Tagged Important For Authors

State of Gail Carriger: The Blog, The Writer, The Ridiculous (Ketchup Blog)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Some old fashioned style berbling from yours truly today, Gentle Reader. Enjoy!

Blogging Thoughts

A few of you came to this blog when it moved from LiveJournal, and then again when it moved from Blogspot. For which I love you very very much. (I’d adore knowing exactly who you are, if you want to leave a comment. Since way back in the day everyone had weird handles on LJ, I don’t always know who stuck with me through all of the last 8 years.)

I still enjoy blogging, although I’m more personal and emotional over on the Chirrup (it simply feels like a safer less-public forum). However, I’ve been on a pretty heavy schedule of 3 posts a week for the past 8 years or so, and that may slow slightly. I started already with Retro Rack (which was 2X a week).

I’m going to put less pressure on myself to produce blogs, and concentrate more on producing books and stories. Also I want to give you quality over quantity, in other words, if I don’t have anything to say, I’m not gonna say it.

Balancing Writing Joys

Which brings me to the next thing, which is a little emotional, but I shall try to be pithy about it.

Miss Carriger’s Office Writing Set Up

For a while there (and many of you sensed this) I edged on burn out.

In 2012 I took on too many events and it has taken me until this year to learn how to say “no” and balance conventions, books tours, and conferences against the demands of the rest of my life. (The fangirl in me still can’t get over a convention asking me to come to them. Amazing.)

In 2013 I took on too many writing projects at once and my muse rebelled in a big way.

I was writing on a untenably short timeline for each book for several years. I’ve learned to be a lot firmer about deadlines (and whether I can realistically make them) and thus manage everyone’s expectations. Strangely, this freed me up from some creative blockage and I managed to write more this year than I have in a long time. I guess I’m learning to be less hard on myself?

All this is to say I’m feeling like I am in a good place right now and I might sally forth and try some other creative experiments and different kinds of events. I think 2018 is going to be a fun year for this writerbeast.

Self Pub & Hybrid Life

I’m still figuring this part out. I’m on a 5 year plan, and we are only just into year 2. The more I learn about being my own publisher, the more I realize I have to learn. But this helps too. I’m at heart (still) an academic, and I love learning new things, so the business journey is pretty exciting for me.

Speaking of, if you are local to the Bay Area, you can come here me talk about some of these business lessons at my RWA chapter in Berkeley next month. Check out my events page for details.

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for July is The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.}

* Coincidentally the quazi-prequel to The Blue Sword is on sale today for $1.99. The Hero and the Crown is another truly wonderful book and particularly formative in my taste as a reader and my development as an author. I adore Aerin, although I find I identify more with Harry (the heroine of Blue Sword.)


The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger, now also in audio.
Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?

Recommended on BookRiot!


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Allen & Ginter (American, Richmond, Virginia)
Support Arms, from the Parasol Drills series (N18) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes Brands, 1888

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

The Assassin’s Teapot

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Literary Comedy for Beginners

Book News:

Blue Cover Art: German Parasolverse, Finishing School, Supernatural Society

Friend of Dorothy Wilde says of Romancing the Inventor:

“What other genre writer is this witty, this good at world building, and this concerned with the important things? Namely, what they wore and what they ate. But kidding aside, she is a masterful world builder and terribly terribly good at dialogue, so when I heard that Genevieve, the mysterious, moody scientist from the Parasol Protectorate books, would be getting her Happily Ever After, I was thrilled.”

Quote of the Day:

“Sidheag came up next to him, and after he managed to straighten, threw a companionable arm around his soot-covered shoulders. She was more relaxed than Sophronia had ever seen her. ‘It makes sense. Why should we fight like gentlemen? After all, as you keep reminding me, Sophronia, we aren’t gentlemen. We aren’t even soldiers. We’re supposed to be intelligencers. We should learn to fight dirty. We should learn to fight any way we can.’”

~ Etiquette & Espionage

Questions about Gail’s Parasolverse? There’s a wiki for that!

7 Side Effects of Being a Full Time Author (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

I’ve been a full time author for five years now, and I’ve learned a few things.

Here, Gentle Reader, are some of the side effects of my life choices.

1. My spelling is worse than it ever was.

While my typing has gotten faster my accuracy certainly has not. Follow me on Twitter for the sad consequences of this fact.

2. I have never read that book you think I should have.

New book, old book, whatever the book is that you think I should read because of what I write, or assume I have read because of my genre. I probably haven’t read it.

3. I know about all the octopuses on the internet.

All of them. All the time. First.

Octopus Mug

4. My passion for the oxford comma is unbending.

I’m open to wiggle room on other points of grammatical enforcement, but you will pry the oxford comma from my cold dead calloused fingers.

5. Cocktail parties are a minefield.

What do you do?
I’m a writer.
What do you write?
Commercial genre fiction.

Then the conversation inevitably goes horribly wrong, either…

  1. I have to explain genre by using dumb Hollywood examples.
  2. They assume I’m some starving artist type who lives off my tech-bound significant other.
  3. They want to tell me all about the brilliant book they have inside them. (Which is invariably not brilliant and should stay inside, preferably buried with a small but elegant tombstone.)
  4. They want me to write the book of their: life, times, weak imagination.

