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Why I Avoided Reading Female Authors

Why I Avoided Reading Female Authors

In 2012, I read a ratio of 2:1 male to female authors in the speculative fiction genre. 2013 was nearly as skewed. Based on my terrible track record of reading an equal number of books by men vs. women, I’ve decided to make 2014 the year of the female SFF author.

Isn’t that sexist, you ask? Why yes, by definition, it is.

However, when I was younger, I used to actively avoid reading books by female authors, unless I’d heard overwhelming support for a particular book.

*gasp* I know. I’m a traitor to my gender. We live in a culture of gender-bias that tends to skew male, and I had internalized some of this bias.

Let me explain. 

Why I Used to Avoid Reading Books by Women

In my pre-teens, one of my favorite books was by Andre Norton. But as I moved into my teenage years, I began to avoid SFF books by women.

Back then, browsing shelf-by-shelf at the bookstore or library was the only way I found books to read, other than a few recommendations from friends (though I had few who read in the genre). At that time, a boom in paranormal romance rocked the shelves of the brick-and-mortar stores.

Fishnets by Jim C. Hines - a critique of book covers
Fishnets by Jim C. Hines, on Flickr
See his blog for more info.

I tried a few, but they just weren’t what I wanted to read. What I dislike about paranormal romance:

  • The skin-baring women on the covers… 
  • The romance/erotic plots thinly veiled by a layer of fantasy window-dressing… 
  • The “strong female characters,” which in PR just seems to mean women who know what they want (sex) and how to get it.

I don’t read in the romance genre. But I hated paranormal romance because I viewed it as romance masquerading as my beloved SFF. And since I didn’t see many (any?) male authors writing PR, they were “safe.”

Instead of recognizing it was a subgenre I didn’t have a taste for, I developed a bias against female authors.

But that’s stupid. Female authors also…

Now that ebooks are booming, it’s easier than ever to find books in the subgenres of speculative fiction I like. I read widely in science fiction and fantasy, and the only subgenres I tend to dislike are paranormal romance, detective/mystery urban fantasy, military SF, romantic SF, horror… and space opera can be iffy.

Avoiding female authors because of a dislike of a certain subgenre is ridiculous. There’s no excuse for using gender bias to choose what to read.

And I need to make up for lost time. My next post will detail which science fiction and fantasy novels by female authors I intend to read in 2014.

This post is part of a series:

(Final note: I feel I must mention that while gender is a false dichotomy, I used what the authors identified as on Goodreads.)

Finding Female Authors

If your to-be-read pile is full of testosterone, and like me, you realize you’ve skewed heavily male over the past few years, here are a few resources to help you find great books by female authors.

What do you plan to read in 2014?

Leave a comment below or find me as +Traci Loudin on Google+, the perfect place for fans of science fiction and fantasy to hang out. I’m also obviously on Goodreads, as well as Twitter and Facebook to a lesser extent.

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Reading Retrospective

Reading Retrospective

In 2013, I didn’t read much in the science fiction and fantasy genre (or outside of it). I did much better in 2012, when I actually set a reading list for myself and went about completing it.

This post is part of a series:

Goodreads Reading Challenge

Goodreads 2013 Reader Challenge

If you like competitions, things like NaNoWriMo and the Goodreads Reading Challenge get you pumped about writing and reading. But for people like me, who really don’t like competition, the Goodreads Reading Challenge is still the best way to see:

  • how many books you plan to read
  • whether you accomplished that goal
  • a list of the books you actually did read that year


You can see in my blog post called Binge-Reading that in March 2012, I was concerned about my declining reading habit. Lots of authors have said their reading declines once they start writing seriously, which is depressing, really.

So I decided to counteract that with the 2012 Goodreads Reader Challenge. If I’m going to be a writer in this genre, I want to be an avid reader in it as well, even if I don’t read as much as I used to as a teen/young adult.

Book List 2012

I mostly succeeded at reading about 20 books in 2012. (In my Binge-Reading post, I planned on reading at least 15 books by authors I hadn’t read before.) Here are my stats:

    Dust By Elizabeth Bear, a SciFi Space Opera Fantasy

  • All of the books were science fiction or fantasy. 
  • Almost all were novels.
  • 1 was a post-apocalyptic anthology. 
  • 3 or 4 I couldn’t finish. 
  • 13 were written by dudes.
  • 7 were written by females.
  • I think only 2 or maybe 3 were by indie authors. 
  • Most had been on my to-read list for quite some time. 
  • Almost none were by authors I’d read previously.

You can see my 2012 reading list on Goodreads even if you don’t log in.

Book List 2013

I failed miserably at 2013. It’s November, and it’s safe to say I won’t reach my goal unless I do some actual binge-reading. I think the fact that I didn’t plan my reading habits this year was partly to blame.

But a larger reason for my decline in reading this year was that I desperately tried to maintain my writing schedule, even in the face of planning my steampunk wedding! So something had to give, and it was reading. As well as house work. 😉

Of the 18 I’ve attempted to read in 2013:

    Feed By Mira Grant, a Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Novel

  • All but 1 of the books were science fiction or fantasy.
  • 13 were novels. 
  • 3 were novellas. 
  • 1 was a graphic novel. 
  • 1 was a nonfic about the post-apocalypse.
  • I couldn’t finish 4 of the novels. 
  • 11 were written by dudes.
  • 7 were written by females.
  • I think 3 were by indie authors. 
  • Some were books I’d been meaning to read for a while. 
  • A few were picked up on a whimsy or by recommendations from friends. 
  • Several were ones I’d heard about over the Internet, at cons, on podcasts, etc. 
  • 6 were by authors I’d read previously. 
  • The other 12 I tried to diversify and read new stuff.

