megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
1. Writer Nalo Hopkinson talks about being a writer with a non-verbal learning disability. But really, this is about her telling us why it's a learning ability, and why her brain is a good brain to have for a writer. If you've ever read her work, you'll know she has a fantastic brain for a writer, or for anyone! I recommend watching it ASAP. It's amazing.

2. Claudia Kishi, my Asian-American female role model of the 90's - Not just a nostalgic look back at a series of books that were awesome, and kind of important because hey, it was about girls. Lots of girls. And things girls do and not making them look frivolous or silly. This is why books like this matter. In case anyone wonders why having characters that are LIKE YOU matter, especially to young girls and young women of color. Warning: image heavy.

3. If the Internet wrote your summer reading. Yeah, yeah, it's collegehumor. I'm not their biggest fan either, but this article actually is somewhat funny. Also, anything that strips away the mystique and elevated status we give to Old Dead White Western Dude Literature is good by me.

4. How to Fold Fitted Sheets. Image heavy, but definitely will help you solve that fitted sheet problem if you have one. Or: yes, thank you! I, too, have always wanted to do this.

5. magic vs science, the fucking singularity, and anti-intellectualism by RequiresHate. Amazing post about some issues with U.S./Western white-dominated SF/F and how it's actually quite anti-intellectual.

6. Duty of Care by Justine Larbalestier. I have some strong and not happy feelings about this post, especially when it comes to this quote:

To be totally honest I mostly write for the teenager I was and the adult I am. I write stories that interest and engage me. That those stories fall into the publishing niche that is YA is a happy accident. And that some teenagers find them entertaining/useful/inspiring/whatever is an even happier accident.

I am sorry that we YA writers are not portraying the kind of world you think is suitable for your teenagers. But I have a solution. Why not write your own books?

I don't have an organized response to this, but I do have some basic gut reactions. Reactions beneath the cut to spare those who don't really care. )

Like I said, I don't have an organized response to this and I'm still feeling out why that rankles. But there it is. Thoughts, internet?

Quick link!

Jun. 6th, 2012 11:23 am
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
How to Write Science Fiction on a Post-Colonial World over at SFSignal.

Having read all the responses, I was really taken by Jaymee Goh's response, particularly this bit:

But this question doesn’t always come from that frame; it usually comes from the frame of a historically dominant and oppressive group asking permission to do what it has always done to colonized groups: re-interpret the colonized’s experiences through the lens of the more powerful and privileged. So unless otherwise specified, I’m assuming this question refers to Western writers writing about non-Western cultures...

Why would a Westerner, with so much historically-granted permission and leeway, ask such a question? Why does no one ask, what kind of obstacles do writers from postcolonial groups face?

I can't help but agree wholeheartedly with Goh's entire response. I think it's really worth the time of everyone to read and think very carefully about.
megwrites: Grace Park. Because yeah, she IS that awesome. (grace park)
BoobieShips & TitRockets, a proper SF magazine in the true spirit of the genre.

Inspired by [ profile] shweta_narayan's equally boobsome cover in the same vein of thought.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I'm having sort of a genre related thought about ablism.

Right now I'm considering sci-fi, particularly SF set in the far future when humanity is far more technologically developed and there's sort of a theme that follows in this subset of the genre that bothers me a lot when I come across it, and that's the idea that nobody in the future will ever be disabled. Disease have been erased! Genetic abnormalities sorted out! There's a pill or treatment or medi-pod for anything that ails you!

It seems as though when science fiction envisions a better, or at least more advanced, version of humanity it is one without disability, and thus one without disabled people. When you imagine a future without disability, it is a future in which you imagine that there are no disabled people.

I'm sure someone will rush to say, "No! No! They'll exist, they just won't be disabled, that's all! They'll be cured in the future, isn't that great?"

Not so great, actually.

First, because we are not in the future, thus when you say such statements, you're impacting actual people in here and now. You're saying, "Wow, won't it be great when you're not like that anymore. When you're different?" Which is saying, "The way you are now is not okay."

