I've been making e-books for the past couple of years now. As with several of the publishing-related skills I've acquired, it's been an essentially self-taught process, born out of my involvement with Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and out of necessity. I've made mistakes along the way, and I daresay I still have a few things to learn, but I'm feeling sufficiently comfortable with my level of experience that it's probably worth passing some pointers on, for them as might be interested in this newfangled digital technology.
This week Sexism versus feminism is all in the news. The high point of the week, that menu featuring our PM, Julia Gillard’s genitals and the outrageous question about her partner’s sexuality. This I think has caused a lot of people to sit up and take notice. Not so much about the feminism debate. Is it feminist to point out sexism? By some of the reactions you see, yes.
I’m fifty-three years old. When I was young sexism was everywhere, in the very fabric of our society. In my mind, I was used to it. It was part of me. Young girls older than me thought of marriage. For their birthdays after age 16 it was presents for the glory box, linen, tea towels, tablecloths. I remember the old folks, the aunts, cousins, friends of my mother talking about them, exclaiming over them. A lot of things were different then too. A man could support a family on one wage. If you were lucky enough to catch a bank teller or a school teacher as a husband you had it made. This might have a lot to do with my cultural and socioeconomic background. (We weren’t rich, but most of my relations had houses or were paying them off like us).
So in comes burning the bra and Germaine Greer. It’s a lot more than that. We lived in a patriarchal society. Discrimination against women was entrenched and many like me I suppose lived with it. As a child I was more interested in about being teased, or bullied or discriminated against because I was Roman Catholic, came from an abusive family (drunk father etc), where we all ran wild. I didn’t know what discrimination was as a concept but I felt the brunt of it. At this time, the Australian Public Service forced women who married to leave their jobs. I was chatting to Satima Flavell about this yesterday and she said female teachers weren’t allowed to marry for the first couple of years either. I’m afraid you can’t get more entrenched than that. Women in those days did not have the high paying jobs either.
Fast forward to my teens and things have moved along. Society has changed. Economies have fluctuated through the stagflation, the structural unemployment and oil shock. My mother was divorced. The children dispatched all over the place. The widows pension was made available to single mothers and divorced women. The pill was freely available. There was sexual liberation. There was still sexism.
In the late 1980s, I experienced sexism in the work place in a way that was hurtful and discriminatory. But I remember another earlier instance. While in NZ in the 1970s I worked in a service area for a car retailer. I was pawed and pinched all the time by the mechanics and supervisor. When I finally said something about it. I coped it from the blokes. ‘You didn’t complain before’ etc. They became nasty when I stuck up for myself. I was 17 and felt unable to stand up for myself. I’d been sexually abused as a child. My first response to sexual advances was fear.
So anyway, back to 1987-88 and I was working for a stock broking firm in Sydney. I was being asked to train a young man who had written to the firm asking to for a job. I asked my boss why I couldn’t be trained. He said they didn’t promote women. Women got married and had children. I pointed out to him that I was divorced and had my tubes tied. He just shrugged. I even argued that the young men get trained then leave for other jobs with better pay. I felt angry about it, but not angry as I should have. I can’t even recollect if I thought it was discrimination or just the thinking that was prevalent in the industry. I don’t even know if there were anti discrimination laws back then. I left the firm eventually and went on to study. I’ve never looked back. I went to study so I would be valued so I suppose I should thank my boss for giving me an incentive.
Now I work in the public service and I don’t think I see much sexism in recent years. But maybe in this environment I’m cocooned, from it. Maybe I’m so used to keeping my head down I don’t notice. I did have issues about 15 years ago now, when my boss would hold meetings at 5.30pm and I had to go home to the family, being a single parent. I’d come in the next morning at the two blokes had made all the decisions. I called them on it and asked them to hold the meetings earlier. I don’t think one thing changed as a result of my speaking up. They were people who worked best when late and couldn’t adapt to me.
What does this mean? Does sexism still exist? Obviously. Our politicians are tossing sexist mud pies, and govern like they’re in a scrum fighting over a ball. The evidence is there for all to see. Maybe it’s a scab on a festering sore.
Is feminism alive and well. It is and it needs to be. Things are better. Women have fought for the right to be treated as a person and have gained a lot of ground. Younger women now have a lot we didn’t have. My daughters don’t face the same barriers. They lives weren’t moulded under the patriarchal society I was. They expect equal treatment. It’s not something they had to fight for. I hope they never lose ground.
