Monday, December 30, 2019

Can RWA Survive 2020?

I'm going to start my thoughts at the end. When both Neil Gaiman and Chuck Tingle call you out publicly, you've fucked up big time.

For the record, I don't know the real person(s) behind the pseudonym of Dr. Chuck Tingle. Nor do I care to know who he is. I'm content to enjoy his cute stories about buckaroos and the things they love. The best compliment I've ever received is an accusation by two people that I am secretly Dr. Tingle. I am not.

I also give major kudos to Chuck because he has never inserted himself into any writer drama. However, he's been dragged into it, and he cleverly jabs at the people doing the dragging. (Google Space Raptor Butt Invasion and Sad Puppies.) And once again, someone is dragging this talented person's behind into a pile of shit not of his making.

Now, back to the beginning--RWA, aka Romance Writers of America.

Again, for the record, I was a member of RWA from 2004 to 2012. I have my own biases towards the organization.

On one hand, it's the only professional author organization that accepts aspiring writers. The local chapters have wonderful classes where newbies can learn a plethora of craft methods and techniques. I truly believe RWA's education programs, local and national, match or surpass most master's-level university creative writing curriculum.

On the other hand, RWA has many of the problems of any large organization, from an entrenched power base to lack of adequate response to a changing world.

Over the last fifteen years, I've watched a conservative clique within RWA suppress or attempt to suppress a number of things:

- Around 2000, erotic romance was attacked because OMG! There's sex in those books!
- After that was an attempt to force a resolution through the executive board defining romance = 1 man + 1 woman ONLY! That was around 2005.
- Then in 2007, if you *gasp* sell to an e-book only/first publisher, you're not a real writer.
- In 2010, if you self-publish/indie-publish, you're not a real writer!
- Shortly after that was "okay, we'll accept SP/IP writers as long at they make five times what a trad-published writer makes." (Note: This criteria has since changed.)

To be totally frank, underneath everything at RWA was a nasty current of racism, but all the blame cannot be laid at RWA's feet. Most trad publishers refused to buy any romance book where the lead characters were non-white. They claimed those books wouldn't sell. If People Of Color ("POC") characters managed to slip past the acquiring editor, the marketing team refused to put any POC on the cover.

The indie publishing movement has helped open up stories about and by POC. And unfortunately, we're discovering just how racist readers can be. Plus, there's a certain coterie of writers who cater to that slice of the reading public.

*sigh* So among all this shit, a Twitter flamewar started between a white writer and a POC writer last summer over the contents of the white writer's books. The tiff probably would have passed unnoticed if the white writer hadn't weaponized the RWA ethics by-laws to attack the POC writer.

If you want to wade through a decent summary of the situation complete with links, Claire Ryan has one on her blog. Many thanks to Claire for putting this all together.

**Fair warning, when I was researching this dumpster fire, I needed a shower afterward.**

The sad part is this seems to be a repeat of the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies fiasco within SFWA a few years ago. Part of me hoped RWA as a whole would catch a clue and amend their ways, but alas, they seem to be doubling down on white supremacy instead. Frankly, I don't have much hope for the organization surviving. At least not in a writer-helpful form. And definitely not with the people who could make the needed changes resigning left and right.

All of this leads to--can any writer write "other" without getting lambasted?

The way I see it, we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't. As a white, cis-gendered, straight woman, if I leave anyone out of my books who aren't exactly like me, I'm guilty of all the "-isms". If I write a variety of characters and make them stereotypes, then again, I'm totally guilty of the "-isms".

Personally, I've already made the stand to have a diverse cast of characters in my books. I try to do my research. If I do something stupid, I hope a reader will call me out on it.

I'm not perfect. I'm sure I've fucked up along the way. I'll probably fuck up again. All I can do is promise to do my best to provide fair and diverse worlds.

I figure if I'm already getting lambasted for being anti-white and writing SJW/feminist propaganda, then I'm probably doing something right. *smile*

**Note: I'll leave comments open for now, but if y'all can't behave, I will shut down comments. Don't bring your fucking racist flamewar here!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Friday, December 27, 2019

Writers Are a Surly Bunch

What is it about writers that we do things to sabotage ourselves? Why do we  focus on what we can't do rather than what we can?

