A Sunday Miscellany

Site Updates

I have a book review prepped for tomorrow for Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher. I am going to *try* to resume weekly book reviews. I have some other regular features I want to introduce as well, one of which I detail below.

I have been doing a lot of site maintenance and clean-up, and I created a new header image. I may tweak the color of the gradient. Feedback welcome.

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Thanks to …

Many thanks to Jennifer Estep and Rabia Gale, who invited me to guest post on their blogs for my upcoming release. I am looking to fill out a blog tour of at least one week, starting on President’s Day. I have flagged that week for vacation at work. My day job will not make a blog tour any longer than that feasible, so I also want to plan out some Friday or weekend posts for another month or two after that.

The official release date is February 18th.

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And Now, a Rant

I have been pining for a wonder-filled fantasy again. I am beginning to think the genre is dead. All we get is endless grit, grit, grit. I first wrote about this four years ago:

I think all novels need that sense of wonder, even ones that are gritty, dark and snarky. After all, Arthur C. Clarke managed it with hard science fiction.

If you are an author or aspire to be one, does your novel have an unforgettable “oh, wow!” moment? Will I be able to remember, twenty years later, the exact moment when the characters met the point of wonder? The grit and dark and snark might be diverting and popular at the moment, but will it all blend into the rest of the grit and dark and snark as I read other novels? Will I remember your novel as that one, or will I say, “Oh, yeah. I read that novel. What was it about?”

Will I purchase multiple editions of your book? Or will I eventually give it away?

… Give me a bit of wonder, and I’ll remember your novel forever.

We still seem to be in this grind of endless grit. And YA novels have gotten that way as well. That may be why I have been gravitating toward fantasy romance recently.

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Community Interviews

I have removed the Review Policy page from this site. I don’t accept review copies at all, and it was giving a false impression. That said, I want to step up my guest postings, and I want to start with longtime readers.

I try to keep my blogroll of longtime readers and author buddies current, but if you would like to be added, please pop a comment on this post. I will start inviting people on this list to interviews starting as soon as I get the interview questions written. Let me know if you are interested.

30 thoughts on “A Sunday Miscellany

  1. Hey Tia, nice new look to the site. I felt drawn at once to your post about wonder in reading, and I strongly agree. It’s more than a bit or a moment, I think the best stuff I ever read convinced me that something utterly magnificent could happen at any moment- and did happen constantly. For me, it was more around character than situation or event, but naturally they entwine. I certainly aim for that in what I choose to chronicle. But in terms of what I’ve read… and I don’t read as much as I used to… I think I’d have to go back to Donaldson’s Mordant tale. That one had it all.

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    • I looked it up–looks good, but still at trade paperback prices. Yikes, why do they keep books so expensive year after year? Don’t they actually want to sell books in their backlist?

      But that’s another rant.

      I guess I’ll have to turn to these 80s books to find the kind of stuff I want to read. I’m sure there’s a lot of books I never discovered.

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  2. Funny you would mention moments of wonder just as I’m browsing through George McDonald’s fantasy stories again. πŸ™‚ I think part of the problem is that wonder is a harder emotion to create. Awe is a subjective emotion that takes a really good command of language or you come out sounding cheesy. I know I find it a bit intimidating when I want someone to be going `wow’ but suspect they may be going `hahahaha that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever read in my life!’ Also, (just judging from McDonald) I think writing wonder means letting go of your need to have an explanation for everything -so often magic in stories is rather scientific- and that goes against everything people have been taught since the Enlightenment. (Which is a rant in itself.) I agree that fantasy would be a lot more enjoyable if people would at least try to inject a bit of wonder, but as someone who has occasionally made the attempt, I can see why a lot of people just steer clear and go for something a bit easier.

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    • I definitely think wonder does not have to be tied to fantasy. 2001 is one of the most wonder-filled books I’ve ever read.

      Trying at wonder would be appreciated. But these books don’t even try. They are gritty and ultra-realistic. And we’re talking about fantasy, here. Why aren’t these authors writing noir? Oh wait … we now have fantasy noir. Magic with grit. Maybe the sparkles sting.

      Another author to look up–thanks!

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  3. I’m a glass-half-empty type, and I like the grit and the snark, but I think we’re already at the point where a lot of the dark, gritty, snarky stuff that’s being published isn’t memorable. The same characters with the same voices seem to migrate from book to book, and I don’t mean books in a series. I don’t necessarily need a sense of wonder, but I do want something unique and memorable in the books I read.

    I suspect the grit is a fad and will pass. I have no idea when, though.

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    • Just like I keep hoping the muffin top jeans fad will pass. But it keeps hanging on, and on, and on. πŸ™‚

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      • πŸ˜€ Yes! Just like that, although I actually like those jeans and find them more flattering than the at-the-waist style on me.

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  4. Have you read the Books of the Raksura by Martha Wells? The first book is The Cloud Roads, and it’s the first book I thought of when I read what you said about sense of wonder. The series is not at all what I’d call gritty, and I just love the world its set in (and I love the main character, a shapeshifter who has no idea what he is or where he came from, too).

