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Links o' Miscellany and MHO Of Them

First: I am in love with this article by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown. As I mentioned in comments at sartorias's LJ, a female character cannot be confident, competent, and likeable without being deemed a Mary Sue. (That doesn't even touch upon appearance, which is a whole 'nother target of spite and vitriol.) I remember a beta reader once telling me a character was a Mary Sue because of those three factors. It didn't matter that the character had been show to earn those traits; the three in combination simply Could Not Be Done is the character was to be "realistic."

Think about that for a moment. A character with competence, natural and practiced talents, who was liked because of the way she actually treated others was not realistic. She simply wasn't insecure enough, tormented enough, or outcast enough to be realistic.

That's a fucking sad commentary on what "real women" are supposed to be.

And I should note that the majority of folks I read throwing about the Mary Sue accusation to other writers are women. That's double-fucking sad, in my opinion.

(Yes, I know the original definition of Mary Sue. Alas, linguistic drift has bestowed a slightly different definition now, and that's the one we're stuck with, and I don't deem it interesting, necessary, or productive to insist everyone use the phrase in its "proper" fashion.)

Second: This post by John Wiswell--now a fellow graduate of Viable Paradise--made me cheer first (because hooray! more VP grads!). then made me grumble. I know there is a subset of self-publishers who cannot fathom the worth of critique prior to publication. My suspicion is it's the same subset who would have, in the pre- self-publishing days, written long diatribes to agents and editors in response to rejections.

Me, I see nothing incongruent between attending Viable Paradise and self-publishing. One is for craft and fellowship. One is a business decision. Anyone with shoulder-chips might indeed have good information about their side of the argument, but not the best judgment on which path is best for others.

Third: I have no link for it, but have been following various blog posts and Twitter comments from folks attending WFC in London Brighton. (Thanks for the correction, green_knight !) From writers who have the "proper" credentials, who should without a doubt be treated to at least the crumbs of common courtesy. And they are not.

That sort of disregard of writers--at what is supposed to be a celebration of such creativity--is a pretty good indication of what value such folks place on the writers' creations. And don't sing the "But they're all volunteers!" song my direction. I've volunteered for numerous non-genre, professional conferences and conventions. I and other volunteers assumed courtesy and professionalism were standard expectations, not something guests received if they caught us a good time and were appropriately humble in their requests.

Fourth: Check out David Gaughran on the tightening of Traditional Publishing/Author Solutions ties. If you're planning to go the traditional publishing route, it's critical you read and understand it. If you're self-publishing, it's equally important. Alas, it's becoming more difficult for new writers to avoid being shuttled into dead-end and horribly expensive self-publishing "services" that are endorsed by the same traditional publishers who sneered at Author Solutions and their ilk just a couple years ago. "I know those other people say Author Solutions is a scam, and is being sued by their past customers," says the new writer in search of validation, "but Big Respected Publisher says they're awesome, so it must okay to give them thousands of dollars!"

And I was certain I had a fifth link, but it has vanished.

(Edited to correct location of WFC.)


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 18th, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC)
Several folks from our VP class have published quite excellent books.

It almost seems, when people are on a very strict traditional publishing path, they think about earlier days of self-publishing when the folks who couldn't get past the gatekeepers published their own books. They fail to acknowledge how many exceptional self-published books are out right now, simply due to a choice of publishing methods on the author's part.
Oct. 18th, 2013 10:15 pm (UTC)
Very true. Self-publishing is still a place for work that doesn't clear traditional gatekeepers, and many good pieces of storytelling in that category have found an audience. Those are the, "It's a great book, but it's not for us at this time" titles. There is so much more talent out there than mass-market distribution channels can handle!

