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Re: Pet Peeves: What makes you put a book down/never pick it up in the first place? I will read to the bitter end unless something really makes me cringe and to prove it I am going to go back to reading Unicorn Mountain, a book I started reading a girlfriends copy of 25 years ago and never got to finish. And yes the cover art has a unicorn and a mountain on it. Buying this book second hand off Amazon has also caused a wide variety of gay BDSM Ebooks to be recommended so it may take a startling turn at some point in the unread pages.
May 10, 2015, 11:44:06 PM
Re: One Sentence writing advice There are easier ways to lose your sanity.
May 14, 2015, 03:30:37 PM
Re: Sketches! Congratulations Just seen your picture of Jorg on the frontpage of Marks unofficial site thatthornguy.
May 14, 2015, 07:17:35 PM
Re: The best female science fiction and fantasy writers you should read now
The first one being this:


Until female writers reject magical thinking and start writing science-based science fiction, they are just a bunch of would-be princesses to me.

That right there is your reason. I am in awe of the fact this one quote totally dismisses both the women who DO write science based SF (he hasn't heard of any, so there must be none and/or he's not picked up a book with a woman's name on the cover in the erroneous belief they don't write science based SF*) and those who don't (because we should all write what he, personally, likes to read and if we don't we're just the would-be princesses)

It's actually a pretty spectacular example of what we're up against

*Including at least one of the authors in the article!

I am curious, the comment was presumably made by a man, but could have come from a friend of mine who is a total SF head, possibly the most obsessive Iain Banks nerd and she's scientist to boot, but let's assume it is from a man for all it matters.

It is a comment to a news article, possibly heartfelt, possibly trolling. Either way you are unlikely to sell the commenter a book. This is not indicative of how every male views female authored fantasy fiction. It is one comment left by one individual. If you feel this comment is a spectacular example of what you are up against. I feel you're reading too much into the comment. The coment doesn't read to me as though the commenter would read male authored fantasy either.

Most of us I suspect (male or female) have a limited finances and are picky in what we read due to cost and time restraints. As a result we buy what catches our interest. In times of no money I read slower and re-read stuff I have previously enjoyed.

The fact that there is an article about female authored fantasy is more of a worry. Why on earth should that be necessary? This is not a sporting event, authors should be on a level playing field regardless of gender. I am pretty sure the independent would not publish an article titled 'The best male science fiction and fantasy writers you should read now'. So why is there the need for this segregation and does it in any way help?

I am also puzzled about the Waterstones best SFF table. Book shops aim to make money, this they do by selling books. Perhaps the choice of what goes on a table is decided by the store more likely by regional/head office and in all likelihood by a computer listing of what they are selling by category week on week. The tables are of course set up by the stores almost entirely female staff. I don't believe there is any gender bias by bookshops. It cannot be in their financial interest.

Personally I have do not know of anyone who determines what they read by the gender of the author. That would be silly. Whether the blurb catches my interest or it has cool cover art or a recommendation is far more likely to sway me than the name on the spine. I believe that I will continue to read what interests me in any category regardless or the authors gender. I do not feel the need to define my reading time or the amount I spend on books by the sex of the author as to do anything else would also be silly.

May 15, 2015, 03:05:07 PM
Re: The best female science fiction and fantasy writers you should read now
Thanks for the diplomatic reply. Forthright is a mild way to describe me.... :)

I have a firm belief that a forum is a meeting place for ideas and views and your post gave me pause for thought.
So I now understand more of your argument than I did before regardless of how much of it I agree with.
The reason I dislike the idea of a female authors list article is it implies the female authors should be treated differently from male authors either because they are not as good or because they deserve special treatment. I am not in favour of either positive or negative discrimination. Both cause long term issues that eventually have to be addressed.  I understand that the article being of benefit and there are authors I haven't heard in the list, but really don't like the idea of the gender segregation.
You are stating that women writers get reviewed less and are more likely to suffer from softer cover art which will dissuade men from picking up the book in the first place. I think we are both agreed this is a bigger issue in the US than UK. I also believe this is less of an issue than it was in the past in the UK.
I have just checked Marc's list of May releases on this site 13 by male authors 16 by female and one co authored. Maybe two covers are a bit soft but the wouldn't put me off. I seem to be a bad judge though of what I should and should not be picking up.
I have not the experience you have regarding reviews and publicity and will look out to see if there any noticeable disparity by sex in the UK of professional reviews. If nothing else this has to be improving year on year?

Marketing is something of a Dark Art I think. They are trying to sell to as many people as possible, but hey can't please everyone. And sometimes they get it wrong for us as individuals (Luckily failure in this Dark Art will not result in creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions).

Marketing is largely the ability to destroy someone else’s hard work when done badly. I work in technology and can think of a couple of products that after years of development and millions invested have been destroyed by being pushed at the wrong customer by people with little understanding or apparent interest in making it a success. By the time this is rectified you have lost market share and life expectancy of products is shorter and shorter these days. So you certainly have my sympathies on that factor.

The original wassname, women selling less etc -- I think it's a massively complicated issue. There's no one thing you can point at and say "Change this and all will be well" There are instead many interconnected things, and if you pull one thread the whole thing might come unravelled. I have no idea what the answer is.

Which is a bit of a bugger for those of us getting the crappy end of the stick, but there you are.

ETA Ofc this is one reason I went with a male pen name. I'm using my real name for the next series. I wonder what difference it will make?

All I can do is wish you well for existing and future sales. May I ask which names you have published under? Or will this shatter the mystery?

