Chick lit is NOT dead! It’s evolved.

Chick lit is NOT dead!
It’s evolved.

by Louise Wise

As a reader, there are heaps of chick lit books to choose from. You have your Sophie Kinsella to Jane Porter, Matt Dunn to Nick Hornby—all light and fluffy. Usually. Chick lit evolves, and that’s the one thing that makes it so popular and able to hold its own among your thrillers, historicals and the like.

Nowadays, you’ll find ‘cross-over’ chick lit—chick lit that has a mixture of other genres in them: paranormal chick lit, suspense chick lit. I’ve yet to see a horror or a science-fiction chick lit. Probably out there though, and it’s just that I haven’t looked hard enough. But no matter the sub-genre, they are always upbeat, fun and modern.

Chick lit doesn’t even have to be about romance. In fact, it’s more about relationships, emotions and current life. It’s not all about shopping and shoes, as some literary snobs like to point out (and probably helped give it the ‘chick lit’ title!). It’s contemporary, cheeky, funny and real.

That’s what I like about the genre the most. Keeping it real. I’ve always liked a dose of reality in my writing. Even my sci-fi (Eden) was ‘real-life’ as one reviewer put it. My latest book’s title is quite a mouthful: The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch therefore I am and I’ve incorporated my usual ‘real life’ theme and, this time, it’s depression. The main character, Valerie Anthrope is suffering with the disorder, only she’s burying her head in the sand, or in her case, work. She knows she’s ill, yet her way of dealing with it is to ignore it. It takes a nosey stranger to make her see that she needs help.

But how far should you go in making a ‘sensitive’ subject funny? Life, in general, is funny and tragic. And to help deal with these heartrending events, we joke about them. That’s why we laugh hysterically at the comic with his ‘close to the knuckle’ joke. Misanthrope isn’t a book taking the micky out of depression, neither does my character have a miraculous cure. By the end of the book, she still has depression, but it leaves the reading satisfied that she’ll work through her demons.

The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch therefore I am asks the questions: nurture or nature? What makes us us? It’s available to buy now as a Kindle download from Amazon (free for this weekend (21st – 24th October) . The paperback will be released in October.
If you want to discuss this subject on Twitter use the hashtag #wwbb

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Twitter: @louise_wise
Email: louisewise3@ntlworld.com

Q&A: Why Write Amazon Reviews?

Courtesy of Boni Idem.

As anyone who is or knows an author knows, many of us frequently go around wishing and hoping that our book will receive reviews on that book giant, Amazon. (I also wish and hope for Powell’s and Barnes and Noble’s but as more and more authors publish exclusively through the Big A, that’s what this blog post is about.) I thought that I’d explain my own reasons for wanting reviews and how they work. I’m choosing to address this via questions that I’ve received from friends and family.

1) I’m no good at writing an Amazon review. What do I say?

The beautiful thing about Amazon reviews is that you don’t have to be Roger Ebert. You can click a star rating and then write a couple of sentences about the book. Reviews can be as simple as “This book was really good. I wish there was more romance” or really elaborate.

Here are some things you could put in a review:

  • Adjectives that describe the book (it was good, it was awful, etc).
  • Say something you liked about it. Things that you could focus on could include the plot, a particular scene, characters, how things changed during the course of the story, etc.
  • If there was a moment or character that personally impacted you in some way, don’t be afraid to say so. Put yourself in the review. Authors love to know their readers and I know that I’m always touched when I can tell someone made a personal connection with what I wrote.
  • Talk about what you wanted to see more of or what needs improvement. Do you wish another character was in the book more? Say so. Did bad spelling distract you? Tell us that too.

Tips to remember:

  • Don’t be afraid to be honest. Do, however, remember to be helpful. Don’t just say “it sucks” but tell everyone why it sucked.
  • Don’t give away the ending of the book. You can allude to it very vaguely (“the ending surprised me”) but don’t say specific plot details.
  • You’re not being graded. Write a review as long or short as you want. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece of art—think of it more as a conversation or what you might tell people you know about this book.
  • Make sure that you read the book before you review. This seems like it should be obvious but… it’s not.

