I Make Up Worlds

SFF/YA writer Kate Elliott

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Anonymous asked: If you want diverse books, write them. That's it.







The point of this campaign is that there are some wonderful diverse books that are published but that don’t sell. Because they don’t sell, they don’t stay in the shelves long. Because they don’t stay in the shelves long, they don’t earn out (meaning they don’t recoup the small advance paid to the authors). Because they don’t earn out, publishers consider them a loss and the authors can’t publish another book. Because they can’t publish another book, other diverse authors also don’t get published.

This is an oversimplification of a complicated problem. But to say if you want them just write them is just plain wrong. It’s like making a comment on a subject you know nothing about. Please educate yourself first.

We need diverse books to do well in the marketplace so that they can STAY in the marketplace and more people can read them.

FFS, not everyone is a writer! Just because I like to read doesn’t mean I can write a fucking novel. I HATE this “just write them” crap because it’s based on this weird idea that writing a book is no big thing, just dash one off this afternoon, like it was a fucking grocery list, and that any random person can sit down and write fiction.

No. I’m a READER. I’m not a writer. But I’m a reader who wants a wide array of authors, characters and subjects to choose from, so I want diversity to be supported and boosted and encouraged and spotlit. The problem is not that there isn’t diversity among authors or books, it’s that this diversity is ignored or neglected or dismissed in favor of the status quo. And we shouldn’t all have to suddenly, magically, become novelists in order to change that.

Reblogging for commentary!!

Nevertheless, if you write books and want diverse books? Write diverse books.

We are writing them. Many of us are. This is not the point. The point is - if you want diverse books BUY THEM!! BORROW THEM FROM THE LIBRARY!!! SUPPORT THEM!!! And then maybe more authors can write more diverse books.

I often hear this reaction to “we need diverse books” discussions, that is, “so why don’t you write them?” The thing is, not only are not all readers writers, the act of reading a book is significantly, hugely different from writing a book.

I have indeed written the books that I wanted to read, but after doing that several times, I’ve realized that writing them is nothing at all like reading a book that I want to read. Writing a book is WORK; work that I love. It’s about making thousands of decisions about words, plots, and characters. It’s about thinking endlessly about what you’re doing, and figuring out how to do it in a way that translates to readers. It is basically the opposite of reading, because reading a book is about escaping into another world that someone else created. It’s about losing yourself in that world; it’s about experiencing something outside yourself and yet feeling like it’s in your head. Reading should feel like the opposite of work.

Reading and writing are two vastly different experiences.

Also, I’d say that writing is driven by very different needs than reading is. As a writer, I’m driven to tell stories that mean something to me, but the meaning I’m unpacking through my writing is totally unrelated to the meaning I’m looking for in my reading. For example, when I decide to tell a story, I tell it because it hits some kind of gut-level desire in me to express myself in that particular way. In contrast, when I decide to read a story, I do it for a variety of reasons: I want to read a thriller on the airplane; I want to read a literary novel to polish my craft; I want to escape in a sci-fi adventure full of romance. These reasons feel very different, for me, than the reasons I want to write something.

So, I’m going on forever but the point is: reading and writing are different things.

Also, I can read many more books a year than I can write. So we need more diverse books.

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those damn irresponsible poors with their flat screen tvs and their cellular phones and their clothes

The things you can afford… but you know… let’s just pretend they’re still paying late 90’s prices and in a booming economy or something…

Also why you shouldn’t attack poor people for unhealthy eating — fresh vegetable calories are a lot more expensive than corn syrup calories, especially if you factor in travel costs for someone who lives in a food desert. It’s a dick move to yell at somebody for “individual responsibility” reasons when those individual choices are severely constrained by structural factors.

Capitalism: Great at providing cheap consumer electronics and toys, bad at providing healthy food, health care, and education. Putting it that way makes it sound like I hate capitalism; actually I’m serious that it’s great for certain things. Free markets are one institutional tool for large-scale decision making (others are democracy, courts, etc.) and we should use free markets for the things they’re good at. The problem comes from assuming that free markets are by definition the right solution to all problems.

