Every author knows how important it is not only to set the stage of their scene, but to describe the characters in their story. The fact is, there’s a way to do this that works and there’s the method of blending the description into your story where the reader is barely aware you’ve thrown it in there.
With the changing face of publishing it seems books are going through fewer and fewer edits these days. Print publishing houses are cutting back on staff to save costs from submission to publication. Some digital publishing houses are pushing books through to keep up with the high demand of their readers. And authors are now going the self-publishing route and may not have the financial resources to send a book through several sets of edits.
So what does this mean for a reader? That more and more books are making it to publication with errors. No one is immune. From the USA Bestseller to the self-pubbed author, more and more books we pick up have at least one error. And let me just tell you from an author’s perspective … it’s not at all because we don’t care. Unfortunately, even several pairs of eyes on the same manuscript can miss an error.
Okay, since reading seems to be on my mind this week, I’m going to stick with the theme. Because I keep hearing authors talking about their reading habits and how they walk away from them when they’re in the middle of a manuscript.
Yes I’m an author. I love writing books. It’s what I do. But as I’ve said over and over and over again, being a writer also means I am the publisher and the marketing department for my books.
It still eludes me exactly what makes a best seller in this market. It’s not only a great cover and catchy blurb. Not just wonderfully well-written story and great reviews. It’s not social media and guest blogs. You know how I know that? Because none of that is working for me. Been there. Done that. Have the bruises to prove it.
So I’m trying something again. I’m giving away one of books for FREE. That’s right, “BLIND HER WITH BLISS” is now free on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, All Romance Ebooks, and iTunes How long will I keep it free? I’m not sure.
So this 50 Shades of Grey craze continues to explode. My sister-in-law (who doesn’t have time to read in her busy life) is now carving out some precious minutes to read this trilogy. These books are EVERYWHERE! And of course this month is the release of the much-anticipated movie!
So I’m doing my usual surfing around this morning and what do I stumble upon? Several erotic books jumping into the waters and riding EL James’s wave of success. It’s not plagiarism. It’s commercialism. And if I could write fast enough (or had thought of it), I totally would be grabbing my bathing suit (though I didn’t say I’d actually put it on) and jumping into these waters as well. Doing a parody of someone else’s work seems to be “in”. I haven’t read anymore than the sample and the reviews of the following books, but I’m thinking of picking up the first. It looks hot … and rather amusing. Frankly, I’m thinking of buying it just for the cover art!
Like many authors, I’m an avid reader, albeit a slow one. Mostly because I don’t allow myself the pleasure of reading until I’m settled in to bed for the night and I then read until my face falls into the pages. Sometimes an hour, but more often, about fifteen minutes. *g*
95% of what I read is romance, though I do try to mix up the genres. I’ve been on a real paranormal romance kick so I went and picked up several contemporary romances. And you know what … I could barely get through them.
Now don’t misunderstand me, the writing was stellar and the characters had great chemistry (in and out of the bedroom), but the problem for me is that nothing happened. Nothing blew up. No terrorist tried to end the world. No dragon flew in to breath fire on the town. Nothing. Nadda. Zip. Zilch. Just two people falling in love. And quite frankly, I was bored. I skimmed whole chapters and (something an author hates to hear) skipped pages at a time. I think because I kept hoping something interesting would happen to grab my attention. In both cases I got to the end and happily shut the book and tucked it into my “give away” pile.
I do like television, but I don’t sit and watch very much of it. (Mostly because Mr. Nina is a channel surfer, flipping stations at random intervals and driving me insane And I refuse to go in the other room and run another television.) I do go to the movies and though I like an action flick now and again, I’m more the romantic comedy, sweet family entertainment kind of gal. And I mention this because I don’t have to have things moving quickly to keep me focused. I’m of that generation with a pretty good attention span which is why I found this whole phenomenon interesting.
I do think my taste runs more toward the mystery/suspense end of the romance spectrum. But I’ve read my fair share of traditional romance stories in the past and really enjoyed them. I’ll even read an historical and completely fall into the story. But contemporary? Meh. It doesn’t seem to sugar my cookies anymore.
What about you? Have your reading tastes changed? Am I the only one who’s thinking traditional romances don’t have the appeal they used to have?
Since I can remember, romance books have been written in third person (character described by narrator) past tense (action already happened):
“Oh, screw you, Burkett.” Reese Colton threw his cards down as the man across the table collected the two paper IOU’s along with a pile of money. Testosterone and laughter filled the fire station kitchen. “You all suck!” Reese said before draining the drink at his elbow.
Every once in awhile I’ve picked up a book where the author wrote in third person present tense (current action):
“Oh, screw you, Burkett.” Reese Colton throws his cards down as the man across the table collects the two paper IOU’s along with a pile of money. Testosterone and laughter fills the fire station kitchen. “You all suck!” Reese says before draining the drink at his elbow.
