Strangely Awkward Self Promo

Someone at MGC suggested I do a self-promo with a random book and/or series every week. But I feel like just telling you “oh, yeah, I wrote this, buy it” is probably…. well. Look, I think if I’m going to sell you something, I should at least make the commercial fun. Perhaps not as much fun as those commercials that you end up singing the jingle for apropos nothing years later (husband was doing that yesterday night and I thought he’d gone insane, since I recognized neither the brand nor the jingle. Turns out to be something from when he was very young.)

Anyway…. If all goes as it should — the internal, self-sabotaging periods of absolute silence seem to be …. shorter now — I should have something new soon, and then, you know, a lot of things that I can link as promo. We also haven’t dropped the promo site thing on the floor, we’re just working on around everything else, and the last week was a weird wasteland of “I don’t feel like doing THAT.” On the interesting and “This must stop now” side, I’ve now achieved the level that I’m so self-isolated so long that going to the grocery store and maybe talking to the cashier produces the same reaction as going to a large, loud party with strangers used to. Note this is not happy making. Note also I’m not NEARLY the most introverted person around. In my normal state, I need to see strangers everyday — note see, not interact with beyond perhaps ordering some food, and/or paying for something — which I understand is a fairly high level of engagement for an introvert. So, we’ll deal with the silence, but this is freaking me out, for the record.

So, now for the self-promo…. And today — gestures towards lovely, non-existent assistant for reveal — we’re going to promo my Austen fanfics. Since I only have two up right now, and one is a short story, I’ll do them together. Actually if the lovely ontologically challenged assistant can wait till the end of the post, that might be best.

ANYWAY….

When I put this out on FB as “I wrote this” a lot of people were shocked and confused, and my response was to link the meme above.

But of course it wasn’t true.

For one, most of Austen fanfic I’ve written, both the finished and almost finished, and that needing only a good scrubbing with the editor’s sponge, was written for free. Because at the time there was no indie publishing and self-publishing required an enormous investment of time, plus getting Dan to typeset it, because typesetting was way harder.

It wasn’t however done for no reason.

Cast your mind back to the fraught and perilous times of 1998. My husband had a traveling job that involved being away from home 5 days a week, and a day usually spent preparing to go out. I was at home with kids aged 7 and 4. Sure, I went out and did grocery shopping, and because younger son was a picky eater and cooking for two has never been one of my skills, I knew every single “kids eat free” diner and restaurant around, and which days they offered this. (It was a wash. Younger son didn’t eat at all. Older son, OTOH ate like a farmhand, so particularly in buffets I made out like a bandit.)

I had a friend, also a writer, whom I called as soon as the kids were safely at school and before I sat down to write. She figures prominently in my “9/11 experience” story, as she was the one called me screaming “Turn on your TV.”

Normally, one of us called the other, and we talked about ideas, plans, where the story on the drawing board would go today, etc, all while walking around the house and doing a bit of clear-up. Flushing toilets, picking up kids’ clothes. Making sure the dodos hadn’t forgotten their books/homework. You know, the usual. And then I’d make and drink my coffee, sometimes while finishing the conversation.

But I was still lonely. Friends lived across town, and anyway, they had their lives and their routines. And most of the time it was just me, or me and two kids in the house.

At the same time, 98 was the year that tried writers’ souls. It was the year I wrote Darkship Thieves. And a lot of other stuff, to be honest. BUT everything I sent out was either rejected or — for contests — ignored. This while people around me were selling who had been writing a lot briefer time.

Now, some of that stuff eventually sold exactly as was; other had minor tweaks. There’s started novels never finished, which I need to make decisions about. But for the record, sure, there was something missing from my writing at the time.

I had reached the point in my acculturation 10 years after naturalization where I was no longer getting all the wrong responses. Not even close. But I still didn’t fully understand the audience. And I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure that this has anything to do with acculturation. It has more to do with the fact I’m a very strange person (as you’ll see) and I didn’t know where to aim for what other people look for in stories.

