Intersection of Genres

Intersections of Genres: Genre-lizing
FenCon10 notes

bisect codes (paranormal werewolf)

gothic romance
science fiction
noir mystery
dark fantasy
urban fantasy
detective mystery
science fantasy
historical romance

iconic covers?
mainstream and genre
Star Wars poster re-dos
George R. Martin cover
single object in a landscape

Goblin Fruit is an online fantastical magazine with mythological elements.
–muse immigrating to Australia
daughter of the muse of poetry attempting to produce art


FenCon10 notes

Editors—some good, some bad
Usually the edits the editors ask for are necessary to make your book more marketable.
Recommendations almost always beneficial.

Rosen line edits on every line.
Sometimes questioning sentence structure.

Muenzler—does this sound right?

Keep rewriting, but let it go.
Cheney—rewrite and then let it go.

Critique groups and writing groups will/may
take you out of your book,
encourage you to write more on things they like (but not nec good to write on).
The pace is often a problem when folks say, “I would like to know more about x.”

Writers have enough editors in their heads. Don’t give it to someone else before it is finished.

First writers sometimes won’t finish a book because they revise too much.
Rosen doesn’t revise until whole book is written.
One author wrote draft; then rewrote the whole book from the beginning. That works for her.

Don’t get bogged down in the mechanics.

Before revision, let it sit (longer than 2 months).
Work on something else.
Have a really smart 14-year-old read it.
Maybe read through and write notes on your own reactions.

Put pages on the wall. Step a distance away. See if there is a mix of dialogue and exposition.
Can do that even when you can’t read it yet.

Maybe move on to another idea (keep notes about things) but work on another topic.

Getting published:
Don’t write what is popular. Current trends change.
Write about what you want.

5 years from sending to publishing a book.
2 years from sending to publishing a short story.

Only thing that you have that is different is your voice.
The way you tell a story, that’s your voice.

Nielsen-Hayden works for Tor.
She has a greater variety of authors.

New writers, publishable v. rejection.
Don’t keep count. There’s no odds on being published.

Logic—story that is interesting, engaging, and people want to read then it will get published.
If you have written a book that “doesn’t do it,” then we will say no.

Big difference between Tor (Nielsen-Hayden) and small press (Rosen).
Small press doesn’t have to deal with authors who won’t revise.

Do you read during the writing process?
Early on, no.
Kathleen Cheney can’t read genre lit while writing because the editor stays on.
Muenzler—mostly read short stories when I’m writing novels. I am an avid reader. Read an hour or so each night.

Style/voice bleed over?
Some obvious. Some not.
ArmadilloCon–artists borrow images from other artists, but in every other art from you attempt to copy the style of the masters.

For example, Scalzi has great paragraph transitions.

Writing practice = creating stories in the style of X.

But don’t just follow/copy.
Don’t soak up indiscriminately.

Muenzler—stylistic issues. Will look at several authors who do that well and then work on it.

Some good authors have rejected the style or books of another author.

“Language is a virus from outer space.”

When reading, stay in genre or not?
Muenzler—stay in
Rosen—read esoteric stuff, usually out
Cheney—don’t read genre fiction while writing, will go out of genre and re-read books.
for study, look at any or all genres

spiral of revision
quality matters
All of us believe our children are the best… What do you do when your best work is rejected?

Got to be good. Got to be entertaining. Also, dumb luck.

You finish novel. Send it out. (disassociate self)
Be working on the next novel.
Kick child out of the house and concentrate on the baby.

Rejection is just rejection.
We don’t remember rejections.

After accepting a book:
long editorial letter
Brust came to the house and edited the book in 14 hours.
Then editorial passes it to production.
There are books out there on this.

Abstracts and Titles

Sage Connection has an article on writing good abstracts.

What rarely gets covered in all this are the actual key findings of the article. Readers are normally left to guess what the researcher’s ‘bottom line’ conclusion or academic ‘value-added’ is, still less what key ‘take-away points’ the author would ideally want readers to remember.

