NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS
Friday, March 30, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
(Yes, I know this post may be more appropriate for a historical romance blog, but this phenomenon has creeped into contemporaries and even romantic suspense and I feel it needs to be stopped for all our sakes.)
This type of hero abounded in the early romances I read. Old-school historical romances usually opened up with a scene of the hero and one or more women who were definitely not pure enough to be the heroine. Or a duel between the hero and the husband he cuckolded. Some of these heroes also cheated on the heroines mid-way through the book, usually as a way to drive the heroines away because they felt they weren't good enough for them. (Susan Johnson, however, basically stuck with the tenet men cheat when their significant others are not around.)
These heroes were considered virile, manly, et cetera, et cetera because all women wanted them--and had them. They are commitment-phobic because why should they settle for only one woman when they can have them all? Of course, then they would meet the feisty, virginal heroines who would make them change, see the error of their ways, and they would no longer want any other woman but these paragons.
The fantasy of taking a male slut rake and reforming him appears to be shared by many, many women (how else to explain the trope's popularity?)...but I'm not one of them.
Frankly, they skeeved me out. It's not a morality thing for me. Every time I came across one of them, my stomach would shudder as I imagined the possible STDs they would have from sleeping around. And I would always wonder how many bastard children they might've sired and didn't know about. And the whole cheating-for-her-own-good pissed me right off. Made me want to reach into the books and shove the heroes over the nearest cliff, and maybe the heroines with them for forgiving the jackasses.
SNL did a skit back in the 90s about the world's ultimate rake that perfectly portrays my take. If you have a few minutes, Google "SNL James Bond STDs".
Monday, March 26, 2012
Add to the mix a heroine who as a state attorney believes justice is society’s glue and a drug lord who follows law of the jungle, and the battlefield is set.
I did think of the unlikely mix of the Death Wish movie series starring Charles Bronson and the comic strip series The Justice League as I wrote this book. What appeals to you as a reader about stories where a person takes a stand against crime?
Buy Links for HER DARK PROTECTOR:
Barnes & Noble
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
But sometimes an ahhah moment occurs and we jump out of bed, throw on a robe, and turn on the computer and a flow of words gushes forth like some magic waterfall. Our brains cells have been stimulated by a book, an article, a painting, music, someone we love or a stranger passed on the street.
I remember the effect stories my mother would tell me on rainy days had on me, the first time I read Edna Ferber’s Show Boat in the school library and decided to become an actress, and the love of words resulting from a class in Shakespearean plays I took at night. Touring with shows led to a love of travel and articles.
In Verona I stopped by Giuetta’s House—an idyllic setting for a lover’s tryst. Romeo’s home is at 2-4 Via Arche Scaligere behind the Della Scala cemetery but in Verona, Juliet gets top billing and the story is called Giuletta and Romeo. The houses are fiction but it doesn’t matter—visitors believe. Young girls lean over the balcony and recite, the lovelorn leave messages and the setting was used as a backdrop for a motion picture.
Verona was a crossroads with merchants coming through for centuries. The Capulets, it’s said, were hat merchants and their competitors were the Montagues. A novel, titled La Giulietta, written by Luigi da Porto, was translated into French in 1525. But it is said that da Porto adapted the story from one in a collection written by Masuccio Salernitano, a poet who lived from 1410-1475, and is the story of Mariotto and Giannozza. Others claim it is da Porto’s tragic personal story—he fell in love with Lucia Sarvognan but his uncle's relationship with her guardian doomed the romance. The Italian Renaissance had a great influence on English poetry and drama and the Italian novella became extremely popular in 16th century England. Shakespeare turned La Giulietta into a long-running play titled Romeo and Juliet, around 1595. A festival of Shakespeare’s work may be enjoyed every July and August at the Roman Theatre at Rigaste Redentore—the perfect setting in the perfect city for a production of Romeo and Juliet. Ballets, musical comedies and operas have also been influenced by the Bard’s work.
In our time, P.D. James has channeled Jane Austin with her (or their) mystery Death Comes To Pemberley. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre inspired many future authors. The most famous is Wide Sargasso Sea, written in 1966 by Jean Rhys. The most successful novel written by Rhys and a prequel, the book tells the story of an unhappy marriage from the point of view of the first Mrs. Rochester. Many other authors have reworked the story including a 2010 novel that has Jane battling with vampires.
Who was your role model? What, where and when were you stimulated, inspired and hooked on writing?
Monday, March 19, 2012
Readers - contact your favourite authors and collect e-autographs!
