Thursday, September 25, 2014

On Frozen, Superheroes, and What I See in the Toy Aisle

Dear Disney,

If you are going to make such marketing moves as calling a Rapunzel movie "Tangled" and an ice queen movie "Frozen", please be aware that the boys who flocked to the theaters might have actually enjoyed the movie. Yes, the romantic plotline between Hans and Anna goes over my son's head. Yes, if you ask him, he'll tell you that the movie is about how Elsa runs away because she's looking for her glove and then a giant snowman chases them all. But still, he enjoyed it and I think he might be wondering why everything related to a movie that's supposedly for boys and girls is completely bathed in pink.

And on that note, Disney, let talk superheroes.

Did you know girls can be superheroes? Really, it's true. There's these characters called the Sailor Soldiers and these other characters called the Powerpuff Girls and they're actually whole teams of super-heroines! Check them out. But that's not all. Girls and boys can be on the same superhero team! In fact, you may be surprised to know that boys will not be horrified at the idea of a girl pictured with the mostly-male team. So when you go to make something related to Guardians of the Galaxy or the Avengers, can you please stop cutting the few girls on the team out of every single image?*

Seriously, not every little girl dreams of being a princess. Some just want to kick the bad guy's butt.

Sincerely, Me (mommy to one boy and one girl.)

*Of both these issues, I notice the lack of girls on the superhero stuff way more than the deluge of pink in Frozen. And to be honest, the former irks me way more than the latter.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sneak Peek: The Poisoned City

Well, I've finally gone and done it. I've decided to gather my scattered published stories (along with a few, fresh-off-the-press, unpublished ones) into an e-book. Here's a little sneak peek of the cover:

"The Poisoned City" was my Clarion West acceptance story, but this collection will also include my work from Purpose magazine and Every Day Fiction, for a total of eleven pieces. I expect to release the book in early 2016, but feel free to follow my blog for further updates.

As always, thanks for reading!

Friday, September 5, 2014

5 Ways to Tell if You'll Be Published (and Why They're Wrong)

Let me be clear up front: I am not (nor will I ever be) in a position to tell anyone whether or not they're going to "make it" in the writing business. But I've seen a bunch of blog posts either in the form of a list, a quiz, or just general advice purporting to inform readers whether or not they've got the stuff it takes to nab a book deal. It's usually meant to be encouraging, but honestly, I think it sometimes has the opposite effect. Here's some examples of what I mean:

1. "You'll never be a writer if you give up."
The problem: I'm pretty sure that quite a few published writers out there have, at some point, thrown down their mighty pens in frustration and declared, "I give up!" And meant it, too. Why does it have to be that we're either throwing our all into writing or we're doing nothing? I think we're all allowed to take breaks from the writing and publishing journey without feeling like we fall into that dreaded category of "people who gave up."

2. "You must love writing even if you're not having any success with publication."
There's this idea that we as writers should be totally, completely in love with writing all the time, even in the face of rejection. But we're not. And I don't think that's weird. Some days sitting down in front of the computer to work on the next manuscript when you just got hammered with rejections on the last one is not that fun. And that's okay. "Dealing with rejection" doesn't mean it never affects you.

3. "You'll never be a writer if you don't listen to advice."
The problem: I'd love for this one to be true. There's few things more frustrating than the guy who brags he can do all this awesome stuff and then, dang it, he actually can. But let's face it, some people think they're brilliant writers and turns out, they are. Good for them. But that aside, not all advice is good advice. Not even all advice that comes from an established writer is good advice. I was advised to trunk one of my YA manuscripts by a writer with a fairly successful editing service. It's so far been the manuscript that's gotten the most requests for more material. By an impressive margin. Which brings me to my next point...

4. "Successful writers get better with each manuscript."
I don't know who thought this one up. Seriously. After that manuscript got all those requests, my head was filled images of how my next manuscript was obviously going to "the one." I mean, I could hardly get any closer to landing an agent than I already had without actually having an offer. Only I didn't get offers with the next one. I barely got requests at all. Or the next one. And the infuriating thing was that all my beta readers seemed to think the subsequent manuscripts actually were better than my earlier one. But the number of rejections sure didn't feel like it. I think we have to allow ourselves the chance to write things that aren't as good as before. If we're always supposed to get better, we won't take chances for fear of slipping backwards. And sometimes slipping backwards is the only way to learn something new.

5. "No one who writes this bad will ever make it."
Thankfully, no one's ever said this to me. But I have seen it said (or at least, heavily implied) about others. I think good writers can start at any level. I really do. And I don't think there's any writer or editor out there who can look at a piece of writing like it's some kind of crystal ball and declare, "never." Never is a long time. People can learn a lot during never.

Just as a final disclaimer, this blog post is not intended to dissect or criticize the advice of any one person. It's just some general observations I've made. And if you're like me and feel like maybe what Author X said was true, that you're just not cut out for this, I just want to encourage you. People aren't fortune tellers. If you want to keep trying, keep trying. I'll be right there with you.