Thursday, June 27, 2013

News! My new boyfriend is the SHADOWMAN.


That vengeful lad in the photo with me is Jack Boniface, also known as SHADOWMAN, a superhero driven by a voodoo loa that possesses him each night, making him invincible so that he can fight the powers of evil.

I like Jack a lot.

And I'm really excited to announce that as a commissioned author with the Amazon Kindle Worlds platform, I've written a 75-page e-novella called FOLLOW ME BOY in the Shadowman universe, a property of Valiant Comics.

Ways that FOLLOW ME BOY is similar to my other works:
* it's dark
* really dark
* but just the tiniest bit whimsical
* there's a monkey in a top hat
* there's a wicked underworld called DEADSIDE
* there's an evil, twisted villain
* there's a strong woman with an unexpectedly dark backstory
* there's a hot, dangerous guy in a costume

Ways that FOLLOW ME BOY IS different from my other works:
* it's far more violent
* it's all about the voodoo
* although the Shadowman universe includes an awesomely murderous rabbit named Hossenfeffer, Hossenfeffer is not specifically featured in my story
* no blood drinking
* no romance or kissing, except between two women, and it's possibly the least hot thing that has ever occurred
* did I mention that it contains traditional comic book violence?

The story will be up some time next week.

As of right now, I have neither link nor cover, but I couldn't wait to share.

Can't wait to introduce you to Jack next week!

Hope he doesn't kill you.

***

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This is why I don't get stabby.



Truth: I've struggled with my weight all my life. 

I love cake with an unholy devotion and can carve an igloo out of a loaf of bread. I've never truly been happy with my body except when I was pregnant and finally had a perfectly round stomach deemed beautiful by most of society. So when I tell you that the best way I've found to take care of my entire person is to cut carbs and sugar out of my life, I mean it.

But you know what? I hate it and it sucks and carbs carbs gimme carbs sugarsplosion. So this is how I cope.

The pretty pictures on Pinterest call 'em Paleo Truffles, like cave men in adorable Bedrock patisseries served them up with a dusting of archaeopteryx dust. I call 'em Antimurderbunny Cups, because it's just enough fat and sugar to keep me from losing it and murdering everybody. And they're super easy.

4 ingredients:
* organic virgin unrefined coconut oil
* 100% real (and not Aunt Jemima) maple syrup
* unsweetened cocoa powder
* vanilla or mint extract

Super Easy 5 Minute Directions:

1. Melt 1/2c organic unrefined coconut oil and 2T 100% maple syrup. In warm months, I just put 'em both in the microwave for 40 seconds. In colder months, I do it over the stove on medium heat.

2. Whisk together until it doesn't look like a liquified alien fetus.

3. When warm and mixed, pull away from heat and add a dash of vanilla or mint extract and 1/2c unsweetened cocoa powder.

4. Whisk. WHISK, DAMN YOU. It'll look like smooth liquid chocolate, when it's ready.

5. Evenly pour into 10 cupcake cups. Keep 'em thin, like 1/4" or less.

6. Freeze.

7. Whenever you want to murder someone or can't stop thinking about cupcakes, crack in half and eat.

Yeah, I know it's nothing but fat. But you know what? It keeps me on track. And it's good fat that makes my skin and hair glow. The tiniest bit of sugar or wheat, and I'll totally crack on my diet. But these frozen cuppies nibbled at breakfast and throughout the day keep me from giving in to my cravings.

If you think the photo above is ugly (which it is), search Pinterest or Google for "Paleo cocoa cups". Some people add nut butter to 'em, but that just makes me go into Little Debbie Snarf Mode.

***

If you're vaguely interested in this concept, I highly recommend The Four Hour Body and The Four Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss. These books totally changed my life, helped me lose 15 pounds, and taught me how to roast a kickass chicken.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Dear Old White Southern Woman

Dear Old Southern White Woman,

I know you. You're in my family. You make that amazing coconut cake for the family reunion every year, and your sweet tea is more sugar than water, and that's the way we all love it. You're always generous and kind and upbeat. And you've got a core of steel that has helped you weather your troubles stoically, even beating breast cancer when you're too polite to say the word "breast" in public. You've taken care of me all my life, and you're a good person who knows she's going to heaven.

