Writing

So I’ve been thinking a lot about this writer’s gig and I’ve realized …

I march to my own beat!

Oh, quiet all of you who know me well. Pick yourselves up off the floor, stop laughing, and let me explain this revelation.

Yes, it’s true … I’ve never done it the easy way. I’m the middle of 5 kids and if I wanted attention I needed to do something different. When everyone rolled their tongue (which is genetically impossible for me) I taught myself how to flip my tongue in odd directions. When my siblings would sing (which is sooo not one of my talents) I taught myself how to say the alphabet backwards. Then I memorized the original “Big Mac” (two all beef patties, special sauce..) song … backwards! I can say the tongue twister “How much wood can a woodchuck chuck?” and switch the chucks for the woods and woods for the chucks “How much chuck can a chuckwood chuck?” kind of thing. (I can still recite the list of prepositions we had to memorize in 7th grade! I’m such a geek.)

When I went to college I ended up in a male dominated major. (Which was really fun.) One of three women in a 20 person oceanography class out in the middle of the ocean studying squid is an absolute blast with all that testosterone flying. And so as not to be bested by the guys, I pushed myself to not only succeed, but rose to the top of my graduating class.

Yeah, I’ve always done it my own way.

But then I had kids and I wanted to be like all the other moms. Just bake cookies and do Girl and Boyscouts, go to the kid’s plays and sporting events. I chose to step back and let the kids shine. I had part-time jobs that kept me out and about … and sane. I would have liked things to go this way. I was very happy.

But life had other plans for me. Enter multiple sclerosis.

For about 10 years following the diagnosis, nothing in my life changed save for the many doctor’s appointments. I will be forever grateful I had the younger years with my children as a vigorous and healthy mom. But then, just as I was looking ahead at a job I loved and a house with young adults, my disease reared its ugly head.

I had to give up my teaching job. I still cry about the loss. I absolutely loved teaching. It was the job of my heart.

But I’m a firm believer in making lemonade.

So, the door closed and I opened a window. My mobility continues to become difficult. I use an electric wheelchair a lot of the time and I walk with a cane … and not well. (Think Aunt Martha with 3 too many glasses of sherry. 😉 ) Anyway, I wasn’t going to sit home and twiddle my thumbs. I want to be responsible for myself which meant I needed to find something I could do that didn’t require anything more than my hands and my mind, but bring in some income.

Enter writing.

See, when you hear the story of most writers they talk about how they started writing when they were in elementary school. How stories chased them until they finally sat down and put pen to paper. Now they eek out writing time around jobs and children and other mom duties. Man, do I admire them. Those authors when asked if they would stop writing if they won the lottery said “no way, I’d just have more time to write!”

That is so not me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have always loved to write. But not things that required my imagination. I LOVE research and writing papers that compare and contrast. I spent 3 months doing a research paper on Ernest Hemingway that most of my high school classmates did in two weeks.  In college I loved the science classes where we had to do scientific papers on animals or fishing industries.

Yeah, I’m sick like that.

But the kind of writing I’m doing now is a whole different ballgame. I have to dig deep within myself to let the story free. After nearly seven years, I’m finding it’s getting harder, not easier. But I’m learning what works for me. And that’s what it is for me … a learning process. But see, as I get older, I’m figuring out what makes me tick. I can’t change how I’m wired. I love to figure things out, set them in logical order and present them in a way that makes sense to everyone. It’s why I loved teaching. Taking something ordinary and presenting it in a way that makes people step back and say “wow, I never thought of it that way”.

I guess that’s why I’m so drawn to the suspense end of writing. It’s like putting a puzzle together. How can I give you, the reader, the corner pieces and a couple of edge pieces and then begin filling in the middle, carrying you along as the picture comes to life, without giving it all away. Then springing an ending on you that perhaps you had suspected, but totally weren’t expecting. 

Now, that’s a challenge and one I realize … I’m really enjoying!

Whew! You know … it’s nice to have figured this all out. Since this looks like the direction my life is headed (and happily I travel this path) I’m glad to have gotten it all sorted out. Thanks again for letting me ramble.