Second, because your idea of "great" is finding ways to make disabled people "normal". I put scare quotes around normal because, well, normal is about the most oppressive, offensive, evil word in my vocabulary.

More people have suffered more evil and oppression on this Earth because they didn't fit somebody else's idea of "normal" than any other single thing I can think of. "Oh, look, people of a different culture and race! They're not normal! Let's shoot them with these nifty guns we have and take over their lands and then tell complete lies about them!" or "Oh, look, those other people there are having sexual relations with the wrong people. They're not normal. Let make nasty laws and beat them up!"

A gross oversimplification, of course, because oppression is ever so much more complex, layered, and insidious than all that. But I hope that it makes the point. People in general value "normal" without stopping in many instances to wonder if it's worth valuing - both here and in the future and the literature of the fantastic and the future.

This future we imagine, this disability-free ideal place is not one in which we've decided to stop narrowing the definition of normal and able, in which we've decided to stop shoehorning based on ability and disability decided to expand what we consider to be just another part of the wide spectrum of collective human ability. This future is one in which we (for the value of "we" which is society/humanity) pick the limitations of ability, of normal, and finally manage squeeze everyone into it ability-wise. And often, it seems, these same stories tell of a future in which we've finally squeezed everyone into the same culture and same gender definitions and sexuality. At long last, homogeneity!

This future is not one in which we have better definitions, just better medicine. In those worlds, our science evolves, our compassion and tolerance and understanding do not.

I do not like this future. It scares me and it erases so, so many people.

Why do so many writers assume that disability wouldn't follow us to the stars? What disabilities that don't even exist today would exist tomorrow? What would be reclassified as a disability or not a disability?

It seems to me that there is some confusion due to ignorance and stereotypes about disability between "normal" and "functioning".

Function is, in my own Meg-specific definition, being able to do what you want/need to do in a way that works for you. If that means using an assistive device or taking a bit longer or using different methods, that all fits under "functioning". You can have levels of functioning - because some stuff works better than others - but function is relative. It all depends on what works for you, what gets the job done for you.

Then there's normal. Normal is being able to do what others want you to do in a way that other people expect you to do it, and it often is the opposite of functional. Normal is an ever moving goal post of other people's expectations. It's the cry of "but you can walk, why are you using a wheelchair?" to a person with a pain disorder or spinal injury or some other invisible disability. It's the cry of "why can't you just get over it?" to someone who has depression or "that's not that bad, at least you didn't go to war!" to someone with PTSD. It's insisting that meatspace/offline activities count for more than, say, online ones even though online activities (academic classes, activism work, creative endeavors) are often more accessible (thus granting more function).

Alas, society values normal over functional and so does sci-fi many times.

Lose a limb? We'll regrow it! Get paralyzed in a space accident? We'll fix that, hop in a medical pod/chamber/box o' insta-healing! Blind? Here, have some nanobots. Deaf? Oh, there's a pill for that. You, too, can be made Normal.

Never you mind that you don't see a lot of mental disabilities/disorders. I can't remember the last time I read about main characters who have, say, ADHD or autism spectrum disorder or Down syndrome or an eating disorder. Because apparently these people won't be with us in the future, and they certainly won't be allowed aboard Spaceship Normal.

What's worse? Sci-fi can be the kind of genre that could really inspire others to imagine a different course of events, a different society.

I can see the value in imagining a future with better ways to help people have greater function. I can see the value in imagining sidewalks that automatically adjust themselves to better suit use of assistive devices or the value of imagining classrooms where there are computer/laptop screens made for those students who may be dyslexic or dyscalculic to help them better read and do math.

Because that? Doesn't value normal over function, it doesn't seek to reform people so that nobody ever needs an assistive device or that nobody ever is dyslexic or dyscalculic. It doesn't value the way one group of people accomplishes certain tasks over the way others accomplish them. In fact, it values a society that broadens its ranges, that instead of telling these people to adapt to it decides to adapt to them by concerning itself with accessibility, with function over inflexible, rigid ideas of how something ought to be done, or what people ought to look like, or how they ought to live.