You have type-2 diabetes now, but you're still cooking pie and biscuits for the rest of us. You're not sure how you got the diabeetus, and you say there's no cure, but luckily that nice Paula Deen told you exactly how to take care of it. I tried to bring you articles about how pre-packaged sugary shakes aren't helping, how doctors have proven that type-2 diabetes can be cured with the right diet*, but you said your doctor told you better, told you the prescription was the best way. So whenever you ask me to pick up your needles, I do, because you're 85 and think you know better than me.

And now you feel sorry for Paula Deen. You think she's a victim, and it makes you angry for the way she's being treated after giving so much to the world.

You're angry at the lying lawyers, the Food Network, the liberal media.

You're angry at everyone except Paula Deen. 

And I think it's because y'all are a lot alike, and that scares you.

See, here's the thing. You try to be a good person every single day. But somewhere along the way, you skipped that page in the newspapers that told you that black people had rights and didn't want to be called Negroes or Coloreds or worse, the N-word. You think Orientals are people *and* rugs. And you don't want to go to your old Kroger anymore because there are people with a definite brown cast to their skin and you can't understand what they say when they talk. And that scares you, too. Because you grew up in an all-white neighborhood with an all-white church in an all-white town where you knew everybody. That was your normal, your safety. And it's all changing.

You grew up Paula Deen, surrounded by Paula Deens.

And you can't understand that that world is crumbling.

And most of us are really happy to see it go.

***

I support free speech, and I don't like censorship, and I believe that the current issue with Paula Deen doesn't involve either issue. I am glad that she is feeling an emotional and legal backlash for disrespecting other human beings in her business and in the public eye.

Growing up in the South, I assume that most white people I meet, especially the Conservative-Christian-Republican types who people my family reunions, are racists. They talk about it unapologetically, wondering aloud who would elect a black president (i.e. ME). And because I love my family, because I want them to love me, I don't always correct them or tell them how horrified I am by their beliefs and ignorance.

And I'm realizing that that makes me part of this problem: my silence tells them it's okay.

That's what's so hard about racism in the deep South: it's everywhere, including the people you love. My grandmother honestly doesn't think that her racism is harming anyone. She's not trying to be ugly. When I was little, she sang Jesus Loves the Little Children to me, smiling through "red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in his sight," yet she doesn't understand how hurtful it is to call mixed race children "abominations". That's actually the first one that ever spurred me out of my quiet acceptance of their prejudice; I couldn't stand by and hear someone I love call an innocent child something so horrible.

"They're not abominations. They're children," I said.

We argued about it for ten minutes, gentle and polite as Southern women are, and then I left, knowing I hadn't even made a dent. Science, logic, history, religion--nothing could beat her bone-deep belief that non-whites are lesser.

"Sugar, you go home and read your Bible, and you'll see," she said as she hugged me goodbye.

***

So I say to Paula Deen and my grandparents and anyone with such views:

It is your right to be a racist. And it is other people's right to judge you for it.

Even when you get past the fact that learned racism can be unlearned with empathy, understanding, and education (because I know plenty of people who have transcended it!), you still have to deal with the consequences of exercising your right to spew hate speech. That is, you are free to be a racist, no matter what race you are personally and whether or not you were raised in the Deep South. But once you're in a position of power and use your beliefs to harm others, the issue is no longer one of free speech.

No one in this situation believes that Paula Deen is restricted from selling butter and insulin simultaneously or that she can't sit at home and collect Little Black Sambo books behind closed doors. The argument here is that when you publicly demean other people due to their race or sexuality, the public is allowed to picket you, to petition against you, to fire you, and, yes, to judge you. When someone sets out to become a media star or celebrity, there is a tacit understanding that they are going to be under examination at all times, photographed and quoted. And if you are a bigot, you've either got to learn to hide it or face the consequences.

And that, for me, is the heart of the matter. That is why I have no sympathy for Paula Deen.

While everyone might be racist to certain degrees, and while my sweet old dying grandmother is being racist behind closed doors and eight decades of well-meaning Christian ignorance, Paula Deen is actively harming the world through her cult of celebrity. She should know better. And even if she doesn't personally believe it, which is her right, she should know better than to open her mouth. The public backlash seems an appropriate punishment.