The article has 10 specific suggestions, with particular questions to help you figure out what you should be doing and how to do it.

Choosing Titles for Academic Papers also looks interesting.

CFP: Rhetoric, Memory, SF/Fan

Edited Collection: Memory in Popular Culture [abstracts due 5/1/14]
full name / name of organization:
Heather Urbanski, Fitchburg State University
contact email:
Upcoming collection on memory in popular culture, under contract with McFarland and Company, seeks proposals for academic essays on the complex role of rhetorical and social memory in science fiction, fantasy, fandom, and online gaming. Abstracts due 5/1/14 with final essays due 11/15/14.

For the upcoming collection Essays on Memory in Popular Culture, I am seeking contributions that describe and analyze the complex rhetorical memory involved in contemporary popular culture reception and consumption.

The key assumption of this collection is that, contrary to the conventional wisdom that memory is no longer important, this rhetorical canon has been transformed and complicated rather than subsumed, as recent scholarship into such areas as digital media, fandom studies, and memory objects demonstrates. This collection, therefore, seeks essays that document and examine this rhetorical principle in all its complexity.

Submissions are being solicited that examine cultural memory within the following categories:
• Science Fiction and Fantasy Genre texts
• Fandom activities (including fan fiction and cosplay)
• Online Gaming
• Digital collaboration and media

In addition to traditional academic essays (approximately 5,000 words each), there will also be a section for player and participant reflections (approximately 1,000 words) that briefly describe the experience of fan memory from a non-academic perspective.

Priority will be given to those authors who are members of the fandom communities they are discussing. I am looking for fans to analyze their own interests, as opposed to academics who stand outside the community and then theorize about the activities they observe. Graduate students and junior faculty are especially encouraged to submit abstracts. I am also particularly interested in essays describing the activity-based experiences of fandom from global (i.e., non-Western) and other diverse perspectives.

While the underlying premise of this collection is rhetorically based, interdisciplinary approaches are most desirable. In particular, my goal is to collect perspectives that cover the intersection of contemporary interpretations and explorations of the ancient rhetorical canon of memory, fandom studies, narrative theory, and scholarship into digital media. Please also keep in mind, however, that the primary audience includes both fans and academics so the approach should be accessible to interested, but not expert, readers.

Please submit 250-500 word abstracts (as Word or .rtf email attachments) for essays targeted at 5,000 words or for participant reflections at 1,000 words by May 1, 2014 to

From the CFPs at UPenn.

Update: I sent in an abstract about 10:30 pm on May 1. …

This means I should quit telling my students not to do their work at the last minute, as I am also doing mine then upon occasion. Perhaps what I should instead tell them is to endeavor to get the work done ahead of time on a regular basis.


It is hard to send off writing of your own, particularly something that you like, because most of the time it will be rejected. What you wrote may not be suitable for the audience, may not match the purpose of this journal issue, may not be situated in the context the editor is expecting. Most of the time, though, the only rejection is a “Thank you, but this does not suit our needs.”

Right now, having just received a rejection for a piece that I thought was very well done, I would say that a rejection is the most difficult. However, thinking back to the desperation that sometimes accompanies revisions to a piece with R&R, I hesitate to make that comment. The requested revision is hopeful because the editors and readers saw the potential that you as the author saw when you began to write it, while a rejection has none of that recognition. An R&R, though, gives you a second chance to fail, as well as a chance to succeed and for some people that is very stressful.

So let me just say that for today, in the situation I am in and my mood and my state of mind, the rejection for a work that was my first foray into a relatively new world for me was difficult. It was a no, though a no with a thank you appended. It was a no, though they recognized impetus of the work within the work.

Rejection is hard to take, whenever and however it enters our lives. I wanted to mark its poignancy here, as I will now endeavor to completely forget that I sent the work in and that it was turned down.

Have I sent anything to X? No, I don’t think so….

Openness and Replicating Studies

Brian Keegan’s article argues for the need to have openness in data journalism by replicating a study by Walt Hickey on movies using the Bechdel Test.

