Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sherlock vs. Elementary

Once again proving that Hollywood ran out of original ideas about 38 years ago, CBS is planning a new series re-imagining Sherlock Holmes as a modern-day detective in New York city, Elementary. Not only are they revamping British Victorian literature, but they're revamping BBC's Sherlock that's currently in production. That would be enough to irritate me, but the fact that they have turned John Watson into Joan Watson disgusts me. Maybe, and I stress the maybe, I'd've been all over this when I was a teenager (about half a million years ago) because, theoretically, it means a new strong female character on television. There was little enough of that when I was growing up. Now, though, all I can see is the fact that CBS appears to be desperate to heteronormatise a relationship that, at its core and in its origin, it is a story about a friendship between two men. If they think they're going to gain female viewership this way, well... Maybe they'll gain some, but I'll bet cold hard cash that a huge part of why many (dare I say most?) women are watching BBC Sherlock is because of the gorgeously slashy nature of the relationship they've built between Sherlock and John.

What do you think? Do you care? Will you watch Elementary anyway? I freely admit that, should they make this disaster and air it, I will likely watch it with the goal of finding everything they've done wrong. (Me, judgmental? Hell yes.) I will be pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong, but I don't anticipate that happening. And in the meantime, I will once again mainline Sherlock S2 to try to cleanse my mind of the horrors of even the suggestion of a Joan Watson.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Here we are, this last Sunday in February, the year of our Lord 2012. The Academy Awards are this evening! Yes, I will be watching, because I'm a sucker for beautiful dresses and expensive jewels. A man in a tux isn't too hard on the eyes, either.

We have rain coming to southern California tomorrow and I was talking to my bestie this morning about the weather. Am I a mean person for wishing the rain would come tonight so I could see all of Hollywood try to stay dry and glamorous on the red carpet? Rich people problems, that's what that is, right there. "Oh dear, my $8,000 Valentino gown is wet! My hair will muss! My makeup will run!"

Good thing they have millions of dollars to help themselves get over the rain.

In other news, I was reminded yesterday how much I love men that can fix things and do projects. My husband installed two of our new windows and I got to watch. I'm thinking of putting a handyman in my next story. A jack of all trades that can change the car's oil, build a fence in the backyard, and fix the washing machine when it goes kerplunk.

I can actually do all of those things too (with a little assistance) but it's so much nicer to watch a man do it, don't you think? Two men would be even better.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Inspiration is other people

I’m not sure who said it, but today on the train, I remembered the truism “hell is other people”, and there’s much to be said for that (as somebody who’s been bullied and comes from a very odd family indeed, I’m the first to subscribe to that world view. Hell IS other people).

But the reverse is also true, and like all sides of a coin, they aren’t that far apart, either. I’ve encountered a fair few authors in my life who suffer like dogs when anybody is more successful than them. Not just envy - gut-churning hatred up to the point where they are almost losing their lunch over somebody’s success. To these, hell is other writers, even the fact that anybody writes stories out there. Or has ever written anything, or will ever write anything - because The Enemy is any piece of work by anybody not themselves.

I’ve lost friends over this. Some people were so envious that I sold a novel or a story or even have what they call “a track record” in print publishing that they couldn’t deal with it. The constant sniping and “but I’m really a better writer than you” not-quite-jokes kinda gave it away.

A few months ago, I met a very lovely lady here in London. She’s also a writer (I tend to do better with other creative types in my social life), and I ended up feedbacking her novel that had suffered damage from some rather inconsiderate input from high-powered people in the business, so she could submit it to a new literary agent. I helped her put the novel back on track, I talked her down from the cliff, I listened to the whole range from self-deprecation to dismay, just listening and offering some ideas. Once the edits were made, I put everything else on hold to proof the novel, because she’s my friend, because the novel’s good, and because I was the right person at the right time. I could help, so I did.

Two weeks later, she’s signed with a prestigious literary agency that, so far, seems to be doing everything right, with everything on track for a series book deal in the mainstream. From zero (previously unpublished), my friend is on track to make a huge splash in a market that actually pays money, supported by people who seem to know what the hell they are doing.

It’s the kind of thing that has never happened to me and quite possibly never will, considering what type material I'm writing. It’s the kind of thing I wanted ten years ago and then weaned myself off of. I’m rather happy being a medium-sized fish in a tiny pond, as my partner calls me, often enough mockingly. I’d have gone on writing what I do and for whom I did happily for many years without even looking across the fence to the mainstream. Because, yeah, the mainstream sucks, getting an agent is near-impossible, I'm a non-native speaker competing with natives, and I write dark and intense stuff. Barbara Cartland I'm not.

Throughout her path, I’ve carefully examined my emotions. Am I actually envious? Logic says I should be, right? It used to be a pattern in my younger years.

