Look, here I am! It’s been a few weeks, sorry. But I have some news, so I feel good about that.
I’ve finished the first draft of Downside 4; finished it at 5:30 this morning in fact, and it came in at 130,419 words. That’s a lot. Again, to give some perspective, the final version of CITY OF GHOSTS was just over 110k, and that was with epigrams included in the word count (I don’t do those until the end). So this is a lot longer. It won’t end up this long, I don’t think; there’s a lot of editing to be done. But yeah, it’s long.
Am I happy with it? I’m very happy with some of it. I’m not as happy with some of it. That’s what edits are for. What always matters the most to me is the writing itself, and I’m generally pleased with that, so I feel confident the rest can be fixed.
And then I get to start the fifth one! Which I’m really excited about. The fourth book brings some big changes, and it’s going to be a blast seeing how they shake out in the fifth book, not to mention the story I have planned which is something I’ve wanted to write for a long time. So yay!
I also have some other news. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this, questions I haven’t been able to answer because of a contractual obligation and some other stuff like that. But I did want to let everyone know that as of a few days ago the Downside Market is no longer being handled by Southern Promo. They’re a great company and they didn’t do anything wrong, it just became obvious that the way they do things and the way I do things were not truly compatible. I’m currently working on getting a new store set up on Spreadshirt–which had the lowest prices I could find of the CafePress/Zazzle-type place, and I’ve ordered stuff from them in the past and found the quality quite good. I’m hoping that will be up and running in the next few days, and it’ll have lots more variety and options than the old store. I’m excited about that, and I hope you all like it.
And we’re all deep into the shopping thing here. Deep deep deep indeed. Especially since we’ve been broke the last few months; an unexpected check arrived on Friday, which means we now will have a good holiday. And my Faerie, who turns six on Wednesday, will have a great birthday. Which actually reminds me of something irritating.
See, the hubs is a comics guy. We both like them, we’re both into all that stuff, blah blah blah. But it’s something both of our girls have been raised with (remember, Princess was Supergirl for Halloween last year, and Iron Girl this year). They have a whole collection of action figures; they can name every member of the Justice League, when they get to pick something to watch on TV it’s very often Batman or Spiderman cartoons. They don’t play with Barbies half as often as they play with their Justice League figures, or their Marvel Superhero Squad figures (and I think you guys saw their artwork on the Marvel Comics blog a few months back). Princess is, in fact, determined that she’s going to draw for Marvel when she’s a grown-up, and we encourage her in that.
So when we asked Faerie what she wanted for her birthday, her answer was this Batcave playset thingie. We checked with her a few times, was she sure; yes she was. So we went looking for it.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that, much like it annoys me when Father’s Day approaches and stores begin offering special deals and shipping and stuff for neckties and golf equipment, but if your husband/father/brother/whatever likes something else you get diddly–and probably get your stuff delayed so the golf guys can have a happy day–I’m getting emails from different places with selections of “Gifts for Boys,” which are action figures and playsets and games and video stuff, and “Toys for Girls,” which are Barbie heads whose hair you can “style,” (which we all know works once and then the hair becomes hopelessly snarled and the face stained), and baby dolls. I find this so irritating, I really do.
It’s not a big deal, I know. Nothing prevents me from looking at the “boys” email and picking stuff for my girls. Nothing prevents someone with a boy from getting him a baby doll if it’s what he wants. But this ties into a larger issue about women and superheroes, women and comics, women and “boy things.”
The hubs sent me this article last week, which is unfortunately down for the moment (should be up any second) but it’s excellent. It’s about how when Underoos were first sold it was assumed that girls wanted them as much as boys, and that girls wanted specifically superhero Underoos, Wonder Woman and Supergirl and all of that. But over time those were phased out, and that happened at around the time comics etc. started leaving women behind, too.
People say “Girls don’t read comics.” But do they not read comics because they have no interest, or do they not read comics because some of them can be, frankly, openly misogynistic? Many of them, in fact? I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that since they’re all about men, there’s nothing to interest women, as if we’re stupid and can only enjoy something that relates to us specifically and/or our own specific viewpoint(s). But when it’s not just a case of not putting women in starring roles, but of making them cardboard characters or villains, or even being openly contemptuous…I have to wonder. It’s not so much that the books themselves are sexist as that the industry makes very little effort to reach out to women, and I think that’s a real shame.
I was one of those Wonder Woman Underoos girls. I bet there are a lot of us. And I think it’s a shame that even now, even when we’re older and presumably have some kind of voice, I’m still getting emails that classify superhero toys as “Boy things” and Barbie heads as “Girl things.”
I’m not saying boys and girls don’t automatically like different things; I know a lot of the time they do. certainly my girls both seemed to be born pink-obsessed, even though I never bought them pink things, really, and never encouraged that. But there’s something to be said for exposing them to other things and letting them decide, too. That they often have members of the JLA asking each other out on dates is irrelevant, because they just as often have them beating up villains. There’s room for both, isn’t there?