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  5. I just finished final revisions on my current WIP, a romantic fantasy…it is going out to my agent and then out on submission. I’ll do my best to get it published, just for you πŸ™‚

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  6. I agree with you on the grit. I don’t mind realism, but recently much fantasy has gone too far towards naturalism for my tastes. {Smile}

    (That refers to the art styles. I still like the explanation Dad passed on to me when I was a kid. In impressionism, a potato is mashed potato. In realism, a potato has been washed, but it still has its eyes and skin. In realism, a potato is straight out of the ground, with the dirt and everything still on it. Unless I am in exactly the right mood, realism goes too far. {SMILE, wink})

    I’ll have to check out fantasy romance. I’ll suggest fairytale retellings in return. They’re still good at cleaning things up befpre presenting them to their readers. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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    • Maybe fantasy isn’t considered escapist literature anymore.

      I am convinced that the first impressionist painters were nearsighted. That’s what the world looks like without my glasses.

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      • Fantasy has never been only escapist literature. It has other uses, including giving an unrealistic patina to problems many people would rather not look too closely at in our modern world. (A cold war enforced by space ships and lasers was easier to think about than one fought with submaries and nuclear bombs. Likewise, a religious war fought with spells and dragons is easier to think of than one fought with plastic bombs and hijacked airplanes. {lop-sided smile})

        However… I don’t remember you complaining about grit in a well-drawn dystopia that takes a serious look at modern problems and how much worse they could get. {wry smile} No, you complain about grit primarily in yet another urban setting that is more concerned with vampires fighting werewolves or angels fighting demons than in any problems we’re likely to meet outside of fiction. No, the problem isn’t that folks aren’t writing escapist fantasy anymore. It’s that many writers have added so much grit to their escapist fantasy, no reasonable person would want to escape to the worlds they describe. {lop-sided smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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        • Yes, it’s the overwhelming grit and how everyone is snarky that is getting to me. Snark is now passe. What would be really interesting would be to read about a nice girl trying to get by in a snark-filled world.

          Oddly enough, I enjoy dystopias. Some of them.

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          • I think having a nice girl in a snark-filled world would be neat. Mybe you should write one; I don’t think I understand snark well enough to pull it off. {Smile}

            I haven’t noticed you complaining about grit in dystopias. There, it reinforces the point that this world isn’t a nice place to live in. When you complain about grit, the series seems to be escapist fun that would be more fun if you didn’t keep encountering substances whose origin you’d rather not think about on the sidewalks, in the gutters, and occasionally in even problematic locations. It seems like the grit is working against the escapism. At least it would for me, since I have no interest in escaping to a place where I have to watch every surface I step or sit on for substances I’d rather not step or sit in. {lop-sided smile}

            Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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      • Oh, and good point about the impressionists. One of my literature teachers claimed that Charlotte Bronte, the writer, also did impressionist-style art before the school really started. In her case, it really was eye trouble; that’s what the world loked like, so that’s what she drew. {Smile, wink}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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      • LOL.

        I agree. The world is so much softer and gentler with my bad eyes. When I get my glasses/lenses on, it all becomes sharp and harsh and brutal.

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  7. I’m in the process of finishing my first novel (Science Fiction) not fantasy although there is some fantasy to come in book two. Like many of the other posts I am getting tired of reading 2 dimensional novels with no characterisation or depth. Cardboard cut out characters transferred from novel to novel, same formula over used time and again. And that doesn’t even begin to address the incredibly poor standard of the writing i have been experiencing of late, some from authors that have a string of popular sucesses behind them.

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    • I used to blog about nothing but debuts–you might want to give them a try. Sometimes the freshest writing can come from a first-time-published author.

      Unfortunately, I am no longer an authority on debut novelists, like I once was, so I don’t have any specific recommendations. Just be on alert for them when you are perusing books in the bookstore. The bio or back cover copy usually mentions if it is a debut.

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  8. I’m glad you’ll be posting reviews again. Those are what turned me into a regular reader way back when your blog was Fantasy Debut. πŸ™‚

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    • Wow–thank you for saying so. I’m inspired! I already have next week’s review planned. Monday posts would probably work best.

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  9. I have been following all this commentary about the grim and gritty trends in fantasy with lots of interest. My background was in comic books, which have just overloaded on grim and gritty in the last ten or so years. I noticed the trend in fantasy as well, particularly urban fantasy. But I recently read (and reviewed) The Griffin Mage Series by Rachel Neumeier and have to say what really struck me was how refreshing the sense of wonder is in this book. I have been telling everyone I can about it because of this.
    Outside of that, I still re-read The Hobbit for its sense of wonder, but can’t think of any other books that bring that to the foreground. Kinda sad when you consider I am reading 3-4 books a week for review in fantasy and science fiction.

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    • Interesting that you bring up comic books. My husband and I were reading comic books back in the 90s. We were reading the X-books–almost all of them except Wolverine and Cable. They were getting pretty gritty even back then, but they were like book candy to us–short, but satisfying.

      They they did the Age of Apocalypse series. We read right up until that series started with the end of the world. It looked way too gritty for us and we stopped reading all the X-books for the duration of that series. By the time it was over, we were over comic books.

      I don’t know why publishers feel we need to be served up endless quantities of this stuff. I will definitely check out your recommendation! (And your site!)

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