Tagged reading

Coop de Book Review: Brother’s Price & Waffling on the Heartbreak of Feminist Genre Authors

Posted by Gail Carriger

´I’m not quite sure how to put this, Gentle Reader, so I’ll just dive in.

Cupcakes

There are books you read because you want to, silly fluffy books. Perhaps these are not taken very seriously or considered great works. I like to think of these as cupcake books, only without the caloric guilt. This is what I mostly read. It’s what I like to read. I want to be entertained and happy. I forgive them for being not well written and turn giddy with delight when they are.

A book that transports me, and entertains, has beautiful prose, and leaves me happy at the end? I have been known to bounce.

Stew

There are books you read because you should and yet you still manage to enjoy them. These are the nutritious books, perhaps a bit chewy, perhaps a bit hard to work through, perhaps not exactly satisfying a whim or desire but enjoyable enough. They are likely good for you – these stew books. I put Austen, Gaskell, and Dickens into this category. I don’t read them for true pleasure or desire, I rarely reread, but I’ve also never thrown one across the room in disgust, either.

Sprouts

And there are books you read because you must, for research or for school, books that break librarians’ hearts because they turn kids off reading. These may be beautifully written but they are too much work, or too soul destroying, or simply not fun. (I’m looking at you, Grapes of Wrath, Magic Mountain, Heart of Darkness.) These are the Brussels sprouts of books. Or the cherry cough syrup. Or whatever that thing is that you were forced to eat as a kid and never got over.

And yes, I totally understand, some people love Brussels sprouts. I am not one of those people.

I took a course in European Bildungsroman as an undergrad. I remember reading a note that my excellent teacher jotted down at the top of one of my more vitriolic essays.

“I am troubled by your anger at these books.”

They do make me angry. I can understand why people find them worthy. I can even get if you enjoy reading them. But they frustrate me with prose that may be amazing, but I don’t like it, with disjointed plots or lost pacing, and the characters hurt me with their stupid. That, for me, is book failure.

And because reading is my favorite thing in the whole world, it feels like betrayal.

I throw these books across the room. I curse at them because out there are amazing cupcake works of art that no one knows about because they are too much fun, or too fluffy, or not thought of as healthy or worthy by the powers at be.

And perhaps I’ve learned since then that this is all wrapped up with a history of dominance by male authors, and a preponderance of male critics, and ivory tower standards on what is good enough to be literary, and glass ceilings inside pages. And yeah I learned about the Gothics, and the origin of genre, and the reason why SF/F/Romance so badly mistreated.

But I can’t forgive these famous literary works for being bad. Bad at entertaining me. Bad at making me happy.

All this brings me around to the fact that…

 

I had a sinking suspicion that Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price was going to be a sprout. Unexpectedly, it turned into a highly enjoyable stew. One of those lamb ones, full of veg and thick gravy and a nice rosemary roll on the side.

Formative Feminist Genre Authors

You see, I hate to admit this, but Andre Norton and Ursula K. LeGuin were sprouts for me. I tried, I really did. But I’ve never been able to make more than one or two paragraphs into any Norton book. (I just feel like she’d be one of those people at a party. You know those people? So much cleverer than you and think that’s enough to excuse them the basic human decency of actual manners.) Her writing feels like it’s talking down to me. With LeGuin, I managed Left Hand of Darkness, and a few of her shorter pieces, but only just. She’s utterly exhausting, and really no fun at all. I wouldn’t recommend her, that’s for certain.

Perhaps they were victims of their times. But I’m tempted to think they were trying to compete on a not-so-level playing field with the male authors of their day, for a mostly male audience, and to be taken seriously by male critics. Intentionally? Probably not. Presumably, it worked out in the end, I mean sometimes people are actually told to read their books in school! Female genre authors! Lands sake, what is this world coming to?

But, I digress. Where was I?

On the less well known at a cocktail party in New York front, there are authors like Sheri S. Tepper. Gate To Women’s Country broke my heart and changed my whole life, but I don’t reach for it in times of comfort. I rarely reread it. I recommend it. I think it’s important. It’s very healthy stew. But chewy, a lot of work to read. Good work and necessary. It leaves your brain sore and satisfied, but still work.

And usually, right about then, at the bar at a convention, a woman I respect will bring up Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price.

Which is why I chose to read it.

Oh, Did You Come Here for a Book Review?

I really enjoyed this book. Yes, still a stew and not a cupcake, but I liked it. Spencer had a much more breezy voice than I expected. It was easier jump into and read than I thought it would be. Yes she suffers a little from info-dump-itice, but I’m a skim reader so it doesn’t bother me as much as it might others.