I'd like to find more SF (or even fantasy) that talks about different worlds, that talks differently about people with disabilities.

What things in SF/F bother you from an ablism standpoint, readers? What things do you encounter over and over and wish would stop? What things do you want to encounter (or encounter more of)?

If anyone has any book/story recommendations, that would be absolutely wonderful and I'd love to hear them! Which authors and works get it right in your opinion and why?
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
I've been trying to make this post for, like, a week now. I keep deleting it and re-writing it because I haven't felt I've really articulated my opinions as well as I want to.

But I think I've gotten close with this post.

I read and write urban fantasy. The draft I'm trying to get through at the moment is urban fantasy (complete with vampires!). But if any of you have followed my reviews, you'll see that I'm often quite critical and very harsh on urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels. Moreso perhaps than I am on any other genre of books, even science-fiction or straight up fantasy.

When I go into a bookstore or browse online booksellers, the selections I see disappoint me greatly, and I'm frustrated by the current output in urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I firmly believe in Sturgeon's Law (99% of everything is crap), and that goes for books. So there is no genre that is either completely perfect or completely terrible. But right now, as it stands, the UF/PR genre seems to have a higher-than-normal proportion of shitty books.

Thoughts on why this is and why it doesn't have to be. Or, Meg Waxes Bitchy About Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, second verse same as the first. )
megwrites: Picture of books with quote from Cicero: "a room without books is like a body without a soul" (books)

Title: Blue Diablo (Corine Solomon Series, Book 1)
Author: Ann Aguirre (
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 316
Publisher: ROC

Review: Blue Diablo. Spoilers! )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Did I miss something? Has the month of March been declared International Show Your Privilege Month?

I ask because I just now saw this: "In Defense of Victorientalism". This guy just gave Norman Spinrad a run for his pantlessness.

If you want a really, really wonderful response to this, [ profile] deepad has one (link takes you to dreamwidth) here, with her post One Bad Tune Deserves Another". Included is probably the best, most beautifully snarky, most petard hoisting poem ever in the history of mankind, "Pity the Orientalist".

And there's also this great post, "Countering Orientalism" which is so totally completely right. This right here, especially:

Due to the power invested in Westerners today, borne from the history of colonization, there is no way to safely recreate the Orient, without yet creating more assumptions of stereotypes, without imposition of these stereotypes on actual people.

Analysis of the original article in defense of Victorientalism. The other two links are better than mine and should be read first. )
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
Don't worry, I still do that writing thing, too.

I've been thinking a lot about prose-level mechanics and how they affect whether a story comes across vividly to a reader.

For instance, you can describe a scene in which a character gets her keys, opens a door and walks through it - but you can show that in several different ways.

Finding her keys after searching her purse for them them, she unlocked the door and went through.


She fumbled for her keys and found them in her purse. She unlocked the door and went through it.


She went through the door after searching for her keys in her purse to unlock it.

Each sentence describes the same sequence of events, but they're different. They feel different to me. They feel like they have a different sense of speed and rhythym and timing, as though some are closer to the present than others even though they're all, technically, in past tense.

The first sentence feels like we're sort of rewinding and getting a quick "last time on..." sort of summary, the second one feels like it is happening right this second, and the third feels in between the other two as far as timing, but it doesn't feel as immediate.

That's what I'm trying to get at. In my own work, I find that there is a need to balance immediacy with summary. One thing I get frustrated with while reading is when a writer describes every little action in the immediate, especially if it's in first person narration.

Because to me, first person narration should feel as if you sat the character down in a room with a tape recorder and asked them to tell you a really great story. But when people tell stories in that fashion, they leave out a lot of the little stuff.

For instance, "I went through the door and then stepped into the room. I took off my coat and turned around and put it on the coat rack that was by the door. Then I turned around again and walked across the room and sat in a chair." Because I think in a more natural sense that would read as, "I came in, shucked my coat off, and plopped down in a chair."

So sometimes you need that summary feeling prose.

Other times you need that very immediate prose. Because saying "so we kicked and hit and then I won the fight" isn't as vivid as describing the pain of getting kicked in the teeth or trading blows.

