Gender pairity in genre fiction


Lots of talk about equality all over the web right now so I thought I would look at in my field. Writing should be a gender neutral and colorless field of work. What a writer looks like should have nothing to do with how their work is perceived. When you look at the top ten books on the USA Today or the NY Times best seller lists you will see a lot of female names. A good thing right? Well I guess that depends. It seems when you look at lists of the so called most important books it changes dramatically. Of the top 100 novels only 15 were written by women (course what made me happy was how many Charles de LInt novels were on the list!)

Now the there are many more women writing and getting published under than own names and while there are many more books with female protagonists there is still a huge disparity. The strong female leads are mostly coming out of either YA novels or paranormal romance novels. It is like the publishers don’t think that women will read books with strong women in something other than a romantic setting. Is this true? As readers do you look at your books and notice how many of them have strong women in the lead? Do you read mysteries, romance, science fiction, fantasy or literary works?

As a writer I have done my best to write both male and female leads. To me it is important to have as diverse a character pool as possible. While I have not yet really delved into writing characters who are handicapped I have plans for that. As a writer of genre fiction I can mix and match race, color and sexual orientation as long as it fits my tale. By writing fantasy of course my characters tend to fall more naturally into the fantasy races. Elves, dwarves, dragons, etc are seen differently than humans of course.

This blog is a bit babbly, yes, but all of my blogs will be focusing a bit on this topic today. While we have a lot of commentary about racial differences I found that i wanted to comment on the disparity between the sexes. In a world where large swaths of it have more men than women we still have so many more male based stories that it seems bothersome. When you go to google and put in breakdown by sex around the world and see that the US, Canada, Mexico, most of south American, most of Europe, Australia and Russia has more women than men, you would think there would be more stories by women about women in more genres but we have just not gotten there yet.

Back to work


With all the snow and ice and bitter cold the very best thing fora writer is to stay inside and write. Thankfully I am getting words down finally. Over the past month I have tossed between four different titles and had real trouble settling down to work on just one. Been hard working on just one.

In fact at the moment I have two notebooks with complete scenes from the next Loralil book and a totally new book. The important thing is that I am writing new things. We, as writers, need to write, daily. If we can that is. The past three months I have mostly been editing work and not putting down fresh new words.

Thankfully I got them down and I will do more today. Writing can be a chore but it is also a fun thing.

Now I don’t plan on putting the new Loralil stuff here till I get more of it down but I thought how about a bit from this totally new thing I started?

***

Sherri woke up to a furry paw tapping her face. “Aw, enough, Sammy.”

“Now, Sherri.”

She grumbled as she tried to roll over and found she was trapped under her blankets. Wiggling an arm free, she sighed and opened her eyes. “Damn, did I oversleep?”

The room seemed filled with light and she looked over at the clock. It read as 1:00am. “Huh?”

“Hurry, get dressed.” The same voice from before urged her to move. Still a bit foggy with sleep, she was swinging back the blankets before it dawned on her that cats do not talk.

Sherri darted her eyes about, but there was no one in the room with her other than her cat, Sammy. “Who?”

There was an audible sigh and a thud as her cat jumped off the bed. “Me, silly woman.” The gray stripped form turned about, then sat, curling his tail about his paws neatly. “We really don’t have time for this, Sherri.”

Sherri blinked repeatedly and then shook her head. “Must be dreaming.” She started to lie back, when her cat darted forward and raked a set of claws across her knee. “I said, up!”

“Hey!” Rubbing the scratch, Sherri slowly got up. “How long have you been able to talk?” She reached for her robe when Sammy leapt up and sat on it.

“Duh, forever.” He quickly licked his shoulder, then looked back at Sherri. “Look, you really need to get dressed. Put on the stuff over on the chair.” He pointed with his chin, before settling down and closing his eyes.

Sighing, sherri shook her head and stepped over to the threadbare, overstuffed chair she had placed by her window. Lying, neatly folded, was clothing she did not recognize. She picked up and shook out a knitted silk, long sleeved t-shirt and shrugged. “Okay, looks like it will fit.” Slipping out of her sleep shirt she rummaged through the pile and dressed from the skin out.

Turning back to face her cat, she buckled a new belt into place. “Okay, I’m dressed.”

“There are boots next to the chair, put them on.”