To celebrate because I feel like it, I'm giving away a copy of my ebook, Rayessa and the Space Pirates-a rollicking space opera with romance suitable for young adults.
All you have to do is invent a quirky, interesting or funny space pirate name and a few words about the characteristics of said pirate and leave it in the comment field or use the contact form to email it to me.
I’ve been wondering why certain romance novels really thrill me and why I read them again and again. I could admit to be a pathetic romantic but I’m not alone. Is it the hero? The heroine? The setting? The story itself that drags me in? I’ve listed a few favs so maybe you can tell me.
Here is a bit of summary of some of what I think are the greats and I’d be happy to hear your thoughts too. Most of these are old and well known.
I can’t recall when I started loving Scottish historical romances. It was either before Crosstitch by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander in the USA) or around that time. I’ve been reading speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and a bit of horror) from an early age. I think I had a major dive into reading the genre when I was 19 and it hasn’t let up since.
The Secret by Julie Garwood. Oh boy. The actual set up for this novel is a bit far-fetched being a friendship between an English girl and a Scottish one in a time when travel was difficult and expensive. However, I was swept away with Judith’s story, particularly her reactions to Iain Maitland. He was particularly interesting in the sense that he was aloof but also passionate. The cast of secondary characters were lots of fun.
That leads me to a second favourite, Ransom by Julie Garwood. This novel stars the gorgeous and pig-headed Brodick, who is brought to his knees by Gillian, a brave English girl that saves Iain Maitland’s son. It is part of the series. Gilian is a girl out of her time, I suspect, braving the unbravable, but I love her and I love Brodick’s stubborn humour. I’ve read both these books a number of times and I have kept my copies.
I read a number of other Garwood books, but these are the standouts for me. I’m not sure why.
Moving on from Scottish historicals and moving to Johanna Lindsey’s, Warrior’s Woman. OMG! This is a book that was before its time. Erotic SF. I liked the SF in the story, though there is some borrowings from Star Trek (but hey who cares). Challen is an awesome hero and Tedra, what a match. I read a lot of Johanna Lindsey on the strength of this book, including the two sequels in the series, but for me nothing beats, Warrior’s Woman. You could say this book inspired me to try my hand at writing.
Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon, blew me away. I read quite a lot of the series. The first book is my favourite and the latter books just too long and bloated and there was only so many ways to almost kill the hero before it became tired. James Fraser is a stand out hero for me. I have been thinking why this is. He’s Scottish, funny, brave, sexy, tall, clever and sensitive. Claire in the first book was great as a semi-modern view in the historical period. There are parts of Cross Stitch I can’t read without laughing, always in the same spot. When I reread I skip the torture scenes. I was so influenced by this book that I went to Scotland and Culloden etc. I saw horizontal rain and I wished I had found Lallybrook. I also dabbled in learning Gaelic. (I know I’m a sad case).
Until recently the only Australian romance writer I had read was Anne De Lisle, who had three books out by Bantam and then she sort of slipped out of view. I did she that she had an agent trying to sell a paranormal series and kept my eye out but to no avail. Her first book was Clementina, a Scottish historical. This story had a lot of energy. Her next book, Isabeau was also Scottish and then Tabitha was Regency. I believe Tabitha was my first foray in Regency romance and I was a bit astonished that the hero, Dominic, behaved in a very un-Darcy-like manner.
Later Regency romances that I’ve read by Anna Campbell and Anne Gracie. Anna Campbell introduced me to Regency Noir in Claiming the Courtesan. Obviously I got over my ‘he doesn’t behave like Darcy syndrome’ because I loved this and bought Captive of Sin, which I haven’t read yet. I picked up the Perfect Rake, by Anne Gracie and became very antisocial until I finished it. This has humour and laughter and romance so I’m thinking it’s in the ‘to be read again’ pile.
Escape Publishing’s first Scottish historical was The Chieiftan’s Curse by Frances Housden (NZ author I think). It’s done so well it’s going into print. I loved it and it was what started me wondering about what made a block buster romance novel.
