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Month: August 2018

Jealous Hater Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 20 Judgement or “Aptly named, considering what I’m about to do to it.”

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UPDATE: I should have remembered this in the first place, but thank you, everyone who has tipped me through Kofi, not just this week and last week but all the weeks. Book sales are down and you guys really help me out.

No news this week! I wonder if all the exciting media buzz is under embargo. Because, you know, surely with a movie and book this spectacular and eagerly anticipated, it must be kept under wraps.

Oh, but there is a gross and bloody gif in here. Heads up.

The Big Damn Angel Rewatch S01E04 “I Fall To Pieces”

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In every generation, there is a chosen one. No, shit. Wrong show. What am I supposed to do, now? I guess I’ll just have to recap every episode Angel with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Angel is still a dick.
  2. Cordelia is smarter than everyone.
  3. Sex is still evil.
  4. Sunlight isn’t nearly as dangerous as it was in Sunnydale…
  5. …but its danger is certainly inconsistent.
  6. Vampire/demon rules aren’t consistent with the Buffyverse.
  7. Xenophobia and cultural stereotypes abound.
  8. Women are disposable and unrealistic.
  9. Vampires still @#$%ing breathe.
  10. Some of this stuff is still homophobic as fuck.
  11. Blondes, blondes everywhere
  12. Smoking is still evil.
  13. A lot of this shit is really misogynistic.
  14. Some of this stuff is ableist as fuck.

The Big Damn Angel Damsel In Distress Counter: 8

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Just like with the Buffy recaps, I’ve seen (most) of this series already, so I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So a blanket spoiler warning is in effect.

CW: There’s a suicide joke. It’s pretty dumb and throwaway, so if that kind of thing bothers you, heads up.

I Love This Book

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In an effort to promote work I love (rather than just tear apart that which I hate), I introduce to you this book that I love. Meet Strangely Beautiful by Leanna Renee Hieber.

A photo of the book Strangely Beautiful by Leanna Renee Hieber, staged on my crocheted white table cloth with a china cup of tea with saucer beside it, a dried rose resting across it, and a selenite crystal ball looking ghostly and beautiful above it.

Go check it out at Macmillan.com

Now, some background on this book. This is actually an updated volume that contains two books, The Strangely Beautiful Tale Of Miss Percy Parker and The Darkly Luminous Fight For Persephone Parker. Anyone discovering this gaslight fantasy series now is super lucky; they don’t have to wait for the sequel (like I did). They can just get it in one book.

I read The Strangely Beautiful Tale Of Miss Percy Parker in 2009 when I received it as a freebie at a convention. I fell deeply, deeply in love with it. A gaslight fantasy about a mystical task force, The Guard, who protect Victorian London from restless spirits and supernatural dangers, it hit every one of my reader sweet spots. I fell in love with the heroine, Percy, a young woman who’s more like a living ghost, with moon-white skin and hair and supernatural abilities even she doesn’t understand. I swooned over Alexi, the dark, brooding schoolmaster who leads The Guard. And reading scenes with The Guard? I totally felt like I was a part of them like they were all my friends and I was included in their divine purpose. The writing is lush and the world is rich. The original mythology blends seamlessly with the traditional mythology woven throughout (fans of Persephone and Hades, in particular, will fall in love with this book). It absolutely blindsided me and I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t talking about it and fangirling over it as much as I was.

So imagine how I, a person who generally overreacts to things I like, finally met the author, Leanna Renee Hieber, in 2010 after the release and my subsequent devouring of the sequel.

I was actually pretty cool. “I really loved your book, I can’t say enough good things about it.”

But when she cosplayed as Percy Parker for a party later that night (and stayed in character the whole time)?

I threw myself, practically sobbing, into her arms and cried, “I love you so, so much!”

Luckily, Leanna is as passionate and awesome about stuff she loves as I am about the stuff she writes, so she totally got it. And this particular copy is signed, “Percy loves you so much!” so there, it’s canon, written in the author’s own hand, no take backs.

How much of a fangirl am I for this series (which includes a prequel, The Perilous Prophecy Of Guard And Goddessnow available as The Perilous Prophecy and the upcoming sequel, Miss Violet And The Great Warwhich I am totally freaking out about)? I have every version of these books, from the originals to the releases (all signed, of course) as well as the ebooks because I want to be able to carry them with me everywhere so I can read my favorite parts when the mood strikes me. Which, for me, is saying something, because my stunning array of learning disabilities makes reading super duper hard for me.

I love, love, love these books. I hope that if you read them, you’ll love them as much as I do. But even if you only love them a fifth as much as I do, they’ll still be in your top ten.

The Big Boys’ Table

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I’m talking to a male author at a signing event. He writes thrillers and horror and he’s standing in front of tall promotional banners bearing big-name praise for his books. He’s normal and personable and not braggy.

Which is what makes it worse when he says that his first contract resulted in a seven-figure advance.

He explains how much support he’s gotten from big names, the movie and television rights he’d sold. How none of his subsequent advances have been below six figures.