2) Do Amazon reviews actually affect a book’s sales?

I have to be honest with you and tell you that I don’t yet know for sure as I don’t have the “magic number” yet. This is what I understand to be true from conversations with my publisher and other authors:

  • Around 20-25 reviews, Amazon starts including the book in “also bought” and “you might like” lists. This increases your chances of someone finding your title.
  • Around 50-70 reviews, Amazon looks at your book for spotlight positions and the newsletter. This is HUGE. This is my personal goal although I use Amazon reviews for other reasons (more later on in this post).
  • Number of reviews may affect Amazon sales ranking. (Again, this is anecdotal–I have no actual proof of it.)
  • Some websites will not consider or promote your book unless you have a number of reviews on the page (this is very true of those sites that highlight free promos—I can attest to this).
  • And, of course, readers may read through your reviews and decide to purchase or not purchase the book based on this.

3) Whatever. I don’t care if you sell this wonderful/awful book. Why should I write a review if it doesn’t change how you write the next one?

Oh, but it does.

When I read my Amazon reviews, they tell me things that my editor might not. Let’s face it, an editor is only one person and even with beta readers, you’re working in a group of people who are familiar with the craft of writing. What an author also needs is the opinion of the average reader, that person who just picked up their book and doesn’t have an English degree.

While you have to have a tough skin about reviews, as an author, they’re very helpful. They can reaffirm something that you were already working on. For instance, I’d already decided to make one of my minor characters in my first book a point-of-view character for the second—my reviews have told me that people wouldn’t be uninterested in him. They can also point out things that you need to work on. In my case, exposition!

Likewise, positive reviews tell you what you’re doing right. If people rave about your characters, then that’s likely a good place to keep going. If reviews talk about the fighting scenes in a positive light, then you know you’re making a difference.

So, in short, yes, what you write in that review is fairly likely to change something about the book I’m working on now. Writing is a process.

4) But I really hated the book! Should I still review it?

Here is where I probably differ from some other authors so I’m going to speak only for myself here.

Yes. Absolutely. How will I know where to improve unless I get reviews that tell me so? Yes, it can be painful to read some reviews but am I ever going to say that there isn’t truth in them? No.
After the initial sting, I’ll read it again and take something home from that. I’ll be a better writer for it. To be honest, not everyone likes every book. There are people out there who hate Harry Potter. It would be a little presumptuous to think that all of my reviews would be golden for any book (they’re not now and I don’t expect that to change. Especially not if anyone reads this post. ).

The only thing that I ask is to please make sure you have something to say about why it is bad. The only review that I’ve ever been really irritable about was a one-star on an old short horror story I posted for fun where the reader said they were underage and hadn’t read it.

Having said all of that, it is really tough to be a small press or self-published author (I am the former). Bad reviews can kill a novel if they’re the first ones a book receives or if they’re all that the book has. Please hold this in mind if you decide to go forth. This post by Anne R. Allen does a good job of explaining the impact in more detail than I’ll get into here.

Now that you’ve read all of that, if you have any questions, feel free to comment and I’ll try to answer them. I am speaking from an author’s standpoint but perhaps others will chime in with their own thoughts on the process.

(Feel free to share this post or copy it for your own blog. All I ask is that if you do, please keep my author note here at the bottom.)


Gwen Perkins is a fantasy novelist who is always on the hunt for Amazon reviews for her first novel, The Universal Mirror (Hydra Publications, 2012). She can be contacted through email at gwen@ironangel.net.

