimately focus on other issues and conflicts, be they internal or external. Obviously the two overlap a lot, but you can usually identify the two different types of stories fairly easily, even if they exist within the same book.

Let’s Hear It for the Girls
Jill Sorenson on Queer Romance Month about the still small niche of F/F romance in a queer romance genre dominated by M/M. Includes recs!

I know I’m not the best person to speak for f/f or lesbian romance, as a straight author who reads mostly straight books. The problem is that there aren’t many voices for f/f in romanceland. It doesn’t get reviewed or covered the way m/m does. Lesbian romance authors don’t market to the straight female audience. Why would they? There’s not a lot of crossover between lesbian romance readers and m/f readers, or between m/m and f/f readers.

Queer Romance MonthQueer Romance Month – the whole thing!
There are loads of great posts so far on Queer Romance Month and it’s only just a third of the way through the month. I’m sure I’ll have more on my November Links post. But there are great new ones every day, so check out the site all month!

Is This Copyright Infringement? What Images You Can & Can’t Share
Useful posts and infographics for bloggers and authors and anyone else using images online.

So what does that all mean? What exactly are the rights people have to the images they create? When is it okay and not okay to use other people’s images without permission? And where are good places to look for pre-approved images?

Storytime: The Worst Phone Call
Finish with the funny – KJ Charles relates a story she told at the UK Meet, that will teach you the horrors of what’s called in publishing a “signature swap”.

The Mega Books were collections. There was the Mega Book of Adventure Stories, the Mega Book of Science Fiction, there was Fantasy, Historical, Detectives, accounts of historical events, political speeches, anything as long as you could get 528pp of text for cheap. And there was erotica. The Mega Book of Erotica, of More Erotica, of Historical Erotica, Gay Erotica, Lesbian Erotica, Dark Erotica, et cetera ad nauseam. And I mean ad nauseam, because this was not high-end stuff. It was twenty years ago, issues like ‘consent’ and ‘trigger warnings’ were not on the agenda (at least, not that particular acquiring editor’s agenda), and…let’s just say that erotica comes in every flavour, and this one was frequently ear wax.

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