Monday, September 15, 2014

Big Idea Book Bloggers - Dorris the Loris

Y'know, I'm still learning about this whole "how to be an author" gig.  How to ask for publicity.  How to manage my time.  How to present myself as the kind of person who totally doesn't make dick jokes at a conference meeting.

But in this business, one thing you learn really dang quick is that the book blogger is your almighty benevolent e-Jesus.  For those of us trying to get people to pay for something we were dumb enough to write for free, there is nobody more potent than someone who's made it their mission to 1) read a metric shedload of books and 2) tell the world about them.  

So in the spirit of gratitude, community, and helping you find books that don't suck, I'd like to spotlight some of my favorites.

As book bloggers go, Dorris (alias Kelly Rennie) is an odd one. For one thing, there are not too many tiny primates doing book reviews - and for another, her blog is not exclusively book-focused.  She covers what she calls "the four Fs": food, fashion, fantasy fiction, and feminism.  Now there's a mixed bag!

dat face!
And actually, One Night in Sixes was something of a mixed bag for her too. Which is more than fair!  Here's the wild part, though: not only was she game for talking to me and my editor about it on Twitter afterwards (which is NOT a traditional post-review activity!) but she then went out and wrote a whole new blog post called Diverse Fantasy: Five Great Reads to Get You Started, with this bewitching premise:

On the one hand, a common statement made in support of fantasy fiction is that it allows us to escape the every day,  the familiar, the humdrum. But if we settle for the same formulaic plots involving white farmboys saving the world with the help of greybeard wizards that spells aside could have walked out of an academic basement at any time in the last 100 years or so, don’t we deserve to feel bamboozled when something new comes along?

Can't lie, guys - that was kind of a mindbender moment for me. I'd never thought of that before - or rather, I'd never considered how easy it is for ANY of us, in any sphere (not just bookworld!) to get accustomed to business as usual... and consequently, to feel as lost and uncomfortable as a road-tripping hobbit when suddenly we find ourselves on the Path Less Taken.  (Exhibit A: me at every non-chain restaurant ever.)

I saw a great post once, which I wish I could find now, about political and social activism.  Basically, it spoke about how important it is to not get so caught up in your cause that you forget the enormity of what you're asking your listener to do - which is to say, to leave behind their old, comfortable point of view, and think in a totally new way.

I expect that's true of books as well.  Like, I don't believe for a minute that we should make that a reason not to reach for the stars and push to the limits... but I can definitely, definitely attest that after you've spent years tromping out in the metaphorical wilderness, it can be hard to come back to civilization and understand why all the comfortable couch-people don't want to come out and skin squirrels with you.  It's not that they're lazy.  It's not that they're chicken.  It's that what you're asking them to do has ZERO relation to any of what they're used to... and it's so, so much easier to get haughty and bitter about that than it is to wash out your beard-fungus, grow some empathy, and think about what you could do to help sweet-talk them out of their comfort zone.

Anyway, back to Dorris!  I'm so glad that she reviewed my book, not just because of the great discussion that it touched off, but also because I might never have run across her blog otherwise - and one glance at her archives proves that when it comes to tussling with big ideas, this ain't her first rodeo.  Some of my belated favorites:

Are we too hard on those upset by the death of public figures?

A rant about folk crafts

'Chubby' chick lit - for bigger women or bigger profits?

So there you have it, folks. I'm confident you've got a dozen awesome book-bloggers already on your RSS feed - but I'm plumb positive that you don't have any fashion-forward, body-positive, librivoracious members of subfamily Lorisinae... and isn't it about time you corrected that?

(I was going to post two more blog-folks here, but this is already so epic that I think we'll let it stand its own.  Tune back in next time - maybe we can make this a regular thing!)

The first key to love is the four L's: love, loathing, listening, and lemurs.


  1. I thought her comments on the language were interesting- I forget sometimes that many people never read Westerns. I discovered Louis L'Amour about the same time that I started on Heinlein and Norton, and even had a brief love affair with the works of J.T. Edson. (Like Cheetos, they're so bad for you that they are enjoyable)

    For those wanting a start, I highly recommend Andy Adams; Log of a Cowboy.

    1. Haha, will you believe that I did too, Pam? (Fail to realize that the language would be an obstacle for people, I mean.) Thanks much for the rec, though - firsthand accounts like that are priceless!

  2. Sigh. These are probably the same people who didn't blink at the made-up words in Anathem.

    I'm eagerly awaiting Book Two.