Author Interview with Jeffrey Zweig II

Jeffrey Zweig II

Jeffrey Zweig II

My special guest to today’s blog is fantasy author Jeffrey Zweig II. Jeffrey is the author of the brand-new novel, The End Begins: The Nine, and also runs the blog “Stories of a Sleepless Mind” where he spotlights excerpts from his works-in-progress. The End Begins is a great story with such a dramatic twist that I’ll have to work hard to restrain myself from spoiling you!

And so with no further ado, I bring you an interview with Jeffrey Zweig II.

Gwen: Hi, Jeffrey, I’m excited to have you here. First, let’s start by having you tell the readers a little about your book.

Jeffrey: Thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about me and my work, Gwen.

The End Begins: The Nine is a science fiction, fantasy story about Cassarah Telmar, a sorceress who finds out the students of her Academy, The Nine, are being used in experiments to pilot a war for a group known as The Coalition. She escapes their program and sets off to bring them down. However, her actions could devastate the people she’s trying to save.

Gwen: One of the things that I found particularly interesting was how this novel mixes real-world events and history as part of a broader alternate universe beginning with World War II. How did you decide at what point to alter history, so to speak?

Jeffrey: One reason I think I chose World War II (WWII) is because people know about it. So many movies, video games, TV shows are based on it – it’s familiar, and since I had so many strange elements going, I wanted that familiar base to draw from. I did some research on “what if” scenarios during the war – as in what if a battle went this way or that, and in turn a much different outcome could have happened. So I toyed with who was involved, how long it went, and tried incorporating some relevant issues one could see today. WWII always has a lot of potential to work with, and making those changes opens up many more things I can work with to make it my own.

Gwen: During The End Begins: The Nine, the reader is taken on a journey that shifts focus to a number of different characters. Changing perspective from one character to the next really gives us, as the readers, a much broader sense of the world that you’ve created. Of your main characters, who was the most challenging for you to write and why? How did you get into their head?

Jeffrey: The hardest to write for was James. First, he’s like Cass where he’s foreign to the world he’s journeying through because he’s dealing with a form of amnesia. But at the same time, he’s coming from a world that is similar to our modern day. So I had to resist the urge to constantly compare one to the next as a running commentary.

Second, because he initially starts as a mini-macguffin and has so little to do with the start of the story, he was a risk to have. I had to make him relevant but not be obtrusive. That was also hard to do. Whereas most of the characters had a clear objective at the start of the novel, James did not. He was kind of a wild card, and that can be dangerous for an author if the reader doesn’t want to go along with it.

Gwen: I know that in my own writing, minor characters often end up being some of the characters that I like the best. Was there any character that you’d like to focus on more in future stories?

Jeffrey: Kevin Barone – the group’s mechanic, tech guy, and the outsider of the independent nation of Arcovia. I think because he is so rooted in the world being a kind of drifter, that through him I could explore the world in more detail. Having known people like that, I have fun writing someone who is a little more relaxed/reckless than Cass. But in my story he evolves from that drifter, to becoming heavily relevant to many people, and I would be interested to see how his actions affect those around him trying to keep that independence.

Gwen: Another big part of your story is culture. One of my favorite scenes was when Cass ended up going into the world and had to learn how to interact among people and ideas with which she wasn’t familiar. How do you prepare to write a scene like that?

Jeffrey: First I had to decide while building the world for my novel how different things were on that personable level. Once I had that, I had to think of Cass, more or less, as a foreigner as if she visited another country entirely (Which you could argue is the case here). How would I (or Cass) react when dealing with food, social norms, or science. I did my best to make things different, but not too different in that respect. I’m reminded of an exercise you would do in a creative writing course, if you were an alien exploring another world – that’s basically what I had to do.

Gwen: Tell us about something that you think makes the Nine particularly unique.

Jeffrey: This is a hard one, truth be told. Because I could say a lot of things that appear to make it unique, but you can insert that answer for many other books, games, movies, etc. which are great.

“Her actions could devastate the people she’s trying to save.”

