Thursday, June 30, 2022

Life is difficult, but you don't have to make it worse

 This week we’re talking about author drama: is it idiocy or a PR campaign. And I’ve gotta say, I’m part of an incredibly smart group of authors. Check out their posts, there’s some great advice on how to avoid and extract yourself from amped up situations. 

Me, I avoid drama. It’s bad for the health. I much prefer to stay zen and be supportive. Life isn’t always easy, but that doesn’t mean you have to invite negativity. I looked up drama quotes and this one from Anita Renfroe (who I guess is an author, I might have to check out one of her books) was perfect: 

I hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy my fellow SFF Seveners’ posts! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

When You're Caught in Author Drama: 3 Steps for Extracting Yourself

Monsoon rains in New Mexico bring green green green! 

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week concerns Author Drama. We're asking specifically if we think it's idiocy or a PR campaign.

So far the opinions this week have run to proclaiming it unwise at best and idiocy at the baseline. I don't disagree. I'm not much for drama in any aspect of my life, so I go to lengths to avoid it. Those of you who've followed me for a long time know I'm all about balance, that - as a practicing Taoist - I'm forever seeking the middle path and a place of equanimity. 

That said, sometimes the drama finds you. 

As with all of life, we are walking a fine line with author promotion. We put our books out there, and we put our SELVES out there, because the author is the brand that readers follow. When we post photos of our lives, our likes, our pithy observations, and so forth, we are doing it because we WANT attention, right? If nothing else, we've been trained by social media to court those clicks and likes and followers, in the hopes that they translate to book sales and readers. 

But we only want positive attention! you might say. Well, yes. Still, there's always the chance that a bid for attention can go too far and tip over into negative attention. These things aren't always controllable. When I see the latest kerfuffle and readers lining up on sides, it's easy for me to sit back and feel smug that they're not yelling about ME. I also have to be honest about myself and realize that they're not talking about me either. It's easy to declaim drama when you're not noticed at all.

What' most important to remember is: most authors who find themselves mid-drama did not intend to incite that level of reaction. What's happened is they handled it badly. They don't have the professionalism, the emotional maturity, the support network, the sheer ability to control themselves, to back away.

That's what it takes. The common wisdom holds, should you find yourself propelled into drama:

1) Step away

No matter what anyone says, you are not required to respond immediately. It's almost always better if you don't  respond until things have cooled. This includes not looking at what people are saying.

2) Apologize

Don't entrench. Don't argue. Don't try to convince everyone that you really are a Good Person™. If you don't know how to craft a good apology (which admits being wrong, makes no excuses, and includes real resolve to change), get help with it. 

3) Don't fan the flames

Resist the urge to respond further. Stick to your statement and apology. Don't succumb to the lure of attention by stoking it just a little more. Actually do the work to correct what you did to upset people.

What happens with some Author Drama cases is that the person in question becomes so enticed by the attention that it all feels good. In extreme cases, it becomes their brand. It's a choice, but not always one that serves the books and the storytelling.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Bitcher Beware


Author Drama:  Idiocy or PR Campaign?

There are very, very few good reasons to raise a stink in public. When authors (or anyone in the public space) manufacture drama in order to get attention, they are proving themselves to have the emotional maturity of a toddler. It flies in the face of the governing principle of Don't Be a Dick. 9 times out of 10, the backlash earns curiosity clicks for an immediate gain but destroys any long-term benefits. If the plan is to be a career author (ie, more than one book) then showing your ass is the absolute worst strategy. 

When is it okay to get your open-mic gripe on? When issuing a public caution and you have the receipts to back it up. If you don't have the latter, don't engage in the former. Also, take a page from the School of Comedy, in which punching up is okay when you're calling out authority or using rhetoric to dismantle power structures. Don't punch down. That makes you a bully. 

What's an example of good drama? Fighting for your rights against a corporation or abusive business (E.g.: #DisneyMustPay or #AudibleGate). Again, you must have the receipts or you open yourself to legal problems around defamation. 

If you're defaming individuals on social media purely for the clicks or because your response to a perceived slight is a scorched-earth policy, congratulations, you're a cyberbully and subject to criminal prosecution.

In our litigious society, it's Bitcher Beware. 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Author Drama


This week's topic at the SFF Seven is about Author Drama and whether we think it's idiocy or a PR campaign.

This post is going to be super short, because I think about author drama exactly 0%. What drama I've seen has usually been to the author's detriment, whether caused by them or inflicted upon them. I'm sure there are authors who seek drama for PR purposes, people who see ways to cash in on stirring the pot of their choice. To me, that's a pretty terrible tactic and not anything that's on my radar. I don't know how people have time for creating drama for PR purposes. I barely have time to look up from all my writer duties. 

So, I'll just be over here drama free, thank you very much ;)

~ Charissa

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Gateways to SFF


This dreamy-eyed bookworm grew up in a small, rural town in Canada at the end of the twentieth century.

