IWD: Taking Credit

IWD: Taking Credit, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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Some writers work for money. Some work for the sake of the art. But if there’s one thing just about all writers expect in return for their work, it’s credit. Unfortunately, this basic acknowledgement of a person’s contribution to the world isn’t always accorded to women.

The French writer Colette’s first husband, after encouraging her to pursue writing, went ahead and took credit for her work. At one point, when she refused to write more stories for him, he locked her in a room with nothing but a typewriter. Although Colette eventually divorced him and got back credit (after his death) for her popular Claudine series, her husband owned the copyright and she never saw a dime from the books, the stage adaptation, or the extensive Claudine-themed merchandise.

IWD: Taking Credit, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

“Anonymous,” a published author, recounts how at a meeting in Hollywood with actors and a showrunner (all male), her story was casually taken, altered just enough, and used for their own benefit without consideration or credit to her. They profited while she got nothing for her work. She is now forced to write as Anonymous because her ex-husband, also a writer, has been violent and is a threat.

IWD: Taking Credit, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby), has a reputation as a free-spirited (some would say wild) flapper who ended up “crazy.” As it happens, she was also a promising writer whose celebrated husband stole entire passages of her work, letters, and diaries to use in his own novels (he also helped himself to his friends’ words and experiences, and accused Zelda of writing about their marriage in her book before he could do the same in his). He may have spread rumours that she was mentally unfit and likely intentionally pushed her to a nervous breakdown. Today Zelda’s writing is hardly known, while F. Scott’s is required reading.

Sadly, these are only three examples of women not getting the credit they’re due. Throughout history women’s work– writing, as well as every other kind– has been diminished, ignored, sometimes destroyed. Men take credit for it without hesitation, as famously happened with scientist Rosalind Franklin. The women who create get buried and forgotten. On this International Women’s Day, take a moment to think of all the women throughout the centuries who have had their legacies taken by men who felt entitled to their credit.

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

Further Reading

The Life of French Writer Colette

Colette Only Shows a Sliver of Colette’s Eventual Love Life– Here’s the Rest

Famous Bis: Colette

This Side of Plagiarism

The First Flapper: Zelda Fitzgerald

#ThanksforTyping: the women behind famous male writers

16 Brilliant Women from History Who Got No Credit for Their Groundbreaking Work

Matilda Effect

“I Made that Bitch Famous”

11 Overlooked Women From History

 

 

Challenge Accepted: 10 Questions for Indie Authors

10 Questions for Indie Authors blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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This challenge was posted by Annelise Driscoll.

The rules are simple:

1. Copy and paste the questions into a blog post.
2. Answer the questions.
3. Leave a link to your post in the comments section below!

Bonus! You don’t have to be an indie author to do this challenge. All writerly types are welcome!

10 Questions for Indie Authors blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

1. Are you a country mouse or a city mouse?

City, all the way, especially in a city like Toronto, where we have tons of trees, green space, and wildlife– it’s the best of both worlds (my only complaint/regret is how few stars you can see at night because of all the light pollution).

10 Questions for Indie Authors, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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2. Where do you like to write?

Right now it’s the couch with my laptop, but anywhere comfortable and quiet will do.

3. What’s your favorite writing snack?

My writing is fuelled by iced coffees and matcha lattes.

10 Questions for Indie Authors blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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4. Do you like music or silence?

Silence. I’m too easily distracted by anything else (and the rhythm of music throws off the rhythm of my writing).

5. What’s your favorite procrastination technique?

Probably Pinterest. But I can’t procrastinate too long before my anxiety starts ramping up and I have to write or edit to shut it up.

6. What does your desk look like?

At the moment it looks like a bunch of pieces, unfortunately. It seems to have been broken in the last move and I haven’t wanted to unwrap and look at it to find out for sure. Since we’re about to move again, it’s time I finally face it and figure out what to do next (anyone know a good carpenter?)

10 Questions for Indie Authors blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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7. How do you arrange your bookshelves?

Fiction is arranged alphabetically by author and then book title (although I will keep series in order, rather than sorting by title). Non-fiction is arranged by topic/genre and then alphabetically by title. Boring, but it’s easy to find what you want.

8. What inspired you to go indie?

I decided to go indie when I realized that being well known is more important to traditional publishers than being a good writer.

9. How do you feel about book dedications?

I’ve read some good ones, and I enjoy dedicating my books, so I’m all for them.

10 Questions for Indie Authors blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

10. What kind of monster would you most like to be?

It would be disappointing if I said anything other than vampire, wouldn’t it? Luckily that’s always been my monster of choice. Although vengeful spirit is not without its charm…

How about you? What kind of monster would you want to be? Share your answer to this or any of the other questions in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Read an Ebook Week Sale: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, and Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas
Don’t forget– the Smashwords ebook sale starts tomorrow!