So instead I’ll get down to the core of the human element for Cass, our main protagonist – it’s a story with a very straightforward question – what is your choice? Cass’s choice – to live a slave or die with freedom is a choice many people are faced with in one way or another. Maybe its being tied to a job, an abusive relationship, or maybe its on your death bed living on life support. Very different situations, but that choice is a choice people may live with every day. Some stories are caught up in the grand scheme of the major plot. Really, in the end, the book is about Cass’s choice in her own self worth when she learns everything she has too. That is one of the things I think make this book unique – the boldness of that one choice amidst a epic sci-fi plot.

Gwen: Where else do you see yourself going with future novels? Will you be continuing in this universe or do you have other stories ahead? Tell us a little bit about your future projects.

Jeffrey: I will be continuing this universe in a sequel but it will follow a different character this time around. I hope to have it ready by the end of the year, maybe 2013. Right now, it’s still in the outline, rough draft stages so I don’t want to get into that right now, other than its coming.

My future projects are two Novelettes called Lost in a Dream-scape (tentative title) which is a high epic fantasy about a man who discovers their dreams may not have been dreams at all. And I also have The Tales of Captain Force, which follows a journalist as he discovers the secret of the heroic urban legend of his city.

Other than that, working on short stories I hope to have done before the summer rolls around.

The End Begins: The Nine

The End Begins: The Nine

Gwen: Last but certainly not least, what’s the best way for readers to find out more about you and the book?

Jeffrey: My blog, Stories of the Sleepless Mind, is updated most frequently with information about what I have going on which has not only has bi-weekly updates with prototype material of new stuff I’m working on, but interviews and nuggets of advice to my readers. There’s a link to a Wiki I’ve established giving more in depth information about ongoing projects and stuff I’ve published in the past. You can also find me on facebook and twitter, which is the best way outside my own e-mail to chat me up. I’m always interested with connecting with authors and readers!


The End Begins: The Nine is currently available at Amazon.com in both Kindle and print editions.

Worldbuilding: Extinction Events

Blood: The Brotherhood Saga

I am pleased to introduce to you my first guest blogger, Kody Boye, author of Blood: The Brotherhood Saga. Kody and I first connected on Facebook where I discovered this novel and became rapidly engrossed by the work (expect a review forthcoming). It’s currently available at Amazon. If, like me, you enjoy epic fantasy, I recommend picking up a copy.

But for now, on to the post!

* * *

Extinction Events
A guest post by Kody Boye.

It became prevalent early on within the writing of the Brotherhood saga that much of the world and the sentient creatures that populated it had already died off. Due to human encroachment, disease, mass extinction events or all-out genocide, several races that bore intelligent thought within the world of Minonivna perished or are in the process of dying off as the first book begins.

You might be wondering after reading the introductory paragraph: Why?

Why did entire species have to die off, you ask? Simple: they just did.

If we are to follow what the fossil record shows, there have been many a man (or things resembling men) that have fallen to the greater acts of nature. Who can forget the Neanderthals that roamed parts of Europe and Asia or, more recently, homo floresiensis (better known as the Hobbit) in Indonesia? These are only two of the many examples of sentient, human-like creatures that existed on planet Earth throughout its billions of years of existence, yet they died out. Nature is a cruel and savage beast, as she whittles out many a creature either through predation or natural disaster. Many a theory has been proposed about how the Neanderthals died out (climate change and lack of food, interbreeding with or being killed off by homo sapiens.) Even the Hobbit is believed to have been wiped out by a volcanic eruption that completely annihilated its species, so to think that such species-killing disasters are common are not entirely out of the question.

However, though history has shown that life on Earth has a tendency to die out, what does that mean for life in a fictional setting? Why kill of entire races of creatures when a world builder can avoid such atrocities?

There’s a few reasons.

Reason numero uno is simple—I wanted there to be depth and realism to the world. Earth’s history has shown that life, especially dominant or intelligent life, has a predisposition to death. I wanted to explore the concept of mortality within the world I call Minonivna, particularly because it’s interesting to see the demise of grand creatures, but also because it makes a more well-rounded world for there to be extinctions.