I devoured the Masters of SF on my mother's bookshelf. I read the treasured volumes in our family bookcase by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, the Grimm brothers, and Hans Christian Andersen. It was a challenge to fit in socially, so I made friends with Anne McCaffery’s dragons, Ursula K. LeGuin’s wizards, and Madeleine L’Engle’s Murry family tessering through the universe. They accepted me for who I was, while providing an escape from an often unloving, unfeeling world. 

When I grew into adult SFF, it was the late 1980s and early 90s. There were no ebooks. There was no BookTok and no Bookstagrammers to find book recommendations. So it was my big sister who introduced me to Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry.

Cover of the first Canadian and world-wide edition! (1984)

I fell hard and fast for the series. Kay wrote lush Mediterranean-inspired scenes, political intrigue that kept me turning pages, and complex characters that made me swoon. And he was Canadian, like me!

Many of us love SFF because its complexity keeps us engaged and feeds our imaginations. To find a series that appeals to our senses, emotions, and intellect—to all the sides of us—is a gift. It gives us hope. It keeps us going in a world that can seem small and dark.

Today, it’s my great privilege to teach SFF to college students. For some, it’s their first introduction to the genres and I love seeing them explore the thought experiments and new worlds in SFF. The stories that resonate best with my students now are Octavia Butler’s literary granddaughters, such as Nnedi Okorafor, Larissa Lai, Cherie Dimaline, and Nalo Hopkinson. These writers combine globally-influenced myths and legends with beautifully crafted characters to tell stories that reflect on our pasts and present.

They show hope for the future while challenging us to be better. They dare us to dream of a world that respects all of us. A world that cherishes our unique contributions to our families and communities—and all the worlds of our imaginations.

This is what I learned as I read beside my family bookshelf and as I grew into SFF as a young adult. I hope I will always remember this lesson as I try to inspire the next generation of readers.

Until next time,

Mimi B. Rose.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

ROGUE'S PAWN, Rights Reversion, Hybrid Authors, Dear Hollywood and Gateway Drugs

Available at these Retailers
Things have been busy in my part of the world...

So much so that I missed posting for the last two weeks - and I'm posting late in the day today. Madness!

This is my brilliant (one hopes) catch-up post. 

In book news, I got the rights reverted on the ten (10!) books I did for Carina Press. I started with my first dark fantasy romance trilogy, Covenant of Thorns, which meant new covers and new back cover copy (BCC). Done and done, times three. (What about the other seven books, you ask? I'M WORKING ON IT, OKAY?) I'll be re-releasing these three books over the next several months. 

Here's for Book #1, ROGUE'S PAWN:

Be careful what you wish for…

When I walked out on my awful boyfriend, wishing to be somewhere—anywhere—else, I never expected to wake up in Faerie. And, as a scientist, I find it even harder to believe that I now seem to be a sorceress.

A pretty crappy sorceress, it turns out, because every thought that crosses my mind becomes suddenly and frighteningly real—including the black dog that has long haunted my nightmares.

Now I’m a captive, a pawn for the fae lord, Rogue, and the feral and treacherous Faerie court, all vying to control me and the vast powers I don’t understand. Worse, Rogue, the closest thing I have to a friend in this place, is intent on seducing me. He’s the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen, enthralling, tempting, and lethally dangerous. He’s as devastatingly clever as he is alluring, and he tricks me into promising him my firstborn child, which he intends to sire…

I don’t dare give into him. I may not have the willpower to resist him. He’s my only protection against those who would destroy me

Unless I can learn to use my magic.

Exciting milestone, to be re-releasing these!

As for the actual topics I'm supposed to address:

What do you see in your crystal ball for publishing? Will the Big 5 become the Big 4 and what would that trickle down cause throughout the industry?

I doubt that the merger that would make the Big 5 become the Big 4 will be approved. Even if it does, there are still other publishing houses that aren't the "big" ones. Also, traditional publishing is only one part of the market and one that's no longer at the forefront of everything. I think there's value to trad publishing still, but I also think most authors will become hybrid, since we want to be able to pay our bills.

Dear Hollywood: Which of your works would you most like to see made into a movie or miniseries What makes it stand out above the rest?

My Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms series. I really want to see these books as an ongoing miniseries, primarily because I'd love to write the other POVs that are going on simultaneously with the 1st Person POV of these books.

Your gateway drug: the book that made you love SFF

DRAGONSONG by Anne McCaffrey. I found it in my school library in 5th grade and it opened up a whole new world to me. Possibly also the first time I glommed an author's backlist. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

My SFF Gateway Author: Morgan Llywelyn

 My gateway drug: the book that made me 💖SFF

As a wee ankle biter, I learned to read using the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. My dad read them to me until I got old enough to try to read to him (the fact that he napped through most of my efforts while remaining alert enough to help me sound out a word is a testament to his training as a soldier, I reckon). 