So lately I've been wondering about how writers find that balance, and if it's something that other people notice. Because the more I read, the more I notice that the same plots, hell, the same stories can be told in different ways on a prose-level and it will definitely affect my enjoyment.

I'm also wondering if the differences between closely related genres comes down to things as simple as prose. I saw a documentary on IFC about sex in the movies and there was a director who said, "The difference between a movie with sex in it and pornography is lighting and production values."

And that struck me as being a very wise statement, and one a writer can apply to their work.

I often wonder if the difference between books being put in one category or another comes down not to the plot or the settings or the characters - but the prose. I think of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife. On it's face, it's SF/F, but it has been regarded and treated in a very literary manner. And I wonder if it really does come down to the fact that it reads like a literary genre novel not an SF/F novel.

I also wonder if when people speak of a novel being a "difficult" or "easy" read, are they really talking about a difficult plot or are they speaking about prose that confuses or bores or moves the story around like a car with bad shocks? Is the difference between a book that people breeze through and a book that stumps them just in the way sentences are constructed?

I'm interested to hear what people have to say about this. What do they think some of the prose-level characteristics of genres are, if they think it really is just the difference in lighting and production values that separates one genre from another.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Because Friday is for nothing if not walking around the internet picking up shiny things.

John Scalzi talks about his short fiction rates and author Catherynne M. Valente replies by discussing her short fiction rates. Definitely a good couple of posts about rates, the market, and making a living in this business.

Justine Musk talks about writing like a bad girl in Part One and Part Two of her "Why You Need To Write Like a Bad Girl".

My favorite line of the two posts: "Because bad girls get to go everywhere." That my friends, is one excellent statement.

[ profile] raecarson has an interesting discussion going about YA and what it is. I, of course, have strong feelings on the matter. But mostly, I just want YA to continue being a genre that under-18 readers can turn to for awesome books that are for them. Like I said in comments there. If there's ever a time in your life when you need really awesome books - it's when you're a kid.

And just for fun, The worst SF movies of the decade (also by John Scalzi). I pretty much agree with all his choices, though I'm wondering why none of the made-for-TV movies that SciFi (sorry, SyFy) puts out are on that list. Any "bad movie" compilation that does not include Mansquito is incomplete if you ask me.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Wow, I bet y'all are getting very tired of hearing me talk about this topic, but it's kicked off a lot of contemplation in me as a writer and reader, and those are both things that are dear to me as part of my identity.

At the core of my issues with new adult is that so far the celebration of it has focused on it being a reflection of the readers rather than a landing place for those stories which fall in between categories.

If this were just about giving writers who's stories aren't quite YA and aren't quite full-on adult (in any genre) a place of their own and a name to call themselves, I would be joining in the celebration. I really would. Because that's great. Anything that gives writers the security to tell their stories authentically, without having to rearrange fundamentals to put, as the inestimable [ profile] fashionista_35 says, 30-year-olds in high school or taking a story for teenagers out of their hands to avoid controversy, is a good thing.

So far, it seems like the theory behind new adult has precious little to do with the stories, with the idea of giving shelter and nourishment to the seeds that sometimes fall on the path and not the soil. Instead, it seems like new adult has been focused on defining readers rather than stories.

And any time any one tries to use any genre, whether it's romance or YA or SF/F to say, "Those who read X are Y", I lose it.

The theory of new adult assumes, for one, that readers of my demographic are automatically going to be searching for literature that reflects them and their experiences - that we can't handle literature that does mirror our own images back to us. And this is not true of me. I cannot and will not speak for others, but I personally do not feel any pressing need or lack of books that reflect certain aspects of me. Part of this is because I am a white, cisgendered, able bodied native English speaker living in America. I do not tend to lack for books that have at least some commonality with me.

I think I might feel different if I were a person of color or transgendered or disabled or had English as a second language. I certainly know that I crave more books by and about LGBT, fat, disabled, and female persons.

But part of it, I would like to believe, is that I know my own story. I blog, journal, write, speak, compose poetry, paint. I splatter my own story all over any blank page or canvas or clean surface I get my hands on.