Hickey says the study “analyzed 1,615 films released from 1990 to 2013 to examine the relationship between the prominence of women in a film and that film’s budget and gross profits.”

Taken from Hickey's original article.
Taken from Hickey’s original article.

Keegan discusses a lot of different findings (and shows his data and programming runs). One of the most interesting findings is on when we can expect to see American movies regularly passing the Bechdel Test.

Extrapolating this linear model forward in time, on Tuesday, August 30, 2089, the average movie will finally pass the Bechdel test. Just 75 years to go even the average summer blockbuster will have minimally-developed female characters! Hooray!

This is a quote from an article on repeating analysis of published studies for data journalism. It specifically repeats research on movies that pass/don’t pass the Bechdel test.

His findings on movies that pass the Bechdel test:
Receive budgets that are 24% smaller
Make 55% more revenue
Are awarded 1.8 more Metacritic points by professional reviewers
Are awarded 0.12 fewer stars by IMDB’s amateur reviewers

In addition to replicating (as far as possible given inadequate information on methods) Hickey’s study, Brian Keegan added some analysis of the date regarding:
IMDB ratings
professional critic ratings

He also controlled for additional variables, including:

MPAA Rating. People dislike G-rated movies that happen to pass the Bechdel test more, perhaps.
Runtime. Instead of people hating “feminist” movies, maybe movies passing the Bechdel test are just longer and people don’t like 2-hour marathons.
Genre. Maybe some genres like romantic comedies or dramas have an easier time passing the Bechdel test.
Year. There may be a nostalgia effect of movies in the past that pass the test being rated differently than movies released more recently that pass the test.
Week. Summer and holiday blockbusters are different animals than awards vehicles that are released in the fall and winter.
English language. “Seriously, who likes strong female leads and subtitles? Get me a Bud Light Lime and let’s fire up Michael Bay’s magnum opus Transformers!”
USA. As bad as it may be here, other countries may have it worse.

Is this discrimination?

These four points point to a paradox in which movies that pass an embarrassingly low bar for female character development make more money and are rated more highly by critics, but have to deal with lower budgets and more critical community responses. Is this definitive evidence of active discrimination in the film industry and culture? No, but it suggests systemic prejudices are contributing to producers irrationally ignoring significant evidence that “feminist” films make them more money and earn higher praise.

This is an excellent and interesting article. I appreciate the time Dr. Keegan took to work on it and my husband for passing it on to me.

Adjuncts’ Information

One thing I have learned as I have moved from college to college (most frequently as an adjunct but also as a full-time instructor and now on the tenure track) is that policies regarding email are different at different schools and that they can change.

As an adjunct, you need a professional sounding email address that you control, keep up with, and use regularly for your scholarship and job applications.

I found out that a chapter was being published with Routledge due to the fact that the university I worked with had kept my email available to me (not something they mentioned) and I happened to check that email for the first time in a year within a few weeks of an acceptance. Had I not had access to the email or had I not checked it, I would not have had that chapter published–since it was a new publisher and I had to do some relatively minor R&R and sign the permissions.

I found out that an article I had submitted five years earlier was accepted because by the time I submitted for that CFP I realized that I needed a standard email address and it came to my regular/personal email earlier this month.

One of the colleges where I taught full time closed my email down as soon as the semester ended. They did not warn me and all my email access disappeared–including my cyber copies of work I had done. (With the cloud that becomes less of an issue, but it still could be an issue.)

Get an email address and use it consistently for CFPs and job applications. Make sure that it is professional sounding and that you are the person who controls it. It could make a big difference.

5 Years Later

I am fairly sure I mentioned this already, but I finally sent the permissions letter off.

Five years ago I submitted four articles for publication to a CFP. This month I received an email that says the work has been accepted and is going to be published.

The irony is that the article is about a digital publication that was accepted and published within a month, due to the vagaries of submission and the fact that I was very dedicated to work being published, so that I did the R&R over the weekend (and added many relevant links, as they said they were looking for) and they had an article pulled.

Short or long, the publishing road is just that–a road.