8 Reasons Why Indie Bookshops Need to Support Indie Authors

people inside bookstore
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Although some insist that independent bookstores are doing just fine, I think it’s safe to say that, for many, keeping the lights on in the last few years has been– and continues to be– a struggle. At a time when people seem to be reading less, and those who do can buy books cheaper and more conveniently at a certain online retailer, indie shops are left in an ongoing precarious position while they try to find new ways to increase (or maintain) sales. I have a suggestion for them: support independently published authors.

Indie authors fall through the cracks with bricks-and-mortar bookstores for a number of reasons. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Seeking out and featuring the works of indie authors is a mutually beneficial– and smart –practice for indie bookstores to adopt. Here are a few reasons why:

food colorful sweet bear
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1. It sets you apart.

When Michelle Obama’s book came out, every bookstore’s website or Facebook page I visited had it plastered front and centre. More recently the same thing happened with Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. Your store is selling these extremely popular books? Great! So is literally every other store. I’m not saying don’t offer the guaranteed sellers, but what does your store have that others don’t? How about a specially curated section of indie works? If customers are going to go to the trouble of actually visiting a shop, you need to offer something new and interesting and different. Worried indies won’t sell? An informed and engaging staff or a little extra promo can make all the difference.

2. It’s a new revenue stream.

While books may not be anything new for bookstores, indie books and authors are. These are books most customers may not have heard of, simply because the promotion isn’t there for indies. Don’t underestimate the power of introducing something new to customers, or the appeal of an underdog/unconventional author.

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3. It helps you be truly local.

Does a famous author live or work in your store’s neighbourhood? No? Chances are an indie author does. Why not connect with your community by supporting the authors in it? Your customers would probably love to know about the talent living down the street. Local authors also provide great opportunities for in-store events and signings.

4. It creates diversity.

The truth is traditional publishing is not known for its openness to diversity. It’s getting better, but the focus still tends to be rather narrow. Many indie authors eschew traditional publishing for that very reason. By supporting indie you’re contributing to much-needed diversity in literature– something customers, especially younger customers, appreciate.

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5. You could discover the next great read.

Excluding an entire category of books from your store ensures that not only are you missing out on something fantastic, but so are your customers. It’s impossible to predict what will strike just the right nerve with readers, but the more books your customers can access, the more chances for one to take off. Imagine the bragging rights (and marketing opportunities) when you can say “we loved this author first.”

6. Indie publishing is here to stay.

Indie publishing was the original publishing and it’ll be here long into the future. The truth is, traditional publishing is not serving authors well, which is why so many authors choose to go the indie route. As publishing houses consolidate (or disappear) and publishers care more and more about big names rather than new talent, indie authors will only increase in number. Booksellers can choose to support these authors, or they can be left behind.

7. Authors buy books too.

It’s wise to remember that authors are also potential customers. Any store that carries my books has an instant fan. Not only will I make a point of shopping at that store, but you’d better believe I’ll also tell everyone I know about it. Margaret Atwood might appreciate that you carry her books, but she’ll never encourage anyone to shop at your store.

my face when, aspasia s. bissas

8. Indie should support indie.

Several indie bookstores offer Love Lies Bleeding online (you can see the list here). As an independent author, I want to promote my fellow indies, so I post about these stores on my website, blog, and social media. But it can get a little cringey when I see indie bookstores asking people to support them, and then turning around and looking down on/ignoring indie authors. If you truly care about indies, you need to support all indies; otherwise, why should anyone support you?

 

Love Lies Bleeding is a dark fantasy novel about delusion, obsession, and blood. Love Lies Bleeding (ISBN-13: 978-1775012528/ISBN-10: 1775012522) is available in paperback and e-book and can be ordered wholesale from Ingram and other distributors. If you’d like to find out more about my books, click here.

7 ways to support indie authors, aspasiasbissas.com  free short story by aspasia s. bissas Tooth & Claw, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas

What do you think? Should independent bookstores make a point of supporting independent authors, or should we just stick with the status quo? Share in the comments.

 

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

IWD: The Sexism That Writers Endure

man wearing suit jacket sitting on chair in front of woman wearing eyeglasses
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From the start, women writers have had to endure an unending slew of sexist attitudes and commentary. Pick a writer and she’ll tell you about comments claiming women aren’t serious writers, that they don’t write “important” works, and aren’t worthy of awards or acclaim. Women writers can tell you about how there is a constant assumption that they must write romance or “chick lit,” that they don’t write anything a man would want to read, that they can’t write certain genres, or that women’s fiction is fluffy and sentimental. We can tell you about how we’re questioned in a way male authors never are about work-life balance, how we can possibly work and take care of our children and homes and partners. The list goes on. And when we dare complain about any of it, we’re accused of being “whiny” and “privileged.”

