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Have You Considered Making It Funny? The Power of Humor as Subversion (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Humor is POWER

Comedy in writing is an interesting thing, Gentle Reader. I talk about it a lot in person, but I don’t really write about it that much here on the interwebs. Whatcha know, this is special.

Writing about comedy is a little like watching one of those cooking shows, a frustrating tease. It destroys the magic, knowing how it gets made and you still don’t get to enjoy it when it’s finished.

So instead of writing about what humor is in literature, I’d going to talk about what it can do.

The Semantics of Funny Business

Can I get something out of the way first?

By humor I mean a great deal more than a sassy angst-driven pixie dream girl vomiting forth her quirky first-person perspective on life’s current tragedy. Humor is not just wit and treading the dark line between horror and slapstick.

Comedy can be anything from puns, to twisted sentences, interjected narration, complex word building, ludicrous situations, absurd exaggeration, contrast, oddball perspective, and so much more.

What humor really is, and what many more serious writers (and readers and critics) forget is that it is also a tool.

A very powerful tool.

Inbox Cat Licks Her Lips At You

 

Humor & Narrative Structure

From a purely mechanical perspective comedic moments in prose are instruments of pace. A reader will forgive many things if you make them laugh. For example, a long drawn out description is easy to digest when there are a two points of connected titillation in the beginning and middle that yields up a laugh at the end.

Comedy is part of the heartbeat of a book, as much as any action sequence. It can be used to relax a reader right before delivering a strong narrative punch, thus making that punch more powerful. It can also be used to intentionally break tension, giving the reader some breathing room.

Many authors develop a sing-song voice to their narration (sentence and paragraph structure, even length of words and the order they follow each other). This can lull readers into listlessness, wake them up with a shake of laughter, and suddenly they are once more paying very close attention to the text.

Comedy Long Form

My favorite moments of comedy are the long interwoven ones that come with plot, world-building and character.

I imagine my reader laughing out loud and a friend asking, “What’s so funny?”  The reader would have to describe the whole book, or the entire world, or a character’s background for the hilarity to be understood.

I call these “you had to be there” jokes.

This kind of humor is interwoven with fabric of the story and is, usually, instrumental in defining a book as comedic.

Most authors use some form of humor at some point, even if only a bit of witty dialogue. Funny things can happen in suspense, mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy. But these are usually high notes, unexpected bright points, that give the reader a point of uplift, a chance to catch their breath.

Comedy authors tend to run the opposite pattern, the story runs brighter and lighter so that the readers pause for breath is in the moments of sadness, and poignancy. But much as the humor is more stark in a generally darker book, that moment of sadness can be more striking and impactful in a funny book.

Did you read that? I’ll say it again. If you write mostly comedy when you have something important, emotionally wrenching, or vital to say it will stick out and stick in reader’s minds by contrast.

Characters & Silences

Comedy has an interesting effect of characterization. I’ve found over the years that it is often my most humorless characters that readers gravitate towards. The grouchy ones, and the glum ones, and the ones who have very little to say draw attention by contrast. With all these crazy hilarious dramatic stars twinkling about, it is the quiet darkness the reader ends up focusing on.

Dancers have a saying that the moment you are still on a stage is as important (if not more so) than the movements before and after.

Whether the funny parts of a book are its movement, or whether they make up the silence in between, it is the difference that readers are picking upon, and it is the contrast that will leave the most lasting memories and have the most profound effect.

My Cat Thinks You’re Hilarious

Subversion

Which leads me to my point.

Oh yes, I have one.

If you take nothing else from this, please realize that comedy is a tool, and a powerful one that can have a profound impact on readers.

As a culture we are tempted to dismiss funny things, after all, it is hard to take funny seriously. Because comedy is so easily dismissed, it becomes all the more powerful. One has only to look at sitcoms on US TV and the way they have, over the years, altered the  perception of what it means to be an American family, from the Brady Bunch to the aptly titled Modern Family. Yes, in some ways these shows played catch-up to the real world, but in other ways they normalized those differences to generations who lived without alternate models.

Hidden behind laughter is possibility.

You see the secret is, what’s funny can become what’s normal.

Laughter and relaxation can become belief and hope and understanding in a way that slides around harshness, and anger, and resistance. As an author I want my books, first a foremost to leave readers smiling. But if the comedy has really done its job, it also leaves them more accepting of the differences in themselves and others.

