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Words for Writers: The NaNoWriMo “Keep Yourself Accountable” Checklist

Sched

NANOWRIMO The Keep Yourself Accountable Schedule

Click the above link to download the PDF and then print it and post it beside your writing space! Ta Da!

Because there’s nothing more satisfying than checking little checkmark boxes, right?

(The schedule is based on the calculations found in THIS POST by Writerlynn)

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For more posts on the business and craft of writing, search my Words for Writers tag.

JM FreyWords for Writers: The NaNoWriMo “Keep Yourself Accountable” Checklist
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Post the First Sentences of Your 10 Last Stories and Search For Patterns

I was tagged in this challenge on Tumblr, and because I’m super curious about this, and I wanted to do this for both my fanfic AND my original fiction. I wonder what patterns there are (if any), and in what way they will emerge.

Fan Fiction:

“What?” Dum Dum asked, prodding his seatmate in the ribs with his meaty elbow for the umpteenth time. “Seriously, Falsy, what?” (The Driver)

Mark nodded without looking up, bent to shovel. “If it’s hard on yer back, you could feed them instead.” (Basil and the Bales)

There was a time, Myrddin mused, that he would have been inclined to reach out to the horizon and murmur a soft spell, just to make the sun linger a few seconds longer on the horizon, just to treasure the rich red hues and the marvelous indigo that spread like an exhaled stain across the tops of the far mountains. (The Once and Future Kingdom)

Carson Beckett poked his head into the primary astrophysics lab hopefully, and sniffed the air. “Oh,” he said softly to himself when he realized it was empty and the enticing scent he was searching for was not there. (Five Times Doctor Rodney McKay Was The Topic of Conversations He Had No Idea Were Going On)

Johnny Sheppard was born when he was ten years old. Or, one hundred and fifty seven years old, depending on how you wanted to count it. (Flight)

I am wrongways up, and it hurts. My swimming pool has leaked all over the cloister again, and the bottles of the library books are akimbo on their shelves. My Time Lord is not within me. I moan, wheeze futile, and then open my external scanners wide, and search for the two Hearts I cradle within my own. (Not The Doctor I Was Expecting)

Kalp is uncertain, but his employer says that the dark blue of his work apron makes the green striation markings around his eyes and mouth attract attention. (Trenti)

On Christmas morning, John unwraps a big box. That’s what it looks like, anyway, and it’s from the Millers, even Madison. John is too excited opening the present to stop and read what the box says, but Rodney sees enough through the flashes of garish paper to make an educated guess at the contents long before John can sit back and take it all in. (Mondayish)

Jack Harkness was reminded of the children’s book he had seen in Gwen’s apartment. “Alexander and The No Good, Terrible, Very Bad Day”. Or something like that. What-fucking-ever. (Respected II)

When Johnny Sheppard was six years old, he begged his father for a toboggan for Christmas. He got an algebra set. (Tobogganing)

Original Fiction
(already-announced projects only, I’m afraid…)

Once upon a time, when we were all Bella Swan, my first crush was a sarcastic know-it-all Immortal named Methos. (“How Fan Fiction Made Me Gay”, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls)

The envelope from Elgar Reed came a few months after Alis’ first birthday. (The Silenced Tale)

The first indication that something was off was the phone call from the Smithsonian Museum. His typewriter, the old race-car red Olympia De Luxe his aunt had given him in the late’ 70s, had been stolen. (The Wondrous Woes of the Writer)

The air above the barn rips apart, wind against wind, power thrust into the multitudes between of the skies and raking through the void. Feet braced apart, bracketing the barn’s peak, a slight woman reaches into the sky and slices again. (The Forgotten Tale)

Once upon a time, oh yes, so very long ago, there was of course a lovely girl who came to learn to sew. (The Dark Lord and the Seamstress)

Creepy bastards like this always go for the eyes. Bevel doesn’t know why. They just do. (The Garrulous Ghost of Gwillfifeshire)

When I catch sight of the cart and its cargo approaching through the thick glass of my study window, I assume the body in the back is a corpse, brought to me for study and then burial. But no one handles a corpse with such care, and driver is directing the horse to travel slowly, avoiding each hole in the dirt road. (The Untold Tale)

In Saskwya thievery was punished with the forceful, bloody removal of a thumb. This was usually done on the spot by the soldier who caught the perpetrator and with whatever sharp implement they happened to have at hand, clean or not. Robin Arianhod still had both of her thumbs. She was thankful, because she couldn’t have picked the lock on the factory door if she had been missing them. (The Skylark’s Song)

When Mary comes to, she is lying face down in the grass beside the road. (The Dark Side of the Glass)

A body collapsing with no muscular control onto plush carpeting makes a kind of muffled thudding, all raw meat and cut strings. (Triptych)


 

So, do you see any patterns? Let’s discuss it in the comments!

