Books for Writers Who Read Books on Writing

NaNoWriMo: Word count for today: 31,578.

Today, I should be at 33,333, though I still have two hours. I have already typed some forty-five hundred words; I’ve discovered my writing music is Irish Pub Rock, as Pandora calls it. When listening, I believe I type faster, and of course the tempo encourages me to keep up the pacing, which I don’t think is my strength at the best of times. But on a roll I can get up to two thousand words an hour, which

Now, the Sims is still on my other computer, because I didn’t actually end my playing session before coming out to watch NCIS and spin-off, but I doubt I’ll want much more time. My current pixel family has four horses with one on the way, and they’re time consuming, even more than the game alone.

Anyway, in honor of NaNo, I thought I’d mention a few writing books I have and have read recently.

  • The Writer’s Book of Matches Just a book of prompts, 1001, plus suggestions to modify them further. Most writer’s writers probably don’t need ideas, or so I hear. Ideas have never been my problem, at any rate. I get plenty. But my trouble is following through to the end. At best I get out slips of paper to jot down inspirations, collect them in any of a number of collector’s boxes. Sometimes I go so far as to write out a couple paragraphs, or even a scene. But finishing a story? The only time I’ve completed any fiction is through the two creative writing classes—and even then I often didn’t finish. But I’ve completed NaNo once, and I have crossed fingers for this year.

    Also, I have ideas for several genre-style fan fictions that I desperately want to complete. Mostly because my original writing tends to be about crazy people with mostly character development. Fan fiction on the other hand, demands more, because the readers already know the characters (except best case scenario, where someone discovers a new show after the fan story). Should be good for me. Goes hand-in-hand with the whole ‘complete’ problem too.

    Back to Matches. Personally, I found many of the suggestions to be rather tired, to be honest. Mostly genre—which, again, I don’t tend to write. But the appendix is helpful and just looking at someone else’s ideas can inspire your own. The Writer’s Book of Matches is put out by the Boiled Peanuts literary journal staff.

  • Next, I’d like to recommend The Storyteller’s Art by Francis Porretto. It’s available free as an e-book, check on Goodreads. For the sake of full disclosure, I will say it’s taken from a collection of blog posts from a blog devoted to apparently conservative and Christian values. It’s not a blog I read, so if that’s what you do like, go ahead and look it up, though I can’t personally recommend it; but if it is something you don’t like, pick up the book alone, because this is a book strictly about the craft of telling a story: not the workmanship of grammar and spelling, not the selling of the final product. This book gives the reader a different way to think about their own writing, their work-in-progress.

    I admit, however horrified my creative writing teachers would be to hear it, I enjoyed the author’s emphasis that you should not be writing ‘literary fiction.’ It does sound as though he writes genre himself, but his advice—to think about your theme and resonance  to be concerned about character, to complete the story—applies to any kind of fiction, short of deliberately changing every rule in some post-modern goal. But like Picasso, you should know the rules before trying to break them. Some people might be put off by the constant reference to himself as the ‘curmudgeon’, so they might want to read the original blog posts, if they’re still available. Otherwise, I found this readable and motivating.

  • I’ve read a few other free e-books on writing recently, but the only other one I’ll mention is Write Good or Die by Scott Nicholson. It’s also a collection of blog posts, but less well-formatted than The Storyteller’s Art. It’s also an anthology by several different authors on all parts of authorship, from the initial idea to publishing. Some are great, some had me looking at them sideways, but you may have the exact opposite reaction. With so many different perspectives, you’ll probably get something out of it. Even if you don’t, it’s free and you won’t even be out anything.

So if you like writing, I hope you’ll check them out. If you’re also in the middle of NaNo, well, you may want to look them up next year…or if you’re not waiting that long, at least until you’re finished whatever story you’re working on. Personally, I keep finding I’m much happier writing than I am when I’m not, but then I stop writing. Maybe this time will be different. I’ll keep writing best I can; maybe it’ll stick this time.

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Good Luck!

Because it’s time to start writing if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo. And I know from experience staring late causes all sorts of problems.

I started last night, right at midnight. Stopped at an even 1000 words, because it’s a nice even number. Instead of continuing, of course, I’m writing this post, both as it has been scheduled and also because I was introduced to an author today.

Sigh.

