Thursday, March 31, 2011
How do I get more than one or two reviews for each my books?
Now, I have to premise this by saying my publisher (The Wild Rose Press) has a fabulous marketing department and sends out all of their titles to a list of 20 or more reviewers. This is greatly appreciated by me as it saves me time in not having to contact so many reviewers on my own. Then, reviews and links are posted as they come in on our loop, so they are easy to find. Again, kudos and much appreciation on this. I know not all publishing houses work this way. I am very lucky.
My frustration comes in however, when the reviews are posted, and the same titles seem to appear again and again with reviews from different places and I hardly ever see mine. (I'm not saying these folks don't deserve reviews. Of course they do. I just want some, too. If there are only so many of them going around...I want my fair share.)
Now there might be other circumstances I'm overlooking: Are these 'more established' authors? (Name recognition means a lot in this business...however, out of my three published books so far, the first one has gotten the most reviews.) Are these shorter stories than mine? (After all, there are billions of books out there and only so many reviewers and so much time for reading. And obviously a full-length novel takes a longer time to read than a novella.) Are the covers of other books more eye-catching? (Of course this I have no control over, but I've been very pleased with my covers from TWRP and find them very striking.) Perhaps my titles don't stand out from the others in 'the crowd'? (So, how do I pick one that will?)
Even when I've requested reviews from sites not on the TWRP list, I haven't gotten them. What can I do to make sure my book stands out from all of the others? What do reveiwers look for when they request titles: length, title, cover art. author name?
Now, again, don't get me wrong. The reviews I have gotten have been fabulous (Check out my Buzz page if you'd like a sample). But I am greedy. For publicity, name recognition, and I'll be honest, just plain ol' enjoying the feeling of a pat on the back, I'd like more.
Until next time,
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
In addition to overused words and spelling/punctuation errors (which Francine and Magda have already covered), I would add the following:
Head-hopping – those rapid changes of POV which make it impossible to bond with any one character. I’d also include the omniscient POV here – or, as I’ve read just recently, the “god-like authorial stance high above” where something or someone is described from the author’s POV rather than through the eyes of the character.
Here’s an example of something that jumps out at me: a sentence, supposedly in the heroine’s POV – She was too modest to realise that he was enthralled by her beauty. My immediate reaction is - if she was too modest, then she DIDN’T realise it - and anyway how could she know he was enthralled or what enthralled him – unless she was a mind reader? (BTW I’ve adapted that sentence from a book I’ve read recently, so that the author probably – hopefully - would not recognise it!)
In the middle of the same heroine’s POV section – in fact two sentences later – came a head-hop: “That’s true,” George was forced to admit. Oops, we’ve now jumped to George’s POV, since how does the heroine know he was ‘forced to admit it’? If there had been some facial expression by George, then this sentence might have been far better written as George’s pained expression revealed his reluctant agreement. Yes, folks, we’re back to show, don’t tell. And show from the POV you are in at the time, not somone else's POV or from some all-knowing god-like perspective.
Dialogue with short back-and-forth sentences (say 10 or more times) with no tags of any kind or any other indication to show who is speaking. In the end, you either have to go back and count: her – him – her – him – her – him etc – or, more likely, you just give up and skip it! Irritating, and easily remedied – add a name somewhere, or an action by one (or both) of the characters.
Semi-colons used where there should be periods (or full-stops, as we Brits say). The novel from which I quoted above has a plethora of these. I was taught that a semi-colon was used between closely related clauses in place of a conjunction (usually ‘and’ or ‘but’) e.g. Everyone knows he is guilty of committing the crime; of course, it will never be proven, and not between two independent sentences which have no connection (as happened in this particular book).
I could go on about flowery, over-written similes and metaphors too, and the introduction of too many characters too soon so that you haven’t a clue who is who, oh - and too many synonyms for said. On ONE page of a recently read (admittedly 1980’s) novel, each speech had a different one – sighed, cautioned, gasped, promised, pleaded, reminded and murmured. Eek!
But before you start thinking that everything bugs me, I’ll just add this one last, somewhat different, annoyance – the ‘celebrities’ who write novels and get them accepted simply on the strength of their name. One wonders (in many cases) who actually wrote the novel and/or how much an editor had to tear his/her hair out to get it into publishable format.
Okay, rant over!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Why do romance novelists’ and chick-litters cast the word “Rueful” throughout their novels in like manner to that of confetti at a wedding? It’s a word oft used as though it performs some magical rite to proclaim a novelist a true romance novelist because they’ve used rueful as often as possible within their novel!
