Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Enough Already!

I’m going to rant. I’m sorry, I don’t usually do that on this blog (although I do it quite a bit in real life), but I’m going to do it anyway. Ready?

I’m sick and tired of 50 Shades of Grey. I’m sick of hearing about it, reading about it and most of all, having my work compared to it.

There, I’ve said it.

Now, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t actually read it. It’s not my style. I don’t particularly want to read erotica, and if I ever decide to read that type of book, I know many authors whose work I’d prefer to read first. So I’m not complaining about the actual book itself.

And I don’t believe in trashing authors online, especially when they can’t defend themselves, so I’m also not discussing the quality of the writing, the story, or anything else.

I’m complaining about the people who have either read it or heard enough about it to assume that they are now experts in all things romance and who also assume that all romance writers are writing books like that.


Say whatever you want about the book itself, 50 Shades is a very specific sub-genre of romance. While many of us would love to see our own books rise to the success reached almost overnight, it seems, of this book, we do not all aspire to write a 50 Shades knock-off.

For the record, I write contemporary romance. My books have various heat levels to them and the amount of sex in the book is totally determined by how it fits into the story, how my characters develop and frankly, how well I’m able to write it. But regardless of how hot my books are, they will never be as hot as 50 Shades.

My upcoming book revolves around the story of Purim, a Jewish holiday during which we dress up. The fact that there is a mask on my cover does not in any way mean that it’s being used as a sex toy. At least, not in this book. Now, if a random reader sees my cover and is intrigued enough to check out my book, awesome! That’s exactly what a cover is supposed to do. But please, please, please, do not ask me, with a wink and a smile, if my book is like 50 Shades of Grey. It’s not and you’re starting to creep me out.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Frosting can go here and here....

In May's issue of Romance Writers Report, multi-pubbed author Ann Aguirre is interviewed and says:

"I tend to write lean drafts, however, and sketch in the story, then add detail in multiple revision passes. It's not unusual for me to add 10-15,000 to a book before it's final; that includes descriptions, the pretty writing, and the like. I think of it like building a house. First you lay the foundation, then you install wiring and installation, then the plaster goes up. The decorative touches come last."

I jumped up and down. Literally. With joy. This is how I write, albeit much more slowly than Ms. Aguirre. I am on my third pass through my WIP. I have the plot. I know my characters. I am trimming unnecessary elements and layering in the descriptions, the pretty writing. Specifically deep POV motivations.

Things are clicking faster for me. Thanks to workshops and critique partners, I am learning to recognize where I can layer in emotional descriptions and deep POV. Someday I hope these will come more automatically, say in the first draft. But it they don't--if I still layer in the pretty things like frosting on a cake--I don't have to worry that I'll never be a romance writer. I just have to believe in my process.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Difference of Opinion

I am knee deep on my first round of edits for This Feels Like Home. In the long run I don't mind edits because the end result will be a better book, but this is my first time through working with a new editor, and that makes things, shall we say?, interesting. In my time with TWRP this is the third editor I've worked with, and each one has created something of a new learning curve as I get a feel for their preferences and style.

My current editor doesn't like too many pronouns.

My first editor did not like the conjunction 'and' as she said many times two particular actions can't always be happening at the same time. She closed the door and sat down. Which makes sense. So with her, I used a lot of 'then' structures. She closed the door, then sat down.

My newest editor is the opposite. She does not like the 'then' structure, but prefers the 'and' formation. (Or the 'take your pick of another conjunction' formation: and then, but, so, :, two separate sentences.) Most of the comments on the mss state 'Use a conjunction'. At this point, (I'm about halfway through) if I hit a page when I don't see that phrase, I am literally jumping for joy.

She's also removed some wordiness and taken out some of the description of action type lines. She said it's nice to lend authenticity, but to stick with things that really show character. Whenever she deletes something, she leaves a comment explaining why. Some phrasing simply needs to be tightened or rewritten. In these spots she's offered suggestions, but has ultimately left it to me to make the decision. She also told me if I ever disagree with something she's changed or deleted, to add a comment (Edits should always be done with the 'track changes' feature on.) explaining why I want it to remain. There are a few changes/deletions that I do disagree with and will let her know, but I am picking and choosing those that are most important to me.