Apparently this guy is some kind of big deal, or at least an  author with influence, though fortunately I’ve never heard from him and don’t need to worry about having it color my reading of his work. Someone feels threatened.

Because that’s what happens. Published authors, are, of course, the only ‘real’ authors, and god forbid the dirty common people get their mucky hands over their white towers.

Do I sound a little bitter? I suppose I am. When I first found NaNoWriMo, I was thrilled by the almost innocent thrill of the organizers. It wasn’t some way to convince people anything they wrote would be worthy of publishing, but to show people writing, and by extension, authors, aren’t worthy of blind devotion simply because they’ve managed to get a few tens of thousands of words onto paper. Great authors deserve recognition for their work, their word play skill, their insight into the human condition. Challenging amateur writers to make a similar effort in no way threatens the respect we pay to dedicated authors who can change the way we see the world.

If you haven’t noticed, our culture has lately failed to honor the humanities it depends on to be culture. People have recognized that modern ‘literary’ authors and critics are out of touch, that they don’t relate to humanity at all—that modern literature can be little more than a circle jerk of mutual appreciation from student to teacher to student, and hardly anyone new enters the picture.

NaNoWriMo brings hundreds of thousands of literature lovers together actively in a way I don’t recognize. Not like universities, where you have a limited list of acceptable reading material: what my professor called ‘serious’ literature. As much as I liked him, that’s such an artificial and unnatural limiting of everything literature is and can be. For example, I recently read a non-professional critical article* on the qualities of the best science fiction versus what science fiction has become. Science fiction, especially is dismissed by ‘serious’ authors because it doesn’t realize with real stuff. Whatever that’s supposed to mean. And the article points out that the best part of Science Fiction speculates about how our world today will affect the world tomorrow. What could be more profound than that? The best science fiction provokes wonder from the reader, changes the reader, offers the world possibilities. Everything the best literature has always done. Do read the article, it’s a thought-provoking read with a great discussion afterwards. But somehow science fiction is just not good enough for real authors.

Back to NaNiWriMo, why do professional authors object to others knowing how difficult it is to truly craft a novel?  I’ve long heard complaints from authors about people pointing out they just get to ‘stay at home all day’ or that they ‘have a great idea for a novel’ that they just haven’t gotten around to writing yet. Even after NaNoWriMo, people will still say these things. But some of them will actually try. And maybe they’ll appreciate how hard their favorite authors, or even least favorite authors, have to work at their profession.

No, somehow it’s a challenge. It assaults their delicate sensibilities. Maybe it even makes it harder for them to be published…because if you’ve been published once, it’s your right to be published again.

The creators of NaNoWriMo have never, in my experience presented the challenge as the path to publishing. It’s always been nothing more than permission. Permission to write a truly terrible novel that maybe no one will ever see, that will never be graded, but that maybe, just maybe, could be made into something worthwhile. With work. Every year, successful NaNo winners—which really includes everyone who attempted any writing at all—to continue to improve, to edit what they have, to expand anything missed in the rush, to close up the plot holes. And unlike everyone trying to sell their self-publishing services, the NaNo crew has always advocated editing, once the work is to that point. As an editor myself, and a discriminating reader, I greatly appreciate that attitude.

So, Mr. Bertschy, I may well read your work in the future. I probably won’t even be reminded of this post. Heck, everyone’s allowed to say stupid things; it happens. Generally, I prefer to avoid attacking others on Twitter, because it sounds so much more cruel in fewer than 140 characters. I’m sure you’re not a terrible person. But I’m blogging about it instead of replying there because I’m not sure I want to engage directly with that kind of perceived elitism. If you do stumble across this post? It’s not personal, but I hope you understand why I disagree.**

Unfortunately, while you did back off a little when the ‘tongue-in-cheek’ part was pointed out, the tone of your first tweet hit a number of my berserk buttons when it comes to literature. I truely think the literary scene suffers from the artificial split between ‘literature’ and ‘genre’ and in insulated nature of the the big prizes. These thousand words are not a direct response to you. However, if you—or others of that kind of mindset—are willing to engage in a sincere discussion on the relative worthiness of fiction, I would love you forever. Seriously.