Oxdord Engllish Dictionary definition Rueful: expressing sorrow, genuine or humorously affected
Roget’s Thesaurus: Rueful in reference to -
be penitent: vb
This horrid needless word is my pet hate. It’s caused me to scream. Yell arrrrhhhh countless times, and it’s had me throw the occasional romance novel at a wall.
Taking all the above into account why would a hero/ine smile ruefully when indulging in a romantic kiss, and prior to the kiss no reference to regret in delay of expressing passion. Equally there is no reference to sorrow for any reason. Neither is s/he penitent for his/her action.
Now, if a hero/ine is taking leave (regrettable circumstance and or conscience pricked) yep, hurrah, slip in a rueful smile by all means.
The same hurrah goes for a hero/ine if regretting lost opportunity of a little romancing: whatever! And, another hurrah goes for rueful character expression in relation to humorous slant on regret etc.
Throughout many romance transcripts few “rueful” come remotely within context to character thought and expression, so why is that beastly little word there?
Please, please, please I say to all romance writers, let a reader see you’ve embraced the joy of extended vocabulary, and icky words like Rueful (within context) are few and far between.
Also, I wish authors of historical romances would check to see if specific words were in use during their chosen era. A good dictionary will have circa: roughly the date the word came into usage.
Grump over with! ;)
Sunday, March 27, 2011
This is not to deny I prefer Eggplant Parmesan to fish sticks. I love a well-constructed plot, characters with backstory, and any phrase I intentionally read again.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Jane, the Viking from her past and their calico grandcat, Kinko, live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula wilderness on the south shore of Lake Superior where the three great seasons of spring, summer and fall make up for the horrible winters. Jane has somewhere between eighty and ninety published works to her credit, and hopes to make it to one hundred of them if she lives long enough.
She tells us today about her paranormal preference:
What attracts some authors and readers to paranormal while other of either breed don’t care for it at all? That’s a question I can’t answer because I was introduced to E.A. Poe’s poems and stories as a child and loved almost all of them--especially this line in one of the poems--“the ghoul haunted woodland of Weir.”
In fact I liked that poem so well, all these years later I wrote a story about a ghoul in a cemetery, green in color, who is the hero. Not easy, but I had fun doing it. The title is “It Can’t Be Mine!” and it can be found in my TEN PAST MIDNIGHT, Dark Tales by Jane Toombs.
As I got older I discovered H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote nothing but paranormal tales and A. Merritt, who wrote books with titles like Burn, Witch, Burn, and Creep, Shadow, Creep. Impossible for me to resist those. While Lovecraft wrote highly imaginative horror, Merritt wrote fantasy romance. Enjoyed them both.
My very first sale to a publisher (Avon) was a gothic romance back in 1973. Since then I’ve written seventeen more published gothics because I can indulge my love of the dark side in that kind of story and still have a happy ending. Six of them were Silhouette Shadows., the rest are all historical gothics. by various publishers
While gothics usually are paranormal romance, all paranormal romance isn’t gothic in nature. Some of it is closer to horror. Horror, by its nature, rarely has a happy ending. Since I’m also fond of HEAS, I have only one published horror novel to my credit, Hugger Doll , plus two novellas. So, all in all, my favorite genre to read and write is paranormal romance . Given the nature of paranormal and the fear of it, adds the element of suspense to paranormal stories.
My most recent book, HALLOW HOUSE, is one of those long multigenerational gothic suspense romances loaded with paranormal happenings. My publisher, Books We Love Publishing Partners, decided to publish it in two halves. I was surprised to find a natural place to divide the story, with each part complete in itself. And yet Part One at its end does hold the promise there’ll be a Part Two. Part One is out now, with Part Two to follow shortly. As one reviewer put it: “…Victoria Holt meets Stephen King…”
She isn’t far off. But Hallow House does have a happy ending for each generation, even if they have terrifying times getting there.
All my recent books have a buy button at my website: http://www.janetoombs.com/
Thanks so much for being with us today, Jane. Congratulations on your publishing success - I'm sure you'll make it to a hundred!
Thursday, March 24, 2011
But as I've read through the fabulous posts and subsequent discussions this week, I've learned something. I prefer the hybird - as we've dubbed them. It also has come as somewhat of a surprise to me to learn that the heroes I write are really hybrids as well. Initially I would have described them as Alpha, but I've learned a lot this week, and can now see them in a clearer light. And I like what I see.
That said, I couldn't let the opportunity pass by to pay homage to two of my favorite Alpha males from print and screen.