Although the edits seem to be taking a long time, just by virtue of the fact that I have little time each day to work on them, I know in the end I will have a story that's the best it can be. From round one we'll continue to round two and so on, each time tweaking a little something more, until we get to that final stage of approving the galley. Which is always exciting.

In other news I am still waiting on a cover and release date for The Vampire and the Vixen. When I asked my editor about it a couple of weeks ago, she said the cover was coming 'momentarily'. Apparently our definitions may be crossed on that term. But I'm trying to be patient. Working on Home has been a nice distraction.

And speaking of, I need to get back to work on that mss...

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Using a real life situation in a novel

Ana’s post earlier this week about settings driving a plot rang bells with me.

In one of my early (1960s) novels, the story was based on something that was actually happening at the time. There was huge controversy about a proposed development in the Langdale Valley, one of my favourite places in the English Lake District, a beautiful wild area dotted with a couple of very small villages and several farms, and dominated by the very distinctive Langdale Pikes at the head of the valley.

Someone was proposing to develop an area in the valley as a holiday site, with log cabins set among the woods. There was a lot of opposition, which went on for a long time, with appeals and counter appeals etc.

My imagination started working. Suppose a local girl, opposed to the new development, fell in love with the man who was applying for development permission? The blurb which Mills and Boon created for this novel (yes, they wrote the blurbs at that time, not me) said: Janet Harris and Philip Morton were on opposite sides of the fence. The future of Janet's beautiful Lakeland village home was at stake, and she put the blame squarely on Philip. Falling in love with each other should have been the solution, but somehow it only complicated an already tense situation.

In real life, the developers eventually got the go-ahead, and built their new estate of luxury cabins. But that was after I wrote (in my novel) that none of the new buildings could be seen from the road. I actually pre-empted the reality with that statement. Even now, 40+ years later, none of the log cabins can be seen from the road because of all the trees surrounding them.

I permit myself a small smile every time I drive up the valley (as I did last weekend) and see the sign for the holiday complex. I like to think Philip and Janet, my hero and heroine, who were finally reunited in that old story, are still there, enjoying the wonderful results of Philip’s plans for the estate!

Here’s a photo of the holiday estate (taken last year), except of course you can’t see it, as it’s hidden among the trees in the centre of the photo!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Which Do You Prefer?

According to the Association of American Publishers, E-books account for 22% of the US book market and their sales continue to exceed paper books across the market.

Many people love paper books—they love holding them, smelling them, trailing their fingers across the spine and down the page. They love the weight of the book in their hand.

Others love e-books. They love the anonymity of being able to read anything they want without anyone knowing what they’re reading. They love being able to stock their reader with as many books as they can find and only be weighed down by the weight of the device. They love playing with the font size and looking up words.

Will either of them completely replace the other? I doubt it. There are benefits to both of them and in my opinion, they meet the needs of different people. I believe they can co-exist peacefully and anything that encourages reading is wonderful!

One benefit e-books have over paper, however, is being environmentally friendly. In honor of Earth Day, my publisher, Rebel Ink Press, sponsored a blog hop and I am one of the authors who chose to participate in it. If you’re interested in checking out the many other authors, please go here. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you, in the comments below, which you prefer and why—e-books or paper. Where do you see the industry going? What do you and your friends say?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Setting as a plot driver

My sister-in-law sent this photo of the Oregon coast this morning. Besides being breathtaking, (I miss the ocean from my home near the center of the North American continent), it set my mind to spinning with story line settings:

Take away the homes, and you could be an explorer seeing this for the first time.
You could be distraught, thinking of jumping off. Or a child playing with his friends when one slips, and your life changes forever.
You could be returning home after a war, wondering if your true love has waited for you.
You could be a criminal looking for a place to hide out, or the lawman hunting you.
You could be a battered wife looking for a new start, or newlyweds heading for a romantic bed and breakfast.
A weary executive, wanting to relax, maybe do some fishing.
A painter seeking to break through his creative stagnation.
Is there an artist community below? A fishing village? Militant training camp?
Is a storm approaching? Will an oil tanker spring a leak? Does the storm beach a whale that brings a host of television crews to town?
What secrets lie in the brush at your feet? A body? A baby's shoe? An engagement ring? A rare plant with the power to cure?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Meet Friday Friend Eden Glenn

Today's Friday Friend is Eden Glenn. She writes all kinds of erotic romance for Rebel Ink Press.