Therefore, what I want when I sit down and devote time to a book are other people's stories.

The books that have had the largest impact on me in the past year have been books which were nothing like me. Maxine Hong Kingston's book Woman Warrior: A Girlhood Among the Ghost left me seared inside. I still think of bits of that book, I still feel a mental dizziness, as if the world has tipped over a little bit when I re-immerse myself in it.

It's a book about the childhood of a Chinese-American girl in San Francisco. I've never been a Chinese-American person is San Francisco. Heck, I've never even been in San Francisco at all.

Octavia Butler's Kindred shattered me and broke parts of me, while simultaneously throwing open gates. I have never been a black woman in the South or in California. I have never been a slave. I have never had that history thrust upon me in ways subtle and explicit.

These books do not reflect me, and yet they are the kind of books I find myself increasingly wanting more of. The myth of reflective literature is harmful, because it tricks people into thinking that girls only want the girl books and boys only want the boy books, and thus that certain books should only be made available accordingly. I think it's the guiding principle behind sticking books by African-Americans or Latino authors in their own sections of a bookstore, away from mainstream and genre books. I think it's what publishers think of when the put white faces on books about protagonists of color. Because they believe that readers only want mirrors, not windows - that the gaze must always be inward rather than outward. That white readers can't handle stories with and by authors of color, that men can't handle women stories, that cisgendered folks can't handle transgendered tales.

I believe this is untrue. I think the success of YA books beyond their stated demographics is proof. I think the number of 40-year-olds (or 50 or 60!) who loved Harry Potter or Twilight - which my 40/50-something aunt and uncle devoured with great glee and anticipation - is proof that a category shouldn't about the readers, but the stories.

That's what any category, any label, any organization of literature should rest upon. The stories and perhaps the authors, but not the readers. Because I think we should encourage people to seek out the stories of others, to look outward at the world, to reach beyond stories that merely tell them things they already know and show them what they expect to see.

If this were up to me, I wouldn't call it "new adult", I would call it "Liminal Fiction". Because that's what it is. It's the in-between stories - which are meant for everyone. Not just in-between readers.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
[ profile] jmeadows talks and shares some links about the idea of a "new adult" category for fiction which is intended for readers 20-26.

I'm 25 years old and the entire idea makes me queasy as both a writer and a reader. Actually, I take that back. As a reader? I want to hit the idea of a "new adult" category with a hammer and then make it die in a giant fire. I am not a new adult. I am a REGULAR adult.

I'm married, with bills and adulthood and my cat and my crazy family and goddamn it, I do not need a modifier in front of my status as a grownup. Especially when it comes to my reading habits.

This quote from S. Jae-Jones explaining "postadolescent" literature in particular makes me want to stay miles away from anything with the label NA on it:

We, the “new adults”, have some perspective on our lives, but scope? We’re not old enough, we’re not experienced enough, we’re simply not grown-up enough. Our lives have immediacy, just as a teenager’s does, but we also possess the wisdom to understand that this immediacy cannot last for long.

Speak for yourself, lady.

Let's get this straight. I love YA dearly as a genre and a cultural idea. Because I think the idea of treating younger reader's experiences, wants, fantasies, realities, and developing selves as material for serious, sensitive exploration in any genre is a damn good thing. I think that looking at how we grow up and the stories we tell when we're in transit to our adult selves is a beautiful thing. I think a lot of our best literature is YA. It's a cultural treasure, really. You're a human being when you're under 18, and thus you deserve that kind of respect and compassion from writers.

There are a lot of reasons ranging from cultural to developmental to HAVE that distinction for the under-18's as well. There are different pressures, different realities you face when you're a kid and you don't have the same legal, cultural, or even biological status as an adult. There is a legitimate reason to have that distinction, literarily and marketing-wise.

But the idea of "new adult" is pure ageism. It smacks of the idea that my "generation"* is so perpetually childish that we can't handle "regular adult" books until we're nearly in our thirties. It also implies that stories about older protagonists are somehow so repulsive to anyone who's younger than 30 that they won't get read. I think it's feeding into our youth obsession as a culture here in the United States to do something like that.

