January Links

Links will be third weekend of the month this year, mostly to move the post a bit further away from the Lucky 7th post. Enjoy!

Hate the Character, Love the Book?
Charlotte Wood on The Hoopla challenges the notion that characters must be “likeable”.

The broader issue of ‘likeability’ in fictional characters is intriguing. Most of my favourite novels are populated by failures and frauds – Paul Chowder in Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist comes to mind, or Waldo in White’s The Solid Mandala, and Austen’s infuriating Emma was always way more interesting to me than noble Elizabeth Bennett, for all her intelligent flaws.

“Oh, just make out already!” Why genre cinema needs to go there, and soon, in the #Stucky era
Selina Kray asks when genre cinema is going to stop dancing around and give us a male/male romance?

A significant portion of the audience is already clamoring for it. After the Captain America: Civil War trailer hit, highlighting Cap’s efforts to save his old friend Bucky from both friends and foes who want his head on a pike, the online response basically amount to: “Please, please, please, can they make out?”

When Can You Call Yourself A Writer?
Chuck Sambuchino on The Write Life addresses the perennial question.

This is an important question in every writer’s life. At what moment in time can you actually refer to yourself as a writer?

But even the very question itself is deceiving, because there are actually two questions here:

When can you look in the mirror and call yourself a writer? And when can you call yourself a writer in front of several complete strangers at a party?

Are small independent publishers doing the work for big publishers?
Kevin Duffy on the Guardian website asks if independent publishers are taking the risks on new authors, only for the big publishers to cream off the best ones?

Here’s an observation: it sometimes feels as though smaller independents are the research and development departments for the big publishers, where literary fiction is concerned. We find great writers, nurture them, wipe their brows, polish their work and buff it until it shines. Then we send them out, readers love the books and they get shortlisted and win major literary prizes.

Then the big money imprints swoop in; whisking them away to put them in a sparkly marketing jacket and present them in their new package to the world.

Six Unrealistic Tropes and How to Avoid Them
Oren Ashkenazi on The Mythcreants blog talks about those silly tropes we see much too often, and suggests what to do instead.

3. Characters With No Experience Are Better Than Experts

The protagonist has spent all of their life farming, yet within moments of picking up a sword they’re defeating trained soldiers. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a short training montage. In Legend of the Seeker, we don’t even get that much. Richard doesn’t even practice before becoming an engine of destruction. In one scene he’s never held a sword, then he’s matching blades with an elite warrior, then he’s taking on dozens of enemies single-handedly. It’s so over the top, you can’t watch it without laughing.*

Ten annoying things successful people do before breakfast
As the high motivation of the new year wears off, Tom Hocknell has some words about those things we should apparently be getting up early to do.


To make the most of today, you need to start yesterday. Like President Obama, who sets out his schedule the night before, or at least gets someone else to. This is good advice, and I’ve always planned to make a cup of tea when I wake up.

Do You Read Lesbian Romance?
Jackie C. Horne on Romance Novels for Feminists blog with some stats and questions about the position of F/F romance compared with M/M romance.

In putting together the RNFF Best of 2015 list, I was more than a little aware of the imbalance in my LGBTQ selections: 6 books with two male protagonists, but only one with two female lovers. This is due in large part to my own reading choices; I read far more gay male romances this past year than I did lesbian romances. Why, though, was that, precisely? I began to think about some of the reasons why this might be:

5 Easy Tips for Dealing with Email
Make 2016 the year you get that inbox under control. Kayelle Allen on Romance University blog has some tips.

I get hundreds of emails each week, but my inbox is never out of control, and I can usually find any email I need within a few moments. Am I clairvoyant? No. Do I have an assistant? Not for email. Am I just naturally organized? Well, go look at my kitchen and then decide. No… I have simply applied some basic rules to handling it. They all begin with the letter F. I’ve shared these rules with fellow authors in the Marketing for Romance Writers group, and it’s proven helpful. Here are the basics.

Five Google Search Tips for Authors
And once you’ve got the email sorted out, read these really useful Google search tips by Virginia Kelly, Up your research game!

I’m a librarian and author. There’s a cute little graphic that reads: “Librarian. The original search engine.” But even librarians google. We type in a few of the most important words that describe the research, use what we’ve learned about how Google works, and retrieve a good set of results that leads to the information we need.

Female Characters Don’t Have to Be Likable
Koa Beck on The Atlantic about yet another fallacy used to attack female characters.

More than being “unlikable,” these female characters directly challenge the institutions and practices frequently used to measure a woman’s value: marriage, motherhood, divorce, and career. They defy likability in their outlandish occupation of the roles to which women are customarily relegated—mother, wife, daughter—resisting sexist mythologies and social pressures. Perhaps most refreshingly, these novels aren’t so much heralding a new age of female-centric literature as they’re building on a much older English-language tradition of works about complex women.

What Exactly Does An Editor Do? The Role Has Changed Over Time
Lynn Neary on what editors actually do these days and how the job has changed.

That was the way editors interacted with their writers for many years after Perkins came on the scene, Berg says, but now publishing has changed: These days there is more pressure on editors to acquire best-sellers, and they are much more involved in marketing a book. And that, he says, leaves precious little time for actual editing.

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