Writing Women.

Let’s talk about lady protagonists.

No, this isn’t another rant about needing more strong female characters, nor the problems with Strong Female Characters (TM). (That’s an easy problem to solve, really: you write good characters, and some of them are female. Done. Not every character needs to carry the impossible weight of universal representation.)

No, I’m going to talk about just the number of females, and my own part in the current state of affairs. Yes, this was partly prompted by Jo Eberhardt’s “The Problem With Female Protagonists,” but I think I’m going to add some additional data and personal takes.

First, let’s look at a statistical truth: There are more books and films with male protagonists than female. (The very fact that we call out but-look-a-female-lead! is proof of it being outside the norm. Nobody needs to point out gravity, because we’re all used to it.) But because we’re all neurologically programmed to notice the abnormal more than the normal, when we do start seeing “diversity,” it feels bigger than it is.

This is why research shows that if 17% of a given group is female, the men in the group report an equal number of men and women, and when the number of females reaches 33%, the men report a majority of women. The “excess” of women over the “norm” is what’s perceived, not an actual count. Continue reading

Lady Voices in Audiobooks

I listen to a fair number of audiobooks, mostly because I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the car and reading a paperback while driving is both illegal and stupid. Audiobooks keep me alert and entertained. I listen mostly to fiction, but I also enjoy audio non-fiction and some recorded lectures, especially if I’m researching for a story.

I have some favorite narrators, of course, but I don’t choose books just for the narrator. I have, however, quit books because I did not like the narrator. A reader can really set the tone and influence the flow of a story.

One pet peeve is when male readers indicate a female character primarily by going all breathy. It can make a political thriller or sci fi adventure sound more like a 1-900 sex line. Continue reading

News: I Have a Tesla

20151205_135738 It was roughly three years of observing and dreaming, before I had finally realized I’d saved enough. And lemme tell you, there’s no feeling like achieving a dream.

Word got out this weekend, when I picked up the car itself. I have become the very pleased owner of a Tesla Model S.

And the key point for this blog is, my books are buying it. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!) Continue reading

So, About Daylight Saving Time

Time change at the end of Daylight Saving Time...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it’s time we were all honest with ourselves and just admitted that Daylight Saving Time is a failed idea.

It’s not a bad idea, in its original form. When early proponents (such as Benjamin Franklin) realized that we could take advantage of longer daylight hours by getting up earlier, that was a legitimate and factual observation. Ben satirically suggested cannons to rouse the populace earlier rather than changing the clocks, because changing the clocks was kind of a dumb idea, but the cannons didn’t exactly take off either.

Since then, Daylight Saving Time (it’s singular, despite popular mispronunciation) discussion has been full of good intentions with poor follow-through. Continue reading

“That Friend” and FOMO

Okay, I’ve seen a number of people post this now. Many are people who don’t know each other. And I’ve seen the sentiment echoed from all demographics, people getting student discounts and people getting senior discounts. It’s everywhere. Here’s the thing:

I'm that friend that has to walk behind the group when the path isn't big enough. I'm that friend that gets cut off in the conversation. I'm that friend that gets left behind when I asked for them to wait for me. I'm that friend that doesn't get invited to hang out a lot. I'm that friend that if I want to go tot he mall or some place with a friend I have to be the one to invite people to make sure I get included. I'll always be that friend.

 

And I’m going to step into the Old Ben mentor trope for a moment and pontificate, because it seems there’s something critical being missed.

Guys, this is not “that friend.” This is EVERYONE. Continue reading

Writer Brains and Research

Jules Verne, French science fiction writer of ...

Jules Verne, the godfather of plausible speculative fiction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Fantasy is even harder to write,” I alleged recently, “because you have to make the science work.”

If the science in a story isn’t plausible — whether you actually call it science, as in hard sci-fi, or whether it’s simply background dressing or setting, as in a romance set aboard a diving boat — the rest of the story won’t be plausible, either. In the romance above, for example, even if the story is supposedly just boy-meets-girl, if the couple blithely dives hundreds of meters without special equipment and resurfaces without ill effects, I’m not going to buy the happily-ever-after. Continue reading

The Proposed USFS Photo Ban?!

Ansel Adams landscapeIt’s about to become enforced policy: it’s illegal to take photos in national parks and on federal lands without a $1500 permit. The fine for taking unauthorized pics will be $1000/photo. Even in the /cough/ Ansel Adams Wilderness area.

USFS says it’s to protect the forests. Sure, our parks have been under a lot of stress — illegal logging, water pollution, drifting air pollution, human-started fires have all taken a high toll. You know what’s not damaging parks? Digital and film recordings. Photography doesn’t ACTUALLY steal the soul, you know. Continue reading

Feminism & Writing

So the “f-word” is getting a lot of chatter this week, as Emma Watson spoke to the UN on Monday about feminism. Of course some people immediately threatened a nude photo leak (or manufacture, since apparently no one has legit nude photos of Watson) to bully her into being quiet. [see update below]

Way to prove Watson’s point exactly, people.

There are two fundamental problems here, and I can personally contribute to fixing only one of them. But I’ll explain them both. (And yes, this is still about stories!) Continue reading

How We Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Self-Publishing

Image found on a book published by "Samua...

Image found on a book published by “Samual Bagster and Sons” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fair warning: Today’s post is less art and more business. I’m going to very briefly touch on why I self-publish.

I didn’t start out as a proponenet of self-publishing. When I first knew I wanted to grow up to be a writer, it was simply “vanity publishing,” and to be honest that’s still out there. Vanity publishing was expensive and mostly low-quality material that couldn’t get a second look from “real” publishers. Those who used a vanity press rarely made money and were not taken very seriously.

That’s changed now, and there are a lot of reasons why self-publishing is now “legit.” And I’m not even talking about admitted outliers like Hugh Howey making $150,000/month and walking away from seven-figure offers. Sure, those success stories are awesome and I applaud! but there are other benefits to self-publishing as well. Continue reading

Charities and Giving – Want to Join Me?

So I’ve been meaning to work on my charity donations for a while now, and I’m only just getting around to it, because sometimes I’m easily-distracted.

But really, this stuff is important. And normally, this isn’t the kind of thing I’d publicize. We don’t do good for the praise of others, and that’s even Biblical (“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them,” Matthew 6:1). So I wasn’t sure I should share this at all. But it occurred to me that if I did, others might be inspired to donate too, or even just become aware of some issues and needs that they weren’t previously aware of. So please read this post in that light. Continue reading