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NOT UNTIL YOU

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WHAT I'VE READ LATELY

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Trial by FireThe Dom's DungeonBy the BookNakedSmash CutSave The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

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Monday
Jun022014

Must Read Monday: Finally, a Writing Book for Pantsers!

 

*I put a sticky tab on any page with a point I wanted to type into my notes. Look at that rainbow, people.

I know I usually tackle fiction when doing a Must Read Monday, but I read a writing craft book this weekend that was just so fabulous that I wanted to pass it along to those of you who are writers.

As most of you know, I'm a bit addicted to reading books about the craft of writing. (Yes, I'm an unrepentant nerd.) But most of the time, those books are all about different ways to plot your book. And I like learning those techniques because I'm a pantser with plotter envy. Writing without an outline can be an anxiety-ridden process, writer's block can pop up often, and the unknown is freaking scary (especially when you're writing under a deadline.) But no matter how hard I've tried to alter my process, I can't seem to get away from my pantsing (writing by the seat of my pants) ways.

And a little part of me has always been afraid that if I was successful at plotting ahead and outlining that I would lose some of the "magic" of my writing process. Like two weeks ago, this happened when I was happily writing a story. I had a general direction in mind and then got hit with a big twist that I had never ever considered or planned. It changes what the rest of the book will look like, but I think it's the correct (and much more interesting) way to go. If I had been writing to an outline, would that had ever come to me? And if it had, would I have been willing to ditch the whole second half of the outline to go in this new direction?

That kind of "a-ha" discovery happens with every book. The big twist in Crash Into You that most people have told me they never saw coming? That was because *I* didn't know it was coming until I was 70% of the way through writing the book. The big thing that happens in Kade's backstory in Need You Tonight that explains so much about who he is now? I didn't know about it until I was halfway through the book and it hit me--wait, THAT'S what happened!

So let me tell you, it was hella refreshing to finally come across a book that doesn't just tolerate pantsing as a way for people to write but actually recommends it. AND gives tips on how to overcome some of the struggles, anxieties and pitfalls of writing without an outline. Because, Lord, I would love to be less neurotic during my writing process.

So here's the book and my review from Goodreads. Pantsers, go forth and enjoy!

Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules by Steven James

 

My Review from Goodreads:

Finally, a book for pantsers! And not just one that mentions pantsing but validates the process as a legitimate (he even ventures to say superior) process of writing. I have long been a pantser with plotter envy because it seems like every book on writing I read talks about "organic" writing as the immature/impatient process and plotting as the panacea, the "professional" way. Of course, that always makes plotting sound like this lovely method that is going to take away the constant anxiety of working in the unknown and the pitfalls that come along with that (writer's block, chasing bunny trails, rereading your previous pages constantly to get back into the mindset, etc.). But after reading this, I feel like I can take a deep breath and find a place of acceptance with my pantsing ways. Yes, my method causes me anxiety, but it's also been a successful one for me, so why am I always trying to change it?

And with this book, there are methods that may even help with the anxiety involved in "flying into the mist" when writing. There are questions to ask when you get stuck or come across a plot problem. There are guidelines on what needs to be clear in each scene and how to keep the tension up. There are pointers on how to include twists. And some of the character stuff--questions to ask about their secrets, shame, fears, etc--was brilliant.

I have five pages of notes from the book and put sticky flags on way too many pages because there was too much great stuff to hold in my head all at once. I'm kind of a junkie when it comes to book on writing and can be hard to please, but I have no qualms giving this one five stars. I know I'll be referencing it often.


*I was not asked to give this review. I bought this book on my own.

Monday
May192014

Must Read Monday: The Best of My Book Binge 

After I turned in a honking pile of writing, including short stories, a novella, and a novel mid-March, I was in desperate need of a break. And what do breaks mean? Book binge! :) So since I'm just getting back from the RT Booklovers Convention and haven't quite recovered my brain yet, I thought I'd share my favorites from my most recent book binge.

And I'd love to hear in the comments what you've been reading and loving lately.