The story was fun. I liked the action scenes. The world-building was spot on. Perhaps the setting wasn’t hugely original (kind of alternate Old West) but I was absolutely riveted by the shifted social structure.

Would this have been a good book if the genders were reversed? No. It would have been one step removed from an early regency romance, only with less romance. But that’s not the point.

After waffling on about how much I dislike books that are nothing but allegory and a pointed prose, I don’t quite understand why I forgave Brother’s Price so much. But I enjoyed reading it. I was fascinated by how Spencer approached concepts. I loved her cheeky jabs on our own social structures and morays.

Did I think the love interests were well developed? Not at all. But this could be a factor of the main character’s youth. Or perhaps the casual way he falls in love is itself a comment on having to marry so many. Is Spencer  shifting the very concept of romance given a sister-wife situation?

One of my favorite lines was this:

“The very nature of intercourse—an act to produce a pregnancy—and the risks to the woman’s health as such, I think will always make the choice of yes or no the woman’s.”

Spoken by an older woman to a younger man in a condescending, yet loving manner. It’s so perfectly pin pointed to eviscerate social darwinism, and eugenics, and claims of biological determinism that have been used throughout history to argue that biological differences mandate the social superiority of males.

These parts of the book made me happy. Not in a cupcake way. But in a “heh-heh, I see what you’re doing there, we are in on a mutual joke at the expense of the dominant paradigm” kind of way.

I think some would argue that Spencer is a little heavy handed with this kind of commentary. That she hits you over the head with it. But as the world is showing us (daily) how oblivious people continue to be, I forgive her this. We clearly need to be hit over the head.

Conclusions?

Was this a good book? Yes it was.

Did I enjoy reading it? Yes I did.

Will I reach for it in times of need for comfort? Probably not.

Should you read it? Yes.

More importantly, this is the kind of book that should be taught in schools. Because it manages to make its point with ease and still be fun to read. Because it would spark very interesting discussions. Because it is not work but it is still rewarding. Because it is holding up a mirror and showing us all our own ugliness, but isn’t cruel about it, just makes the point that we might want to keep struggling to improve. That we might want to consider our own nature as people in a collected group, our definitions of what it means to be wife or husband, sister or brother in our own society, and how that balances against our understanding of human decency.

Okay, I’ve waffled enough.

More on Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price.

{Gail’s monthly read along for Feb is Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1882 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

War, Revolution… and Dances

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Why the Most Productive People Do These Six Things Every Day

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

19 of the best podcasts for authors and writers

Book News:

Fan Art Characters by _cosmashivah

Quote of the Day:

“You are the stewards of sacred spaces. Rise to the occasion.”

~ Roxane Gay

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Book Group Poll Results for 2016

Posted by Gail Carriger

So, Gentle Reader, last month I ran a poll for the book group to find out which were your favorites of 2016’s picks. Here are the results. I allowed you to pick up to 5 books. Since I can’t actually check to see if you honestly read all of them (and I didn’t require it) I’m not sure how fair the poll is, but here you go:

The question always is, with books (apart from basic statical issues) whether it was content or voice or something else you responded too as readers.

I’m not too surprised to find Sorcery & Cecilia won. It’s one of the books out there that I consider closest, in style, to my own work. Or I’d like to hope that it is. So I’m not surprised those who like my books like it. And I’m please because I feel I can continue to tell those who ask me, exactly that.

Tamora Pierce is a major voice in YA for a reason, so again, no shocker that you’d like her because few don’t. Although…

Hex Hall (which I didn’t like all that much) was higher up than I expected and the two romances (Warprize & Finders Keepers) were lower down. This makes me suspect that participants in the book group are more into YA than romance as a general rule. This might be the nature of a book group, or just a fall out of draw on Goodreads, or something else connected to my Finishing School series. Or perhaps the romances I chose (one very much Fantasy and the other very much ScFi) are not to your taste. Perhaps New Adult would work better?

So, I guess I’m saying I’m not sure what to do going forward, except pick and choose as whimsy takes me. I’m going well out of your comfort zone for the Feb pick, and diving back in (I think) for March but we shall see at the end of next year how you feel about my picks! My first book of the year A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer (review coming soon), was in part due to the fact that it keeps coming up in conversation on panels at cons. Like Gate to Women’s Country it is considered a lesser known but formative feminist work in the field. This month’s choice, Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford, is a recent urban fantasy indie read that I didn’t expect to enjoy but loved. (I can’t wait to see what you think.)

