Archive for the ‘author babble’ Category

Dear Author has links to a couple of articles about the current wave of interest in the “below-stairs” part of upstairs-downstairs stories here and here, with a little bit of discussion in the comments on the American intersection with British portrayals of a servant class, and the high interest in historical fiction (in books or on TV).

It sent me into a nostalgia about various moments and missteps of the past. About umpteen years ago, I was intrigued/surprised/amazed when I found out that a very young guy (whom I had an enormous crush on) had trained to become a butler with one of those extremely butlery, old-school butlers (the consultant on one of those butlery movies–I’m going to say Gosford Park). It hadn’t occurred to me that there would be young men aspiring to the profession and with the same sort of air about them as you’d see in someone from a previous generation, and even if so, I didn’t expect I’d ever meet and get all starry-eyed over a butler. I mistakenly thought he was starry-eyed over me too. Said young guy had been hired by a family in the US and took his butlering very seriously, with an almost OCD level of attention to detail. He took what I considered enormously nitpicky tasks from his employers in stride.

Crass young idiot that I was, I often found myself thinking (though not saying, thank goodness), “Why do you have to do that–don’t you just hire someone for that?” Of course, when I thought of hiring someone, it meant looking up someone in the phonebook or online, not having staff. My family’s aristocratic days are a long, long time past. Although I still only vaguely ever know where the vacuum cleaner is.

The crush fell apart when he expressed surprise that there were actually women in the US (not me) who were refined (apparently not me) by going to finishing schools and who had a high level of class and sophistication (unlike, if I’m honest I should admit, me). Ironically, my high school was originally one of those finishing schools for ladylike refinement, but by the time I got to it they must have been leaving us ladies rough edged and half baked.

If I had been a proper Romance reader back then, I think I’d have handled the whole thing better, or at least would have had a good quip in reply. And it would be something better than “I’m classy! I don’t know where the vacuum cleaner is, or how to use that nozzle attachment thing!”

I may also have wondered if this was the part of the novel where the couple has the Misunderstanding.

But instead, the experience enters the “maybe it will inspire a novel someday” idea book. The heroine will  have a good quip–and if she’s coarse and unrefined and says unintentionally insulting things about a respectable and hard-working profession and reacts to having a crush by drinking herself silly at a party and obsessing over vacuum cleaners…that’ll all be part of her appeal.


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Girl cooties

I haven’t been very posty the past couple of weeks, which I’d like to blame on being consumed by NaNoWriMo, but which is mostly due to a heavy workload at the day job. But I’ve been babbling in the comments sections of other blogs, and there’s an interesting conversation going on at Jessewave’s about female characters in m/m. It broadened in the comments into a discussion about f/m scenes in m/m (and vice versa). Angela Benedetti wrote an insightful reply bouncing off one of my comments—reposted on her own blog—about staying true to a story versus compromising on content in order to reach more readers, and it’s well worth a read. It certainly left me feeling more inspired to finish the NaNo project and less fretful about the potential audience/market for The Knife of Narcissus.

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My NaNoWriMo project is moving along non-sequentially (word count 2,522! whoo? today’s target should be 5,000 words). Since the story currently consists of snippets here and there, planning the outlines of the chapters, it’s going to be a little bit hard to post excerpts from it for now. Instead, to fill up the “free reads” section, I think I’ll post in serial format a novel I wrote in my teens and early twenties, and you can judge whether it still has legs. I even printed up/published-online part of it, way back in the days before doing eBooks was so easy. I just have to decide if I want to link my juvenalia with my current wanton erotica fic 🙂

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I blathered so much on the Dear Author blog about this, I figure I should gather my comments together here just for the record. It was in response to fan reaction to the ending of Allegiant, the third book in Veronica Roth’s dystopian YA series (soon to be a major motion picture, etc. etc.); and another YA author, John Green, complaining that young readers whose hearts were broken are “wrong” about how to read books and have an obligation to be generous to the text (his words). There was a moderately long discussion on Dear Author (only 50 comments at this point, so actually not that long), and I’m sure the conversation has been longer elsewhere. It reminded me of some of the books of my tweenhood and teenhood that broke my heart, and one in particular that feels like a close parallel to the Allegiant situation. Mostly, I just find myself irritated by Green’s comments, which are rather silly, bumptious, and removed from reality.

It seems terribly disingenuous to write novels with a goal of bringing out strong emotions and fierce engagement from young readers, and particularly from teenagers craving emotional heights, and then when they react with fierce emotion to tell them they’re doing their feelings wrong. Young-adulthood is tumultuous enough without telling kids their own emotions are incorrect. I don’t know that Roth is saying this, or whether she’s graciously rolling with the reactions to the story she wanted to tell; but Green should know better than to tut-tut at readers.

Should readers, teen or adult, be threatening an author over an unsatisfactory ending? Of course not—and I have no objection to sitting anyone who does that down and giving them a firm discussion on inappropriate reaction and going over the line. Does the creator of anything “owe” people specific outcomes? No—though it may affect sales/viewership. But there’s no profit in informing people they’re incorrect to feel passion, love, elation, satisfaction, or downright hate over a story, or even over just the spoiler about a beloved story, if they’ve already invested emotional energy into living in the world.

Especially when so much of the fan base is female. Girls are told much too often that they’re doing it wrong, what with all their silly girly emotions.


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Some free reads

My current project after Knife of Narcissus is a mystery (by genre, that is) as well as m/m romance. I don’t have a huge depth of experience writing mysteries, and I’m sure this story will be more “mystery light/relationship heavy.” I’m considering making it a free WIP here on the site rather than a project for publication–the site will have some content, folks will get to see my writing style, and writing my first full-length mystery novel can be a fun online serial project.

Watch this space for more info.

Also: it is highly likely to be set in the ancient world. Just so you’re warned.

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Knife of Narcissus is finished. It’s been beta read. An excellent editorial team (with expert, specialized knowledge!) is going through all 150,000 words of it to stomp out any silliness. It’s almost ready to take its first true steps out into the world. So I should be ready, too.

My hope for this blog is to entertain readers, intrigue you, and encourage you to try out a story or two, but I’m not much of a blogger. Yet! Maybe the more I write, and the more I put the stories out there, the more I’ll start getting into the fun of chatting with anyone who happens to find them. Step one, I’ll start linking to this URL–so I’d better get this blog in order!

The current plan is to submit the serial to a publisher that I like quite a bit (who, if they accept the manuscript, of course will want their own round of editing). Depending on how that goes–if it doesn’t go, I mean–I’d like to try the self-publishing route.

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I should add bio information and so forth to the site. Maybe some pretty illustrations. And giveaways! Goodies! Fun! Also, a lot of sexed-up historicals. Because that is what I write.

Such as this one:

KNIFE OF NARCISSUS is a serial in 7 parts, an m/m romance set in ancient Rome–but not the usual cast of gladiators (although there are some) and senators (although there are some) and angst-ridden legionary centurions (none of those). Each part is about 3 chapters long and 20,000-30,000 words. The current plan is to find a publisher for it rather than self-publish. We’ll see how this goes!

Preview an excerpt from Chapter I

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