Like other folks, I see the potential to pigeonhole authors into making protagonists younger and younger to suit marketability rather than the story. I also see pressures on authors to maybe stop telling stories that can't be made to fit the glamorous mold of youth. I can just see it now, "Yeah, the story's great, but could you change your 40-something mother of two to be a single 20-something trying to find themselves in the world while looking for love?"

I also see the potential for YA authors to feel adverse pressure to fit certain molds. I see potential for protagonists to be aged up a few years so that more sexiness can be added in. I see the potential for controversial subject matter that belongs in the hands of actual teenagers who need it to be discussed on their terms to be aged up so that a publisher can foist it off on 20-somethings without worrying about repercussions from parents or watch dog groups.

Not to mention that I'm a little wary that this new category seems to be stemming out of the success of books that were mostly marketed to a more affluent, white, middle-class, straight, liberal sensibility, books like Twilight - which had a lot of issues race, gender, and sexuality-wise. I'm afraid that an unexamined expansion into this territory simply for marketing gains.

Because those books that were linked on S. Jae-Jones's blog as great examples of NA literature were also books about white, straight (ostensibly), cisgendered, able bodied, pretty (or reasonably attractive/thin) girls. Thanks, but there are plenty of books about such characters having magical adventures at the expense of PoC, LGBT's, disabled folks, and us fatties. It's called Urban Fantasy, and the protagonists in that subgenre are usually mid-twenties anyway.

I really don't need another genre telling me that only certain people deserve to be the hero/ines of the story. Got that message already, so you don't need to send the memo around again. You certainly don't need to make a whole other GENRE of it.

Most of the books I've really enjoyed from this year's batch have not been specifically targeted to me age wise, and I haven't had a problem with that. I haven't EVER had a problem navigating or finding books I liked on the adult bookshelves. Even when I've started eliminating books by authors who are fuckmuppets in public and starting expanding to reading to include works by and about PoC, LGBT's, and others such as that, it hasn't been a problem.

So I ask - do we really need this genre? Are there that many of the 20-26 set who are just having such a problem finding books that they need this new category?

I certainly don't need it and don't want it. If there ever is a "new adult" section of the bookstore, let me know so I can turn the other way. Hopefully, though, I'll get to be considered a regular adult by then.

*When I hear people talking about generations in the United States, they're almost always referring to broad generalizations about what WHITE people were doing at a given time. Thus, I hate the entire idea. When I hear people talk about the 60's and all the "social upheaval" while showing lots of stock footage of white folks on LSD and at Woodstock and then maybe that one clip of Martin Luther King, I want to scream. Because even then, that footage of MLK is there to show how reality was changing for WHITE people in relation to what people of color were doing at the time.

I happen to think making any classifications based on "generation" is absurd, and furthermore, useless. More often than not, it's either a marketing ploy or very, very bad ageism.
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
Author N.K. Jemisin on the urban fantasy trend in SF/F literature.

While I think the article is well written, I don't yet if I agree or disagree about it. I don't know if the situation she describes concerning the market expansion and then contraction of the horror genre is completely analogous to urban fantasy.

My thoughts on the article. Complete with me blathering on like I actually know something. )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
A while ago, [ profile] irysangel posted some annoying questions she gets as a romance author, and it made me think of the annoying things people say when they find out I write SF/F books.

My biggest peeve? When someone says: "I don't like science fiction because I like more realistic books."

Because my immediate mental response is: "Bitch, you are stupid. That word does not mean what you think it means and now I have to smack you down with my learnings." I generally try to say something a little more polite, but that's what I'm thinking.

I don't mind people telling me what they dislike about the SF/F genre. It's valid. But do NOT bring out the r-word in front of me.

Realism was a literary movement in the late 19th century, and 99.9% of fiction in stores today does not qualify. Even the really hoity-toity literary fiction with pretty covers that get $500,000 advances and sell twenty copies.

What people mean by "realism" is "plausibility". They're actually saying, "I don't find SF/F plausible." I have no problem with this statement. Fair enough.