On this International Women’s Day, I’m sharing a few of the sexist remarks said to, or of, women authors:

Sci-fi author Gérard Klein about Ursula K. Le Guin: ” … her art is the product of ‘a happily resolved childhood, an active feminine genitality, and her intellectual indebtedness to her historian husband.'”

 

Audience member at a reading, to Julia Fierro: “Who is taking care of your children?”

 

A reader, commenting about The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris: “The novel is ‘capitalising on the fandom of Tom Hiddleston.'”

 

Author David Gilmour, on not teaching women authors in his class at the University of Toronto: “I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women.”

 

Author V.S. Naipaul about Diana Athill: “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not… My publisher, who was so good as a taster and editor, when she became a writer, lo and behold, it was all this feminine tosh. I don’t mean this in any unkind way.”

 

Interviewer to Victoria A. Brownworth: “I don’t think women should be writing about this kind of violence.”

 

A lecture attendee to Joanne Freeman: “How does your husband handle your wit?”

 

A one-time boss of hers, about Clarice Lispector: “She was ‘a smart girl, an excellent reporter, and, in contrast to almost all women, actually knows how to write.'”

 

Random people, to Lis Harris: “Oh, you’re a serious writer? But you’re so pretty!”

 

N.S. Willis, to his sister, Fanny Fern: “[…he stated that] her writing was ‘too vulgar’ and she should continue with her needlework instead.”

 

To these I’ll add a quote from Charlotte Brontë, which she wrote in response to harsh reviews. This is (or should be) the unofficial motto of women writers everywhere:

“It would take a great deal to crush me.”

person using green typewriter on brown wooden surface
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The problem of sexism in publishing is improving–the fact that it’s finally being acknowledged is an important first step. Will it be solved anytime soon? As with other forms of inequality, probably not in my lifetime (although I live in hope). But there are things everyone can do to help get us there:

  • Read books by women (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comic books, essays, articles…)
  • Review books by women (whether on a book site, store site, social media, or your own blog)
  • Buy books by women (let publishers know what you want to read)

If you want to start right now, you can download my free story Blood Magic. One reviewer wrote about it: “A sign of the times, this short story should be folded up, put inside an envelope, and slid inside the goody bags ready for the male attendees of the next Golden Globe Awards.”

Happy International Women’s Day. Show your support by reading more women.

Find Out More:

‘How to Suppress Women’s Writing’: 3 Decades Old and Still Sadly Relevant

Women Writers Are Over Hearing These Sexist Comments

Women’s Fiction Is a Sign of a Sexist Book Industry

Canadian Author David Gilmour Sparks Furore Over Women Writers

7 Breathtakingly Sexist Quotes by Famous and Respected Male Authors

A Woman’s Place

Sexism in Publishing: My Novel Wasn’t the Problem

Female Authors Are Speaking Out About the Everyday Sexism They Experience

The True Glamour of Clarice Lispector

I talked to 39 Women Who Write Nonfiction, and Here’s What I’ve Learned

The Evolution of Female Writers

5 Things Sexism Deniers Say to Woman Writers

 

5 Famous Authors’ Drafts

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Although readers are generally interested in a writer’s final product, it can be interesting to see the early process. Drafts can be funny, surprising, and illuminating. For example…

Joseph Conrad’s preface to Victory:

jc victory

Conrad had trouble deciding on the right wording to convey his meaning in this preface. He was hesitant about using the word “victory” in relation to World War 1, and he couldn’t decide whether he was worried about “misleading,” “deceiving” or another word I can’t make out (any guesses?) the public.

Sylvia Plath’s outline for The Bell Jar:

sp bell jar

This outline was written two years before The Bell Jar was published. Since no copy of the manuscript draft survives, this outline is the only evidence of Plath’s original intentions for the book. Apparently Plath had planned a “coda” of two extra chapters at the end of the book. There are also smaller changes, such as the character of Joan starting out as Jane.

Marcel Proust’s draft of Remembrance of Things Past:

mp remembrance of things past

Shirley Hazzard’s draft for The Great Fire:

sh the great fire

Both Proust and Hazzard show that, no matter the time period, the first draft is never the final draft. How either could even decipher their edits is a mystery.

Mark Twain’s notebook:

mt notebook

Twain, pondering the concept of a doctor writing a play, jotted down several potential character names, including Siphillis Briggs, Asphyxia Beedle, and Typhoid Billings.

Would you want to see your favourite author’s early drafts and notes? Share in the comments…

See more:

Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King

George Orwell’s 1984

Emily Dickinson’s poetry (written on an envelope)

Christina Georgina Rosetti’s poetry

A Peek Inside the Notebooks of Famous Authors, Artists and Visionaries