So–

More or less because I was bored, wasn’t sleeping much, needed time to unwind after the kids were in bed, I found fanfic boards. Which is weird, because as you guys know, I don’t watch enough TV/movies to really be a fan of visual stuff. And that’s what most fanfic is about.

At some point a lightbulb went on in the back of my head. You see, it goes something like this: part of the problem I’m having with writing is that I never get any feedback. “Thank you, this doesn’t fit our needs” is not feedback, as it might be true or not. And when I got feedback, it was often bizarre and made me go “arooo” like the one that accused me of stealing a TV show plot. Again, we had a TV (that thing I turned on on 9/11, but we were in a very small mountain town, and mostly the TV showed snow, with some vague images (it sort of did that on 9/11 which is why my visual memories are fuzzy.) Which meant while we bought tapes of movies and hows, occasionally, and the kids had a bunch of cartoons and stuff, we didn’t WATCH any series. I no longer remember what the series was but when I tracked it down I found that one of the characters had the same name as in the story and VAGUELY the same physical description. No commonality of idea or plot, but oh, well, editors.

Also I was pessimistic enough to think I might never get published, but writing isn’t complete if no one reads it, so fanfic would fulfill that.

I started actively looking around for a fanfic I COULD do. I briefly read a McCaffrey Pern fanfic site, but before I could write in it, it was shut down.

Which made me look for a fandom I a) understood the originals of. b) was not going to be shut down by the copyright owner.

Keep in mind at this time, I’d read no romance as such, save for Jane Austen, because grandma had Jane Austen and I read all of it, and then Dan gave me the leather-bound collection of her works when we were first married. (It would be five years before Dave Freer demand I read Heyer which was in a way the road to perdition. Okay, not really, I still don’t read a ton of romance, though I do revisit Heyer periodically.)

So, Austen wasn’t the first thing I thought of, and I don’t remember how I stumbled on it. When I did, though, I was perfectly happy to use it as my outlet. There were several sites, ranging from purist to erotica (I went to that one once, but never wrote in it, because — again — to me this stuff is not a spectator sport.)

What If He Were To Pick Me? Was my first work of fanfic. It got me thrown out of one of the more…. literary sites due to “unrully pillows” which frankly was not even a sexual allusion, just insanity that fed on itself.

In fact, the entire short novel is galloping and ever-ramping-up insanity. If you remember I was stuck at home with two genius-IQ kids, 4 and 7 and that most of my “professional” career consisted of getting rejections, some of them rude, I think you’ll get where this came from.

I’ll note that in reading over this before it went up, I found it was quite fun. Provided you leave sanity behind with no regret, of course. If you think about it as galloping madly down an increasingly silly path you’ll be fine.

He Turned Out Very Wild, OTOH was written four years later. And it was …. played for “serious.” There are others, including how Lizzy and Darcy’s son falls in love with Miss Collins, and a few others. But those are either not finished or lack internal consistency. As life opens up a little, I’ll try to get those up too.

Keep in mind, I’m not looking down on the fandom. I am the fandom. In fact, when stressed I default to reading Austen fanfic from KU, and get incensed if people change the characters completely, (kind of, on What If He Were To Pick Me, but it’s more like I made caricatures of the characters, which was necessary to fit the premise. Not like I just used the names.) I particularly get very upset when people take the characters and make them different for no Earthly reason. Particularly if they make everyone unpleasant.

The one where Jane becomes the villainess, they made some effort to explain it (amounting to “you can’t be that nice all the time without ending up resentful particularly when all people praise about you is your beauty.) and I read it in sick fascination. OTOH the ones where for no good reason people marry other people, and people behave quite differently from in the original work without explanation…. those bother me. And often get deleted. One which bothered me by having Jane marry the Colonel and not Bingley for what seemed like insufficient reason, I forgave when it became clear the author was a veteran who identified with the colonel. If you can’t Marty Stu a little in fanfic, and give yourself the prettiest wife, where can you do it?