Eden Glenn lives in the mountains of Chattanooga, Tennessee with a cat and a loveable nuisance dog that should be in Japan. Eden has blue eyes, but her hair color is subject to change without notice.

She is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America)and FCRW (First Coast Romance Writers). She is author of several novelette sized stories. "The Galloping Ghoul of Hockomock Swamp" a m/m historic erotic romance first appeared in Rebel Ink Press anthology "Once Upon A Twisted Tale" and has now been released under its own cover.

She contributed to the Rebel Ink Press project "Paw Prints" a contemporary romance designed as a fundraiser for national animal rescue. Her next project  "Dar'kind Promises" a f/f paranormal erotic romance released Feb 3, 2013. Also, "Raynia's Magic" a m/f/m ménage contemporary erotic romance released in 2012 and is novellette one of the Amethyst Desire series. "Beverly's Secret" a F/F erotic contemporary romance released April 17, 2013 which continues the travels of the Amethyst necklace as it tempts new owners to heights of pleasure.

What are your goals as a writer? Have you met them/How do you plan to meet them?

My goal is to create stories that readers love with characters they can relate to. Someone they are sad to say good bye to at the end of the journey but ultimately glad they traveled with them for a short time. 

I am working really hard to meet this goal. I think in ways I have. I continue learning, writing and working toward this on each book I write.

Those are great goals. What inspires you to write? 

Life inspires me to write. It’s coded into my DNA I believe.

I totally agree, Eden! How do you develop your characters? 

That varies a great deal.  Many times an object, an incident from the news, a facet of their character will emerge. Then I do a whole lot of thinking and listening to that voice in my head.

I think all writers have voices in their heads, which I find very comforting :) Do you use critique partners? Why or why not? 

I have one critique partner. She and I go way back. We know each other well enough to be honest and clear in our critiques. Yet we hear each other’s voice clearly and don’t step on that sacred trust.

That's so important. How long have you been writing? 

I started writing in 2005 when I was battling breast cancer. Writing was my therapy and kept my head in a good place for the fight.

Inspiring! Do you outline ahead of time or do you write from your head (are you a plotter or a pantser)?
I’m a pantzplotter.  I know the turning points and sometimes the ending? I write toward those points.

That's the first time I've heard that term, but it totally makes sense. What is your writing routine? 

I try to write or edit a little every day. Bigger stints on weekends. I write and edit through to the end of the first draft. I let it rest after the first draft is finished and then I dig through editing, filling in and fixing. I let it rest again and then do the whole process again. Several more times. My last edit is format, more word crafting.

Sounds like a good system. What do you do when you’re not writing? 

I am also a professional narrator for the Killian Group. AND I have a night job at a major fulfillment center in their outbound department.

Whoa, you're busy! What are you currently working on? 

Here is an excerpt of Beverly’s Secret, just released from Rebel Ink Press April 17, 2013

She took a deep breath, slipped outside and rushed toward her fate before she could change her mind. Locking her kitchen door, she went down the list of pros and cons as she walked to her neighbor. On the pro side, she had a reason to finally talk to Makala. This situation could happen to anyone really. Dread grappled with a giddy excitement.

She only needed help with a very tiny metal clasp, after all. She could manage to talk to the object of her fantasies about the darn problem. She paused in front of Makala’s kitchen door, exactly like her own. Maybe she should go around to the front. Oh hell, before she could stop herself, she knocked on the wooden frame. Shit, too timid, she knocked a little harder.

Makala jerked the door open with a whoosh so hard it stole Bev’s next breath. She stood there gaping fish faced. The woman was dressed in one of her gossamer sun dresses that made Bev think of sunshine and summer.

“Upon my word.” Makala had moved to the small north Florida town from Louisiana after the second season of devastating storms in New Orleans. Her accent was a unique lilting combination of southern and Cajun.

Air from Makala’s apartment enveloped Bev with a sweet aroma. 

That sounds great! What is your favorite guilty pleasure? Walking Dead

What is your favorite book you’ve written? Read?

My favorite book is always the one I just released. LOL, I know rather silly really. But it is the new ‘baby’ all pretty and interesting.  I love love love, Beverly’s Secret.

I'm sure your readers will too. It's been so nice having you here with us today, Eden.

Eden can be reached at her website, www.edenglenn.com or through her publisher, www.rebelinkpress.com, where you can also find buy links.