*”The Issue with Science Fiction Nowadays: Where Has All the Wonder Gone?” by Kyllorac (August 17, 2011)

**It is exceedingly unlikely, as I’m not going to tag the name, but as the entire post was in response to that Tweet, I thought I should clarify why I felt it necessary. Should he visit, I’d hate for him to feel attacked, but it’s very difficult to have a true discussion online.

P.S. Oh look at that! Back to the tl;dr posts—looks like the limited schedule helps. And I didn’t even start to talk about my own NaNo first day, which I must get back to, or the fantastic writer’s group I found. I know you’re all devastated to miss my over-sharing.

Betrayal! Confessions of an eBook Reader

As in, someone who reads e-books, not an e-book device.*

 

books

books (Photo credit: brody4)

When I was in Academic Decathlon, they asked me “What’s your favorite book genre?” My mouth went dry and I know I took too long to answer. “Fiction? …or nonfiction.” Any question connecting favorites to books strikes me as entirely unfair.

 

After all, how many books are published per day?

 

When I was a kid I wanted to read every book ever published. Even now, I occasionally get anxiety attacks over the sheer number of books I haven’t read yet, and all those brilliant works I may not ever read. By Roman times, scholars were bemoaning the breadth of important literature, and the impossibility of reading it all.

 

There’s just no way to keep up—or in, e.g., in the loop. I’ve always had eclectic reading tastes: I’ll read science and history and paranormal romance and the so-called literary novel and fantasy and memoir. I’ve never been discriminatory and I love (some) genre works as much as I love (some) of the classics. Let’s face it, some of the classics are only canon because the manuscript happened to survive.

 

Growing up with reading privilege, which is to say, a bookcase in every room, my own library before I could read on my own, I learned to love books, and especially value the physical book. Books are more than just a product, because all those words stand for ideas, a nearly direct communication from the author’s brain to yours. Fortunately, they do not include mind control, and so you are free to interpret the author as best (or worst) you can.

 

I only bought my nook after getting hooked on the local library’s e-book lending program, but reading on the computer screen, at least in terms of ‘real’ books, has never been the comfortable for me. And while I do love my nook, but…

 

As a dedicated reader of everything, I feel guilty for sidling along with the e-book bandwagon. (I’m far too timid to jump after all, and paying that much for those little text files?) People keep talking about e-books killing the traditional publishing market. Which I find problematic in two parts: first, with the rise of the dependence on technology, some form  of change was inevitable, and second because that’s just such a huge shift for so little benefit.

 

Remember when email was supposed to mean we wouldn’t use paper anymore?

 

My nook is nice. I can carry around as many books as I want; I have instant, free access to most classics (public domain), and I can read it more easily all the time. Like walking, or eating, and even knitting although turning the pages can be difficult with my fingers tangled in yarn. I can just set it on my knee and go, whereas if I try the same thing with a paperback—whoops, lost my place.

 

But O! do I miss the feel of paper and slick covers and especially typography. Not that physical books always pay the closest attention to the quality of the interior pages, but the nook can never match even an average layout…especially when the e-book designer formats the text incorrectly and it doesn’t respond to my spacing and text choices and their text choice is awful.

 

I nearly went all caps there, the phenomenon annoys me so much, but I didn’t think that’d be fair to you, dear reader.

Cover of "The Monsters of Templeton"

Cover of The Monsters of Templeton

The nook fits in my purse better than my former minimum of two novels and a hardcover, just in case. I have access to the library program books, which, though it isn’t a huge selection, is still different from the rest. I can only check out three e-books at once compared to the local library’s ten, but the two week limit means I don’t keep them three months before I get to read them—I mean I always try to finish, but you know, life gets in the way, and I couldn’t just not check them out, right? E-books don’t take up space on my shelves, which is good, because I don’t have any. And it’s easier to get new books on the nook, since I don’t live within 100 miles of a bookstore.

 

 

But I can read a physical book better: because the pages are larger, you see two at once, and flipping black and forth is easier. When I picked up The Monsters of Templeton this morning I realized I also read much faster and more happily.

 

Dear everyone, don’t give up on the paper book because some people buy e-books. Physical books are accessible and shareable and so much more valuable.

 

*I can’t find a standardized spelling for e-book anywhere.

 

Review: The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

http://www.ferretbrain.com/articles/article-295

Dan says it pretty much exactly how I wish I could.

Update:

There may be spoilers?