We'll start with Bond, James Bond. The ultimate Alpha male. Oozing charm, sophistication, and most importantly, sex appeal. Cast the always dashing and debonoir Peirce Brosnan to play him, and I'm a gonner. And while Bond may be a romantic hero, he definitely doesn't fit the proto-type for a romance hero. There will be no happily ever after with him. He'll move on to the next gal as soon as he moves on to his next assignment. He tried happily ever after once, and it turned deadly for his bride.
And then there's Dirk Pitt. I often refer to him as the James Bond of deep water diving. Adventurous, independent, and charismatic. In his one and only screen appearance, the utterly charming Matthew McConaughey was cast to play the engimatic, emerald-eyed explorer, and I only wish creative differences between author and producer hadn't put a stop to future portrayals. Unlike Bond, Pitt eventually does settle down with one woman.
Great discussion this week ladies!
Until next time,
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The extreme Alpha man is sometimes portrayed in romance novels as Mr. Machismo, an abrasive, ruthless, overbearing jerk. Maybe it’s what some women fantasize about, but it leaves me cold. An ‘Alpha-plus’ man like this is more likely to be the villain in my story, not the hero.
The extreme Beta man, on the other hand, can come over as a boring ‘Mr Nice Guy’. Carried to its extreme, i.e. the ‘Beta-minus’ level, he is an unremarkable, passive, non-confrontational wimp.
Reading this week’s blogs and comments has confirmed my view that most women prefer the hybrid – what I like to call the Alpha-minus, Beta-plus man, who combines the best qualities of both and loses the worst.
So Alpha-plus loses his macho arrogance and egomaniacal behaviour to become Alpha-minus. He retains his strength, charisma and a self-confidence which is respected, not intimidating. He seeks a mate who is his equal, not one he can dominate.
At the same time, the Beta-minus loses his reticence and passiveness and climbs up the scale to Beta-plus. But he retains his sensitivity, his loyalty, his compassion.
So we get the best of both worlds - strength combined with sensitivity. Now that’s my kind of hero!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Some of my favorite authors have written books with betas as their heroes. In Lord Carew’s Bride, by Mary Balogh, Harley Wade, the Marquess of Carew, befriends the heroine, Samantha Newman, when he finds her “trespassing” on his estate. When she believes him to be the gardener, he doesn’t disabuse her of the notion. During her three visits, they manage to become, you got it, the best of friends. Hartley is not only titled, but has a pot of money, is talented and artistic, very sweet and patient. Because he’s crippled from an accident that happened during his youth, he finds it difficult to marry, believing it’s his money and title which would attract a wife, and not his personal attributes. Samantha, who fell in love with a cad during her come out season, doesn’t wish to fall in love again. She treasures her friendship with Harley and, because she “loves” him without being “in” love with him, marries him, not knowing how deeply in love with her he is. By the time she discovers she’s in love with him as well, you’re bawling like a baby over this tale of almost unrequited love.
In Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, Colin Bridgerton returns to England, bored with his endless wandering, hoping to discover something that will put a spark back into his life. When he reacquaints himself with quiet Penelope Featherington, who’s loved him forever, he discovers her intelligence and dry wit provide the balm to his troubled soul. Somehow, Penelope sees through him to the man he really is and encourages him to follow his bliss, which in his case means writing about his world travels. Initially, he balks against her revealing a secret which, in his opinion would turn the ton against her. But in true beta hero fashion, he rallies and supports her decision to “come out” as it were, as a best friend would do. In the end, they’re not only in love but each other’s best friend.
In Rita-award winner, Dream a Little Dream, Susan Elizabeth Phillips created a wounded beta hero in Gabe Bonner, a widower, who lost his wife and son in a car accident. Rachel Stone, the heroine, is not welcome in the town of Salvation, her former home, where she lived with her ex-husband, a televangelist who ripped off people right and left. A destitute widow now, she returns to Salvation with her son, Edward, to see if she can find some of her husband’s ill-gotten gains. Even though he doesn’t trust her and is wary of her motivations, she worms into Gabe’s good graces. Together, they rebuild an old drive-in movie theatre, and, along the way, they fall in love. It’s when Gabe is able to put aside his pain to rescue her son that you see what a fine beta hero he truly is.
As you can see, a wounded beta hero love story provides readers with a satisfying and emotional read. And isn’t that why we read in the first place?
Monday, March 21, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
She says Beta heroes are better suited for romantic comedies because their personalities are more capable of handling crazy circumstances and outrageous events…The reader laughs WITH the beta hero.
Examples of Beta Heroes From Movies
• Jack (Bill Pullman), the nice younger brother, in "While You Were Sleeping.”