Godeys Sept 1872

6. I have no sense of time

I never know what day of the week it is and I never know if it’s a national holiday. Ever. The number of times I have gone to the bank and then been confused as to why it’s closed are almost as frequent as the number of times I’ve gotten up and gone into the office, even though it’s Saturday.

7. There is no retirement, there is only writing

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for July is The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.}


Heroines Journey Gail Carriger free pdf ripped download

  • Tired of the hero’s journey?
  • Frustrated that funny, romantic, and comforting stories aren’t taken seriously?
  • Sad that the books and movies you love never seem to be critically acclaimed, even when they sell like crazy?

The Heroine’s Journey is here to help.

Multiple New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a clear concise analysis of the heroine’s journey, how it differs from the hero’s journey, and how you can use it to improve your writing and your life.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1900ongesoleil- “The Umbrella Maker” Studio Shin-e-Do ( Kobe, Japan ). End 19th century? Kimbei Kusakabe.(1841-1934). Photographer

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

New TSA Policy May Lead to Increased Scrutiny of Reading Material

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

My Top Five Suggestions for People Thinking about Writing a Book

Book News:

Lilliput SAS Sumage Solution Cat

Love Bytes says:

“And if that is how the author treats her secondary characters, you can be damn sure that her protagonists are wonderfully written. They have layers and flaws–some not so obvious on first or second inspection–and grow throughout the book in the way all good characters should.”

Quote of the Day:

The truth about Gail & tea comes out at last

Questions about Gail’s Parasolverse? There’s a wiki for that!

So Much Awesome ~ An Author & Her Team (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger


I’m so very lucky, Gentle Reader, to have a killer team behind me when I self publish a new book.

I don’t talk about them much, and frankly the most they tend to get is a nod in the acknowledgements. I thought, perhaps, I would share a little insider trading on some of these fabulous people so you could appreciate them too.

In case you wanted true nitty gritty, here’s a 2018 article: How Much Money Does It Cost To Publish A Book? that is pretty accurate. I pay a bit more for some editing stuff because of my historical setting (any time your editing needs require specialized knowledge you’ll be paying more).

My Photographer

I’ve used a number of different cover model photographers over the years, but whenever I can, I go to Evan Butterfield. (Do yourself a favor and check out his site. No, really, I’ll wait.)

When I say “my cover photographer” I’m generally talking about Evan, because I feel very personally connected to him (and his models).

Quinn, my cover model, holding the book featuring himself.

Here is a picture of Quinn, the cover model for The Sumage Solution, holding The Sumage Solution ARC at a recent shoot. This is taken by Evan. How awesome is that? It’s the meta-ist of meta.

Who’s a lucky authorbeast? ME!

How’d I find Evan?

Evan and I (virtually) met because of The Airship Ambassador (a dear friend of mine via the Steampunk community). I pinged Evan to use his photo for Curious Case, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My Cover Art Designer

Starla of Designed By Starla does all my indie cover art. She is also an amazing author in her own right. I’m a particular fan of her Flipped Fairy Tale series. We are part of a private writer’s group, wherein she has the reputation (well deserved) for making me cry during readings (in a good way, because her prose is so beautiful and her voice is amazing).

How’d I find Starla?

Via the podcasting world. Below is my favorite of her covers (aside from my own, of course):

My Developmental Editor

Sue Brown-Moore of DavinciKittie is my developmental editor. DE is basically the same kind of editor as my acquiring editor at a traditional publishing house. I chose Sue because her specialty is romance and my novellas tend to lean that direction. I wanted someone who would have that focus. She’s extremely helpful and I find if she and my beta’s agree on anything, then it must be altered in the story.

G.L. Carriger, Sue Brown-Moore, Lea Kirk

How’d I find Sue?

Sue is a member of my RWA chapter and a veteran romance blogger at GraveTells.com. She also edits an author friend of mine, Lea Kirk, who recommended her.

My Copy Editor

I use Richard Shealy (of SF/F Copyediting) for my copy editing. He edits for traditional publishing houses but also freelances. He specializes in SF/F but that specifically made me want to use him for my more romance-focused books because I’ve found CE’s catch more if they aren’t invested in the story. He’s excellent, fast, and efficient.

How’d I find Richard?

Via author forums and general pinging of author friends.

My Proof Editors

I use Flo Selfman (of Worlds a la Mode) and Shelley Bates (of Moonshell Books) for proof pass editing. This is like a second copy edit to make certain everything is PERFECT. Shelly has a particularly busy schedule but because she also writes steampunk (as Shelley Adina), her expertise on the Victorian era is not to be sneezed at.

Flo is wonderfully meticulous. I tend to use her for my contemporary set stuff. She’s also a consummate spy, having infiltrated the Ripped Bodice to take a picture of my books on the shelf there.

How’d I find Shelley & Flo?

Shelley is a member of my RWA chapter and that’s how I met her. Flo came via recommendations.

My Audiobook Producer

AKA Producer Bryan is also a member of the sacred writer group (with Starla). His specialty is actually full cast audio work, but I needled him into doing single point narration for me. Occasionally I find the narrators (Romancing the Inventor, The Sumage Solution, Romancing the Werewolf), occasionally he does (Poison or Protect), but he does all the leg work interfacing with them, adding in special sound effects, and cleaning up the files.