Then, I went through my Horatio Hornblower (series by C.S. Forester) phase. ~waves to the Indy~ Oh, and Poe. Can't forget the guy who wrote The Bells, which I imagine is a giant FU to his critics and debt collectors.

Then, school happened with its mandatory reading lists, which, blerg.

The books that finally brought me back into the fold of SFF were anything by Morgan Llywelyn. The Lion of Ireland, Red Branch, The Bard, Epona: The Horse Goddess, Grania, etc, etc. Sure, her Celtic works are typically classified as historical fiction, but stories dealing with magic and gods on earth are also fantasy. So, yeah, I credit her historical fantasies as my gateway, a divine door that's always unlocked and ready to welcome the world-weary to the time of legends and mythology. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Dear Hollywood, what the hell?


Dear Hollywood,

What the hell?

It's been a while, and, to be honest, I'm feeling a bit disappointed. 

In the last ten years, CGI (3D Rendering) has come leaps and bounds. Compare Avatar (2009), and The Avengers: End Game (2019). For months now, I have been wondering...

Where are the dragons?!

I mean, yes, we had Game of Thrones. But I want a blockbuster movie with dragons. I want to feel the roars in my bones with that sweet surround sound, and have my heart soar to the heavens when they fly up through the clouds. I want to see the scales so up close and personal, I can see my reflection in the movie theater seats.

I'm serious. Where are the dragon riders? My dragon shifters? Dragon eggs with their golden ridges and pearlescent coating?

You can't make me sit through two hours of epic superhero battles and monsters from other dimensions and tell me that there isn't space for an epic battle involving a winged friend or foe with a penchant for fire breathing and burning down towns. 

Obviously, this is a problem that needs to be remedied sooner rather than later. So... without further ado, here is my pitch for one of my novels, Lady of the Primordial Tree.

Betrayal, vengeance, forbidden love, and dragons. 

Sofia spent the first twenty years of her life in a quiet, isolated place where she was taught to do one thing: help women and avenge them.

She attributed the death of her mother to her father, and his mysterious past. So what does she do?

Why, only what any logical maiden in a high fantasy world would do! She runs away from home, goes on an epic quest, and meets the love of her life while fighting a sand dragon that bursts forth from the depths of a desert. Later, she meets a sea dragon, and then we find a beast so large and fearsome that she has to escape before the entire mountain palace she is currently locked up in is destroyed.

Don't tell me that would take an audience's breath away. 

I mean, people liked Dune, didn't they?

I'm just saying, it might be time we pass the baton to a woman writing some highly enjoyable high fantasy romance so we can give the other blockbusters a run for their money.

Frank Herbert decided that the most exotic name he could give his bat-like messenger creatures was  "cielagos", and I hate to break it to you, but that's just short for the Spanish word for bat, "Murcielago." You want some unoriginal Spanish to make things seem more "exotic" I'm bilingual, my name is Daniela

We want something new, and we want something good.

Dragons are in their renaissance. Strike the iron while it's hot! Dragon Shifters are also coming in hot and heavy, so there is huge earning potential for hundreds of thousands of Fantasy Romance readers. Please don't let us leave the dragon movies in the Eragon Era. I want to see the hues of red light as light shines through the wings, and the glimmer of scales as they slither through the moonlight. Show me the razor sharp teeth with bits of their last meal. Give me a wicked drake making friends with the misfit young adult who just so happens to be the Chosen One.

There are numerous books who have taken these creatures, and curated entire plots around them. Take your pick, and make it happen.

But please, for the love of all that is holy, GIVE ME A DRAGON, NOT A WYVERN.

(Since The Hobbit could not tell the difference, that movie does not count.)


A Concerned Reader and Highly Imaginative Author

Daniela A. Mera is an educator by day and writer by night. Her life has revolved around creating new worlds since infancy, when her mother used to turn down the lights and read from fantastical books til she could hardly keep her eyes open. She lives between Nevada, USA and Hidalgo, Mexico, living out her own fantastical dreams one day at a time. 

Sign up for her newsletter to get updates and free novellas or extra book chapters at 

Friday, June 17, 2022

The Future Is Near

Anyone else enjoy reading the book before seeing the movie? If I know there's a print version I'll definitely look it up before seeing the flick—and yes, the books are better than the movies, but I love seeing the differences in what played out in my mind vs. the theatrical release. 

When I read, I see the story in my head. Happens when I write too. Which is why I get giddy when someone listens to my audiobook and tells me they could see it happening like a movie! That was my goal as I pried this found-family, second-chance romance, sci-fi thriller from my brain! 

So naturally, The Mars Strain would be my top pick for book-to-movie. There would be shots of Jules and her team in the lab, Zia directing the colony on Mars and trying failing to keep Gates and Hannah in line, Jake sneaking around Kennedy Space Center, under the radar, basically going wherever he wants to go because when you know everyone you can, and also heart pounding action as Jake and Jules transport the Strain to the CDC. It would be amazing

It's still a possibility. Never say never! 

