Sarah Writes Novels

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An online scrapbook documenting my journey to publication.

Jailers Hate Escapism: Epic Fantasy as Subversive Literature

I’ve written another article for The Hooded Utilitarian titled Jailers Hate Escapism: Epic Fantasy as Subversive Literature. 

Does epic fantasy have to be conservative? I say no. Here’s why.

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Harry Potter, Race, and British Multiculturalism



Oh hai there, I didn’t see you.

I’ve had an article published at The Hooded Utilitarian called Harry Potter, Race, and British Multiculturalism. It’s a critical look at racial representation in the Harry Potter series. If you’re interested in the intersection of Harry Potter and  politics, then go check it out. Your support is always appreciated. <3

Sarah

1 note Harry Potter Race Multiculturalism Writing Non-fiction

An Update On the Author’s Life


Sarah should really get her life together. She’s going to do her PhD at MacMaster as a plan B since her “become a writer and get an effin’ huge advance” plan hasn’t panned out yet. She has currently resigned from her job at the Writers’ Guild to become a guest lecturer at Chernivsti National University in Ukraine, where she teaches an introduction to Canadian Studies and watches as her students open their eyes wide when she tells them that the Canadian Charter outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

In the meantime, she’s compiling rejection letters from sci-fi magazines and reading quite a lot. She manages to go to the gym when she’s not eating chocolate-filled rolls. She kinda misses home because her partner’s still there, but she should be back by June 1st. Also, the Gods have looked favourably down on her because she has TICKETS TO SAN DIEGO COMIC CON.

And she’s also 50 000 words into her marathon, erm, novel. 

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Harry Potter Is in My Thesis

I JUST submitted my MA thesis to my university’s electronic data base. The most important part of the thesis, the acknowledgements section, can be read below. Please note that “serious” academia is no reason to omit references to Harry Potter. Also, Liverpool FC fans take note.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank my family for their support throughout all of my education. Your guidance and example taught me the importance of competition, excellence, and resilience. Thank you to my friends—you know who you are—who stayed awake at night listening when I had something to say. I would also like to thank my partner, Adam. This thesis would not have been completed without your support, patience, and encouraging words. I guess it’s true when they say, “you’ll never walk alone (YNWA).”

 I am reminded of words said by a particularly illustrious long-bearded wizard: “It is our choices…that show what we are, far more than our abilities.” This process was less about what was learned through research and more about the choices one makes in the pursuit of knowledge. With that in mind, DFTBA! 

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I want to dress up as fem-Aragorn for Halloween (non-sexy variety.) Dear Universe: I am going to make this happen. 

Aragorn LOTR halloween

'The Baseline Is, You Suck': Junot Diaz on Men Who Write About Women



The Atlantic: - It sounds like you're saying that literary "talent" doesn't inoculate a writer—especially a male writer—from making gross, false misjudgments about gender. You'd think being a great writer would give you empathy and the ability to understand people who are unlike you—whether we're talking about gender or another category. But that doesn't seem to be the case.

Junot Diaz: - I think that unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations. Without fail. The only way not to do them is to admit to yourself [that] you're fucked up, admit to yourself that you're not good at this shit, and to be conscious in the way that you create these characters. It's so funny what people call inspiration. I have so many young writers who're like, "Well I was inspired. This was my story." And I'm like, "OK. Sir, your inspiration for your stories is like every other male's inspiration for their stories: that the female is only in there to provide sexual service." There comes a time when this mythical inspiration is exposed for doing exactly what it's truthfully doing: to underscore and reinforce cultural structures, or I'd say, cultural asymmetry.


(Source:The Atlantic)
11,132 notes writing gender inspiration sexism
Reblogged from moniquill

The Paper Menageri by Ken Liu

The Paper Menageri won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story. Please take the time to read it. It is beautiful and it made me cry.

Excerpt:

A little paper tiger stood on the table, the size of two fists placed together. The skin of the tiger was the pattern on the wrapping paper, white background with red candy canes and green Christmas trees.

I reached out to Mom’s creation. Its tail twitched, and it pounced playfully at my finger. “Rawrr-sa,” it growled, the sound somewhere between a cat and rustling newspapers.

I laughed, startled, and stroked its back with an index finger. The paper tiger vibrated under my finger, purring.

Zhe jiao zhezhi,” Mom said. This is called origami.

I didn’t know this at the time, but Mom’s kind was special. She breathed into them so that they shared her breath, and thus moved with her life. This was her magic.

#

Dad had picked Mom out of a catalog.”  

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Non-Fiction Book List

Non-Fiction Book List (Written here so I have a permanent copy.)

