January 19, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowy and cold

New poem over on Circadian: “Water Diamonds of Joy” by Danielle Frézier.

I’m researching markets, trying to find the most likely fit for some pieces of which I’m extremely fond, but which aren’t easily categorized. I often feel like I’m banging my head against a wall – especially if a publication pays well, and then I read it and can’t stand any of the writing in it.

And then I realized: genre boxes. At this point, it’s almost genre-within-genre boxes.

For instance: female-centric fiction is now shelved in romance if it has so much as a kiss in it. It can be urban fantasy (Hell’s Belles) or action adventure or paranormal or whatever cross-genre imaginative, wonderful creation it is – but it’s “romance”.

While, if it’s male-centric, it’s fantasy or sci/fi.

It’s as though if the sex has any sort of positive emotion behind it, it’s shoved into the romance category, even if that isn’t the main focus of the story. If the sex is clinical, unemotional, or used simply for power, then it’s sci/fi or fantasy or magical realism shelved with fantasy.

There are exceptions, of course: Mercedes Lackey, CJ Cherryh, Diana Paxson, et al. But they broke away from the pack, no matter where the book was shelved (as Jackie Kessler will do with Hell’s Belles, and, before people start having hissies at me, I do NOT think romance is a ghetto genre; I just think HB is more urban fantasy/magical realism that straight-up romance novel).

Side note on Hells’ Belles – I went to a chain for it because I could not wait ONE MORE MINUTE – but I couldn’t find it. So I asked at the desk, and the clerk searched for it and walked me to the romance section, yanked it out and said, “Who was the dumbass who decided it should go here? I HATE working for a chain!” – and yes, she’d read the book! And loved it! (The woman obviously has taste).

What we need are more fantasy/magical realism publishing houses run by women, who won’t stringently categorize their submissions. I think both Samhain Publishing and Freya’s Bower/Wild Child Publishing are working to fill that niche nicely, but we need more.

So, who’s going to step up to the plate?

Speaking of genres, I realized, sadly, yesterday, that there isn’t any one magazine that is fully relevant to my life. I cancelled a bunch of subscriptions recently, and the subscriptions I have only address pieces of the life: Yoga Journal, Health, Writer’s Digest (which will not be renewed – it’s the same material recycled every few months for newbies – I need information for mid-career working writer), Elle, Vogue (I’m in wardrobe, remember? Clothes are part of my job), Organic Gardening (yes, I’m dreaming), National Wildlife (I’m an NWF member) PEN Journal (I’m a PEN member), most issues of Vogue Patterns (I sew), and, well, New Jersey’s stud handbook (horses, not men, and I have no idea why they send it to me).

There are tons of magazines aimed at married women or women whose sole purpose in life is to marry. But there’s nothing for an intelligent, single, in-her-prime working artist.

Step up, people! Go create the magazine of my dreams. I’m not the only one of my kind out there!!!

It was brought home even more clearly when I read the draft of my friend’s new play. It’s wonderful and touching and disturbing and heart-rending all at once. I knew he’d draw me in – he always does. He’s one of those writers who defies genre – call him “boxless” or “unboxed” or, what he truly is, brilliant.

I’m talking, of course, of Chaz Brenchley, who understands what makes humans (and other beings) tick better than we do ourselves, and is brave enough to expose it. If you’ve never read a Chaz Brenchley book, go order one right this minute – and if you’re in the U.S., Bridge of Dreams is a good place to start. He’s lyrical; compelling; a stunning linguist; understands the heights and depths of love, passion, turmoil, manipulation, loyalty, and pain; and helps the reader see the world (any world about which he writes) in a new way. Sometimes the beauty of his prose literally takes my breath away.

His work is beyond genre. It’s too expansive and too honest to fit in a box. Plus, he can write in any genre – mystery, fantasy, or, as in this play, naturalism/realism.

And he certainly does not get the acclaim he deserves. There’s another writer out there selling millions of books out there, who’s at a point of hiring people to co-write/ghostwrite because “he has too many ideas” – yeah, make me gag – whose, writing makes me want to go beyond gag and downright throw up, it’s so damn sloppy and formulaic. That’s one of the writers I sometimes joke about, who I think uses “global replace” for the character name and the location.