Shaking her head, Sherri complied. “Weirdest damn dream ever.”

“You’re not dreaming.” Sammy sat back up and stretched. Just as he reached that full tendon snapping stretch common to all felines he form wavered and flowed into a man form. “But you aren’t dreaming and you are not safe. Please continue dressing. We don’t have a lot of time.”

Sherri’s jaw dropped and she paused mid movement. “Um…you sure I’m not dreaming? I mean since cats don’t transform into,” she took a closer look at Sammy, “two foot tall, hot,” she swallowed as her eyes were drawn to his abs, “men?”

A smile slid over Sammy’s face and he stretch again. Luckily for Sherri’s senses he had transformed in a pair of worn and low slung jeans. “Well, normal cats don’t, no.” He chuckled and sank down to sit cross-legged on the bed. “Keep dressing and I will explain a few things.”

“O…kay,” Sherri pulled on the first boot, lacing it up tight.

“We don’t have a lot of time before they start rounding everyone up, so don’t expect me to tell you everything.” He looked toward the blinds before continuing. “Firstly, you are no more human than I am.” When Sherri opened her mouth he held up a finger. “Silence.” Sherri swallowed, then nodded.

***

Well there is a lot more to that one. I am not sure where this is going to go but it should be fun. When I get there that is. so much to write and so little time right?

Going back and reading what you published


Over the past week when I should have been starting work on a new book I decided to re-read and re-edit some of my older works. Every author should do this btw. No matter how many times you have edited, re-edited and even had others edit your work, you will probably find something you missed.

Secondly re-reading your own work can be both educational and fun. Going over Endings, Revenge, Fall Into Nightmares and Guardians of the Gate City collection. Now, yes, they needed some editing. I am much better now at knowing where commas go and hyphens and apostrophes. Punctuation is tricky and you really need to go over your work and see what you missed the first passes through.

Now reading your own stories after a year or more is educational because you can see what problems you have, but also just how good you really are at the real meat of writing. In other words your characters, your dialog and your pacing. You can look back and go, yeah I need to work a bit harder on this or whoa I actually am not too bad at that.

As a voracious reader I have read many really good books and of course a number of stinkers. What was fun was realizing that my stories stood up to my more evolved sensibilities. I did not find those that I published were childish or lesser quality. Yes, they needed corrections, but the stories were actually pretty good.

Now the downside is after reading those four, I want to go back and write more of these. All four need sequels and deciding which to work on has been my problem for a long time. After finishing up Guardians I noticed I had put in a note that Lady of the Merrimack would be the next story in the Guardians collection. Now this one is not written in first person with Harry as the main character. This is a more traditional third person story and Jackson is the main character.

With only three pages typed up so far, I have a long way to go obviously. And hopefully it will come out as good and the Harry stories did. Don’t expect as much fun. After all Jackson is not as light-hearted as Harry. He is a serious cop, okay a cop who loves the ladies.

This will be one of the next series of Guardian tales. The Nashua Tales, as I have called them will be as follows:

Lady of the Merrimack, To Catch a Killer and Pain returns – Jackson stories

Coffee House Blues – Maeve and Daniel’s story

In the Dark – Thomas, one of the Manchester Guardians

The Ties That Bind Us All – Angela’s (the stitch witch) story

Little Unicorn Lost – two unique creatures who show up in Agnes’ kitchen for help

Hopefully I can finish these seven tales this year. They range from current to a decade back in these stories. From my typical fun urban fantasy to something a bit more of a procedural cop story. Harry will appear in these tales but only along the sidelines. He will be helpful and bring a bit of lightness to the stories that haven much heavier themes. Wish me luck.

Off to an interesting start


Mythos of Love came out on 1/29/15. My fantasy romance short story book hasn’t been selling big, but then most of my work doesn’t. But what was nice on the other hand is that so far this little book has picked up four five star reviews in under a week! That is just the boost I needed.

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You see like many I really do go through the ups and downs of being a writer. The high of coming out with a new story, the low of trying to figure out how to finish up that tale, the high of publishing it and then the low of seeing a low number of sales.

Yeah I know, all us writer types are weird. We go through things up and down just to create the way we do.

So today the plan is to go back over the new story that I plan on working on. A sequel to Where Angels No Longer Tread. Course like a fool I started writing it and got to page six before I realized that I had wrote the first story in first person. This means I will be doing a lot of editing to make this second tale from third to first person.