This article originally written for the May/June 2017 Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Humor.

As always, you don‘t have to take my word for it.

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Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for Feb is Princess Academy by Shannon Hale.

LATEST RELEASE!

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks | Direct

Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella by Gail Carriger is now available (audio will follow).

Gay reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and some unexpected holiday gifts.

UPCOMING SCRIBBLES

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Frederick Frieseke (American artist, 1874-1939) The Japanese Parasol

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Tea in the Office

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Harper’s Bazaar New York Sat June 13 1891

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Saying “Goodbye” Is Never Easy

Book News:

Fan Make Manga Doll

Quote of the Day:

“A lady must always be prepared. Snacks are an essential part of espionage.”

~ Gail Carriger, Manners & Mutiny

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


This Is Why I Write: 10 Books That Inspired & Formed Gail’s Identity As An Author (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

So, Gentle Reader, because I am a lover of reading, I often talk about books here on my blog.

Today is no different, except that I thought I would discuss a few of the books that I feel formed me as a writer not just my taste a reader.

These are the books that drastically impacted not only my psyche as a reader, but how I knew I wanted to entertain readers going forward.

1. Tamora Pierce ~ The Song of the Lioness series

I make no bones about my adoration for Pierce and this series in particular. Look, I am an old fart and this was the first fantasy book (so far I as know) written for a young female audience with a kick ass girl main character. After a childhood of Tolkien and Alexander and Montgomery (much as I love them) Pierce was a revelation. She changed my life by presenting me with my first strong female main character. Period.

2. Gerald Durrell ~ My Family and Other Animals

Durrell is a master of comedy ~ his descriptions, his situations, the absurdity of the British abroad, the ridiculousness of family life. I listened to all these books on tape, over and over and over. If it’s my details on Ivy’s outfits that make you laugh, then that’s the Durrell in me.

3. James Herriot ~ All Creatures Great and Small

I suspect Herriot & Pierce & Durrell combine to influence me into including animals in all of my books. Pets (particularly cats) have always been prevalent in my life. But it was reading these books that taught me they were a source of joy, amusement, and characterization.

4. Mercedes Lackey ~ By the Sword

If Pierce was my introduction for chicks with swords, this books is the pinnacle achievement in that regard. Specifically interesting from the writer’s perspective is that this is a heroine’s journey (not a hero’s) and thus Kero succeeds by building a network and helping her friends (and being helped by them). She learns to be a leader as well as a fighter. (Yes, Pierce eventually wrote Protector of the Small which also does this, but I read By the Sword first).

This book informed my whole approach to empowerment and strength in all my characters. Also Lackey has had (and always will have) queer characters. At the time, this blew my ever-loving little mind. (I have a whole blog post about it.)

5. Diana Wynne Jones ~ Howl’s Moving Castle

Now we are getting to a place where fantasy begins to meld with humor. Jones messes with character tropes in this book so brilliantly, and celebrates peculiarity with such joy. Yes, Terry Pratchett (see Mort ) helped, but this book really opened my eyes to the possibilities. Also the tidiness of the ending, the tightness of the hints and how it all comes back together. She is so brilliant at threading, mistress of the tapestry.

6. Douglas Adams ~ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Those places where my humor gets slapstick, absurd, or surreal all owe themselves to Douglas Adams. I can quote the opening chapter of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by rote. I listened to the audiobook and a radio play over and over and over again so much, I have huge chunks memorised. If you think there is an oblique reference to this series in one of my books, you are probably right. And it’s probably not that oblique.

7. P.G. Wodehouse ~ Laughing Gas

On the other hand, those places where the humor is entirely character based, where much is made of very minor details, where everything stops for tea and silliness, that owes itself to Wodehouse. Also, all the parody, baby. Again I listened to every single one of the Jeeves books on audiotape as I drove across country during my college years. This stand alone, however, is the funniest. Yes I am aware of the many social issues surrounding Wodehouse, but the man made me cry laughing, I have to give him some kind of credit for that.

8. Jasper Fforde ~ The Eyre Affair

Speaking of… this book. I guess it mainly changed the way I thought about the world, and thought about writing alternate history. The idea that alt-hist didn’t have to be some dark battle goes awry, instead it could be a skewed world more ridiculous than our own. It informed how I conceptualised and thought about the Parasolverse.