I think the best way to respond to this book is by naming as many ways that I thought it could have been improved while reading it.

Firstly, this book is, in essence, structured through a frame narrative: We are introduced to an innkeeper, Kote, and several local villagers. They aren’t important (although two show up at the very, very end so you need to keep track anyway). Mysterious bad things show up that the incredulous locals do not believe in, but Kote goes out and slaughters the not-demons anyway, because he knows better. Unfortunately for Kote, a famed storyteller (or something) shows up and announces he knows of Kote’s secret past as Kvothe, the Hero who is so Heroic most people don’t believe he really existed, despite the fact that his heroics took place not even five years ago.

Don’t ask me.

So Kvothe gives in to the storyteller and agrees to tell his story. For some reason this skinny guy with no particular prowess or even equivalent intellectual power still outmaneuvers the hero. Well, the reason is otherwise we wouldn’t have the story, short of it being written entirely in first person. Turns out Kvothe was born a genius–a proper genius, not just smart, but literally brilliant–into some kind of travelling entertainment troupe. His parents loved him and he ended up with a tutor in magic who is put on a bus and as yet not heard from again. He gets a lot of page time for such an abrupt dismissal, but there you are. Then the parents and the rest of the troupe are murdered by the Chandrian, which is ostensibly Kvothe’s driving motive. Except the 11-year-old Kvothe instead runs away to the forest for a year, then to the city for three more.

At which point we reach a major theme of the novel which is, if you aren’t poor like Kvothe, you can never have any idea what it means to be poor like Kvothe. Though since this is a fiction book, I rather expect it to teach me what it means to be that poor, rather than simply insisting I don’t know what it’s like. Especially since Kvothe doesn’t particularly seem to suffer from being poor. Seriously, he’s an urchin in an urban medieval-type city, that should be awful.

Anyway, Kvothe finally decides not be be desperately poor anymore and goes to the magic school, where he is just so brilliant they let him, even though they have absolutely no reason too: no money, no recommendation. He’s just That Good. And he makes friends with a few other guys who are kinda at the bottom rung as well (maybe: they all get names and a bit of page-space, but not much and I kept forgetting who they were). And then he antagonizes the queen (king?) bee of the school, Ambrose, whose father is uber-rich and powerful and crushes anyone who doesn’t like his son because he has nothing better to do? Kvothe is supposed to be astute and good with people and a super genius–I have no idea why he couldn’t not be stupid about this or stand up to him in any other way: suffice to stay it’s a stupid conflict that really doesn’t match anything else and comes up too fast and lasts too long.

At this point the novel goes on: Kvothe is an incredible, transformative musician, great at magic of both types (I’m not sure what the difference is), builds perfect devices that even when illegal or ill-advised are still allowed, meets girls whole love him for no good reason and goes places and does things none of which made much impression. Go read Dan’s article again, he does a much better job overall. I’m just bored remembering it.

So how could this have worked?

1) It would have been awesome if Kote the badass innkeeper was 50-60 years old rather than his mid-twenties. For one thing, it would have been a lot more impressive, and make his world-weary ennui far more understandable and even heartbreaking. (Rothfuss handles his prose skillfully, if not his subject matter).

2) What if young Kvothe hadn’t been born a genius? A good third of his problematic characterization would have been solved right there!

2.5) Young Kvothe’s storyline would be far more effective it had taken place over, say, a minimum of twenty years. Again, because he’s not a genius, his school takes longer and he has to undergo actual struggle to learn proper magic–he could have still had a unusual flair for creative spellcasting or something that makes his work Better Than Yours, but he wouldn’t be infuriatingly precocious and get away with all that he does. He might have actually learned and grown while on the streets of the city, rather than unaccountably simply deciding he doesn’t want to be a street rat anymore. His school years (because it would have taken years) would mean he’d have to actually figure out how the system worked and how the master’s related to each other and what the back stories of the school and characters are before he could a) figure out how to manipulate it all to his advantage and b) without simply being told just because. Also, again: he’d have to expend actual effort.

