jana_denardo: (kept tears)
A newsletter seems to be the in thing and I've been studying the what to do and what not to dos of all of this. Lots of people seem happy with mailchimp (though I'm open to suggestions). A few months ago I came across insta-freebie from an author's blog which has been a good and bad thing. Lots to read but on the other hand, to get the free book you need to sign up for the author's newsletter. I don't really mind that. I'm considering it research because I have learned things.

1. Honestly once a month is really all you need unless you have something special like a cover reveal, new release or you're part of one of these huge multi author giveaways. It's amazing how many newsletters you can get. Some people do the once a month thing and give you a newsletter with content. Others are there weekly which seems a bit much but still, not so bad. And then there are the others who I swear send out newsletters multiple times a week and with very little new content. That is annoying as hell. That's a good way to get someone to unsubscribe. You don't need that much content with your readers and if you're telling me you wrote 80K in one month and still have time to email three times a week, I have to wonder how good your story is and how much attention you're giving it.

2. DO put in something fun to read, a little why you wrote what you wrote, something that interests you and/or your characters. Interview the characters, give me something to look at as I scan around for whatever links you wanted me to see.

3. Pictures are nice (though be nice and don't snitch pictures that aren't yours)

4. For the love of god spellcheck it. It's something your sending right to your readers. If I get something full of spelling errors I'm not going to rush to read your work, just saying.

5. Having fun things for the readers can be nice too. I've seen some do polls, hold contests for naming rights or little cameos in a work

But yeah seriously, sending out three newsletter a week is annoying (and these aren't even the people who have made an error and they need to send corrections)
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
Maybe this should have been my very first post for #queerblogwed. Not everyone knows about me and with the latest round of catfishing scandals (and people being accused of catfishing just because they have a pseudonym) I thought maybe now was a good time to introduce myself. Of course most of us know that many authors use pen names for a whole variety of reasons from simply keeping their brands separate (witness Nora Roberts for romance but J.D. Robb when she writes mysteries), to worries about identity issues and a whole lot of people being unforgiving about genres. Honestly I would have thought this went without saying yet I've seen some on social media screaming anyone who has a pen name is a catfishing liar. Um, yeah, no, seriously no.

Jana Denardo is a pen name. It's one of my great grandmother's first names and the last name of another of great grand. I thought it would be a nice way for them to live on. I've never pretended to be anything other than what I am, a woman (though I'm old enough to remember when it was nearly mandatory to have a male pen name to write m/m fiction back in the 90s). I accept there are people who think I have no business writing this genre because of my own gender and I can understand the backlash. For a long time gays (along with non-whites) were used in fiction as comedy relief or villains in cruel stereotypes. Who wouldn't be mistrustful of those outside the group? I know there isn't much I can do to change the the minds of those who think women shouldn't write gay fiction because we aren't gay men and don't understand (for that matter would I understand a straight man any better?) but you know what? Since fourth grade, there has always been someone there to tell me I can't do something because of my gender: women can't be smart (this by the 4-6th science teacher who would point to the Ascent of Man chart and say 'man' and point to Australopithecus and call it woman.'), women can't be doctors, it's a waste of education, they only get a degree because they HAVE to let them in (any number of patients, family members and men who I beat out for my chair in medical school), women can't be scientists (you know so says that Nobel prize winner last year). It's not new to me. It hurts but I go on and try my best for accuracy.

So yes I am smart. I am a doctor and I'm now a scientist. I was a podiatrist specializing in wound care so I've done a lot of gross things and tons of amputations and I'm a daub hand at wounding characters if you want to ask me about it. I was injured. A patient kicked me and ruptured the nerves in my hand (Not gonna lie, it was painful seeing Doctor Strange this past year and I stumbled at the opening of Anna Butler's The Gilded Scarab because I KNOW what it's like to study your brains out, sacrifice a lot to become something and lose it to an accident. And oh btw, loving Anna's book!).

I retrained (sadly not gaining any mystical powers). I'm now a professor and scientist at a rural Appalachian college in the south of Ohio. I'm doing research at the moment that I hope will be published soon (so apparently a uterus is not a detriment to being good in science).

So back to that pen name of mine. Why did I chose to use one? For two reasons, one the other genre I'm mostly trying to get published is YA urban fantasy/fantasy. I didn't think it would be great for a 13 year old to follow my backlist and end up with something erotic, which most of Jana's fiction has a little of. Secondly, my university is conservative, well not so much the professors but there are some of those too but the board is highly conservative. I wasn't yet tenured and teaching jobs are scarce. I have to admit I was afraid to have someone find out I wrote LGBT friendly fiction. I know of only three LGBT professors and two of them hide it hard core because they share that fear. It's saddening and maddening that this is still an issue but it is. And actually only one of those professors is still here. The one who was loud and proud about it was fired (not for that of course but they found a tiny excuse and dropped her fast) and the other quit but that was more of not liking it here than related to her sexuality.