9. Elizabeth Vaughan ~ Warprize

I’d given up reading romance for years until I picked this book up. Vaughan based her romantic misunderstanding on culture conflict and two capable characters who just don’t get each other through no fault of their own. I love that. I hate conflict based on two people unwilling to just talk to each other. This book showed me how to do romantic tension right, and I’ve always tried to be good about it ever since. It’s also the first book I read that was 50/50 fantasy and romance. Until I read it, I thought you had to err heavily into one or the other. Turns out, nope.

10. Wrede & Stevermer ~ Sorcery & Cecelia

Possibly the one on this list most like the Parasolverse, this book showed me that comedy of manners could be combined with fantasy. Through reading this story I realized that pace and action can be quiet and refined. Heros can be grumpy and brooding but still bashful and sweet. If the others on this list informed the style of my writing, this one is the heartbeat of my universe.

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Latest 20 Minute Delay episode is all about how to negotiate hotel food. I know, yech, and yet…

Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for January is Angels Blood (Guild Hunter Book 1) by Nalini Singh.

OUT IN PRINT & DIGITAL & AUDIO!

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks | Direct

Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella by Gail Carriger is now available (audio will follow).

Gay reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and some unexpected holiday gifts.

UPCOMING SCRIBBLES

Tempted?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

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

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“A home without books is like a room without windows.”

~ Henry Ward Beecher

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

27 Great Websites for Writers

Book News:

Speculative Chic says of The Parasol Protectorate:

“I didn’t know steampunk paranormal romance was a thing until I read these. I’ve been trying to decide if it falls into one category more than the other, but it really sits squarely in the middle of the two. A smart and sexy romance with a werewolf in the middle of a steam-driven Victorian London sounds a little cluttered when you first hear it, but Gail Carriger makes it work.”

Quote of the Day:

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


In Which Gail Dives Head First Into Also-Boughts (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Hello my darling Gentle Reader.

This is blog post is going to be one of those long rambling ones where I am ruthlessly using you to try to understand the strange world of ebooks and publishing. So, yeah, you can skip it if you’re not into that kinda thing.

Also-Boughts!

Oh you know them, they live on Amazon and other book vendors, below the description, lurking like tempting little sweets…

You might also like…

or

or

Readers who likes this book also liked…

Most authors, including me, find these utterly fascinating. It’s basically:

Who am I author-friends with without ever actually meeting them?

A strange kind of author gossip.

We know something (although certainly not everything) about Also-Bought algorithms:

  • They are often tailored not just to the book but to you, the reader, and your previous buying history.

But not everything:

  • They’ve changed a lot over they years, Soulless, for example, had the movie Serenity as an Also-Bought, now that kind of cross pollination between media seems verboten.

I had a new release recently, and with that a shift in my Also-Boughts. At the same time, Amazon (accidentally?) killed sponsored ads site-wide for desktop (who knows if this is a blip or not).

This meant those Als0-Boughts were pretty much the only other thing offered up to readers and for this short spate of time, and they couldn’t be easily hacked into.

So I thought I’d investigate…

Why these books?

Wanna play?

Here are some of my Also-Boughts, in order, and not my own books.

OK, so first we have Louis McMaster Bujold. I love her and she’s quite popular and this is a lower price point than her normal offerings on a recent release, but this looks to be a continuing series het fantasy.

I’m guessing fan crossover is likely responsible?

Jordan L. Hawk. No surprise here. Hawk’s Hexworld is an alternate Victorian universe with shapeshifters featuring gay romances, lots of crossover with Romancing the Werewolf. I purchased it recently myself. I read everything she writes in this universe.

Grace Draven is a killer romantic fantasy author, and this is a holiday novella offering, so it shares that with RTW. I picked her excellent Radiance for Coop de Book a while ago so I’m not surprised to see her here. She’s been making waves for a while now. (Amused to see that title though, what with Georgette Heyer and all.)

A Thousand Miles Up the Nile got a shout in the same Chirrup that announced the RTW release. I’m assuming that’s why it’s here.

Okay, here is where things start to get interesting. With the exception of Trickster’s Queen (which is on massive sale, is by my favorite author, and is spy related so I gave it a huge shout out and I think everyone should buy/read it) the other three are total unknowns to me.

Third page in and already I’m confused, so now I investigate!