The second reason, and possibly the more complex of the two, is the idea that humanity may have played a role in killing off some of their fellow sentients. This theory has been proposed particularly for homo erectus (what we modern humans are.) We have, over the course of several millions of years, hunted dozens upon dozens of animals to extinction. Off the top of my head in but a moment alone, I can name: the Moa bird in New Zealand, who was killed by foreigners by stealing their eggs after settling on the island; the Thylacine, who was hunted to extinction in Australia; the Yangtze River Dolphin, who was killed for food and poisoned by garbage dumps in China; and the Passenger Pigeon, which was wiped out in a mass hunt in North America. These are only a few of the creatures who, though not sentient in any way, were wiped out by humanity. Since there are no modern examples of humanity wiping out something that is capable of thinking intelligently and with a conscience, I wanted to explore the idea of human cruelty or ignorance and how, through rash choices and decisions, our actions may have killed off creatures that may have compared to us emotionally.

What kind of creatures were or are in the process of being killed off within the Brotherhood universe, you ask?

Allow me to demonstrate.

The Centaurs were a race of humanoid equine creatures that existed within a part of the world southwest of the Northern Coastline called The Whooping Hills. With a human torso connected to an equine lower half, they lived in tribal structures and hunted local wildlife. Called ‘abominations’ by modern humanity due to the belief that they were ‘created by horse demons who slept with women,’ they were hunted to extinction.

Further southwest, beyond the Whooping Hills, exists a place known as the Abroen Forest—a vast, sprawling forest that is commonly known as the home of the Elves. Within the forest exists a multitude of intelligent or somewhat-sentient life. A race of rat creatures known as the Unclean were hunted to death in a mass genocide by the Elves. Known as the Great Hunt, the creatures were hunted to extinction because the Elves could not prevent the creatures from preying on and killing their children.

Beyond the coast of Minonivna, in an arctic wasteland known as Neline, a race of upright-walking bear creatures known as the Kerma are afflicted with a flesh disease that creates tumors along the body that rot through flesh, bone and, eventually, the matter of the inner body. Though not yet extinct within The Brotherhood Saga, the creatures’ numbers are rapidly declining. No source to the disease has been found, though it is believed by the Kerma people that human settlers brought the illness to the island that is ultimately decimating their numbers.

Within the world of The Brotherhood, I tried to create a realistic background in regards to not only humanity, but the creatures that coexist or have coexisted around them. It’s a harsh stretch to destroy entire creatures that could have added a positive dimension to the story, but as a writer, and as a world builder, I believe killing them creates a more well-rounded, three-dimensional world.


Kody Boye

Kody Boye was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. Since his initial publication in the Yellow Mama Webzine in 2007, he has gone on to sell nearly three-dozen stories to various markets. He is the author of the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella The Diary of Dakota Hammell, the zombie novel Sunrise and the first book in The Brotherhood Saga, Blood. His fiction has been described as ‘Surreal, beautiful and harrowing’ (Fantastic Horror,) while he himself has been heralded as a writer beyond his years (Bitten by Books.) He currently lives and writes in the Austin, Texas area.

Tools for Authors: Kindlegraph

I’d planned to write a post about the difference between yWriter and Scrivener but because of a number of things (including the snopocalypse in western Washington), I haven’t put enough time into using Scrivener to feel that I’d do a fair job of it.  So instead, I’d like to spotlight a tool called Kindlegraph.

Kindlegraph is a tool that allows authors to autograph e-books, at least those formatted for Kindle.

How it works:

1) You sign up as an author, preferably using your Twitter account.

2) Upload your books.  The site will search the Amazon database for you so this part is fairly easy.

3) When you have an autograph request, it will pop up (within about a minute, in my experience) in your inbox.  Click on that and you will see the name of the person who requested your autograph.

