Kay: There’s a Bug Out There

Like Elizabeth, who posted yesterday about things to do while you’re at home, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are “sheltering in place,” so we’re not leaving the house except to go to the grocery store, doctor’s office, or a job that’s described as “essential.” As grim as this might sound, it’s not that much different than my regular life, since I’m a writer and a natural homebody. And when I talk to friends and family around the country, our situation doesn’t sound that much different than what they’re doing. So we’re really all in the same boat, at least those of us who are serious about not spreading the corona virus.

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Kay: New Prize Aims to Recognize Female Writers

Let’s lead with the no-news bad news: women don’t win literary awards. Further, books written about women don’t win any awards, either.

I bet you’re shocked. Shocked!

Despite a couple of recent breakthroughs in 2018 (Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood shared the Booker Prize for Girl, Woman, Other and The Testaments, respectively; Susan Choi won the National Book Award for fiction for Trust Exercise; the award for nonfiction went to Sarah M. Broom for The Yellow House), women haven’t begun to reach parity with men in the book awards realm. (Evaristo, the first black woman to win the Booker, said in her acceptance speech, “I hope that honor doesn’t last too long.”)

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Kay: Indie Uncon

Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

I like going to conferences for readers and writers. I always feel recharged and refreshed afterwards, and I enjoy meeting people and hearing experts talk about what’s happening in the industry.

Most years I’ve attended the conference of the Romance Writers of America, where I’ve met with the Ladies of this blog, which is always fun. Last year I was disappointed not to be able to go, so in a funk, I signed up for the San Francisco Indie Uncon.

I might be in over my head.

According to local organizer Kelly McClymer, the uncon is for “authorpreneurs who have self published and are pursuing success as indie authors.” That sounds simple enough. Except—

The number of attendees is limited to 50 (RWA’s conference tops out at 2,100), so anonymous we cannot remain. There is no set agenda; topics evolve from discussions in advance of the event (as determined by surveys to participants about what/who they want to hear about/from), and from the Circle of Introductions (another survey about background and interests); and discussions during the event.

The conference is described as “free-wheeling,” which from the description sounds about right. I’m not sure I’m ready for free-wheeling, and I’m not sure I have anything to contribute to a group of writers who have a lot of experience in marketing, which is what I hope to learn more about. I suppose at best, I’ll learn a lot, and at worst, I’ll be the ignoramus of the bunch. I’m thinking if it’s not for me, I can always do some sightseeing.

I’m off today. Has anybody ever been to one of these, and if so, what did you think? What did you learn?

 

Kay: Narrating Family History

The family tree of Cesky Sternberk Castle, Czech Republic (Library of Congress)

Novelists create characters. We give them names and personalities, families, backgrounds, and histories. We give them motivations and core values, often based on what they learned from their families or what’s important to their heritage, so they have reason to make the choices they do in our narratives.

Imagine my surprise when I learned from Ancestry that individual Americans actually know very little about their heritage.

Ancestry commissioned a survey from OnePoll, which canvassed 2,000 people in the United States. They found that many Americans don’t know or are unclear about their family origins.

  • 25 percent don’t know from what countries their families came to the United States
  • 40 percent of Americans polled are not certain from what country their last name originates

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Kay: Why I Write

In 1946, J.B. Pick and Charles Neil, editors of Gangrel magazine, published an essay by George Orwell called “Why I Write.” Orwell’s essay became famous, and when I first read it, it was a revelation, from his early life that shaped his mind, to his military service and early jobs that focused his point of view. His thoughts and opinions are, shall we say, bracing. So, whenever I want to think about why I spend so much time by myself in a small room, I look to see what other people who do what I do think about it. Continue reading

Kay: I Blame Jennifer Crusie

For the last couple of decades, I’ve traveled during the holidays, enduring the long lines at the airport, the crowds, and the bad tempers that the season seems to bring out in revelers. This year I stayed home. I went to a small dinner party, I had a couple of people over, and on New Year’s Eve, I stayed home and watched most of Good Omens with David Tennent. I thought I’d probably get the new year off to a good start if I had good omens.

Alas for my other activity, reading. I spend two weeks reading. A lot.

No good omens there.

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Kay: A Christmas Story—The Gift of the Wise Man

A man walks in Minsk, Belarus, November 22, 2008. (Xinhua/AFP Photo published on sina.com)

I hope everyone out there is having a good Boxing Day and happy holiday season. I’m continuing the Ladies’ traditional Christmas story week, using Elizabeth’s random words. It’s a little longer than I usually do, so I hope you bear with me. Here we go:

The Gift of the Wise Man

The pale winter light was fading rapidly from the northern sky as Birdy Dove entered the warm kitchen. She hung her coat on the peg by the door and accepted the unspoken invitation of her brother to join him at the hearth. She sat down with a sigh and stretched out her cold hands to the flame. Continue reading