Celebrating the Women of SFF and an Obscure (By Which I Mean Fake) Egyptian Goddess: Guest Post by JA Andrews
We’re joined today by self-publishing author JA Andrews for a celebratory post about fellow authors Andrews has met in the SFF community. Before we launch into her article, and discover this new Egyptian Goddess, let’s find out a little about Andrews’ latest novel, Raven’s Ruin, book two of The Keeper Origins:
The growing power in Sable’s words nearly changed the world. Until she was betrayed and silenced.
A year ago on the land’s biggest stage, Sable’s voice nearly burned down the carefully constructed lies of the Kalesh Empire.
Now, Sable’s skills are merely tools in High Prioress Vivaine’s desperate negotiations with the new Kalesh Ambassador, who’s denounced Sable as a zabat. A rebel. A firestarter.
Sable would love nothing more than to burn down the Empire.
But with threats against her sisters looming, the acting troupe driven away, and no news of Reese for a year, she’s too chained and alone to even light a spark.
Meanwhile, the Empire grows on the south like a disease and stretches its poisoned fingers even into the northern lands.
Desperate to fight, Sable sends details about the Kalesh to the one ember of hope kindling in the north – a small, mysterious band of rebels.
Vivaine hates the rebellion, though, and her spies have discovered their location—and that Sable is more deeply connected to them than she knows. Unless Sable turns her back on the rebellion and pledges loyalty to Vivaine, the prioress will reveal the rebel camp to the Kalesh.
But Vivaine should not be so rash, because the power of Sable’s voice is stirring again, the old coals being stoked into flames.
And she’s ready to embrace the title of zabat.
Find out more about JA Andrews’ series and upcoming novels on her website.
Celebrating the Women of SFF and an Obscure (By Which I Mean Fake) Egyptian Goddess
When the topic of women in a field that was historically male-dominated comes up, there are, rightly, many stories of the challenges that women have faced to get to where they are.
Today, though, I wanted to spend some time celebrating the women I’ve come to know in the Science-Fiction/Fantasy world. Whatever obstacles they’ve faced to get where they are, I have met dozens, maybe hundreds, of women who are succeeding at their goals in the speculative fiction world.
I’ve heard that if you want to succeed at something, surround yourself by those who are already succeeding, and I can say that surrounding myself with the women who write and critique and create SFF books has been foundational to the success I’ve found in my own career.
I had some ideas of where I wanted this article to go, but, when I started to write “women in SFF,” my auditory brain pointed out that “in SFF” sounds like some Egyptian deity.
So “women in SFF”, is obviously “the goddess Inesshephef.”
Which is just too much fun not to run with.
Now, Inesshephef may not be as well known as many Egyptian supernatural beings, like Imhotep or Anck Su Namun (yes, my Egyptian mythology knowledge comes from the Mummy movie…), but let’s dub Inesshephef “the goddess of science fiction and fantasy.”
What are Inesshephef’s qualities? What are her powers?
…Hmmm…this leads me to a problem—and the reason people shouldn’t just follow ridiculous bunny trails at the beginning of writing articles: None of my points work if we’re talking about a single individual.
Got it! Let’s say that Inesshephef is the Goddess of Ten Thousand Minds.
Yes, the ten thousand minds of women in SFF.
(The lesson here is that if you forge ahead blindly for long enough, you’re sure to get somewhere. Probably not where you intended, but somewhere.)
Let’s talk about these ten thousand minds.
When I took the leap into the indie publishing world, I assumed the “independent” part meant I would be working solo. Just me, in a small room, typing into the void. It turns out that the indie publishing world is a vast, vibrant community of writers and bloggers and graphic designers. I’ve met the best men and women and learned so much from so many of them.
In the five years since I published my first novel, I’ve had the privilege of being a part of several communities that were all women, and I cannot express strongly enough how much of an impact they’ve had on my writing career.
Most of the women I interact with are authors, but I’ve also met brilliant, thoughtful bloggers and reviewers (like those at Fantasy Hive), talented graphic artists, and great editors.
But today I’d like to talk about the authors I know. I’ve met writers who make me weep with envy at how gorgeous their writing is. Or how authentic. Or descriptive. Or profound. Or funny. Or thrilling.
But Inesshephef doesn’t merely have the one mind of an author, she has ten thousand minds. And these women are as varied and diverse as their books.
Some women are writing while raising a family.
Some have tiny children. Some have a handful of tiny children and are pregnant. With twins. And somehow they still write amidst the very special brand of chaos that comes from parenting small children.
They use those insights from mothering to infuse extra richness into their stories and characters. They generate vast, vibrant landscapes out of minds that have been sleep-deprived for years.
It’s unfailingly inspirational to see how they write while still muscling triumphantly through all the other Herculean tasks that fill their days.
Some women are entrepreneurs building robust, complex businesses.
They write, commission art, publish, market, leverage merchandise, speak publicly, and they know All The Things. If I have a question about something odd in an ad I’m running, I can ask and they’ll probably know the answer off the top of their head, but if they don’t, they’ll send me their 35 page spreadsheet of data, tracking and comparing the last 5 years of data over 6 series.
At which point I develop a girl crush on them because spreadsheets are my love language. (If data collection was also my love language, I’d do a better job with my own records.)
These are the women who were discovering how to go viral on TikTok while I was still asking, “Is that some kind of stopwatch app? Can I use it to time my writing sprints?”
Some women are skilled in All Things Graphic.
They design covers, make breathtaking ads, animate website banners, do other gobbledygook that looks amazing and feels semi-magical to me.
And they’re generous. They’re always willing to chime in with advice about covers or ads—advice that is actually helpful.
Some do it professionally, some just do it on the side for fun. They create beautiful art the way I create random messes wherever I happen to be working.
Wonder-Graphics Woman: I bought the wrong stock image so I played around with it a bit and accidentally made this amazing premade cover. (Shows jaw-droppingly good cover.) Anyone have a use for it?
Me: I drew a stick figure of my main character. My kids asked why the weird dog only had two legs.
I have women who have become trusted critique partners. The people who see the ugly, rough draft of my story and help me tease out the threads and themes that need to shine, without whom my books would not exist in a finalized form. I’ve learned immeasurably more from my crit partners than from any other place.
Some women can help me tweak a book description until it’s better written than my book.
Some can break down a three-act structure like a boss, pinpoint exactly what’s missing in my story, and have four suggestions on possible solutions.
Some can talk about writing in a way that inspires me to do it, even when I’m exhausted.
Some are dear friends who encourage me no matter how awful my day, book launch, latest review, or writing session was.
In fact, the defining feature of all Inesshephef’s Ten Thousand Minds has been her generosity and sense of community.
I can’t imagine where my writing career would be today without the support and encouragement and assistant that these women have offered to me.
The goddess Inesshephef, with all her ten thousand minds, is brilliant, creative, dedicated, generous, and encouraging, and the impact she’s had on my career has been profound.
Thank you so much for joining us today JA Andrews and teaching us all about Inesshephef!
JA Andrews is the author of the Keeper Chronicles and the Keeper Origins. She lives deep in the Rocky Mountains of Montana with her husband and three children. She is eternally grateful to CS Lewis for showing her the luminous world of Narnia. She wishes Jane Austen had lived 200 years later so they could be pen pals. She is furious at JK Rowling for introducing her to house elves, then not providing her a way to actually employ one. And she is constantly jealous of her future-self who, she is sure, has everything figured out.