Also, can we talk about that uppermost line? The skyrocketing cost of college tuition? I don’t think that’s an accident. I have a theory that one of the major functions of the university education system, the function nobody wants to talk about, is to enforce and perpetuate a class hierarchy within a society that doesn’t have a “class system” in the hereditary British sense. If the function of top colleges is to provide the richest x% of families with a guaranteed fast-track to power and prestige for their children, then they set prices so that only the richest x% can afford it, and then employers looking at a Harvard degree know the candidate “belongs” to the top x% of society. It doesn’t work if they let everybody in.  Meanwhile a generic 4-year college degree serves the purpose of a ticket to a middle-class white-collar job, and is priced for middle-class families to perpetuate middle-class membership in their children. Some small fraction of applicants are given scholarships each year to maintain the illusion of egalitarianism / give the lower class something to hope for within the current system so they don’t revolt.

If true, this theory explains why basically all middle-class jobs require a bachelor’s degree despite the total disconnect between the skills you learn while getting a bachelor’s degree and the skills required for the job. The system “worked” (despite being morally repellent) as long as there were decent jobs for the non-college-educated, but with the majority of blue-collar work offshored or automated away and the minimum wage not even keeping pace with inflation, that limited pool of white-collar jobs are now the only way to keep a family out of poverty. Imagine everybody struggling to climb into the top half of a system created to divide the top half from the bottom half: the more people struggling to be above that line, the faster the line rises. Employers can afford to be pickier and pickier, a college education only gets you the jobs that used to require a high-school education, and because demand is basically infinite, colleges can raise prices as much as they want without needing to improve the quality of education they deliver. That’s how college can get 40% more expensive in ten years even though nobody would suggest the education they provide is 40% better than it was 10 years ago. The quality of education is irrelevant to the function of separating the social classes, which is now caught in a runaway feedback loop.

Anybody who knows more than me about the state of college education/tuition want to support or refute this theory?


The second trend is that whether a student graduates or not seems to depend today almost entirely on just one factor — how much money his or her parents make. To put it in blunt terms: Rich kids graduate; poor and working-class kids don’t. Or to put it more statistically: About a quarter of college freshmen born into the bottom half of the income distribution will manage to collect a bachelor’s degree by age 24, while almost 90 percent of freshmen born into families in the top income quartile will go on to finish their degree.

When you read about those gaps, you might assume that they mostly have to do with ability. Rich kids do better on the SAT, so of course they do better in college. But ability turns out to be a relatively minor factor behind this divide. If you compare college students with the same standardized-test scores who come from different family backgrounds, you find that their educational outcomes reflect their parents’ income, not their test scores. Take students like Vanessa, who do moderately well on standardized tests — scoring between 1,000 and 1,200 out of 1,600 on the SAT. If those students come from families in the top-income quartile, they have a 2 in 3 chance of graduating with a four-year degree. If they come from families in the bottom quartile, they have just a 1 in 6 chance of making it to graduation.

(Source: always-returning, via moniquill)

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#WeNeedDiverseBooks because as an avid reader growing up, I never read a book with a heroine that looked like me. It wasn’t until my 30s, after my debut SILVER PHOENIX was published, that i realized I had written the novel that I never got to read as a teen. Cindypon.tumblr.com
Submitted by Cindy Pon, author of Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix.

This is my contribution to the fabulous #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign taking social media by storm. Join in!



#WeNeedDiverseBooks because as an avid reader growing up, I never read a book with a heroine that looked like me. It wasn’t until my 30s, after my debut SILVER PHOENIX was published, that i realized I had written the novel that I never got to read as a teen. Cindypon.tumblr.com

Submitted by Cindy Pon, author of Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix.

This is my contribution to the fabulous #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign taking social media by storm. Join in!

(via medievalpoc)

577 notes

Is This Just Fantasy?: LGBTQ+ Speculative Fiction


Speculative fiction has remained a fairly white, cis-gendered, & straight world for a long time.  The fact that there seem to be more dragons and robots than LGBTQ+ characters in fantasy & sci-fi novels is shameful and disheartening, especially to the genres’ LGBTQ+ fans.  So in celebration of LGBT Pride Month, I set out to overview the current status of LGBTQ+ representation in young adult fantasy and science fiction.

A great list of YA SF/F books with LGBTQ characters from YALSA’s The Hub!

151,004 notes



There’s a difference between a female character who exists in a story and has a romantic relationship with a male character versus a female character who exists in a story to have a romantic relationship with a male character


This is so important.

