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Entries in writing (74)

Friday
Mar072014

Because I Don't Punk Out on Promises...the NKOTB Fan Fic

 

Okay, so you know how you make those promises that you will do something IF because you know the IF is a longshot and you don't actually think you'll have to pay up? Well, yeah, so here I am. Sometime last year I made the promise that if I ever hit the New York Times Bestseller list, I would post some of the novel that I wrote at age 14--which is really just 55,000 words of NKOTB (and Jonathan Brandis--R.I.P.) fan fic. 

Well, this week, it happened! I didn't expect it, but when the NYT list came out, the RIDING DESIRE boxed set I'm in with thriteen other fantastic authors hit #24 on the Ebook list. So first, yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It's a dream come true to be both a NYT and USA Today bestselling author now. HUGE dream. So thank you so much, readers, for buying it. *hugs*

 

Me realizing we made the NYT Bestseller list

Me realizing I promised my NKOTB fan fic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that also means it's time for me to pay the piper on this promise. Two pages of a kissing scene are posted today on the Smutketeers blog, where you can also see a few of the other authors airing their shames, including Eden Bradley's 80s hair, RG Alexander singing with a band, and a recording of Lauren Hawekeye when she was in a girl group. :) So click over there to check it out.

But I also know that it's not fair for me to only post two pages. So I'm posting a longer scene here. In it there is probably my first attempt at a makeout scene and Jordan gets a little too handsy. Bad Jordan. But Joe comes to the rescue! >.<  Yeah, this is going to be embarrassing.

Some things to note in these pages: 

  • I was 14 and was writing about kissing and such when I had no experience at all. I wouldn't be kissed for another 2 years. Also, this is when French kissing was still very scandalous a thought to my innocent Catholic school girl mind. ;)
  • The heroine is named Love because, yes, I was into subtlety with symbolism. *cough*
  • These are scanned documents that include handwritten edits I did back then.
  • Yes, I dotted my i's with stars because I was rad like that.
  • I actually bought the Writer's Market book that year because I totally planned on querying this. I eventually chickened out--thank God, though I'm sure a few agents would've enjoyed the giggle.
  • The Jonathan in this was actually Jonathan Brandis, not Jon of NKOTB.
  • It was in proper manuscript format because I was serious about this, yo. ; )
  • No, I didn't have a boyfriend at the time. Why do you ask? o.0

 All right, enough stalling, here we go. But first, here's the character sheet of who each character really was (you can see I REALLY deviated from the names on some of them *snort*). And here are the magazine pages I found in the binder for my character inspiration. (Click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here is the lurve scene gone wrong (click to enlarge)...

Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you made it through all nine pages I'm not sure if you're a sadist who enjoys my shame or a masochist for putting yourself through it, lol.

But you know what? I'm okay with it all because I made the NYT, baby!!!

Also, if you'd like to see how far I've (hopefully) come in my writing in 20 years, NEED YOU TONIGHT is out this week! And RIDING DESIRE is only on sale for 99 cents for another day, so if you haven't gotten it, grab it now. And FIFTY FIRST TIMES is still on sale for 1.99!

So what dirty/embarrassing laundry would you air in exchange for a dream coming true? Come on, don't leave me up here all alone. Tell me what's in your attic. ;)

 


Friday
Feb072014

Keeping the Romance In Erotic Fiction

Photo via State Library of New South Wales (Flickr Commons)

Today I'm over at the Book Country blog talking about writing erotic romance and how to keep the romance in that equation. I *may* get a little soapbox-y talking about my genre. *cough*  I'd love it if you stopped by and said hi. :)

Keeping the Romance in Erotic Fiction

 

Have a great weekend!

*btw, not sure why that photo is creating some sort of slideshow. Only the first pic is supposed to be there.

Wednesday
Jan152014

On Horror Writing: Stephen King's Danse Macabre

Y'all know I'm a writing book junkie. I can't seem to get enough. And typically, I gravitate toward books on structure because I'm always trying to convince my pantser self into being a plotter. However, this time I decided to pick up something a little different. 