JM FreyPost the First Sentences of Your 10 Last Stories and Search For Patterns
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Words for Writers: Media Kits

If you are a professional actor, writer, or creative of any kind, then you should probably have a media kit, both a hard-copy edition and one that is on your website and available for people to download. It is probably best to keep the digital version in PDF, so it is widely readable on many devices.

I have an entire segment of my website specifically designed to make life for people trying to contact me or my agent, or to write about me, easier. You can see it here. It’s a collection of bare-bones facts and links, and information like bios of various lengths, a list of publications and awards, and professional headshots. Sort of one-stop-shopping for everything-you-need-as-a-person-in-professional-media.

Why do it? It just makes it easier for them, but also for me. I am generally answering requests for interviews , to send along bios, or to send along photos from my smartphone. I have some of that stuff stored on my device, but most of the time it’s easier to say: “All of that is on my website, on the tab marked “media”; it’s all there for you! Please take whatever you want to use.”

It’s also important because it helps build a factual basis of your career for people who are looking for information about you. I have all the dates, award names, and proper titles listed there, too. Because websites like IMDB or Wikipedia can be edited collectively, sometimes the dates and things can get muddied. This is a place where everything is listed, and clear, and I try to make certain to keep it updated with each publication or casting announcement I make.

I also keep a list of most recent announcements on my main website page, so that people/interviewers/researchers can check in and get updated quickly.

So what is a media kit?

A media kit is basically a primer for people who are going to be working with you, and discussing your work with you; kind of a “Me And My Work For Dummies”. It can be a PDF file, or a hard-copy collection of print out pages and promotional items.

It should be updated with each new publication or performance announcement, to reflect a focus on whatever is the most important work for you to push at the time.

How is it (not) used?

Media kits are used to prepare people to be able to speak about you and your work, and discuss it with you, in a short amount of time. They’re generally used by interviews and chat show hosts who may not have time to do a lot of research about you, or as a jumping-off point for people writing profiles, or a host’s research team.

Obviously, in an ideal world, you want anyone who is interviewing you or working with you to have read everything you’ve ever written or seen everything you’ve ever been in. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible, so sometimes you have to help them fake it a bit. That’s the truth of the biz, and they’ll really appreciate the leg up. On top of that, it also lets you control what people focus on when you’re promoting your new work.

Don’t send a media kit in lieu of an actual conversation, or anywhere it’s unsolicited, like to an agent that you’re initially querying or to a producer that you haven’t already been in discussion with. A very simple rule of thumb is to never let the kit speak for you first. Have a conversation, then send the kit when they’ve agreed to have you on/work with you.

Where should I put it?

Media kits should be emailed or hardcopy mailed to any media outlets that are working with, interviewing, or hosting you. This can include: TV hosts/producers, newspaper reporters and interviewers, radio show hosts, chat show hosts, convention organizers, etc.

It should also be available on your website. You may also have a paper copy – I would suggest trying to keep it down to one slim folder. The paper copy has the advantage of being able to tuck bookmarks, short stories, and other promotional materials into it. However, resist the urge to overstuff it and over-saturating your message or confusing the readers. Stick to materials for the most important stuff, like the latest release, or the work that you’ve been invited to particularly discuss.

What goes into a media kit (and it doesn’t have to be ALL of this):

Media release: A press release about your most current project or work, if you have one. If you’re between projects, then you can skip this part or include your most recent release, as long as it’s not terribly out of date. Find out about how to write a press release here.

Sell sheet: No more than one sheet page with the vital information for whatever project you’re pushing. Say, for a book, it should include a include synopsis, cover art, short bio, publisher, ISBN, ordering info. how to get review copies, etc. For a film, this should be the poster, short bios on the filmmaker and leads, production stills, the pitch, how to acquire a screener, and release info.

Bio: A paragraph about you that mentions your most important accomplishments and your basic info. Mine is:

J.M. is an actor SF/F author, fanthropologist and pop culture scholar. She’s appeared in podcasts, documentaries, on radio, and on television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. Her debut novel Triptych was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards and was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2011. www.jmfrey.net | @scifrey

This is generally what also goes in anthologies and on convention websites.