Given that, I thought a pen name was wise and I still think so.

A little more about me in case you haven't figured it out, I am the queen of geeks. SF/F/UF are my jam (along with mysteries, love mysteries). I read comic books and manga and once I get better internet out here in the sticks I plan to mainline my favorite drug: anime. I don't just write steampunk, I live it. I'm active with a local steampunk group. I play clarinet and sax and I'm teaching myself Native American flute.

I'm unhealthy as holy hell. Diabetic, arthritis in every joint, fibromyalgia and more but no one wants to hear me whine.

I go ghosthunting (for real). I hike (as much as I'm able). I used to spelunk. I love animals but I only own cats (well just one at the moment). I do love dogs but my lifestyle isn't great for them. I like to talk and talk and talk and read more than I talk. I garden and I wish I could travel more than I do.

So that is me. I hope you stick with me. If not, I still wish you well.
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
I got about 3 hours sleep last night (because my brain woke me up singing Sisters of Mercy...) so this isn't going to be a great Queer Blog Wednesday post. I'm not even promising coherent.

So as the bacon bits tossed on the suck salad 2017 is shaping up to be, I had a death of a long time friend followed by the death of my great aunt and a family friend both on the same day followed today by the death of one of my best friend's uncle so I needed something GOOD to concentrate on.

That's when I found this in my twitter feed (Thanks to Kim Fielding), a great review of Once Upon a Time in the Weird West Love Bytes Review. I'm so glad it's being well received, especially when I keep seeing spec fic being knocked as 'hard to sell' (I'm not sure if this one is flying off the shelf either because I haven't been poking around in the sales data but I hope it's doing well). I wish there was a bigger audience for fantasy and SF. I know so many of us love to write it, me especially.

And since I have no coherent on point discussion this week, let me toss this out there. I have a couple characters going ghost hunting in an abandoned hotel. One is professional ghost hunter, the other an author wanting to write about ghosts. I've been wondering what would people like to see in a ghost story. And no, they won't be yelling at the ghosts ala Ghost Adventures because nothing good can come of that. Some of the places in the story will be places I've gone ghost hunting. (read the closest I can come to contemporary fiction is writing about ghost hunting....not for the first time!)

Maybe next week I'll remember on Tuesday night to schedule these Wednesdays posts so they're more coherent (I have too many hours in lab then more in front of the class on Wed!)

Politics

Jan. 25th, 2017 07:09 pm
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
I've been absent the last few Queer Blog Wednesdays because I'm adjusting to my new schedule where I have to be in the lab around 730 AM and leave around 5 and I'm too wasted to think afterward (Maybe I should start these on Tuesday). Not to mention the giant ball of depression that is sitting on the lot of us so I decided to make that the focus this time and hopefully never mention it again.

 photo resistance1_zpswidb9f6c.jpg

You might notice I don't talk politics on my social media much. It isn't that I don't care (someone had suggested that about those who are quiet and I do NOT want anyone thinking I don't care because I do) or that I'm with that orange jizztrumpet (because god, no!) Politics make me anxious. Chest-pain, heart palpitating, sweating and outright panicking anxious and that has been since LONG before Dumpster fire. It started nearly 25 years ago when I used to have to deal with lobbyists for patient and doctor rights.

I avoid it with a passion, all of it. Right now social media is enough to make me give up all hope and believe me, it doesn't take me much to drop into suicidal thoughts. I've been dealing with those even longer than I have politics.

While it's true, I am not in the QUILTBAG at all, I still see it as my fight (Hell, I'm a woman scientist with tons of health issues, I have plenty of reasons to join the Resistance). The one thing history has taught me is you can't just rely on the group directly involved. Are they at more risk than me? Inarguably. But every rights movement (women's, race, gay, doesn't matter) needs to bring in people from all walks of life rather than to turn them away with a 'you aren't X, you can't understand.' Maybe not entirely but everyone can understand basic rights and fight along side others to achieve a goal.

So for me, you're not going to see endless political posts or outraged ranting even if I agree with you because I have my mental health to protect. My fight will be a quiet one and maybe one where my posts will be about where you can get involved to HELP. And for the activist out there self care for the activist because seriously burn out and mental issues can happen to any of us under this level of stress.

And let me share some good news like this LGBT center for SouthEast Ohio that some of my friends are heavily involved in (and I'm bringing news of this to my students).

And the fact that one of my students immediately decided to spearhead a new experiment on the water supplies in the surrounding four counties to battle the gag order on the EPA and other agencies who should be policing this, looking at lead levels among other things. Proud of her.

Hopefully next time I'll be back with more writing related material!

