Thursday, May 31, 2007

Character vs. Concept

As part of my reading/writing program, I've been reading a number of paranormal romance novels published within the last 10 years. And, I've gleaned an important lesson from all this reading: Never sacrifice characterization to a glitzy concept. The best paranormal romances have strong characters with clearly defined goals and motivation, which then give rise to the conflict. In weaker paranormal romances, the characters seem like cardboard cutouts that are present simply to serve as props for the paranormal element(s).

Recently, I picked up a paranormal romance by a popular author because I was attracted by the concept of the book. When I finished the book, though, I felt that I really understood the world the author had created; however, I never fully understood the characters, which meant I couldn't buy into the conflict that was established between them. Still, the lesson above was reinforced: When I read romances, the characters have to be well-developed so that the conflict between/within the characters sustain the plot and keep me reading. I actually care about the characters and what's going to happen to them. If the author is too focused on some other element other than characterization, the novel's pacing suffers. Although I think witches, mythological creatures, and magic are very interesting in and of themselves, they aren't enough to keep me immersed in the book.

Having said all that, I don't always remember my own advice. So, I posted a little sticky note on my computer with the words, "It's the characters, stupid!" I hope it helps!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Book Burning as Protest

For all my fellow bibliophiles out there, you may be interested in the article on Yahoo called "Mo. man burns books as act of protest." Last month, I posted information about the NEA's study that found the percentage of people who read for pleasure is declining greatly. Tom Wayne, the subject of the Yahoo article, is the owner of a used bookstore. Recently, when he tried to thin out his collection, he was discouraged by how difficult it was to get rid of the books, even when he offered them for free; therefore, he "began burning his books in protest of what he sees as society's diminishing support for the printed word." Like Mr. Wayne, I've also been discouraged by the decreasing numbers of readers, though I'm not sure I would go as far as to burn books. Then again, perhaps radical acts such as Mr. Wayne's will center attention on this persistent problem in today's society.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Check out my Slide Show!

I tried something new recently with the creation of a slide show. Online promotion is still a very new venture for me, so I'm testing out different ideas.
An intriguing idea, to turn my book cover into a movie poster, came from Dorothy Thompson's blog "How to Promote Your Self-Published eBook (or Print!) ." She recommends the following website to craft your poster:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Author of the Week at Candice Gilmer's blog

Candice Gilmer was kind enough to feature me as Author of the Week over at her blog, Inside an Author's Mind.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Reading and Writing Program

Since The Earl's Enchantment was published in April, I've been encouraged by its success and have returned to seriously working on my novel. Since May 3rd, I've written over 9000 words, and I'm finding the writing is much easier now that I'm on my new reading and writing program. When I read Stephen King's book On Writing, he mentioned that writers should establish a reading and writing program-- "four to six hours a day, every day." He also mentioned Anthony Trollope (image below), who would write for 2.5 hours every morning before work. When I was a freshman, my British literature professor mentioned Trollope and his work ethic, hoping to guilt all of us into more consistent work habits. The lesson didn't sink in when I was 18, but it certainly is sinking in now that I'm trying to complete a novel. My own program is conservative in comparison to Trollope and King's; I read for 1 hour each day and write at least 500 words per day. On some days, when the Muse is smiling, I've been able to write over 900 words. Occasionally, I fail to meet these goals and give myself a guilt trip, but for the most part, it's a very useful program for a beginning writer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Musings on Genre

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about the romance genre and how writers chose their particular subgenres. When I first began writing, I worked on a novel that was a straight historical set in the Regency era. However, I just wasn't happy with the plot, though I liked the plot and the characters. So, I took a break from the novel and completed a short story. To my surprise, that story ended up being a time-travel novel that was set in the Regency era. As I revisited my novel, began to wonder if I could mix paranormal elements with a historical setting. I hadn't heard of the historical-paranormal subgenre before; hence the research machine kicked in, and I discovered authors such as Eve Silver, Jeanne Savery, and Julie Beard (My Fair Lord).

I've found that researching the subgenre I want to write in is immensely helpful. And, it's encouraging to know that other writers are writing and publishing the same types of books that I love to read and write. Since I'm as much a reader as I am a writer, and I believe most writers are like this, it only makes sense to thoroughly investigate my target market as I craft my novel.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

A rose for all the mothers out there. As my fellow writers know, writing can be an isolating experience, and it's easy to forget the people who are encouraging us in our journey. I know my own mother has cheered me along every step of the way, whether it's reading my latest chapter or traveling to the RWA Conference with me.