I grew up with the duality of loving people and hating their prejudice against other races, against other sexualities, and against anything weird or unusual. For a while, I thought that their closet racism was fine, that it wasn't harming anyone. When I got a little older, I thought there was some magic argument I could find, some proof I could present that would change their feelings. I've never found it. For now, the best I can do is be a good granddaughter, confidently speak my mind when offended, and teach my children better.

It's not even difficult. My daughter doesn't think twice about race. When I ask her what her friends are like at school, she tells me the color of their hair but not the color of their skin. My son isn't sure if he'll grow up to marry a woman, a man, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, or nobody. The acceptance that was so unusual in my youth is now a natural part of life. I don't want my grandparents to die, and every time the phone rings after dark or before sunrise, I worry that it's that call. But I look forward to a world in which this accepted, assumed racism has died out with the last generation that can plead any kind of ignorance.

***

There's a certain guilt to growing up white and middle class in the Deep South. If I listed all my issues and feelings, this post would go on for days. But I will say this. In Summer 2014, I have a book coming out with Simon Pulse called SERVANTS OF THE STORM. The idea was inspired by pictures of Six Flags NOLA after Hurricane Katrina, and the story centers on a teen girl who lost her best friend in a hurricane that devastated Savannah. The protagonist, Dovey, is mixed race, and her best friend, Carly was black. I did my level best to make race an aspect of the story but not the crux or focus of it, and I have never written a book with such good intentions and such internal terror of how it will be received. We say we want more people of color in our books, but as a white middle class woman, is my attempt to capture Dovey's worldview offensive or helpful? Am I giving the next generation a character with whom they can identify, or am I assuming too much in trying to explore the mind, heart, and motivations of someone whose true experience I can't fathom?

But I'll say this. Dovey sprang from my mind fully-formed, just as much as Criminy or Ahna or Casper. She was herself from the beginning, unapologetic and ready to fight. And changing her heritage, changing her color, would be a disservice to her very being. The world has plenty of stories about misunderstood white girls like I was, so I hope that any fumbling on my part will be taken in the spirit of someone who wants her children to grow up knowing that people are people, each special in their own way and each worthy of attention, empathy, and understanding. If I can see through the eyes of a male Victorian vampire circus ringmaster, is it such a stretch that I could put myself in the place of a mixed race teen girl fighting demons?

And here's the secret: I named Dovey after my racist grandmother.

I might have also parodied Paula Deen as a murderous, owl-footed demon trying to take over a storm-ridden Savannah with magic pills. But you'll have to read the sequel to find out.

***

In conclusion: I took down the news story on Facebook that listed all the N-words Paula Deen innocently dropped during her deposition and instead linked to this lovely tumblr showcasing proud and happy mixed race families. If this kerfuffle can teach us anything, I hope it's that we're all better off focusing on the miracles in our life instead of looking backwards at a world that's on the way out.


*A commenter has informed me that this information is false and hurtful. I'm not changing the original post, as that seems underhanded and dishonest on my part, as this was indeed the way I responded to my grandmother several years ago. But I will share that I have an incurable autoimmune disorder myself and apologize if this interpretation shames or stigmatizes any sufferers of type 2 diabetes. My feelings about perpetuating the causes of this disease while shilling the medicine to help it remain the same, but the purpose of this blog post was not to hurt anyone in regards to their physical challenges.



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to Find Good Books

With all the recent discussion of sexism in publishing, 
I think it's important to talk about how we find the books we read.

I am a feminist, but I don't avoid books written by men, and I don't read books *only* because they were written by women. I read books that tell stories that connect with me. And here's how I find them.


So these are my bookshelves. I read a lot, usually 1-3 books a week. For a long time, I had trouble finding books that resonated with me. And then I found the internet. These days, my chances of discovering a new author, book, or series have grown, mostly thanks to social media.

Note: YMMV, IMHO, take it with a grain of salt, these are my own personal feelings and I'm a weirdo, etc. Feel free to tell us how you found your favorite books in the comments. 

1. Twitter
I follow people who amuse me and share links that enrich my life. I avoid or unfollow people who insult me, aggressively oversell, or espouse beliefs that hurt others. Therefore, when the people I *do* follow write or recommend books, there's a good chance I'll like them, too. 

Following authors, editors, agents, bloggers, and reviewers on Twitter ensures that my finger is on the pulse of the favorite books of a like-minded coterie of bibliophiles-- and sometimes they tweet about great sales and free books, too. I can honestly say Twitter is the #1 source of my book purchases.