How’d I find Bryan?

Podcasting, of course. All good things come from podcasting.

Logos & Other Fun Stuff

Kim Killion of the Killion Group wears many many hats, but I use her for quick logo creation. She and her team can handle pretty much all an author’s design needs, including covers. If you want  a one stop shop, I suspect it’d be difficult to find better. She is, however, very busy.

How’d I find Kim?

RWA forums.

My Formatter

Nina Pierce is my last line of defence. She comes along and makes everything pretty in print and digital. I’ve never had a single formatting complaint, and I release wide to as many platforms as possible. I know my readers, they would say something if there were issues. They’re polite, but they aren’t that polite.

How’d I find Nina?

Recommended by a friend.


I usually do a blog post about book-specific team details around the announcement and launch of that book. For example, here’s a blog post all about Evan, Quinn, Starla, and the cover of The Sumage Solution.

I hope it goes without saying that I recommend every one of these people.

That said, not every author has the same kind of work style. The kind of team that works well for me may not be what you’re looking for. And for those of my blog readers who are just interested in behind the scenes… now you know.

Yours as ever,

Miss Gail

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for July 2017 is The Sumage Solution by G. L. Carriger.}

The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger
Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Greer Garson and Ann Rutherford in Pride and Prejudice directed by Robert Z. Leonard, 1940

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

The Many Ways in Which We Are Wrong About Jane Austen ~ not sure I agree entirely but it makes for interesting reading.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Twelve Questions To Ask Yourself After That First Draft Is Done

Book News:

Shannan Bloom says of Romancing the Inventor:

“Imogene Hale is a great addition to the pantheon of Carriger characters. She’s different than anyone else in any of the books I’ve read by Gail Carriger, but her plucky attitude, intelligence, and passion make her a perfect fit.”

Quote of the Day:

“I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.”

~ Oscar Wilde


20+ Blogs & Podcasts for Authors Recommended by Gail Carriger (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

My dear Gentle Reader,

This one if for authors/writers who are interested in publishing & marketing their books.

This post is part of my occasional FAQ series where I endeavor to answer questions I get asked all the time. (Mainly so I have a perma-link to point people at in future.)

Below I list the blogs and podcasts I find most useful as a hybrid author (including those related to indie and self publishing). I recommend picking episodes/posts based on topic.

(I keep this list as updated as possible.)

Miss Carriger’s Top 13 Blogs for Authors

  1. Goodreads Authors & Advertisers Blog
  2. Build Book Buzz
  3. Elizabeth Spann Craig
  4. Just Publishing Advice for Writers and Authors
  5. Kikolani
  6. Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  7. Nathan Bransford
  8. Smart Blogger
  9. The Blood-Red Pencil
  10. The Book Designer
  11. Fiction University (was The Other Side of the Story)
  12. Writer Beware
  13. Writer Unboxed

Gail consumes her blogs via Feedly.

As always, you don’t have to take my word for it:

Miss Carriger’s Top 11 Podcasts for Authors

  1. The Author Biz Podcast (possibly podfade)
  2. The Creative Penn Podcast
  3. The Murverse Annex (Ditch Diggers & I Should Be Writing Podcasts)
  4. Novel Marketing Podcast
  5. Online Marketing Made Easy (no strictly for authors but still useful)
  6. Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing
  7. Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast
  8. The Self Publishing Podcast
  9. The Smarty Pants Book Marketing Podcast (defunk but some good backlist)
  10. Go Publish Yourself from IngramSpark
  11. Sell More Books Show

Gail consumes her podcasts using Overcast.

More podcast suggestions?

Gail’s pinterest board Writer Education is full of more recommended resources for authors.


Heroines Journey Gail Carriger free pdf ripped download

  • Tired of the hero’s journey?
  • Frustrated that funny, romantic, and comforting stories aren’t taken seriously?
  • Sad that the books and movies you love never seem to be critically acclaimed, even when they sell like crazy?

The Heroine’s Journey is here to help.

Multiple New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a clear concise analysis of the heroine’s journey, how it differs from the hero’s journey, and how you can use it to improve your writing and your life.


Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Gender Neutral Pronouns: Singular ‘They’

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

15 Productivity Apps to Help Keep Your Writing Goals on Track

Book News:

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm says of Prudence:

“Gail’s characters are so much fun…”

Quote of the Day:

“She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.”

~ Annie Dillard

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

A Gail By Any Other Name Should “L” As Sweet

Posted by Gail Carriger


In which I put my new pen name up to the vote.

After some dithering and hemming and hawing, Gentle Reader I chose the new pen name G.L. Carriger for my upcoming urban fantasy, The Sumage Solution.

What you got in your inbox if you follow me on Amazon. You can also follow me on BookBub.

G. L. Carriger

I talk about why I felt I needed a changed name in this blog post: Why G. L. Carriger? On Pen Names, Cover Art & Reader Betrayal

The question then became:

What does the L stand for?

