Limestone Genre Expo Horror and Female Gaze

At Limestone Genre Fiction conference in Kingston, Ontario in June we found very interesting takes on seeing the world through a female gaze. Especially in horror fiction. Publisher Sandra Kasturi noted that only 17 per cent of submissions to ChiZine Publications. Yet many women, including middle aged women read Horror.  It has always been a bit of a boys network but more women came in during the 90s.  There is also a lot of cross genre work going on.  Margaret Atwood for example considers some of her work to be Speculative Fiction, for example The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian take on gender relations in a near-future time of subjugated women. Speculative Fiction includes Science Fiction of course.

Whether there is a female gaze or not in a given story, it seems that many contemporary genre novels exemplify what Toronto bookseller Marian Misters has called ‘Domestic Noir’ stories about women in danger, wives escaping domestic violence for example.  That said horror films too, often involve the home. Traditionally novels focused on the home environment  may seem directed at women or the product of the a female gaze.  But as one participant at Limestone commented nothing can scare you better than your own imagination. A safe place that isn’t a safe place is the starting point and why so many mysteries and horror novels involve something happening to the home.

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So Long Starving Artist − Part 1

The Hot Sheet

Digital Media Strategist Jane Friedman

Writers love what they do. But when it comes to making a living, how can they get paid?

Digital marketing expert Jane Friedman addressed this head-on in a fascinating talk Nov. 12 with the Toronto Romance Writers.

Friedman used examples from history and her own career to tackle the ‘starving artist’ myth from a refreshingly informed perspective. She quoted Alan Watts saying ‘A myth helps us make sense of the world.’ Writers need a new ‘myth’ to govern their careers.

For too long creatives have been sandbagged with the expectation that  musicians, writers, painters and other creatives should be grateful they have talent and willing to display it for free. Friedman prefers her own myth. Art and Business can live together. The trick is using the tools available and analyzing all the factors that help people to find and want your work.

Traditional publishers may be losing market share but there is opportunity for self-publishers and small publishers. Since major publishers as well as other creative talents all use the web, what should small publishers or self-publishers do to stand out?

Distribution versus Discoverability

Friedman notes that big information companies Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, are dukeing it out for dominance. The biggies have a lot of reach. Authors must harness the information these four have on each of us in order to be ‘discoverable.’ Distribution has been solved. Everyone has access to the internet. Now the important thing is discoverability.

Savvy small publishers or self-publishers can learn how to control what she calls ‘distribution amplification’ in order to be discoverable.

1. Use your web site to its fullest capacity  

For example, when someone googles you they should get your web site first not someone with a similar name. They should see a one hundred word description that you craft about you. Your site platform can allow you to craft that description for your main page making it easier to get your message across. You can also have separate pages for each book release and use different hundred word descriptions for each of them. These can increase your reach and help drive readers to your site.

2. Re-purpose content for multiple channels 

To be visible, authors should be present on different social media sites, email, blog sites etc. How to do that and not go crazy? Re-use your content, versions of the same material can be on a tweet, a Facebook post and audio podcast, a webinar, a blog tour. Bonus: You reach different audiences while reinforcing your own messaging.
NEXT:  So Long Starving Artist – Part 2. Why authors should talk about money.

Escape from the Beach – excerpt from Villainous Vacations

Just realized my story excerpt from Escape from the Beach did not make it into the previous post on Villainous Vacations!!  Here is the rest of the post.

As the story begins my main character Bree is kicking back on a beautiful ocean beach. One minute she is happily sun bathing and the next she is running for her life as helicopter gunships strafe the sand…

Dangerous Destinations

Vacation Story Collection

“…All day long I slipped down the water slide. Slathered in sunscreen, eyes squinting against the tropical light, I was carried by jets of recirculating sea water to the hot sand below. Dazed and content, I flew down the slide in a line of other children. One after another, we fell into the sand then scrambled barefoot to the stairs going up, up and up again, at least three stories of red-painted aluminum steps to the platform. Waiting my turn near the top, I saw little boats sailing the salty waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, and sunlight glancing like stars off the waves. Then I looked down at our rented umbrella, one of dozens in view. I could see my baby sister Aylah sleeping in her carrier and my Mom lying on her side, one hand on the baby’s arm, one eye on her beach read and one eye on me. She waved her book at me. I waved back, then looked beyond her to the sea.

This part of the Mediterranean is often “black flag” − unsafe for swimmers. Today is a blue day, a safe day, but very few people were swimming past the marker buoys. Usually one of them would be my dad. Dad says the water is too rough for most of the Middle Easterners. He says it is because they are desert people. Almost all the younger kids are in bathing suits and many of their parents are, too. Here and there are groups of adults where the women wear dresses to their ankles. There are also some men in long sleeved shirts and long black pants. Three of them are at the shore. One of them is drinking cola. Another has a magazine under his arm. My parents thought me safer on the slide than in Herzikiah Beach’s forceful seas and undertow. And that was true until the loudspeakers boomed, helicopters flew in formation overhead and the slide gate slammed shut behind me. The teenage guard flopped to the platform. “Get down,” he shouted in Hebrew. He waved his arm down and I dropped to the floor. The two of us lay eye to eye as helicopters pounded overhead so close I could see the guns sticking out the open doors and a pilot waved to me as he flew by.