I object, however, to someone pretending that their idea of what's plausible is somehow superior to mine. Because it's not.

The events that unfold in the books they're so proud of aren't any more probable than the events in my SF/F books. Some are, scientifically speaking, less likely. Future space colonization is more plausible than a lot of the crap spies do in Tom Clancy novels.

Furthermore, as the fiancee of an NYPD forensic scientist, I can tell you nobody who enjoys crime novels can get snooty. I know the precise crap-to-fact ratio in those books, and it's running about 30:1 on a good day.

My favorite piece of Completely Made Up Stuff? When a forensic scientist tells a cop that they know the exact shade, color, and manufacturer of someone's lipstick (e.g., "The killer was wearing Revlon #25 Cha Cha Cherry!"). There is no way to test for that in a lab. The best you can get is a GC readout telling you what elements and chemicals are in it. Which will tell you that it contains wax, oils, and dyes and that it's probably lipstick.

Furthermore, neither my fiancee nor his coworkers would waste the time or taxpayer dollars on finding such useless information. Unless someone asks them to identify a substance specifically, they don't bother.

But if such forensic farces tickle your fancy, have fun. Just don't tell me that it's more plausible to solve a crime based on information that scientifically is not obtainable than to fly a spaceship or cross swords with elves. The objective probability is exactly the same for all the given scenarios. It's just the scenery that scares you less.

In the end, all fiction is fantasy. Some people fantasize about cops, some about spies, some about handsome men who sweep them off their feet, some about meandering meaningless journeys of self discovery, and some, yes, about aliens, elves, vampires, and mutants.

So, for the sake of my sanity and your safety, don't use the word "realism" and don't look down on SF/F. Just accept that it's not your cup of tea and leave off the commentary.

Quick link

Aug. 2nd, 2009 06:19 pm
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
Things not to say to romance writers. Because [ profile] irysangel is that awesome and some people are just that in need of a clue by four.

My favorite stupid question?

2) Your husband is a lucky guy! I bet you guys have the craziest sex life.

Saying that someone writing romance has a good sex life is like saying that someone who writes mysteries would be a good police officer or a good criminal. Uh, no. Those things actually don't have anything to do with each other, and if someone breaks into my house, I'd really appreciate if you sent an actual cop instead of a novelist, thanks.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Actually, this is something I've been wondering for a while now.

Are YA books actually intended solely for young adults anymore? Because it seems like a lot of YA bestsellers are becoming more and more popular with the decidedly not-so-young adult set, and I'm wondering if authors have started keeping older audiences in mind when they set out to write books in the YA genre.

I can't say I read very much YA myself, nor do I imagine that I'll be writing it any time soon. Which is not an insult to the genre. I can see why readers outside the advertised age bracket are attracted to some of the books coming out in the genre. Many of them are better written, less cliche, and all around more exciting that some of the so-called "adult" fare.

However, I guess the genre boundaries interest me, as well as what attracts adult readers to some of the works in the genre and what factors into the minds of those who write it. How does writing a book for a younger audience change what you do, or does it?

For that matter, how does one differentiate between a book that's "YA" and a "children's book" or a "middle grade" book - and where did the term "Young Adult" originate from?
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
[ profile] arcaedia who is a real live literary agent asks what sorts of books you, as a reader, would love to see or are very tired of seeing and never want to read again

What impresses me most is how many people are getting sick and tired of the leather-clad tramp stamped heroine in Urban Fantasy, and to tell you the truth, so am I. I'm also really impressed with how many other people are tired of the whole "kickass" deal. I'm tired of the attempts to be sassy and snarky at the expensive of being believable.

I left my comment yesterday over here about the fact that I'm really fed up with the way that Urban Fantasy has been going lately.

Four pages of comments (so far), and you can definitely feel a frustration with the state of Urban Fantasy. Although I'm sad that there isn't more of a cry for more diversity in books. I'd like to see that as many fans are fed up with the whitewashing of the genre as many fans of color must be.