Example: He's playing cards with his comatose brother and says, "Whoever gets the high card, gets Lucy." (No direct confrontation.)
• Shane (Keanu Reeves), the kind-hearted ex-quarterback, in "The Replacements"
Example: He steps in to protect his deaf teammate from the insults of the team’s former quarterback. When the quarterback hits him, he takes the punch then says, "Had enough?" (Protects his friends; Wants to avoid confrontation; attempts to defuse situation with humor.)
• Robbie (Adam Sandler), the heartbroken romantic, in "The Wedding Singer"
Example: First clue he's a beta—he's wedding singer. He takes an underage kid who's been drinking at the wedding outside to puke in the Dumpster. (Taking care of others who he perceives needs him.) This is when he meets the heroine, Julia. Sense of humor to deal with situations: "No one could puke more than that kid. I think I saw boot come out of him."
Examples of Beta Heroes From Novels
• Peter, the lovelorn tongue-tied doctor, from GOOD IN BED by Jennifer Weiner
Example: He offers constant support for her without demanding a thing. He doesn't even make his feelings known until almost the end of the book. (Patience, kindness, putting his own feelings/needs aside to meet the heroine's.)
• Ross, the bad-boy wanna-be, from BRIDE IN TRAINING by Michele R. Bardsley
Example: He's a wanna-be bad-boy … so he's already someone who doesn't fit well in the skin of a Harley-riding, leather-jacket-wearing hard case. He takes care of the heroine after she falls ill, despite the fact she doesn't him like him much.
• Race, the thief with a heart of gold, from RACE AGAINST TIME by Justine Davis
Example: The heroine leaves out food for the anonymous burglar who's been stealing food from the homes of people living in a small mountainside community. In thanks, he picks wild flowers and leaves them on her dining room table.
She says a beta hero:
© Is kind, responsible, decent
© Doesn't enjoy confrontation, but won’t back down on an issue he wants resolved
© Is always available to the heroine or to others who need his help
© Is an extrovert or an introvert
© Is practical, down to earth, assesses situations before making decisions
© Has a great sense of humor
© Tends to be Mr. Nice Guy/Everyday Joe
© Is the kind neighbor, the best friend, the good Samaritan
Another site said beta heroes are “kinder, gentler heroes, the kind of men who will change your flat tire, open doors for you, help your kid with his homework, and bring you soup when you are sick… These are the guys we all want to find in real life.”
But are they the guys we dream about running away with?
Friday, March 18, 2011
"Why don't you try writing a book?" The oft-asked question hit the air again.
"Who would read it if I did?" I asked my innocent looking husband. He'd learned my secret many years ago, and sporadically 'poked' at my lack of self belief.
"You won't know until you try!" He dropped his bait into the air between us, and for some reason, a few years ago now, I decided to bite.
And am I glad I did?
Not only do I enjoy meeting the characters who demand their stories are told, I have also met and made many wonderful friends, both on line and elsewhere, in the process.
One day my work-in-progress stalled over a stubborn scene that refused to come right, so in frustration I tried turning it into a stand-alone short story in an attempt to find the flaws.
That scene eventually honed down satisfactorily, but left me with an insatiable desire to venture into the world of short story writing.
How could I know, at the time, that the truculent scene would send me off on a new and exciting writing path?
I wrote my first stand-alone short story in July 2009 which, with several others, is now published in LASR
More recently I have discovered the challenging world of reviewing.
For as long as I can remember I've read romances, and am proud to be part of the 48% of readers who enjoy romances.
My first attempt at writing one, was confiscated by my teacher when they realised I was ignoring my homework for my 'great masterpiece'! Sadly I never saw it again! And so my teacher saved the great reading population from what was surely a great master-disaster.
Now I'm back... and delighted with the growing success of my short stories, and jubilant about the release of my debut novel The Brat in October 2010 with The Wild Rose Press.
2011 opens with the release of my sixth short story, Hogmanay, at LASR, and the release, on February 11th, of my second novel, Duty Calls. Also my first venture into a 'longer-short-story of approximately 12k words, The Wrong Target, which is part of the 'Cupid Goes Wild' anthology, released by eTreasures comes out in early February.
Sherry now introduces a new topic to Heroines with Hearts – book trailers:
Businesses rely on them. We are bombarded by them, all the time. What am I talking about?
Advertisements. Television advertisements in particular.
We may claim to dislike them and to ignore them, but they seep into our subliminal consciousness and the more we are bombarded by them, the deeper the message becomes embedded.
For a moment, stop and consider the number of websites you visit that have advertisements inserted in/on them. Almost all of them contain movement. Movement that is out to attract your attention. You could call those advertisements ‘trailer-ads’.