In the seven years since I began this journey I can honestly say this has never happened to me. I think I’ve hit the proverbial wall. I knew I had been limping along for awhile (since I spent the end of 2011 re-editing and publishing the Tilling Passions series), but I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until the other day when I opened a manuscript I started a year ago.

I’ve got the story. I know what the characters want and you know what? I couldn’t write a word. Nope, not one. I think I have to admit I’ve run head long into writer’s block. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but I know I’m there. Hard core.

I have several books already started. Even a couple more stories that are continuations of series where I already know the characters. But I just can’t seem to get myself to settle down and write. Of course the turmoil of my personal life certainly has something to do with it, but I’ve got to stop letting that get in my way.

So today I’m pulling out the stops and trying a couple of different things. Since I love to write off visual cues, one of the tricks I’m going with is finding a picture and writing a short story. If that doesn’t work, I’ll pull out a book I’ve been looking to re-release and begin reading and editing through that.

I’ve done this story thing before. I know I can do it again. I just need to figure out how to let lose the words that are inside. Wish me luck. Because I’m going in …

There are days when I feel I never get away from the Internet to get other stuff done. Between Twitter and Facebook and blogs I visit, I roam the virtual cybersphere and yet … I seem to miss all the fun controversy. I guess last week people were all up in arms about self-publising and Amazon’s moves to slowly take over the book selling market.

I don’t know about that. I do know they’ve made it easy for a person to self-publish print books. And they’ve made it even easier for authors to publish digitally. Really, there is no super-sekret formula … just upload a manuscript and a cover and voila! within 24 hours your book will be for sale! Yes, you can do this through other venues, but I have to say, I really like Amazon’s ranking system. There’s no greater satisfaction than seeing your book climb the ranks. Now they’re trying a new program, Prime Membership for readers and on the author side it’s called Kindle Select. Readers and authors are tentative about this program. Some are loving it and others … not so much.

But Amazon is trying. They are seeing the face of publication changing and they’re trying to be on the cutting edge of that change. Good for them. They’re not stupid. With big name authors like Joe Konrath supporting their efforts, it seems to me they’re going to be the front runners when everyone else is floundering. Does this make them bad or greedy? I don’t think so. It makes them smart. As in Apple smart. Always leading the pack, not the one running and out-of-breath trying to catch up.

And though I like what Amazon is doing for readers and authors alike, I just want to say, it ain’t all roses and royalty checks for everyone.

There are many authors making LOTS of money (as in quitting their day jobs and writing fulltime) going the self-pubbed route through Amazon. But there are a whole heck of a lot more of us taking our monthly royalty check from Amazon and buying a cute necklace from Kohl’s that just went on sale … on the clearance rack. So you get the picture. Now, please don’t hear this as complaining. It’s not … well, not totally. Wait, no really, I’m not complaining. I just want people to understand that it is possible their book(s) will take off, but it’s just as likely it won’t. Even if you do the same marketing strategies successful writers do. *shrug* It’s just how it is.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me give you some sales figures for the last three months for all three of my books (released 4/11, 6/11 and 11/11). (And this is just for Amazon, because it’s not worth my time to share with you my sales from B&N, Smashwords and ARe)

December: 136 books = $142.80
January: 74 books = $84.22
February (to date): 4695 free books (YAY!) 20 books = $40.00 (approx.)

Why am I sharing this sales information with you? I think authors play it too close to the vest. When authors are looking to make an informed decision it means … they need the information. I think it’s easy to find GREAT sales information. You know, those authors that sell 136 of each of their books every day. It makes many authors who are sitting there with 4 books sold in a month–because that’s the typical sales on Amazon–feel inadequate. Like “what am I doing wrong?” The answer is probably nothing. Even the big 6 publishers can’t tell you why one of their books is doing better than another. Now we’re the publisher … we just have to do the best we can.

I do like Amazon. I like that they have world-wide distribution. I wish I could boast sales on the other venues that were as good as my Amazon sales. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, even when I try to market my books at those venues.

