Mini-Musing 11/27/17 ~ I did it!


This is a big step for me. 

I had already started my new work, Gunslinger Witch, so I couldn’t do NaNoWriMo 2017, however like many of my fellow authors I did follow along.  Tonight, I broke the 50K mark at 52,315!

Go me.

Now of course, many of my fellow authors have also reached this goal but why do I say this is a big step?  Because I haven’t written this much since – forever.  Seriously.  The last full-length work I wrote was Memory in Shadow.  Afterwards, when it didn’t do as well as I would have liked, it became nearly impossible for me to write anything.  It wasn’t just that, it was also the writing defeat I’ve mentioned on a few occasions.  These two things combined thoroughly beat my Muse down.

Before it happened, I could finish a work within one to three months, as previously stated.  I haven’t been able to do that for decades.  It took me five years to finish Tinderbox and that was because life kept getting in the way.  It wasn’t always good.

Then an atomic bomb was dropped on me.  I lost my job of ten years.  I was WAY STRESSED!  As evidenced by my Muses sudden influx of energy that had me writing new short stories for the first time in well – forever. So, in a sense at least writing-wise it was a good thing.

I’m going to take a little break and maybe play some videogames and chill for a bit, then I’m going to finish and will have it ready for editing, probably within another two to three months, depending.  I just wish I could buy a bottle of champagne.  Oh well, someone have a few glasses for me, OK?

Peace~

CJ

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Musing 10/16/17 – Are We Getting Too Old For This Sh**? Part 2 or: “So now blogs are obsolete?”

Well peeps, in about 12 days, I’ll be hitting a milestone birthday –that’s right, I’ll be um – 30.  Forget what I said about being 33 last year.

I’m taking a bit of a break from my current WIP, tentatively titled Gunslinger Witch, although my friend Robin says I should be careful it’s not confused with Stephen King’s, The Gunslinger.  I told him that was unlikely to happen.  I personally was thinking people may confuse it with the anime Gunslinger Girl.

OK, that’s not the subject of this Musing however.

I’m not a big newsletter reader.  I am subscribed to a few, mainly informational, genre-specific books or current markets accepting submissions.  One of the newsletters I receive is C. Hope Clark’s (You are absolutely fabulous, BTW), Funds for Writers.  The topic of her most recent newsletter?  How the blog is now passé.

It is?

Maybe she’s right.  In all the years I’ve had this blog I’ve had some wonderful people stop by and of course I appreciate it but not many at any given time.

On the other hand…

See above.  I don’t like a lot of newsletters crowding my in-box and I am very particular about the ones I choose.  I know that comes off a bit bougie.  My apologies.  I had a newsletter a long time ago when I had my published works out and it no more sent people here or to my site than any other social media type.  I ended up shutting it down a while ago.  Many of the email addresses were gone and no one bothered to let me know.

Also, people unless it’s specifically set up that way, people can’t respond to a newsletter.  I wanted to voice my opinion on the subject but there’s no way to do so.  Maybe she had some bad experiences with commenters and I certainly can’t blame her for making commenting impossible if that’s the case.

I want to hear from my readers.  I want to know their thoughts on various subjects.  Of course, that doesn’t mean someone can come on my blog and act like they don’t have any common sense or home training.  But I’m always interested in a good discourse.

So of course, I must look into this further.

Now the first things that came up in a search using, the term, “Are blogs passé?”  Most articles were from business bloggers who responded with a resounding no.  I couldn’t find anything very recent.  The first was from 2015.  A 2013 New York Times article touching on the removal of several of their blogs, the author asks why and are blogs outdated?  She received the usual corporate responses.  However, readers were quite vocal about the disappearances and said so.

There was another blog owner who asked himself this question because his readership was dwindling.  I give them props because they were doing fan better than I am but they said no matter what they would continue although that last post was March of 2016.

Jane Friedman has a guest blogger write an article back in 2013 on concerning the subject.  It was quite interesting.  Simon & Schuster apparently requires them.  Well, at least they did back then, I doubt that’s changed.  The author suggested to an aspiring author to become an editor for a site where she was managing editor.  But she also encourages new writers to do so however experienced writers should find larger platforms that they can contribute to if they’re looking to promote their work.  Well right at this second, I don’t have that problem.

I tightened my search parameters: “Is the author blog passé/out of date?”

Nothing specific came up.  Most of it was either how to work on your blog or the best author blogs.  I tried one more time, “Is the blog out of date?”  Mainly suggestions on updating blogs and deleting posts came up.