There’s nothing wrong with selling well. More power to anyone who earns the right to do so (Janet Evanovich and Tess Gerritsen immediately come to mind in that category).

And Chaz should be right up there with them.

(stepping down off soapbox, polishing it, putting it away).

I also realized (hey, it was snowing, I had lots of “realizing” time) how many married women with whom I’m acquainted, or meet in my travels, who live away from major cities – don’t have friends. It’s like when they signed the marriage certificate, they signed away their right to have people around them not related to them whose company they enjoy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, kids. You know what? The damn husband can take the kids one night a week or whatever so you can do something fun. You work just as hard. Because any time you wrap up your entire life in another individual, you are asking the Fates to kick your ass.

And it’s not the guys who EVER give up their friends.

Nor should they. But neither should the wives. Everyone needs a group of people around them whose company they enjoy on a regular basis. People who don’t have ego-centric agendas, but are just trying to struggle along on the journey, and are companions, not competitors.

It doesn’t seem to be so bad in cities – I guess there are so many people in such a small space, you have enough regular contact with some of the same people that you become friends in spite of yourself.

Speaking of friends, if I don’t get out of “hermit mode”, I’m going to be in big trouble. My friends are getting cranky. “We know you’re writing, but we need to see you ONCE in awhile –and the blue moon’s in May! We don’t want to wait that long!”

So I better book some social engagements! 😉

Did some good work on Changeling this morning. Pieces are fitting into place nicely. They surprise me, but it’s working.

Gave myself the night off last night to read Janet Evanovich’s Plum Love, the between-the-numbers Valentine book. It’s fun and cute and sweet in a good way. And very short – I read it cover to cover in an hour and a half.

I’m on my way to the post office to mail Pickles’s toy and get stamps and mail some bills. Then, if the roads clear up enough, I want to drive up to Mohegan Lake. The Jo-Ann’s is about to close. People are furious – the next closest one is over the Tappan Zee Bridge in a hateful mega-mall – the money you save on the fabric is spent on gas and tolls, and the frustration factor is so high, why bother? What really makes me angry is that the company refuses to acknowledge or respond to the community’s upset. They won’t respond to calls, emails, or reporters. They have so little respect for the people who shop at their store and are such COWARDS, they won’t step up and deal.

So I’m going to Mohegan Lake to say good-bye to the workers who’ve been so good to me over the last few years (who are NOT being shifted to other stores, but simply fired), and then. . .no more Jo-Ann’s for me. Why should my money go to a company that disregards the needs of its customers? I’ve gotten too sensitive of voting with my wallet when it comes to things like that. I don’t know where I’m going to get reasonably priced quilting fabric around here – to me, $11/yard, as one of the other county stores sells is not reasonable for calico. So I’ll have to figure something out. Ordering online is not an option. Fabric is tangible and textural. I need to see it and feel it before I buy it.

If the roads remain icky, I’ll go tomorrow. But we’re supposed to have gale force winds, and I don’t want to be hit by a tree.

Pulled a stack of job leads off the internet yesterday, and will send out the pitches this weekend.

And I have to print off the quarterly newsletter and get it in the mail. No point in writing the damned thing if I don’t mail it.

And then . . .back to the page.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 11,467 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

11 / 45
(24.4%)

11 Comments

  1. Ah, but I am one of those guilty-as-charged married women who had kids and dropped off the face of the earth. I’m back now though!

    Thanks for recommending Chaz Brenchley. I’ll definitely pick up some of his work.

    Good luck with your fabric search. I know how you feel. I need to see it, too.

  2. I managed to keep my friends when I got married – largely because they were all my college friends and all live far away from me. I hardly see them anyway. I’m finding that it’s fun to have couples friends – where we can all go out to a movie together or something. I’ve made good friends at work, though, and through my writing group that happened after my marriage.

  3. Check out City Quilters on W. 25th Street. They have a nice selection of fabrics. Since I tend to buy for my project, I don’t know their prices per yardage.