Anyway, thanks for coming along this journey with me and I hope you continue to read along.

{Gail’s monthly read along for Feb is Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1880s Joseph Caraud (French artist, 1821-1905) The Red Parasol

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Bookscapes

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Roundtable on diversity in SciFi that features diverse voices, includes recommendations.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living

Book News:

Fan Art Alexia by Rebecca Nandi

Quote of the Day:

“The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


It Means Something Different in Romance

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Terminology for Romance Readers & Authors

In 2016 I shifted (slightly), Gentle Reader, and began writing more romance. All my books have romance threads, but in my first two novellas (Poison or Protect and Romancing the Inventor) I brought those threads to the forefront.

Romancing the Inventor

Delving into not just the writing but also the production end of the romance equation has been extremely enlightening, especially given my particular background (both personal and professional). Conversational lingo in the Bay Area on the subject of such things, let us just say, is a whole lot different from what a girl plops in her book description on Amazon.

For example, in conversation ’round a cafe in the Castro I’d call Poison or Protect het, or breeder, with kink lite, but that sure ain’t the correct way to go about it on Amazon.

We are talking book descriptions here people

What follows is going to be me prattling on about romance novel book descriptions, particularly those that appear on websites like Amazon, Kobo, B&N, etc… (As opposed to book cover copy, which appears in print on book jackets and is usually slightly different.)

Let me say that again, I’m talking about vocabulary and semantics in ROMANCE NOVEL BOOK DESCRIPTIONS. This means… marketing! Hooray! I’m NOT dealing with how greater society would describe the relationships presented in said books, nor the choices/terms various communities would prefer used, nor the political correctness of this situation.

What I find fascinating is the marketing aspect, not the truth. (Ain’t that how the world works these days, anyway?)

I don’t know… warning?

Look, I think this is interesting and educational and fascinating. I’m not gonna describe any acts or what-have-you. But if you’re easily offended by anything beyond plain-old heterosexual intercourse, then you might wanna not read this. Okay? Bye bye now.

Still with me?

Here we go… Bum chicha baow.

On the surface?

Romance means the emotional tenors of the relationship are front and center to the plot of the story. Pacing is going to rely on feelings. Feeeeeeeeelings, nothing more than, feeeeelllingggs…

Sweet romance probably won’t have much (if any) sex details and it’ll likely end on a wedding (or at least an engagement).

Clean romance means that it really won’t have any nookie.

Erotica means it’s all about the sexitimes. Pace is going to be driven by physical encounters and those will be described in detail.

You Probably Know This But…

A stand alone means the whole story arc finishes in one book.

Cross-over characters means there will be side and background characters shared in other books by this author, or (in some rare cases) books by other authors too.

If you come at romance having read anything else first, here’s a shocker:

The word series. The traditional definition of series means linked books with the same main character(s) and over-arching plot that are meant to be read one after another (like my Finishing School books). In romance, series is far more likely to mean a shared world with stand alone books and cross over characters that can be read in any order (like my Supernatural Society novellas).

The exception is urban fantasy and paranormal romance, which are more likely to be set up as traditional series not linked stand-alones.

Frankly, I wish there were a better word than series deployed in romance, but it seems there is no going back now.

Lets Get Deep Here: Initialisms

HEA means happily ever after.

MLM means men loving men. WLW means women loving women. These come out of personal ads from, oh hell, the 1980s or whatevs. More common these days in marketing is f/f (means female female) and m/m (means male male) romance or sex (but likely both). These terms come out of slash fan fiction.*

These sets of initialisms used in descriptions quickly let readers know exactly what kind of relationship will be taking place in the book. There are cover art markers too, but these aren’t as specific. For example, there is a lot of cross over in cover art style (see: tattooed naked male torso + dark shadows + bold title) between contemporary m/m erotica (usually two muscled alpha males, often using the “gay for you” trope) and new adult bad boy romances (het, college age, fixed by snatch trope**).

LGBTQ means Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer. An all encompassing series of letters that, when used in a romance book description, usually implies that not only the main characters will be in a queer coupling (or more) but that there will be queer supporting characters and, probably, a level of understanding about real world queer communities.

More than you ever needed to know about multiples

Menagé. OK this term can get complicated (yeah yeah). In the strictest sense of the word, menagé should mean all three are getting it on together. However, I’ve found that in romance menagé often means two dudes getting it on with one girl (and NOT the other dude). Everything stays heterosexual. (Yep, there is a whole sub-genre of brothers who share.) This kind of menagé will almost invariably involve DP (double penetration).