This will not be a direct sequel, with Zephyr as a character, so much as a in the same universe tale. Not all of the Ariels I wrote about were destroyed in the battle. They were tossed from the alternate earth I wrote of to other worlds and they are working their way back to Earth.

This story starts with a battle and will have a lot of darker imagery than Angels did. I just have to work it out. Once it is done there will be a third tale with the same family. Hopefully I can get them both done in the few months and get them out.

I am not sure how many titles I will do this year, but I plan on working steadily. Even if I never become a well selling author I will keep publishing and praying.

The need for a good blurb


As a published writer on of the hardest things for me to get right is the blurb. Now for those of you who don’t know, that is the bit you see on the ebook sites that hopefully drags you into wanting to read the book. Not quite the blurb found on the back of a paperback, it needs to be catchy, quirky and best of all intriguing.

I am, sadly, not the best at writing these. While I can write short fiction rather well (okay I know but really I do) this is almost like complimenting yourself. This week I am publishing my short story collection, Mythos of Love. One novella and five short stories that are pure fantasy and romance combined. From a very traditional Knight saves his lady love, to one tale that does not have the traditional happy ending, these are my take on love stories.

The title is a bit odd. What is a Mythos right? Well has I have put in the little bit of marketing I do on the separate tales (which I have decided will be coming down):

Mythos – A story or set of stories relevant to or having a significant truth or meaning for a particular culture, religion, society, or other group.

Now obviously the other group is what I am focusing on. Fantasy readers are very different from romance readers. We do not expect a happy ending, we do not expect the hero to end up with the heroine or to even survive our tales.

Fantasy has been joined to romance for years under the paranormal romance genre, but generally when you read those you have vampires, werewolves or angels (like in my Where Angels No Longer Tread novella). They have either a HEA (happily ever after) or a HFN (happy for now) ending. My belief is that there are powerful stories to be told where the couple may not end up together. i am sure that will get trashed for having written the tales I have, but I just write the tales as the characters tell me.

So folks how about you try out this new release of mine? It will be out by the end of the week.

Getting back to work


Well after the holidays and then getting a bit of a cold, I am finally back to work. Thanks to my beta reader who is sending me little fixes, I have noticed what I am missing on my editing. Little things are what get you with the more picky of readers of course. Miss a comma or use a word that seems perfectly fine to your way of talking and you get trashed. So it is important to find someone you trust to go over your book. I am lucky that I have a few fellow writers who are willing to read through various of my tales and point out where i missed a comma or used a word that just doesn’t work for the average reader.

While I admit last week I was feeling way off after getting a review that was both good and bad, but now I am much better. In fact so much better that I got my reviewer pen out and decided to read and review a few things. Two new reviews from me are up on Amazon and today I will be doing some reviews over on booklikes soon for other work. There is one read and review I was requested to do that is putting me in a quandary. I have an early novel from another writer that is bouncing between two and four star for me. There is a lot of editing issues and some historical bits that are way off but the characters are quite interesting and the plot at times runs full steam ahead before it stutters to a halt. anyone who knows me knows that generally I can read a book in a day, a good one in hours. this one has taken me over a week to get half way through.  I will continue to persevere because this is a fellow indie author who needs a review. If this was an established traditional author I would have given up on reviewing this book but I offered, so I must.

Now for what I am doing. Over on my Books by Lisa Williamson blog I put up an excerpt from  one of the new tales I am working on in the Flights of Fantasy novella series. Here I thought a bit from the next novel I should put out would be good. the Price of Freedom will be book two from the League of Stars series. Now unlike most books in a series now a days, the ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’ will not be carrying over to this book. In the style of the Diadem of the Stars series by Jo Clayton, I decided to take a character from book to book but to have the main characters of each book entirely separate. While Quirin and Babe will be in each of what i hope will be four books in this series, they are not the ‘stars’ of this book.

Here is a bit from The Price of Freedom:

****

They had all been born together, a rarity for the People. Four tiny daughters brought forth from their mother’s womb with great pain. One young father left with those daughters when his mate died. He was a gentle, quiet man of the people and he raised his daughters with love and understanding. Never once did he blame the little girls for the loss of his mate.