Loudspeakers boomed from lamp-posts, scratchy and tinny with excited voices. Without raising my head I risked a sideways look. The strip of beach I could see below me was emptying. Police materialized out of nowhere. Anxious parents stuffed their feet into sandals, threw on shirts and cover-ups. The officers grabbed parents and kids, pushing them toward the parking lots. Parents shrieked for their children and everyone was running − kids with sand pails, babies caught up in their parents’ arms, older kids in packs.

In seconds, the crowd had seized blankets, picnic baskets, beach chairs and small children and raced for their cars. Fascinated and frightened at the same time, I followed the helicopters thundering back and forth overhead, until the boy opposite squirmed closer and shouted again, “It’s no problem!” I nodded because it was one of the few phrases of Hebrew that I knew.

Taking in my thick blond hair, and the long white T shirt I wore over my bathing suit, the guard grinned and repeated it in English. “It’s no problem. They’re chasing terrorists!”…

Want to read more? Come see us Sunday, September 25, 2016 at Word on the Street http://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/  There will be books and goodies available.

If you can’t get there in time, you can find Villainous Vacations at http://sleuthofbakerstreet.ca/ 

OR buy it on: 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1OTHgcB

KOBO: http://bit.ly/1X3qujK

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/25skeH0

iTunes: https://itun.es/us/FTiKcb.l

See You at Word on the Street!

So excited. For the second year in a row, torontosistersincrime.ca will be at Word on The Street one of Toronto’s signature literary events thewordonthestreet.ca, http://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/

There will be hundreds of author readings, discussions and activities for all ages. Our Sisters in Crime chapter will feature local authors including Karen Blake-Hall and me, Linda Cahill as well as Sylvia Warsh, A.B. Funkhauser, Lisa de Nikolits, J.A. Menzies, Sharon A. Crawford and Rosemary McCracken.

Join us at Booth WB11 at the Harbourfront Centre, Queen’s Quay West (right on the streetcar line!).

From 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 25th, we will have authors signing their books, both of The Toronto  Sisters in Crime antholgies for sale including  The Whole She-Bang, and The Whole She-Bang 2. There will also be some surprise goodies and a Super Special to all who visit our booth!!

 The Writer’s Bloc   Booth WB 11, Queen’s Quay West Harbourfront Centre.
11:00 AM Linda Cahill & Karen Blake-Hall
12:00 PM Sylvia Warsh
1:00 PM A. B. Funkhauser
2:00 PM Lisa de Nikolits
3:00 PM J. A. Menzies
4:00 PM Sharon A. Crawford
5:00 PM Rosemary McCracken

It’s free, it’s outdoors and this is the Word on The street’s 26th year. Bring the kids. There is a Children’s Literature Tent and CBC will present the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award 2016 Shortlist from 1:20 – 2:20 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview from Escape From the Beach, A Short Story in Villainous Vacations.

Karen Blake-Hall interviewed my character Bree from the new short story collection Villainous Vacations. Thanks Karen!

Karen Blake-Hall

Today I am interviewing Bree, the main character in Linda Cahill’s new short story Escape from the Beach in Villainous Vacations, A Collection of Crime Stories. V VcoverEbookMED

“Bree, why were you alone on the beach?”

“I wasn’t alone! Well not exactly. I was with my family but when the attack came we got separated. Then the helicopters came in and everybody ran.”

“One minute you are lazing in the sun and the next thing you are dragged off by terrorists. Why did your family go to such a frightening place?”

Bree shook her head. “It wasn’t frightening. I mean…” She fumbled for words. “Most of the time it was okay and the beach was really nice.”

“Except when the shooting started.”

“Shooting doesn’t happen every day.”

“But think how crazy that day was for you. Weren’t you kidnapped by one of the attackers?”

“You mean the boy at the water…

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Procedurals, Cozies, Who do You Love?

5th Birthday

Celebrating Light Mysteries

 

At the national award for light mysteries, the Bony Blithe Awards, a few weeks ago mystery authors considered the differences between traditional or light mystery fare and police procedurals. The Bony Blithe Award is five years old this year so there were congratulations all round including cake and applause for winner Victoria Abbott for The Marsh Madness, Berkley Prime Crime. Two panels discussed the evolving mystery genre.

The first panel involved four authors (Alexis Koetting, Janet Bolin, Eva Gates/Vicki Delany, and Victoria Abbott/Mary Jane Maffini speculating on how they would re-imagine a cozy into a police procedural. Outgoing Crime Writers of Canada president Vicky Delany author of the Lighthouse Library series noted one change would be a change of style. In a cozy there is only one point of view character, in a police procedural the tone would change, there would be more point of view characters hiding a secret and a more explosive ending. For Mary-Jane Maffini, the mother half of the Victoria Abbott mother-daughter writing team, television also has an impact on the approach to writing. In Britain, lots of television series, including Midsomer Murders are based on dark books that have been “cozified” for television, she said. What was interesting to consider was that Agatha Christie was not cozy in her time.

The second panel featured Cathy Ace, Elizabeth J. Duncan, Vicki Delany, and Catherine Astolfo on what aspects of a mystery make it dark. Also, is it easier to write a light or comic mystery than a mystery that explores the darker or more serious side of life? The panelists agreed that both sides of the genre have their conventions. The split between more ‘hard-boiled’ mysteries and lighter fare seems to have accelerated in the past few years.

The Bony Blithe Mini-con organized by Elaine Freedman, 2016 Bony Blithe Chair, and fellow mini-con organizers Caro Soles and Jane Burfield was a great opportunity to consider and celebrate the whole light mystery genre.  Panelists agreed: Readers like the light mystery, they develop affinities for the series characters and they want to follow them in book after book. And that’s gratifying for any author.