As opposed to: m/f/m or m/m/m or f/f/f etc… the use of a slash to describe a menagé relationship usually means all parties involved are sexually together with each other, as a proper threesome.

Poly (from polyamorous) means three or more individuals romantically involved with each other. This term is not often used in book descriptions, and when it is, it implies that emotional connections between characters will be emphasized over sexual ones.

May/December describes a large age difference between the central romantic pairing. As age difference is also a power imbalance, this can edge into either disturbing or hot (but then, most things can when romance and/or sex are involved). Of course, it is always the power struggle in romance that is truly titillating to readers.

mPreg. Oh yes. Did you know this one? It’s getting more and more common in m/m shifter romances. And yeah, it means one of the dudes gets pregnant. Don’t ask.

 

OK there you have it. Signal marker terms in the romance genre. I’m sure there are a ton more but these are the ones I found interesting and surprising.

 

* MLM versus m/m, WLW versus f/f additional thoughts. As an anthropologist, I find the use of the word women (or men) as a opposed to female (or male) interesting. Women has implications of societal role, while female is more clinical. In anthropology, these words are all tied up in concepts of gender versus biological sex.

** “fixed by snatch” I’m not a big fan of the idea that a douchnozzle dude can be reformed by penetrating the perfect pussy. Oh, I’m sorry, was that crass? Then stop writing/buying it. New Adult romance has a lot to answer for.

{Gail’s monthly read along for January is A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel
    Status: Developmental edit (third draft).
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Rough Draft Complete. On Lay Away.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and some very unexpected gifts.
  • Competence (working title) ~ Custard Protocol Book 3
    Status: Outline
    Third in the Custard Protocol series featuring Primrose, Rue, and all their crazy friends.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via Oᒪᗪ ᑭᕼOTOᔕ & ᙖᗩᙅOᑎ @photosandbacon Lila Lee at the Beach

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

“I hate the treadmill.”
“I thought you hated the elliptical.”
“I hate them equally. I can’t have one thinking it’s the favourite.”

~ The Weight Of It All by N.R. Walker

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“Truth often sounds like insolence to those unprepared to hear it.”

~ Starstruck Holidays by Lia Davis, Kerry Adrienne, Jennifer Loring, Merryn Dexter, B. Leslie Tirrell

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Why Do Some Writers Choose to Go “Indie”?

Book News:

Women Write About Comics says:

“The magic of Romancing the Inventor is not only that it takes what should be an agonizingly taboo situation and plays it out like your average romance, but also that any reader can come and experience Gail Carriger’s world without needing to ask too many questions. Carriger is fantastic at worldbuilding; and when there are questions, she has a brief glossary in the back for terms that have not been explained.”

Quote of the Day:

“Romance should never begin with sentiment. It should begin with science and end with a settlement.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Recommended Books to Escape Reality

Posted by Gail Carriger

Gentle Reader, here’s a list of the best books for escaping reality. 2016 has been a rough year so I figure right now we all probably need it, for some reason or another.

Want your….

50 Shades of Escape?

For Real Alexis Hall

For Real by Alexis Hall
Get your kink with a side of heart warming and some of the most well written prose in commercial genre fiction.

Mr Darcy in a wet shirt only funny?

Ridiculous by D.L. Carter

Ridiculous by D.L. Carter
Hilarious cross-dressing regency romance. Fall in love with Mr North, I did.

John Snow getting seduced by Aragon?

Bitterwood by Rowan Speedwall

Bitterwood by Rowan Speedwell
Winter IS coming. (Oh yes, I went there.)

Princess picking the dragon over the prince?

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede
And she learns to cook cherries jubilee. Twist that fairy tale, twist and shout!

Star crossed lovers, trade secrets, and clashing cultures?

Local Custom by Lee & Miller

Local Custom by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Star sweeping romance of space operatic proportions in one nice stand-alone story.

Political drama where the good girl wins?

Daughter of the Empire by Fiest & Wurts

Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts
First of three books about a brilliant lady playing the political game to win. When she can’t win? She makes up her own rules. This sweeping epic set in an alternate Japanese culture is full of honor, nobility, and fraught love affairs. But yes, the good girl wins it all in the end. (Unfortunately, not available in digital format but it is so worth picking up the mass market.)