But I’m not. My friend is the perfect example of a very talented, extremely hard-writing (meant to say “hard-working”, but I love this Freudian slip), humble and nice person getting a break. I have other friends who got big or biggish in the mainstream, even one literary sensation.

I’m not comparing my fortunes to them – I see how much work it takes to get there. And I’m not competing with them, because what can you possibly compete in? Sales numbers? Royalty payments? At the end of the day, considering the sales numbers and royalties of some really horrendous books out there, that metric is completely meaningless.

The only way to measure success for me is by metrics I’m setting myself. The only person I have to beat and to compete with is myself. And that is pretty much all about trying to grow my sales over time and not publishing one bad book (it’ll happen, but I can try to avoid that as best I can, because what I consider "a solid book" might still be hated by my readers, and I'm experimenting every now and then, and some experiments go badly wrong).

What her success does, though, is one thing. It has reminded me that I have the occasional mainstream-workable idea. It was one of the two things that has led to a re-think in terms of my writing career, the other being the bullying dynamics unleashed by a number of people in November 2011 (I’m starting to thank the gods for that, actually, not for the bullying, but for the response to it - the bullies can still go and fuck themselves until they mend their ways). In the end, I’m emerging from late 2011 a saner, healthier, happier, more productive and more ambitious writer.

I’m emerging as a writer who will give this mainstream thing a shot, as I’ve promised my partner years ago, as I’ve considered for years (now that my English is good enough), and I’ll see if I can hack it. The first books are historicals and I rather suspect that’s where I’m heading overall, but gods know where this will take me. It's an adventure not unlike the one I embarked on when I wrote the first paragraph of "Special Forces", my first long-form English language gay story, committing myself to years of work and putting myself on the map. Or when I wrote "Deliverance", my first commercial English language story. Or when I wrote Scorpion, Counterpunch, Dark Soul - each and every single one a leap forward and a huge risk.

Now writing mainstream fiction, I’m not competing with my friend (I’m working in historicals, she in a totally different genre) - I’m using her as inspiration to dream bigger dreams than I have recently. Nothing is more inspiring than the positive example of other people.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New interview and book giveaway

Good morning, Slash & Burners!

Fellow author Natalie G. Owens has interviewed me over at her blog. We touch on topics like how and why I started writing M/M and yaoi. One lucky commenter wins a title of their choice from my backlist. That includes my M/M catalog, so be sure to drop by and say hello! Find the interview and leave your comments at:



~ Katrina Strauss

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Celebration

There are many things I could say about Valentine's Day, and very few of them are positive. I'm simply not a fan of this so-called "holiday." But this year there is something genuinely worth celebrating. You see, my state, the Evergreen State, the great state of Washington has finally legalized same-sex marriage. Wheee! The governor, as she promised, signed the bill into law just yesterday. Of course, the haters will come out and try to gather signatures against so that we have to vote over it on November's ballot; that sucks, but it is just part of the process. I'm not complacent that they'll go down in flames, but I am hopeful. You see, just the other year we already had a vote on marriage equality, or more accurately marriage near-equality. We have a domestic partnership law that is marriage-in-all-but-name. (The new law replaces it, btw.) Well, guess what? When asked to vote on it in 2009, "Washington voted in favor ... becoming the first state to ratify an 'everything but marriage' domestic partner law." Haters may hate, but the majority here are big believers in "live and let live." It's too much to hope that the bigots won't get enough signatures to put a repeal vote on the ballot for November, but even cynical me wants to believe that my state's voters will again do the right thing.

So, not being a huge Valentine's Day fan, myself, I will instead celebrate equality today.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Readers: Who is Your Favourite Publisher?

I'd love to know which romance publisher is your favourite and why. It is the quality of the writing? The variety of offerings? The customer service? The site design? The pricing?

Loose Id? Torquere? Ellora's Cave? Dreamspinner? Carina? Samhain? Somewhere else? Would love to hear your opinions!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I started the day with an idea to write about football. I even wrote a scene for my online serial, CRANK, featuring the Patriots and the Superbowl. As the day wore on, I realized I wasn't doing much of anything, to anxious about the game to focus on anything productive. My big idea to blog about my team started to fade.

Now that the game is over -- and if you don't know how it went, don't ask – I have absolutely no interest in writing about it. I do, however, want to write. That has nothing to do with the game, and everything to do with tequila and a lack of time to write anything productive over the past week.

So, anyway, I'm off to write more CRANK as my own little way to drown my sorrows. If you'd like to join me, you can read CRANK free, with a new chapter every Sunday evening: http://thecrank.wordpress.com/table-of-contents/

Pia Veleno

PS The resolutions from last month went okay. I'll write an update at my home blog (http://piaveleno.com) sometime this week. I can't wait on one of them though – the punk rock story, tentatively titled A Hound's Love, has not only been submitted, but also accepted by Loose Id. Huzzah!
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