Friday, August 19, 2016

I am a real writer...I am a real writer...I am a real writer

Hey Everyone,

Sorry, I need to write a little bit about my frustrations just to relieve a little stress.  In other words, I need to rant.  I'm going to touch on some messy topics like women in fiction, the constant search for agents, and my personal ineptitude when it comes to reaching out.  While some might not agree with my views, voicing a few things might make me feel a little better.

First of all, I mentioned before that my young reader horror series is currently being viewed by agents, but I found my agent search so far to be fruitless.  Most of my rejections have included the phrase "I can't get enthusiastic about this series."  I'm really not sure what to do to fix that or even exactly what that means.  Several of the rejection letters have said something to the effect of the story is good or the writing is good, but it just isn't "for" them.  It's very bittersweet.  Compliments do tend to give me hope and keep me going, but I want something concrete to go with them.  

I know for a fact, young reader horror is going to become big again very soon.  A "Scary Stories to tell in the Dark" movie is coming out soon, a "Goosebumps" movie came out recently, and Netflix has created a show called "Stranger Things" which is a throwback to the many horror TV shows from the eighties.  However, I think the problem is that horror hasn't become big yet, so even though the signs are there, no one is willing to take a risk.  I know my books are well written, and the timing is almost perfect.  My contact with Penguin really liked them and so has most of my test audience.  Horror is the genre which I've had the most success in writing, but if no one is willing to give me a chance, all my stories are doing is taking up space in my hard drive.  It's frustrating to say the least, especially when financially we aren't doing very well right now.

I would love to send to more agents, but I've run into a snag with that.  Namely, it seems that everyone wants me to write from the point of view of a female protagonist in any novel I submit.  Granted, the story I sent out does have a female protagonist, but I find this new trend very limiting and it annoys me.  I think there is a reason for it.  Statistically speaking, I hear that more women read than men, especially in young reader and young adult fiction.  However, I believe that some of my novels are better from a male perspective.  For some reason, I tend to be more comfortable writing from a male perspective as well.  That might seem odd because I am a woman, but I've always had more male friends than female, and I've been told frequently I'm not a "typical woman."  (I'm not sure if that is a compliment or not, but it is what it is.)

Anyway, to sum it up, here's what I'm wondering...why do I have to write from a female perspective to get any recognition?  Isn't it enough that I'm a female author?  Is this to be more "fair" so that women have more female leads to associate with?  Can women only associate with a female perspective?  I don't think so.  I think we're smarter and more imaginative than that.

One of the reasons why I chose to write from a male perspective in my Dark Crystal submission was because Gelfling society is matriarchal.  I did it to look at the perspective of someone who is an underdog trying to basically get a job that is traditionally done by a woman.  Sometimes, it's fun to write from the perspective of a man as well in young adult romance because sometimes even a female audience likes to read something from the perspective of a man.  It makes them (or at least makes me) feel closer to the male character to see what he is thinking, which is kind of important in romance in general.  Romance is definitely geared more towards a female audience, but doesn't have to be from a female perspective to be enjoyable.  

Finally, now my biggest frustration is that it seems that it isn't what you know or how well you write, it's who you know and the connections you make.  This has always been a problem with me specifically.  I'm not good at reaching out and making connections other than making a few friends here and there that are also writers.  In terms of getting noticed by more than my general friend base, I just don't have common business sense.  I have to have people to tell me things like, "join goodreads" and "go to writing workshops," or "enter contests" before I even think to do something like that on my own, especially since I don't really enjoy writing on forums.  I've gotten a little better, but am still very limited by my lack of direction.  Maybe that's something you can help me with, whoever is reading.  If you can think of something specific that might get my books noticed, please tell me.  Throw me a bone, need the info...

Anyway, I found myself recently banging my head against the keyboard chanting the mantra, "I am a real writer...I am a real writer...I am a real writer..."  And, I am a real writer, but I'm hoping and praying that sometime in the near future, I'll see some results that will help me believe it.  In the meantime, the work horse from "Animal Farm" in my head is chanting "I will work harder."  We all know how well that worked out for him, let's hope I don't end up in the glue factory in the end.  Only time will tell and I've spent enough time ranting.  Time to get back to work.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Shadows of the Dark Crystal Review

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to post a review of "Shadows of the Dark Crystal" by J.M. Lee.  I've just finished reading it, and I must say that I'm very impressed.  I figured that I would like it, but it was everything I hoped it would be and then some.  I'm going to attempt to write this review without spoilers because I highly recommend that you read this book yourself.  You will enjoy it, especially if you enjoyed the movie.

The characters are very likable and have excellent motivations for what they do.  Their arguments and bantering flows very naturally.  At the end of the book there are even some surprises about the motivations of certain characters that I didn't expect.  It was great to see the differences between the various clans of Gelfling.  I'm hoping that in future books we'll be introduced to the remaining clans as well.  The differences between the cultures fueled many interesting conversations with the characters, and it was wonderful the way they banded together to face something greater than their differences.

I was pleasantly surprised with the dark tone of the book.  One of the things that most of us remember about the Dark Crystal was that the movie terrified us as children.  I'm pleased that these books can frighten a new generation in the same way.  The Skeksis are far scarier than the ones in the movie.  This might be because they're younger and stronger, but there is another element that makes them particularly terrifying in that they are the ones capturing the Gelfling themselves.  They actually kill some of the main characters by the end of the book.  (No, I'm not telling you which ones...)  Also, the character of "The Hunter" essentially the bogeyman of all Gelfling, and was written in such a way he lived up to the part.

The descriptions of the various settings are very good, as with the descriptions of the characters.  Even without the beautiful pictures (and the pictures are gorgeous), you get a very good idea of what everything looks like and there are very few confusing descriptions, especially for a book based in a fantasy universe.  While there is a glossary in the back, it's hardly necessary since most of the analogies the characters make are clear enough to get a good idea of what they're referring too, and the "real world" references are at a minimum which shows Lee's experience as a fantasy writer.

I highly recommend this book.  It took me only two days to read it because I couldn't put it down.  From those of you who read this blog, you know I have two children, so finding time to read this within two days means it had to be exceptionally good.  ;-)  Well done, Joey.  I'm looking very forward to the next one.  I knew they picked the right person to write it.

Go buy this book right now!