{Gail’s monthly read along for December is Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Rough Draft.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel
    Status: First draft done. Resting before second draft.
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

c.1923 United States Philadelphia Museum of Art

c.1923 United States Philadelphia Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Octopus Pot Corinthian British Museum

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“Writing is the flip side of sex – it’s good only when it’s over.”
~ Hunter S. Thompson

Book News:

The Nocturnal Library says of Imprudence:

“Traveling to Egypt on The Spotted Custard would be fun under any circumstances, but with Rue’s companions and some very dear characters from The Parasol Protectorate, it’s a true delight.”

Quote of the Day:

“Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.”
~ Author Unknown

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Readathon Report

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Accountability, Gentle Reader, is a dangerous thing.

So I committed to this readathon as soon as I found out it existed. I did a warm up post and during the event on Saturday I also conducted a mini challenge give away (one lucky person won a copy of Soulless limited hardback).

It was fun and, schedule permitting, I’ll do it again next year.

Gail’s Results!

  • Skim/rereads: 6
  • New read: 2
  • Samples read & rejected: 8 (3 because of formatting issues, reminding me that formattign must be excellent)
  • Audio short story: 3
  • Stretching sessions: 5
  • Cups of tea: 4
  • Breaks: 7 (lunch, category sorting, dancing round living room with the AB, cutting Lilliput’s nails, picking #readblock winner, dinner, groceries)

Total hours read: 11

Fuel & Encouragement included:

 

 

So yeah, I didn’t even get to half the 24 hours (which was my personal goal), but still that’s pretty darn good for me.

A recommendation based on my day of reading will be in the next newsletter.

Random thoughts of annoyance.

Someday ereaders will allow tagging, and show book summaries at a click (without leaving native), and my life will actually be complete. It’s frustratingly hard to locate a specific book on my device (I never remember title or author) and even more annoying to have to look up book information online and wait the interminable spin of a slow processor and refresh rate. Reminds me of the 1990s. Is it so hard to build an e-ink device where you can locate what you want, and check a back cover blurb easily?

And for those of you who cutely wish to comment with a “just read a paper book, Gail” might I remind you I fly almost 30 times a year? With all their faults, ereaders are still a way better option for frequent travelers.

Plans for next year’s readathon.

I think I really need to isolate, if possible, and not try to do this at home. Too many distractions.

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Bon Ton Thursday, July 1, 1858 Item ID-  v. 39, plate 116

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

A very Lord A tapestry

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Steampunk Hands Around the World 2016 ~ Official Link List

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Editing Hacks

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. In production. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella.
    Status: Editing. Cover art reveal to come. Release date to come.
    Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: Awaiting first pass edit. Chasing cover art photo (failing miserably, help me)
    Gail’s second foray into hybrid land, LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

 
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
My short story, Fairy Debt, is making an appearance in this anthology: Funny Fantasy (print to follow soon)

Quote of the Day:
“Such an easy thing, to be liked. All you had to do was make sure people didn’t know you.”
~ A Gentleman’s Position by K.J. Charles (I love this series)

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

The Bleeding Editorial Eye ~ Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

I’m participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on Saturday April 23, 2016. It’s going to be fun and I am super excited about it. I’ve never done anything like it before (not intentionally). I’m not doing it for the full 24 hours, because I’m kind of a wimp. The older I get, the more missing even one night of sleep derails me for weeks. Instead, my plan is to read from about 9am to 11pm. I’ll be nattering away online when I take breaks to let you all know how it is going. You can participate too, of course.

Anyway, I said I would do a bit of a warm up piece for the organizers and here it is!

The Bleeding Eye of a Professional Author… Reading

I have a confession to make: I enjoy editing. Not every author will say this, some of my friends hate editing more than any other part of the publication process. I rather love it. I like to print out the manuscript, grab a red pen, and see how much I can make that novel bleed.

Suffer little story! Suffer!

OK. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. I promise this will all be about reading soon.

But first, a prologue (to establish atmosphere):

In case you haven’t guessed already, I’m one of those rare and lucky creatures ~ a full time professional author. I write commercial genre (and proud of it, thank you very much) SF/F and romance, occasionally with a bit of mystery and suspense thrown in. I’ve been mostly traditionally published, but I’m turning hybrid this year. I officially started this lark in 2009 with my debut Soulless, and quit my day job to go full time in 2012. By some standards that makes me a baby author.

Goo.

But I have edited to production 7 adult novels, 5 YA novels, 3 graphic novels, and 4 short stories during the past 7 years.