4) Go to “sign” the book.  This screen will look like the one below: 

Image

Here are a couple of things to know about signing your book.  First, Kindlegraph will force you to put something in that top box.  If you want the entire inscription to show up in your handwriting, I’d recommend just putting a period there.  

Secondly, you’ll have to write everything in that second box using your mouse.  Unless you’re fantastic with a mouse or trackpad, my advice?  Try it with a tablet.  Or resign yourself to having the signature of a first-grader.

I initiated the process myself and discovered a couple other things from the fan perspective.  The kindlegraph can’t be edited or resent by the author once completed (if any of you find differently, please let me know).  

The other thing–and this isn’t obvious–is that Amazon may bounce the signature back if it thinks that it’s spam.  In that case, the reader may never get their signature from you.

To avoid that, I recommend you tell readers in advance to add the email signature “@kindlegraph.com” to their approved senders list for Kindle.  This can be found by using these settings: 

1. Visit Manage Your Kindle page.
2. Sign-in to Amazon account. 
3. Go to “Personal Document Settings” under “Your Kindle Account”.
4. Under “Approved Personal Document E-mail List” click “Add a new approved e-mail address”.
5. Enter the e-mail address to approve and select “Add Address.”
6. Instruct the sender to resend the document. 

Is Kindlegraph a good tool?  I think it will be.  I can’t count the number of people who have said they were waiting for print in order to get a signed copy.  Those publishing in e-only might like this tool for that reason.

But does it have far to go?  Yes, I think that having no ability to resend autographs is a major problem.  I’d like the ability to edit as well, should the signature somehow get written incorrectly (misspelled names, etc).  But this is definitely a step in the right direction.

A few thoughts on Nano…

Before I launch into this year’s Nano, I thought that it would be good to spend some time on a blog entry to talk a little about process. It helps for me to have a clarifying post and while I’m not sure about other writers, I know that one of the things I always wonder about writers I know is “well, how do THEY do it?” (Like many authors, I am an inherantly, if secretly, nosy person at heart.)

My three personal goals for Nano:

1) I plan to write every single day. Unlike others, I’m not concentrating on word count. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t work for me. I find that failure to meet word count, for me, often turns into feeling like I failed. Writing isn’t about that but rather, about finding your own path to the story you want to tell.

My main goal is to finish a chapter a week. That’s more than enough to be getting on with. 🙂

2) I will encourage myself FOR writing every single day. It doesn’t matter if I write one sentence. It doesn’t matter if I write 4000 words. There are days in every writer’s life where just sitting down and writing that single sentence–only doing that much is the accomplishment. And it’s important to celebrate yourself for writing.

My daughter Amaranth told me after I finished the Universal Mirror as I was having a moment of panic about whether or not I could sell it that it didn’t matter. She pointed out that the real accomplishment was the fact that I’d written the novel and that was what my family and I should be proud of. Fantastic advice from a 14 year-old girl and advice that I’ll hold close to my heart always.

3) Even if I don’t like the story at points, even if I hate my characters, I will keep going. There comes a crisis point for me with every bit of writing I do where I think it’s awful (then I look back on it and doesn’t understand why I believed that). If I have to set that chapter aside and write “finish this later” at the end in order to keep going, I will do that and be unafraid.

There is always the editing process, after all.

…so those are my three goals. What about the rest of you?

One world… a few thoughts on GLBT characters in fiction

marriage - courtesy morguefile.com

Courtesy of morguefile.com


One of the articles that has been traveling through my corner of the internet this week is this Genreville post about how Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith tried to find representation for a YA novel featuring a gay character. The reaction to it is, as I’d expect, furious but both the subject and how people have reacted has raised some interesting discussions in my own household.

In the interest of full disclosure, I identify as gay and live openly with my intersexed partner who presents as female. I work at a very supportive institution who’s never made me or my family feel any lesser because of my sexuality or my partner’s gender ambiguity (and yes, we’re open about that too). We (and our three children) live in Tacoma which is definitely a “live and let live” kind of city. We don’t get harassed in public, our children have never been bullied at school.