I saw Stephen King's Danse Macabre mentioned somewhere on the interwebs and realized it wasn't a novel, but King's thoughts on horror. I needed to have it. See, I have a love of the horror genre, as that's a lot of what I grew up reading when I graduated to "grown up" books. And though I'm a big chicken in real life, I love being scared in fiction or through movies. Also, I haven't ruled out penning a horror tale--maybe even with some romance mixed in--one of these days. So I wanted to read this book.

Now, my thoughts...

King wrote this back in 1981 so it's dated and feels it. However, there is a fantastic 2010 forenote called "What's Scary" where King gives his thoughts on more recent trends in horror and lists the movies he thinks got it right. That was a great read and gave me a list of new movies to watch. 

If you've read On Writing--which is one of the best writing books out there--don't expect this to be that. This is not so much a book about how to write as it is a history of horror from King's perspective. This is a long book that goes off on a lot of tangents that feel a bit aimless at times. Someone on Goodreads described it as sitting down in a bar late one night and getting drunk with King as he riffs about the history of horror. That's exactly what it comes across like. So yes, there are nuggets of greatness in this book, but there's a lot of other stuff to sift through and it took me a while to read. Often too much time was spent on topics and examples that could've been wrapped up in many less pages.

So, if you're looking for Stephen King's advice on how to write, get On Writing and enjoy the greatness. Danse Macabre is probably more for die hard King fans and for those who grew up in his era and want to reminisce about horror movies and TV shows from the past.

However, like I said, there were some great nuggets in the book, and in the end, I'm glad I read it.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

On imagination in adulthood: "...whenever I run into someone who expresses a feeling along the lines of, "I don't read fantasy or go to any of those movies; none of it's real," I feel a kind of sympathy. They simply can't lift the weight of fantasy. The muscles of the imagination have grown too weak." --Stephen King, Danse Macabre

On the duty of literature: "...the primary duty of literature--to tell us the truth about ourselves by telling us lies about people who never existed." --Stephen King, Danse Macabre

On the definition of "gothic" literature (which I appreciated because the definition is often hard to pin down for me): "They are all books where the past eventually becomes more important than the present." --Stephen King, Danse Macabre

On horror involving homes/houses: "...horror fiction is a cold touch in the midst of the familiar, and good horror fiction applies this cold touch with sudden, unexpected pressure. When we go home and shoot the bolt on the door, we like to think we're locking trouble out. The good horror story about the Bad Place whispers that we are not locking the world out; we are locking ourselves in...with them." --Stephen King, Danse Macabre

On the role of power in fantasy fiction: "...all fantasy fiction is essentially about the concept of power; great fantasy fiction is about people who find it at great cost or lose it tragically; mediocre fantasy fiction is about people who have it and never lose it but simply wield it." --Stephen King, Danse Macabre

On Writers: "The novelist is, after all, God's liar, and if he does his job well, keeps his head and courage, he can sometimes find the truth that lives at the center of the lie." --Stephen King, Danse Macabre

Our job as writers (he specifies writers of fantasy but I think this can apply to all fiction): "The imagination is an eye, a marvelous third eye that floats free. As children, that eye sees with 20/20 clarity. As we grow older, its vision begins to dim...The job of the fantasy writer, or the horror writer, is to bust the walk of that tunnel vision wide for a little while; to provide a single powerful spectacle for the third eye. The job of the fantasy-horror writer is to make you, for a little while, a child again." --Stephen King, Danse Macabre

Good stuff, yeah?

Has anyone else read this one? Any other horror lovers out there?

Monday
Nov182013

My Promise When I Review or Recommend Books

Photo via chicagogeek (Flickr CC)Mondays are usually reserved for Must-Read Mondays, but today I wanted to talk a little bit about a related topic. There was a post last week on Dear Author called When the Personal Becomes the Professional and was about how authors approach giving negative reviews of other books. Some argue that it's professional courtesy not to tear down another author's book. Others feel that authors should be able to review like readers do and that the author on the receiving end of the feedback shouldn't get personally offended.