I’ve actually read a book like this. It was odd at the beginning, but then I got into the story and barely noticed the present tense.
But now, more and more books are being written in first person. One point of view. The whole story told by the main character — usually female. Lots of young adult stories like Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series is written this way as well as EL James’s “50 Shades” series. I even picked up a mystery recently that was in first person.
Some writers do this better than others. Of course it seems to matter less if the story pulls me in and I become totally engrossed. I don’t even notice that it’s a single narrator. But other times …
Yeeeah, there are a lot of books, especially romances, where I miss that other perspective. I love being in the hero’s head … not just the heroine’s interpretation of his actions … but the actual jesus-she-smells-good-and-that-dress-hugs-her-luscious-curves-in-all-the-right-places kind of thought process. Why do I like that? I think because it makes me fall in love with the hero even as he’s falling in love with the heroine. I want to know he’s so hot for her he can’t get her all the way upstairs to the bedroom before he presses her against the kitchen wall and shows her just how much she means to him.
And you know, it’s not always the hero. I love suspense stories. When an author writes well from the villan’s perspective, it helps me as a reader understand why s/he believes they are totally justified in kidnapping and torturing all the clarinet players in their high school marching band from thirty years ago. (No, that’s not a book, but it sure could make a very disturbed villan. LOL!)
But with everything that the masses say is trending — television, phone apps and twitter, it looks like more and more books are being written in first person and readers are not only buying them … they’re buying them in HUGE quantities. It makes me wonder if some of my favorite authors are going to go in that direction.
What do you think? Is this a passing fad or are first person stories going to become the norm for our reading pleasure?
Here are 13 books that have made an impact on me. I can’t say they’re all necessarily my favorites … some are just memorable.
1. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough – Okay, I lied. This has to be my all time favorite book. The first real romance I read and I was probably 13. I’ve since learned I jumped right over all the wonderful Judy Bloom books most girls my age were reading. Ah, well, that’s me … I never do anything by the book … get it? By the … oh, never mind.
2. Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel – Actually the whole series. Many people didn’t like her detailed descriptions of the main character’s intimate relationship. I can’t lie … it’s one of the reasons I dipped my toe into erotica. (Yes, I’ve fallen head first into the pool!)
3. The Reef by Nora Roberts – This is the first book of many I read of Nora’s. From here I read everything she had in the local library. But this book will always remain one of my favorite of hers. (I have several more, but I didn’t want to clog the list with all of her books.)
4. Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown – Again, only the first of many Sandra Brown books I have plowed through. A lover of suspense, I go back to this again and again to learn from this incredibly talented author.
5. Freedom Series by Anne McCaffrey – Anne McCaffrey is an amazing science fiction author. There are many of her books I have loved. But this is the first series that literally held me captive until I got through all of the books. If you’re looking for amazing world building, you couldn’t choose a better teacher.
6. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger – Not assigned reading. As a matter of fact, it was banned from the school library and the English curriculum in my high school. So of course … I had to read it. Without the benefit of someone wiser than I to help interpret all the nuances, I didn’t find anything more than a lot of swear words and odd drivel by a young man. I’m sure I missed something.
7. A Death in the Family by James Agee – Now this is a book we had to read in English. The author did an amazing job of setting the reader up for an obvious death, but then twists your gut by killing off a main character instead. Amazing writing. Enough that the impact of that book has stayed with me all these years.
8. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks – A quick read definitely. There are arguments among authors as to the place this book holds in the literary world. For me, I almost fainted when I found out this book was only 55,000 words. The same length as Harlequin series books, but half the length of most main stream novels. With an economy of words this author told the life story of two lovers. Even if you don’t care for the writing, you can’t help but admire the success of this novel in all it’s media forms.
9. The Hostage by Susan Wiggs – Looove this story. (I’m a huge fan of Susan Wiggs and had a hard time choosing just one book.) I’ve read and reread this book to learn how Susan Wiggs weaves a tale. She’s an amazing writer and I continue to learn from her every time I pick up one of her books. (I actually got to meet her at the writer’s conference I went to last spring. Nice lady.)
10. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – I didn’t have to read this classic either in high school or college. Feeling I had missed something, I went to the local library and pulled this from the shelves. It shocked me. But mostly the last few paragraphs have stayed with me. I thought it a rather odd ending. I know it was rich with symbolism, but hey … it just didn’t work for me.
11. The Loop by Nicholas Evans – Many who read Evans would have chosen The Horse Whisperer and though I’ve read it, my feelings are tainted by Hollywood’s gross interpretation of his story. So, in an effort to remain pure to this author, I’ve chosen this book that hasn’t been altered by a movie.