Is Amazon going to take over all publication and distribution of books in the near future? No, it’s not going to happen. But other publishers and booksellers will need to stop doing things the way they’ve always done them and think ahead or they’re never going to catch up.

What do you think as a reader/writer? Does it make you a little noodgie the way things are going with Amazon? Are you worried about what is happening? Because you know me, I’m curious about that kind of stuff.

Okay, I’m not talking personally … Mr. Nina would simply not be happy if I had that conversation in public 😉 … I’m talking in your reading material.

Okay, don’t laugh. I know I’m an erotic romance author. I know my characters have a whole LOT of sex, but when you pick up an erotic romance book the first word sort of cues you in as to how often the characters will be “doing it”. But what if you’re not reading an erotic romance? What if you’ve picked up the latest contemporary romantic suspense? Then how do you feel about it?

I’ve noticed in the last few books I’ve read that the hero and heroine, once they allowed themselves to do the horizontal mamba once … they just kept going at it. In between fighting the villain and discovering the mystery of who was trying to kill the heroine, they kept falling into bed. I actually found myself flipping pages to get back to the story. I just didn’t think the sex scenes added to the story. And these weren’t just a little kissing and grabbing and then fading to black, it was the whole shabang.

But ya know … hollywood is doing the same thing. There seems to be so much more titillation on television and in the movies. The actors must just have their body doubles on-call for every movie. Nakedness and sex seem to be expected in every blockbuster. So I’m just wondering if authors are writing the story as they feel it needs to be written or are publishers asking for more sensuality? Have readers come to expect more sex in their romances? Short of reading YA or Inspirational, should readers be ready for the sexier scenes in their romance stories?

How do you feel about it? As a writer are you happy about this apparent trend? As a reader how are you reacting to stories with more loving? Because you know me, I’m curious about stuff like this.

Cigarette hanging from her mouth, the ash long and dangling. Smoke circle her head as fingers peck out a rapid tattoo on the the old Royal. Papers balled and crumpled near the waste basket as her characters chatter incessently in her ear, but not loud enough to get it juuuuust right. And as the final pages add up on the corner of her desk, she renews her efforts to finish that manuscript and get it out to a publisher.

That’s how I picture my favorite author’s careers in the past. It was all about the writing. All about receiving that boxed manuscript from an editor with redlines and arrows indicating editing suggestions. Editors and publishers had time to put time and energy into a book, to groom the author and create an image and a marketing plan for her and her books.

Sadly, those days are gone.

An author no longer has the the luxury of just sitting down at her computer and pounding out a new best seller. There are so many hats she must wear. Writer, editor, marketing guru and in many cases, publisher.

Publishers now want to see manuscripts that have had the bulk of the editing done. Beta readers and critique groups are now working with an author to find unforgivable flaws with a hero no reader can love. They’re helping fill in those small plot line holes that an editor used to discover. If a manuscript hits an acquisition editors desk with any of those problems it will no doubt receive a form email rejection. If the author is fortunate, there will be some explanation as to why it was rejected, but often there isn’t time for an editor to explain in detail why a book “doesn’t fit”.

With the advent of digital books authors are no longer receiving advances. Advances meant an author was compensated up front for months of being bent over the keyboard. Without the advance, the author now depends only on royalties from sales to make her money. (I don’t even want to speculate my hourly rate of pay for the books I’ve written.) Without the backing of a marketing department from the good ‘ole days, it also means she has to go out and pound the pavement to let readers know she has a new book out there. Spending time on Facebook and Twitter shouting about her book, which equals time away from writing the next book.

Now, Amazon and Barnes & Noble among other venues, have made it possible for an author to actually publish her own book without going through an agent or publishing house. And as exciting as this has become for authors to have full control of their books, it’s also a heck of a lot of work. It becomes the responsibility of the author to find her editor and cover artist. To make sure the book is formatted correctly for all digital platforms. And as you can imagine, this means more time away from writing.