In this instance, it was self-pubbers who were seemingly not all that supportive of a writer attending a workshop like VP. That makes no sense to me whatsoever.
Oct. 18th, 2013 09:21 pm (UTC)
Self publishing is here to stay; whenever I see someone trashing it, I wonder what their stake is, to choose willful blindness.
Oct. 18th, 2013 10:17 pm (UTC)

I spent an evening last weekend listening to a pair of local musicians play on the small patio of a small bar in this small town. I had a wonderful time, they got paid for the gig, and not a single person there thought it necessary to say they were ruining the music biz by performing without being signed with a major label. :)
Oct. 18th, 2013 10:06 pm (UTC)
Small amendment: World Fantasy Con will be in Brighton. (Worldcon 2014 will be in London.)

I'd hoped to go to WFC - I've wanted to for years, and this is almost on my doorstep - but the prohibitive cost, the lack of door tickets/late transfers (transfers closed before the programme was published) and the general bad vibe are making me happy that I've got a deadline and wouldn't have been able to go for more than a day anyway.
Oct. 18th, 2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the correction. I've made the change in the post. :)

I'm rather amazed at how difficult some groups want to make it on people who'd really like to support their endeavor.

It did begin to sound more like GenCon--where you pay a large fee for the privilege of showing up and touring the merchant's hall, but must reserve space and purchase separate tickets for nearly all events, presentations, sessions, and panels. I thought it kinda weird.
Oct. 18th, 2013 10:08 pm (UTC)
The following may be blamed on me quoted:


I was once accused of making my Man-Kzin Wars protagonist Peace Corben a Mary Sue. She is a human protector. My reply:

"I am not immortal, unbeatable, nor the smartest organic intelligence in the Universe. But thanks for thinking so."

In eight years I have received no reply.
Oct. 18th, 2013 10:30 pm (UTC)

As far as I'm concerned, I couldn't care less if the protagonist was the author-in-all-but-name as long as the story entertains me. Heck, I'm preparing to write about a character who is a martial arts instructor in a small Midwest town. After all, I have plenty of usable experiences. :)
Oct. 19th, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)
Barbara Hambly has written I-don't-know-how-many books where one of the principals is a petite woman who can basically chop firewood with her bare hands. (I met her once. I was very polite-- okay, I usually am polite, but I'd have been polite even if she wasn't.)
Oct. 19th, 2013 04:14 am (UTC)
Typo here?

"Alas, it's becoming more difficult for new writers to be shuttled into dead-end and horribly expensive self-publishing "services" that are endorsed by the same traditional publishers who sneered at Author Solutions and their ilk just a couple years ago. "
Oct. 20th, 2013 12:12 pm (UTC)
Ha! Yes!

How about, "It's becoming more difficult for new writers to avoid being shuttled..."

Thank you for catching that. :)
Oct. 20th, 2013 05:49 pm (UTC)
Now it makes more sense. ;-) But are the traditional publishers doing the shuttling as well as the endorsing? That's true in some cases, ie when an author submits a work to Big Respectable Publisher and BRP refers her to AS instead. But what about authors who don't try BRP at all, but shop for some self-publishing service in the first place? They may get sucked into AS without active shuttling by BRP.
Oct. 20th, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC)
Active shuttling--perhaps not. But certainly intentional shuttling. The very fact that more than one BPH, and now multiple writing festivals, endorse (or own, or contract with) ASI provides a well-paved road for writers seeking publication. ASI has certainly capitalized on the connections, and BPHs haven't dissuaded them.

ASI and I share a home state. I've talked with many local writers who have been approached by ASI. I can tell you one of the first things those writers now say in response to my warning is, "But don't the New York publishers work with them?"

I can either assume the BPHs working with ASI to be lacking basic skills of reading comprehension that prevent them from understanding present and historical practices of ASI, or I can assume the BPHs partnered with ASI fully understanding its practices and intentions. Whether dense or dishonest, the result for the uneducated writer is the same. As Gaughran points out, even a writer intending to do all the right research can be misled by ASI's intertwined websites and referrals.

...and I supposed that's a long way of saying BPH decided to "shuttle by association" when they invited ASI into their boardrooms. :)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


Blair MacGregor

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