posted on May 23, 2014 by Sheldon Russell

What I Know About Women

caboose picLike most writers, I also had a day job, because one does acquire a certain taste for the luxuries of life, such as shelter and food.  I wound up, largely by chance, as a college professor, reading specialist type, working with teachers. So, at the ripe old age of thirty, I looked up to find that my graduate classes were filled almost entirely with women, and this continued to be the case for the next twenty-five years.

In that twenty-five years, I learned a thing or two about women.  For example, they are by far the most voracious readers of the species.  They have by far the most eclectic literary tastes, are the most forgiving, are the most generous with their time, and are the least critical.  They buy more books, share more books, and are more supportive of struggling writers than their male counterparts.

Don’t believe it?  Go to your library and see who is carrying out armloads of books.  Go to a book club meeting and see who is there.  Go to a book signing and check out the line.  Go to the used bookstore.  Go to the new book store.  Go to Walmart.  Go almost anywhere and you will discover that it’s women who are almost single-handedly keeping the book business in business.

hanging of samuel ash (1)Now, being the astute observer that I am, I figure it behooves me as a writer to accommodate these readers where I can.  Here’s the problem, I’m a man.  Given that particular limitation is pretty much permanent, I figure I have to maximize those things that I can change, and here’s how I see it: Remember that there can be beauty in detail and that action is not necessarily excitment.  Remember that character is as important as plot, that violence is not synonmous with bravery, and that inner strength is as important as physical prowess. Don’t separate romance from sex, and don’t forget that women can be heroines, or villains, or anything damn thing they want, if I don’t get in the way.

Do I sometimes get it wrong?  Well, yes, I am a man.  But when I’m standing in front of a group pitching my wares, I’m pretty certain about a few things.  Most of them will be women.  Many will read my book, and I’m more than likely to get a fair reading.

Sheldon Russell

Sheldon Russell

Dr. Russell published his first novel, Empire, in 1993 with Evans Publications, Inc. He followed that suspense novel with two historic frontier titles—The Savage Trail (Pinnacle Books, 1993) and Requiem at Dawn (Pinnacle Books, 2000). Requiem at Dawn was a finalist for Best Original Paperback in the 2001 Western Writers of America, Inc., Spur Awards competition.

In 2006, the University of Oklahoma Press released Dreams to Dust: A Tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush, which was selected as an Official Oklahoma Centennial Project. It won both the Oklahoma Book Award for fiction and the Langum Prize for Historical Literature. With The Yard Dog: A Mystery (Minotaur Books, September 2009), Russell introduces the Hook Runyon series. The first book finds Hook investigating a murder at an Oklahoma railroad yard near a German POW camp during WWII. The Insane Train, second in the series, was selected as one of the six best mysteries of 2010 by Publishers Weekly.

8 thoughts on “What I Know About Women”

  1. Laurel Sorensen says:

    There is still one thing missing in your equation…that could make a difference in sales. The covers have to be imaginative…beautiful…and have colors that appeal to women…or they won’t pick up the book to read the back.

    1. Good point, Laurel. Do you find a genre that does this particularly well? While authors have input, they seldom have the last word on covers and titles. Probably a good thing for the most part.

  2. deirdre says:

    Huh. Not sure I agree there LS since I read books only on my Kindle DX, so the cover doesn’t mean a thing to me.

    1. What entices you to read a book, Deirdre?

      1. deirdre says:

        I guess my answer is being able to download and read free sample chapters as a ebook reader. I read tons of sample chapters from books. I try authors non-stop. If the sample snares me with immediate action to get me interested, I usually buy it. Too many books don’t have strong enough starts, though.

        1. Deirdre, great starts are so blamed hard to write because you still have the book ahead of you. I’ve found that I write a better start after I’ve completed the book, at least a rewrite.

          1. deirdre says:

            That sounds like a good way to make the start more
            enticing 😉

          2. Well, I’d like to think so, Deirdre. When you start the writing, you don’t have the characters fully developed in your mind. The plot is yet to unravel and the conflicts yet to be developed. So, it leaves you at a disadvantage in writing an engaging start. Better to come back to it after all that is solidified.

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