I do think I’m somewhat askew to normal Austen fans, but it’s entirely possible I’m somewhat askew to the world in general.

Anyway, what fanfic taught me, that I could never have learned from a writing course was this:

1- Make your book easy to enjoy. No matter what your literature professors taught you, don’t make the reader work for the enjoyment. Sure, you can have little jokes, and fun stuff in the prose, but make sure it’s not something the reader needs to enjoy the work at its most basic level. This was much needed, because ABD in literature warps a woman.

2- People really don’t like to work hard. I.e. despite this being AUSTEN fanfic, the most popular stories were set in present day. Mind you, I don’t GET this. I still prefer regency Austen fanfic, but you know…. I’m not right n the head.

3- There’s surprises and surprises, and every fandom/subgenre has surprises they won’t tolerate. For the Austen fanfic, say you started with Fitzwilliam marrying Caroline. The cry would go up “Fix this now.” In the same way, making your hero the villain halfway through the book is not well received in any genre. Having the villain be impersonal forces also tends to p*ss off readers.

In fact, you could say what I learned was to respect and play fair with the reader. Which explains also why shortly thereafter I started getting published, and continued to this day.

Now, my beautiful non existent assistant will unveil the lovely fanfic books, to include the fantasy collaboration in the Witchfinder universe (but not world.)

Take it away, assistant.

What if He Were to Pick Me: A Pride And Prejudice Variation With A Dash of Insanity

Yeah I need to redo this cover. See, the computer was cr*pping out at the positioning stage, and I eventually gave up 😛 I have a new card, so…

What if Mr. Darcy, trying to avoid the appearance of being lofty and proud, so far mistook himself as to be charmed by Lydia Bennet?
How long could the fair strumpet lady hold his interest? How would Elizabeth Bennet feel about it?
As all the Bennet sisters fall into the strangest of relationships, you’ll fear you lost your mind. But you haven’t. Just grab your sweetie and a whip – in case of unruly pillows – and hire a Bennet coach to Gretna Green. They have the best carriages, and guarantee no one will catch you.
Then hold on to your hat. You’re in for the ride of your life.

But He Turned Out Very Wild: A Short Pride And Prejudice Variation

In the original Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen there was only enough good between Darcy and Wickham to make a “good sort of man.”
But what if this were not true? What if what we — and Darcy — think we know about Wickham was all wrong? What if sweet Jane Bennet were right all along, and there was some great misunderstanding?
In this short story of intrigue and crime, one might end up feeling sorry for George Wickham himself.

A Touch Of Night: Pride, Prejudice, Werewolves and Dragons, Oh, My!

A Pride and Prejudice Variation.
In a world that puts shape shifters to death, Mr. Darcy was unfortunate enough to be born as a were-dragon.
But the cruel laws don’t always find their victims. Mr. Darcy has survived and protected Mr. Bingley who is a werewolf.
Meanwhile, in Hertfordshire, Lizzy has been protecting her sister Jane who turns into a beautiful hunting dog.
When Mr. Bingley rents Netherfield, the Were-Laws and the shape shifting of three of them add extra complications to the flowering of romance between the well-loved couples. And Mr. Wickham. joining the Royal Were Hunters, lends additional danger to the situation.
Will they get together despite the danger, Lizzy’s active imagination and Mr. Darcy’s excessive nobility of character?

And that ladies and gentlemen is the extremely awkward self-promo of the week! 😀

83 thoughts on “Strangely Awkward Self Promo

  1. Oh dear – I was expecting a promo of your awkward self, not an awkward promo of your self.

    There’s no reason to be reticent: selling books is the business you’re in; writing them is merely the respectable (well, more respectable) element of the biz. The fact that the industry has prospered on a model of pimps publishers undertaking the sales process simply reflects how much more money is in the selling than the writing.