To keep up with this changing world many authors are hiring assistants who can help with the extraneous work load. Of course you need to have the sales to justify this expenditure. Ah hem, I so am not there … yet. And there are publicity companies who are hired by authors to go out and do some of the pavement pounding. But as a reader I find them very annoying and they become white noise in the thrum of all the book marketing. Since I delete these announcements from my email and ignore them on Facebook, I haven’t bothered with any of the companies.

I keep saying this year I’m going to figure this whole thing out. To set a schedule of some sort that not only allows time for all of these things AND writing. Of course before all that happens I do have to get my personal life to slow down juuuust a little.

As a reader do you see these changes effecting your buying habits or has it all happened in the background unnoticed by you? If your an author, are you happy with all the changes in publishing or would you like to go back to the days before digital books? Because you know me, I’m curious like that.

*Nina slides in breathless*

I know I’m very late getting back to my blog after the holidays. It just seems I’m having a hard time rolling into 2012. I don’t have any more excuses reasons than any other woman who has a family and holiday responsibilities. Yep, Mr. Nina and I managed to have a wonderful Christmas morning with our kids. They are adults, but we still keep up all the *Santa* traditions we’ve held on to since they were children. It was fun.

We drank a lot of wine. Ate too much food. And laughed continuously.

Now it’s time to settle into 2012. So here I am, sitting before my computer and a blank calendar. As 2011 came to a close I realized I needed to reassess and really look at what I hoped 2012 would bring. One of the things I’m already doing is cutting back on the number of RWA Chapters I belong to. Though each one was wonderful, I found there were more emails than helpful information coming through. Out they go.

As I always do, I’m looking at my blogging time. With the explosion of social media, I think fewer and fewer people are finding time to stop by blogs. But it seems I go ’round and ’round this ride and keep coming back to the fact that I enjoy it for the most part. I think more than anything it’s my opportunity to spew about my life. Whether it’s good or bad, I can kick sand or jump for joy with people who understand the publishing journey. So for now, I’m sticking to my Mon-Wed-Fri schedule. I hope to fill the year with some fun and humor, introductions to new authors, and keeping up on the latest in the publishing world.

But the biggest decision I’ve come to is about my writing. I’m an analytical person. I couldn’t stop myself from looking at the market and studying other successful authors. I’ve tried to emulate them, not in their writing style or voice or anything, but how they handled their career. And after six years I’ve come to realize in the end it’s done nothing but frustrate me. This BLOG POST really opened my eyes. Especially numbers 17, 18, and 19. There is just too much I can’t control. And many times something one author does that skyrockets their books to the bestseller list, rarely translates over to another author’s success. Trust me on this one. I know it from experience.

So my goal this year is to slow down. Stop chasing the money and just write what works for me. I’m convinced the money will follow. Does this mean I’m rolling over and not being logical about my marketing? No. It just means I’m going to stop trying to recreate other people’s success.

Oh, and I’ve also decided I’m going to figure out this weight situation that has gotten out of control. Not sure how it’s going to work since I’m spending more time in the electric wheelchair, but I’m thinking there’s got to be a balance between feeding my body and expanding my waistline when exercise isn’t an option. Hmmm, wish me luck on that one.

So what about you? Do you have goals for 2012?

I love my life. Really I do. (This is me convincing myself of that fact.) Most days I throw my shoulders back, lift my chin and put a smile on my face and head out the door. Weeeelll, okay, not the door, but out into the virtual world of the internet.

I’m mostly a positive person.

But the last couple of weeks I’ve been working really hard on marketing. You know, that four letter word that authors hate to talk about, but which is a necessary evil sometimes. I must say, this time I really stepped in it. I have totally overextended my obligations going into the holidays and now I’m paying the piper.

Translation … I have so many flippin’ guest blogs/book uploads/website coding obligations that my mind has become a sieve. Every idea has fallen through the holes created by the spinning miasma of confusion all this tap dancing around the internet has created. Seriously, if I was making enough money I’d hire an assistant just to do all the tweeting and facebook announcements that people are asking me to do. It’s insane.