Bec McMaster – a name I know because she also writes steampunk (and there really aren’t that many of us). From the cover I am assuming Fantasy Romance. However, from the others in the series this might be steampunk, or at least gaslight fantasy. The price point is right to be rec’d along side RTW and it’s also a recent release. That said hers isn’t a name I hear often from my readers.

Devon Monk – is a urban fantasy author out of Portland with a huge Oregon following. Pacific Northwest is also my biggest US territory. I blame Powell’s. This is a holiday themed short for only $1,99 set in a popular fantasy world, so I’m guessing that explains the connection.

Amy Hoff – Is a totally new name to me, the book is described as a supernatural crime novel “When Scottish folklore meets everyday Glasgow.” This book is in KU and so far is the only KU to show up in the Also-Boughts. I’m wondering that’s why it was nested there? As a kind of lure?

Jeannie Lin is a new author to me but I sure am intrigued. Steampunk China, dark, but fascinating twist on alt-history. Reviews look good. Have any of you read this series?

“In 1842, the gunpowder might of China’s Qing Dynasty fell to Britain’s steam engines. Furious, the Emperor ordered the death of his engineers, eliminating China’s best chance of fighting back.”

Patricia Briggs is no surprise at all. I nest next to her in bookstores (last names, you see?) and we share quite a few readers. What’s interesting is that it’s the first obviously traditionally published book to show up as an Also-Bought. This is also a pre-order, it’s not out until next March.

Anne Renwick, another new author name to me. (I do try to keep a close eye on my fellow authors, I swear I do!) This is a prequel short set in a KU only steampunk world. Pretty cover.

Josh Lanyon, a surprise to me. This is looks like a straight up noir mystery short, with a dude gumshoe. Not normally a story to be connected with my stuff. But looking at HIS also-boughts and categories it seems like this might be a queer character? And it looks like he writes pretty snarky. I didn’t get any of that from the description or the cover.

KJ Charles is one of the leading authors for MM historical, mainly regency set. So no surprise at all to see her listed here in pre-order form, also this does not look to be a gay romance. Surprised there wasn’t more, to be honest. I really enjoyed her Society of Gentlemen series.

Ministry book, since Tee & Pip are dear friends of mine and we came into steampunk pretty much together I’m not at all surprised to see their next listed here for pre-order. I know we have a ton of crossover fans, to the point where people want cross over stories (sorry, IP issues make that impossible). I believe this is the last one in their Books & Braun series, comes out boxing day.

Nalini Singh & Courtney Milan are two of the biggest stars in the het romance firmament at the moment, the one in PNR and the other in Historical. Courtney and I share an agent, and this is Hamilton related (props on that bandwagon jump). It also looks like her story in the collection might be… could it be … gay? Hummmmm. And one of my Alpha readers is a big Singh fan, although this one is contemporary het rom, so I don’t know how many of my readers would read this book.

Kate Danley (never heard of her). Looks like chick-kicking-arse UF, so basically on brand for my trad books.

Lyn Gala, fantastic gay SF author who I have rec’d a million times, this is her Aberrant Magic series, which is gay UF. I comfort reread her sci fi regularly, don’t know why I never tried this series. Runs off to sample the first book.

Robin LaFevers’ Grave Mercy was a Coop de Book pick, and it was on super sale recently and I gave it a shout out. Light fantasy with strong historical element and assassins so… yeah. Perhaps not like Romancing the Werewolf, but definitely one for my reader base.

Angel Martinez, I have tried the first book in Offbeat Crimes like three times now. It should be totally my thing: gay, cops, urban fantasy, humor. It’s like a laundry list of Gail’s loves. But for some reason that first book…and you need to read them in order. Grrr.

J Kathleen Cheney.  No clue on this one. Not sure from the description what this series even is. Fantasy maybe?

Okay, there’s a bunch more but I’m gonna leave it there. Not sure where I’m going with this, just find it interesting.

Pippity pip,

Miss Gail

You Don’t have to Take My Word For It

Do you want more behind the scenes info? New stuff goes to my Chirrup members first, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.

Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for December is The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales From Verania Book 1) by TJ Klune.

OUT NOW!

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks | Direct

Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella by Gail Carriger is now available in digital form (print & audio to follow).

Gay reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and some unexpected holiday gifts.

Rally the Readers says:

“Don’t let the novella length of Romancing the Werewolf fool you: there’s a sweet, wonderfully developed story here, along with some lovably quirky characters, lots of witty dialogue, and tea. This novella was everything that I’d hoped it would be—simply perfect from beginning to end.”