Because they had already had some chatter on the matter, I asked the Parasol Protectorate Facebook Group to weigh in first. I read through their suggestions and then I picked those I like best, based on meaning, cadence, feel when said between Gail and Carriger, and also memory. (Some names, for me, have negative associations.)

I chose Lovelace because of the wonderful Ada Lovelace, Lilac because it was my Grandmother’s favorite flower, Ladybird because I’m amused by the idea, and Libellus because it means little book in Latin.

Then I had Twitter vote on the finalists.

Then I asked my Facebook Page if they agreed. And mostly they did.

So the winner is…


So now whenever anyone asks me what the “L” stands for, that is what I will say.

Of relevance to this post: The Evolution of Female Pen-Names from Currer Bell to J.K. Rowling

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is Radiance by Grace Draven.}


The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger
Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Paris, 1900 (Source- pinterest.com) via fawnvelveteen tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.”

~ Neil Gaiman

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Singular ‘They’ Now Acceptable

Book News:

What’s She Reading? says of Manners & Mutiny

“This book probably had more action than the first three (or it at least felt like it) and that’s not a bad thing. I really liked getting into Sophronia’s head and seeing all of the skills that she’d been learning at school come into play. It’s kind of hard to explain without spoiling anything, but it was really enjoyable to watch Sophronia strategize.”

Quote of the Day:

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.”

~ Anne Herbert

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

This is Why a New York Times Bestselling Author Changed Her Pen Name to G. L. Carriger: On Pseudonyms, Cover Art & Reader Betrayal (Important for Writers)

In this blog post I’m going to discuss why a bestselling author might chose a new pen name. It’s not for the reasons you think.

Why a bestselling author would change or pick a new her pen name

You may or may not have noticed, Gentle Reader, that my San Andreas Shifter books are written under the name…

G. L. Carriger

The Sumage Solution, is a big departure for me in content, style, and setting. OK, perhaps not that big. It’s still me, full of silliness and fun.

  • It’s urban fantasy, but it’s set in contemporary times, in America.
  • It has more sex than my other writing has in the past.
  • It’s certainly got worse language.

Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo

I dithered for a while about what to do about this. You see, I worry about reader betrayal… a lot.

Reader Betrayal

Reader betrayal can take many forms. At its root, it is that sensation one gets if the book you’re reading does something totally unexpected in a bad way. Like if a book you picked up thinking it was romance suddenly doesn’t have a happy ending.

Why does reader betrayal happen?

Well, it can be a flaw in story: you’re reading one thing when the author suddenly takes a dive and turns it into something else. That is the author’s fault. (This is what I call the “scream and hurl” scenario.) Or it can be a flaw in expectation, you thought it was one kind of book, despite the cover and blurb trying to tell you otherwise, and you read it anyway.

This book is a hilarious COMEDY fantasy gay romance. Betchya didn’t know that from the cover.

Far more common these days is visual marker caused betrayal. This means that you picked up the book expecting one thing because of the cover and then got something completely different from the words within.

Controlling these expectations is a serious business. It’s done many ways: visually through cover art (image & text), but also via author name, and cover copy/blurb and description. (There are also things that can’t really be controlled like algorithms offering “similar books you might like.”)

For example, if I showed you this cover:

You’d probably expect a dark gritty urban fantasy. Possibly noir tropes in use. If that’s the kind of thing you like, you might then take a look at the book description and decide to buy it.

But if I gave you this one:

You’d expect something else: upbeat, cheerful, youthful, pulp-ish.

  • Both covers are based off photos.
  • Both are single person images.
  • Both have saturated color use.
  • Both use san serif fonts

But the kind of image chosen, from dress to facial expression, and the tweaks then made to it, from color choice to the overlay of type, all tell you, the reader, something about what is inside.

You may not know exactly what you’re being told, or how to control your own response, but trust me, you’re reacting. The thing that worries a savvy author the most is NOT “does this cover depict what’s inside my book” but “does this cover accurately portray the spirit of my book?”

If you picked up Fairy Debt and did not get a fun little light hearted read about a fairy in silly times, you would be angry with me as the author. You would feel betrayed.

Why talk about covers when I should be discussing pen names?

Because most of the time, covers come first. Covers are the single most important thing when selling a book or establishing a brand as an author.


After that, of course, it’s up to the author to pull the reader in and make them want more.

Which brings us to author name recognition.

After a certain point, if lucky, an author starts to accrue loyal readers.

  • These are the readers who write to say they love you. Who regularly leave book reviews.
  • Who vow to buy “anything you write.”
  • These readers follow an author’s newsletter (if really lucky) and get excited when a new book comes along.

These readers are you, eyeballs reading this blog post right now. I LOVE YOU.

You, Gentle Reader, know what to expect from me as an author because I have tried to give you something quite consistent over the last few years. Yes, it jumped around from YA to adult to novella, from espionage to romance to adventure, but the spirit of the Parasolverse has been unchanged.

Cover art plays into this too, keeping a theme going is pretty darn important. Here is how my traditional publishers did it across three series:

Here’s how I played with my own themes for my self-published stuff.

Romancing the Inventor

I kept the san serif font and the slashes from the first series. I kept a central figure (or figures).