I have a hard enough time promoting myself and now I’ve committed to a $.99 Book Blog where I’ve agreed to help promote everyone else’s books (and there are some wonderful books). And this is all good because all these people are going to promote my book as well. But it does make me wonder if people are going to be turned off as it gets closer to Christmas and all they’re seeing is promotion promotion promotion. Yeah, that makes Nina a very dull writer. I like to think I can amuse and entertain now and again. But that requires I spend more time than I currently have at the moment, hanging out on Twitter and Facebook chatting with folks as if I didn’t have a real life with things to do and there was no need for me to writing another book.

Oh, yeah writing. I remember that rewarding activity.

Anyway, I can’t stay long. My to-do list includes putting some books up on a new site and figuring out how to put my digital books in print. My characters are just going to have to step to the back of the line. I’ll get them their HEA as soon as I find mine. LOL!

I’m actually recycling one of my favorite posts from last year. Not only because it got a lot of reaction and started some great discussions, but because I just don’t have the energy to pull something new and exciting from the well today. The Pierce house has been thrown a major curve ball and we’re kind of reeling from the impact not sure what’s going to happen next. Add to the fact that I’m trying to push through the edits of the third book in the Tilling Passions series and I’m just a little overwhelmed. Don’t worry, I’ll be back on my feet by the end of the weekend. In the meantime, please enjoy the post and all my Friday eye candy!

Okay I’m going to admit it. I LOVE the male torso. There is nothing sexier than those deep ridges accenting a sculpted abdomen. Can’t you just imagine running your hands over all the warm skin or better yet…licking along every rise and fall?

No?

Well maybe it’s just me and maybe it’s because I’ve become rather fanatical about the male torso since I started writing. (That’s my excuse. Actually I grew up on a beach and my fondness for the shirtless male came at a very young age…but I digress.) In my stories I don’t have the luxury of a picture to show the detail. It’s the description that drops the reader into the arms of my hunky heroes. The words that create the visual stimulus that makes a reader sigh with satisfaction. I know you’re thinking “well DUH, way to state the obvious Nina”.

But here’s my confession as I’ve gotten older it seems I’m moving farther in age from those really hunky young guys that totally make me drool. But I’m okay with that. It seems though many around me aren’t. Some get squicked out with the whole “he’s too young for me” thing. Well, yeah, that’s true. But I’m not talking about sleeping with the guy, just admiring him. Beauty is ageless in my opinion. And a great work of art whether it’s a brand new painting or a classic by Renoir should be enjoyed at any age.

I do have the added curiosity of REALLY looking at men (and women) now to see the subtle nuances of an alluring body. It gets kind of boring (for me and the reader) to paint every man or woman with the same broad brush strokes of the cliched descriptions. It’s the newness, the fresh angle that keeps the words flowing for me and (hopefully) the pages turning for the reader. So I stare and I admire.

That’s just how I see it. It has nothing to do with the young man’s age or whether it’s appropriate for me to be with him. It’s about the beauty of the package. (Okay … now YOU need to get your mind out of his pants and back to his chest.) I meant the WHOLE package. Is it really so wrong to outwordly admire someone who is the same age as your children? Or am I way off base here?

I’d love to know how you see it. And while we’re at it … what part of the anatomy catches your attention?

I’d like to welcome guest blogger Jayne Ormerod whose debut novel “Blond leading the Blond” is now available from Amazon and your local library!

“Stop jumping on the bed before you fall off and crack your head open!”

How many times did you hear that when you were young? Or perhaps yelled it to rambunctious children yourself? Okay, now raise your hand if you’re guilty of leaping fearlessly across the chasm between twin beds anyway, and managed to do so safely. I see I’m in good company. Yes, I’ve knocked a few pictures askew, broken a lamp or two, maybe even left a few dents in the plaster wall, but I have never, ever, in all my years of bed jumping, cracked my head open. Leave it to my mom to always warn me about the worst possible outcome of any situation.

“Don’t run with scissors or you poke your eye out.”

“Don’t get near the lawnmower without shoes on or you’ll cut your toe off.”