Here goes, in no particular order:

Foreplay: The Ivy Chronicles by Sophie Jordan (New Adult)

Really sexy and fun AND only 99 cents right now!

 

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan (YA)

A few years in the future and they've learned how to identify the kill gene. What happens when a good girl tests positive for the gene? I loved the concept and I loved the book. I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel now.

 

Hard Time by Cara McKenna (erotic romance)

A convict hero. Yep. Every time I read a premise for a Cara McKenna book, I'm like, how is she going to pull that off? Then she does. She's become an autobuy for me.

 

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (YA)

Dude, I just went to grab the pic for this and it's on sale for 31 cents! Go buy it. I loved this book.

 

And for something a little different...

600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster (lit fic)

This one follows a man who has Aspergers and OCD. It was recommended to me and I really enjoyed it. I'd say it's more a lit fic type book, but had a good pace and kept me reading. 

 

Spin by Catherine McKenzie (women's fic)

I don't read a lot of women's fiction but this one sounded like a fun premise. Reporter goes undercover in rehab to get a story about a starlet but finds out she really needs rehab herself. Ended up really liking this one.

 

So those are my faves from the last few weeks, what are some of yours?

 

*As always, none of these authors solicited me for reviews. I don't take review requests and any recs I give are from my own personal TBR pile and based on my own leisure reading.

Thursday
May082014

A Writer's Block Breaker: 30 Songs For 30 Chapters 

As most of you know, I'm slightly obsessed with books on the writing craft. And a few weeks ago, I was poking around in Barnes and Noble (as you do) and picked up the book Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror: Speculative Genre Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers  (Edited by Laurie Lawson) to flip through.

Now, I write romance, so you may be wondering what would make me pick up a book about speculative fiction, but I like to expand my horizons. And there are things to be learned from other genres. Plus, I love horror and may one day pen something with some scary stuff.

Anyway, this book is filled with short essays (1-2 pages) on different topics: World Building, Plotting, Creativity, etc. and at the end of each essay are writing exercises. (Hence the title Now Write!)

And I've only read a handful of them thus far, but it's turned out to be a great book already. And one of the exercises I read last night got me moving in all kinds of creative directions. This exercise was by Diego Valenzuela in an essay titled "The Constant Writer: How To Plot An Entire Story In Minutes and Never Run Out of Ideas"

I won't go into the whole essay because you should buy the book. But the exercise he suggests is so much fun and oddly effective at sparking ideas. So here it is:

Put your playlist on shuffle. Write the numbers 1-30 for your 30 chapters and then label each chapter with the song title that comes up. Then use those titles to help plot/spark ideas for your story.

I read it and was like--sounds interesting but how could that work? So, of course, I tried it.

Here's what I got with my own playlist:

Pretty cool, yeah? Especially that near the "black moment" time in a book I have Live and Let Die, Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone, and Walk Away. And then the last chapter is a song about goodbyes. 

But these are my songs that I'm already familiar with, so I decided to try a variation. I put on Spotify's Coffee House station and did the first 30 songs of that. And look, I ended up with a road trip book! And I kind of got a story idea from it. How awesome is that?

Then I was chatting with my friend Julie Cross and she did it. And when I looked at her list, I thought--hey she has a sci-fi space novel! Daylight, Extraordinary, Come Fly With Me, Defying Gravity, Radioactive, 93 Million Miles...

 

So yeah, you've just lost the next hour of your life because I bet you can't resist. ;-)  If you do one, feel free to post it in the comments. I love seeing other people's lists.


Monday
May052014

FOREVER STARTS TONIGHT Blurb Reveal!

Steg cabin

Photo via Clemens V. Vogelsang (Flickr cc)

Want to know what Jace, Evan, and Andre from MELT INTO YOU will be getting up to in their follow-up novella?

Here's the exclusive reveal of the back cover summary. Cover coming soon!

