Friday, January 17, 2014

The Alien in a Room Full of Bonnets

I wasn't going to blog about this, but I woke up at an ungodly hour this morning (4:40 am to be exact) and could not get back to sleep, even after snuggling on the couch with a book and a nice, warm blankie. So, instead, I made some coffee. Being that it's still very early (yes, 6:45 is "very early" for me) and I have caffeine coursing through my veins...I guess maybe I'm still simultaneously groggy and wired enough to write about last night.

A local writers group had a special guest speaker last night. With the right Google fu I'm sure you can find out who she is, but I'm not naming names because I don't want things getting tangled. She is a very sweet lady. But, she writes Amish fiction, and to be honest I attended pretty much just to confirm my...irritation with the genre at large.

You see, one of the things she said was that she was lucky to catch the wave of the Amish trend. She admitted to not seeing herself as particularly gifted when it comes to writing--it is something she has to work very hard at. She also basically said that you don't have to necessarily be a "good" writer if you're writing what is popular.

Sure, this was meant as encouragement, to cheer on those in the audience doubting whether or not they can really do it if they're not brilliant writers.

I would like to say it encouraged me, but it did not. It only confirmed what I already know about the publishing world, and more specifically the Christian publishing world.

If you've not followed me for long, let me state this--I am a Christian, but I don't write "Christian" fiction. Everything I've ever written, with the exception of maybe two flash fiction pieces, is suitable for the secular market.

That means that this woman's comments in many ways don't apply to me. Still, it's one of those things. Because I want to see a place where writers can be both faith-driven and, well, weird, I find the whole idea that popularity rules so far above good writing to be a bit atrocious.

I mean, yes, I get it. And I've come to terms with the fact that I'll never be one of "those" names. As much as I want to be widely read, I love my small band of rabid fans who love my work for actual intelligence and substance.

Anyway, it was distressing in other ways because I have very talented friends who DO see themselves as writers for a specifically Christian market, yet they don't fit the trends.

BTW--this speaker also read a list of what's hot in the Christian market according to, I believe, her editor or agent (can't remember specifically, but it was a pro in the field). The top were of course historical, Amish, and women's fiction.

One quote that stuck out was that YA is supposedly on the up-rise, but she (the editor/agent) *was not seeing that*.

Spec-fic was not even mentioned.

(Well, unless you count the mention of Amish Vampires in Space that turned into the big opening joke. I tell you, it was hard to keep my mouth shut about it, but I knew that making a stink would only create a scene and not actually convince anyone in the room to take the book seriously. Kerry Nietz has done nothing but impress me with his writing so far, but demographics are demographics. If you don't get that statement, reread the title of this post.)

Oh, this feels like it's turning into less of a post with a point and more of a "I just had to get it out of my system" thing. I suppose that's fine. Many of my contemporaries can relate, so I'll leave it this way.

And I will end with a link for what I think is going to be the driving force behind Christian speculative fiction--a genre which may have not gotten much notice but is NOT going away.

Click HERE to learn more about Realm Makers and this year's conference, which will be May 30-31 at Villanova University, just outside Philadelphia, PA. (BTW, I'll be teaching a couple of classes there, so check out the schedule when it's posted.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

20 Years of off to Harry Potter World!

I am completely shamed by the fact that my last blog post was sooooo long ago. Well, I would be if it weren't for the fact that I've been so busy. The holidays completely consumed us, and then they were quickly followed by....
My 20th wedding anniversary!

Jeff and I decided to do what any true theme-park-and-Harry-Potter-geek couple would do and we spent three days at Universal Studios. Without the Beasties.

I know, right??

What this means for you...

Well, it was GOING to mean a blog post with a lot of pictures. But Blogger is being a pain in the butt. So, I've loaded all the pics into a Public Album on Facebook. You should be able to see all the pics without a membership or anything. (Let me know if you have issues.)

Hope you enjoy! And of course, there will be another blog about the new Harry Potter section when it opens and we go visit again!