The eldest, Druscilla, was the tallest and fast to anger. She fought for the rights of her family, teaching those who tried to take advantage of them that she had hidden weapons that cut to the quick. Her flame-red hair caught the attention of many, but her fierce eyes made most males of the People nervous. She was the leader of the sisters, often into trouble.

The next oldest, Chantrea, was the gentle one. Her large, soft brown eyes captivated many of the young men their age. She always had one of the small creatures about her. She would care for the bird with the broken wing or the injured squirrel. The three other sisters did their best to help her find training for her healing hands. There was little money for a formal apprenticeship, but the healer let her work with him as an assistant, teaching her when he could take time from his paying students.

The third sister, Tatum was the practical one. Her black hair and green eyes were striking, but more so was her sharp mind. She schemed and plotted and helped her father keep her sisters fed. When Druscilla’s temper got them all in trouble, she would find a way to ease over the injured pride with wise words or a bribe if necessary.

The final sister was the wild one. Where her oldest sister fought and grew angry quickly, little golden Arella was always running. She gloried in freedom and movement. Always laughing, her eyes sparkled and her laughter was contagious. She was fiercely protective of her sisters and father, loving with all her heart and rarely did she hold dark emotion. Always, she was willing to lend a hand when needed, but rarely would she be found doing those things that women were expected to do. The tasks that were repetitive or slow were not for the wild child, though she could sit still if the task involved making beauty. She had an eye for colors and how they should be put together.

****

Just the brief description of each of the four heroines of this book. The characters from this book will mostly not be humans this time. While I will have humans in this book, they will mostly be the villains (other than Quirin of course). Writing a nonhuman race can be an interesting thing for a writer. As a fantasist writer, I have written elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons and elementals, but these are all more like their human counterpoints than not. The small, furry aliens of this book are from a society that has collapsed and regressed yet still retain bits and pieces of their high tech. They have powers that will seem like magic but are really more mental than magic. I am hoping that I can pull this off and that I will be able to find the help I had with the first book of this series. Writing science fiction is very different from writing fantasy of course. But luckily there are so many things that are the same, no matter the genre. There will always be elements that match, from good versus evil, law versus chaos and life versus death.

So hopefully this week I will get a lot of writing done…is it all a working author can ask for right?

Take the good where you can….or is that really a good review?


i have been busy doing the mom/wife thing and not so much the working writer thing. Trying to get myself back into the flow I went and looked at the reviews I have received this week. Two high star reviews on two different works should make me feel all inspired to do more right?

Well not so much. One of the reviews was odd in that I got five stars for the story but a back comment of three stars for the writing and a punch in the gut for the action I put into the tale. As a character writer I fight hard to make the action I do put in mix in as seemlessly as possible. I am not a Michael Bay style writer. I believe in action of course, after all how can you have science fiction or fantasy without some type of action. Now while it hurt to read the comments, I know that my book was better than this reviewer thought. It was just not what he thought and that is okay.

Between that review and being turned down for a horror anthology rather bruskly I was really down in the dumps about my style of writing. did I need to change my work or even give up? After all my sales aren’t really something to write home about. Yes I have sales every month and that makes me happy but I doubt I will ever be a best seller. Is it worth the effort of spending days and weeks researching things, months writing and editing, more time making covers and then trying to market my work?

Thankfully this morning I got another review on a different work. One of my older and more odd works. The review was shorter but much more to the point. The reader liked the tale and did not make any bones about it.  As a writer of a lot of not quite easy to define tales. it is good to have someone who enjoys the weird tales that come from inside my head.

Okay it is only two reviews and a rejection but as you can imagine as a writer these mean a lot to me. I have been struggling to get my head together for my next release and get the cover made. The editing is done or as much as I can pull off of course. It is as clean as I can make it with no money. Now to pull off the cover and get that book out by Valentine’s day. It may not sell, but at least I can say I have done a collection of fantasy romance tales that should intrigue someone or four, right?

The year in Review


Okay how about the reviews I have received this year? As many of you know, I have been publishing for almost three years now. With the way I work that is  lot of titles out there for readers to find and hopefully review. Which we all know is not generally the case. The idea that is tossed about by many is that if the book is good it will sell and it will be reviewed. Not true. You, if you try publishing, while find that you can write one of the best books ever but unless you are lucky sales and reviews do not roll in.