If you're not on Twitter and are starting from scratch, try googling things like "top literary agents on Twitter", "top editors on Twitter", "top YA authors on Twitter". Plenty of people make handy lists of names, links, and reasons they're great to follow.

2. Facebook
The great thing about Facebook is that when you need more than 140 characters to gush over a book and leave links, you have it. I go to Facebook when I have very specific interests and would like to keep track of responses in an easy way. "I'm looking for a mass market beach read, something like Deanna Raybourn or Meljean Brook, preferably a series with a strong female protagonist and no zombies, love triangles, or robot cheetahs", that sort of thing. And then people are happy to gush. And so are their friends. The Facebook pages of book bloggers are *great* for this sort of thing. And if you go to an author's page and say, "I love your books; who else do you think I would love?", they're usually stoked to answer.

3. Blogs
Someone links an interesting article on Twitter or Facebook, whether an essay or opinion piece or some writing advice. I go to the link and notice that I like how the writer thinks, love their rhythm and word choices, not to mention that I learn something from the article. The first thing I do is look to see if they're an author and if their books are as appealing as their blog post. Boom! I buy the book and follow them on Twitter.

4. Anthologies
I know it's crazy, but I didn't even think to pick up an anthology until I was invited to be in CARNIEPUNK and needed to find out... um, how to write an anthology story. I went straight to the bookstore's scifi/fantasy anthology section and bought three anthos that included authors I loved--and authors who were new to me. Some of those short stories were so affecting that they've become part of my mental landscape. And then I received my CARNIEPUNK arc and fell in love with two stories in particular: THE COLD GIRL by Rachel Caine and THE DEMON BARKER OF WHEAT STREET by Kevin Hearne. I liked their stories so much that I bought their books, found them on Twitter, and promptly fangirled all over them. Kevin is now one of my favorite people on earth, and if I ever meet Rachel, I'm sure I'll hug her until she squeaks. 

Anthologies are pretty much well-cultivated buffets designed to help you discover yummy new authors.

5. Booksellers
Bookstores are great, but the most important thing in them isn't books; it's booksellers. People who work in bookstores don't do it for the money; they do it because they love books and want to connect readers with books that will make them happy. Find your local indie bookstore and go check out the "Employee Recommendations" section. Or ask an employee for more specific recommendations based on theme, time period, genre, movies, fandoms, favorite authors--anything. If the first person you grab is unresponsive or doesn't have helpful suggestions, go to the front desk and ask for their resident expert in your favorite genre. I've also had great luck with this technique in comic book stores, where I used to feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed. They want to help you!

6. Cons and Festivals
I know not everyone is a "pay $50 to join 60,000 people in a hotel for mutual geeking out" person, but that's definitely one way to find new authors and books. Most comic cons have a literary or writing track-- possibly several!-- with curated groups of writers answering themed questions and available for Q&A. I've picked up tons of books because a complete stranger on a panel piqued my interest. Most cons also have a huge dealer room that includes a bookstore and tables where authors will sign and personalize books and happily answer questions, including "If I like your books, who else should I be reading?" Which I ask all the time!

Most towns have book fairs or literary festivals that bring together a wide variety of local authors. Here in Atlanta, we have the Decatur Book Festival and the Dahlonega Literary Festival, both of which offer smaller crowds and great chances to connect one-on-one with authors. If you're not a geek, don't like crowds, or just generally don't dig the comic con scene, a smaller lit festival is a low-pressure family outing that might also interest your parents, kids, and friends.

7. Book Signings
If you have a local bookstore, chances are they do book launch parties and book signings, both for local authors and big-name traveling authors. Check out the newspaper listings or the bookstore's online events page, and if you see something interesting, check it out-- usually for free. If you ever want an author to love you for life, go to their book signing and buy a book. There is nothing scarier to an author than an uneaten cake and empty rows of seats. Even if the book doesn't seem like your taste, you might find a new favorite or, at the very least, have a special gift on hand for a friend or relative.

8. Strangers
Y'all might not know this, but I have some social phobias. I am terrified of small talk and would rather speak to 5000 people with a microphone than introduce myself to one complete stranger. Thanks to the wonders of the internet and mutual geekery, I can often circumvent this awkwardness thanks to shared interests. One of the few ways I'm able to walk up and interact is if I see someone reading an interesting book, at which point I assume that we can be besties and they are not going to eat me. 