I’d be interested in knowing how Ms. Clark came to that conclusion or was it just personal preference?  I of course can only give my opinion which is this – it really depends on the person doing the reading.  Blogs are good for people who prefer to get their author news online instead of via email.  I can go either way myself.

I wonder how she feels about podcasts?

*****

I’m finding more things that are confusing the you-know-what out of me.  Apparently, six-guns and sorcery is now being replaced with gunpowder fantasy.  I have to admit it does sound better.  I’ve also seen something called latte-lit.  Anybody have any idea what it is specifically?  Books about coffee?  Books you can read with coffee?  I thought all books could be read while drinking coffee.  I do it all the time.

So of course, we must turn to the internet.

Apparently, I’m not the only one asking this question!

You know an explanation or references would be nice when people make these things up.

The only references I could find were a year-old posting on Agent Query, and it was still anybody’s guess.  All of a sudden, I want a latte and it’s after 8:00 PM.

Next thing, the acronym, STEM (or STEAM).  From what I gathered, it means books about:

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING and MATH.

When it applies to kids it means books that makes these subjects easy and fun to learn.  It would have been nice to have some books like these when I was growing up.  But here are some links which discuss the genre and gives examples:

The Educator’s Spin on It:

https://theeducatorsspinonit.com/2014/11/stem-books-for-children.html

Teach Beside Me:

https://teachbesideme.com/stem-books-kids/

What We Do All Day:

https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/tag/steam/

13 Cool STEM Books for Kids Who Love Science (and More)

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/13-cool-stem-books-for-kids-who-love-science-and-more

So, what have you seen that is confusing the you-know-what out of you?  Comment and I’ll work my magic.

Peace~

CJ

Read my previous blog posting:

Musing 9/12/17 ~ Are We Getting Too Old For This S***?

Mini-Musing: 09/17/17 ~ It’s Hard to Let Go

With all the Musings, I’ve been writing for the past few weeks you would think this would be easier.

I’m considering letting my work go.

It took me five years to write my work mainly due to life throwing all types of crap at me and I’ve actually gotten some positive feedback not to mention a few requests for full copies. And before this, I had NEVER received requests for full copies. So of course, I realized that I had to be doing something right. The only problem is, so far none of the requests for a full have panned out. I think of the maybe six I’ve been asked for, only one agent has actually responded, although it was a rejection at least I wasn’t left hanging.

Of course, time has passed and IMHO my writing continues to improve or at least I like to think that it has. But any author will tell you when faced with this decision, it fills you with doubt. You wonder, what’s the point of starting something new? Maybe you just can’t write, pure and simple. Then your Muse tells you, “But the industry had shown interest!” But it’s difficult to keep that in your mind when nothing comes of it. It’s sort of like, when an author receives nine five-star review but the tenth review is a one-star. We focus on that one-star review. It drives us insane. We wonder for weeks or months what we did wrong. Which is why I, and many of my fellow writers, concentrate on our writing instead.

And if you’ve read my previous Musings, you will see my comments on current trends in the industry and what types of works are being requested. Not much that I want to write, so it’s hard to decide if I should go into semi-retirement or something like I mentioned before.

I’ve also mentioned while I’ve been hanging out that I have a new idea kicking around in my head but quite frankly, I have no idea if it will fit the current trends. Now of course, the last thing any author wants to do is write to trends. They can end in an instant. It’s just that this particular work, which I thought of long before this whole issue of Afrofuturism came into play, may just fit the trend. Notice I said may. It makes it near impossible to decide.

What can I do?

Well I suppose, write.

Everything else will likely work itself out.

Peace~

CJ

Musing 9/12/17 ~ Are We Getting Too Old For This S***?

This Musing is actually going to handle a couple of subjects that are on my mind right now.  I ask for your patience.  If you haven’t already you may wish to read my two previous Musings which are companions to this one.

Yesterday, I’m sitting in my car in the parking lot of a small shopping center when my phone pings with a message.  I’m following agent Quressa Robinson, with Nelson Literary on Twitter to whom I just sent Tinderbox so I took a moment to glance at it:

Afrofuturism + high/epic fantasy = Happy Me.

Umm…. what exactly is Afrofuturism?

I did ask the agent on Twitter but I haven’t received a response yet.  I also asked if she could provide some examples.  If I receive a response, I’ll post an update.  When I got home, I asked Big Brother what he thought it meant and he didn’t know either.  And he’s much older.  Best guess it was something that combined a futuristic setting with magic but maybe combined with African lore?  We weren’t quite certain.