3) There wouldn’t be the slightly skeevy romantic relationships. Kvothe isn’t supposed to know how to deal with women (although after living such a distrustful life on the streets during such a crucial point in his development, how does he know how to deal with people at all?), and yet, he’s got at least three who ‘admire’ him. There’s Denna, who’s his One True Love, which we know because he meets her first, at which point there’s nothing at all to indicate that they have chemistry, and they never do, but he finds her sexually exciting: very Nice Guy syndrome, no one else could treat her as well, they have conversations! etc. There’s the blonde (?) girl who’s a money-lender, who breaks her own lending rules for him just ’cause. And then there’s the psychologically damaged girl who lives under the school and for some reason will only trust Kvothe, because he plays the best music. But I can’t forget the one Ambrose is lusting after, but who has to look to Kvothe for protection because, despite being presented as perfectly competent (other than later setting herself on fire) won’t stand up to Ambrose’s father. She’s the damsel in distress. It’s exceedingly depressing.

Conclusion: If Kvothe wasn’t a genius the story would have had to take much longer and time-wise wouldn’t be so compressed. Old Kote would be old and a lot more impressive. And he wouldn’t be such a Stu that while reading I wouldn’t be twitching right out of my chair, which is so terribly undignified.

I have NO IDEA why I liked this book. None. But the prose was pretty. So the pacing must have been pretty good too, since never got so much of Kvothe that I couldn’t finish, which by any normal laws of the universe, shouldn’t have happened.

View all my reviews

Fan Directions

Cover of Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887, f...

Image via Wikipedia. Sherlock's first episode? "A Study in Pink"

1 Fan fiction is not inherently evil

If you get at all attached to series characters who are so much bigger than the stories the creators actually offer, you want more. Commonest among longer book series or television shows (both where character development often happens behind the scenes), there’s plenty of room for hole patching. Or the character are just so engaging you don’t want to give them up. Some people invest enough emotion and thought into those characters and create for them whole new stories. From which the less invested fan can gain some satisfaction, while knowing it just isn’t the same…which admittedly only serves to draw her in further. Good for the original creators, not so much for the fan’s productivity.

2 Fan fiction is inherently a waste of time

At least as much as the original show. You’re not supposed to read genre fiction (which is where you find most series books) or watch television, because neither is “good” for you. Television is TEH EBAL, according to Them (those of They Say fame) and while books mostly equal good, only if they aren’t much fun to read. Odd, because most of what They consider Good, survived because such works were read for fun.

But They make it un-fun, because those are just weird dead people.

3 And fan fiction, being the creation of the commoners, is doubly worthless.

While a few gems reveal some real life hidden truths through someone else’s universe, even the majority of what could objectively be called “good” is self-indulgent gooeyness. Much like the chic lit genre.

The Colt with thirteen original bullets

Image via Wikipedia

Self-indulgent gooeyness doesn’t take up a lot of time, so I still say worth it. Last weekend, lusting after Supernatural (because I still haven’t seen the 4th season!) I read through some 100 of my “favorites list” and more than 2 million words—and I used my calculator for that, so yeah—in not even two days. But it’s approximately the equivalent of 20 genre novels. Which I can’t read that quickly. Unless they were romance novels, but I don’t enjoy reading those. If I’m reading a book, I don’t want to be reading one I can skim.

Yes, fan fiction is a waste of time. But at least it’s not drugs, however similar the effects may sometimes be.

    Originally, when I started this post, I was not planning to say more than a few words on fan fiction, as an introduction to Sherlock, the newest Sherlock Holmes BBC series, only this one is set in modern-day London.

    And Watson still fought in Afghanistan, just as he did in the 1800s!

    Hardly progress. Nonetheless, the show aired the three episode season in the UK, even offered reruns online. Which, from the UK website, is not allowed in the United States. It wasn’t airing over here either. I only found the show because after I finally saw the 2009 movie back in, what, August? September? I got enthused enough to go back and read over my fan fiction list, much as I did with Supernatural.

    And what was this? Now they keep dropping his last name, and there’s something about cellphones and sociopathy. What could it be? (What cooould it beeee/ that coooomes over meee…*)

    By the time I track down the actual show, from an interview with the actor who plays Watson (who is somehow famous, so naturally I don’t know his name) with a clip of Watson first accepting Holmes’ invitation to a crime scene,

    had me all aquiver with anticipation. Just the news of a second season, without the opportunity to watch the first sent me into paroxysms of joy. (Admittedly, I fall into paroxysms of joy on a fairly regular basis, because happy is a good way to live your life anyway.) Whether or not they’d allow me to watch through their website, I was determined to find a way. A way that was not illegal, because that’s just how I roll.