Questions I will ask if I see someone reading a book that looks enticing: So is that book as good as it looks? What do you know about that author? Do you love it or hate it? Etc. And I *love* being asked the same questions, which is probably why I feel comfortable bothering a stranger to ask about *their* book. I once convinced an airline seatmate to buy THE NIGHT CIRCUS within 2 minutes of meeting her, and we sat side by side and read the same book for the entire flight. It was awesome.

9. Goodreads
As an author, I can't spend too much time on Goodreads. But for a reader, I think it can be a fantastic resource for finding new books and connecting with other fans. I definitely use it when I hear buzz about a book and want to read a wide variety of opinions. I'll skim the 5s, 3s, and 1s to see if the reasons people loved and hated the book are reasons *I* would love and hate the book. Oddly, I learn the most from 3s because people seem to want to explain in great detail why they are conflicted about a book; that is I loved this but I hated that, I would have loved it if not for this deal-breaker, etc. There are also some great book clubs where like-minded fans can discover new authors and series together. And--I'll cop to it-- the ads are especially eye-catching, high-quality, and relevant to my interests. I also like how you can read favorite quotes from books and see what other reviewers rated highly. That is, if someone gave my favorite book a 5 and gushed about it for the same reasons *I* gush about it, I'll often go check out what else they rated a 5 and see if I can find something new.

10. Libraries
I'll probably get a lot of flack for putting libraries at the bottom, but libraries are not how I personally find books. I tend to rack up such insane fines that I'd be better off buying the book in triplicate than checking it out of the library. And, unfortunately, the local branch of my (small town Southern conservative) library has a score card of 0 for helping me find books that I would like, and the librarians generally make me feel that they are super busy and would like me to go away. BUT!!! That's just me, and I REALLY SERIOUSLY APPRECIATE LIBRARIES AND LIBRARIANS. If you hate wasting money on books that you don't finish, the library is the perfect answer for you. Plus, you can use all those resources listed above and hit the library to test out your findings for free. And there's a great chance that your library will treat you better than mine has treated me, so definitely give it a go. Free books are never a bad thing, folks.

***

In short (which, yeah, this wasn't), there are always new books and authors out there just waiting to whisk you off on an adventure. And you shouldn't snub them because the author was this or that gender or race or because the protag was this or that gender or race or because the cover featured someone's oiled up chest or billowing Regency gown, because authors often have no control of their covers. 

In a world where you can't judge a book by the cover, much less the author's name or gender, a little bit of background work can ensure that you're constantly broadening your horizons with stories that connect with you as a person and, yes, sometimes challenge your worldview in a great way.

***

So, how do you find books?






Tuesday, June 18, 2013

This is the post that came after that post that got crazy huge.

How do you follow up a post that went to Slate and received 90 times your usual number of views?

Clearly you go on vacation and finish up your deadlines and let that big ol' post stay at the top of your blog until you have something equally important to say.

I... um... ahem. Hello.

You can't force feels like that. So instead, I present you with the only photograph taken of me during seven days at the beach.


I think that about sums it up.

If you're here for the big ol' post on sexism, scroll down. 

It's a lot more serious down there.

***

Friday, June 7, 2013

On Sexism in Publishing, or Why I'm Writing this Now Instead of Two Days Ago

Highly simplified, the reason is the same one that kept me from pressing charges against my rapist: because I was scared.

When I read Ann Aguirre's words (Ann's original post here) about her struggle with sexism as a science fiction and fantasy writer, I find so much kinship with how she felt as a new writer and how she feels now. When you're just starting out as a traditionally published author, there's so much insecurity, so much willingness to put up with anything to see your book in print. As a Southern woman who was raised to be polite and respectful, my instinct is to shut up and smile, to kill 'em with kindness and hope that the audience around me will recognize that I'm fighting with class and confidence instead of whining and complaining and yelling.

But you know what? It's not right.

Being quiet doesn't get results.

I'm not a member of SFWA because I looked at their website and composition and quickly came to the conclusion that I wasn't the target demographic. Sure, I write science fiction and fantasy, but once you throw romance and sex into the mix, it's generally agreed that my book will sit on the Romance shelf instead. Never mind the intricate alternate history steampunk world that's based on the supposition that the majority of prey animals have become predators. Shirtless dude on the cover? Romance. End of story.