 

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1905 NYU Costume Studies @NYUcostume Mary Garden wearing Redfern Ltd., Les Modes 1905.

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Lilliput on her 5th Birthday

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Caffeine in tea – is it bad for you?

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Top 20 Scariest Things Ever Said to Writers

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

“One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead.”

~ Oscar Wilde

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


Gail Talks About Food: Her Perfect Meal (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

A little while ago, Gentle Reader, I threw the door open to the Parasol Protectorate Fan Group for questions and Amber asked me a doozy.

If you could assemble an ideal x course meal, what would you want it to be? And if you had to prepare it, would it change significantly?

So, first of all I answered part of this for Lawrence over on his:

Eating Authors series

 

1925 Esther Borough Johnson (British artist, 1867-1949) Tea Table in the Garden

My Best Meal Ever

The best meal I ever ate was in Monterosso al Mare, (one of the five tiny towns that make up Cinque Terre on the Italian Riveria). I was there on the four day break we got in the middle of excavation season (July 1995) with three other archaeology undergraduates.

We wandered into this little restaurant, I don’t recall the name. All I remember is we walked down, so the windows were at street level and we got a view of everyone’s shoes as we ate. We started with prosciutto e melone (which was more amazing than any before or since) and then we ate this risotto seafood dish ~ fruite de mar. It was as if they had taken a net and scraped it across the sea floor ~ crayfish, clams, mussels, oysters, white fish, salmon, and fresh veggies scattered over this amazing rice. The seafood was cooked perfectly, fresh and glistening. The onion and tomato rice was gooey in the center and backed crisp and crunchy on the top. We had a bottle of cheap Chianti to go with… magic.

My Comfort Meal

My all time favorite comfort meal is the peppered alpaca stake at Cafe Manu in Cuzco, Peru. Alpaca is like the Kobe beef of the pork world. It is amazing when cooked correctly. This is a non-traditional preparation, served wrapped in bacon with a French peppered cream sauce and a simple baked potato. I ate it with a pint of maracuja juice (passion fruit) and life was good. Anytime I excavated near Cuzco I always tried to visit to eat this dish.

This would be what I asked for as my last meal.

My Desert

Layered Raspberry Pavlova at the Lord Nelson in Topsham, Devon. Meringue cooked the British way, crisp on the outside and gooey in the middle, with fresh raspberries and clotted cream sandwiched in between the meringue layers and a raspberry sauce reduction drizzled about. With a nice pot of tea? Heaven. Pure heaven.

My 4 Courses

  1. The prosciutto e melone from Tuscany with a glass of prosecco.
  2. Appetizer portions of the rice and seafood from Monterosso with cold fresh water.
  3. Alpaca pepper steak, wilted chard, and papa rellena with passion fruit juice.
  4. Raspberry pavlova to finish with a perfect pot of tea.

As I told Lawrence, there are some who speculate I chose a career as an archaeologist so I could eat my way around exotic locations. Now I often decide whether I should visit a city for a book event based on the local food scene.

Would this meal change if I had to cook it myself?

Absolutely. I can’t get many of the ingredients and I accept no substitutes. Generally speaking I already cook for myself the things I want to eat and have the time to make (excepting deserts) so yeah…

I’d rather eat out, tho.

I love eating out.

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

SCRIBBLES ROUND UP

  • Meat Cute ~ A Parasolverse Short
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Possible anchor short story for Secret Project A or SS collected/omnibus in 2018 or 2019.
  • TOC ~ San Andreas Shifters #2
    Status: Writing Rough draft.
    The werewolves are back. There’s a bartender with a mysterious ability and a big scruffy man mountain with a powerful crush. The pack’s started a business called Heavy Lifting. Gail is contemplating shifter food trucks ~ Do it raw! Sometimes we wiggle, sometimes the food does.

NOW IN DIGITAL, PRINT & AUDIO!

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?

Boy Meets Boy says:

“If you like a good shifter story, this is the book for you. If you like witty banter and shenanigans, this is the book for you. If you like a story with depth and angst and romance, this is the book for you. Hell, if you like to read, this is the book for you. Cause, really, you can’t go wrong with this story.”