They work! They bring in the customers. If they didn’t companies wouldn’t spend millions on a thirty to sixty second message intended to part us from our cash.
Here in the UK we used to endure three breaks in each hour of TV viewing, now we get four. That’s an extra three hours advertising revenue in every twenty-four. That is also a great deal of commercial money shelled out to grab the viewers’ attention.
So why am I banging on about it?
If it is such a sure-fire way of grabbing customer attention why not consider using the same tactic for advertising your book?
Book trailer videos are becoming more popular and are not that difficult to create, depending on what you want. If you are not sure, do not despair, all you have to do is Google ‘How to create a Book Trailer video’ and you will find pages of instructions to follow.
It becomes a matter of which tutorial you want to follow. And away you go. It took me a while to get the hang of the basics, but once I had them I enjoyed myself. I don’t aspire to creating a complex video, and believe me, there are some awesome book trailers out there.
If this is a promotion tool you’ve never tried but would like to, then put ‘book trailers into the YouTube search and see what comes up.
Study several and work out what it is you like about your favourites. Make notes, about timing, colour synchronicity, content, both visual and textual.
Go back to your own book and work out ten headliner sentences that describe your book and go searching in the multitude of sites that offer photograph or video clips that suit.
When you complete your masterpiece and upload it to YouTube you can then take it up another level and enter your video in one of the many book trailer competitions out there. It is an amazing way to get free publicity for both your trailer and of course, your book.
The book trailer I entered in a competition received over one thousand hits in the thirty days of the competition.
And all this is free.
Free publicity, free promotion. Creating enormous potential for increased book sales!
Most PCs provide Movi-making software, and there are plenty to download for free if you want something else.
And if you want a book trailer but don’t have the time or inclination to create one yourself, you will find several sites happy to offer their services to you.
Since October 2010 I have enjoyed three book releases and created videos for all of them.
From the first, I learned a video over one and a half minutes is considered too long.
So the next challenge was to create about ten sentences for each of my novels that guaranteed to grab the readers’ attention and persuade them to buy my books.
Would they entice you?
If not, study them and decide why not, and then when you sit down to create your own video, you will have learned what NOT to include.
This is an awesome, free promo tool for selling your book, and one well worth adding to your ever increasing arsenal of promotions tools.
Thank you very much for having me here today.
Thanks for being with us, Sherry. We wish you every success with your books and with your future writing c career.
Sherry’s second novel, Duty Calls, was released in February 2011.
She’d saved his life…
Rafe Hawk refuses to accept the inheritance, of a large English estate, and the title that goes with it, after his birth father’s death because the man chose duty over the woman he loved and their son. So when he finds himself temporarily living at Kinsale Hall, he’s not prepared to trust anyone associated with the place, including Trudi Delaney and her daughter.
So why, when he looks into their eyes, does he suddenly remember a woman who may have lost her life after a storm while saving his over a decade ago?
Now he could destroy hers.
Instinct warns Trudi Delaney the arrival of the contemptuous American architect at Kinsale Hall will change her life forever. Especially when she discovers he spends so much of his time in areas of Kinsale Hall off-limits to visitors. Eleven years after escaping from her psychotic husband with a stranger, she’s still plagued by nightmares of events she can’t remember. Events such as, who fathered her beautiful daughter?
Now more than a decade later, she is confronted by another stranger. Will this one destroy everything she holds dear?
All Romance: http://tinyurl.com/5vujr53
“Stop the car!” Rafe Hawk swung round to face the driver. “I recognise this road. You never said the commission to build those retirement units was at Kinsale Hall. You know damn well I swore never set foot in the place again, eleven years ago.”
Rage hazed his vision. “You knew I’d refuse the commission if you’d revealed the location, and because you withheld that vital information, Arthur, this contract is null and void.” He shot forward in his seat when Arthur tramped on the brakes.
His friend from their Uni days skewed round in his seat. “How long have we known each other?”
Startled by Arthur Clifton’s question, Rafe hesitated. “What’s the length of our friendship got to do with anything? Other than the fact you’re stretching it very thin, if you think I’ll set foot on Kinsale territory again.” He swung open the car door and leaped out, his fingers tunnelling through his windswept hair.
Brilliant blue skies overhead offered a large playground for the early summer sunshine, and the fluffy white clouds sailing by. He saw the high chimney-tops through the trees.
“Do you really think I’d bring you here without a very good reason?” Arthur remained in his seat, his hands on the steering wheel, watching Rafe pace up and down the soft verge beside the open-topped car.