And I'm fine with that, because I know that romance takes up 48% of the paperback market, and I'd like to be successful in my career.

What I'm not fine with, however, is being ignored or mistreated in industry articles or on con panels because someone has taken one look at my face and my book and decided that I'm not worthy of respect or time.

Story 1:
The first con I ever attended was a small steampunk con in Atlanta. It was two months before my book came out, and I wore a steampunk costume for the first time and was really excited. I asked the con if I could be a guest, and they turned me down, politely, probably because I had no connections and no actual book in hand. I offered to volunteer, hoping to meet people, and they made me into a green room hostess-- because I'm pretty. The first person I met was a famous science fiction writer, the Guest of Honor. He asked me what I did, and I told him I wrote steampunk paranormal romance. He scoffed and said that in the grand pyramid of writers, I was the bottom level. That I wasn't worth, and I quote, "the shit on his shoe" because I didn't have quality science in my books and just wrote "vampire porn". He said that women like me were ruining his genre.

And do you know what I did?

I smiled and tried not to cry. And served him breakfast, because that was my job, and because telling the Guest of Honor at a con that he was a misogynistic dick didn't seem like a good way to get invited back or to move my career forward.

That guy was the first professional I met in my field, and I've since learned that his books are basically rape fantasies. Fortunately, I've found a community of wonderful authors who have become friends, many of whom fight tirelessly for equality in an industry that is often criticized for its inability to quickly adapt to the changing cultural and technological landscape. How ironic--a genre based on technology, science, fantasy, and the future clings desperately to the past regarding the treatment of women.

Story 2:
I was on my first panel at Dragon*Con, sitting next to one of my favorite authors, a female writer with several successful series in several genres. Also on the panel were three writers with whom I was unfamiliar and who could all be described as "old white men". Can you guess how much they let us talk? How much they interrupted us? How much they complained about women mucking up science fiction right in front of us? The author beside me turned to me and rolled her eyes and said, "Why are we even here?"

And that gave me the courage to speak up, because dammit, we were there for a reason, and that reason was that we are writers (just like them), and we have books (just like them), and just because those angry old guys shouted louder and talked longer didn't mean that they were any more entitled to our time or attention. I remember saying something along the lines of, "Well, I may be the youngest and most inexperienced one on the panel and the newest to the publishing community, but I think that means I'm the future of our industry and that my beliefs on this topic have value for the new directions taken by science fiction and fantasy."

When you're a new writer, you receive a lot of advice from people who care, telling you to stop making waves, to avoid alienating readers or making industry people angry. But for me, this is a deeply rooted issue that might be worth losing potential readers. My book is just as much of a book as any man's book, and my words are just as important as a man's words.

And the fact that there are men out there who would even attempt to argue that fact makes me furious.

When I was raped in high school by an upstanding scholar, a teacher's son, I was told to keep it quiet so that I wouldn't look bad or ruin his life. I was asked, gently, if maybe it wasn't rape, if I had goaded him on or had given him the wrong signals. I was asked if I'd been "asking for it". I was told that since we'd dated, no one would consider it rape. And he wrote a letter to me explaining that he knew what he had done but that it was okay now, because had asked Jesus for forgiveness, and maybe I should ask Jesus for forgiveness, too. I told my favorite teacher, and she told me that if I pressed charges, I would just make myself look bad.

So what did I do? I stopped talking about it.

Over time, I realized that surviving that night with his knife at my throat was, in a way, fighting back. But I've wished for seventeen years that I'd fought back physically, loudly, that I'd risked everything to avoid letting him make me a victim. I want to think of myself as a fighter, as someone who does the right thing, even if it hurts.

So when I say that I'm not going to be quiet anymore, I mean it. I'm not going to let someone talk over me at a panel or tell me I'm worth nothing. I'm not going to be told that "it's always been this way", or "boys will be boys", or "stop complaining and do something". In this case, complaining *is* doing something.

Because men who belittle women, who turns us into damsels and whores in their books, who speak over us and tell us we're ruining things-- they want the same thing my rapist wanted: for us to stop talking about it.