Some of my books on display in the office

I’m also a voracious reader. Not by everyone’s standards; I close in on 100 books a year. Before I went full time novelist it was about twice that.

Here’s the tragedy. That editor who serves me so well, happily wielding the vicious red pen, never turns off. She bleeds all over written words, be they mine or others. Reading isn’t the same anymore.

On a recent panel at Emerald City Comicon this topic came up with fellow authors Lisa Mantchev and David Levine. We were lamenting the fact that when we read for pleasure that inner critic, the one that is so useful when working on our own stuff, never shuts up.

These days when I read I can’t suspend disbelief. I’m constantly being shoved out of the story. It could be for any reason from “Why is there no oxford comma?” to “Very nice turn of phrase.” to “I see what she’s doing there, clever girl!” Be it positive or negative, there’s a part of my brain always paying attention to the writing: from plot, to pace, to characterization.

Books I read and loved before I turned pro are sometimes exempt. I can go back to an old favorite and memory overrides the bloody tide of correction. I can be carried away by a trusted familiar story, and the inner editor goes to sleep. Although not always.

Some of my old favorites.

And very occasionally a new book comes along that manages to leave the editor in the mud. A book so good it picks up and carries the reader-me away from the writer-me. Those books get me SO EXCITED. I turn into a raving loon ~ constantly talking about them, recommending them to anyone who will listen. They may not be the most popular of the season. They may not even be comparatively good by critical standards, but some indefinable thing turned my editor brain off and that is a reading state I hunger for more than anything. So I love them unconditionally. (Recently Court of Fives did this to me.)

It’s not a horrible thing. I can still enjoy reading. As Austen would have it ~ there is no enjoyment like it. Occasionally, the editor is a friend. “Oh, look at that little trick there? Isn’t that nifty? You should try something like that.” She helps me to enjoy a book on an intellectual level. The floating transformative side of reading may be absent, but I appreciate a story differently, for its skill and uniqueness.

Just a word of caution: if you are a reader who hopes to become a professional writer, this material change in your reading personality may occur.

You have been warned.

I sometimes wonder if this is what distinguishes editors, agents, and critics from true readers. It could explain why some books sail in from (apparently) nowhere on the tide of popular opinion and grab readers up, taking them floating on a puffy couch of imagination while we – the industry professionals – remain confused and mired far below.

“But,” we cry, “it’s just another hero’s journey. It’s just another boarding school novel. It’s just vampires. Again. We’ve seen it all before. Can’t you see the quality of the writing is poor? Why do you like it?” It’s the plaintive cry of the skeptic; upon whom magic has no effect.

It’s not really us calling out. Not the reader-us. It’s our bleeding editorial eye that has cursed us to sit on the shore, grumbling to ourselves.

The reading nook in my office.

Look: if you’re reading a book, and you love it, and it carries you away, then revel in that feeling. If you’re transported by a story, you are one of the lucky ones. The opinion of others shouldn’t impact your enjoyment one iota. Especially not the opinion of professionals. If critics call it crap, the trick is to feel sorry for them. Pity us, please? We spend our reading lives bleeding all over everyone’s pages, even when they are not our own.

I, for one, am going to hunt down a bandage and keep trying for that elusive puffy couch. Keep a spare cushion warm for me, OK? And if you’re tempted to edit, try not to bleed all over the hassock.

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via @DrLivGibbs  Spring (Jeanne Demarsy)
by Édouard Manet 1881 (@GettyMuseum)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
The Demise of the Damsel in Distress: The Badass Women of Science Fiction

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
To TK or Not to TK?

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. In production. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella.
    Status: Working developmental edit. Cover art reveal to come. Release date to come.
    Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: Awaiting first pass edit. Chasing cover art.
    Gail’s second foray into hybrid land, LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor whose too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

 
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:

Sandelio de Rabiffano “Biffy” character sketch.
Let’s be honest, flirting Biffy is my favorite Biffy.
by ace-artemis-fanartist tumblr

Quote of the Day:
“For, indeed, Thomas never can resist saying exactly what enters his head. Sometimes it is diverting, of course. In fact, it is always diverting to Thomas. But often very awkward for the rest of us.”
~ Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery & Cecelia

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

Occasional FAQ ~ Gail Carriger’s Favorite Books

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Gail’s Favorite Books

Want more?

{Gail’s monthly read along for February is Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper Book 1 by Tamora Pierce.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Morning visiting dress fashion plate, June, 1820 via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
New York Public Library Digital Collections

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
The Dangers of Serious Writer Voice

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Edit pass. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella. Reworking & trimming. Release date to come. Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, featuring a grown up and several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.



Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)


 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
Etiquette & Espionage made the NYPL’s list of series to Binge On

Quote of the Day:
The fact is, Bertie, old lad, my heart is broken. I’ll tell you the whole story.’
‘No, I say!’ I protested. But he was off.
~ Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!


    Gail Recommends Gifts for Readers

    Posted by Gail Carriger

     

    The holidays are upon us and so here are some fun ideas for gifts for the reader in your life, Gentle …erm… Reader.

    Gifts for People Who Love to Read

    Feather Metal Bookmarks ($5).

    DIY: Purchase eBook-only shorts your reader’s favorite author, especially if said reader doesn’t like eBook, get some fancy paper, print out the short story, roll up like a scroll and wrap with a pretty ribbon. (My shorts are here.)

    Knock Knock Personal Library Kit ($12.41).

    DIY: Email readers favorite author and offer to mail an SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) if they have any book marks, or even business cards with cover art on them. You can turn these into magnets. If the author doesn’t offer swag, you can print out the cover of a favorite book followed by quotes onto nice paper with a high quality printer and make all manner of things with it, from a specialized bookmark (most print shops will do cheap lamination), to Christmas tree decoration, to framed art, to…

    First Lines of Literature Mug ($16).

    Pre-order a few up coming favorite authors for the reader in yoru life. Print out the pre-order page as a kind of coupon of goodness to come.

    Spooky Reading Girl T-Shirt ($30). 

    Offer the convention experience. Poke about to see if there are any major or minor conventions in the area that feature the reader’s favorite author. Get tickets to attend with the reader, or for the reader and a friend. This can be a spendy gift, but experience gifts are pretty darn fun.

    Book Cover Case for Kindle – Einstein’s Theory of Relativity ($28).

    You can pull together a book themed basket. Like some of your favorite romance novels with some chocolates and a bottle of wine (or two). Here is one example I did for Blameless several years ago. You could do this same one with the three Soulless Manga, for example.

    Still hunting for something? Here’s Borderlands list of goodies including signed Manners & Mutiny.

    {Gail’s monthly read along for December is Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix, skinflint alternative is Ridiculous by D.L. Carter.}

    GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

    Your Moment of Parasol . . .

    history-of-fashion- ab. 1835 Unknown artist – Portrait of a Young Lady

    Your Infusion of Cute . . .

    mistralienne- A hidden-message ring, from the 1830s. (via hackneyedhobgoblin)

    Your Tisane of Smart . . .
    10 Reasons That the Octopus is Incredible

    Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
    10 Self-Published Authors Who Made It Big

    PROJECT ROUND UP 

    • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Out now!
    • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Handed in. Available for pre-order, releases July 19, 2016 in the US.



    Gail Carriger’s Books! 

     The Finishing School Series (1850s ~ completed)
    1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies,
    3 Waistcoats & Weaponry, 4 Manners & Mutiny

    The Parasol Protectorate Series (1870s ~ completed)
    1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless

     The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
     1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

    Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels (1870s)
     $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
    Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

    Book News:
    A B Keuser says of Manners & Mutiny: “As with all of Gail’s books there is a spectacular whimsy to the way this book is written. It borders on the ridiculous, but when you’re four books into Gail’s work, you should be expecting that already.”

    Quote of the Day:
    “Constable Plimmer went on not replying.”
    ~ P. G. Wodehouse, The Man with Two Left Feet And Other Stories

    Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
    The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
    Facebook Group.

    Descriptions Of Great Skill & Hilarity

    Posted by Gail Carriger

     

    Here are a few descriptions that, as a writer who reads, I admire greatly, Gentle Reader. And that’s all I have to say, really, today I’ll let others do the typing for me…

    How to describe a large person, brought to you by Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald (The Price of the Stars)
    “His uniform was less rain-soaked than Lieutenant Rosselin-Metadi’s, but only because there was less of it to get wet.”
    Just because a man’s built like a brick wall doesn’t mean he is one.”
    “Stepping out of the tub, he wrapped himself in a nubbly bath towel roughly the size of a landing pad and returned to the bedroom.”
    “They were gathered on Crystal World’s observation deck; like everything else about the little yacht, it was an exquisite miniature, and Beka’s brother had been moving for three days now with exaggerated care, as though he expected to break something the moment he let down his guard.”

    And by P.G. Wodehouse (My Man Jeeves)
    “She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tight about the hips that season.”

