Books, Babes, and the Business: Kate J. Jenkins

Celebrating Women in Fiction

blog header cwifKate J. Jenkins

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I identify as a reader, and a very (very) early-stage writer. In the last year, through beta reading, I’ve become increasingly interested in working with authors on their work. By this, I mean editing and the exciting task of, hopefully, asking questions of and with authors that help them develop ideas and characters between first and final drafts. As I transition from my career as an attorney, I genuinely hope to engage in more of this work.

Do you focus on a certain genre with your work?

I read in several genres, but I find myself forever returning to horror, speculative, and, especially, crime fiction.  My girlfriend tells me, I’m not allowed to bring home any more crime fiction novels because piles of them already “decorate” the house adequately.  My own writing is horror / speculative fiction.  I remember reading a book of ghost stories when I was in kindergarten or first grade and getting a shiver at the end of a story.  I believe I’m still chasing that emotion when I read and when I write.  I love crime fiction because, when done well, it’s all about character and place.

Name a few of your favorite books/authors you’ve read recently.

I’ve loved all of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, in particular The Likeness about a detective who looks so much like a murdered graduate student that she pretends to be her and not to have died, and moves back into the house the woman shared with three other graduate students who are the primary suspects. I also enjoyed Night Film by Marisha Pessl, about investigation into the apparent suicide of the young daughter of a cult film horror film director who may or may not have committed atrocities against the people who’ve worked for him in his films. I love and will read anything by indie writer Allison M. Dickson.  She has the ability to create worlds and internal character voice that make her stories undeniably compelling.

Who has been the most influential female in your personal life and how has she shaped your work?

My mother.  She just returned from a two-year stint in rural Cambodia as a Peace Corps volunteer in July, 2013. She’s 65. This after a 25 year career as an attorney. She makes clear by her actions that honesty and commitment to the larger good are essential. I also think my girlfriend has helped me to become a much more at peace and, thus, kinder person by her own life example. In my writing, my dear friend Allison Dickson, who is always open to discussion about the craft.

If you could give yourself one piece of advice relating to the business, what would it be?

Start writing earlier, it truly is a craft that requires butt-in-chair hours. And, be less afraid, listen less to my own internal editor. Given that I’m at such an early stage of writing, I think I need to take this advice now, at 42 years old.

Do you have a current project coming up you would like to tell us about?

I’m working on a novel and on a couple of short stories.  My goal, as a writer, is to submit and/or self-publish a short story or two in 2014. I’m also looking seriously into offering editing services professionally, with the idea of perhaps creating my own micro-press.  Jennifer Greene has been incredibly generous in sharing her knowledge and experience as it relates to her respected press, Sekhmet Press, LLC. If I do it, I hope I can be as professional and encouraging as she and Sekhmet are for the authors they work with.

Where can we find you?

katejenkins1Right now, on Facebook.  I plan to have a website and Facebook page for writing and/or editing soon.

Books, Babes, and the Business: Mary Ann Peden-Coviello

Celebrating Women in Fiction

blog header cwifMary Ann Peden-Coviello

WiHM is nothing but self-promotion. Women use their sexuality to get ahead, and it gives them an unfair advantage over men.

I ought to write a couple books about rape and revenge under a female pen name. That way I can get in on this “Women in Horror Month” publicity.

I will pick up a horror novel by a man before I even try one written by a woman. Women don’t have the imagination that men do.

Women don’t write horror anyway. They just write romance with a few scary scenes.

Men are better storytellers than women.

There are more good horror novels written by men.

Why do we even need a “Women in Horror Month” anyway? Shouldn’t we just be writers, judged solely on the merits of our stories? Yes, in a perfect world, yes. I’d ask you to reread the comments I began this post with. I saw those comments in various forums in the last few days. I have not included the names of the people who made them, and I have reworded them slightly. I did not change the meaning, however, not even a little bit.

Women are not judged solely on the merits. Books written by women are not taken as seriously as those written by men except in the romance genre. (Men in that genre, by the way, face much the same discrimination and marginalization as women in horror.)