"I can't think of a single reason good enough that justifies you resurrecting events that nearly cost me my life, and possibly cost the life on an unknown woman."
Learn more about The Brat at-
The Wild Rose Press: http://tinyurl.com/6g8pomj
Read about The Wrong Target at –
Sherry Gloag’s Blog: http://sherrygloagtheheartofromance.blogspot.com/
Sherry Gloag’s website: http://www.sherrygloag.com/
Thursday, March 17, 2011
He stopped in front of her and smiled. “You’re the cutest snow-bunny I’ve ever seen.” He touched his finger to the tip of her nose.
The light contact sent a pleasurable shiver down her spine. She studied him in turn, then strove for a nonchalant tone. “You don’t look so bad yourself. Very James Bond,” she teased.
“Ha, ha,” he replied. His gaze skittered from hers. “Are you all set?”
“I think so. I’ve never done this before, so I might be missing something.”
“Let’s see. Pink snow pants. Check. Pink and white ski jacket. Check. Pink hat with pom pon ball. Check. Gloves?”
She made a face at his precise inventory. He better not ask about her long underwear. “In my pockets.”
She put her hands on her hips, arms akimbo. “Is that a problem?” she sassed.
He winked at her. “Definitely not. Okay, so pink gloves. Check. Sunscreen and lip balm?”
“In a different pocket.”
“Super. Sunglasses or goggles?”
She held up her tinted glasses. “Check.”
“That’s the spirit.” He grinned down at her and rubbed his hands together. “Okay, then, it looks like we’re all set. My skis are in the rack outside, and we’ll rent you a pair when we get to the hill. Let’s go.” He put a hand in the small of her back and guided her toward the door.
It was one of those scenes that kind of wrote itself once I had a small glimmer of an idea. So, what do you think? Playful...or too much?
Until next time,
P.S. I'm out of town until Friday evening, so I'll check back when I return to comment on posts.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Must admit I don’t like ‘ornate’ descriptions of colour. Cliches can be boring – how many times have we read ‘eyes as blue as a summer sky’? But contrived, long-winded or eye-brow raising similes can be equally irritating. A couple of examples describing hair – ‘as blonde as a buttercup in a meadow’ (does that mean yellow?), ‘as blonde as a dirty cloud’ (what? was she grey? But no, the writer was supposedly describing her mother’s blonde hair when she was young). Just as a matter of interest, did you know that, in early colonial times in America, Puritans used no similes or metaphors in their writing, because these glorified the writer, not God. Southerners, however, used showy language in literature much more freely. Maybe I was a Puritan in an earlier existence, since I prefer to keep colour descriptions simple!
I once read a story where the author had obviously decided to use every possible variation of blue for the heroine’s eyes – cerulean, baby-blue, azure, sky-blue, denim, electric, sapphire etc – so much so that I got distracted from the story wondering what shade of blue her eyes would be on the next page! As with many things, sometimes less is more!
Monday, March 14, 2011
“Are you yeller?”
Bet from those three words you could tell me not only the connotation of ‘yeller’ but the genre in which this phrase would most likely be found. ‘Yeller”, or yellow, means a coward and the genre would be a western.
We imbue colors with different meanings. If you are green with envy, well, you desire what somebody else has. True blue, meaning loyal, is quite different from feeling blue, meaning sad. We associate red with passion and sin. That’s why Hester Prynne’s letter was scarlet and not purple, yellow or green. Black is evil and its opposite, white, is pure. In westerns, you can always tell the good guys from the bad by the color of their hats.
Sadly, many of the phrases associated with colors are clichés, and a no-no in our work. So as writers we must craft innovative prose to incorporate color symbolism into our creations.
Consider the following sentence:
In the light of the pale, wintry moon, her alabaster throat beckoned.
Pale, wintry, and alabaster are cold words and yet her throat beckons. Why? Because the POV character is a vampire and what he craves is the blood beneath her skin. Juxtaposing the cold words with the warmer word, beckoned, creates conflict and conflict, as we know, is good.
Another example, just for fun:
We expect a femme fatale to wear fire-engine red lipstick and an ingénue to choose sweetheart pink. But what if it’s the siren wearing the sweetheart pink lipstick? What does that mean? Is she trying to cover up her true colors? Aha!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
I think it's because I am not a visual artist. I know people who are, and I marvel at their sensitivity to shades, tones, brightness, contrast, etc. When I search alternate color names for red, blue and green in a thesaurus, I'm quite clueless.
I know what I like when I see it. I fine-tune colors on product labels and color brochures by the back and forth no-yes method.
I like having the names of crayon colors printed on the wrapper. Cornflower is still one of my favorites.