My thoughts on urban fantasy, let me show you thems. Beneath the cut because, well, blahedy blah blah. )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
An interesting roundtable discussion of whether the SF/F short story market is in trouble/decline.

I enjoyed the discussion, though the back and forth made me feel like the genre might either be really dead or just calling out from the cart that it feels happy and wants to go for a walk.

I don't know if I can judge the short story market because I'm probably part of the problem. The thing is? Given a choice between a short story magazine and a novel, I'll go for the novel every single time.

Why? Because a) the novel, just from the cover, gives me clues as to what I'm getting into and b) novels are easier for me to get my grubby hands on in a convenient way.

At least with a novel I can judge if it's supposed to be vampire p0rn!romance or hard SF or space opera or whatever the subgenre of your choice is. I can check out a brief summary on the back that lets me know what the heck is going on. I know if I'm likely to get a good return on my investment of both time and money.

Short story magazines, who knows? *shrug*. I like short stories, and if I see that an author I like has either written or highly recommended a story, I'll go check it out. I enjoy podcasts of SF/F short fiction that is read. I sometimes enjoy short story collections/anthologies in book form.

I just can't get excited about the magazines. Especially since my brain (and I suspect the brains of my generation) are wired such that magazine = pretty pictures, few words and books = no pictures, lots of words. And a magazine full of words just sort of confounds me.

On another note, I don't know if it was regional or generational, but growing up, I had very few short stories read to me. I was always taught that proper reading meant books. It was very rare that I came into any contact with any piece of short fiction at all in school. Fiction has always equaled books in my mind.

That could be my age, could be that I grew up in Tennessee.

Also? When I wasn't living in NYC, it was damn hard to come by ANY SF/F short fiction magazines to begin with, even the big ones. Because in the towns I've lived in my reading material has come from the library and from big chain bookstores or occasionally drug stores/grocery stores. Dude, when I was in my "I must absorb all writing advice" phase, just trying to get my hands on Writer's Digest was a safari of epic proportions in which I had to wade through the stacks of Cat Fancy and Cosmo to hope that maybe, somewhere in the back, there was a copy of it somewhere.

Usually there wasn't.

By the by, I didn't know that independent bookstores that weren't in malls/shopping centers existed until after I went to college. Living in midsized Southern towns really fucks with your economic sensibilities, yo.

The point of all this is that I can understand why the short fiction genre market might be in trouble. I just don't think it's so much that demand or demographics have changed. I think it's a question of distribution and display.

I hate to say it, but if you can't find it well displayed at a Barnes & Noble or Borders (or whatever big chain is in your area), most Americans just won't know it exists or be able to come by it. Sad truth, but there it is.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I totally would make a poll, but since I don't feel like shelling out the money to livejournal or letting them put ads up on my journal, that's shot.

But the f-list had some interesting links to debates about urban fantasy and what counts as urban fantasy (particularly, Harry Potter).

I would like to come down on the side of Harry Potter *not* counting as urban fantasy. Not because it doesn't have the right elements, but because it's playing in the YA field, not the urban fantasy field.

YA is it's own genre, with it's own rules, regulations, traditions, and environment. It operates on different principles than Urban Fantasy.

Harry Potter shares *some* characteristics with Urban Fantasy. It's pure YA.

I don't think genre is just a matter of scenery or certain elements. You can stick a vampire anywhere you like, it doesn't make what you write urban fantasy. Dracula is all about teh_vampyrez. It's not Urban Fantasy.

I think genre is a matter of tone and convention. It's about who your peers are, it's about who you see on the shelf when you look right and look left in a bookstore.

And on the shelf, you don't see Emma Bull or Charles de Lint or Laurell K. Hamilton when you look around Harry Potter. You see YA lit. You see Bridge to Terebithia and Artemis Fowl. You see The Golden Compass.

A lot of people who are nuts about Harry Potter wouldn't know Emma Bull from Emma Peel of the Avengers.

So, no. Harry Potter doesn't get to join the UF Club. Not for any lack of literary merit, but because you don't ask badminton players to go to Wimbledon. Two different sports, kapeesh?

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