    As you might brag about the children of your womb so ought you boast of the children of your mind. Even the backward & peculiar ones.
    ~

    1. Bragging does not come naturally to Certain Personages of us Odds. It’s a tool in that toolbox we weren’t issued because we got in the line for Curiosity and Odd Things twice and the Social Cues line not at all (some of us are convinced, to this day, that the line Did Not Exist).

        1. You’re a professional writer. Getting paid for your work is important. Promotion of your work helps get you paid.

          There is no such thing as awkwardness in promoting your work so you can get paid for it.

          I am sure that there must be a Ferengi Rule of Acquisition that covers this,

      1. I’m supposed to knock billiard balls around with Billiard Cues. What am I supposed to do with Social Cues?

  2. Actually, that was a pretty good promo, with lots of writers’ “inside baseball” stuff to keep us non-Austenites interested. One question: Does your Lovely Non-Existent Assistant have a name? Miss Nemo, perhaps?

                1. IMO Better Last Sentence would be “I Just Really Really Wanna Make Sure That You Are Dead”. 😈

                  1. It’s a Gundam!

                    Some of the folks who operate those take Pacifism (Does Not Kill).

                    I originally thought it might be the Unicorn, whose pilot as I recall preferred not to. It doesn’t look like any of that series, do I dunno.

  3. Hum, Heyer didn’t ring a bell. In duck duck going, I found Georgette Heyer did ring a bell, I remember reading about her, but don’t think I ever read her.

    Interestingly though, I found “AbeBooks has announced that in their 15 year history of their company, Georgette Heyer is in the top 10 bestselling authors!”

    https://www.abebooks.co.uk/books/historical-regency-romance-bestselling-detective/georgette-heyer.shtml?cm_mmc=nl-_-nl-_-110630-h00-georgetUA-_-01cta

        1. Indeed. And now I need to dig up a copy of The Quiet Gentleman to reread. It was always one of my favorites of Heyer’s.

          I have an old ratty waterstained red fabric cover hardcopy somewhere, bought in a used bookstore in Dublin. It will probably resurface when someone finally goes through all the boxes from the various moves, long after I have passed on.

        1. Mary Stewart of the Merlin Trilogy? I really enjoyed that as a youngster, though not as adventurous as other Arthurian stories.

          1. She wrote a fourth Arthurian Book that told What Mordred Was Really Like. (IIRC it was titled “That Wicked Day”).

            Basically she had looked at the Mordred Legend there were parts that didn’t make sense.

            Oh, Mary Stewart’s Mordred had valid reasons to believe that he was Arthur’s heir.

            He’s a Bastard? So what, Arthur was a Bastard. And in Stewart’s story, Arthur was the person to tell Mordred that he was Arthur’s son. The boy never knew who his real parents were but was given reason to believe that he was the bastard son of another British King.

            1. What’s left out is that Arthur had legitimate son/s and a legitimate daughter, in the Welsh stories. So yup, Mordred was Right Out. (Arthur also had a legit brother, Madog; Madog’s legit son, Eliwlod; a legit sister, Gwyar; Gwyar’s legit son, Gwalchmai.)

              However, Arthur’s legit kids were unlucky. His son Amr was killed by Arthur; his son Gwydre was killed by the wild pig Twrch Trwyth; his son Duran died at Camlann, in the battle; his heroic son Llacheu also died in some kind of battle; and he had tons of illegitimate sons and daughters by various Welsh women, foreign women, and fairy queens.

              OTOH, it’s not clear whether Mordred as illegitimate sister-son/son of Arthur, or Roland as illegitimate sister-son/son of Charlemagne, came first.

  4. Now there is one distinct advantage to the notational but non-existent beautiful assistant, at least for the audience: each audience member can see their particular ideal.

    1. That’s one advantage of writing vs. visual media: you can’t convey what you visualize, but you can suggest its significance.