I also have longer versions on my “For Media” page, in case they’d prefer something more in depth. I also have a link to my Wikipedia entry, which I can’t control but seems to be consistently accurate.

Photos: There should be just one headshot, a really professional photo of the caliber you’d want on the dust-flap of your novel, or on your IMDB profile.

I had professional headshots done. It seems like an unnecessary expense when an author shot just needs to be in focus, flattering, and not too cluttered. But having really high-res, quality photos make you look serious about your craft, successful, and most importantly, gives the media outlets lots of appealing material to work with – they’re more likely to publish your picture if it’s of publishable quality. It’s also important that your readers know what you look like so they can find you at events and appearances, or can recognize you as they pass by your table at a convention or when producers welcome you into a studio.

On top of all that, a professional photographer knows all the little tricks to create a really flattering photo, and we all want one of those! I also got a few different looks in my gallery – something casual, something a bit dressy, and some fun things: one with a toy UFO and some with my steampunk goggles to represent the two genres I am writing in at the moment. If my other books ever see the light of day, I will get photos with props for those genres done as well.

I was lucky enough to already have worked with a professional photographer as a model for one of his shows, so I knew I liked his work style and his products, so I knew who to contact. If you don’t know a photographer, ask a local actor’s agent where he send his clients, or contact a local art school to see if there is a student who works in photography who might want to make some cash.

Be prepared to spend $400 on average (photographer’s time, studio rental [with backgrounds and lights], and some photo editing), and spend about 2-4 hours in the studio. You’ll also probably have to do your own hair and makeup, unless the headshot professional includes it in their fee. Don’t get a new haircut the day of, in case you hate it; only go to makeup counters for the free make over if you trust them and have seen their work before. However, do go to your stylist for a great blow-out, and do make an appointment at a makeup counter if you know it will be awesome. You will also have to provide your own wardrobe, so choose solid colours with no logos, flattering cuts, and clean tailoring. Look at yourself from every angle in the clothing – does it give you saggy arm or can you see your bra through it? Be aware that the light will be much brighter in the studio.

Don’t let your clothes muffle you – your face is the most important element of the photo. If your clothes take away from that, instead of framing it prettily, then choose something else.

If possible, make certain that you have pics that are right-click-able so they can actually copy/paste them onto their own websites, etc. Make sure to name the file something like “J.M. Frey Promo Photo 7 by Jane Camera” so both your name and the photographer’s name are attached to the file.

Media pitch/topics talking points – What are the important themes of the work you or pushing, or what concerns and themes run through your whole body of work? What do you want to talk about with this book? What do you think is important to highlight? Where would you feel the conversation would be most interesting and important. Also, what else are you an expert in?

Yes, I am often asked in to talk about my books, but I also get asked to speak about fanthropology, gender and sex in SF/F works and communities, steampunk, Doctor Who, and cosplay. I state that these are my fields of expertise so people can find me if they need celebrity talking heads on those topics.

Interview questions: I don’t often do this, but I know some people provide a list of short questions and answers for the hosts. I do however try to see the questions list before I got in, so I have a basic idea of where the conversation is heading. This way I don’t waste precious time thinking about my answers or “ummm” and “uhhh”ing. It also helps you to rehearse little sound bites.

Business card, bookmarks, brochure, postcards, and other promo items, including DVD or Book , if it’s a physical kit.Send a digital file of the book or the film if it’s requested and safe.

Reviews: No more than one page, and preferably about the most recent work and by important people in your field. I try to have at least one great short review attached to each book. Short articles you’ve written, other short articles about you, or a link to an archive of said articles.

Notable previous appearances.

Excerpt or sample chapters (if applicable)

Social Media links

Contact information for you and your agent, press manager, etc.

TL;DR: Basically write 4-6 pages on how awesome you are, and the basic facts of your career, with reviews and contact information.

For those who are curious, here’s my most recent digital media kit.

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For more posts on the business and craft of writing, search my Words for Writers tag.

JM FreyWords for Writers: Media Kits
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Words for Writers: Asexual Characters

I got a question via my Tumblr page about writing asexual characters and loves stories.

Warning! Frank discussions of sex and sexuality below!