    “Nyls Jessan carried off a pale blue Khesatan lounging robe with an air of having just arrived from an early-morning session of birdsong and flute music.”
    ~ Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald, The Price of the Stars

    He dressed like a rich Khesatan do-nothing straight out of the midafternoon holodramas, and he certainly had the accent for the part, but his hands were all wrong. They looked like they knew things the rest of him didn’t.”
    ~ Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald, By Honor Betray’d

    “He was rather handsome, in a lanky, not-quite-finished sort of way.”
    ~ Mercedes Lackey (By the Sword)

    Makes this authorbeast entirely rethink how to describe someone…

    {Gail’s monthly read along for September is Court of Fives by Kate Elliott}

    GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

    Your Moment of Parasol . . .

    Natassja Kinski, from Roman Polanski’s film Tess,
    adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles,
    Keystone_Getty (theredlist.com)

    Your Infusion of Cute . . .
    Terminology: What is a Tea Gown?

    Your Tisane of Smart . . .
    Southern Blue-lined Octopus Often Mistaken for the Blue-ringed Octopus Turns Up at Redcliffe Peninsula Beach

    Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
    “PG says 99% of business contracts are put in a drawer and forgotten after they’re signed.
    The other 1% are very minutely examined at some later time.”
    ~ The Passive Voice

    PROJECT ROUND UP 

    • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.
    • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft.



    The Books! 

     The Custard Protocol Series
     1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
    The Parasol Protectorate Series
    1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
    Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels.
     $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
    Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

    Book News:
    SF Signal Panel Podcast September 2015 in which we discuss the recent Hugos (and my utter indifference) up among other things.

    Quote of the Day:
    “Bicky rocked like a jelly in a high wind.”
    ~ My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

    Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
    The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
    Facebook Group.

    Book Addiction & Book Withdrawal Syndromes

    Posted by Gail Carriger

     

    Imagine a young Gail, sort of Sophronia-like, with a predilection for Goth wear, but too cheerful a personality to carry it off. Imagine her as an avid reader bonding with other readers and developing the following philosophical concepts:

    Book Addiction & Book Withdrawal Syndromes

    Book addiction is when you read a book, or a series of books, and like them so much you simply just start reading it all over again from the beginning. You’d rather not read any other books but just keep reading the same ones over and over again. The only way to stop is to physically deny yourself the book of addiction.

    This happened to me with the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. For several months around age 11 or so, sometime after the last book in the series was released, I just could not stop reading that series over and over again. My dear friend Phrannish once told me this happened to her with Anne Rice. To this day if I pick up Alanna I have to finish the entire series, no stopping, no pause, start to finish.

    I’m wondering if the is an age thing. It came up in conversation recently with a friend who has a daughter reader about the age I was when this first occurred.

    The other end of that spectrum is Book Withdrawal Syndrome. That’s the sensation after you have finished a book or a series of a sort of pensive ennui. Almost an old fashioned Victorian insipid depression like The Sorrows of Young Werther.  I’m not talking about the normal sadness that the book has ended, but this weird almost loss of childhood feeling. The certain knowledge that while you will get to reread that book again you will never get to read it for the first time again.

    I still get this one from time to time. When I find a new book I really love. 

    I never experience either of these sensations with movies or TV shoes or any other media really, just books. 

    So, am I alone in this? Have you ever had Book Addiction & Book Withdrawal Syndrome? With what books? Just curious.

    {Gail’s monthly read along for September is Court of Fives by Kate Elliott}

    GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

    Your Moment of Parasol . . .

    nghtcrlr-tumblr the most studio ghibli shit I’ve ever seen  (Source- clupster)

    Your Infusion of Cute . . .
    Sneaky Octopus Tricks Prey Into Thinking Its Behind Them

    Your Tisane of Smart . . .

    Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

    PROJECT ROUND UP 

    • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.
    • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft.



    The Books! 

     The Custard Protocol Series
     1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
    The Parasol Protectorate Series
    1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
    Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels.
     $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
    Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

    Book News:
    Braine of  TalkSupeBlog says: “I hope you get my gist, I love this series and I find WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY an amazing addition to the series and a pivotal one at that. To reiterate, Finishing School’s strongest suit right now is it’s development in general, the characters are growing up as well as the tone and feel of the stories.”

    Quote of the Day:
     “She’s not very ladylike.”
    “I don’t think that is necessarily a character flaw. Some of the most disagreeable people I know are the most ladylike.”
    ~ Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott and Sophronia Temminnick Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

    Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
    The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
    Facebook Group.

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