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

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

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Steampunk Curse Generator

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Back Up Your Work

Book News:

10 Top Summer Reads for Middle-School GirlsEtiquette & Espionage made the list!

Quote of the Day:

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


State of the Gail: 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.)

SCRIBBLES ROUND UP

  • Meat Cute ~ A Parasolverse Short
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Possible anchor short story for Secret Project A or SS collected/omnibus in 2018 or 2019.
  • TOC ~ San Andreas Shifters #2
    Status: Writing Rough draft.
    The werewolves are back. There’s a bartender with a mysterious ability and a big scruffy man mountain with a powerful crush. The pack’s started a buisness called Heavy Lifting. Gail is contemplating shifter food trucks ~ Do it raw! Sometimes we wiggle, sometimes the food does.

NOW IN DIGITAL, PRINT & AUDIO!

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!

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

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!


Gail Carriger Reviews MT Anderson’s Feed (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Because MT Anderson’s Feed is on sale today in the USA for $1.99 I’m hijacking my own blog, Gentle Reader, to review it.

If you were to choose only one YA book to read in your lifetime, it should be this book.

Feed portrays the near future world North Americans are currently barreling towards, and, as a result, this book is horrifying, terrifying, and brilliant all at the same time. You don’t need to read my review, you need to go out and read this book, now. It’s a fast pace and shouldn’t take very long to whip through. I keep it on my shelf because it’s genius, but it’s so chilling I can’t stand to reread it. (But you know what, I’m still going to buy the ebook so I have it with me, just in case I need it.)

It’s not often I agree with the big gun awards out there but Feed richly deserves its status as: National Book Award Finalist, star PW, and star Kirkus, it should have won the Newbery. Probably would have if it wasn’t SF.

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

SCRIBBLES ROUND UP

  • Meat Cute ~ A Parasolverse Short
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Possible anchor short story for Secret Project A or SS collected/omnibus in 2018 or 2019.
  • TOC ~ San Andreas Shifters #2
    Status: Writing Rough draft.
    The werewolves are back. There’s a bartender with a mysterious ability and a big scruffy man mountain with a powerful crush. The pack’s started a buisness called Heavy Lifting. Gail is contemplating shifter food trucks ~ Do it raw! Sometimes we wiggle, sometimes the food does.

NOW IN DIGITAL, PRINT & AUDIO!

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?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1900s Jules Bastien-Lepage (French artist, 1848–1884) Girl with a Parasol

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

The Dandies of White’s in the Regency Era

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

10 Things You Should Know About Having a Persona

Book News:

The Many Face of Alexia, T-B, L-R: Japan, Spain, Omnibus, USA, Germany, Manga

Quote of the Day:

“Sunday supper, unless done on a large and informal scale, is probably the most depressing meal in existence. There is a chill discomfort in the round of beef, an icy severity about the open jam tart. The blancmange shivers miserably.”

~ P.G. Wodehouse

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


8 Book That Will Comfort Your Soul (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Every devout reader knows that just as there are comfort foods, there are also comfort reads. And just like comfort foods, we don’t all have the same ones and they are often tied to childhood nostalgia.

I do a number of posts about the books I like to read, Gentle Reader, partly because it’s one of the questions I get a lot. Partly because I’m a voracious reader. And partly because I want to share the love.

Recently, on Twitter, I was asked what I read for comfort. I realized I’d never specifically addressed this kind of book her in the blog. The kind I reach for in times of worry and trouble. The one I wrap around my imagination like a warm fuzzy blanket. I tend to reach for different ones under different kinds of emotional stress, so I will try to tease that out for you.

Without further ado, here are my comfort reads…

Unadulterated Escape from Reality

Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

The worldbuilding (and the vast and complex cast of characters) in these books is utterly transporting. For me this is the ultimate epic fantasy. You can keep your Game of Thrones, I will reach for this trilogy once a year, sometimes more, probably for the rest of my life. (Ladies & gentlemen it’s finally coming out in digital form this month! I am over the moon. Along with the other two in the series. )

I Just Want to be Loved

Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan

I don’t know why this book. But it is this one. There is something about the way Vaughan writes culture conflict that rivets me. I love a good romantic misunderstanding (a GOOD one, mind you). I can read this particular story over and over again.

Nostalgia for Days

Pierce

Pretty much any of Tamora Pierce‘s Tortall stuff will do although I have a particular soft spot for Alanna, Kel, and Bekka. I put McCaffery, Lackey, and McKinley into this same basket. But, in all honesty, it’s usually Pierce I reach for if I want to dwell for a while in my own past.