I don’t think I’m extensively well read in the genre as I’ve been concentrating a lot in the speculative fiction spectrum, but now I’ve dived back into the romance reading. I’m not normally a fan of contemporary romances but I’ve been indulging, ostensibly to research the market so I can write romance. I had been writing some paranormal romance and I’ve read a bit of urban fantasy too. Love it!
However, a goal is for me to write at least one Scottish historical and at least one Regency romance. You see the first time I ever tried to write in 2000 was a Scottish historical piece, which after 700 words I said was crap. Later on, when I’d been writing for a bit, I started a Regency romance and wrote the first kiss scene. I’ve matured a lot as a writer since then so maybe I’ll just go for what turns me on.
Please if you think I’ve missed a few classics then leave a comment. I certainly read the two books that Anne Gracie recommended in her talk at the Romance Readers Conference in March. Fierce Eden by Jennifer Blake (so rich in detail it was amazing and very sensual) and Mackenzie’s Mountain by Linda Howard (Shiver! I loved that),
Nicole abandoned me for a nap would you believe around three. I reckon it was a chocolate mint slice overdose. Kaaron Warren came over to write for a couple of hours, bearing such gifts as homemade mint slice. OMG! Delicious. I don’t want to think about how much of it I ate. But if you feel the need to call me a glutton then the name sticks.
Nicole wrote a gazillion words. I wrote 13,000. I wasn’t drafting so much today because I was concerned I hadn’t quite got Essa’s snarky voice right. So I’ve been tinkering with the story at the beginning. This also gives me time to work out the last third of the story because my outline is kind of vague on the details. I know it ends with a particular outcome but engineering it to make it plausible is the hard part.
Matt’s still plugging away. Although a bit of family interruption might have put him off his game. I’m about to think about what I’m doing next and hope that my sleep isn’t full of audit report writing tonight.
Until next time.
It’s a long weekend here in Australia, I think in most states. One way to make sure I got some writing done was to invite my retreat buddies over for a mini retreat or Donnacon as it is affectionately known. It also kept my mind off not being at Continuum 9, listening to N J Jemisin, who was guesting there over the weekend. Here is a link to her GOH speech.
Starting Saturday morning, the gang came over and some just visited for an afternoon. The first trick for me when I have a stretch of days to write is to decide what I’m working on. I find drafting is most productive so usually don’t revise something I’ve written unless I have a deadline. At our retreat after Conflux 9, I had to work on my uni fiction so I didn’t even try for word count. I did add to the story but I was focusing on polish.
I had a few projects to choose from. Write more of Into the Dark Glass, write a short story etc. I chose in the end to start of the sequel to Rayessa and the Space Pirates. It turned out to be a good choice. I started writing and then I discovered I’d written an outline earlier in the year so I had a map of where to go with it. Due to RSI I can’t go for massive word counts. I have to pace and I have to take breaks. So far I’ve written 12,500 words and while I haven’t finished the story arc, I’m a fair way in.
The hard part for me was the voice. I’m not using Rae’s voice and she’s funny and quirky. Also, the way I wrote Rayessa is a bit stylised. It has cliff hanger chapter endings. Although, those were put in later. Today instead of finishing the story arc, I went back to the beginning to work on Essa’s character and to make it more interesting and fun for me to read. I noticed in the last chapter I was working on I had finally found her so I went back to the beginning to expand it a bit more and to get a feel for her self-centred and armored heart. Word count wise, Rae and Essa’s adventures in space is half way there.
Lucky me, I have a writing day on Wednesday so I may push it forward a bit more.
Overall a productive weekend writing wise. My waistline has expanded in line with my word count. We’ve stuffed ourselves with food. Today, Kaaron Warren brought over homemade mint slice. And she left a stack behind.
The writing weekend was tough on my family. I’m very grateful they bore with me. They probably don’t understand about devoting yourself to writing for a number of days, but they stand back and grit their teeth.
There won’t be anymore long weekends until October. I hope to have a bit more under my belt by then.
To celebrate because I feel like it, I’m giving away a copy of my ebook, Rayessa and the Space Pirates-a rollicking space opera with romance suitable for young adults.
All you have to do is invent a quirky, interesting or funny space pirate name and a few words about the characteristics of said pirate and leave it in the comment field or use the contact form to email it to me. I will choose the funniest and maybe also do a draw out another name too. I’m running the giveaway for 2 weeks (ending Monday 17 June, 2013). To sweeten the deal, I’ll also be giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Voucher!