  • Do you see the similarities, and to which books?
  • Can you understand why I might want to make some of the changes I did between my novels and my novellas? (Perhaps that is a whole other discussion if you’re interested.)

One of the things I’d encourage you to notice is that I made my name bigger than the title for the first time when I produced my own stuff.

Why I Made My Name BIGGER

When self-pubbing I’m banking on name recognition. Also, it’s more common in romance to up the font size for well known authors (and my novellas touch on romance more heavily). And, I do it because I’ve noticed over the years that male genre authors get this kind of name glorification a lot, while the rest of us, erm, do not. That gets my goat because it smacks pretty darn strongly of sexism.

So, why go through all this trouble to establish name recognition, only to change my name… slightly?

G. L. Carriger

Because we are back to the first part of this post: reader betrayal.

My new non-parasolverse m/m urban fantasy is just different enough for me to worry. Even knowing that I could give you a very different cover (which I have done) I worried that my name was now strong enough to sucker readers into expecting things: gentleness, steampunk, sweet romance, Victorian food & clothing.

I worried that if it says “by Gail Carriger” readers would expect exactly the kind of thing they had gotten from me before. The Sumage Solution is just different enough for readers to get mad at me. Not because I don’t write urban fantasy or paranormal romance well (this book is oodles of fun, it makes me so happy) but because it’s not what readers expected from Gail Carriger going in. Which isn’t really my fault.

Except that it is. It is certainly my responsibility.

I have established Gail Carriger expectations with 17 or so books now. So it’s up to me to shift those expectations.

Thus I’m publishing The Sumage Solution under G. L. Carriger. Still me. Just tweaked. This way, going in, readers pick up the book and perhaps go:

“Huh, I wonder if this is still Gail? I wonder why Gail is doing this? Perhaps it’s not quite the same thing as before.”

It wasn’t an easy decision, I’ll tell you that much.

And, I hope you like her.

The Omega Objection Free PDF

Still and always yours,

Miss G

Want more?

Heroine’s Journey Cover Art


Heroines Journey Gail Carriger free pdf ripped download

  • Tired of the hero’s journey?
  • Frustrated that funny, romantic, and comforting stories aren’t taken seriously?
  • Sad that the books and movies you love never seem to be critically acclaimed, even when they sell like crazy?

The Heroine’s Journey is here to help.

Multiple New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a clear concise analysis of the heroine’s journey, how it differs from the hero’s journey, and how you can use it to improve your writing and your life.


Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”

~ Albert Einstein

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“Writing a book is like telling a joke and having to wait 2 years to know whether or not it was funny.”

~ Alain de Botton

Book News:

The Reading Chick says of Prudence:

“The style of the characters meld completely with the storyline, that it all seems completely believable, in a rather fantastic way.”

Quote of the Day:

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”

~ Logan Pearsall Smith

Want more behind the scenes info? Join the Chirrup!

You made it so far!

Here’s an extra bit, from a true Carriger on the name Carriger!

“You pegged at least the Texas branch’s pronunciation with the hard g, which is the main one nationally as far as I can tell. To be fair to the Carriage Ur people, it’s a made up name to begin with, dating to Tennessee in the latter 1700’s. The original family name was Kercher, originating in Germany and Austria. However, my ancestors there were carriage builders and for some reason changed the name to accommodate transactions with their clientele. The Carriger street* you got the name from dates back to Nicholas Carriger who made it out West in the mid 1800’s and from what I understand had a part in founding Sonoma. Pretty sure they had a vineyard. All in all we’ve been here since pre-Revolutionary times.”

* also a river in Sonoma

How I Work: Gail Carriger, Authorbeast Behind the Magic (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

So, Gentle Reader, I’m a bit of a Lifehacker follower. Back in 2013 I was particularly taken by their How I Work series. I thought it would be fun to answer their questions, and now here’s an updated version. I hope you enjoy!

Gail Carriger Signing Dot Red Paisley

Bay Area, Northern California, USA.

Current gig: 
Chronically tea addicted, octopus obsessed, shoe collecting, New York Times bestselling authorbeast.

Current mobile device: 
iPhone 5s, iPad Mini

Current computer: 
2015 13-inch MacBook Air (named Hermia)

One word that best describes how you work: 

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? 
Apps: (most of my phone’s natives like Mail, Weather, Camera, Calendar, Clock, Contacts, Notes) as well as Twitter, Facebook, Friendly, Feedly, Instagram, Google Maps, Stylebook, Downcast, Chrome, and Scrivener iOS. All the airline apps for checking in to flights.
Software: Scrivener, Skype, Chrome, Firefox, Safari (yes all three browsers), Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Hootsuite, Pinterest, Wikia, Word (because I must).
Tools: Kindle Oasis, yearly wall calendar, old street stomper bicycle with detachable shopping panniers, electric kettle or water boil coil, tea, tote and carry-on suitcase, modular packing devices, Roomba, a bath tub (does that count as a tool?), and a gas stove.

(Although, truthfully, back in my archaeology days I can, and have, lived without all of the above except the iPod and tea.)

Office Tea Zone

The tea zone in my new office, take a tour on YouTube.

What’s your workspace like?

