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Archive for 'Writing'

Over and Over

I’ve heard readers comment about authors who write a variation of the same book over and over again. Each new release is a rewrite of the same story. I know I’ve stopped reading a couple of authors because I felt their stories were pretty much identical. Maybe the characters were different, but the conflicts and plot were similar. It didn’t feel as if I was reading a different book.

I’ve written over thirty books now. I’ll admit I think about originality when I’m writing a new book. I like to think each story is distinctly different, but I’m also aware that an author’s upbringing colors their perceptions. Their books may contain the same theme. Many of my stories deal with finding a home and security. I hope my books are different enough that readers don’t think I’m a one-book wonder. It’s hard to judge your own work sometimes.

What do you think? Does an author tend to write the same story over and over?

The Wait Between Books

Last week Kaye Munro did a post about writing and author productivity. I’ve been thinking about this, and I want everyone to put on their reader hats while they read this post about author releases.

It used to be that authors would write one book a year and sometimes one book every two years. These days authors tend to have a higher rate of productivity. Some authors write three or four books a year, depending on the line they write for and also if they write for traditional or e-publishers.

The good thing for readers is this means there are a large number of books available to choose from. We’re spoiled for choice. I don’t know about you, but as a reader, I love the trilogies or connected books by the same author that come out in three successive months. I think that’s reader heaven. I like my favorite authors to have releases at least every six months. That’s a good length of time for me. If the wait is much longer, I forget to look for the next release because I have a lot of favorites. If I can’t find a book written by one of my favorite authors, I tend to look farther afield, and I explore the books of new-to-me writers. Sometimes I find new favorites, so there’s a danger if an author doesn’t have frequent releases, they’ll lose me to another writer or writers.

How long are you willing to wait between books? Can an author have too many releases in one year? Do you think quality is sacrificed in favor of quantity these days?

The Author Persona

Barbara Vey at Publishers Weekly has a recent post about authors, actors and the like called Does It Matter If They’re Nice? while Samhain editor Tera Kleinfelter has a post about professionalism.

We all know how to behave in public or online, or we should. Writing is our job or business and as a writer we need to promote ourselves in a positive light. We’re all human and sometimes, the smile might slip. Sometimes we have a bad day.

I have a confession. I’m a fairly easy going person, but there are a couple of authors whose books I would never purchase or read because they made a really bad impression on me when I met them. Quite frankly, they were rude. I’ve heard others make the same comment about authors, actors and singers.

If an author is rude to you at a conference or booksigning, or they behave badly online, does this create a bad impression with you or do you give them the benefit of doubt and give them a second chance? Does rudeness stop you buying their book, music or watching their movies?

Writing and Writer’s Tools

I have a selection of interesting posts and info today.

The first is a link to Holt Uncensored that talks about ten mistakes writers make. This post makes for interesting reading and serves as a good reminder of the basics.

For those of you who like gadgets, Paperback Writer has a post about shareware and freeware especially for writers.

At Novelist Inc. Joe Nassise tells us about another writing tool, one to help in backing up a work in progress and for syncing on two different computers.

And finally for both readers and writers: I did my answers for an interview today. One of the questions was: if you could choose one dessert, what would it be? My answer, after much deliberation, was ice cream. Which dessert would you choose?

Love Scenes: Risque Business!

I’ve just finished reading a book by a fairly well-known author. The writing was solid. The characterization good. The dialogue made me chuckle in a few places, and then I reached the love scenes…

Most of the love scenes took place on horseback. Now I’ve ridden a horse before. I know anything is possible, but honestly, when the hero and heroine started having anal sex on horseback (the heroine was a virgin and they were in the middle of nowhere with the baddies after them) I was ready to throw the book at the wall. The love scenes were also really long. The characters chit-chatted for so long while doing the deed I became bored and lost track of who was doing what. Pages and pages of chit-chat during a love scene does not work. I fast forwarded to find more of the same. After that I became cranky and started to notice the plot holes in the story.