I'm of the school that anyone has the right to review my book and have an opinion about it. If another author posts a negative review about my book, I'm not going to think that author is being unprofessional. I can take it. However, having said that, I don't post negative reviews or talk bad about books publicly. Why? Well, frankly, it's not worth the drama--having an author take it personally, seeing them at the next conference and it being awkward, looking like you're being jealous or spiteful by panning a book in your genre, or offending readers who thought that book was the best book ever.

But, there's also this thought out there that if someone only does positive reviews, that their opinion is somehow not valid because they "like everything." But I disagree with that. I don't like everything--believe me. If I don't like something or have neutral feelings on it, you'll just never hear about. The books I recommend on Must-Read Monday or rate highly on Goodreads are books I honestly loved. I'm not going to "be nice" and give something a high rating or recommendation because I know the author or whatever. There are authors who I really like as people but I just don't connect with their writing. I'm not going to pretend I do just to be friendly.

So I'm saying all this because I want you to know that when you see me talking up a book, that means one thing--I, Roni the reader, loved the damn thing. I looked back at Must-Read Monday posts for this year. Almost all were books by authors I've never met or interacted with. None of them were given to me for review. They are just books I bought as a reader and enjoyed. Just because I don't post about the ones I didn't like doesn't make that any less valid. So you can feel confident in knowing I'm not blowing smoke or trying to sell you something on a friend's behalf. If I say I loved it, it means I loved it. : )

I'm curious, how do you view authors reviewing or recommending other authors' books? Do you assume they are just helping their friends if it's positive? If you're a writer, how do you feel about the debate on whether or not to post negative reviews?

 

Monday
Oct142013

The Dreaded DNF: 10 Things That Make Me Close a Book for Good

That sad moment when I don't care how it ends
This is a revamped post from a while back, but since I had two books back to back this weekend that I couldn't finish, I thought it was a good time to freshen up this post since my reading habits are constantly evolving.

Up until a few years ago, I had this problem when I started reading a book. Once I peeled back the cover of one, I was compelled to finish it. No matter if I was fully enjoying the book or not. It felt like starting a book was like signing some contract. I bought this book. I've chosen to read it. And now I must read it all. I was the Chronic Finisher.

But then a lot changed in my life. I got published (yay!) and started writing 2-3 books a year on tight deadlines. Everything got infinitely busier. And my reading time shrunk to this minuscule sliver of time. So I found myself putting down books that didn't capture my interest. And then I wouldn't get any reading done because I felt like if I was going to read, I needed to finish whatever book I had started. But I wasn't into that book so didn't pick it up at all.

Well, finally, I came to the conclusion that I had to put the Chronic Finisher in rehab. I was missing out on good books by forcing myself to read ones I didn't love. My reading time is too short and my TBR pile too big to be doing that. So if a book hasn't grabbed me by page 50 or so, I'm probably putting it aside. And sometimes even sooner if it's clear a book isn't working for me. 

And each time I put down a book in the DNF (did not finish) pile, first--I am sad. I want to like every book I pick up. But I know that's impossible. But second, the writer in me wants to evaluate WHY I didn't feel compelled to finish it. What put me off? (And how can I avoid making those mistakes in my own books.)

Here's what I've discovered:

 

What Makes the Chronic Finisher Put Down a Book:


1. Didn't connect with the characters

If I can't relate to the hero or heroine at all, if I don't like them, or if they're not interesting enough, I find it next to impossible to get into the book. I must be emotionally connected by chapter 3 at the very latest. And it's fine to have a not so likable character as long as they are compelling and interesting enough to take a journey with. But this is probably the most common reason I put a book down. 

 

2. There was no chemistry or not enough build-up between the hero and heroine in a romance.

Obviously, I write sexy romance and enjoy reading it. But nothing will bore me quicker than throwing two people together when there hasn't been any tension or chemistry set up beforehand. This doesn't mean you can't have the characters get together quickly, but the author better have done a fabulous job building up that tension. 

 

3. This feels familiar...

Tired plots and clichés. Post-Twilight, this has happened in the YA paranormal genre for me. Now it's the 50 Shades effect. If a book is going to have a girl meeting dangerous, mysterious billionaire--there better be a helluva twist to make it different from all the other stories out there like that. (And I'm saying that as someone who writes BDSM books with rich guys.) I'm also starting to see this in New Adult with the setup of the girl with the big tragic secret who is broken and needs to be fixed by the hero (or reverse it with the hero as the broken one.) It can work really well, but it can also get really tired if not done with a fresh twist.  