You can see my 2013 reading list on Goodreads even if you don’t log in.

My next few posts will talk about why I used to (as a teenager) discriminate against my own gender and avoid reading books by female authors. As you can see above, I do read female authors now, but I recognize my ratio is still skewed. Because of that, I’ve decided 2014 will be the year of the female author.

(A quick note: The genders of the authors above are as listed on Goodreads. I did not check to see if any were pseudonyms, but I think they’re fairly accurate.)

When you look back at your own reading habits, is your ratio of male to female authors as skewed as mine?

Leave a comment below or find me as +Traci Loudin on Google+, the perfect place for fans of science fiction and fantasy to hang out. I’m also obviously on Goodreads, as well as Twitter and Facebook to a lesser extent.

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Six-Month Checkup: 2013 Edition

Six-Month Checkup: 2013 Edition

Checking in about my writing progress on The Ageless, a post-apocalyptic novel set in Earth’s future with fantasy elements. I’m a month late on this post, but there’s a good reason!

I’m getting married to a certain fellow named +David Dorian Granruth in October. How do I feel about this? Although writing is still a priority, planning our kickass steampunk wedding and awesome honeymoon takes precedence, of course!

Writing Frequency

Success! (Mostly.)

My plan was to write 4 times a week except around certain holidays and vacation. Up through May, I continued to do so. Then I came down with a really bad sinus infection just before a trip home. For a couple weeks after that, I fell to 3 times a week before returning to 4 times a week.

Three months before the wedding, I dropped back to 3 times a week. Hoping I can keep this up a little longer. The closer we are, the harder it is to juggle everything. I may go down to 2. And of course, during the honeymoon, I’ll just be enjoying myself!

After October, I plan to hop back in to 4 times a week. Let’s see if I can achieve that goal!

Finish The Century 

Success!

My plan was to finish the first draft of The Century by March. I managed to pull that off just barely, although I still had a few pre-chapter blurbs left over to write. I left myself a few revision notes at the beginning of March and moved on.

How to Publish

Success!

I wanted to come to a decision about how to publish both standalone novels by the end of this year, which I’ve done. My idea is to start with self-publishing (after extensive revisions, cover design, editing, and proofreading of course).

With later books, I may sell rights to a small or large publishing house. Later still, I may continue on as a hybrid, publishing in both arenas. Find full details and an explanation as to my reasoning on My Publishing Path.

I also started a short list of who I’d like to beta read The Ageless. If you’re interested, contact me by sending me a private post on Google+ at +Traci Loudin.

Review The Ageless

Complete! Much later than I expected… You can see how I progressed on my Current Projects page.

Once I learned more about self-editing, I realized I needed to carefully review each scene of the novel before making revisions. In some cases, scenes needed immediate triage.

Complicating things, I joined a critique group too early. The group seems to be geared more towards beta reading moreso than alpha reading, so there were lots of hang-ups and false starts. I ended up spending a lot of time revising early scenes before having the clarity of later scenes.

As of today, I’ve reviewed the entire novel and am ready to make my first attempt at a full second draft. It took five whole months of scene audits to reach this point, so that’ll be good to keep in mind for future self-editing.

I’ll estimate 5 full months to complete the second draft, but now that I’m under 4 times a week, it’ll naturally take even longer. Let’s make it a goal to have the second draft of The Ageless complete by February, shall we?

Engage Online

Fail!

One of my goals for 2013 was to engage more on Goodreads, but if anything I’ve become more of a recluse, both online and off. Hopefully this will change after October.

I found some amazing co-moderators to help me with the Speculative Fiction Writers community on Google+. Unfortunately, with the wedding planning, I haven’t been able to participate as much as I had been. Since January, the group has gained 1,100 members.

Read More

Fail in progress.

My goal was to read 20 genre books and a few outside the speculative fiction genre. I’ve certainly fallen behind on this.

Goodreads says I’m doing well, but Serenity, The Emperor’s Soul, and Legion aren’t full-length books. I never actually finished The Lab or Gardens of the Moon, as neither of them kept my interest. The World Without Us was interesting, but I tend not to read “non-fiction” straight through, so I marked this complete without reading the whole thing.

So by my count, I’ve only read 7! Hoping to catch up after the honeymoon, but I doubt I’ll reach my goal.

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Traci has
read 13 books toward her goal of 25 books.
hide

SciFi Conventions

Pass/fail.

Part of my goals were to talk to more people at cons. Did I actually do this? Yes and no. I talked more to people I actually knew, but still didn’t really go out on a limb and talk to anyone new.

As for 2014, so far we’re planning on MystiCon (where my friend Donnie is a guest!), ConCarolinas, and Dragon*Con. I don’t think I can afford a World Fantasy Con in the same year as a Dragon*Con… Though it is in Virginia next year…

If you have any recommendations on fun science fiction conventions to attend, let me know! Leave a comment below or find me as +Traci Loudin on Google+, the perfect place for fans of science fiction and fantasy to hang out.

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