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EDIT: Apparently I have to make this more clear. No, I am not asexual. No, I don’t know anyone who has self-identified (at least to me) as asexual. No, I don’t hate or fetishize asexuals.  No, I don’t worship Dan Savage; I admire his work and as we all know, all work is inherently problematic. I just included his definition of “GGG” because I feel that it is a good concept to promote.

Yes, I tried my best based on what research and knowledge I have about being asexual. Yes, I am happy to hear from readers about corrections or additions to the information. Yes, I am willing to learn more about the topic, and to help educate my readers as well. Yes, I invite you to write a response to this Nonnie if you feel that you can answer the question, as well. If you fee that you have an excellent, accurate, and more comprehensive information source for Nonnie, then by all means, please, link it. All of us writers would appreciate it.

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Big question! Before we get into the answer, a quick primer for readers who might not be familliar with some of the terms I’ll be using on gender, sexual, and romantic orientation:

 

Gender = the performance of sexual identity, either male or female, which includes conforming to societal norms, expectations, and modes of self-expression for said gender. (i.e. Boys play sports and Girls play House)

 

Gender Queer = the performance of a sexual identity that is neither all-male or all-female. Usually a mix of gender norms, expectations, and modes of self-expression.

Non-Gendered = the performance of no gender identity at all, or in specific.

 

Biological sex= presents the genitals of a Male, Female, or a biological combination of either.  “The plumbing”.

 

Genitals=/=Gender: For example, a biological-male human may not identify gender-male. Just because one’s bits fall into one box, doesn’t mean their mind does too.

 

Sexual= enjoys the physical act of sex, either with participant(s), or solo stimulation. Desires to have sex and derives satisfaction from sex.

 

Heterosexual= enjoys/prefers sex with participants of the opposite gender and/or biological sex

 

Homosexual= enjoys/prefers sex with participants of the same gender and/or biological sex

 

Bisexual= enjoys/prefers sex with participants of either gender and/or biological sex

 

Pansexual= enjoys sex with participants of any or all genders and/or biological sexes, etc.

 

Demisexual = enjoys/prefers sex with participants only after they’ve established a romantic/emotional/intellectual connection with the other participant(s). Uninterested in, or unable to achieve physical satisfaction from strangers or casual acquaintances. (Literally can’t do one-night stands)

 

Asexual= EDIT (from a submitter): “It is a lack of sexual attraction. It’s about attraction, not behaviour.” Which, I think translates as: Does not experience sexual attraction. Emotionally and intellectually does not enjoy, derives no satisfaction from, or has no interest in the physical act of sex.

This does not mean that sex disgusts or frightens an asexual, just that they have no desire (mentally, emotionally, physically, or a combination of all three) to engage in sex. This also does not mean that they won’t participate in sex at all; some asexuals may choose to engage in some sexual acts with a sexually active partner, because they enjoy the emotional/physical/mental closeness, and/or because they want to be Generous, Giving, and Game. That all depends on your character.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savage_Love#GGG)

 

Grey Ace=Enjoys, desires, and derives satisfaction from some specific aspects of sexual/romantic activity, but not to the extent of a sexual person.

 

Romantic= the non-physical/sexual part of a relationship. Emotional connection, admiration, affection. Love.

 

Heteroromantic= falls in love, and desires and derives emotional/mental satisfaction from being in love with someone of the opposite gender.

 

Homoromantic= falls in love, and desires and derives emotional/mental satisfaction from being in love with someone of the same gender.

 

Biromantic= falls in love, and desires and derives emotional/mental satisfaction from being in love with someone of the either gender.

 

Panromantic= falls in love, and desires and derives emotional/mental satisfaction from being in love with someone of any and all genders/mixes of genders/ non-genders.

 

Aromantic= does not, cannot, or chooses not to fall in love/ express romantic feelings or romantic affection for another person. It’s possible to still want a relationship or connection with another human being while being aromantic. There can be extremely close friendships, marriages, co-parenting, etc.

 

Notes: Being asexual and/or aromantic does not mean that a person definitively has no desire to be a parent, or to be without very close friends or family.

 

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I don’t know, and I can’t speak for every asexual person, but I assume that someone who is asexual and/or aromantic has the same desires to be close to the person emotionally and physically, to touch, etc. Affection is a universal desire in human animals, and people who do not respond/enjoy sexual stimulus probably still want emotional connection to other people, to be wanted and desired (even if it’s as a friend or family member), to be touched and praised, to be loved and cherished. Obviously the level of the desired contact, and the type of contact (mental, physical, and emotional) will vary by person, and each will have their own levels of comfort, and it will never be a clear cut mix of what, with whom, and how much.