  5. I don’t write romance, although I do read it. It beats Science fiction dystopia and urban fantasy, neither of which pushes any of my buttons (except, perhaps revulsion.) I definitely prefer clean, even Christian romance, instead of the pornographic variety that seems to dominate the market these days. And even the clean romance I’m finding is either Regency-to-Victorian era or modern. I’m not seeing much American of that period; either in Boston or St. Louis.
    However, no longer being young and beautiful (not that I ever was beautiful…), romance really isn’t doing it for me any more. I’d like to dig deeper into the “happily ever after”. I mean, after the marriage, how does the perfect happy couple stay happy when children start to come along and demand attention. and the fog of love-blindness starts to lift and the adoring couple begin to get irritated by the very things that attracted them to each other? If I want a meatier and ongoing True Love story, am I going to have to write it myself??

    1. Some of those ongoing True Love stories might fall into the category of “Women’s Fiction”, which is something I avoid myself because those sorts of stories are particularly intolerable if infested with progressivism, so I’m not sure what’s there. You sometimes see an ongoing relationship thing in really well-written long term series, whether urban fantasies or mysteries or historicals … … hmm. I think the ongoing thing is hard to do in a single novel because it’s hard to fit in the story ark. Unless you just take a piece of it, and explore that. In which case if it’s set in current times it’s women’s fiction. And in other genres it might kind of break the expectations about the kinds of plots unless it’s just a subplot.

      I only read the first two or so of the Outlander series, but from reading the blurbs it’s possible they got into some of that. So, long series again.

      1. The falling-in-love story generally takes only a short time, so it’s reasonably well adapted to a shorter form, and yes, generally speaking, women would be more interested in stories about family. Men seem to be more interested in adventurous derring-do. I have seen some crossover of adventure and romance. But what about the men who become fiercely protective when it’s not just their one true love but his and her helpless little ones that are being threatened by assorted bad guys? Say, when the bad guys try to manipulate the hero by threatening, not him, but those he expects to provide for and protect? I want to see the underdog who fights back for his family against shadowy nefarious forces of evil. *Especially* if he is handicapped by such things as a moral code. Heck, I’d be pleased if the nefarious forces of evil to be overcome were as mundane as poverty, ignorance, or petty bureaucracy. It’s a different *kind* of derring-do than fantabulous monsters or secret cabals, but defeating those still requires men of action.

        1. True. And I too would like to see a wider variety of stories based on such things, but progressivism has narrowed the “approved” range of plots so much… Let’s see, they allow: oppression and discrimination stories, feisty chick stories… I’m drawing a blank now. Anything involving virtues such as self-control or duty or honor is just not acceptable.

          I think the trope has waned now, but five years ago I was soooo tired of stories about feisty checks who were skilled thieves. And they never ever ever had even a hint that there was something morally wrong with being a thief. They were oppressed person of victimhood, so they had the right to steal. You were supposed to admire them for it.

          1. C. S. Lewis, in one of his essays, mentioned a “Moral” thief. Apparently she was considered Moral because she was still a virgin. 😆

              1. True, but his point was that too many thought that morality only meant “sexual morality”.

                1. *shrugs* I can see it just as well explained by not wanting to say “she’s a thief, not a whore.”

                  He’d usually run into folks who at least acted like they thought what he describes, though, if he wasn’t directly responding to big ol’ honkin’ essays saying something stupid.

          2. This is why I’m considering indie or self-publishing when–i mean if– I do get something written, Seeing the the dreck that gets through the acquisitions-and-editorial process at major traditional publishers suggests that they either have no idea there is a market for anything else, or they despise that market. Right now, I’m working on the historical part of a historical fantasy, which promises to be a long-term series. If my age and health don’t catch up with me before I even get a proper start.

      1. I was looking at paranormal romances, after trying a few and not-quite running away in horror. There are romance patterns, true. But what goes with them (aside from the soft-core *yawn* anatomical acts) seems to be a lot of male predator in hero’s clothing. Both predator in the literal sense (vampires, werewolves, so on), but also real-world predators.