Rejection

Jan. 4th, 2017 11:46 pm
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
Just a short post today as I've been driving some 250 miles today. I suppose this one is just general writing related more so than being LGBT specific but it's what's on my mind after getting a rejection yesterday.

To me it was a good one as they told me what they liked and what they thought didn't work. I find that very useful. I was surprised a few weeks back when I saw a FB post ranting about how that particular author hated that. Which, yes, that's perfectly fine as we're all different but I was curious how an author would come to that choice. I didn't ask because I didn't know this particular author well and I don't like to start up stuff on someone else's page.

Personally I think any and all input I get can be helpful. I would have liked to be able to make changes and resubmit this to that publishing house but they didn't say that I could and I'm not published with them so I didn't really ask (as I have other options). As it is, one of their weaknesses was something I had wondered about myself. So I should have listened to my gut.

I know some authors feel that once they submit something it's 'done' and they're not changing anything. And there is the point that you could send it to three different places and have them feel three different ways about that same piece so making suggested changes in a rejection might not help you. I often see this in my writers group. Two people love something and a third hates that exact same thing.

You just have to use your best judgment when you get these suggestions. Would making the changes turn your story into something other than what you wanted it to be? I've faced that too.

But for me, if I have to be rejected then I definitely want to know WHY. I want to know what didn't work and what did. I appreciate that they took the time to tell me that rather than send me some form letter (god knows I got tons of those in the 90s back when I had to send postage so they could send me those form letters). I find them helpful.

Helpful but still painful. Ah well, such is a writer's life.
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
As I write this it's hard to be entirely positive what with All Romance shutting down with very short notice and some jackass stealing stories and publishing them under other known authors' names on Amazon to ride their reputations to sales. (There are days I miss the old days of publishing but granted back then most of what I write wouldn't have seen the light of day).

So that's the negative part so let me move on and see what my plans can possibly be in the LGBT publishing realm.

1. Be much more rigid on time management. That is still a bit on the negative but it needs to be said. I need to get it in my head. I've been horrible about it. I spend too much time pissing about on line, especially social media and I need to knock that crap off.

2. First and foremost, I need to FINALLY fix Blood Red Roulette. I have been working on it but I MUST get it done. It'll be almost a year between getting it rejected with suggestions for resubmission and sending it back out. It was a big hit to the ego, especially seeing other stories with almost identical things I was knocked for getting put out by the same publisher. I keep making more of a mess of it. I'm going to need a set of eyes to do a complete read-through once I'm done

3. Play about with the Deadwood shifter story. A little tweaking at it will be a novella and then I'll send it out.

4. I need to find out what's going on with Wayward Ink to see if I need to be thinking about that SF story I have there for an anthology.

5. Work on Behind Blue Eyes. I would love to finish it.

6. Work on the two contemporary novels even though they are a brutal struggle for me.

7. Work on the steampunk Christmas story.

8. Keep an eye on the open calls of course.

9. Clean up my website because it's an embarrassment.

10. Continue to support my fellow authors.

It's not much of a plan. I'm willing to admit to that but I have to balance it with the non-romance/LGBT writing (which definitely needs a lot of work right now too). Here's hoping 2017 has some good opportunities, some good writing and it will look better than 2016 which was a very bad year for me writing-wise.
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
 photo winter-solstice_zpschpiixq3.png

It's one of my favorite times of the year, so much so I put it into one of my stories A Light in Winter. I had fun writing about the Druids (neo-Druids, whatever you want to call them). It remains one of my few contemporary stories and I am still fond of it because it reminds me of my time in Wales which had been wonderful (air flight aside).

However it did sort of start me on the path I took this year with 'sweet reads.' (I prefer that term to 'clean reads.' While I know that is a good branding tool for publishing, it just seems to me to suggest sex is dirty and that bothers me). Actually A Light in Winter does have sex in it. A few friends pointed out they saw a few reviews about people complaining there wasn't enough romance/sex and too much on the Druid ritual (keeping in mind that was sort of the theme of the anthology, holiday traditions).

It got me thinking. It was a short story and it did have some sex, after all. Then selling at a con this year, so many people about passed us by until we mentioned, hey there is guy on guy sex in these books and then boom, they were all there, ready to buy. On one hand there's the thought of whoo-hoo sales but in the back on my mind was the thought, there was no real obvious interest in the plot.

Now not every LGBT author writes sex. I would be entirely happy to not write it. It's never been the part of the story to interest me as a reader. Half the time I skip over it to get back to the plot. I think it has a place, of course but I have to admit,I felt vaguely uncomfortable with the idea that the sex was the main selling point.