 

Asexual/aromantic people are not cold fish or androids. They are still human beings, in all our three dimensional, emotionally messy, complicated glory. Someone can be both asexual and homoromantic, or a demisexual grey ace, or any glorious rainbow-saturated mix of all of the above.

 

So, the quick and dirty answer to your question is – write the romance and the character no differently than you would write it for a character of any other sexual/romantic orientation.

 

Write it exactly like a regular romance (hetero, homo, bi, or pan) except any and all sexytimes and any physical displays of affection would require Explicit Relationship Negotiation between both parties.  This could be a great character-building moment of dialogue and action, and the lack/misunderstanding of explicit negotiation could offer further moments for plot and character growth. Just… be aware of the Rape As Backstory and Forgiving Sexual Assault tropes. Remember, a non-heteronormative pairing doesn’t excuse sloppy storytelling and poor wordcrafting.

 

Unless they already know that your asexual character is such, the non-A partner would probably expect that there will eventually be physical contact and sexytimes, as with any other relationship. As their partner becomes more comfortable with them, and levels of consent are achieved, the romance will involve more sexual acts.

 

(S)he will probably expect to be allowed to hold hands, then progress to linking arms, to hands in back pockets and on the small of backs, leaning against one another on the sofa, outright cuddles on the sofa, being an octopus on the sofa, then kissing, then full-on-snogging, then bases 1 through 3, mutual masturbation, to oral sex, and accumulating in penetrative sex and happy happy orgasms for all!

 

(EDIT: Of course ALL relationships require consent and boundary negotiation at EVERY level of intimacy.

Nonnie was asking specifically about asexual relationships, so I highlighted the ways asexual relationships may need conversations about boundaries and permissions specifically. But of course all relationships of all kinds, featuring all orientations and genders should be filled with such conversations.

And yes, one can never generalize that for ALL people of a certain orientation absolutely follow a definition or categorization or stereotype. It’s a good place to start when developing a character, but of course the character has to be as wonderfully complicated and full of contradictions, preferences, quirks, traumas, scars, desires, and joys as real people.)

 

 

However, at some point in this process, your asexual character will become uncomfortable, the contact will become undesired, and they will not grant their consent to their partner. It’s possible they might “go all the way”, in order to be GGG – but there would probably be a lack of physical sexual enjoyment. This may exhibit as a still-flaccid penis, lack of vaginal lubrication, nipples not peaking, etc.

 

That’s not to say it was terrible or a sacrifice. It’s possible the asexual character found the encounter emotionally satisfactory even if they didn’t achieve any sexual satisfaction or a climax of any sort.

 

And how would the non-A partner feel about that? Hurt? Undesirable? Grateful that their A-partner is willing to push their comfort zones to give them sexual satisfaction? Content with the emotional/romantic satisfaction and willing to have a more sparse/non-existent sex life?

 

How do they negotiate this reality of their relationship? Is the sexual partner allowed to seek sexual, but not emotional fulfilment, elsewhere outside the relationship? Does the A-partner agree to give blowjobs or hand/footjobs? Will the sexual partner frot against the A-partner when (s)he gives him/her a massage? Is it a lot of cuddling and masturbation?

 

My best suggestion would be this: figure out your asexual character’s romantic inclination, and sexual inclination. Then decide on their romantic and sexual limits. Decide where the line is drawn for them, and why. Figure out whom they form romantic/emotional connections to, and why, and how they show it. Figure out where they say “no, stop” and where they do not give consent. Figure out how they react to another person’s romantic/sexual attention, and what they are willing to experiment with or be GGG about.

 

With that done, now you have a full understanding of how your asexual character can and will react in romantic/sexual situations with your sexual character, whether (s)he is the pursuer or the pursued.  And once you’ve fleshed out your sexual partner, you’ll also know how (s)he will react when they are asked to change what they’re doing/stop/go not further/understand that their partner is Ace.

 

From there, I’d say go about establishing the relationship the same way you would any other well written romance.

Best of luck!

(And if anyone would like to offer a correction/addition/addendum to anything above, please do so! I’m no expert, I can only explain things as I best understand them.)

EDIT: Further Resources

Asexuality on Reddit

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network

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For more posts on the business and craft of writing, search my Words for Writers tag.

 

 

JM FreyWords for Writers: Asexual Characters
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