What's your favorite book-to-movie?

Thursday, June 16, 2022

If Wishes Could Make Movies of Books

 Ooo. Books made into movies. What a double-edged sword. We've all seen books turned into movies, some done badly, a bunch done marginally, and precious few done brilliantly well. So as a reader, I have such mixed emotions about books adapted into movies. As an author who'd like to have a book adapted into a movie, I STILL have mixed emotions. Part of this is because one of my SFR idols had a book optioned. The script was written and approved. Shooting started. (Somewhere in there, I hope she got paid.) She even brought the cast to conferences with her to help hype the production. 

I've never seen it. I don't know for sure what happened, but I can guess the production fell apart somewhere. From what tiny bit I know about the business of making films and TV - lots of projects die before being bought. Tons more get bought and never made. The ones that get made might make it into the can, but never again see the light of day. Who knows where that SFR movie died? What I'm trying to say is that while authors might dream of the money that might come with a movie deal, there's more investment than cash and knowing that it could crash and burn at any time is -- hard.

All of that said, if I could see a single book turned into a movie, it would be the first one, Enemy Within. It's just the book I saw most clearly. The plot feels super focused and the romance tight and to the point. It would be tough, though. The CGI would have to be on point for my bad guys. Of course the technology exists to do the job. Witness Star Wars, the MCU, etc. It's the price point that might be an issue. But yes. That book. It's a fun book and a fun story. If you don't count the dead bodies. 

I mean. Space pirates. Enemies to lovers. Everyone out to get the heroine and not even she knows why? What's not to like out here among the spaceships and bug-eyed monsters?

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

New Fantasy Romance Release: The Storm Princess & The Raven King by Jeffe Kennedy

📚💖As temperatures rise, so does the steam in Jeffe's 4th book in the Heirs of Magic Fantasy Romance Series. Out Now! 💖📚

The Storm Princess & The Raven King

A Broken Heart

Princess Salena Nakoa KauPo thought she was over her broken heart. She’d put her first love and childhood sweetheart, Rhyian, firmly in the past where he belonged. His bitter betrayal of her was locked away deep inside, along with her foolishly innocent hopes and dreams. Now Lena has been thrust together with him, the prince of shadows, the one man she could never resist, on a mission to save the world from a terrible cataclysm. Worse, Rhyian refuses to believe her when she says there’s no hope for them.

An Irresistible Longing

Rhyian is rather accustomed to being a failure. Goddesses know, he’s not magical enough for his sorcerous mother and not alpha enough for his father, the King of Annfwn. It hasn’t helped that he’s spent the last seven years trying to drown his sorrows—and to forget the one woman he ever loved, whose heart he carelessly shattered in a moment of weakness. Rhy knows he has to change to win back Lena’s trust, but how?

A Love That Can’t Die

As Lena and Rhy struggle to overcome the wounds of the past, they and their friends approach the final confrontation with the strange intelligence intent on rending apart the very fabric of their world. And it looks like it will come down to the pair of them to strike the final blow.

But only if they can build a new trust on the bitter past.

BUY IT NOW: Amazon | Apple | Nook | Kobo

Start the Series Here 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

On the Big Screen


Happy Sunday! This week's topic at the SFF Seven is Dear Hollywood: Which of your works would you most like to see made into a movie or miniseries? And what makes it stand out above the rest?

Every writer I know has entertained the idea of what it would be like to see their written work translated into film. We create dream casts, envision set pieces, and imagine watching our words and characters come to life. It's a goal that few writers of fiction get to explore.

My choice is pretty obvious: The Witch Walker series. I would love to see it played out on the big screen, expanding the off-the-page scenes and fleshing out all the characters. It would be pretty cool to show the viewer all the tidbits that go missing in many novels.

It's my top choice because it's my first full-length work, and for right now, it's my baby. I adore this world and characters, and I would love to step into Tiressia's broken empire via a movie, show, or miniseries. I don't think I'd be picky ;)

And, come on. Can we give Henry Cavill some really dark, long hair and some matching scruff and call him Alexus Thibault??? Please?? And Harry Styles as Colden Moeshka? 

A girl can dream ;)

~ Charissa

Saturday, June 11, 2022

What do you see in your crystal ball for the future of book publishing?

Better not tell you now. 

As a practicing witch, I’ve got more than my share of crystals and other divinatory tools laying around my house. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my tenure in publishing for the last 12 years, it’s that the future of this industry can’t be seen in a crystal ball. 

Its infamous cousin the Magic 8 Ball with its dependable twenty different answers, though… Well, that’s a different story. 

Cannot Predict Now. Concentrate And Ask Again.