May 17, 2015, 01:18:51 PM
Re: The best female science fiction and fantasy writers you should read now
If you look at the stats on this forum it seems that it's ten males for every one female on here
Do you think female fantasy/sci-fi readers read various other genres and male fantasy readers don't branch out as much ?

Or possibly Women are less inclined to join and post on forums compared to men. I think ( in the first world) if you look at those who read for enjoyment there will be more women than men. Less women into SCFI and more into fantasy at a guess but ignoring genre more women read.

May 21, 2015, 05:20:00 PM
15th Century Cannon (Writers Resource...maybe?)  I found some photos of Belle whom I had a hand in Making the barrel of and thought I would share with you.
This is an iron barrelled breech loading heavy field piece from around 1450.
The barrel is made by laying iron rods around a wooden former and then heating and shrink fitting iron rings over the rods. Two layers of rings are placed over the rods and the seams where they butt to the next ring on the first set are the centre point for the next ring to be fitted. The construction is similar to a coopers barrel, hence the name.

Spoiler for Hiden:

Spoiler for Hiden:

Sadly the breech on the second photo is obscured by the wheels. In a muzzle loader everything goes down the end you don't want to be stood in front of when its fired. In a breech loader the barrel is a tube open at both ends and a pot like an oversized tankard is loaded with powder, wadding and shot then inserted into the back of the barrel and secured by a lip on the pot and with a wedge behind it to make it tight to the carriage.

A breech loader is less efficient than a muzzle loader. Shot wont hit as hard or travel as far, but if you have several pots you can shoot it much faster by having all your pots loaded and as one is fired the next is mounted to the gun and the spent pot is swabbed and reloaded. If you have 5 or 6 pots you can keep up a continuous barrage until you run out of powder or the cannon barrel gets too hot to use.

The carriage is made of green oak this will shape and twist with the shock of firing without splitting as seasoned oak would. The wheels and axle are elm with ash spokes and have iron tyres heatshrunk on.

The ammunition used would be iron balls rolled in lead, stone balls or wooden cannisters filled with flint.

May 22, 2015, 08:13:58 PM
Re: The King's Paws Hey there is a new Mad Max Film out. Road craft and Curtesy are sure to improve...
May 23, 2015, 07:53:19 PM
Re: Suicide: More than a plot device The silence is deafening.

Death is something we find horrific The loss of a loved one leaves a gap in our lives that is never quite filled, and changes our personal world and perspective on life. You don't consciously think of that person all the time but there are reminders in things you do or places you go. Sometimes memories and thoughts of them return powerfully at times.

Sudden death shocks you and leaves you wishing you could change the near past to spend some time with those who died, say things you wanted to say or take back words you did. Suicide is worse.
There is a tremendous amount of guilt left in the wake of one. It breaks families and destroys relationships and the questions are unending.

Depression is often blamed, whether the case or not. If they were punishing someone that is very much played down. Some questions are better unanswered.

For those who are depressed it is often the case that they kill themselves when things have got better
and life is looking up. Maybe the fear of things getting worse is a motivating factor. Suicide being the ultimate life choice perhaps they decide to die in a happy place emotionally instead of a sad one.
Perhaps some people are strong enough to refuse to live under certain conditions.

Suicides cluster in families and social groups once there has been a suicide others may follow. Social norms have been broken and permission given for others to follow that path, and they do.

This is a plot device to tread carefully around. It needs to portray the devastation of those left behind, the loss, the grief and the guilt. Death in fiction is often without much impact and I feel suicide is too serious a subject to be glamorized or sanitized and should only be portrayed for what it is and what it does to those remaining.

May 25, 2015, 12:52:59 PM
Re: How to Avoid Scaring Away Male Readers - Too Much Touchy Feely Stuff (literally) Just a thought and feel free to tell me it's a stereotypical misogynist one, I am big and tough enough to deal with it (and there is no one here to see me cry)

If I was writing an unexpected spontaneous sex scene from a male perspective it would be nearly as simple as wow, unexpected spontaneous sex.
For that to work from a female perspective I suspect the female protagonist would have to have showered, shaved have her make up and hair just so.
Be feeling good about herself and her body and how she looked in what she was wearing. There is no way this is happening if she has her granny knickers on, lingerie by preference.
Any kids would be away staying at friends or relatives and taken care of. Should it happen at home the house would be spotless and the housework just done, the bed linen if a bed is required would be fresh.
At least four paragraphs prior to the scene of what male readers may take as irrelevance are necessary for that sort of spontaneity to work from a female perspective. Or am I completely missing the mark?
 Thinking back over the few romance novels and female perspective erotica I have read there was a lot of what I would consider clutter building up to the sex scenes that is not the primary focus of male readers.

But what if the "chick" isn't especially hot? What if it's from her point of view? And what if it's between two gay men and you're not gay?

I think the hotness factor works both ways and is overcome by writing your characters well enough for the reader to identify or at least have empathy with them. The Mills and Boon stereotypical fit and rugged (shirtless as well) millionaire comes to mind. Instant attraction becomes less about looks as you age and the desire to reproduce lessens. Sex scenes from a female perspective I would have thought are of more interest than from a male perspective to a male reader, but maybe that’s just me.
 As a heterosexual male I am not as squeamish as some men about homosexual sex scenes if they are well done I have no problem reading them. I rarely give up on a book and am more likely to do so over bad writing that sexual content. Saying that a guy I work with abandoned Cloud Atlas as soon as he found there were gay characters. Even before there was any sexual activity.

June 06, 2015, 08:56:49 PM