        I decided that really, the story I’m working on I’ll market as Urban Fantasy, because although it is a romance, it doesn’t have the erotic and dominance [not in a good way, either] elements that seem to *ahem* dominate the Paranormal Romance best seller list.

        1. Except for the magic, it could almost be a Christian romance, because, to my chagrin, the male protagonist is a Hungarian/Polish Calvinist. Why, muse? Whyyyyyyyyyy?

          1. Because he was the Correct Man for the Job that needed doing? [Crazy Grin While Flying Away Very Very Fast]

          2. Obviously, your muse’s answer is most likely something to do with Total Depravity or election at the time of creation.

      2. Fortunately for me, I’m Christian enough that I’m not violently allergic to an *occasional* mention of prayer, an exercise of faith in a crisis, a visit with a pastor or mention of a church service, or a providential good turn. With a light touch, things like that don’t strike me as heavy handed or preachy about it, But yes, the state of the field is terrible.

        1. For something to get the label of “Christian $X” (really any $IDEOLOGY $X) it isn’t going to be just a character who is a Christian.

          Wokeists did not invent the science of splatting people with aerial anvils. They are simply the ones doing it the most now.

          1. If the protagonist is active, believing, practicing Christian? Yes, nowadays that is quite enough to draw the label.

          2. While I haven’t read any of it, with the situation of “Mainstream Romance equals near-porn or actual porn”, some writers may “label” their stuff as Christian Romance in order to say “No Porn Here”.

            Now I’ll admit that even though I’m Christian, I’m a little hesitant to read any Fiction labeled “Christian Fiction”.

            But as I said, some romance writers may dislike the “near-porn and actual porn” Romance Books and want to write “Clean” Romance. And to show that it is “Clean” Romance will label it as Christian Romance.

    2. “If I want a meatier and ongoing True Love story, am I going to have to write it myself??”

      Short answer, “Yes.” Slightly longer answer, “Yes, and hurry up please.”

      You could read mine, but it has robots and it might be a little improper in spots. No sex though, so that’s on spec. Edward Thomas, Unfair Advantage.

      The nice thing about writing your own is that it comes out the way you want it. Or in my case, the way my characters wanted it. They were looking at my plan, and that was not happening. “I would -never- say that,” was heard often, echoing through the vaults of my empty cranium.

  6. That was pretty great for an “awkward” promotion.

    I really enjoy when people brag on their work. Like *really* brag, and mean it. Like “you already like the original; you’re going to like my version of events so much you’re going to have trouble deciding who’s best between me and the original. Some people say it’s me, I don’t know, maybe it’s me, that’s what some people say.”

  7. Kim DuToit really needs to do some awkward self-promotion and flog his books a bit. Poor guy had his upstairs neighbor burst a pipe and flood him and his wife out.

    My brother’s house fire taught me that insurance really doesn’t give you enough to replace everything…

    I’ll be buying more Sarah Hoyt books when there’s a new Dyce or Magis available. Going to have to re-read Darkships from the beginning before I buy more because it’s been a while since I read that one.

  8. I took a shot at your Austen fanfics because your Dumas fanfics are the bomb.

    For any doubters, if you like Mrs. Hoyts voice and you enjoy Jane Austen’s world, these are excellent value. Good, clean escapist fun.

    Would buy again 😋

  9. YOU are strange? I be strange, with Weird and Peculiar on TOP! AND, I’ve lived underground for 8 years. (I got over it.) (Eventually, orrrrr, maybe not.)

  10. I really enjoyed the first two books – have read them each at least twice. But I LOVED “A Touch of Night” (well, okay, except the cover). IMAO, the Were aspects and potentially deadly consequences added real depth to both the plot and the main characters, and made it a much more serious story. Which I have also read twice now!

    Good promo as well, and not particularly awkward in my view. 😉

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