Authors - reach your readers in an even more personalised way!
There's a very useful mini-video on how it works on the site, but here is a brief, additional run-down.
I'm an Author, what do I do?
* Sign up for Twitter, if you haven't already. You DON'T have to use Twitter after that, although you may learn to love it :). Either way, you only need a Twitter ID at the moment for Kindlegraph.
* Go to Kindlegraph and use your Twitter ID to register you as an author. You'll be asked to add a contact email address. Now readers can find you there!
* Add your book(s). All you need is the Amazon ASIN reference, it's listed on the Amazon book page. Copy or type that in, then the book will appear on your Author page with a "Request Kindlegraph" button underneath for a reader to use.
I'm a reader, what do I do?
* Go to Kindlegraph, search for your favourite author(s), click on any of their books and send a request. You can add a personal message to them if you want.
* When they've completed a Kindlegraph back to you, you'll get an email notification. You can then access it on your Kindle, on your iBooks, or directly from the Kindlegraph site. Log in, look for "My Collection" at the top right of the screen, and your Kindlegraphs are accessible as PDFs, attached to a copy of the cover art.
Authors, want to check how it works?
Request a Kindlegraph for yourself, from your own book! Or buddy up with another author and request from each other. Then you can follow through the process and see what it looks like.
Julie Wachowski http://www.kindlegraph.com/authors/JulieWachowski
Josh Lanyon http://www.kindlegraph.com/authors/JoshLanyon
Sharon Cullen http://www.kindlegraph.com/authors/SharonCullen
Shelley Munro http://www.kindlegraph.com/authors/ShelleyMunro
Angela Henry http://www.kindlegraph.com/authors/MystNoir
Friday, March 16, 2012
“No! Not another form of social media to soak up my writing time.”
To be honest that’s what I thought when I first heard about Pinterest. I’m chronically short of time these days, so I turned my back and tiptoed away. But Pinterest was determined to nab me. I started to see posts about Pinterest in my blog feeds. Curious about this new “thingie” that seemed to be stalking me, I read the posts about this shiny new toy. I was intrigued. Hooked,
“Okay,” I told myself. "Maybe Pinterest would be helpful with the new series you're percolating. You could use it as a visual storyboard."
My experience with Pinterest:
1. I requested an invitation from Pinterest, which turned up in my inbox in a few hours.
2. Once I received my invitation, the actual joining was easy. (You need to be either a Facebook or Twitter user to join.) During the sign up stage, tick the subjects that interest you. Pinterest automatically sets you up with people (friends) who have common interests to get you started. You can unfriend people later if you change your mind.
3. Since my main purpose in joining Pinterest is as a source of inspiration and a visual storyboard, I haven’t bothered searching out people to friend.
4. Each of the heroines in my new series now has a board, and the pinning process has helped me consider different facets of their characters. It’s a work-in-progress.
5. I started a board for my blog, and it occurred to me I could do a board for my latest release, Cat Burglar in Training. A brainwave struck, and I added a link for this board to my website as an added extra for readers to check out. Cat Burglar in Training Pinterest board.
Images of elements from Cat burglar in Training, ranging from ball gowns, cars and jewels to peanut butter, plus the cover populate this board. The purpose of these boards is to direct traffic to my website and my book.
6. The Cat Burglar in Training board pleased me so much I started one for my paranormal MiddlemarchMates series too.
Conclusion: Pinterest is fun. It's perfect for those who are visual during the creative process. There’s no pressure to visit if you're short of time. When I do visit, I find the process relaxing and inspirational. Win-win!
For those of you who are unconvinced here is a link to a useful article:
Pinterest: 13 Things Authors Should Know by Rachelle Gardner, agent
Do you Pinterest?
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
I've been thinking about the power of questions to build suspense as I watch each episode of the television show JUSTIFIED (Warning: Small Spoilers Included In This Post).
Despite the fact I think this is the program's weakest season, I keep tuning in because I want answers to the questions they've raised.
(Questions other than: What the hell has Raylan EVER seen in Winona? and Why isn't the best bromance ever (between Raylan and Boyd) not getting any screen time this season?)
This season I've particularly admired the use of "The Room". "The Room" where this season's biggest baddie, Robert Quarles, does his Very Bad Things, is brilliant in its simplicity. We got one glimpse inside it early on, and then "the room" has never been seen again.