Depending on the day, week, year, or time zone you’re in, anyone you talk to in the industry is going to have a different take on where the future of publishing lies as a whole, and what the next big thing is going to be. Break it down further to different genres and their sub-genres and niches, and you’ve got yourself a debate that’s been happening since the dawn of clay tablets with cuneiform 5,500 years ago. 

But for the sake of my argument here, I’ll stick to the last two centuries. 

It Is Certain. Without A Doubt. Yes.

Change is pretty much the only thing you can count on in publishing. In 2013, the “Big 6” became the “Big 5” with Random House and Penguin merging. And most recently, in 2020, Penguin Random House announced their plans to purchase Simon & Schuster, which would have turned the Big 5 into the “Big 4.” 

Buuuuut thanks to the US Department of Justice tossing in an unexpected plot twist, the future of the “Big 5” is anything but certain. How’d they do that? Oh, ya know, just by suing them to block the merger, stating if the biggest publisher in the world Penguin Random House (PRH) was to acquire Simon & Schuster (S&S), the fourth largest publisher in the US - “the proposed merger would eliminate this important competition, resulting in lower advances for authors and ultimately fewer books and less variety for consumers.” 

Very Doubtful. My Sources Say No. 

Less variety and fewer books, you say? Respectfully, I’m calling bullshit. 

Before the pandemic hit, self publishing was up 40% in 2018 alone according to a report published by Bowker in 2019. So when the larger publishers came to a screeching grinding halt with book releases thanks to the ‘Vid in 2020, they left quite the vacuum for readers out there, who were hungry for books while under lockdown. 

And suddenly, readers were discovering more self-published authors and their works. Not only that, they were finding that the stigma surrounding books that are self-published, or only available on Amazon are “less than,” “poorly edited,” etc. - is and has always been - inaccurate AF. 

Reply Hazy, Try Again. 

Think about it this way, with change as the only constant when it comes to publishing wouldn’t it be correct to say that if the industry is worried “about a merged company that publishes perhaps 33 percent of new books, then surely it’s correct to worry more about the fact that Amazon now sells 49 percent of them.”? 

Honestly, this self-published author isn’t so sure. Considering past experiences with the “Big” publishing houses, they’ve proven time and time again that their ability to adapt to any sort of shift in the industry, has been at the breakneck speed of a glacier. 

So do I think the merger of two of the “Big 5” companies is going to have a negative effect on self-published authors? See below. 

My Reply is No. Don’t Count On It. 

If anything, I think despite their less than agile and at times overly obvious “for the sake of it” moves to join this century with efforts toward inclusion of new genres and diversity in both books and the authors who pen them, the fact remains that we’re in an era where consumer consumption is at an all time high. And when all it takes is the click of a button to turn any plan - no matter how long in the making - into complete and utter chaos… Watching large corporations try to keep up with self-published authors' ability to turn on a dime when trends change, is somewhat akin to watching a bear attempt ballet.

For those of us who make our living creating fantasy worlds, it’s certainly an experience to watch as former formidable foes tremble at the thought of authors no longer being dependent upon them to release their works to the masses. 

Until next time…

Stay Wicked, 

Graceley Knox 

Author Bio: 

Graceley Knox is a USA Today bestselling author of over 35 novels featuring wicked paranormal and fantasy romances, and the founder of Paper Myths Media. Graceley has been in the publishing industry for over twelve years in some way or another, wearing pretty much every hat other than that of editor and cover designer. She’s also 100% addicted to coffee and snarky mugs, and is determined to one day have a library that would make Belle cry. As a self-professed book-obsessed word witch, Graceley is fascinated with witchcraft, mythology, lore, and, of course, fantasy worlds! When she’s not caught up in her current hyper-fixation (shout out to her fellow ADHD Warriors!) she’s either writing books or reading them… Or talking about them, or taking photos of them for her bookstagram. Graceley is also a Ravenclaw who’s been known to binge-watch tv-shows featuring strong female leads while cuddling with her fur-babies. 

You can connect with Graceley here:

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

If The Big 5 Becomes The Big 4, Who Wins?

 What do I see in my crystal ball for the future of publishing? Will the Big 5 become the Big 4 and how would that trickle down throughout the industry?

My crystal ball is hella cloudy on the topic of traditional publishing, mostly because I haven't been paying attention to the latest brouhaha and scuttlebutt. However, because I didn't want to half-ass a post, I did double-check to make sure we're still at 5 major publishing houses. Yep. The merger for Simon's Random Penguin was blocked by the US DOJ on antitrust grounds but, as of December, the parent company of Random Penguin, Bertelsmann, was fighting the decision in court. 

Why did the DOJ block it? Because it would give SRP "outsized influence over who and what is published, and how much authors are paid for their work."

Bertelsmann argues that the merger better positions the company to fight against Amazon's overbearing influence on the market, which would improve distribution and author earnings as a result.