Now I am not complaining here. Because I have had sales and reviews over the past year. Maybe not a lot but hey, any is good for me.

As of this morning I am only actually down three sales from the numbers last year. That is not too bad. Yes I admit I didn’t make a huge batch of sales but a reduction of three is not so bad when sales are falling off all over for writers.

Now for the numbers on my reviews. I went to Amazon, Smashwords and Goodreads to get my numbers. While I am all over I have found most other sites just don’t have a review anywhere! So these numbers are not totally accurate but they are a good example

The Dream Wish                                                         four stars 1
Where Angels No Longer Tread                                 five stars 1 four stars 1
Possibilities                                                                 five stars 1
Rebirth                                                                        five stars 1
Not Just Another Morning of Business                         five stars 1
Guardians of the Gate City                                          five stars 2
It Just Might be Gremlins                                              five stars 1
Blackbird                                                                     five stars 1
When Winter Comes Roaring                                      five stars 1
The Traveler                                                               four stars 1 three stars 2
Fall Into Nightmares                                                    five stars 3 four stars 1
Hope Everlasting                                                         five stars 1
To Save Face or Family                                              four stars 1 five stars 3
Death Walks Through                                                 four stars 2
Escape                                                                       five stars 4
The Red Ghost Rides                                                 five stars 1
Echoes of Elder Times                                                 five stars 2
Now and Forever five stars 1

smashwords reviews
When Shadows Rise                                                 two stars 1

Goodreads only reviews
Traveler                                                                    three stars 3 four stars 1 five stars two

Now to help make it easier to understand I basically put the info as the number of stars first and the number of those reviews second. So for To Save Face and Family you see I have three five star reviews and one four star. Generally my reviews are good.

Something I have noticed over the years is that of those who review my work they generally like or love it. Yes as you can see there is a two star review on one title (that is a fan fiction and well from their comments they didn’t know the anime it was based on!) but most of my reviews are in the range of four and five stars. Which makes me happy.

Now the forty reviews that came in are on titles that are exclusively mine. There are reviews on the various anthologies I have been part of but i am not listing those because they are not just my work. A review on an anthology usually reviews the entire collection and not each author’s story in the collection. It tends to skew numbers in odd ways.

Now I am happy with all the reviews I have received. Good, bad or indifferent, having a person write a review in 99% of the reviews received the writer of them has read your work and felt moved to comment. I have seen on those anthologies, reviews done by people who just did not finish.

Just letting you know that is something that bugs the hell out of me. If you can’t finish the book, don’t review it. Just don’t. You may not have come to the best part of the book. The best thing to do would be to finish up that book and then review but if you can’t? Well then just move on. It is what I do.

Yes folks writers read. I read a lot. Thanks to the holidays I am taking a three week break (mostly) from writing. I am diving into the many free books that I have picked up over the past three years and reading and reviewing them as I go. I have put up two reviews a day over the past three days.  Now that doesn’t mean I have finished every book I opened. If I get almost halfway through and the book just doesn’t keep my attention I close it and move on to another, without leaving a review. See I know that every book has an audience and I am currently not the audience but I might find myself loving that self same book a month or a year later. So I don’t review till I finish a book.

And yes folks I have left two star reviews when I don’t like a tale. I won’t leave a one star simply because the author worked hard on that tale I disliked. No mater how poorly written, poor edited or poorly conceived  I will not kick another writer in the chops. I will politely and clearly explain why I disliked their work and how I think it could be improved…because hey we all need CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.

So anyone who wants to see the reviews I leave just look for Lisa Williamson on those book sites.

2014 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 690 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 12 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Blessed Yule, Happy Chanukah, merry Christmas…or whatever you follow


Yup the week of the holidays is upon us. There is so much going on right now that the little things get lost. As a writer I try to spend my time paying attention to the little things. Tales from cultures not mine, the beauty of the winter world around me. Lots of interesting things to write about and to read.

While I put out a holiday collection and I am part of a holiday anthology, it is not the best part of the holidays for me. Decorating and baking and making chocolates and of course giving gifts to those I love is what this holiday is about.

So since my daughter is on school vacation for the next two weeks, I will probably not get a lot of writing done. I plan on taking this time to work out which of my works in progress to dive into for the upcoming year.

Have a good holiday everyone and next week I will go over how my year has been as an indie author in 2014.