So I was curious, could I sell things without sex? The answer was yes. How it will be received is yet to be seen. I am very interest to see. I am also interested in Dreamspinner's non-romance line which presumably is heavier on plot and less about the sex. I don't know yet what 2017 will bring but I hope to mix it up a bit.

jana_denardo: (kept tears)
We've entered the time of 1001 Christmas stories showing up and I have to admit, I'm not really one for seasonal clothing, seasonal songs or seasonal fiction. I don't go looking for it. That said, I do know many people DO love the stuff and usually I have some Christmas fiction or other. This year I do not. Oh, I might put up a flash fic freebie on my blog but I have nothing for sale this year.

I'm not sure why. Certainly almost every LGBT publisher I know has open calls for Christmas (I'd rather they have them for Halloween but that's another story.) Somehow I missed that Dreamspinner, who I publish with frequently, had one with the theme of humbug, which would have been perfect for me, truthfully. I'd have whipped out a Krampus story or something.

Granted when I have written holiday stories they haven't been super Christmasy. I'm just not hugely into writing purely contemporary things, though the one published contemporary I have written is a holiday story (The Light in Winter). It is about the winter solstice though (A druid professor showing his Christian lover how his religious practices worked and is set in Wales).

But since this post isn't about promotion (I'll work that up soon, maybe for Sunday Small Talk) I won't mention my other stories here. Instead I'll ask, does anyone have a favorite LGBT holiday story? Do you have something you'd like to see in a holiday story? Feel free to share the love.

I actually AM working on a Steampunk Christmas story for next year. Either it'll get picked up by an open call or if nothing else, I could give my hand a try at self publishing it, maybe giving the proceeds to charity. We shall see but I though why not try writing it now while I'm marginally in the mood? And I do mean marginally.

Election aside, I've had some of the worst depression I've had in nearly a decade (and yeah that dumpster fire of an election did nothing to help). It's been a hold on by your fingernails sort of year. I had two months where I barely climbed out of the basement and when I did I had to help mom clean out Grandma's house. It was in the family 100 years. Last week, someone new owned it. We always thought I would take it but there is no work there (bet there will be before January's out because that's my luck).

So uncontrolled depression + arthritis agony + diabetes has not made for a very merry Christmas so far. It explains though why I haven't written much but that is a post for another time as well.
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
I decided to join in with the Wednesday blog thing, #QueerBlogWed. More content on my blog will never go amiss and honestly, blogging is still my favorite form of social media, probably because I love to talk and talk and talk…

I’m almost too tired from finals week to come up with anything cogent but I did want to talk (whine if you will) about genre fiction in LGBT publishing, especially SF/Fantasy. It’s a fact that contemporary fiction sells best in the romance genre, a fact that makes me just a touch sad. Mostly, that’s because I do not like contemporary stories and never have. I’ve been a genre reader my entire life. I started with mysteries in elementary school and before I was even in middle school I was already into SF and fantasy. Those three remain my main reading interest. I’ve tried contemporary books and just can’t get into them.

So that means a lot of my favorite LGBT authors I haven’t been reading lately because they’ve been herded into writing more contemporary than SF/F/UF. Oh I’ve tried but even though I know the books have been good, they aren’t my thing. One of the authors said to me “I write the contemporary books because they pay and let me write the things I enjoy more.’ That’s a great way to think about it but there’s just one problem. If you don’t like a genre, it’s very hard to write it and write it well.

That’s where I am right now. I have a single contemporary short story out there, A Light in the Darkness. The other one I tried to write was…boring. I’m not surprised it generated no interest. I have two novels started but it’s plodding for me to write them because it’s not my great love. It never will be and it makes me sad to see a lot of genre series canceled lately and some authors have been told straight up they need to be writing more contemporary fiction. Most of the publishing submission pages contain a line that reads ‘contemporary sells best.’

Now, I don’t blame the publishing houses one bit. It’s a business and they need to do what’s best for business. I’m just wondering is it really true there isn’t an audience for genre fiction? I don’t believe that. I belong to the Queer Sci Fi group on Facebook and I know there are a couple thousand members. When the m/m romance group on Goodreads was doing their writing exchanges, many of the prompts were genre related because I had so many to choose from it was impossible to even whittle down the ones I wanted to toss my hat in the ring for. For that matter I know a lot of the buying audience are women from the slash fic fandom arena (which is a whole other can of worms for another day) and many of the fandoms are genre.

So there is an audience out there, granted it’s smaller than the one for contemporary fiction (that’s true too of the non-LGBT side of publishing as well) but how to reach it, that is the question. I’m sure I’m not the one to answer that question. I am sure that I’ll continue to support genre authors because SF/F/UF is my passion. I’ll continue to struggle to find a contemporary plot I can write but at the end of the day I hope genre doesn’t just fall off the publishing houses’ radars because of low sales. I’d hate to see it cut away as dead wood.

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