Here's a passage from a WIP. My heroine has been magically transported to 1497 France. She has a new (old) body and is seeing her image in a mirror for the first time.
Angel gaped at her reflection. Her body curved like an hourglass, with a waist she encircled easily with her hands. The lace around the neckline of her smoke-blue gown accentuated full, round breasts. A silverwork girdle ringed seductive hips, and a small coin purse dangled from a matching chain. On her feet were low-heeled boots of soft, brown leather. Her hair was held back by carved jade combs that accentuated her eyes. The dimple in her right midcheek did not soften the imperious arch of her dark brows.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Writing Schedules and How to Break Them
I’m sure you’ve all heard the old adage “Write everyday”
How important is that?
In my opinion, having a set writing schedule is a vital part of becoming a professional writer Elizabeth George says in Write Away, her book about the process of writing, ‘a lot of writing is being willing to show up day after day, same time, same place’. My personal writing schedule is from Monday to Friday, 10 am – 2 pm, which roughly coincides with when my kids are in school. I also endeavor to write a minimum of 100 words (or edit 5 pages if I’m in the editing phase) on the weekends.
However, when it comes to “writing”, my definition is a bit more flexible. I think that any activity dedicated to improving my craft or opening opportunities for my career count as “writing”. Yes, even doing taxes counts as a career activity. Included in my writing schedule is time for these other activities:
Theoretically, you should be writing stories in the genre you most like to read. I encourage this for several reasons. One is so that you know the expectations of your audience. The second is to keep up with trends. If you write paranormal romance, you “know” vampires and werewolves are in. But will that trend continue? And is that the only trend out there? Steampunk, were-creatures, and Greek gods & goddesses are also quite popular. Gothic romances have been ‘out’ for quite some time, yet there is still a small audience craving them.
For all that, I’m not advocating that you only read what you write. Knowing what else is out there – thrillers, horror, literary, cozy mystery, Noir detective – and incorporating the things you enjoy about those genres into your work adds depth and originality to your stories.
· Continuing Education
The importance of continuing to learn to write better cannot be emphasized enough. Magazine articles, books, online courses, and participating in critique groups all play a part in advancing an author’s career. As such, they need to be scheduled (sometimes crow-barred) in. I feel learning is as important as writing, and will sometimes dedicate a whole week to reading articles.
Critique groups are invaluable. Some authors only utilize beta-readers, as they don’t feel they have the time to take away from their own writing to look at someone else’s work. I think this is a bit short sighted. I learn as much, or more, about writing and what works and doesn’t work from critiquing. If the words I write after the critique are better for what I’ve learned, it’s well worth ‘losing’ a day or two of writing, which for me equates from 100-1000 words.
· Vacations/Sick Days/Personal Days
Having a set writing schedule (and sticking to it) is all well and good until LIFE intervenes. Even in a normal 9-5 job, one is required to take time off for vacations, sick days, and personal days.
The same should go for your writing career. Yes, there are some really prolific writers who take a computer everywhere and write constantly. Nora Roberts writes 8 hours a day every day and I’ve heard anecdotes claiming she even writes while riding in the limo from the airport to conferences. Be as disciplined as you can…if you can only write one hour a day, make sure your butt is in your chair and you focus on your career for that hour.
I’ll admit that this year, I set about writing a minimum of 100 new words every single day, whether I did any other career-related activities or not. That lasted for a whole month…then LIFE intervened, and I had to take an unexpected 10 days off. My payoff for five years of fairly disciplined writing was that when I returned, I was able to pick up right where I’d left off (well, after wading through over 1,000 e-mails) and have been writing every day since.
It’s my view that authors who “write” every day will see positive changes in their manuscripts and their career. It’s worked for Nora Roberts and Stephen King…it can work for you!
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Many thanks for being with us today, Ericka - and for your very useful advice. We wish you continued success with your books.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
A Christmas to Remember:
A cozy ski lodge. Two strangers meet and have a romantic interlude. One has a secret that could keep the fantasy from ever becoming real.
Until next time,
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
I couldn't resist the pic because King Charles II (in the novel) existed. The image smacks of brooding male, one who has had his fair share of mistresses and sired umpteen illegitimate childen and pondering which of several women might be next in line for his favours. ;)
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
In ‘Fragrance of Violets’ the weather does contribute to the story. It’s set in the Lake District and I know from experience how often it rains there!
So one important scene takes place on the valley road in the pouring rain, and it’s the rain which causes the collapse of a roof which in turn leads to .. no, I’m not going to tell you the story here!
