Daily Archives: December 29, 2007

How Romantic

Hey, this is nice: I’m nominated for a Romantic Times 2007 Reviewers’ Choice Award in the science fiction category, for The Last Colony. The nominees are chosen for their general excellence, not necessarily their romantic content, which is good, because I’m not notably good with romance. The other nominees in the category:

  • Spindrift, by Allen Steele
  • The Sons of Heaven, by Kage Baker
  • Recovery Man, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Ha’Penny, by Jo Walton

An excellent field of nominees. Some of you may recall I was up for one of these last year in the same category for The Android’s Dream; Jo Walton’s Farthing carried the day for that one. Will she repeat in the category? Tune in in April, when the winners are revealed at the RT Booklover’s convention in Pittsburgh to find out!

The RT Reviewer’s Choice Awards also have a rather significant slate of fantasy nominees in various categories, so here are fantasy writers of my acquaintance who have also gotten nods this year: Marjorie Liu, MaryJanice Davidson and Sharon Shinn (both of whom share an agent with me), Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, David Anthony Durham, China Mieville, Elizabeth Bear (twice!), Sarah Monette, Carrie Vaughn and Jim Butcher. Nicely done, all.

Hat tip to fellow nominee Jo Walton, from whom I found this news.

Minor Housekeepery, 12/29/07

For those of you who live to obsessively follow the tweaks I give the Whatever, you’ll note that I’ve changed the sidebars in the following ways:

  • I’ve deleted the RSS feeds for By The Way and Ficlets Blog, because after two days from now I’ll not be updating there anymore;
  • I’ve reinserted the site colophon (“Taunting the tauntable since 1998″)
  • I’ve added a “Random Whatevers” widget which will pop up links to five randomly selected Whatever entries from since the site was moved over to WordPress. At the moment that would be about 240 entries, but naturally that will grow as time goes on.

I may add a couple more tweaks later today; if so I’ll update this post.  I know you’re on the edge of your seat for that.

Also, let me know if you notice the site slowing down any; the Random Whatever widgets makes calls to the database, and I want to be sure that doesn’t present a performance issue.

A Month of Writers, Day Twenty Three: Justine Larbalestier

Yay! Justine Larbalestier is here! She’s one of my favorite people, you know. And she’s also an excellent writer, with her “Magic or Madness” trilogy, of which the latest installment, Magic’s Child, is featured above, racking up all sorts of awards, honors, and “best of” list appearances. Honestly, if I detailed how cool she is, I’d get all sloppy, so it’s best I keep this part short.

But despite being so damn excellent, Ms. Larbalestier admits to the occasional fault or two. For her Month of Writers contribution, she outlines what some of those alleged faults might be.

JUSTINE LARBALESTIER: faults

I have many faults, but the one I’m feeling baddest about at the moment is my tendency to dismiss a writer on the basis of very little. For example:

  • If I meet a writer and I think they’re obnoxious I won’t read them. This is very very bad of me. Because I am a writer and I can be totally obnoxious (especially if my blood sugar is low), so if other people are as intolerant as I am, and they meet me when I haven’t eaten, odds are they will never read me. To make this even more circular I am most especially likely to decide a writer is obnoxious and I will not read them when my blood sugar is low and I am being obnoxious.
  • I will read one short story, or worse one or two pages of a short story or novel, and if it doesn’t immediately grab me, I will decide the writer is vastly overrated and never read them. This despite the fact that my own short stories in no way reflect the quality of my novels. Or vice versa. And many writers improve. So an early sucky story says nothing about their later quality. Not to mention that my mood (blood sugar levels) greatly affects whether I will keep reading a story.
  • If I hear a writer read, and they’re not any good at it, I will never read them, no matter how much praise I’ve heard. A bad reading kills the writing for me stone cold dead. This is particularly unfair as I’m an erratic reader and suckiness is sadly part of my repertoire (especially if my blood sugar is low).
  • If a friend whose taste I trust tells me a book sucks I won’t read it unless it is the only book available. This is why it took me so long to discover the joys of the Bartimaeus trilogy—a friend I love and trust told me it sucked. They were so wrong! But why are my friends going to be any more consistent than I am? They have their blood sugar issues too.
  • I also won’t read book by people who have dissed writers I adore. I don’t care how much they’ve been raved about, or by whom, or how many people insist that I will love love love them, if they’ve dumped on Angela Carter, or Georgette Heyer, or Dorothy Dunnett, or Patricia Highsmith, or Ruth Park, or any number of other writers, I won’t touch their books with a barge pole.

Writing is a tenuous profession and too many of us passionate readers are certifiably insane. It’s shockingly easy to turn off potential readers. You can do it with a word (use “jasmine” and you’ve lost Margo Lanagan), a bad clothing choice on the part of a character (I put a book down once because the supposedly hip protag was wearing hot pink lycra), a factual error (I have stopped reading otherwise fine books because they had Canberra being a short bus ride from Sydney).

You can also lose readers through no fault of your own: because they don’t like your cover, because they don’t like your author photo, or the way you spell your name, or won’t read paperbacks, or books by Australians.

So you’ll never catch me insulting fellow writers on my blog—too risky! I don’t want to piss them off (we writers have such long memories), or their fans (ditto), nor do I want to rack up any more bad karma (I’m bowed under the weight of what I’ve already got!). And I resolve to make sure my blood sugar levels are where they should be before reading a new book or attending a reading.

(original entry, plus comments, is here)