In short, I operate from a position of gay privilege. While yes, I’ve experienced difficulties in my life due to my sexuality, I’ve managed to deal with many of them. I feel that this informs this post in part and thus I wanted to say it.

As a lesbian author, the Brown-Smith situation was distressing to hear. However, it made me consider what I’ve read in GLBT YA and what I’d like to see more of in GLBT characters in fiction in general, as well as how my own desires informed the novel that I completed this year, The Universal Mirror.

GLBT characters in fiction are too often driven by their sexualities. One of my friends talks about being tired of seeing “the coming-out story” and I completely relate to that. It’s an important story, yes, but it tends to be a constant and consistent theme of GLBT fiction. It’s very rare to see a story in which there is a GLBT character who’s comfortable with their sexuality before the book even begins. I’d love to read more books with young lesbian protagonists who know they likes girls from the outset and have even had relationships. (Okay, I’d love to see more books with a young lesbian protagonist. But that’s a whole different issue and one not to be addressed in this post but rather by writing my own book.)

The other aspect that drives me a little nuts here is that so many of these characters are their sexuality and in a more prominent way than straight characters are. A lot of that feeling is personal bias–when I tell people what I like, it tends to be things like “lampworking” and “history” and “George R.R. Martin,” rather than “women.” (Okay, so “redheads” may slip in from time to time but we all have our foibles.) I’m not sure I think of my sexuality as a defining part of my personality–it just is. My toes don’t define my personality either–they’re just part of the bigger picture of me.

And so in my own novel, while I have a gay character, I don’t think that he’s defined by his sexuality despite the fact that the society he lives in isn’t particularly open to or conducive towards it. I was much more concerned about what his family life was like, why he carried a sword constantly, and what he had to do with the Council that he serves. His sexuality informed some of those decisions but it doesn’t define the character. To me, Felix was interesting because of who he was–not that he happened to be gay. Nor is his sexuality the driver of the main plot–in fact, it’s peripheral at best.

An author who did this beautifully (and is a better example than a novel that’s currently under negotiation) is Lynn Flewelling. Her book, Stalking Darkness, presents gay characters without throwing a ton of focus on their sexuality. The plot is involved and intriguing and the characters have a lot of interesting traits. For me, where that series actually started to fall down, was when the characters began a relationship and proceeded to spend the next books angsting about the whole thing. (But that is the point where it became a coming-out story which, as I noted above, I’ve lost some patience for.)

Other authors/books that deal with GLBT characters in a way that I admire include Octavia Butler, Karen Lowachee, and Maureen F. McHugh. Each one of them deserves a post of their own in regards to what they write. I wish that I had male authors on this list as I look at it–clearly, I need to reexamine my own reading choices somewhat. 🙂

To jump subjects slightly, another aspect of the Brown-Smith situation that bothered me was in how people in my associated internet circles reacted to it or rather, felt that they needed to react. I noticed that most of what I read of people’s feelings on this came in locked or filtered posts and I found that troubling.

The fact that authors felt that they themselves had to ally with Brown and Smith by sharing their feelings but not openly is disturbing. It validates that situation. Am I myself jeopardizing my own hopes of a novel contract by sharing these thoughts publicly on a site that is clearly mine?

Yet, I can’t help but wonder if it doesn’t exacerbate the problem. If publishers don’t see how many of us are writing about it–writing long blog screeds, in fact–how will they know that we want to see GLBT characters? And as I’ve said before in conversations of race and SF, maybe we all need to make more effort to put more of these characters in our own works, even just in the background, and encourage others to do the same. And by “encourage,” I mean, in part, nuture and coach for those trying to write about people that they aren’t rather than to tear them down for doing so.

Our world is not one race, one gender, or one sexuality. Let’s make it so in our fiction as well.