My love scenes range from a paragraph to half a page to several pages. It depends on the characters, the story and what stage the relationship is at. I like to change it up when it comes to length. When it comes to location: bedroom, kitchen, hallway, outside, spa pool, a tent, a vehicle, mountains, sea, space ship… A horse or other similar moving object such as camel or elephant–no, because it doesn’t strike me as safe or sane even though it might be possible. Animals are unpredictable creatures and I keep thinking about the injuries…

So, my question for you is: how long do you like the love scenes to be in a romance? What is the strangest location you’ve read/written in a romance? Are there locations that make you go ewww!?

Getting the Word Out!

One of the most difficult things for a writer is the promotion side of the business. There’s so many variables with promotion, and it’s hard to gauge what works and what doesn’t because royalties are often received months after the event. Sometimes it’s hard for a writer to juggle the time because there’s no doubt about it, promotion is a huge timesuck! It’s also difficult to know what will work for you. Each writer and book is different, and what works for one will not necessarily work for another.

Today I’d like to look at the pros and cons of promotion companies where the writer pays a company or individual to do their promotion for them. The theory is that this will free the writer to do what he or she does best. Write.

Advantages of a Promotion Company

1. They take over the chore of promotion for an author and therefore the stress.
2. A writer can save time and focus on their writing.
3. They (supposedly) have expertise and know exactly how to tailor a promotion for an author.
4. They can take care of both online and “real world” promotion, depending on the company.
5. A company can tailor make a package to meet your special needs.
6. A promo company knows all the right places to promote and all the posting rules on loops.
7. They can also help with printing needs i.e. banners, postcards, bookmarks etc.

Disadvantages/Cons of a Promotion Company

1. They can be expensive.
2. Some readers consider promotion posts are SPAM and delete them unread.
3. Sometimes overbooking clients can mean all clients are at a disadvantage and don’t get value for money.

Here are some links to a few author promotion companies:

Topaz Promotions
Millennium Promotion Services
Heartfelt Promos

In addition to promotion companies are author communities. These are groups of writers who pay to belong to a community. The owners of the community promote the authors together and individually. The theory is that a group of authors will attract readers and hopefully those reader visitors will discover new authors. Once again, it can be expensive to join a community and all communities are not equal. Some are over committed and not very good at communication. Some don’t attract readers as well as others. Some communities such as Writerspace attract large numbers of readers and have thousands of readers receiving their newsletters.

Some examples are:

Author Island
Writerspace
Access Romance
The Romance Studio
Eye On Romance
Fresh Fiction
I Read Romance

I am a current member of Access Romance, which I really like. They’re pleasant and efficient with a professionally run website. I’m also with Erotic Romance Writers, a sister site of I Read Romance. I found the owner friendly and efficient and the cost is very reasonable. I joined these two communities to help spread the word about my new releases, to gain traffic to my website and hopefully gain more name recognition. It’s hard to tell if I’ve achieved the name recognition, but my website traffic is up on this time last year, and I think more readers know about my releases. I’ve also had favorable dealings with Author Island and Fresh Fiction.

Readers: I’d like to know if you enjoy visiting author communities, and if you visit them on a regular basis. What is it that attracts you to the communities and which are your favorites?
Authors: Have you had dealings with either promtion companies or author communites? Good or bad? Do you have any questions?

The Curious Series of Events

This is a bit of a story, so grab a coffee and get comfortable.

Mr. Munro went to pick up Scotty from the kennels on Sunday. The kennel assistant came out with Scotty and a basket that didn’t belong to her. Hubby said, “That’s not Scotty’s basket.” But evidently Scotty had slept in that basket the entire time we were away. (Let’s call this event one)

The kennel people ran around looking for Scotty’s tatty basket and couldn’t find it. It is tatty with the stuffing showing through the fabric but she doesn’t like the new ones we purchased for her. She likes the old one. They looked high and low and finally said hubby could take the basket Scotty had been sleeping in. Subsequent investigations i.e. looking at the label says this basket belongs to a dog called Dexter. (Let’s call this event two)