And how he’d gotten a lot of this attention because an indie book he’d published had reached sales figures that are fairly average to midlist indie romance authors.

“Anyone can do what I did,” he says of his marketing tactics at the beginning. He’s a nice guy and genuinely believes his good luck at stumbling upon a marketing tactic that worked is why he’s being handed big checks and bigger opportunities. He wants his fellow authors to succeed. He wants to pay it forward and help them the way he was helped. Because everyone has been so nice to him, so eager to see his star rise. He tells a story about one of the biggest names in the business flying him out to spend a weekend in his guest house and saying, “We’re going to get you a seat at the big boys’ table.”

It’s a story out of a writer’s wildest dreams.

It’s a story out of a male writer’s wildest dreams.

Those words, “the big boys’ table”, undoubtedly thrilled him in the retelling of the tale. Who doesn’t fantasize about having a rich, powerful person promise them that every dream they have is about to come true? But they didn’t have the same inspirational effect on me that he was probably going for. A moment before, I’d been listening to a fascinating story of an author who really, truly believes in himself and the power of our art.

A moment later, I was slapped with a reminder that these wild literary adventures aren’t for me or any other woman. Because there’s no seat for a female author at “the big boys’ table.”

This table, as I imagine it, is more of a conglomeration of high top bar tables crowded together with bowls of peanuts and pretzels and plenty of room for empty beer glasses. For the most part, it’s cis, straight, white men basking in the camaraderie here. They’re in the center. They’re the ones who can pass you the pretzels or the appetizer menu. If you’re not white or straight or cis or male, they have the authority to say, “Grab another chair! Join us!”

But for the most part, anyone outside the demographic will undoubtedly be told that the management asked them not to rearrange any more tables. That the gathering is unfortunately just wrapping up. That they’ve all just asked for their checks. The peanuts are gone and someone spilled their beer into the pretzels. We’ve missed out.

The male author I spoke to, the one who gets six and seven figure advances, the one who gives credit to his marketing and the kindness of other authors for his success, will probably never understand why a female author’s eyes glaze over upon hearing about his invitation to “the big boys’ table”. As time passes, someone will tell him to chalk up our sudden disinterest to envy. He may stop trying to reach out to help anyone who won’t fit in with the crowd at that table, believing all of us too jealous or bitter to help. It’s entirely possible that no one will ever tell him that the only competition he had for his seat was from other cis white men.

Does this mean his books aren’t good? No. I haven’t read them, but I plan to read his next release because it sounds incredible. Does it mean he hasn’t worked for the success he’s received? Not at all. He’s a hybrid author currently working on self-published releases alongside traditionally published ones, which is no easy feat. The problem isn’t this author or that he’s been offered a seat at the big boys’ table. The problem is that when another man is invited to that table, they forget why they’re there. They don’t notice the people who aren’t sitting with them.

And the men who’ve spent a lot of time at that table know this. They’ve carefully engineered the situation to be this way. And they’re going to tell you that it’s your fault that you’re not taken seriously. That if you wrote something more “literary”, if you used your initials or a male pen name, if you didn’t waste time on this or that publisher, there would be room for you. That it’s not them. It’s not the institution. It’s you.

How can we expect to be treated equitably in a business that openly sneers at its best-selling genre simply because of the people who write it and buy it? How can we believe publishers who insist that they’re giving everyone a fair shake while indulging in boys’ club terminology? Why are we told that men who’ve written fewer books and done half our sales have proven themselves and earned astronomical advances that our work pays to provide?

How stupid do you think we are?

As long as powerful people in traditional publishing describes success in such terms, there is no reason for the rest of us to court industry favor. The game is rigged, so there’s no reason to continue playing. No one is going to come right out and say, “You aren’t welcome,” especially when they can still make money from your work. But they clearly have no issue with acknowledging the truth in casual conversation.

There’s no neat wrap up to this post. There’s no call action. There’s just me, a female writer, sitting at a book signing and dreaming of burning a cheerful watering hole full of jovial male writers to the ground.

Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 19 Death (part two) or “THAT’S IT I’M SETTING THIS BLOG AND THEN MYSELF ON FIRE.”

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In this week’s Jealous Haters Book Club, there is no news about Handbook For Mortals.

Because it’s fading away. But don’t worry. You can still find a copy of Handbook For Mortals at your nearest, cursed bookstore.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of consignment, what happens is that a bookstore and a self-published author or a small press representative make a deal in which the store will carry a title, which the author or small press provide, and if the book sells, the bookstore takes a cut. This is different to how a book that sells enough to legitimately make #1 on the New York Times list would be sold in a store. A book that is actually popular and in demand would be sold to the bookstore at a lower-than-retail price, which they would then sell at retail price. I’m not knocking consignment; I’ve done it myself because what else do self-published people do? But in one scenario, the business is investing in your product. In the other, the business is willing to let you rent shelf space. Twilight wasn’t hitting Waldenbooks on consignment.

In other news, a friend who lives in Las Vegas excitedly texted me, “You’ll never believe who’s on my flight!”

I was super disappointed to learn that it was not Carrot Top.