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Friday, March 20th, 2009
Romance and Infidelity

Yesterday my post was about flaws and faults in heroes. One flaw I didn’t mention in my post was that of infidelity.

Infidelity is a real hot button when it comes to romance readers. Some people have experienced infidelity in real life, and betrayal of this nature isn’t something they want to read about for relaxation. Personally, I don’t think romance and infidelity fit well together. I mean how can a book be a romance if it’s about infidelity? It doesn’t seem right at all.

One of the writers I use to critique with said up front that she wouldn’t critique or work with me on any story where one or both of the characters were unfaithful to each other. It was a hot button for her.
If a plot does use infidelity, it usually happens off stage and is part of the hero or heroine’s back story. Or it’s a subplot that occurs in the life of a secondary character.

For example with Scarlet Woman, the first book in my Middlemarch series, my heroine was in a bad marriage where her husband was constantly unfaithful. He cheated on her several times. Just before the start of the book, her husband had died in a motor vehicle accident along with his current girlfriend. Her husband’s death was the impetus she needed to make some changes in her life. She wanted to have some fun and met Saber Mitchell at the Middlemarch Single’s ball. Things went from there. Of course, her husband’s infidelity made it difficult for her to trust Saber and to take a chance on their relationship.

Despite my thoughts above about romance and infidelity, I’ve been toying with using infidelity as part of a plot for a book that’s been swirling around inside my head. I know if I go ahead, I’ll have to give my character excellent motivation and try to make my character sympathetic to readers. A tall order, which is making me hesitate about using this particular subplot. I’ll have to give it a lot more thought.

What do you think about infidelity and the romance genre? Would you read a romance where one of the characters was unfaithful? Can you think of any romances you’ve read where the hero or heroine is unfaithful to the other?

Thursday, March 19th, 2009
Negative Traits for Heroes

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Negative Traits For Heroes

I’m pondering book nine in my Middlemarch Mates series and the heroes in particular. Of course, it goes without saying that the heroine will love her two heroes to bits and think they’re the best thing since the invention of sliced bread (maybe even chocolate) but they need to be well-rounded. They need to be human. They need faults along with their positive traits. So, here are thirteen possibles for my heroes.

1. Overbearing.

2. Too flirtatious with other females.

3. Smug or boastful.

4. Too arrogant.

5. Possessive or prone to jealousy.

6. Selfish.

7. Moody – prone to dark moods or temperamental.

8. No sense of humor.

9. Impractical.

10. Manipulative.

11. Impatient.

12. Restless or quickly bored.

13. Fails to plan adequately.

Of course, these traits can be applied to women as well. I could also include things like obsessed with sex, speeds in car, leaves dirty clothes all over the floor, gambles or smokes, swears too much, burps or farts in public, hogs conversation.

Which vices/negative traits do you think are good for heroes in novels and in particular in romances? Do you have more suggestions for me? Do you like heroes to have large faults or do small ones work better for you?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
Gobbledygook

One of the people I correspond with is an aspiring writer and she asked me about language in sci-fi romances. She was having problems with words to describe things in her sci-fi work that didn’t sound plain stupid. She wanted to know how I attack this aspect of world building to give my work a sci-fi flavor and particularly mentioned my Talking Dog series, which is one of her favorites. I thought this was a great question and decided it would make an excellent topic for a blog post.

From childhood, I’ve watched sci-fi movies and television. I’ve seen how the writers have handled the language aspect and absorbed that. While I’ve never been a huge sci-fi/fantasy reader, I’ve read enough to see how other writers work this aspect of world building. I think the most important thing is to make sure the reader isn’t jerked out of your story because they’re so busy laughing about your made-up language or are totally confused because they don’t understand what is happening in the story. On the other hand, the writer shouldn’t copy everything they’ve seen or read in other sci-fi books or movies. Originality is good.

With my Talking Dogs series, I went light on the “foreign” language aspect. My stories are about aliens crash landing in New Zealand. Just as an aside, a lot of the time my editor and readers think I’m writing a foreign language anyway!

Hinekiri, the aunt, is a seasoned traveler/explorer. She’s good with languages and doesn’t stand out as a tourist. Janaya, the niece who stowed away to save her aunt, had a crash course with some Earth-speak tapes and she sometimes mixes up things when it comes to language. Here’s an example.

“Back on the ship,” she snapped to her aunt as she pulled her weapon free. “Now.”

To her right, the leaves of a fern shuddered. Janaya scented the air. Sweat. Torgon sweat.

“Come on out with your fingers poked inside your ears,” she ordered, aiming her neutralizing weapon at the dark green bushes that had moved.

“That would be, hands in the air,” her aunt said.

