Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Men’s Fiction Part I (of III): What it is and isn’t

June 27th, 2014 • by Karen A. Chase • 1 Comment


Two factors recently made me wonder if fiction could be categorized into male and female.

First, two weeks ago James Franco’s summer reading list came out and he received some flack because it was almost entirely male authors. Second, based on a couple agent rejections, I’m worried how my historical fiction is being viewed–both as a female author and because of a male protagonist. Historical novels authored by women often have female leads and are targeted toward female readers. (Like The Other Boleyn Girl.) They are often represented by agents who also handle romance, not military non-fiction. In reality, my novel has more battles than bodice-ripping (think, Jeff Shaara), but would that alone make it male-focused fiction?

I am clearly not a dude. So in an effort to explore the topic, I spoke with Don Houts of the blog MenReadingBooks. In this three-part blog series, “West Coast Don” and I will talk about:
I: What men’s fiction is and isn’t.
II: What makes it great.
III: Why we (all) should read it.



Karen: So, what would you consider men’s fiction?
Don: It’s easier to define what it’s not. It isn’t overly detailed about relationship stuff. That’s not to say it doesn’t include it, like in Kathryn Stockart’s The Help. But drilling down on relationships just isn’t the focus. Her story primarily captured the human experience of racism from different perspectives.

Karen: She is one of a handful of female authors included in a very long-list of male authors on your site.
Don: I would guess close to 90% of books that appeal to men, are written by men. But women like Louise Penny are in there. She’s an example of how women don’t need to write like they think a man would write in order to appeal to men. She has a feminine touch, yet she doesn’t try too hard. Her fiction is not brutal or grisly. Even male authors can overdo that.

Karen: Colleen McCullough with her factual-fiction about Julius Caesar might be considered male-fiction. Is that partly because of the genre? Or is it her historically accurate details?
Don: Often male fiction is historical. Or it’s crime. Thrillers. War. Some mystery. But again, it’s about the content. It’s about how artfully the amount of detail is handled. Academic books are often too dense. It doesn’t always have to, but men’s fiction tends to inform like non-fiction. Dan Brown is a good example of fiction that includes a large volume of data, but in a way that’s compelling.

Next week in Part II, Don and I will discuss what makes men’s fiction great.

In the meantime, readers, do you read what you would consider to be male fiction? If so, why do you think it’s male fiction? Or is there a distinction to you?

The Canadian Flag is Out

June 20th, 2014 • by Karen A. Chase • 3 Comments
My Canadian flag, it stands on guard for thee.

My Canadian flag, it stands on guard for thee.

Hello again readers. I’ve missed you!

Summer is here and the Canadian Flag is out. Yes, Canada Day is just around the corner on July 1st, but it’s not the only reason this flag waves.

My historical novel about the Declaration of Independence is edited and I’ve begun the work of pitching suitable agents (more on this in the coming weeks). Friends and family have graciously begun inquiring about the process.

“Get an agent, yet? How about now? Now?”

Not only did a receive a rejection 1 hour and 35 minutes after submitting my first query, I know there are more to come. Even famous writers get them. Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, revealed to More Magazine that she was rejected a whopping 60 times. 6-0!

Rejections are part of the process. I’m not trying to sell this book to agents and publishers, I’m trying to connect with the one agent who sees the potential in it as much as I do. Given that agents respond between 24 hours and 8 weeks, the process is unpredictable.

My friend and neighbor (another Karen), suggested I put out a sign so she didn’t have to keep asking. Brilliant!

The Canadian Flag will fly while I am still submitting to agents and publishers. Once I receive an offer on my 1776 historical novel, I’ll put out the American Flag. (Funny, right?)

I, too, look forward to seeing it wave over the home of the brave.





Editor Master

April 24th, 2014 • by Karen A. Chase • 3 Comments

Last time on Compositions, I wrote about searching for a new editor. After I queried several developmental editors, it became clear that my novel didn’t need massive plot and character work. So I ended up selecting a woman from right here in Richmond to help me line edit and clean it up a bit. Kris Spisak of K.S. Writing, who edits at all levels, agreed to work on the book with me from a copyedit standpoint. I must brag about her here, even at the risk of her becoming so busy she won’t have time for me either.

What I got back from Kris was gloriously beyond simple punctuation and grammar remarks. She gave thoughtful suggestions on word choices for specific characters. She highlighted where to insert “show-don’t-tell.” (Sometimes I failed to show someone’s jaw clenching, and merely said they were angry.) She pointed out where I used clichés instead of my unique voice, and where I repeated phrases unecessarily. She wrote in comments like “cool” or “well done” when I did things right, so I could also learn from my own good work. It is nothing short of a mini masters class in creative writing.

Because of her new edits, and the polishing required on the rest of the manuscript, Compositions will quiet for a few weeks. I have serious work to do, and in the end I want to show you the novel rather than just tell you about it.

In the meantime, if you’re in the Richmond area and want to attend an actual masters writing class, there is one in my neighborhood. Sign up with James River Writers online and the event is tomorrow (Friday).

April Master Class Poster