Malina Roos threw down a challenge. She took six pieces of writing (volunteered for the experiment by the writers of the pieces), half by men and half by women, and asked readers to decide which pieces were written by which gender. Here are the results. They are instructive.

As long as readers skip over a book written by a woman just because it was written by a woman we will need to celebrate those of us who elbow our way in, demanding a seat at the table and refusing to be patted on the head and set in a corner.

Oh, and that bit about women using their sexuality to ensure their success? Please. Granted, my success has mostly been in the editing department, but if I had relied on my sex appeal to gain that success, I’d be about as successful as an Alpine skier with a fear of heights.

As long as women are not taken seriously as writers of horror, we need to shine a spotlight on the ones who write and write well. Is one month every year too much to ask?

 And now the interview…

Please tell us a little bit about yourself… (would you describe yourself primarily as a writer, publisher, editor, artist, radio talk show host…)

I am a writer who edits. Or an editor who writes. I do copy-editing, not structural or developmental editing. I’m not so good at telling you that the second chapter is too long and the sixth chapter should be cut in half and Part A stuck back with chapter four and Part B expanded. However, if you want someone to catch your excessive point-of-view changes, repeated words, and then nag you about tags – well, I might be your Evil Editor of choice.

Do you focus on a specific genre with your work?

I’ve edited horror, adventure, fantasy, young adult mystery, and romance. I write horror, paranormal, mainstream literary—all of it with a leavening of humor.

Do you/Would you ever write under a male pseudonym?

No, I don’t think I would. I’m not going to say never, though. After all, I have never used a pseudonym since leaving the fanfiction world where I did use one. I use my whole double-barreled first and double-barreled last name. If you Google that name, you won’t find anyone but me. Why or why not? If the work felt as if it needed a male presenter, I might consider it. On the whole, though, I prefer my own name.

Name a few of your favorite books/authors you’ve read recently:

Killion Slade’s “Exsanguinate,” Valerie Douglas’ “The Coming Storm,” Jaime Johnesee’s “Bob The Sequel,” Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall,” Sue Grafton’s “W is For Wasted.” These are just the ones I’ve read in the last few days. My reading is all over the place. (I haven’t even begun to list the craft books I’m reading now. I’m a glutton for writing craft books.)

 Who has been the most influential female in your personal life and how have they shaped your work?

Probably my mother, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think. She loved me, but she never understood me and never believed I could do anything well. She passed away in 1996, and I began writing again in 1997 or 1998 after a twenty-year hiatus. I’m always still trying for her approval, even though I’ll never have it.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice relating to the business what would it be?

Don’t stop. Don’t let anyone tell you your talent doesn’t measure up to some standard they hold over your head. On the other hand, don’t think you know it all. Learn. Learn all the rules, so you can bend them, break them, twist them into pretzels with authority, style, and grace. If you don’t learn those rules, you’ll just look as if you don’t know any better.

Do you have a current project or upcoming project you would like to tell us about?

I’m writing a novella called “Zombies Ate My Homework.” The main character is a teacher. I’m working on a paranormal novel called “Rule Number One.” And a boatload of short stories. Of course, I’m always editing for someone as well.

Mary Ann can be found online here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryAnnPedenCovielloAuthorEditor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MAPedenCoviello

Blog: http://www.skewednotions.com

cropped for FB profileMary Ann was born in Arlington, Virginia, and has lived in several states, all below the Mason-Dixon Line. She has been married to the same man since 1976. She and her husband have two sons of their own, one unofficially adopted son, and one daughter-in-law. Even as a little girl, Mary Ann made up stories and continued to write through college. She stopped writing after she married. Twenty years or so later, she began dabbling in fanfiction. She had no confidence in her ability to create characters, so playing with someone else’s characters seemed safe. After a couple of years of fanfiction, she began writing original fiction again and has never looked back. Recently, she began editing. Her motto is simple: Every writer deserves an editor with a sharp eye and a nasty attitude.