The wait is over. They fell in love in Melt Into You, but that was only the beginning. Now New York Times bestselling author Roni Loren dials up the passion as three lovers reinvent the meaning of togetherness and find out if love is truly enough…

Two dominant men, one beautiful woman. Jace Austin knows he doesn’t have what you’d call a conventional relationship with Evan and Andre, but it works. Boy, does it work—until Evan starts acting strangely and Andre’s ex-fiancée pops back into his life, unbalancing a perfectly happy threesome. Jace is forced to face the unthinkable: that the two people he cares most about in this world are in danger of slipping away from him.

So Jace plans a surprise getaway to a secluded mountain cabin for the three of them. And he knows exactly what he needs to do: give both his lovers a fantasy week they’ll never forget. And the possibilities for pleasure are endless.  But when they get snowed in and the heat between them reaches a fever pitch, secrets come out. And Evan has one that could change all their lives forever.  

Out September 16, 2014!

What do you think? Who's excited?

And it's up for pre-order, if you're like me and can't remember release dates: Kindle | Nook 

 

*CONTEST ALERT: Also, I'm over at Sinfully Sexy Reviews, talking about the logisitics of writing a menage romance. There's a chance to win any book from my backlist if you want to pop over there!  

 

Monday
Apr142014

Are We Losing Patience as Readers?

 Photo via Sean/Svadifari (Flickr cc)I love reading series. They're usually my go to. But I tend to gravitate toward series like mine where each book can standalone, but there's a connected world and recurring characters. That way, I get the benefit of visiting familiar characters and following them along the journey, but I also get a full satisfying story (and romance) in each book.

But that's only one kind of series. The other kind is the type that follows the same cast and has a overall arc through the whole series, where things, including the romance, aren't fully wrapped up until the last book. I used to read a lot of these, but have gotten away from them lately.

So a few weeks ago, looking to rectify this, I picked up a book I'd had on my shelf for a long time. It's the start of a spin-off series based on one of my all-time favorite YA series. I read the book and enjoyed it. There is a hero in it who I loved in the previous series, and I want to see him get the girl. All good, right? Sure. BUT when I looked ahead at all the books to come, I sort of got this feeling of facing down a marathon. I know that I'm not going to get the payoff on the romance until probably book seven, if it's anything like the previous series. And with SO many books in my TBR pile (over 500 at last count), it feels like a huge investment to go on that journey. 

BUT at the same time, I LOVED the last series and the romance is one of my favorites ever. So why am I so reluctant to invest when the payoff has been proven to me in the past?

I've been feeling the same way about trilogies lately, too. I get tempted to wait until all are out to start them, and that's not a good way to support a series. If the first doesn't sell, we may never see the last book because the publisher won't keep publishing them. (Same goes for new TV shows.)

So this got me to thinking if I've just lost patience as a reader. In a culture of instant everything and streaming video where we can binge watch TV series, have I just developed some sort of reader ADD? Or is it because my reading time is so limited that I want a complete story in one book? Or maybe I've expanded my reading tastes so much that it's increased my choices exponentially, and it's hard to spend too much time in one place? I'm guessing it's a combination of all of that for me.

But I don't want to be that way necessarily. I'm kind of annoyed by my lack of patience. In order for a romance or story to feel epic, there needs to be space and time to do it. This almost makes me wish for those 80s-90s romances that were 700 pages (like Judith McNaught) where the long-spanning journey is captured in one big book. And I got that sense of epicness a few months ago when I read Last Hour of Gann, which was something like 1200 pages. So I like having that long-developing romance and story on occasion. (Not all the time. That can be exhausting.)

And isn't there something to be said for patience and anticipation? Can that enhance the experience? Like those end of the season TV show cliffhangers. Would LOST have had the same feel for me if I had been able to binge watch the whole thing? And when I did the NOT UNTIL YOU serial, it was kind of fun to have everyone reading along at the same pace so that we could all discuss it/experience it together.  

So I know the benefits of investing in a continuing series or trilogy that will give me a big payoff in the end, but somehow I'm still finding it hard to commit lately.

So you tell me, am I alone in this? Have you found yourself struggling to invest in a long-simmering series or trilogy that take years to release? Or are you a reader who can dive in and give it 100% commitment to the journey?

 

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