With my Talking Dogs, I focused more on the language difficulties, the same ones that people learning English have. With my stories this made sense because my aliens want to blend rather than stand out.

I gave the race of bad aliens (who are a pretty lilac color) the name of Torgons, the planet where Hinekiri and Janaya come from is called Dalcon, and I had a few other things with made up names. As I said, with this book I erred on the light side because it is set in New Zealand and I wanted my aliens to blend.

Foreign languages and scientific names for plants or animals can be a good source of language for sci-fi works. Authors can also use part of these words because some of them are really long while a few of the syllables work out perfectly as a made up language.

With my free story, Interplanetary Love, I used a completely different technique. I took normal English words and spelled them backward, making a new language all of my own. With Fallen Idol, I made up words, plucking them from the depths of my brain and that worked out okay.

With all my writing, I tend to err on the light side when it comes to a “foreign” language. I’ve read books where I’ve had to read the same paragraph several times to work out what the author or the characters were trying to say. I think this part of world building is a delicate balance because if you have too many strange words you frustrate your readers and if you don’t have enough you might as well write a contemporary. If anything, I’m probably on the too light side, but I can live with that. I write what I prefer to read.

Writers, what do you think? How do you tackle this part of world building when you’re writing a paranormal, sci-fi or fantasy story?

Readers, what do you think? Do writers get it right or do we confuse you? Is there a writer who you think does a really good job?

Sunday, March 15th, 2009
What’s Coming?

Tomorrow I have a mini interview with Karen Erickson about her new release. Reader favorite, Michelle Pillow is also my guest in just over a week on 23 March. She’s giving away a prize so you’ll want to make sure you visit that day.

On 23 March I have an interview at Menagerie Authors.

On 24 March I’m at the Samhellion blog. That will be a mystery topic because I haven’t decided what my post will be about yet!

And on 25 March I’m at Maria Zannini’s blog where I think I’m talking about writing and dogs. :grin:

Saturday, March 14th, 2009
Themed Read: Lifelines by CJ Lyons

I read another of my chosen themed reads this week. LIFELINES by CJ Lyons is a medical thriller and it fits my theme because of the doctors and nurses with their uniforms.

Lifelines is a story about four medical staff, although the main story is about new ER attending physician, Lydia Fiore. She’s moved from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, it’s the first of July, which is also transition day, and the most dangerous day of the year because of all the new medical students starting their internships. On Lydia’s first night, a patient comes in to the ER. They’re mystified as to what’s wrong with him and despite every effort, the patient dies. After the death, Lydia learns the man who has died is the son of Dr. Elliot Weiss, the chief of surgery. He blames Lydia for his son’s death and he’s after her blood. She’s put on probation, pending an enquiry and that’s when the fun starts for Lydia. Something isn’t adding up about the death. At the autopsy, Lydia starts to think cyanide poisoning, but others don’t agree, especially Dr. Weiss. When more cyanide poisonings occur some people start to wonder if Lydia is trying to cover her mistake.

Things I liked about this book:

1. It’s fast paced. The entire story takes place over four days from 1st July to 4th July.
2. The setting of the busy ER is excellent and CJ Lyons’ medical background really shows.
3. I enjoyed the characters, both the main and secondary ones.
4. The thriller/mystery component was compelling and hooked me. I read quickly. I was also tired the next day!

Things I didn’t like about this book:

1. The romance element wasn’t the main part of the story. I thought it was a romance. I don’t know why I thought this considering the spine of the book says fiction. Having said that, I’m really glad I read this book.
2. At times the medical jargon made me blink. It wasn’t overdone but in a couple of places I had to reread. Also, if someone could tell me what a wifebeater is? I’m thinking it’s a kind of shirt?

As I mentioned above, I’m glad I read this book. It was a great read, and I enjoyed it so much, I’ve purchased CJ Lyons follow up book, WARNING SIGNS, which follows the same main four characters but focuses on one of the others. Fans of ER or Grey’s Anatomy would enjoy this book. If you enjoy mysteries with a slight romance thread and a medical flavor, this is definitely the book for you.

Friday, March 13th, 2009
Do You Do It In Public?

Ah, that made you look. Sorry if I’ve disappointed you, but I’m actually talking about reading – do you read romances in public?

I used to do a lot of reading while I traveled via bus or train to work. I’ll admit that although I’d read a romance, I’d pick one off my to-read pile that didn’t have a lurid cover. These days when I go out, I take my PDA and anything goes in the reading department. If someone asks what I’m reading they get erotic romance with all the naughty words when they ask for a closer look. I’m also more likely to just grab a book and read it, no matter what the cover.