I Just Want a Hug

Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts by Lyn Gala

At it’s heart this Sci Fi (light BDSM) m/m romance is a story about discovering exactly where you belong in the universe. Wrap that up in a big purple softie and his fantastically well done alien culture and I find myself rereading this book a lot. Especially if I feel displaced and out of whack.

I Just Want a Good Cry

The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton

This is your knights of the round table find each other instead of the chalice. Whatever, I’m losing my metaphors here. But it’s great. It’s romance so I give nothing away by saying the knights end up together, but the book then follows the men through the rest of their lives. Which means you get to see how they die. Which makes me cry.

Similarly The Song of Achilles fills this niche. But it makes me cry too much, so I don’t reach for it as often. If you’re looking to cry over het romance, try The Deep End of the Sea for modern meets ancient Greek fantasy, or the Theirs Not To Reason Why series for space opera.

Here is my: 10 Books to Read When You Need a Good Cry

I Want To Be Reminded There’s Good in the World

For Real by Alexis Hall

Strange that I should reach for a BDSM book when I’m looking for proof of goodness, right? But that’s what I do. There is not only good in the story but good in the writing of this book. Some of Hall’s sentences are almost painful. I will read anything written by this author for that reason alone, but For Real is by far my favorite.

I Don’t Want to be Myself

Mary Calmes Acrobat or Frog

Calmes is a prolific writer and I’ve read most of her stuff, but for me, these are her best. I find her better at full length stand alone than series or shorter works. Since she writes in first person (not generally something I gravitate towards) her style really takes me out of my own head.

Gimme a Happy Ending

Restitution by Aubrey Cullens

This is a straight up redemption m/m romance. (You should know by now that most of the romance I read is m/m. We can delve hard core into my psyche sometime over drinks, if you like. But there it is. I just find the gay boys more romantic because of how I was raised. Anyway, where was I?) This is one of those good man is horribly wronged by the system and then forges and new identity through love sort of stories and I adore it. Adore it. I’d have a hard time explaining why, since there are so many other books like it. But it’s this one.

More recommended reads from Miss Carriger?

So what’s your comfort read?

Meanwhile, I’m giving away 3 copies of the anglicized version of Manners & Mutiny over on Goodreads.

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

SCRIBBLES ROUND UP

  • Meat Cute ~ A Parasolverse Short
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Possible anchor short story for Secret Project A or SS collected/omnibus in 2018 0r 2019.

NOW IN DIGITAL, PRINT & AUDIO!

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?

Tiny Navajo Reads says:

“I love that Gail Carriger is moving out of the Victorian Steampunk universe in such an amazing way, magic is explained scientifically, but it’s still magic. The two main characters are wonderfully done, I believe them, I sympathize with them, I can see the area where they are, and I love even the secondary characters.”

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

The Shrinking Orphan Works Problem

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Invite Your Readers to Help Get Your Books into Libraries

Book News:

V’s Reads says of The Sumage Solution

“I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, because it’s fantastic and so very different, but I want to mention that it’s got the same fast-paced, witty movement as all the other books I’ve read by the author. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.”

Quote of the Day:

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.}

SCRIBBLES ROUND UP

  • Meat Cute ~ A Parasolverse Short
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Possible anchor short story for Secret Project A or SS collected/omnibus in 2018 0r 2019.

NOW IN DIGITAL, PRINT & AUDIO!

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?

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.”

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

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:

FanArtCharactersparasol_protectorate_sketches_by_terrizae

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.

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. If you like fairy tale retellings, I recommend them. 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 in mind. She’s extremely helpful and I find if she and my beta’s agree on anything, then it needs to 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. I will often beg to be fit into her schedule.

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.

Conclusion

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?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

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

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


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 Podcasts for Authors

  1. The Author Biz Podcast
  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
  6. The Rocking Self Publishing Podcast
  7. Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast
  8. Smart Author
  9. The Self Publishing Podcast
  10. The Smarty Pants Book Marketing Podcast
  11. Go Publish Yourself from IngramSpark

Gail consumes her podcasts using Overcast.

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

{Gail’s monthly read along for June 2017 is Local Custom by Lee & Miller.}

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?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1900 vi antique-royals tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

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!


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