Authors' groups are stridently opposed to the merger because they've seen what's happened as the Big 8 became the Big 5 and the demise/acquisitions of midsized publishers by the 500lb gorillas.

The case is due to be heard in August. 

What is likely to happen if Bertelsmann wins? What always happens with mergers: departments will be consolidated, budgets slashed, staff laid off, and new/renewing contracts adjusted for terms that best suit the company. Never, in the history of capitalism, has a merger resulted in higher pay for non-executive staff and contracted talents. Any gains for contracted talents (authors, cover artists, editors, etc.) have come as a result of labor/talent guilds taking on multinational corporations (MNC). The bigger the MNC, the harder they are to defeat in negotiations. Just look at Bertelsmann's reason for wanting to acquire Simon & Schuster: to be in a better position to take on Amazon. Bertelsmann earned €18.7billion last year. They're not a small company by any stretch. 

No MNC is looking out for their authors. They're looking out for the Intellectual Property they've purchased and how they can maximize profits off of it. Just look at the despicable legal loopholes of Disney refusing to pay authors according to the terms to which they--and the businesses they acquired--agreed. If it weren't for the SFWA, these authors would have no hope of getting what they are due. 

Advances to trad authors have been plummeting for years. Not coincidentally, the timing coincides with the era of rapid acquisitions and mergers in the publishing industry, which also coincided with the mainstreaming of digital books (which rocked the industry to its core). Merger or no merger, this practice will continue.

Anyone thinking the Indie market will be unaffected by the MNC battle is holding to a very short-sighted view. We might see a near-term benefit of being able to raise our book prices while still being cheaper than trad books. At the same time, we will continue to see MNCs invade small-business marketing spaces and drive up our costs of advertising. They're already crowding us out of the few Indie-friendly spaces because those who provide the services are also businesses that need to make a profit, and what profit-generating business is going to leave money on the table? On the other hand, MNCs are utterly inept at adaptability, so any tech-driven advances are still ours to leverage.

How does all this impact readers? Readers will pay more for fewer options with no improvement in quality or diversity.

In short, if the Big 5 shrinks to the Big 4, nothing improves from the author's, reader's, or employee's perspective--unless the courts force industry changes as conditions of the merger. Then things could get interesting. It's super-duper unlikely, but I'm all about fantasies.

If the merger is blocked, nothing changes. Those things that are already inequitable and problematic will continue. Those who are fighting the good fight will continue to do so.  

At the end of the day, Simon's Random Penguin is about prepping for a battle between two Goliaths. The MNCs give zero fucks about authors and readers. As for the DOJ, there isn't much they can do to help the little guys, not with this particular antitrust case.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

What were you supposed to be?

There’s a tweet circling on the Internet that reads:

Going as Former Gifted Child for Halloween and the whole costume is just gonna be people asking “What are you supposed to be?” And me saying “I was supposed to be a lot of things."

That joke always hits home for me. I, too, was supposed to be a lot of things, and none of them was an author.

The list of my intended vocations has expanded over the course of twenty years of school and studies, and includes but is not limited to: professional musician, mathematician, archaeologist, architect, airplane technician, historian, forensic researcher, translator and dolphin trainer. (If that looks like a broad range of interests, I must note that my sister was even more creative: she insisted in kindergarten that her dream job was to be a roadworker).

The idea of being a writer never really made it onto the list of possibilities until a few years ago. Which is remarkable, considering I have been writing since I was old enough to hold a pen and not draw on the walls with it.

I was always the daydreamer of the family – couldn’t fall asleep at night because I was too busy working out elaborate plots, couldn’t walk into a museum without exclaiming “I’m going to use this for a story!”, and always carried a little notebook around to jot down names and interesting thoughts as they came to me. And my parents were not at all unsupportive. My father read my first (and utterly terrible) full story and sat down with me to discuss how I might improve it. My mother gifted me her old laptop so I could spend more time writing. But when I suggested at ten years old that I was going to write a book and earn money with it, they kindly replied that while it sounded like a fun idea, things didn’t really work like that.

I was a good kid; I listened to my parents. So I filed writing under the category of “impossible” and focused on a variety of other career paths.

Oddly, putting food on the table was not a concern ever mentioned when I eventually ended up majoring in the field of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics. If that sounds unfamiliar to you, it’s for a good reason: studying languages that died out thousands of years ago is not the kind of activity that makes the headlines. Nor does it earn anyone a lot of money.

It's respectable, though.

And that, I’ve come to realize over the past few years, was the main thing that held me back even when all I truly wanted to do was get these words out onto the paper, to get these characters out into the world – the idea that writing is somehow not a “real” career. Real adults don’t have jobs that require them to have conversations with imaginary people. Real adults sit in offices and do stuff with spreadsheets and talk about the weather. Somehow, somewhere in my life, I picked up the notion that writing is a choice to be ashamed of, that all that endless daydreaming isn’t something that should be indulged, let alone encouraged.