A lot of things have been happening in the writing world lately. I've had my head down, trying to get the January release finished between getting really sick and GK coming home from the holidays. I'm still researching things, and I'll talk about the big events next week.

But my title comes from a personal level. I'm watching people I know give up on writing. Everyone has their various reasons, but they are merely excuses. Most of these people are focusing on what they don't have. They focus on what they claim they can't do.

And just because you can't do it RIGHT NOW doesn't mean you can't do something in the future.

Unfortunately, to some writers, everything is a hard "NO" instead of "I'll get to that down the line."

Don't have paperback out yet? Then make a plan to get paperbacks out.

Don't have audio books out yet? Then make a plan for that.

Don't understand online advertising? Then study it.

Not writing fast enough? Practice writing faster.

Don't have any ideas? Sorry, I can't help you with the last one. The only way I can shut off the fucking voices in my head is by writing.

Art is not just suffering. It's about the totality of human experience. Which means if you're not feeling what your characters are feeling, maybe it's time to step back and re-examine your reasons for wanting to write.

Because if you're producing stories because you think it's easy money, your attitude will show through your wring. Readers want to be entertained--not told they owe somebody a living.

No, that doesn't mean I don't think writers shouldn't be paid. But readers are paying for a particular experience when they pick up your story. If you can't supply that, then the readers will pass you by.

So do what you can. That means first you need to write a damn good story. Next, if you can only produce e-books for the next bit of time until you find a formatter or learn to format print books yourself.

But overall, you should be looking at the next step in your publishing career, not whining that you can't do the next step because of whatever flimsy reason you come up with. Life should always be "What's next?"

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Time to put your feet up and watch the Doctor Who Christmas Specials!

Hope y'all had a great holiday!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Planning for 2020

Back in the '80's, the year 2020 was some vague futuristic time where we'd have flying cars and robot butlers.

Instead, we have Alexa, Siri, and their strange sisterhood of electronic spies into our lives, and the only flying car is the Tesla that a crazy person launched into space to prove a point.

However, being a reasonable writer/publisher regardless of the year, I've been working on the publishing schedule for 2020. The first six books have pre-orders on Amazon. Once again, I'll update them here and on the main series pages as they go live:

January 15th - A Touch of Mother (Justice #4)

February 14th - Seasons of Magick Anthology (Entire Seasons of Magick series)

March 15th - Spells and Sleuths (Millersburg Magick Mysteries #1)

April 15th - Fae and Felonies (Millersburg Magick Mysteries #2)

May 15th - Magick and Murder (Millersburg Magick Mysteries #3)

June 15th - Hero De Jure (888-555-HERO #5)

The Millersburg Magick Mysteries will be initially exclusively on Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, as the 888-555-HERO series was. These are paranormal mysteries set in the Bloodlines World. Teen witch sleuths Kaley and Kirsten Wilson take on town happenings Scooby-Doo style. The girl's mom Rachel and great-aunt Jo should be familiar to anyone who's read Amish, Vamps & Thieves.

The 88-555-HERO has started going wide, Hero De Facto is available at most online retailers now, and each month, the next volume will be released.

My last goal is to get my ebooks on the Ohio Public Library system for those of you who rely on libraries for your reading material. If you don't live in Ohio, you can always request my books through your own library!

For those of you who prefer paperbacks or you don't live in Ohio, have your librarian contact me directly. I'm always happy to donate copies, both paper and electronic, to a public or school library. As a child in rural America, books store were rare, Amazon didn't exist, and I depended on our county public library system for most of my reading material.

If anyone has questions or comments and doesn't want to leave them on the blog's comment section, you can always contact me through the "Contact Me" tab at the top of the page!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Friday, December 20, 2019

I Think. Therefore, I Am.

Actually, my existence is pretty questionable. My head's still fuzzy from the flu, but I'm eating a normally diet again. That's a step in the right direction.

