BREW HA-HA [no, that’s not a misspelling]
Last week the ITW [International Thriller Writers] Awards raised a lot of dust, eh? Funny thing is, I wouldn’t have even noticed that all the nominees were male, had it not been brought to my attention; had I not been thunked on the ol’ noggin with a blog-mallet. [And this from someone who practically memorized Marlo Thomas’ Free To Be You And Me, whose daughter at age 5 wanted to know why it was called a menu and not a womanu.]
People, friends, fellow authors, if you want to get your knickers or tightie whities in a twist, how about tackling "real" issues? I’m against the War, any War. I hate it that funding for libraries is practically non-existent. I hate it when I call with a question about my bank account [or computer] and I speak to someone with too-perfect English who admits he’s pretending to be from Peoria. I hate that people are stealing files with my personal information, or that phone companies can give the government stuff about me, or that the government wants personal stuff about me, and I hate Wal-Mart.
Those are the issues I fret over.
As far as my Awards opinion, it won’t make me very "popular" and I’ll probably never again be short-listed for an awar—oh, wait, I’ve never been short-listed for a major award. So I guess one could say Deni has sour-grape issues (Deni loves talking about herself in third-person), but they’d be wrong. Dead wrong.
People, friends, fellow authors, lend me your ears. Somehow, hard as I try, I can’t envision ITW judges receiving submissions and forming 3 separate piles: Male, female, Initials. And that’s where last week’s brouhaha breaks down. As an author, I must give my characters motivation [otherwise my plots break down]. Where’s the motivation in short-listing a guy author over a woman author? It just doesn’t make any sense.
For want of a better word — and because I’ve racked my brain for a catchy phrase and couldn’t find one, I’ll designate this week’s Quibbles & Bits:
I hate ’em.
I’ve been told they’re necessary because bookstore personnel need to know where to shelve books. So why, may I ask, did my first mystery novel Throw Darts at a Cheesecake get shelved with the cookbooks? And why did my stand-alone thriller Fifty Cents For Your Soul (which Publishers Weekly called "Horror and Hollywood noir") get placed on the Inspirational shelves?
I’ve been told designations are necessary because agents need buzz words to sell books to editors (and editors need buzz words to satisfy marketing departments).
Agent to Editor: "It’s a thriller. Think Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, only this has a woman protagonist, her sexagenarian sidekick, and a three-legged dog ."
Editor to Marketing Dept: "It’s a saga. Think: ‘Lonesome Dove’ with sex."
Author to agent/editor: "It’s a cozy. Think P.D. Christie’s ‘The Cat Who Tatted Lace While Brewing Cappuccino and Cutting Hair.’"
And by the way, why the heck don’t we have an award for cat mysteries? We could call it the Pussy Awards — or even better, YELP [Yarns Embodying Lynxlike Personifications].
"Hey, d’ya hear? I was short-listed for a YELP."
When you have designations, you have the following conversations:
"I don’t read cozies."
"What’s a cozy?"
"I’m not sure. I think it has to do with knitting and recipes. And cats. A friend of mine wrote a mystery with a cat and she won a YELP."
I don’t read woo woo."
"What’s woo woo?
"Supernatural shit. I hate it when a sleuth solves a mystery with ESP."
"What book did that happen in?"
"I don’t know. I told you, I don’t read woo woo."
Book Awards have designations: Mystery, Romance, SF/Fantasy, and so on. Skipping the fan [AKA Readers Choice] awards and concentrating on the ones that get judged . . . I was an Awards judge once. I had to read 40 books, and here’s my confession for the world (okay, the 20 or so people who read my blog every week) to hear: [whispering] I didn’t read every page of every book! If the book didn’t grab me by page 50, I skimmed.
I hang my head in shame, but assuming I eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom, it takes me a minimum of 2 days to read a book. You do the math. Forty books = 80 days. I’ve heard judges say they "get over a hundred entries and read every word." At one book every 2 days, that would take ME, at the very least, 200 days.
I’m not saying it can’t be done . . .
By the way, one of my favorite (award-winning) authors is Barry Eisler. His [controversial] June 21st. blog was titled: INDEPENDENTS, CHAINS AND DRIVE BY SIGNINGS
Last week was one hell of a week, eh?