Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fun Facts: A Royal Wedding!

OK, who got up early today to watch the royal wedding? And who remembers getting up early to watch Diana marry Charles, all those years ago?

There's something so captivating about a wedding in the first place, two people pledging love and loyalty to each other, all nerves and emotion. Then add in a true fairytale story of a "commoner" who meets and marries her prince, and I think even the hardest hearts might have a tough time not tuning in.

I'm watching as I'm writing, and it's about 15 minutes before start-time. Can't wait to see Kate's dress, the ceremony, the guests, the pomp and circumstance of it all. Romance lives on!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writers' Wednesday: Know the "Rules" of your Genre and your Readers

A few months ago, I was revising Entwined and trying to work through a major plot point: the fact that my hero initially has a girlfriend and baby but leaves them when he goes to do research a few states away. The relationship is a strained and unhappy one, but it's still a relationship. While away from home, he falls for the heroine. I wanted some feedback on how palatable this hero would be to readers, so I posted my dilemma on a writers' forum I frequent.

The response was interesting, to say the least, and still draws comments every few days. Far and away, most people said they'd be turned off by such a guy. Romance readers don't want a hero who cheats. Beyond that, the traditional romance genre doesn't allow for a hero to be a cheater; the story would be unpublishable. Of course, I don't write traditional romance for a traditional publisher, but it's still something to keep in mind.

Others said that if it was more along the lines of women's fiction, they'd be more open to characters who don't follow the typical/predictable mold. They still wanted a clear break between the hero and his girlfriend, though. Quite a few said that because so many women have been cheated on in real life, they wouldn't want to read about a guy who did it in a novel. There could be allowances for emotional growth, but the character would have to be well explained for readers to buy into his change of heart.

A few other commenters (definitely in the minority) said they wouldn't mind/judge a hero like that automatically because relationships ARE complicated, and because it isn't realistic to think that infidelity doesn't occur in matters of the heart.

Overall, it was interesting to see the range of responses, but it did reinforce an important notion: KNOW WHO YOU ARE WRITING FOR. Know the rules and expectations of your genre, know if you can break them or how far you can bend them, and keep your reader in mind.

Always good points to remember. Happy writing!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Mentionables: The Books I Read on Vacation

Yes, yes, I know: I badly neglected my blog last week. But the sun and the 90 degrees were calling my name, so I'm sure you understand.

I did have a chance to catch up on my reading, and here's what I covered (for the most part, as you'll understand in a minute). And let me observe again how eclectic my reading tastes are, when it gets right down to it...

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen - This one's a YA novel that's been stolen from my bookshelf at school not once but TWICE. I'd get angry except that I just can't, when it's kids stealing BOOKS to presumably READ. Anyway, I finally borrowed a friend's, and I was happily surprised that I really enjoyed it. The writing is strong and appealing, the characters are real, and the plotlines weave together well. In a nutshell, it's about a teen who spends a summer trying to deal with her father's death AND her mother's controlling nature AND her "perfect" boyfriend who wants to take a "break" AND her new job with a catering company working with people who are messy and not perfect and far from anything she's ever dealt with before. Beautifully written, really.

Much More Than Blood by Kate Hill - An erotic romance, I read this one for a review site I help out occasionally. It's a paranormal story about a female vampire who wants to turn a mortal into a vampire mate for herself. While I thought it had too much narrative and backstory, the characters themselves are strong and really likable. It's available from Ellora's Cave, if paranormal romance is your thing, and it's a novella, so it's a quick & easy read.

Velocity by Dean Koontz - A few of my students read this thriller and enjoyed it, so I thought I'd give it a try. And I do like a good murder mystery, but this one was too much for me to stomach. Killing is fine, but when the whole book is about murder after murder and how creative the killer can be (and when it's 9:00 at night), I couldn't find enough to keep me going with it. Put it down halfway through and have no intention of finishing it. Oh, well.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I know a lot of you have probably already read this one, as it's been getting a lot of buzz for a while now, but I finally got around to it - AND I LOVE IT! It's a terrific piece of fiction written by a debut Southern writer (OK, I admit to feeling more than a little jealous, but hey, good for her) about the black maids serving the white families in the South in the 1960s. The voices of all the characters are really what grabbed me, along with a setting I know very little about. It's captivating, really. I'm about halfway through and hate having to put it down.

So there you have it! Happy reading all, and if you have any other "must reads," let me know!