However, I'm a little jealous of the friends who were able to attend last night's showing of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. More because they were physically able to attend the screenings, than wishing I could go to. However. everyone so far has said the ending was awesomely satisfying. So maybe JJ Abrams finally learned how to write an ending after all.

Yes, folks, the ending of a story is just as important as the beginning. If you haven't learned how to craft an ending, for the love of Cthulu, practice.

This is not a hate on JJ. I think the guy can come up with brilliant ideas. It's the follow-thru where he falters.

Alias. Revolution. Lost. All great high-concept ideas. But he kind of proves the adage that ideas are a dime a dozen. It's the actual story that keeps people involved. Also, the writer can't break the rules of their universe willy-nilly. Not without pissing off their fans.

Look what happened with the final season of Game of Thrones. The writers and showrunners had GRRM's notes, but they didn't have his passion for the characters. All the previous seasons, we knew who did what and why. And it's not the fact that Bran ended up with the Iron Throne, it's that the writers didn't care enough to sell that version to the audience.

Sticking with our world logic and developing an ending is something we writers need to do on a consistent basis. When I was writing Hero De Facto, I feared the May-December romance between Rey and Aisha would be the biggest sticking point with the audience. So far, there's been nary a word, which means I did my job as an artist.

So where is all this rambling going? To three craft points writers need to keep in mind:

1) Ideas are cheap and easy. Storytelling is hard. Work on your storytelling.

2) Endings are as important as beginnings.

3) Don't break the rules of your universe without a damn good reason that makes sense to the audience.

Now, I have to put together my shopping list. Genius Kid was Cincinnati chili with his football on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

I'd Rather Have Coal in My Stocking

The good news is that Genius Kid (or should I start calling him Genius Soldier?) got leave, so he'll be home for Christmas. None of us were expecting it, given he just got out of basic training. Even with a little complication with his ticket, things are settled, and it'll be good to see him. Best holiday present ever, and we're happy.

Unfortunately, I was nailed by a particularly nasty stomach bug last week. Given the intimacy of our recent relationship, our toilet and I should be married right now. Even worse, I awoke at four this morning to the sounds of DH horning in on my relationship with the porcelain god. I'm praying we're no longer contagious by the time GK gets home. I wouldn't wish this bug on my worst enemy.

Hopefully, I'll back to regular writing and blogging soon. And if you're in a ménage, may it not involve cold, stinky porcelain.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

You Knew This Was Coming!!

Linda Carter owned the '70's, but Gal Gadot takes the '80's!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Special Episode of I Love the '80's!

When a certain new movie trailer debuted a few days ago, I was so excited to hear this tune from 1983 again. And it worked damn well with the clips. Put June 5, 2020, on your calendars, kids!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

I Love the '80's!

It's the last month of the year, so let's finish it with some awesome '80's music!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Whirlwind

I know I haven't posted much over the last two weeks. Things have been a little crazy at the Harden House. And for once, not in a bad way.

The big thing is the release of A Very Hero Christmas. The fourth novel in the 888-555-HERO series was only supposed to be a little holiday short story for the readers, but it grew into a full-length novel.

Everyone at The Law Offices of Winters & Franklin is safe during the holidays. Or are they?

Aisha spends Christmas with her family in Atlanta, only to have a new supervillain take the mall patrons hostage while Aisha’s doing some last minute shopping with her niece and nephew.

Meanwhile, Harri’s attempts at making a perfect Christmas for her goddaughter get out of hand as the guest list keeps growing. Just one little problem—Harri can’t cook.

Can Aisha save the citizens of Atlanta without revealing she’s a super? Better yet, can anyone save Harri’s guests from food poisoning?

Call The Law Offices of Winters & Franklin at 888-555-HERO where the only thing more dangerous than a superhero is his attorney.
In celebration of the fourth book's release, the first novel Hero De Facto is currently free at Amazon. But you've got to act fast, the deal ends tonight at midnight, PST.

I'm working on the next episode of the Justice series, A Touch of Mother which is on preorder at Amazon, as well a some top secret projects I can't talk about yet. As long as I stay healthy, next year is going to be awesome!