Now at the time he was watching BraveStarr, if any of my peeps remembers it and I said, “Maybe something like that?”  Big Brother thought that was highly likely although neither of us were certain.

So, I went upstairs to my office, got on the PC and looked it up:

“Afrofuturism is a literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of color, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrofuturism

And now I’m even more confused.  Big Brother was too when I showed him the definition.  I then pinged my BFF and fellow writer, Kelli and asked her if she had any idea what it meant.  Sorry the print is so small.  Here’s an abridged version of our conversation:

musing 1

musing 2

musing 3

Young Adult and Middle Grade ANYTHING seems to be the big thing lately.  The ones I chose were merely requests that caught my eye.  There were many that were alike in some ways and other I felt the need to comment.  Once again, I’m not trying to offend anyone.  this is just my humble opinion.  Some particular ones I saw:

musing 4

OK, this would be interesting but personally the only experience I’ve had with a sideshow is the story I wrote of the same name.  And I’m not a big circus fan, well not anymore.  I think I’ve been to a circus only once in my lifetime.  So this isn’t something I would want to write.

musing 5

I’ve only seem clips of Moonstruck but I love the scene where Cher slaps the guy and says, “Snap out of it!”  Although from the plot, I’d wonder, is this something young adults would like?  Then again, I’m an old lady so maybe it is.

Why do some agents want stories about toxic friendships?  Saying they “like” that type of story?  I’ve had toxic friendships and you know what I learned?  To end them as soon as I realized that’s what it was.  Also, something I wouldn’t like to write.

musing 9

My work is speculative fiction with a non-white MC.  Unfortunately, my experiences with this agency have been less than idea.

And I’m still trying to figure out what PB is.  It’s probably very simple.  One of those snakes it would have bit me, things but I do like this idea.

Musing 11

 

But how would you define that?  People of color can see the world in a myriad of ways, depending on their upbringing and where they are from, among other things.  A person of color who was raised in the inner city may carry themselves differently from someone who was raised in the suburbs.

musing 12

Hmm…he may just like Immortal Stream.  I’m keeping him in mind.

musing 13

I’m assuming this means that she wants a WOC to write a story about the MC involving themselves in forbidden fruit?  That’s what the quince is known as, apparently (https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-quince-1705661), the Greek Forbidden Fruit, otherwise, I’m really confused by this.  Like what?  Dating someone outside of their race?  Very few people, at least no one I know, considers that forbidden fruit anymore.  So what else is there?

 

 

musing 15

Sigh…

It’s 5:29 pm EST and it looks like the #MSWL Twitter Feed is winding down for the night.  Can’t believe I was looking at it for four hours but research is research. I have lots of ideas but I’m not seeing any requests that match my writing and/or interests.  As previously stated, many of the requests were for diverse or LGBTQI, YA/MG.  There was little to no fantasy of any type requested, mainly asking for was historical, romance or contemporary.  Some suspense and just a dash of horror.

Can I write within these genres?  Yes.  Do I want to? No.  And I’m afraid if I start something new the trends will change by the time I’m finished.  I just saw a post on the #MSWL feed that asked a perfectly legitimate question –

“When did adults stop reading?”

I mean, I still do – well I try to anyway and although at times, I’ll read a certain YA book, I’d rather read about adults myself.  And I like to think adults are craving good books.  I’ve written YA before and when I did, this was long before it was popular.  Not to mention the internet was in its infancy and there was no social media or things like MSWL or Query Tracker.  This was before many writing venues existed online so it was really hard to see what was popular.  When I was fighting to get my YA published, the response I usually got was they weren’t accepting it, although it never said so on their websites or that; “This is a good story, but our plates are full.”  Even though again, no indication that they closed to queries.  Then came my writing defeat and I was pretty much through with the YA trade.

So, I’m sitting here thinking, maybe I’ll go into semi-retirement.  I’ve said over and over I don’t want to quit writing.  It’s very easy to do quit though, I’ve tried it a dozen times.

And although I have an idea kicking around in my brain, I haven’t decided if it was going to be young adult or adult.  I was leaning towards the latter.  And it’s epic fantasy, although I’m thinking of maybe adding six guns and sorcery as part of the deal.  No weird stuff though.

But the fact is, I’m not going to write something I’m not in love with, no more than literary agents will offer representation on a book they are not in love with.  Maybe someday, hopefully in the near future, there will be a market for what I write again.

I just hope it doesn’t take too long.  I’m a mature woman after all.