Hubby and Scotty went off to collect a chainsaw from a friend so he could cut down a tree. When he went to load the chainsaw into the car he discovered the wee dog had had an accident of the smelly kind. Hubby assures me he didn’t shout at her, but I don’t really believe him. Scotty is very good but sometimes she can’t move fast enough to reach the great outdoors. In this case she was trapped inside the car. (Let’s call this event three)

Hubby and Scotty arrived at home. Scotty went straight into the tub for a wash and shampoo while I put her new basket (the one that used to belong to Dexter) into the washing machine and cleaned out the car. (Let’s call this event four)

Scotty went outside to dry while hubby prepared for his tree chopping adventure. I went inside to check my email and think about writing, housework and the like. I heard sudden shouting and swearing in the garage and went racing out to investigate. While hubby was washing Scotty in the tub, she knocked the washing machine outlet pipe and it dropped to the ground, unnoticed by hubby. When the washing machine emptied, it emptied out into the garage and we ended up with a flood. (Let’s call this event five)

Hubby and I frantically mopped and wiped up water, shifting stuff in the garage and panicking in case the water seeped through the wall into the house and wet the carpet. (Let’s call this event six)

Now: I’m going to leave you on a traditional hook – Will the Munros save their carpet from becoming wet and moldy? And will Dexter turn up to reclaim his basket?

It struck me while I was mopping frantically and running the weird series of events through my head that this was typical plotting. It’s what writers try to do while plotting a book. They try to make each crisis bigger and more alarming to test the characters. Yep, I’d experienced a lesson in plotting all in the space of an hour. It actually served as a reminder. I need to be a little meaner to my characters in my current Middlemarch book. They needed to suffer just as Mr Munro and I suffered.

Do you think some authors overdo the series of events and torture their characters too much? Do you think that characters aren’t tested enough and we authors let them off too easily? What are your thoughts about plotting?

The Boredom Factor

Author Kaye Manro had a good post at her blog last week about opening lines in novels. As authors we’re told first lines are important, and we should work at making them perfect.

While I go along with this advice and try to make my first line intriguing, it made me wonder. I used to finish reading every book I started. I’ll admit there might have been times when I skimmed toward the end of the book, but I finished reading it.

These days my personal reading time is valuable. Heck, if I’m truthful, I don’t have personal reading time because I’m always analyzing how other writers do things. When I pick up a new book to read, I tend to give the author one to three chapters to grab my attention. If I’m not interested by then, the book goes and I move onto the next. I’m not that faithful reader any more. LOL – I guess I tend toward the slutty kind. If I’m not hooked I move on to the next and the next until I find one that satisfies my needs.

I’d also like to say that we’re all different. There’s one author everyone seems to like. I find her here. I find her there. I find her everywhere. On blogs, that is. Yet her books just don’t grab me. What works for one reader doesn’t necessarily work for another.

What about you? How long do you give an author to make an impression on you, the reader? Do you give them the first line? The first paragraph? The first chapter? How forgiving are you as a reader if the first line doesn’t hook you in?

Naming Names.

I saw this ad on TV the other day. It’s from my favorite New Zealand store, Whitcoulls, and it made me laugh because this name problem has been me for the last three weeks. Today, I sat down and toughed it out, choosing names in much the way this couple did. In fact, I used the very same baby naming book to work out character names for my new work in progress.

How do you choose names for your characters? How did you name your kids?

One of Those Days!

I hope my Monday isn’t indicative of the week to come because I didn’t enjoy it. Nothing really bad happened, just lots of little things that on their own would have been okay, but together made me grumpy. I’m going to have a late night trying to get my word total done for the day. Sigh…

Good luck to everyone who is taking part in NaNoWriMo this month. I see another Sweat with Sven challenge is about to start as well.

I’ve tried these types of writing challenges and have found they don’t work for me. I write at a fairly steady pace anyway and something formal like the above mentioned or a book in a month challenge seems to play with my head. I work better on my own. That said, I am pushing fairly hard for the next month to complete a 90,000 word manuscript. Apart from today I’ve been going pretty well, and if everything continues this way, I should have my first draft done by the start of the month.

Do writing challenges like National Novel Writing Month, Book in a Month or Sweat With Sven work for you, and if so why? Why not? Are you doing NaNo this year?