My apologies for the general level of suck around here this week. My Devil Bug of Doom has been a persistent foe, striking at will for the past several days, all while I try to make it to work, write new novel pages, make sure our familial houseguests are taken care of, and enjoy Puck and Emma playing with each other (and keep Puck from chasing the cat, until he’s ready to be chased), etcetera. No e-mail catch-up as planned, but if you’re waiting for a response I’ll get to it this weekend. Promiso. Right now, I’m going to curl up on le couch and watch last night’s Bones. This is less of a hangovers post and more a bunch of mini-posts slammed together sort of thing. Fair warning.
If you’re a writer-type (or a discerning reader-type) and you don’t read J.L. Bell’s Oz and Ends, you’re really missing out. I just realized I have four of his posts starred to link and it’s gotten to the point where I’m intending to link everything he posts. So just read the blog entire.
Colleen Mondor asks where the YA science fiction is and notes that recent examples she can name aren’t labeled as such by their publishers; agent Barry Goldblatt responds in the comments that "Unfortunately, "science fiction" is still basically a curse word in YA publishing. While fantasy has overcome the geek/nerd association, science fiction is still firmly saddled with it." His entire response is well worth your time. Ever since I’ve been paying attention to this issue, I’ve heard various editors and agents say they would love to get more good science fiction submissions, but just don’t see much. I have to say that I really have less of a problem with fear of the label, as long as stuff is getting published–BUT I will also say that I’ve run into some puzzling attitudes lately that only regard as SF things that are called such by publishers. That includes works of both science fiction and fantasy, so perhaps the shyness to call an alien an alien (or whatever) may hurt in the overall "let’s stop pretending realism is all there is or somehow innately superior and SF is for nerds only" wars. It also says to me that beneath the fear of the term there is an underlying realization these are excellent books that deserve wide audiences, and it’s hard to quarrel with that.
Justine asks: Great editing or great publicity from your publisher (assuming you can only choose one)? I’d have to go with editing, because I think a really fabulous editor is worth their weight in gold and also can be an advocate on the inside. A really, really fabulous editor will even care about your career and not just the book in question. And that’s what sending boxes of champagne to the PR staff is for, right? Or, you know, hiring a freelance publicist and working your butt off. That said, I realize this is more complicated than that and also that if you really do only have one of these things, you probably obsess over how you wish you had the other one too. I dream of puppies, kittens, publicity teams and editrons. In the end, it’s about the work and, paraphrasing the immortal words of John Banville, time is the best judge.
Andy Duncan: Does he work for WD-40? Somehow I’ve lived my adult life without ever needing this stuff. (Jinx!)