Now that my thesis is near completion, it’s time that I start learning again. Please see graph below:  

1. What Kind of Liberation?

2. On Democracy

3. In Defence of Politics (begun, never completed)

4. Anatomy of Criticism

5. The History of White People

6. The Great War for Civilizatoin

7. Nixon in China (begun, never completed.)

8. Out of Place

9. In Other Worlds (begun, never completed.)

10. And Now They Tell us (re-read.)

11. Beginning Theory: An Intro to Literary and Cultural Theory

12. War (begun, never completed.)

All of these books are on my bookshelves, amongst others. But this is a good start, no? The list is in no order and will probably depend on my mood. But seriously, I’m so excited to start learning things that are out of the bound of my thesis subject again! 

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Things I’m Doing (From Recent Past until Near Future)

A few things have happened in the past two weeks.

1) I defended my thesis AND PASSED. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped my thesis supervisors from being totally patronizing jerks. Final revisions due on the 4th. But it’s not like you can unpass me, mother******. 

2. Trying to get into Leakycon London. Registration is down. Prior to the server crash, the registration system was refusing to process my credit card info. I call bank, they tell me the problem with the system. Hypothesis: They will not respond to my e-mail by Tuesday, when registration goes back up. I doubt I’ll be able to grab tickets if they don’t fix the problem, but we’ll see. Probable conclusion: tears.


3.  Job searching. My writers’ guild job is only part-time. I could pay for rent. And some bills. That’s all. Writing cover letters is tedious, but hopefully my search will be fruitful and I will have found alternative/supplementary employment by October. 

4. Finished writing first draft of short story called State of Nature. It took so damn long because of thesis crap. Need to finish editing process so I can begin work on novel. 

5. I’m getting the sniffles. D= Fortunately, I have some loose leaf ginger-lime tea in the cupboard. Looks good, no? I’d take a photo of the giant roll of toilet paper I’m using to blow my nose, but that’s just more work.


Bryan, from the My Personal Renaissance tumblr, sent me an excellent message detailing his experience with the publishing industry. With his permission, I’m sharing it all with you. This message was written in response to my previous post about having connections in the publishing industry. —Sarah 

The validity of what you’re suggesting is sound. Stephen King isn’t exactly a New York author, but he’s wrote several accounts of what he had to do to “break big” in the industry. If even some of it is true, then some areas of the publication industry resemble a group of prostitutes.

Now, with Kindles and iPads on every kid’s wishlist, an author — an honest to goodness pen to paper author — can see the smoke signals loud and clear. The elite are an endangered species and you have do some pretty substantial work to get noticed. The people that aren’t capable of substantial thought rely on every “source” they have. Fuck, even the legitimate author relies on “sources” too.

When Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child began co-authoring novels, they had limited success as non-fiction authors before that. Mostly through the New York Museum of Natural History, where they had both worked.

The other side of that coin is someone like Christopher Paolini. Do I like his work, yes. But is he a brilliant author, no. In his instance, he self published through his parent’s publishing connections/company.

Dean Koontz admittedly wrote almost thirty books before he wrote a really impressive novel titled, “Strangers”, and suddenly success was his. He moved from the paperback first crowd to NYT bestseller standards overnight. In his case, the hardwork paid off, but he wrote his ass off before he got there. Like King, there is evidence in his earlier novels of what an author went through in the seventies and eighties to get their work out.

When I tried to have a book looked at several years ago that I had written I made it a publisher in Lousiville, KY (the state that I’m from) and it was returned and unopened. Talk about a let down. My only “source” was my old high school literature teacher who had limited local success as a author. I talked to her and she told me that names of a few people and suggested that I call them and do lunch with them. That they had connections. When I tried asking for a workaround, she insisted that you HAVE to have connections today. You can spend your life writing and have five manuscripts on a shelf, unopened, and it will be that fifth one that tickles the publisher the right way or hits on a particular sensibility that will make them money first, because despite the royalties, they could give a shit if they don’t make money first. First in and first out is their working orders.

King didn’t have an agent, Koontz had one from the start. Either way, you’re paying for your gas money and dinners and drinks to sell your work or you’re paying someone else to do it for you.

Can you end run around the entire monster and self-publish? Sure. But there are still a lot of things that you have to do; find stores that allow you sit up a stand; work out a legally binding agreement for what their share of the sales are; and definitely leave room for that all important Advil.

I understand that if your manuscript is specifically set in one genre, that there are publishing houses that work with first time authors. You have to be very lucky, but it’s worth looking into.

I don’t agree with elitism. But, I also have two manuscripts that I would like to have published someday when the smoke clears. I don’t even like the taste of calling it a necessary evil. But, I suppose, if it has to be called something that fits best.

This isn’t really an answer, but it’s my thoughts in reference to your post. Starving, struggling artists and all that… :)

— Bryan
   

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