Peace~

CJ

 

Musings 9/7/17: What Exactly is Diversity in Writing?

It’s called Diverse Voices, Own Voices or Marginalized Voices and more recently BAME – I just saw this for the first time yesterday so really, I don’t know how long this has been in use but if I’m using the right definition according to Acronymfinder.com it is, BLACK, ASIAN & MINORITY ETHNIC.  It’s called many things but what exactly do they mean?

I see that raised eyebrow.  Read a bit further before you come to a conclusion.

I asked the question on FaceBook.  Here is the original post:

I’m planning a Musing on the subject but first I would like the opinion of my fellow authors. With your permission, I would like to use your comments in my post. Question to ponder: What do you think agents/editors mean when they say they want *diverse voices*? What does *diverse voices* mean to you?

**Addition 7:23 pm** – What does this mean for speculative fiction?

Two of my FB friends were kind enough to provide their opinion in the matter:

Rhi Etzweiler commented, “Not a narrow cross section of any given culture or social class. Diversity and divergent characters. Voices that aren’t all thinking alike, parroting one another. Exploration of alternative perspectives, regardless of where the focal point stands.”

“For speculative fiction, I’d take “diverse voices” to mean a challenge to explore that which isn’t mundane and familiar to society and culture as humanity manifests it. Outside the comfort zone, way outside the box. Something profound, alien, challenging, to even the outlier perspectives of contemporary society.”

Jamie Harmon Nare commented, “Own voices stories – authors who write stories from their experience be they people of color or LGBTQ or have suffered with mental illness. But also, what Rhi Etzweiler said. I was trying to think of examples but all of the ones I come up are YA like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas or Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson.”

It seems that’s the big thing nowadays and I want to be certain that I’m understanding the concept as it can be interpreted, I believe, in a number of ways.  It seems all agents, editors and publishers want these types of works – well that and young adult.  I’ve always believed that any author should write for themselves first and then for the readers, agents, publishers and so on.  For this Musing, I’m focusing on literary agents, since I’m currently searching for one.

All of the information you see is taken from the Manuscript Wish List or agent sites and social media pages and all quotes have the agent information attached to them.  It is not my attention to plagiarize anything, however, these words are a part of their submission guidelines which are meant to be read by all.

A few of the things I’ve seen:

“Actively looking for: BAME and #ownvoices authors across all ages and genres…”

Alice Sutherland-Hawes

Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency

 “I am particularly interested in OwnVoices (Indigenous, African/African American, Asian, Latino/a/x, Muslim and other religious minorities, people with disabilities*, Multiracial/Multicultural, LGBTQ, etc) and Inclusive Narratives…”

Quressa Robinson

D4EO Literary Agency

I must note that Ms. Robinson has very specific examples for what she would like to see, which you can also view on the Manuscript Wish List.  Explanations like that are of great help, as it leaves no doubts as to what she is looking for.  The excerpt there is from her Tumbler page.

“Diversity in genre fiction is dear to Tricia’s heart.  As an agent, Tricia wants to represent authors who reflect diversity and cultures in their work.”

Tricia Skinner

Fuse Literary

“I want books by marginalized creators.”

“…breaking away from traditional Western tropes and archetypes.”

Jessie Devine

D4EO Literary Agency

Ms. Devine (I love that name!) is specific as well.  Why am I including her comment about Western tropes?  I’ll get into that a bit later.

“Monica is serious about the fact that We Need Diverse Books and is looking for authentic representation of all characters, diverse or otherwise.”

Monica Odom

Bradford Literary Agency

When I first started seeing these words, I wondered did it mean works written by people of color about people of color?  So as a Black woman I’m already covered?  Anything I write would be considered diverse?  Or are they saying in order to be truly diverse, I can only write about subjects that are related to my heritage and background?  I’ll touch on why that’s not something I want to do, later.  Is it the same for Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and every other culture in the world?  I don’t know about anyone else but this prospect makes me feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable.  Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it?  If this is a case then as a Black woman, I would have to write the next, The Hate U Give in order to have agents consider me as writing with a diverse voice?  I’ve seen many agents reference this particular work when saying what it is they want.

But what if I don’t want to write something like that?

It’s real life, you say?  Don’t I want to write about real life?

Nope.

Why?  Because I’m at an age where I’ve lived through and seen some effed-up s*** happen, so no I DON’T want to write about real life.  Most of it I’m trying to forget, which isn’t easy and those instances have had a profound effect on me.