We've heard terrible sounds coming from it, we've listened to Quarles talking about cleaning it and getting it painted (to cover up the evidence of the very bad things) and we've held our breath waiting to see if Raylan or a deputy would stumble in and discover the atrocities committed there. At this point "The Room" is practically a character.
And yet we don't REALLY know much about it. The writers have left it an open question and as viewers we try to fill in the disturbing answers. It is, in my opinion, a brilliant device.
I'm also loving the character of Ellstin Limehouse (played with sublime perfection by Mykelti Williamson). He reminds me of an older and wiser Boyd. We KNOW he's not a good guy, but he's so clever and charming that it's hard to root against him. Plus, he's been providing shelter to abused women for decades, so he does have his redeeming qualities. I love the way the writers have played with the question of just what was his relationship with Raylan's mother, way back when? And why on Earth would that crafty Mags Bennett do her banking with him? All the questions surrounding this man is what makes him an interesting character!
Even though my books THE FIRST VICTIM and CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN are very different styles, they both revolve around the central question: How far would you go for someone you love?
If you're a fan of JUSTIFIED, what do you think is the central question of the series?
If you're not a fan of the show, what kinds of questions do you like to see characters struggle with?
Do you prefer stories that leave questions open-ended or do you demand answers?
Monday, March 12, 2012
Those questions surface periodically on loops and blogs, but I’ve heard from other contest coordinators that entries are down, perhaps in response to the lingering effects of a crummy economy, but maybe because people aren’t sure it’s something they should do.
Whether a contest is relevant or worth the money depends on what you’re hoping to accomplish. If you expect to get an agent or a book contract from them, you’re probably going to be disappointed. It does happen. Final judges often request full or partial manuscripts. Some people do sign with an agent or sell to an editor based upon a contest.
If you’re entering for feedback on your manuscript, then you may feel you’ve won something, regardless of your entry’s final placement. Even if you aren’t a finalist, you may receive enough positive responses to keep you encouraged.
What if your comments are less than stellar? Do the judges mention the same things? These strangers, who haven’t seen ten versions of your story like your critique partners, can tell you if what’s in your head is hitting the page. Allow for different tastes and perspectives, but if there are consistent references to… whatever, try to find a class or online workshop that can help you in those areas. Good critique partners or a good writers’ workshop can also help as you learn the craft of writing.
But let’s do the happy dance because maybe the contest coordinator just called and said your entry reached the finals. Does it really have an impact on your writing career?
Several years ago, one of my critique partners encouraged me to enter The Professor in an RWA contest. The first round judges pointed out spots to polish and I’m sure that helped my manuscript final in the Golden Heart. Of course the contest wins don’t guarantee a sale, but I suspect having those contest credentials in my query letter helped move the manuscript over the first set of hurdles when I sought publication. I’m happy to say Carina Press acquired The
Professor (it released in January!)
For me, those early contest finals were an affirmation by other professional and a much needed ego-boost when I wondered if I was beating my head against the proverbial brick wall. People liked the characters, the story, my voice – the encouragement I needed.
So what if things don’t go as you’d hoped? We’ve all heard the story of “that judge,” the grammar police who treat your paper as if it were part of English 101 (Side bar, I use sentence fragments. A lot. It’s fiction. Deal with it.), or the one who wants to rewrite your story the way they would write it.
They happen. Just like the rest of your life, chance is an element in contests. As the coordinator for the Daphne du Maurier mainstream category (deadline is March 15, get your entry turned in!) I can tell you most judges are trying to give back to the writing community, taking time away from their writing, family, the rest of their life, in an attempt to nurture other authors. I can also share that the overwhelming majority of our contest judges offer constructive feedback. (As the coordinator, I see all the entries) Any judge who isn’t doing so will not be invited back the next year. On the very positive side, our rate of returning judges is incredibly high.
There are numerous contests in addition to the Romance Writers of America ones I’ve mentioned. If you enter a contest, make sure you know who is actually sponsoring it, read the fine print and watch out for the scams.
With the explosive growth of self-publishing, I’ve heard people question whether contests add any value. Why try to attract an editor or agent if you plan to ‘do it yourself?’
Is your material ready for the harsh reality of publication? Are there still holes you need to patch in the all-important opening?
One last point. I’ve seen some concern on the loops about someone ‘stealing’ your contest material. An important thing to remember is your voice, the way you tell a story, is as unique as you are. Generally contests only cover the first 15 -25 pages. Even with a synopsis, no one is going to tell the story the same way you would. So put that worry aside and concentrate on writing the
story of your heart.
