Posts Tagged ‘fiction’


Genre v. Literature: The eternal struggle?

December 10, 2011

Daniel Abraham’s letter, From Genre to Literature:

…. This artificial separation between us is painful, it is undignified, and it fools no one. In company, we sneer at each other and make those cold, cutting remarks. And why? You laugh at me for telling the same stories again and again. I call you boring and joyless. Is it wrong, my dear, that I hope the cruel things I say of you cut as deeply as the ones you say of me?

But allow me this, dear: what you do is crueler. You take the best of me, my most glorious moments – Ursula LeGuin and Dashiell Hammet, Mary Shelly and Philip Dick – and you claim them for your own. You say that they “transcend genre”. There are no more heartless words than those. You disarm me. You know, I think, that if we were to compare our projects honestly — my best to yours, my mediocrities to yours, our failures lumped together — this division between us would vanish, and so you skim away my cream and mock me for being only milk.

I forgive you. I weep and I resent and I say how little I care what your opinions are. And, let me be honest, dear, I take comfort in the fact that I make more money than you. That my audience is larger. Outside the narrow halls of the academy, my star is brighter. I go to the movies, and I am on every marquee. A television is practically my mirror. My house is larger and warmer, and the people there laugh and weep more loudly. Not all of them are sophisticates. Many of them find comfort and solace in things you consider beneath you. But they are my people, and I love them as they love me.

The relationship ‘twixt “genre fiction” and “literature” is a strange one. If genre fiction is good enough, it must be literature and not genre fiction. Because, well, as we all know, genre cannot be literature.

And in a way it’s true. There is no guarantee that the craftsman who makes the finest knives can actually cook. Nor the farmer who grows the bell peppers, nor rancher with his cattle.

But at the same time, the food metaphor doesn’t hold true. What genre most resents is being treated like cheese doodles while some truly abhorrent literary gastronomica is considered haute cuisine for the simple fact that it is literature, and not genre fiction.

Dining at the Literary TroughOn the other hand, I’ve been in a five-star restaurant that once served me, as a pre-appetizer course, two slices of albino beet with a smear of goat cheese between, a single forkful of something that looked like some potato shreds mixed with overcooked cheese, and a homemade marshmallow with powdered carrot on top. You know, quite literally because the chef felt like dawdling around in the kitchen that day, and that’s what he came up with.

Sometimes people need soul food. Or a bit of greasy spoon. And if you can’t tell the two apart, that’s fine. Because if you ever find yourself in that scene from L.A. Story, at a restaurant called “L’Idiot”, reciting Steve Martin’s refrain—”I’m already finished and I don’t remember eating”—then yes, you will think kindly upon the never-ending hash browns, or a bacon cheeseburger with curly fries and a chocolate shake, or any number of genre foods that have done more than their share to sustain, and even please.



Martin tops first-day sales, year to date

July 14, 2011

The news in from Galleycat:

Novelist George R.R. Martin reportedly landed the highest first day sales of a fiction title this year, selling 298,000 copies of A Dance with Dragons. That figure included: 170,000 hardcovers, 110,000 eBooks and 18,000 audiobooks.

Martin had this comment: “It took me longer than anyone would have liked. But now that the book is here, I hope my readers will conclude that it was worth the wait. The turnout at my signings has been extraordinary, and I’m delighted to have the chance to meet so many of my fans, both those who have been with me all the way and those who have come to the books through the terrific new HBO television series.”

Meanwhile, Paul Constant looks to the future:

I’m willing to bet that next year’s record-breaker for highest first day fiction sales will sell more e-books than hardcovers. E-books are eventually going to dominate this kind of mass market popular fiction.

Something to look forward to, perhaps. Or not. Or, maybe, to argue with someone over a glass of chardonnay at the book club.



Word counts by genre

November 2, 2010

Can’t seem to find where this came from, but it’s well worth the read. From Colleen Lindsay, former agent now with Penguin Group.

Last week I sat down with two fiction editors and hammered out a more comprehensive list of suggested word counts by genre & sub-genre. As you read through this, keep in mind three important things: 1.) these are suggested word counts; rules get broken all the time; 2.) these suggested word counts will most often apply to debut writers; successfully published authors are the ones who end up breaking the rules, and 3.) if you are planning to e-publish only, and your book will never be printed out on actual paper, these guidelines aren’t nearly as important.

Read the rest of this entry ?


SD24 award recipients

February 19, 2010

While there were so many fresh new voices and such quality material deserving of a shout out at this past weekend’s conference, alas, there must be only a selected few SCWC*San Diego 24 Award Recipients…

OUTSTANDING FICTION: Barbara Gardner from Clarkdale, MS for “Westside Blues”

OUTSTANDING FICTION: Alyssa Kirk from Lebec, CA… for “Demonic Intentions”

OUTSTANDING FICTION: Larry Markworth from Ventura, CA for “Loss of Face”

OUTSTANDING TOPIC: Elizabeth Mondok from Lancaster, CA for “Why the Owl Asks Who”

OUTSTANDING TOPIC: Melissa Fischer from Venice, CA for “Why, Rick?”