I’m off on holiday in just over a month and considering which reading material to take with me. Along with my ebooks, I’ll probably grab two or three books from my to-read pile since it’s my mission to make the pile of books beside my bed disappear this year. Most of them are erotic romance, so I guess the folks at the holiday resort will have some interesting discussions ahead. Have you seen what that woman is reading over there? I’m not too worried. I’ll be relaxing by the pool with my book and a fruity little cocktail…

Do you do it in public? Why or why not? Do lurid covers stop you from reading in a public place?

Thursday, March 12th, 2009
Volcanoes

Thursday Thirteen

Volcanoes have always fascinated me, mainly because Auckland, the part of New Zealand where I’ve lived for most of my life, is built on and around a field of volcanoes. The volcanoes in Auckland are dormant rather than extinct but scientists say it is more likely another will pop up in a different place rather than a dormant one erupting again.

Thirteen Volcanoes – most of which I’ve visited.
Read the rest of this entry ?

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
Barbie and Karen Walker

Barbie turns fifty this year, and New Zealand fashion designer, Karen Walker was asked to design some outfits for Barbie’s special celebration. To date around seventy designers have designed special outfits for Barbie’s exotic shape. Karen Walker downsized some of her designs for next season especially for Barbie. Here’s a link to an interview with Karen Walker about the designs. I thought it was interesting that Karen’s very first design was a circular skirt for Barbie and this started Karen on her designer career. (some of you might enjoy the Kiwi accents in the video interview)

Hubby and I watched the news headlines about Barbie. I said to hubby that I’d never owned a Barbie. My doll was called Suzie and my sister cut her hair. Suzie looked bald in the front by the time my sister had finished. You can probably imagine the resulting war in our house that day! Hubby asked if I’d like him to buy me a Barbie. I told him a Barbie might come in handy but I’d need a Ken as well. Maybe two Kens since I’m writing some kinky stuff these days. Some erotic romance writers use their Barbies or children’s Barbie dolls to work out their love scenes. Hubby was aghast. Surely not? It was really funny, and we had a long, very interesting discussion about Barbie and Ken. It’s probably best if I end my blog post right there…

Did you own a Barbie doll? Do your children? And for all the erotic romance writers out there–have you used Barbies or Action figures for help in working out love scenes?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
Fated Mates.

Paranormal romances often use a fated mates plotline where the hero and heroine take one look at each other and know they will spend their lives together. Some readers and reviewers consider the fated mates plot overdone. They say it’s a way for the author to cheat on the world building aspect of their writing and that the fated mate plot is a shortcut. I’ve also seen readers/reviewers say characterization suffers in a fated mates story. Others say this type of plot is unbelievable.

Personally, I love reading and writing this type of plot. I read romance for the happy-ever-after aspect and like to think there is a special person or a soul mate waiting out there for every person. In my Middlemarch world, every feline shifter has a special mate. They don’t necessarily have to hook up with that person, but mostly they do end up together. Fated mates stories often contain other elements such as a suspense subplot.

What do you think? Do you like the fated mates plotline? What do you like or dislike about it? Are stories that use the fated mate scenario too predictable? Are there any particular stories featuring fated mates that you’ve enjoyed?

Sunday, March 8th, 2009
Themed Reading: Rare Breed by Connie Hall

This is the first book I’ve read in my themed reading challenge. It’s taken me a while to get started because I judged two published author contests. I’m all done now and ready to face my challenges.

Rare Breed is about Wynne Sperling who is a park ranger in Zambia, Africa. There’s a poaching operation in her park and Wynne is determined to catch the poachers and toss them in jail. She’s not sure of the poaching leader’s identity, but suspects it’s Englishman Noah Hellstrom who owns a safari tour operation. Then there’s Texan Jack MacKay who is loaded with charm but raises Wynne’s suspicions. There are also rumors of a feline, said to be an ancient breed, and if the stories are true, Noah Hellstrom is determined to profit from them.

I chose this book from my to-read pile because it’s been there a long time and it fit my theme of heroes and heroines who wear uniforms. It was part of the now defunct Harlequin Bombshell line, which will give you an idea of how long it’s been sitting in my pile.

What I liked:

1. The unusual setting of Zambia and a game park. (I’ve visited Zambia and it was lovely revisiting the country)
2. The heroine’s occupation –a woman park ranger in Africa.
3. Wynne’s weapon of choice is a slingshot, and she’s very proficient with it.
4. The distinct African flavor of the story. I could see the setting so clearly, feel the heat and the sounds of the animals.
5. Snow, the leopard raised by Wynne, and the fact Wynne allowed Snow to return to the wild.

What I didn’t like:

1. This wasn’t really a romance.
2. Although we were left hanging about the identity of the poachers, it was pretty easy to guess the identity of the poacher and the good guy undercover.

Would I read another book by Connie Hall? Yes, definitely. I had no problem with the writing style.