And if I’m honest, I’m still not entirely sure what eventually made me challenge that thought. Part of it was meeting other people who wrote their stories and seemed to be surprisingly sensible in spite of that. Part of it was discovering the indie book world and realizing there might be money to be made with words after all. Part of it was, unfortunately, being unhappy enough for long enough that I had no choice but to do some serious thinking about what I wanted in life. The answer, unsurprisingly, was that I wanted to write much more than I wanted to be respectable.

So I started publishing.

It doesn't yet make me a lot of money; it might never be more than a rather time-consuming part time job. I’m fine with that. It’s not the idea of earning a fortune with writing that’s made me so much happier since I started this business. Rather, taking myself and my stories seriously for the first time in my life is what has made all the difference.

And that's the one piece of advice I would give every writer struggling with the very respectable expectations of their parents or partners or past selves: take your own wishes more seriously. It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun, but it’s definitely easier than keeping those words bottled up inside.

If you're a writer, you know. And if you have stories to share, I don’t think there’s anything else you’re supposed to be.

Lisette Marshall is a fantasy romance author, language nerd and cartography enthusiast. Having grown up on a steady diet of epic fantasy, regency romance and cosy mysteries, she now writes steamy, swoony stories with a generous sprinkle of murder.

Lisette lives in the Netherlands (yes, below sea level) with her boyfriend and the few house plants that miraculously survive her highly irregular watering regime. When she’s not reading or writing, she can usually be found drawing fantasy maps, baking and eating too many chocolate cookies, or geeking out over Ancient Greek.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Stumbling into What You Shouldn't Do

I didn’t necessarily want to be a writer. Certainly no one ever suggested it. The first person to mention it was a high school biology teacher who told me he’d haunt me if I didn’t end up a writer. I preened, but I also smiled and nodded and dismissed the comment because I'd already had The Talk. 

Writing doesn't put food on the table.

So I didn't want to be a writer. Telling myself stories was just something I did. It was a way to pass the time until I got where I really wanted to go. The Air Force Academy. I was going to fly fighter jets. Yeah, I didn’t care that women couldn’t pilot fighters in those days. It was a stupid ass rule then and it’s changed now. I was confident that if I got to the academy, I could and would change minds. I studied hard.

All the while, I told myself stories. I did that because no one knew my childhood was filled with sleepless nights. I thought it took everyone two to three hours to fall asleep every night. I didn’t question. I just filled those hours in the quiet and the dark spinning unlikely adventures in my head. Finally, one boring summer, I borrowed Mom’s typewriter and committed a few of those unlikely adventures to paper. But it was just a lark. I was going to the Air Force Academy.

Stories were my therapy; a place to dump the angst of the day. I kept writing them down. Got made fun of a few times when people would run across a page and read it. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to stop. It was too useful a tool and it was something to do until I got where I wanted to go.

When my father found a page and scoffed at the admittedly terrible writing, I got the dinner table lecture. You know the one. Writing doesn’t put food on the table. I, responsibly, I thought, refrained from asking him who wrote newspapers and magazines and TV shows and movies. Instead, I responded that I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be a pilot. Dad looked disappointed. You should be an engineer, he said. To make him happy, I took technical drawing to see if I could master even the simplest part of being an engineer. No. That answer was decidedly no. I couldn’t. Back to piloting. I joined the Civil Air Patrol as a steppingstone to the Air Force Academy. I joined the Sea Scouts – padding the resume, you know.

And then, at a physical during my sophomore year in high school, my doctor had to sit me down and explain to me why I would never join the military, much less go to the Air Force Academy. It was a medical issue – genetic. Nothing to be done about it except to accept the hard facts. And honestly, if you know me, you already know the military was an epically stupid idea given my issues with authority. I soothed myself with stories, but I still wasn’t interested in being a writer. It was just a past time - something I did to make myself feel better.

I won’t lie. I flailed for a few years. What do you do when you lose the thing you thought you’d wanted? I went to college because it was something to do – not because I had anything in mind. A psychology professor tossed off a comment – Marcella processes the world through writing – that burrowed in, and the thought finally landed. Maybe I could be a writer. Maybe my silly little stories could mean something to someone besides me. What if they could?

Detours ensued. Jobs – because poverty sucks. Life. A few published books under my belt.

And here I am. Proving my dad wrong. I am putting food on the table because I’m writing. Granted. It isn’t fiction, necessarily, though that happens, too. I’m a technical writer in my day job. It’s writing. It pays well. I still tell myself stories. Sometimes, those stories mature enough to make it out into the world for other people to read, though admittedly, it takes longer now with a day job. Do I still dream of writing a great big hit and retreating to the ivory tower of writing full time? Of course. But until that day I pay bills with writing. And I tell myself silly stories. You should do that last bit for yourself, too.