12. Firestarter by Stephen King – I don’t like to read horror, but I do like stories of regular people in extraordinary circumstances. King hooked me in the beginning with the very real possibility of college students being paid to participate in a drug experiment followed by a subsequent government coverup. The ending was just as memorable as a young girl takes her story to the only place that would believe her extraordinary tale … Rolling Stone Magazine. Love that twist. The man is truly a master of words.
13. Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach – I’m old enough to have read this when it originally was published. I lived on the Maine coast at the time and was enthralled with the idea of gulls being more than birds. It really taught me some new ways to look at my life.
So do you have some books you’ve read that have just stayed with you? Why do you think you couldn’t let go? Of course I want to know … I’m curious about stuff like that.(And now I’m off to have a little something to eat. Which begs the question … how do you feel about cooking nekkid?)
I’ve been writing erotic romance for about six years. I have lots of wonderful readers who enjoy my books. And though my family is very proud of all that I’ve accomplished, very few of them want to read my books. That’s fine. They aren’t for everyone. And up until the last year, most of my extended family didn’t even know the words kindle or nook. Now, many of them own one.
It’s only recently that authors have been able to take complete control of their publishing careers and self-publish their books. Many of the books on the NYT Bestseller list are now self-published e-books. But I’m not sure any of them are getting the buzz that 50 Shades of Grey is receiving. It seems every time I turn on the television someone is talking about this book. This erotic romance book with BDSM themes. Kelly Ripa was discussing it on her show. Ellen DeGeneres was sorta reading excerpts on her program.
The book world is on fire with chatter about this trilogy. And I keep wondering … why this book? Did the author, EL James, a television executive know some trick to marketing that the rest of us haven’t tried? I can’t say I’ve seen an interview of her, though I do understand she’s been on a couple of morning shows.
In the long run all this attention is helpful for all erotic romance authors … like me!
The media is terming her story “Mommy Porn” because so many mainstream romance readers are falling in love with Mr. Grey, Anastasia and their less-than-mainstream relationship. I’m not sure readers are happy with this catch phrase, but hey, why not? I’ll be the first to tell people I write smut. Of course I say it lovingly, knowing that my stories (like all good erotic romance books) aren’t just one sex scene loosely connected to another sex scene. There are flawed characters with real emotional problems all set within a plot that twists and turns and hopefully surprises my readers.
But I know, most of you stopping here already know that.
I don’t know about this particular book. Since reader reviews are all over the place on this one, I’m not sure if I want to plunk down part of my monthly book budget (don’t laugh, I can pretend I have one) just to see what all the buzz is about. But whether people like this book or not, there’s no arguing with the number of books flying off the virtual shelves. Which means these readers, many who are new to the erotic romance genre, may be looking for other sexy reads. That’s wonderful news for the rest of us working to market our books. Because the truth is, some of us are just trying to figure out what Ms. James did right to bring so much attention to her trilogy. I’d like to repeat her success.
What about you? Have you read this? Are you planning on checking it out? And if you have insight as to why this particular book has hit the big time, do share. You know me, I’m always curious about stuff like that.
I really don’t know what’s wrong with me. But I’ve got nothing for you today. I actually wrote a whole long post about a series I finished recently. But it was really negative and in talking about the books it wasn’t going to teach anything or create a discussion worth having, so I stuck it in the archives until I can figure out what to do with it.
But it did get me thinking about reading and why people read. And what types of books they choose when they’re looking to satisfy whatever need reading brings to them. For me, reading is entertainment. I don’t like reading self-help books. I rarely read non-fiction unless I’m trying to do research and even then … not so much. I usually just skim pertinent information. I want a story to transport me to another place and time where I can forget about the bills that need to be paid or the laundry that needs to be folded.
My family actually started chatting about books at the holiday dinner table last weekend. One family member mentioned they only like to read books that leave them thinking, have some kind of moral message or some lesson to teach. When a couple of us mentioned a book we’d read and enjoyed, neither one of us could come up with a moral lesson. But then, I can’t say that’s why I read. For me it’s just getting lost in the fantasy of the story. But it was really interesting talking about how and why each of us reads.
On the writing front I’m working really hard to stay focused on a rewrite of a story I wrote yeeeeears ago, but was never published. The problem is I have several projects that have been waiting in the wings and I’m finding it hard not to be a little ADHD and work on them all at the same time. With my life in the chaos it’s currently in, I know opening more than one manuscript in a day would mean I’d never get anything done. Hopefully this story will be out to an editor by the beginning of June.
I’m also doing some beta-reading for a friend. I’m so excited for him as he’s been away from his writing for a long time and he’s such a talented writer. I can’t wait for this book to get out into the world.
And last but certainly not least … I spent last weekend with my grandson. He’s growing so fast! I hate having him so far away, but I’m pleased I got some time to spend with him. I hope you’re having a wonderful week.