At home and in my office I have a standing desk made from a CB2 wet bar with a S-shelf for a riser, Perixx wireless keyboard and mouse, and Wellness mat.

Desk Standing CB2 Wet Bar Gail Carriger

In the office, I also have two additional sitting desks which I use for editing and sewing projects. A reading/research/imagination nook, a sitting area and the all important tea station.

Office Sitting and Book Nook

What’s your best time-saving trick? 
Outlining and setting realistic goals. And tea.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
This is hard, I don’t really have many gadgets. Maybe my extra charging battery?

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Slicing bread. No seriously, perfectly even, perfectly straight, it’s a gift inherited from my father. Only thing I do straight.

What are you currently reading?
Something delightfully queer with an HEA and found family.

What do you listen to while you work?
When I’m writing that’s the only time I’m not listening to a podcast. So, nothing.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Introvert, though I perform extrovert very well.

What’s your sleep routine like?
Regulated but restless.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.
Mercedes Lackey

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
No one is interested in a writer that doesn’t actually finish her novels.

The How I Work series asks heroes, experts, and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more.”

{Gail’s monthly read along for April 2017 is Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman.}

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Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1894 Seaside fashion plate shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

16 Cozy and Inviting Reading Nooks

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

What it Looked Like to Travel the World Solo as a 19th Century Woman

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

The Unpredictable Nature of a Writing Career

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

“A sentimentalist is simply one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it.”

~ Oscar Wilde

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

Cover Art & Its Purpose in Life (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Hello, Gentle Reader!

I’m always thinking and talking a lot about cover art. I love it and it fascinates me. I’m pretty sure I have a career because of the cover of Soulless.

It has come up on a podcast interview on SF & F Marketing. And I have a lot to say on the subject when connected to using a pen name because yes YOUR NAME IS PART OF YOUR COVER (why did I choose a new pen name?).

So Cover Art…

My new saying? The pretty is the enemy of the correct.

Covers are like a visual elevator pitch for a book, they don’t need to say exactly what’s in it so much as what’s it’s about.

The point of the cover is not to find AN audience for that book but to find the RIGHT audience.

I think a lot of indie authors forget this, and get embroiled in trying to make it look too much like what’s inside and not enough like packaging that represents the book’s theme.

That last statement may have made some of you angry, because it smacks of manipulation.

But stick with me, okay?

Goodreads put up a ton of books on sale  and I went to check them out.

Three interesting things happened.

  1. I wasn’t interested in a single one of them. (I’d either read it already, or it’s not to my current taste.)
  2. The range of art as meets genre was fascinating, and many of the covers did catch my eye.
  3. I really wanted to blog about it.

Let’s play a little game?

Here are 10 covers that stood out for me:

Without knowing anything else but having only those small images.

And without reading anything about the books.

I’m gonna tell you what I thought when I saw its thumbnail.

Let’s see if you agree with me?

What I like: Clear indication of romance given the swirly font and large female author name. Horses indicate old west or plantation setting. Red and cream is a tasteful coloring.
Issues: Can’t read whole title. Cover is generic.
What do I think this book is about? Heterosexual romance in a historical setting. Demure pose and the fact that she is alone in the picture with a horse in the background suggests sweet romance (little sex).
Was I right given the blurb? Yes

Smoke & Bone
What I like: The color pallet, the starkness of the lighting, the slash nature of the mask and the title.
Issues: Didn’t realize the title was Daughter of Smoke & Bone until I really squinted, can’t read author name at all. Not sure how I feel about three different fonts on the same cover.
What do I think the book is about? I’m going with suspense of some kind, in the Gone Girl oeuvre maybe? Because of the mask, perhaps it’s either historical or set in a theater, makes me think Phantom of the Opera.
Was I right given the blurb? Sort of. Suspense but also urban fantasy?


The Curse Keepers
What I like:
KILLER title! The shadow box to make the title pop while still over the figures is a neat trick. I like centered text.
Issues: Author name is not legible, bit generic, weird tattoo stuff on left necessary?
What do I think this book is about? Without a doubt this is in the Cassandra Clare, Beautiful Creatures, etc. YA angst show knock off. This one will be witches and warlocks and stuff like that, no vampires (because of the sunlight and lack of blood red color).
Was I right given the blurb? Yes.

A Taste of Magic
What I like: Very easy to read title and author name, bold color choices.
Issues: Not a lot, actually, while this might not be my kind of book, I think it reads as a near perfect cover for the kind of book it is. Let’s see if I’m right.
What do I think this book is about? Romance, chick lit version of Practical Magic. Contemporary set urban fantasy but with a very light touch and gentle upbeat text, probably involves food. Beach read.
Was I right given the blurb? Yes.

What I like: Fantastically striking cover, retro feel, very basic but impactful, color choices. Title and author are clear and easy to read.
Issues: Absolutely no idea what it is about. Could be anything from a quirky adult version of Awkward (that MTV show) or a non-fiction tell all about the music/photo/modeling industry.
What do I think this book is about? Really, no clue. If I HAD to guess I’m going with quirky mock-tell-all of a photojournalist’s crazy hi-jinx. Possibly set in the 1960s.
Was I right given the blurb? Turns out it is about photography, but also celebrity, and crime in a modern setting.