    Anyway, I figured I’d just wait impatiently for my brother’s Netflix, as I do with so many things—including Supernatural—when, lo and behold, I read my mom’s copy of Parade (the newspaper insert) in the Herald and News). In the past I refused to read in the car, because as a child it made me nauseous. Though apparently I’ve outgrown that side effect, I still tend to avoid it. But it was dreary and rainy and I got sick yesterday with a stuffed nose, so I read. And Parade has a calendar of art-type things (books, movies, etc) to look out for—PBS is showing Sherlock!

    Sundays at 9 EST, check your local listings.

    When I got home I looked for it first thing and couldn’t find it. Fortunately, Brother had his computer out and found it listed under Masterpiece Mystery or something. What can I say, I don’t watch PBS.

    Sherlock is just as awesome as I’d hoped, and funny too. I’m going to watch again, not only because of its awesomeness, but also because I was not entirely focused, due to the distraction of figuring out how to make $11/hr a living wage in downtown Sac—by the way, pleading poverty might just work with the government.

    The British just do everything better. At least when it comes to television.

    *at times I can’t mooove/at times I can hard-lyyy breeatheee

    (I used to be obsessed with him too.)

    If You Can’t Say Anything Nice


    Teasing a Sleeping Girl

    Originally uploaded by Maulleigh

    Having written some 4000 words on Killing Time—a book that I can’t stand, less because I hate it, but because it has so many of my pet peeves—I’m suddenly questioning my reasons for posting it online.

    Not that it isn’t practically tradition online to do so. There are several websites dedicated to nothing more than poking fun at badly written, plotted, and conceptualized stories. Sometimes published works like the Twilight ‘saga’, the two series of Laura K. Hamilton, and even the later Harry Potter books. Sometimes, and more often, the focus is on awful fan fiction or other online stories.

    Killing Time wasn’t meant to be published, but it was published, so I think I’m covered. It’s started to seem kind of mean though. Which I don’t like to be, I think it’s a bad habit.

    While I’ve thought before while reading some sporks that they go too far, I allow myself to be seduced by the amusingness. In some cases. For example, I generally don’t read the websites making fun of fan fictions. They aren’t as funny, to me, so I can’t claim a virtue here, but they are also generally working with avereragely bad fics. As opposed to those, say, Rose Potter. Which are well-known in sporking circles for their exceedingly awful badness and creepiness. So fandom itself will sort out the worst of the worst, and those are funny sporks.

    Anyway, I think I might continue with my various reports on Killing Time, but only likely if I can continue to post more short essays about the tropes that I dislike rather than an actual spork. Although maybe later I’ll find time to do so, if on a more appropriate medium.

    But this whole thought process came about because Laurell K. Hamilton recently made a blog post. Another author wrote a response. A link was posted on amazon.com and discussion continued for several pages. Naturally, this ended up on FandomWank. Well, I don’t really remember the wank report, but I was, intrigued, let’s say, buy the other author’s response.

    Now I’ve never heard of Jennifer Armintrout, the other author, but I thought her blog post rather well-reasoned. As did the person who posted it on amazon, unless they intended to cause a kerfluffle (which is entirely possible). However, the thread really got going when someone, called R. Harinandansingh (R.H. and given the masculine pronoun, because the shes are confusing already), objected to Armintrout’s calling out L.K.H. Because it’s ‘unprofessional’. When I first got to his comments, I immediately dismissed them. First they were inflammatory, and secondly ridiculous. In what way does being a published author take away your right to critique? How does being any kind of career-artist (as he seemed to imply) mean you can’t have an opinion on others in your field?

    Then I started feeling uncomfortable about having dismissed R. H. so readily. It’s not like the original post was an attack on Armintrout. As another poster brought up, yes, there is a long history of author’s taking pot shots at each other—see Mark Twain’s “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”, and Twain is vicious, though witty—but it’s never been nice.

    Of course, Armintrout never claimed to be nice. And though L.K.H. may not have directly addressed any specific author’s in the post, she was talking about the craft of writing. And as another author, and especially a published one, she has a right to respond to a post that essentially demeans authors who don’t write the same way L.K.H. does. Also, when it’s online, it’s public. As far as I’m concerned, when it’s published (and a blog is a form of publication), it is, by definition, published. Now, if L.K.H. had written this in a protected, private journal, online or otherwise, I might take more issue with the propriety of responding like that. But she made her opinions public.