 

4. The BIG secret is the only sense of tension in the book.

I am fine with a secret in a plot. That can be great. (And by secret, I don't mean twist we don't see coming. That's something different. I mean we, the readers, know there is a secret.) But what I will not put up with for long is a book that drags out revealing what the BIG secret is to the reader for no apparent reason but to pull you along. This is when characters keep almost revealing what the big, bad thing is, but then someone walks into the room and interrupts them. Gah! I'm much more a fan of where the reader may know the character's secret early on, but the hero or heroine is keeping it from another character for good reason.

 

5. Bad writing

I know I'm picky. I'm a writer so I'm going to see things now that I wouldn't have probably picked up when I was only a reader. For instance, an opening scene where the character is looking in a mirror and describing herself is cliche. Writer me groans. A reader may not care. Or if there is lots of telling and no showing, I'll get turned off by it. A few of these things here and there won't necessarily make me put down a book, but a consistent appearance of things like that will make me close the book. (And if it's exclamation points on every page, I'll close it regardless since it's a pet peeve of mine and usually indicates beginner writing.) With all the publishing options out there, I've grown a bit more careful and am reading sample pages. Because some books are edited and some you can tell are by a first time writer who let their Aunt Ruth "edit".

 

6. Nothing to get passionate about

This one is new for me and a little harder to define. I've started to read books that were...fine. The writing was good, the characters were interesting enough, there wasn't anything I could point to that was bad. BUT at the same time, when I put these books down, I didn't find myself thinking about the book or that desperate to get back to it. I didn't feel passionate about anything in the book. It's kind of a "I could take it or leave it" feeling. Like, if I had nothing better to do, I'd read it. In the past, these would've been books I'd make myself finish. Now I'm at the point that I just move on. The TBR pile is too big to waste time on something I'm ambivalent about. (This is also the one that drives me most crazy as a writer because I want to know WHY I'm ambivalent so that I don't make those mistakes in my own writing.)

 

7. Can't Suspend my Disbelief

So I am *really* open-minded when it comes to stories. It can be out there. I mean, I write books that can be out there sometimes. But if a book tries to push too far with coincidences or crazy stuff or has obvious inaccuracies, then I get pulled out of the book. 

 

8. It Has Things That Make Me Worry In a Bad Way

Making a reader worry is good. Will the bad guy be caught? Will they survive? Will these two people be able to be together? That's all fantastic. But there is also bad worry. For instance, in a BDSM book, if the hero and heroine barely know each other and haven't discussed any limits and have no safewords and then jump into a scene where the heroine is gagged and bound, I'm worried in a bad way. And I'm thinking a) the heroine is stupid to put herself at this kind of risk and B) the hero is a jerk for not taking care of safety issues. It can ruin a story for me. 

 

9. *Yawn* Boring....

This one is obvious I'm sure, but I need a book to hook and excite me. If I'm at page fifty and I don't give a crap what happens, then you've bored me. You should have me by chapter one. If the book goes on and on with description and setting up characters and not giving me any true action or conflict, I'm bored. Or if there's not enough plot (like a book with a bunch of sex scenes but not a lot of substance in between.) Maybe that's a result of our fast-moving culture, but it is what it is. A book is entertainment, so entertain me. Dance, monkey, dance. :)

 

10. Just not my cuppa...

So in some cases, there may not be anything wrong with the story. The writing may be good, the characters fine, but it's just not my thing. I like what I like. Yes, there may be the rare (awesome) occasion when a book outside of my normal genre preferences wins me over, which is why I still try books outside of my typical tastes. But usually, I can tell pretty quickly if something is going to be one of those books that just isn't my cup of tea. And that's fine. I'll close the book and give it to someone who I hope will like it.

 

All right, so those are my top reasons for putting down a book. What are some of yours? How long do you give a book to hook you? Are you a chronic finisher?