The Last Girl
What I like: As with the romance one above, I think I know exactly what I am in for with this book. Title and author name are clearly visible.
Issues: I really strain to see the figure, I wish it were just big enough for me to make out something about her clothes as that would give me a bit more to go on for setting.
What do I think this book is about? Gone Girl type thing again, maybe post apocalyptic, but could also be country western setting.
Was I right given the blurb? Not really. Turns out to be an epidemic crisis book. Looks like that movie Children of Men.

Under Different Stars
What I like: Striking image for the main photo, stark and atmospheric feel. This gives a slightly uncomfortable and weird feeling.
Issues: The title and author name are kinda hard to make out.
What do I think this book is about? Lit fic, just because of the contrast between the watery image but “Stars” in the title. I’m very wary because it could be a “Cancer Mom” type story. Read: depressing as hell.
Was I right given the blurb? Not at all. Turns out to be a sci fi YA romance. So I would call this one of the cases where the cover is striking, but doing the book no favors.

Dragon Bound
What I like: Again this is one of those that tells me exactly what I’m in for. I like a cover that uses blues and pinks for contrast, and I tend to gravitate towards centered lettering.
Issues: No idea what she is holding, hard to make out author name. Quite generic.
What do I think this book is about? Straight up no frills female main character urban fantasy. Probably heterosexual and featuring dragons as the hook. Modern setting.
Was I right given the blurb? Not really. It’s fantasy not UF, and historical-ish. (I did wonder since she’s in a dress and not leather pants, but the white t-shirt underneath threw me off).

Heirs of Empire
What I like: Strong female central figure, power pose, can read both title and author name. Interesting choice on both serif and sans serif fonts.
Issues: Generic title, cover comes off as old fashioned. Makes me think author and text may be old guard and out of touch. Male author with female protagonist is a red flag for me, personally.
What do I think this book is about? At first I thought epic fantasy because of her armor and the title and serif font, but then I noticed the spaceship in the background and the author name is sans serif, so I’m going with space opera.
Was I right given the blurb? You know what, I still don’t know if this is fantasy or space opera. I think maybe something like Dune? But the blurb doesn’t make anything clearer.

What I like: This cover is everything. I really adore it. I think it is stunning and beautiful and stark and so much more.
Issues: None. I like it a lot.
What do I think this book is about? Future, possibly far future, something to do with genetic manipulation or cloning. It reminds me of Orphan Black. This is the only one on this list I’m tempted to investigate further, read the blurb and possibly pick up.
Was I right given the blurb? Yes. Only thing I missed was that this is YA. Which actually turns me off (I love YA but struggle with YA scifi like Cinder). Blurb reminds me of the movie Never Let Me Go.

Added later for the sake of interest:

The Lightning Struck Heart
What I like: I like the color choices and the central image, the legibility of title and author name despite font choices.
Issues: I find the horizontal gradation on the background distracting, it makes me think this is a small image that has been manipulated larger but wasn’t high rez enough; Looks like an old TV.
What do I think this book is about? Future, urban fantasy or superhero, or maybe something epidemic or zombie like The Strain. Definitely dark.
Was I right given the blurb? Not even slightly.

  • I chose to add this book specifically because I resisted buying it for years, despite recommendations from practically everyone. Why did I resist? THAT COVER. I don’t like super dark stuff.
  • Turns out, this is the opposite of dark.
  • Turns out this book is a super funny comedy about a gay wizard and his BBF the swishy hornless and horny unicorn, Gary. It’s so flipping funny I cried laughing.
  • Does this cover indicate this key selling point? No.
  • Does this cover indicate fantasy? No.
  • I’m calling this one of the worst covers in a long time. It’s fine, just NOT FOR THIS BOOK.

More on Cover Art?

I talk in depth about how I chose my cover art for my indie books in this YoutTube video: what I look for how I choose images and type set and colors.


{Gail’s monthly read along for March 2017 is Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.}


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


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1887 Albert Aublet (French artist, 1851-1938) Sur La Plage, Le Treport

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

My office sitting area

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

History of Cover Art from YouTube

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Why Writers Should Read

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

“A bookstore is a good place to go to be brave.”

~ Kate DiCamillo

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

The Care & Feeding of Your Human Author ~ A Cat’s Perspective by Lilliput the Bean, Ruler of Gail Carriger (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Lilliput the Bean here.

I have hijacked my human’s blog.

For you, fellow cat-kind, I present my tips on how to care and feed your human authorbeast.

  1. Provide authorbeast with small kills as often as possible while singing the song of our people. Toy mice, fleece snakes, occasional burnt muffin bottom, or earplugs (I call them pinkies).
  2. Distract your authorbeast from overworking, often. They shouldn’t be allowed to focus too hard: walk across keyboard, nibble ankles, pretend to drink the tea.
  3. When in doubt, eat the laptop stand.
  4. Is your human sitting? Is there lap? Do they have a full bladder? Make those biscuits, make them!
  5. Attack your authorbeast through the filmy curtains. We all know they are see-through, but your human can’t tell. Humans aren’t that smart.
  6. Ostentatiously check objects in use, on the off chance that they might be tasty: iPad, phone, earbuds, kindle, corner of book, your human’s fingers and eyebrows.
  7. Test gravity regularly. Make absolutely certain it is always working properly. For science!