  4. I like a little romance (or a lot, for that matter) with my murder mysteries. But I hate having to search all over the bloomin’ bookstore if they don’t shelve the books where I expect them to be. Of course, I don’t hit bricks & mortar stores all that much anymore. I get a better deal ordering online because I usually always get free shipping. 🙂

    Re Jo-Ann’s, I’m feeling much the same way about our Walmart. They just closed the fabric department and are on the verge of even closing the shoe department. We live in a relatively poor segment of the state. There are a lot of people around here who can’t afford to shop elsewhere for that type of thing. So what the hell are they supposed to do now? Not that Walmart cares, of course. Bastards.

  5. what a great blog! thanks for mention of Jack’s book and then giving her a heads up… which led me to your site.

    I can relate to the married friend syndrome. I’m married (14 years) but go out and play as much as i want. We made a pact when we married that there wasn’t gonna be clinging vines or entertainment dependency. We’d both been there and done that with previous spouses. He hates gallery openings and alternative rock concerts; i love them. So i go by myself or with friends. He loves bowling and tennis; i won’t set foot in a bowling alley. So he goes alone or with our sons. And when we do go out together, it’s a real treat.

  6. Heh, I can tell you exactly why HELL’S BELLES was shelved in romance: that’s what’s on the spine. It’s published as a paranormal romance. (Yes, I wrote it as an urban fantasy. No, that’s not how it was published.) Well, I’m sorry you had a hell of a time finding it, but I’m thrilled you found it (and that the bookseller read it), and I hope you enjoy it.

    I agree that there seems to be a trend to publish books as romance even when those stories could be (better) categorized as something else. And the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance is so damn blurry that it makes me want to check the prescription on my glasses. Maybe everything should be shelved under “Fiction” and call it a day…

    Speaking of Wal-Mart, that’s one place you’ll never see HELL’S BELLES. Heh.

  7. I just found your blog and I love this post – AND I think you should launch your own mag! You know what you want in it, and your blog is the perfect starting point. Who knows – maybe you’ll be able to cull a few sponsors and then you won’t need to look for a job!

    I thought Jodi Picoult’s article about literary vs commercial fiction (she’s considered commercial whereas Anita Shreve is literary) was very interesting. My book, which was originally contemporary romance, has run the gamut from chick lit (really, hen lit!) to women’s fiction to straight romance. Genre is tough, because it’s all about marketing and sometimes people don’t know where to find you!

    I’m with Jackie – I’d love it if everything was shelved under “Fiction” with some way to cross reference it (hello, like the tag surfer on WordPress!) so more readers could find new titles.

    On a side note – when Berkley (Penguin USA) first posted my book on amazon.com, it was labelled juvenile fiction for like a month. God. Some of my scenes are definitely not for anyone under 21. They fixed it, but it goes to show that mistakes happen all the time and it’s arbitrary at best …

    Nice post!

  8. Your friends work sounds brilliant. I will defienitely have to look for the book you mentioned.
    I keep hearing wonderful reviews of Hells Belles, another book to look for!
    Um, as a married woman who did drop off the face of the earth, I can say that I never had a lot of friends to begin with (sometimes my shyness is almost parylizing). So, go ahead, yell at me. *g*

  9. You publish in HOW many genres and have HOW many blogs and just published a post HOW long? Girl, you are prolific!

    This genre question is an important one. I tend to write erotica, because I really enjoy crawling into a character’s brain through his…um…ok, anyway…I enjoy writing about sex. But it always makes me wonder just how much OTHER fun stuff–like shootouts–I can put into a book.

    Thanks for bringing this up.

  10. I also just read the newest Plum book and found it enjoyable. The “between the numbers” ones are not quite as good as the “numbered” ones are, but I love them all!

    I agree about the magazine thing. If you find that perfect magazine (or if you choose to start one, as someone above suggested) let me know!

  11. The most people celebrated holiday is Chinese Spring Festival, not Christmas. It’s coming, Feb 18. Go and do something. have fun.


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