I'm not saying that sexism in publishing is the same thing as rape. What I *am* saying is that when you expect a woman to shut her mouth and be pretty, to not complain, to accept the fact that you devalue her and her work-- you're taking away her voice and turning her into an object, one that won't get in the way of your plans.

And I'm no longer going to shut my mouth.

***

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Women of Twitter speak: What's your superheroine costume?

I asked Twitter this question:



And here are the answers I received in less than twenty minutes:




Funny how no one has yet mentioned any form of bathing suit, bikini, underwear, chain mail, bustier, or high heels.

REALLY FUNNY.

And that's why I need to break into comics and write a book called WONDERBITCH about a self-confident geek girl who fights crime in skinny jeans, sensible boots, a fitted tee, and a sports bra.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to Get Stuff Out of an Author


And I don't mean spare kidneys or earwax.

I mean the things that are most often requested of me and, I'm guessing, other authors who make themselves available via social media. Maybe it's books for a charity event, swag or bookplates, or just the answer to the question burning in your heart.

The truth is that every author in that photo wants you to be happy.

But you have to help us, because our brains are all cluttered up with stories and deadlines. Here's the thing: I'm not big, I don't have an assistant, I'm not organized, and I'm not rich. So if you contact me, you often get one chance to grab my attention.

Here's how to do it:

IF YOU WANT A FREE BOOK

If you want a free book for your charity auction or some other fuzzy-hearted, karma-positive reason, put all your information in one email. A link to the organization and event so I know it's legit, the address to whom it needs to be sent, the last possible date you need it, and every other pertinent bit of info. This is one case where an intro email request might get ignored, but if you make it easy for me and require no follow up but a stamp, I might just slap it in the mail to make up for flicking off that slow driver yesterday.

It also helps to make a personal connection regarding why you are contacting me in particular. Have we met? Did you like my books? Why are you asking me and not someone else? Most of the requests I get seem like a blanket spam email hoping to reel in anyone with a soft heart, and that's not going to work on a horrible person like me.

If you just want a free book for funsies, let me stop you right there. We're strangers, and you're basically asking me to give you $7.99 plus shipping plus the time it takes me to go to the post office. Not going to happen. What a weird thing to ask, right? But it happens all the time.

IF YOU WANT SWAG AND SIGNED STUFF

Truth? AUTHORS LOVE SIGNING STUFF. And I've signed a lot of weird stuff.

But again, you have to help us. For me, the first step is to check the Events page at the top of my blog and see if we can actually meet and I can sign your stuff and give you bracelets and tell you how awesome you are. If I'm not going to be in your neck of the woods, you can email CriminyStain (at) gmail [dot] com with your home address, and when I gather up several, I'll send you whatever swag I have, plus postcards and stuff for my later releases. You might have to be patient, especially if you're outside the US, as I dread the post office like a kid cleaning their closet.

IF YOU WANT AN INTRO TO MY AGENT, EDITOR, OR AUTHOR FRIENDS

Sorry, Charlie. That's not how publishing works. My agent's name is public knowledge, but the only way you get in with her is by following her submission guides and kicking major ass. My editors don't accept unagented submissions. And no matter what my friend Sam says, I can't actually introduce you to Jewel Staite. If you want to get published, check that Resources page at the top of my blog for every link I used to get an agent and a book deal from my couch in Atlanta. There's no secret handshake; you have to do the work. But I believe in you!

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS

I'm always available on Twitter (@DelilahSDawson) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/DelilahSDawson) to answer questions. I'll answer questions posted via both of those avenues ten times faster than emails, because emails make me all bajiggity and balky. But I'm really nice and not scary and very much remember what it's like to be a book fangirl and a terrified new writer. I'm also happy to address that sort of question here on the blog, if it's something about publishing or my books that might have wide appeal.

Authors love to hear from you. Seriously. We love to hear that you like our books or hand-sold one in the bookstore. We love to see your fan art. That sort of email always makes an author's day. But please never tweet a bad review at me, because that makes me sad. You're more than welcome to hate the books or find faults with them, because heaven knows they are not perfect; I just don't want to know about it.

IN CONCLUSION
If you want to ask me or another author for something, for anything, MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE FOR US TO HELP YOU IN ONE TIDY EMAIL/MESSAGE. Because we're nice! And we want you to be happy! And we want you to buy our books! And tell us all about it! And then we'll all hug and never be eaten by bludbunnies!

Yes?

Yes.

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