The Race is On

I am once again up ending my life. Why? Because I can, more or less.

insane.gif

I’m making plans for another big move. Not quite as big as last years’ move, but still fairly amazing.

And while moving last year did involve abandoning my blog for a month, I kept up with my publishing schedule.

fuking awesome.gif

Now, however, I am writing, not publish, but to create. There is no set release date, no expectations of editing, it’s just me and the words, until I get them right. Which is liberating, but also harder.

here we go (crazy).gif

It’s easy to be motivated when you can plan and schedule releases. Now, it’s write what I feel, when I feel it. And I have slowed down… a lot. I used to bang out a miniumum of 2000 words a day.  I can still do that on the good days, but mostly I’m closer to 100 or 200, when I write at all. (Full disclosure: I am also editing a book, not drafting, but still…)

I have this irrational fear in the back of my mind that I might stop working on Red Witch and never pick it up again.

Which is really stupid considering I picked it back up after nearly a three-year break. But if feelings were rational we wouldn’t have needed to create the word irrational, amiright?

feelings.gif

However, the upending of my life is going to happen, and happen soon. What to do with this existential dread? Keep it tucked away, and use it in my book, once I get settled again.

its because we have no other choice

***

author photo cropped
Kate Whitaker writes for fun and profit from the woods of the Olympic Peninsula, for now. You can most likely find her sitting at her kitchen table yelling at kids as she tries to figure out a new way to kill made up monsters. She has a newsletter and a comic, and you can follow her on twitter.

(un)Suprising Feminist Writing

I am a feminist. I make no bones about it.

This is reflected in my characters and storylines. Mina loves clothes AND hitting people, but more importantly, nobody finds that odd. Conversely, Rick and Sam are bad ass demon hunters who are also super caring, homey people. Sam does almost all the cooking, and Rick is, in universe, a calming, soothing presence. And, more importantly, nobody comments on these behaviors negatively.

On the other side, neither does anybody look down on the non-action characters, male or female. Jeff is a non-action oriented, male hero. He’s the cleric (if we want to get really geeky, and I usually do.), and is well respected by the monster hunting community.

nerd-on

One of my big beefs, as a feminist, is the fact that male villains are almost inevitably rapists. Look, I know the stats on sexual assault, and I’m not saying that we should ban rape and sexual assault in media.

On the other hand, can we not also admit that making almost every villain a rapist is lazy writing? 1, it short-changes men and their emotional depth (as usual), but 2, it reduces rape and sexual assault to the mundane. A paltry banality that every captured female character “must” suffer.

And I realize that this is a fairly heavy topic for me, so let me explain where it’s coming from.

tumblr_inline_ngg2n9ygwk1r33pb3

I’m working on my novels these days. It’s a series, and I have this former couple, Edie and Randal.  She broke up with him and took a vow of abstinence. In Book One, Randal was pretty much the bad guy, sullen and uncooperative, usually ruining whatever team building Edie managed to do.

The books begin knowing that they broke up nearly a year before, but not what lead up to it. Now in Book Two, I’m getting into it. So to sum up, he’s angry, and she’s trying very hard to ignore it, because they work together, and if people think there is a chance she’ll break her vow of abstinence, they will kill Randal. Which she doesn’t want. Because his jerkass tendencies aside, he’s still important to her. It leads to this exchange:

“What happened the night Edie was invested?” Miguel asked.

The memory of Edie’s tear-streaked face as she ordered him out of her rooms haunted him for a moment. “Ask your sister,” Randal responded, unable to do anything but snarl and glare.

“I’m asking you.” Miguel’s rock-hard  tone demanded obedience.

“I’m not sure which version Edie prefers these days.” It was a cheap shot. But the truth would likely end in his exile, if not his death. Edie was keeping her mouth shut, and he’d do the same.

While reading this passage out loud to my husband, he stated that I needed to change it, because it sounded “rapey.”

Now, both of us know exactly what happened that night, and it was not rape. But to my husband, the implied sexual violence of the image combined with slightly ambiguous wording would damage my attempt to redeem Randal in this book.

My (feminist) argument for keeping this particular wording is that people shouldn’t jump to rape when reading this. Randal’s a jerk in the first book, but at no point do I ever, remotely  hint that Edie is afraid of him, or that he was ever, ever violent towards her in any manner.

The idea that our immediate assumption as readers would not be that a young man got in a fight with his girlfriend, said something that made her cry, and she told him to leave, is an insult to men. And it really is infuriating.

angry

As a feminist, I’m ready for men to have relationships with women that show depth and nuance. I’m ready for men in stories to engage with women on levels beyond the physical, be it romantic or violent.

Yes, Randal shoulders the role of antagonist for most of the first book. That shouldn’t mean that people automatically jump to rapist, but we do. It’s so universal that it’s a running gag on series about movie cliches.

As a feminist, I know I need to write more complicated men. Because keeping my men simple and one dimensional also limits my women. It reduces their interactions with male characters to shallow stereotypes.

stereotypes

We need to challenge the idea of men as oversexed, under emotional, perpetual children that women must ‘tame’.

angry woman holding small man and yelling at him. isolated on wh

This is not attractive… to most people. I swear I’m not trying to kink-shame here.