Thursday, June 2, 2022

What We Were Once Supposed to Be

dry grass covered garden surrounded by a black fence and in the middle sits a blonde woman wearing  a large hat, blue jeans, and black hoodie, as she hugs her black and white Siberian husky

what we were once supposed to be

was something we could never reach

and as our souls make their silent plea

we choose that which will make us free

In yesterday’s post on ‘what were you supposed to be—vocational advice writers get because writing isn’t a high-income career’, Jeffe mentioned she wrote poetry when she was young. She didn’t dream of being a writer and ended up in the sciences. 

And it’s nice to not be alone with this background! So often on the socials I see authors posting homemade books they crafted in elementary and how they knew they’d grow up to be a writer. I never had that dream. I grew up with  a lap full of books I adored reading, but I also loved blood and guts and figuring out how things worked. That’s how I ended up in the sciences—clinical laboratory science to be precise. 

My parents raised me to believe I could do anything. Because of that I wasn’t afraid to stretch myself. And I was successful, achieved acclaim, and was fulfilled helping people. Then when my health crashed and I walked away from my career I decided to take a chance on my new dream and embraced being an author. 

I believe it was a knowledgeable decision, even though the mental challenges have surprised me. Before I began writing I’d been interviewing authors for years at Reading Between the Wines book club and had realistic expectations on book profits, or the lack there of. And that’s where I gleaned the one piece of advice I’ll give to new writers: grow a backlist. 

The wise man built his house upon a rock. To translate that into an author’s career: build a solid backlist and your career will be stable. Writing is a long game, there’s no over-night success, so plan ahead, keep feeding your dream, and don’t give up! 

What were you supposed to be?

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Putting Food on the Table™ and Other Wise Advice for Aspiring Novelists

This week at the SFF Seven we're discussing what we were supposed to be - the vocational advice young writers get because writing doesn't put food on the table™.

I really loved KAK's epic tale from yesterday (for some reason Google has decided I'm not allowed to comment anymore), in part because I am also not the author who Always Wanted to Be a Writer.

Not because I didn't love reading and writing - I always, always did! - and I even won a poetry contest when I was eleven or twelve and I wrote poetry (really bad poetry) all through high school. I contributed them to the high school literary magazine, anonymously because I was a weenie. I took AP English and my teachers praised my stories and other writings.

But, dear reader, never did one person suggest that I become a writer. Nobody ever thinks that a career as a writer will put food on the table™. To be fair, it generally doesn't, and it takes a long time to get there, unless you hit the literary equivalent of the lottery. Like all the pretty aspiring actors from the Midwest arriving in Hollywood on the bus, very few of us become superstars. Most of us get really good at waiting tables

Sometimes, though, I wish someone had suggested that as a career for me. Instead, like KAK, when I was told I could be or do anything, those suggestions shaded toward other careers. Science! Medicine! Biology! While I greatly appreciate that so many adults in my life recognized my strengths in the STEM areas and encouraged me to apply myself, I regret that I didn't direct some of that application to writing.

See, when I was headed to college, there was a scholarship offered for someone in English/Literature. You had to write an essay and the winner got... I don't even remember. Free ride? Fame? Glory? I can't even remember, but I wanted it. I had this idea of surprising everyone with my sudden literary talent. So, even though I was enrolled as a pre-med student, I wrote an essay for this scholarship in the lit department.

Now, my mom and I had this back and forth then, where she HATED that I put off schoolwork until the night before. I was a terrible procrastinator - something I had to change about myself in becoming a novelist - and I'd gotten pretty good at gliding by on last-minute efforts. That's what I did on this essay, whipping it out in a frenzy and I still thought it was brilliant.

And someone else - let's call her Brienne Merritt - won the scholarship. You can Google her. She's beautiful, blonde, athletic, intelligent, talented, and she won MY scholarship making her the ideal nemesis for a young me. I'm not tagging her because we aren't friends and never were, though we have a lot of mutuals. I kind of doubt she even knows I exist. I was that gal at the party in Say Anything that comes up to Ione Skye and babbles on about how their competition made her work harder and Ione finally says, "me too!" just to be polite. Brienne was busy doing her own awesome thing and never knew that I thought about her, and think about her still.

(I notice that Brienne is now a nurse, which makes for a funny reversal.)

Anyway, the advice I did get, that was the best vocational advice I received, came at the end of college from my Comparative Religious Studies advisor, Professor Hadas. I was trying to decide between many post-college paths and interests - medical school, it turns out, was not one of them - and he told me to stick with science. 

I know, right? Basically the same as everyone had been telling me all along, but he had wise advice along with it. He advised me to pick a career (and post-graduate education) that would put food on the table™. He told me I was fortunate to have strengths in areas that people would pay me to work on. And that having that income security would give me a foundation to continue to learn and grow, to follow my more esoteric interests. 

It was truly good advice.