But there are also beautiful spring days in Lakeland when, after the rain, the air smells so fresh and clean, and the mountains and lakes look stunning, so my h/h can enjoy that too.
My current WIP (with the working title ‘A Nile Romance’) is of course set in Egypt where it’s hot in winter and even hotter in summer! There are blue skies and sunshine, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and warm, clear inky-dark nights. Perfect for a romance (as long as you have air-conditioning, of course!) but not a lot of scope for using the weather, since it's the same all the time.
I’m not a fan of matching weather to the moods of the characters or the events in their lives. You know the kind of thing, you see it in so many movies – the ferocious storm before or during some traumatic event. Maybe a contrast between the weather and the characters’ feelings is more effective. A beautiful day when the heroine is going through hell at losing her man, or a dismal grey day when her heart is singing? In my experience, that’s probably more realistic :-)
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Yes, the weather or climate is important in many of my books. I think that’s why I like setting my books in Florida. Here the climate is so different from England. Last year when I was there in the summer, it would be hot and steamy; you could guarantee that around 3.00 in the afternoon a violent electrical storm would occur. Magic.
Of course the British weather is very varied, as Bob Hope used to say “In Great Britain you have four seasons, all in one day” and that is so true. This is a boon to the writer. There is the thrashing cold rain, but there is the soft gentle rain of a warm early summer afternoon. The latter can be quite romantic, the perfect weather for a kiss!
A Poisoned Legacy published by Robert Hale Ltd
The next morning clouds drove across the early patch of blue blocking out the sun. It was hot, hotter than she had experienced before. It robbed her of energy and for the first time she upped the cooler in the house.
Stepping outside was like jumping into a full-on oven. Rivers of sweat broke out all or her body, dripping between her breasts and from her face. Her hair was lank though it had been freshly washed. Lethargically she moved back into the house enjoying the embrace of cool air on her overheated skin.
Florida - A Fatal Flaw – published by whiskey Creek Press
There was a back gate. It was always opened but because of the storm the bolts had been secured. Carefully, she slid her hand along the mesh and wood, feeling for the bolts. Remembering there were three, one at the top and she stood on tiptoe until she felt its coldness against her fingertips, she slid it open then sought the one in the middle and lastly went on her knees to slide the bottom bolt. That took longer than the others did to find, it was a small bolt. Then there was the catch, she raised it quietly, the moment she partly opened the door the wind gushed in, whipping the door out of her hands and banging it against the wall. The fearsome wind raided the lanai, upturning chairs, something was blown into the pool, but she knew she could not wait to see what it could be; she burst out through the door, knocked to her feet by the force of the wind. Scrambling up, she bent her body forward and hurtled herself into the wind.
Hugging the lawn, she ran between the trees. The rain lashed against her, the wind making progress difficult; she was no more than a flower stalk to its power. It invaded every part of her, lifting and ballooning out her jacket, yet there was too much adrenalin pounding away for her to feel the chill.
The gates at the end of the drive were not fastened; they were pushed wide open, unusual because they usually were closed and bolted at night. She had wondered if she would have to scale them, or look for an alternative way out.
There were gulleys at the side of the road, these now she saw were filled with rainwater that was being whipped along, white froth spilling up and over into the road.. She stepped out. As the lane was narrow the wind was less intense than in the open areas. The huge trees she could see were swaying like mad dancers. They were indigenous trees; they were pretty good at withstanding the storm but even so she noticed the road was littered with branches.
Pausing for a second to catch her breath was the worst thing she could have done. She felt a hand tight on her shoulders.
“And where do you think you’re going, little lady?”
Kerensa lashed out, grinding her foot into the man’s shoe, her trainer was inadequate, and he wore trainers too. Poke his eyes, she remembered that from observing a self defense class for a story, but as she reached up her hands he backed off, somehow whirled around to her back and getting hold of her arms, pinioning them to her back, his knee at her spine caused her to gag.
A Fatal Flaw, Cornwall.
Kerensa Mawgan put down the telephone and standing at the window, stared out at a view of the valley down to the undulating river. On the other side of the river was a tree covered high bank. Everything glistened in the warm, steaming mist that had come up river after the storm.
Laboriously, she pulled back the sliding window and stepped outside. The Yorkshire stone patio glistened with puddles of water; it gave the stone an intensity of colour, almost as if it were cast with purple dye. Everything dripped wetly in the weak sun that was successfully breaking through the mist. She felt that if she put her ear to any puddle, then it would give out the sound of sizzling.
So there we have descriptions of different weather, it’s marvellous to have it, imagine if it was the same weather day after day, pretty boring for the writer. Don’t you think?