It’s not about conceiving a universe without sexual assault, or putting women above men. It’s about conceiving a male antagonist who doesn’t default to rapist. It’s about letting men and women interact with the richness and complexities of real people, good and bad.

In short, I’m a feminist writer, and I refuse to short change any of my characters based on gender.

grouphug

***

Kate Whitaker writes for fun and profit from the woods of the Olympic Penninsula. You can most likely find her sitting at her kitchen table yelling at kids as she tries to figure out a new way to kill made up monsters. She has a newsletter and a comic.

 

 

 

 

The Great Humbling by Kate Whitaker

It takes ego to be an artist. Which is not to say that all artists are raging egomaniacs.

 

tumblr_m4y0x3ak4g1qi61gdo1_500

However, it does take a certain amount of self-confidence to allow people to view your work. You have to believe that it’s good.

Do I believe in my work? Yes, yes I do. I write fun stories. They have, what I hope, is surprising depth, but they are fun, and I know I am good at what I do.

So this last week as been most humbling.

See, I stopped writing my fun shorts and novellas and dusted off my novels. 100,000+ word, door-stopping, epic fantasy… I’m BACK, baby!

 

64290628

However, I set down these novels nearly three years ago. And I grew a lot as a writer in those years. I learned what not to do when writing. I learned  a lot of stuff I didn’t know when I wrote my novels.

Which isn’t me saying that they are terrible. They aren’t. The story is solid, the characters well-rounded, the world well-balanced.

It’s the prose. It’s the technique. It’s the little things that make me a better writer than I was three years.

And now I have to go back and fix those things. Which is very humbling. Acknowledging your faults and weaknesses as an artist is always humbling. I like that I’m a better writer than I was three years ago. But that fact that I wasn’t as good as I am now is smacking me in the face… a lot.

 

tumblr_n9t3m42cpu1rs30kho1_500

I’m coming to understand artists who don’t review their old work.

edna_mode-94384

But I also have that ego I mentioned earlier. There is a good story here, and the work I’m doing on it is purely cosmetic. I may be better at sentence structure now, but my story structure and character development was always solid.

And I’m grateful for the other writers who took the time to help me learn the last few years. I’m going to take that knowledge and apply to these novels. I’m going to make them better because I’m a better writer.

However, being better means I wasn’t always as good as I am now… And there is the great humbling in a nut shell. If you are striving to improve, that means the stuff you did previously isn’t as good as what you do now… and I’ve gone cross-eyed.

 

1227c32e4c9eccafd355175bcf6174adbb35b9e9120c627d0251b44532e50bf2

So yes, my humbling is also fueling my ego. My ego has grown because it’s been humbled. Welcome to being an artist.

tumblr_nifhvawmsy1tq4of6o1_500

Kate Whitaker writes for fun and profit from the woods of the Olympic Penninsula. You can most likely find her sitting at her kitchen table yelling at kids as she tries to figure out a new way to kill made up monsters. She has a newsletter and a comic.

 

Save

Guest Blog: Happy to Help a Friend

When DL asked for a guest blogger, I jumped up, waving my hand, metaphorically.

Me! Pick me!

Why?

Because of Romance, and supporting other writers.  I always lend a hand to my friends who write romance and erotica. And I have more than a few who do.

For one thing, they get worse questions than Urban Fantastists. People may ask me where I come up with my monsters, but I don’t get the ‘whys’.

Why do you write about sex?

Why do you write about romance?

I always want some of them to say, why the hell not?

My pride in my friend’s work aside, I’m not sure why writing romance is a bad thing. I do it. Sure, my sex scenes fade to black, and more than once Mina has put her burning sexual tension on hold to kill a vampire or two, but I know damn good and well that Mina and Rick’s relationship drama is just as important as how she snaps a spine.

More so, in some ways.

We action writers of supernatural occurrences need romance in our stories. They keep the characters relatable and grounded. You might not get why Mina has to kill a monster, but you definitely get why she wants to jump Rick.

rick

She’s very… lonely

Love and how people fall in love is universal, as opposed to blood lust. Most of us going about our normal day feeling no desire to behead the people threatening us.

Or staking them… whatever…

But falling in love? Having a crush? Drooling over a hottie? Even if you haven’t experienced it, romance transcends genre. Everybody knows the physical symptoms. You can’t catch your breath, racing heart, nervous energy, and dilated pupils.

We love to fall in love. And we like watching other people as well. So while Romance isn’t something I write often (because, like any genre fiction, it’s damned hard to do well), I have nothing but respect for those that do.

I don’t mind getting on their blog and gushing about how wonderful they are. Because they are wonderful, amazing authors, who work damn hard.

***

Kate Whitaker writes for fun and profit from the woods of Pennsylvania. You can most likely find her sitting at her kitchen table yelling at kids and cats as she tries to figure out a new way to kill made up monsters.

She has a newsletter now, too!