    I just don’t see why the response by Armintrout, however emotional, is less than professional. R.H. makes a point of saying that only artists can’t critique each other (or he seems to) and that lawyers and doctors should because their professions actually make a difference. (Or so I recall, it’s been a few days since I read the thread.) However, I very much enjoyed the beginning of Armintrout’s first (only?) response on the amazon thread, defending her original post:

    1. I did not write the blog because I have a problem with LKH’s writing. I have adored all the books I’ve read from her…My blog was not a criticism of her as a writer.

    3. I didn’t write the blog out of professional jealousy or “cattiness”. I would love to have the word “catty” removed from any discussion of female authors from now on. When Nicholas Sparks routinely slams the romance genre, no one calls him “catty”. They call him “outspoken” and “opinionated”. “Catty” is a word we use to describe women who aren’t acting like sugar, spice, and everything nice, and it’s bs.

    I wrote the blog because I don’t like it when people who are feeling insecure for whatever reason decide that the only way to bring themselves up is to attack others. LKH has a lot to be proud about, and other authors do not threaten the success she’s made for herself. You may find my blog unprofessional. That’s fine. I’m really, really unprofessional. I approach my career as one approaches their first year of college: too much partying and running of the mouth and not enough work. But I get really p.o.ed at the idea that LKH gets a free pass to sling passive-aggressive attacks at every other author who puts a pair of fangs in their books in order to make herself feel smarter, more successful, more like an innovator, or whatever she was trying to accomplish.

    Can I say, firstly, that I love number 3 wholeheartedly? Spot on, and also, Nicholas Sparks strikes me as an obnoxious idiot. And, actually, fits the definition of “catty” to a T. So perhaps it just needs to be a cross-gender insult. But it isn’t and so should be given up.

    And the only way any profession keeps itself going is by discussion. Authors don’t write in a vacuum either. Perhaps all the cutesy niceness has done nothing for the quality of writing produced. Perhaps a good challenge once in a while might do some people some good.

    Brothers-in-Arms: or, Your Definition is Different than Mine

    The Star Trek fanzine Spockanalia contained th...

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    That missing date of the 3rd from my update schedule will haunt me for the rest of my days. Or at least what days I actually see the update calendar on my main page of that month. And assuming I can keep my posting on-track otherwise. But, hey, fell asleep before I could even write my post; there was nothing to be done.

    Now:

    The Real Part 1 of the Killing Time review, spork, or whatever this actually is, because I don’t know what to call it. “Random-thoughts-and-notes-taken-during-the-reading-of-the-book-which-may-or-not-be-relevant-or true-but-drive-me-nuts-nevertheless” perhaps.

    I started rereading this today, because I hadn’t picked the thing up since I made my original notes (but I had to because it’s very hard to finish ‘reviewing’ a book that you haven’t actually read), but had to start from the beginning to, well, get back in the spirit if you will. And promptly made more notes. One-and-a-half, actually. Although at least they are in cursive, and I have very large handwriting in cursive. For instance, I found quotes like this, from page 3 (remember, the first printing):

    [Kirk] felt the familiar telepathic door swing open between himself and the Vulcan. It was something which had formed between them over the years, something which had saved their lives countless times and made them brothers.

    Firstly, that “telepathic door”. Does that bother anyone else? It’s just such a…dull, but stupid, image. Too physical a metaphor for the situation perhaps: suddenly I realize I’ve never actually minded the “silver thread” of mindlinks before—although talking to a friend who actually reads much more fantasy than I do, this appears to be a fanon thing for Star Wars than fantasy itself. And why is the door telepathic, and how does that help Kirk? Talk to the doooor, Spock….

    Also, those “which”s should be “that”s. Or something.

    This does however lead me to the two points that I really wanted to make in this part one. Actually, first I only had one, which relates to the title, but the second is also important, and leads to the first. So I suppose it should be first anyway.

    So. One thing that really stood out to me on second reading—which was actually, I think, the reason I was so bothered in the first place to start this project—was the characterizations of the characters. Now, this may be somewhat silly of me, but I have higher standards for franchise-published stories pulled from existing canon, and actual fan fiction, which doesn’t really have to hold to any standards, primarily because it’s completely unauthorized. At least the published stuff is reviewed by ‘officials’.