Now, go forth and help your authorbeast to write!

No writing for you

{Gail’s monthly read along for March is Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.}


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?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Beat Jet Lag by Eating Meals On Local Time Before You Travel

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Top Ten Trends in Publishing Every Author Needs to Know in 2017

Book News:

Blackgate interview with yours truly.

Quote of the Day:

“Never trust a woman who wears mauve, whatever her age may be, or a woman over thirty-five who is fond of pink ribbons. It always means that they have a history.”

~ Oscar Wilde

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

Visual Inspiration for Authors: Pinterest Character Boards & Connecting with Readers from Gail Carriger (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

I got into Pinterest in a big way last year, Gentle Reader, and yes I am aware of all the annoying things that keep people off Pinterest  ~ the closed and proprietary nature of the venue, the lack of organization and ability to cross pollinate, to name only a few.

You know why I’m aware?

Because those very things kept me off Pinterest for years.

However, once I joined I found that as an author Pinterest is a genuinely great way to keep a visual record of inspiration, fan art, links to my own back blogs and images, visual reference points for characters, places, and times. Also it really helps me answer the reoccurring questions, who would you like to see play your character in a movie?

I will say the lack of ability to drag & drop organize troubles me. (Both for boards and for images inside boards.) But I’m learning to cope. Lack of ability to organize is pretty much always an issue for me.

Why did I try it?

I work really well from the visual, especially when researching history. That way I can describe what I see through the lens of my characters, without having to try to filter thorough someone else’s description, as would happen with primary written chronicles, or worse, secondary sources. (Perhaps this is a hint at my archaeologist nature, give me the actual evidence, not the historical record.)

It’s also been quite lovely connecting with some of you on Pinterest. I’ve learned interesting things about you. For example, a lot of you like tattoos, candy-colored hair, knitting, and Doctor Who. None of this is overly surprising, I do, you know, look at you and talk to you when we meet in person.

Surprises to come?

Yes I have secret boards for the new books coming out this year. Which I will release slowly but surely when the time is right. And yes I have secret boards for new characters in the Custard Protocol books already pilling up to go with the next three years or writing that world. Just you wait. They are so much fun.

Anyway, I guess that I’m saying if you’re an author who works really well from a visual medium than you could do worse than Pinterest. And if you’re a reader, then my boards are fun insights into my world. And, frankly, if you just want to escape the depressive death knell of Twitter and Facebook, well that’s a good reason to play on Pinterest too. Although I am also prone to hanging out on the Parasol Protectorate Facebook group for that reason.

Hugs my darlings, and remember the pretties.

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


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?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Recover Arms, from the Parasol Drills series (N18) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes Brands, 1888
Commercial color lithograph; Sheet: 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (7 x 3.8 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick (Burdick 201, N18.50)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Each Arm of an Octopus Has a Mind of Its Own

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Book News:

Skye’s Scribblings says of Prudence:

“With its young, adventurous, and rather rebellious cast of characters, this latest series set in Carriger’s parasolverse will definitely appeal to New Adult fans.”

Quote of the Day:

“It was one of those parties where you cough twice before you speak and then decide not to say it after all.”

~ P. G. Wodehouse

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

Waffling on the Heartbreak of Feminist Genre Authors + Coop de Book Review ~ Brother’s Price (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

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


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.

Gail Carriger Reads Soulless Green Office Nook Paisley by Britney Hart


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.


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.


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.}


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?


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!

It Means Something Different in Romance (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Terminology for Romance Readers & Authors

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.

Romancing the Inventor

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!


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.


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.

* Addendum: These days, sometimes series actually means serial. Which means you are getting episodic, long chapters branded as “books” often with cliff hanger endings that you gotta buy like popcorn (think Radish). This is particularly common in: billionaire, YA, and BDSM romance. (Search me.)

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 and tend to imply a series of tropes different from books branded with gay or lesbian romance.*

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, right now there is a lot of cross over in cover art style (see: tattooed naked male torso + dark shadows + bold title) between contemporary gay erotica (usually 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

Ménage. OK this term can get complicated (yeah yeah). In the strictest sense of the word, ménage should mean all three are getting it on together. However, I’ve found that in romance ménage 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 ménage will almost invariably involve DP (double penetration).

As opposed to: m/f/m or m/m/m or f/f/f  m/m/f etc… the use of a slash to describe a ménage relationship usually means parties one either side of the slash are sexually together with each other, as a threesome. I’m not gong to talk about reverse harem, go look it up if you like.

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 usually the power struggle in romance that is 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.

BansheeBender Lyall & Biffy

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.

More about the romance genre?

* 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.


Heroines Journey Gail Carriger free pdf ripped download

  • Tired of the hero’s journey?
  • Frustrated that funny, romantic, and comforting stories aren’t taken seriously?
  • Sad that the books and movies you love never seem to be critically acclaimed, even when they sell like crazy?

The Heroine’s Journey is here to help.

Multiple New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a clear concise analysis of the heroine’s journey, how it differs from the hero’s journey, and how you can use it to improve your writing and your life.


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

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