(via moniquill)

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Todd Lockwood's amazing animations of dragons in flight. The red dragon is conventional  - if any dragon can be considered conventional - but the gold dragon with that extraordinary wing and helix-ripple, not at all…

I just spent ten minutes staring at these. Thank you Todd!

I have always loved gold dragon wings! It’s so awesome to see them moving!

These are amazing.

(via w4rgoddess)

21 notes

Page Proofs Arrive for Court of Fives (YA)

Here’s an extremely basic version of how my part in the publishing process works in traditional commercial publishing (not other kinds, like self-publishing, which I don’t have enough expertise to discuss):

I write a book. Maybe I write an entire first draft and then sell it to a publisher or maybe I sell it on proposal and write it after I have a contract. I revise the work some number of times and turn it into my editor.

The editor gives me revision notes, and I revise.

After several revision passes, the manuscript goes to a copy editor who goes over it to make sure there is proper grammar, consistency of usage and nomenclature, and no awkward language, and to check for a character’s eyes changing color from brown to blue and other such random mistakes.

The manuscript gets typeset into the visual form it will have as a book. At this point I get sent first pass page proofs to proof for typos and any final minor line edits. Page proofs for my forthcoming YA fantasy novel arrived this week.

Here is a photo of the title page of COURT OF FIVES, with lovely typography and design.

A photo of the title page of Court of Fives, Book One of The Fives, Kate Elliott. From the page proofs.

I have a full month to proof the text. So far the text has been very clean.

Here’s the first page:


On more step closer to publication, which is (alas) still a ways off: Summer 2015, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

I will have more information about the story and publication details in a later post. Meanwhile, I’m thrilled to see my “Little Women meet the Count of Monte Cristo in a setting inspired by Greco-Roman Egypt” fantasy turning into a book.

Filed under Kate Elliott Court of Fives the fives

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THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOT is varied and finely crafted



On his More Red Ink blog, editor Marty Halpren writes about his current assignment, The Very Best of Kate Elliott.

The beauty of any “best of” collection is that it allows the reader to experience the full expanse of the author’s writing and story telling. And, if the collection is indeed worth its (literal) weight, then the book will hopefully have some small treasure, a story unfamiliar to the reader, even if the reader is one of the author’s biggest fans. That was true of The Very Best of Tad Williams (see my November 13, 2013 blog post); and it holds true on my most recent project, The Very Best of Kate Elliott, both from Tachyon Publications.

Read More

FYI if you’re interested in my short fiction. I have written more novels than short pieces, as it happens, so every piece of short fiction I have written in my 25 year career (SO FAR) is collected here except for 3 Spiritwalker pieces that were too tied to the Spiritwalker Trilogy to be appropriate for reprint in a collection like this. (I do plan to release a Spiritwalker collection of short pieces and essays eventually.)

Also reblogging for the awesome use they made of the utterly fabulous Julie Dillon art.

Filed under Kate Elliott Julie Dillon

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On Telling the Truth


I’m drawing a personal boundary on certain conversations, because I have other things to consider currently.

The truth I’ve been keeping off of this particular blog has been that I have had to call the police and make reports for stalking, harassment, and threats four times in the last 6-8…


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I posted this as a sequence of Tweets and wanted to log it here as well.


Finally printed out my 4 single spaced pages of note from 2 hour phone call with my editor. I added these notes to the 20 page edit notes she subsequently emailed me (but which she had already written before she made the phone call).

This is the glamorous writing life, people. An editor who makes you dig and dig and dig is a treasure.

I wrote the bulk of BLACK WOLVES (my new epic fantasy) after my father died last fall because I had to do something. The 1st draft is a mess. In fact, I spent much of the time writing it wondering if I should just dump the whole idea, or dump writing in general. But I couldn’t stop. Stopping would have been like dying. Or like facing grief.

I forced myself through to a 200,000 word first draft because I had to, whether I kept the story or not. Because I knew I couldn’t trust the negativity in my head. I had to get it out regardless of the end result.

When I finally sent it to my editor I didn’t know if she would say, “Um, can we start over?” OR “Okay, let’s dig in.”

She said, “DIG IN.”

Sometimes being told you have work to do is the best gift someone can give you. Because it means the work is worth doing.

Filed under writing Black Wolves Kate Elliott