Congratulations all!



St. Martin’s submission contest

November 10, 2009

St. Martin’s Press is “actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult.’”

Requires an online 2-3 sentence hook/pitch and first paragraph of storyI. Deadline is Nov. 20th.

Details here



SCWC*LA(ish) 7 award winners

October 4, 2009

Only one week ago today we wrapped another great conference in, of all places, Irvine (our third great time there). I can’t remember the last time we had so many terrific new writers at a single SCWC. Not only talented, but creepily well-behaved to book. Here’s who won awards…

• OUTSTANDING FICTION: Lori Hartman Gervasi
from Rancho Cucamonga, CA for Untitled

from Dallas, TX for The Q Awakening

• OUTSTANDING FICTION: Alwyn Martin Pinnow
from York, PA for Untitled

• OUTSTANDING SCREENPLAY: Jeff Michaels & Jill Q. Weiss
from Huntington Beach, CA for A Father’s Love

• TOPIC: Paul Durant
from Long Beach, CA for Shoe: A Memoir

• TOPIC: Walter Golden
from Placentia, CA for Untitled

Pop on over to to read the winning topic award stories.



SD23 award winners announced

February 22, 2009

With considerable competition in the mix, it wasn’t easy declaring who would be honored this time around, but after two nights of high-spirited debate — and by high-spirited, of course, I mean bourbon — a consensus was found among the authors, agents and editors attending. Here are the SCWC*SD 23 Award Recipients:

• OUTSTANDING FICTION >> Reina Lisa Menasche
from Spring Valley, CA for Every Holiday on Ice
• OUTSTANDING FICTION >> Reina Lisa Menasche
from Spring Valley, CA for Silent Bird
from Moscow, Russia for Moscow Traffic
• OUTSTANDING TOPIC >> Gayle Carline
from Placentia, CA for Home to Roost
from Poway, CA for Regret

Congratulations to all, and to the so many other emerging writers who attended San Diego with work that never sucked as much as it could have. Check out the site for all the latest details.



Marketing the Muse: The Query Letter

February 3, 2009

Author/editor Marla Miller returns to the San Diego conference with her popular query letter troubleshooting workshop, “Pitch it to Me: Let’s Fix Your Book Pitch.” To give you a taste, see her in action in the above video we shot at last year’s event in Irvine.



KYSL SD23: Phyllis Gebauer, sexy author

January 28, 2009

Know Your Session Leaders ….

Once merely a typist, and now a sexy author, Phyllis Gebauer brings her unique charm and talent to San Diego with … count ’em … two workshops: “Putting Story Down on Paper: Dramatic Scenes and Effective Transitions” and “Putting You Into Your Memoir“.

(Note to self: Your transitions are train wrecks; attend this workshop.)

Her writing credentials are outstanding, including books with titles like Hot Widow and Pagan Blessing, short stories, articles, and even film strips. Drawing praise from such luminaries as Ray Bradbury and Thomas Pynchon, Ms. Gebauer’s talent translates well for SCWC workshops; an instructor for UCLA Extension, she was named Outstanding Teacher in Creative Writing in 1992.

The hard thing, of course, is to say, over and over, “Don’t miss it!” Naturally, since we can’t all be in two (or more) places at once, we must necessarily miss something. Still, though, the advice holds. Phyllis Gebauer is simply not to be missed.



KYSL SD23: Laurel Corona

January 28, 2009

Know Your Session Leaders ….

I suppose it would be a cop-out to simply recycle the capsule from LA6, but since I missed that gathering, I didn’t get a chance to meet Laurel Corona.

So, yeah, what can I say? In addition to her workshop on “Writing Fiction About Real People“, Dr. Corona is also one of our featured guest speakers, slated for Saturday morning, and no, I haven’t any notes telling me what she intends to talk about then. Of course, if I’d started this round of KYSL earlier, I probably could have asked. (Note for the future.)

Now then … moving on. Dr. Corona is the author of The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi’s Venice, which has drawn high praise from critics, fellow authors, and readers alike, which is in and of itself no mean feat. And then there’s Until Our Last Breath: A Holocaust Story of Love and Partisan Resistance, written with Michael Bart. A moving tale of Lithuanian Jews during World War II, the praise doesn’t seem to stop. And expectations are running high for the forthcoming Penelope’s Daughter. We’ll have to ask her if there’s a date yet, and one way to find out is, you know, just maybe, show up at the workshop and ask her.