Hence my love for fantasy.  It’s an escape.  That’s why it exists and that is NOT a bad thing.  I enjoy reading about and creating people, places and things not known to the mundane world.  For just a little while I get to relax and let my mind be filled by my words or the words of someone else.

OK, you say, why not write a fantasy set in Africa?  Based on African myth and legends?

I’m going to direct you somewhere else to answer that question.  Author S. Jae-Jones, was asked a similar question on her Tumbler page and her response is pretty much the same as mine.  I would suggest clicking on her name link and reading through, then come back here.  I’ll wait as usual….

Back?  OK, now go to her post on the Fantasy Café blog here, and read, then back here again.  Oh, and here’s where you can buy her debut novel, Wintersong on Amazon.  It’s on my TBR List.

I’m long past the point where I try to be what others think I should be because of where my ancestors came from.  And I have very little experience in that area.  I’m an original native of my state and have been exposed to all things American.  “Born and bred in the heart of the – Northeastern suburbia.”  Life was quiet and plain and there were times when I was truly grateful for that, considering the alternatives.  No one ever told me to look into where I came from.  Sure, I’m working on doing that now and maybe once I learn more I will write something like that but for now – no.

Big Brother once commented that even in my fantasy works, I write American.

I’m wondering if I’ve gotten my point across.  I’m really not certain and again, I’m not trying to upset anyone but I feel like I’m being told that what I write isn’t truly who I am and agents only seem to want writers and stories that are directly related to some supposed voice.  That just isn’t me.

And I wonder what their motivations are.  Is it just because this is the big thing nowadays?  The flavor of the month?  Is there going to be a point where the business states the market is oversaturated and now diverse voices are no longer needed?  Now that would be a tragedy!

The New York Times Magazine published an article by author Anna Holmes, on October 27, 2015; First Words, the question is asked, has the word diversity lost its meaning?  It begins with this sentence, “How does a word become so muddled that it loses much of its meaning?”

Ms. Holmes touches on many happenings concerning diversity, starting with some totally inappropriate remarks by a CEO which was followed by a lawsuit.  He apologized but it seemed half-hearted and according to Holmes, the word itself is a euphemism and a cliché only used when someone wants to prove they know what it actually entails.

And Ms. Holmes is correct when she writes that despite these supposed efforts to include diversity in the workplace most businesses are still woefully underrepresented.  And it appears that people who use this word, only do so to make themselves look like they’re actually doing the right thing.  The article goes onto state that no one really knows what diversity means and the definition changes depending on who is doing the talking.  When she was told that the reason why she was hired was because of a diversity push and her boss had received a bonus, she was understandably upset.  I don’t blame her, I would be too.  Wondering, am I being hired because of my ethnicity or because my talent is recognized?  Or in the case of publishing, are you accepting my submissions because of its written by a person of color or because I’ve written something entertaining?

One of my favorite directors, writers, and producers,  Ava DuVernay (she was the subject of one of my university papers!) says she personally hates the word.  It’s like medicine.  She prefers the words inclusion and belonging.  Frankly so do I.

OK again, back to the subject.  I know I’ve gone off on a tangent here but I feel that all subjects are related in a sense.  I believe this subject takes a lot of thought and consideration from all of us, no matter what business we happen to be in.

And what will I do?  Keep writing what I love.  A Black woman who writes EPIC FANTASY.  Where are the calls for diverse writers of EPIC FANTASY?  Notice I capitalized the words.  There are a few of us, yes, but how many years – decades even – did it take for the very few we have now to be accepted?  I did my research of course.  There are quite a few blog posts on this very same subject.  So far, the only two I managed to find of prominence are bestsellers, N.K. Jemisin and David Anthony Durham.

Wow.

I’ll keep looking and please feel free to post other authors of EPIC FANTASY.

So literary agents, editors and publishers, what do you say?  Wouldn’t you like to be responsible for bringing the next Jemisin or Durham into the spotlight?  And not just because they are people of color but because they write damn fine works in a genre that is barely touched on by people of color.  Although since you’re going for diversity that would work to your benefit as well.

Whoa, I had a lot to say, didn’t I?  And maybe I went all over the place but I feel the subjects I’ve touched on are all connected.  If you, as a publishing professional, want to do the right thing, then you need to look in all directions and not just what is the popular thing right now.  That is not being diverse.

So, we’ve seen a few opinions, I’ll try to get more, or if you’re so inclined, tell me what you feel diverse writing is in the comments.  If I get enough I’ll make a second post on the subject.  In the meantime—

Peace,

CJ

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