I polled a number of friends about this topic and this is the summary of their advice:
1) Inexpensive way to get impartial feedback
2) Learn how to work with negative feedback – protect your voice but stay open to constructive criticism
3) Compare your work/skill level to your peers
1) Subjective comments may not be consistent – learn to trust your voice after you acquire sufficient skills
2) Feedback can be overwhelming – and confidence shaking – to a new writer; make sure you and your manuscript are ready before entering a contest
3) Don’t turn into a contest junky – don’t endlessly polish the beginning and neglect the rest of the manuscript. You need the whole book to sell it.
What has your contest experience – as a judge, contestant or coordinator – been?
Can you add to the benefits or offer another caution?
Friday, March 9, 2012
So Barry Manilow may claim to write the songs, but it was William Shakespeare who coined the phrases - he contributed more phrases and sayings to the English language than any other individual, and most of them are still in daily use.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
The result was this - a fabulous cover showing one of my favourite places.
Friday, March 2, 2012
1. Cover. A striking cover on a book will definitely get me to take a second look. Whether I'm in a physical brick and mortar store or cruising the internet, an eye-catching cover will make me pause, just to find out what the story is all about.
2. Author name. Of course, we all have our favorites, right? Some are auto-buys. Some have certain series that we read every single book therein. Others are authors recommended by a friend or colleague or somebody that we know, a fellow reader who passes along his/her favorite writers.
3. Back cover. How many times have you picked a book for whatever reason, turned it over and the back cover blurb just riveted your attention from the first word? You immediately turn that book into your basket, knowing you have to have it. Other times you will read the back and right back onto the shelf it goes. A good, well-define and thought-provoking back cover is an important component when choosing a book.
4. Reading the first few pages. Okay, admit it, some of you (me included) will open the book right there in the bookstore and read the first couple of pages to get a feel for whether it is a good fit, something you would read. Does it hold your interest? Is the author's voice one you want to continue reading? On-line sites sometimes offer the first portion of a book as a "sample" which really does help because as a reader, I really like to check out what I'm buying before shelling out my hard-earned dollars on something that I might not finish.
5. Reviews by readers/review sites. While not my highest criteria, I do tend to look at some of the reviews, especially if I'm buying books on-line. Just saying . . .
How do you choose your books? Do you do the same things I've listed above, or do you have another way of findings books—I want to know.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Short and sweet; hopefully both informative and entertaining - join us at I-Spy to find out the how's and why's of what we do.
TODAY'S POST: I-Spy How to ... Research with Toni Anderson
Blogs might have gone a little out of fashion, but if you want details about a particular way of life they are worth spending time reading through. I found blogs especially helpful when writing a character who has type-1 diabetes (Cameran Young in EDGE OF SURVIVAL). People talk about everything from their deepest fears to their most mundane routines. Every detail is important when creating realistic 3-D characters. A lot of front-line soldiers blog. Another fascinating blog I found when writing my snow leopard biologist heroine was this. I found it an invaluable insight into the biologists’ daily routines and common frustrations.
I also scour the local library search engine and Amazon (Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk because they list different books). If I find a suitable book I add it to my wishlist and go back and search for it in the library. I do the same with DVDs. Some of my wishlist books have been there for years—they are so expensive I just can’t justify getting them, but every time I see them I remember a story idea. Kids books can be really useful too. I have way too many books, but it will never be enough.
If you can’t get to a workshop then see if you can find experts in the field you are interested in who will talk to you. I have friends in the secret echelons of the Ministry of Defence and, despite all the dirt I have on them, they won’t tell me a damn thing. I’ve actually found people who I don’t know personally to be more helpful than friends or relatives (I’m not sure what that says about me but what I’m hoping to encourage is the confidence to reach out). I did have a rather hilarious incident recently when I’d contacted a RCMP officer who wrote a newsletter. I then managed to get the email address of the media relations person. I received two replies pretty much on the same day. The former said, “We can’t tell you that sort of information. We don’t want the bad guys getting hold of it and, you’re writing fiction, so you can make it up.” I chuckled so hard I also gave myself a hernia. The second reply had all the details I needed for my story and he was happy with follow-up questions too. So, where possible, reach out to the media relations people from whatever organization you’re interested in. They will help you.
Kindlegraph / the art of research / writing male/male romance / rejection and writer's block / building suspense / writing love scenes / anti-piracy strategies / audio books / interviews with editors and agents / using Calibre.
We welcome everyone's constructive comments and suggestions!
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