    Not that I’m objecting to fan fiction. For one, I read an awful lot of it, and fortunately have a clear distinction between what I can expect there as, well, practically a media in itself, versus other my other reading, even in genre fiction.

    But in fan fiction there’s a curious thing that develops called “fanon”. It’s like canon, which is to say, the information from, in this case Star Trek: TOS. Fandom, however, takes from these facts and builds on them, and since there wouldn’t be a name for fan fiction unless it’s shared, fans themselves create information to, usually, fill in gaps. For instance, I’ve heard that Uhura was never given a first name by the show, but somehow, because so many fans use “Nyota”, official Trek eventually used in a movie—thereby making ‘fanon’, canon. But fan-made-facts don’t become canon unless it becomes accepted by a significant portion of fandom. After which point, most newer/younger/less dedicated fans may not even realize it isn’t canon, but have made it part of their experience of canon. (Writing this paragraph has made me feel like such a geek.)

    The most blatant version of this in my experience is in the fanfiction.net (known for its total lack of quality control) section for Lord of the Rings. Naturally, the place got a huge boost when the movies came out, and as I was reading in high school—forgive me! I’d seen the movies maybe once, and never quite finished the trilogy, no matter how much I loved The Hobbit in fourth grade. Frankly, many characters are, well, not resembling any character of the original books, nor, particularly the characters in the movies. Especially the elven twins Elladan and Elrohir (do I actually remember that?). They aren’t in the movies, and have the tiniest part in the books as I recall, but in the stories I followed they were joke-y like the Weasley’s and great friends with Legolas—who had naturally been bestest of best friends with Aragorn for some unspecified length of time. And many of those stories were pretty good. But totally, completely, fanon.

    Killing Time uses heavily ‘fanon’ versions of both Kirk and Spock.

    They’re positively cuddly, for one, although I can hardly count that as it was supposed to be edited out (although I don’t know how far). But mainly, it’s the feeling of the characters. Neither acts like the Kirk or Spock who you see on the show: for instance “[Kirk] reached across the table…’I know it’s an inconvenience to your Vulcan logic to have this link with a human, but just tell me!’ But the gentle smile robbed the words of any harsh implications.” That might not be the best example, mostly because it’s such an over-arching issue, but it does get across how blatant the author wanted to make their relationship, any relationship. No subtlety here.

    But because of the fanon ‘slash’ version of this relationship, the overtness is taken for granted. That doesn’t mean the author doesn’t try to show how close they are through other words, however. Like in other slash fandoms, the insistence in calling them brothers.

    Back up to that first quote, paraphrased “the door that made them brothers. Or years, whatever. Why do so many slash writers, especially those transforming close friends into couples, insist on describing them like brothers? Or as close as brothers? Now, maybe it’s because I have two brothers that it bugs the heck out of me. Because I know what interactions these stories draw from: the good-natured squabbling, similar tastes, and in-jokes. My brothers do that. So yeah, creepy. Why don’t they ever think of the to-be significant other as “a spouse, but without the nagging”? Which, sexist, yeah, but not so creepy.

    Other characters will also comment on the brotherly love going on, in this case, McCoy.

    “When you go to sleep, the little boy in you needs someone to relate to—and that little boy automatically chooses Spock—sort of a big-brother figure for your dreams.”

    Now, a sophisticated argument might say that such other characters can’t see past their assumptions to the true UST and are making excuses for the characters’ closeness, or falsely identifying the relationship. I’m not seeing much an argument from that, though we’ve only seen McCoy this once. And a threesome would be too much, so I think we can safely conclude that the primary reason for this Freudian metaphor is to ‘prove’ how much they love each other.

    Which, no. As soon as you call them ‘like brothers’. Yeech. Is it something to do with maybe people having fewer siblings anymore? Is it because families no longer stay together as adults—you grow up and move out and therefore are only supposed to see your siblings no more than to stay a week every couple years if they’re far away, or drop by for dinner every couple weeks if close? I don’t know, but this trend is disturbing, and not even the same way as deliberate incest or twincest or Wincest or any of the other disturbing combinations that such fans have come up with. At least they know what they’re doing.