“Don’t lick the beaters while they mixer is on because it will yank your tongue clear out of your mouth.”

So let me take this opportunity to say, “Thanks, Mom,” because always warning me about the worst thing that could happen has not only kept all my 2,000 body parts in tact, but her dire predictions have made me a better writer.

“What?” you ask.

Yes, when I sit down to write a new scene I put on my mom hat and figure out what bad thing can happen to my characters and thus create conflict which raises the tension which, in the words of esteemed literary agent Donald Maas, is what “keeps the reader turning pages.”

Let me show you of what I speak. We’ll start with a scene, say a charity event held in the ballroom of a swanky downtown hotel. Our hero, we’ll call him Jake, looks yummy dressed in a tuxedo that emphasizes his broad shoulders and bulging biceps. Our heroine Daria looks stunning in an off-white, off-the-shoulder, cocktail-length number paired with sexy sling-back stilettos. How about we give her a little something sparkly top go around her neck, too? Okay, so the plan for the evening is a cocktail hour followed by an haute cuisine dinner, then a night of dancing under the spinning disco ball to music offered by a soulful singer and her back-up band. We follow our characters as they eat, drink and be merry. All nice and good and probably very enjoyable by real-world standards. But to a reader? In a word, BO-ring!

So now we’re going to play a little game of “What if…” thinking of something bad that can happen to our characters, and then let’s go one step further and figure out “what would be worse…” I guarantee you that we’ll spin a scene that will keep the reader engaged in our little drama.

Here’s some ideas I’ve come up with.

What if… Jake forgets to bring the tickets so they have to drive all the way back to his apartment on the other side of town so are very late to the ball, putting them both in a bad mood. I can imagine that dialogue—or lack thereof—in the car. But what would be worse is if they were to be in a car accident because Daria made a snide comment causing Jake to take his eyes off the road for a split second. (Fear not, they will both survive, and their relationship will grow stronger as they heal. This is a Happily Ever After story, after all.)

What if…somebody jostles Daria’s elbow and she spills red wine on her couture dress. Or if we’re going to worst-case wardrobe malfunctions here, what would be worse is if Daria returns from the restroom with the back of her dress tucked in her underwear. (And I speak from personal experience telling you this is the WORST thing that can happen to a woman at a formal event. You’d think my mother would have warned me about that! No worries, though, my “date” for the evening married me anyway.)

Or what if…Jake’s ex-fiancé is in attendance, looking ravishing, as usual. What would be worse is if Madame Ex is hanging on the arm of Jake’s new boss and whispering all sorts of secrets while looking his way. (And of course he has some dark secrets. All yummy heroes do. But that’s another topic for another day.)

What if…in hopes of taking advantage of the romantic venue Jake slips an engagement ring into Daria’s champagne and she accidentally drinks it. Worse yet, what if Jake’s ex-fiancé accidentally drinks it. I think there might be a little “conflict” after that, don’t you?

What if…when Daria passes through the lobby on the way to the restroom she interrupts a robbery. Oh, what if she’s taken hostage! At gunpoint!

What if…while they are enjoying their dessert, the charming elderly lady next to Jake falls face first into her cherry chocolate chip cheesecake? But what if it’s not a simple heart attack, but murder? And Jake is the prime suspect? (Forgive me, I’m a mystery writer at heart, and I’ve found nothing increases the tension better than the introduction of a dead body.)

Or feel free to rely on the all time “what’s the worst that can happen” scenarios that our mothers taught us. Like, what if…after the ball, they get a room at the swanky hotel and while they’re getting “frisky” Daria does fall off the bed and cracks her head open?

Making “bad things” happen to your good characters is such a simple concept, but so important to creating a compelling read. So can they go out for a nice date? Of course, but something has to happen, something out of the ordinary, something that will increase tension, maybe show the character’s “true colors” or force them to face their demons or push them outside of their comfort zone in some way. You need something that creates conflict and tension. Something that will have your readers saying “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” That’s what makes a story not only worth reading, but also worth the twenty-four dollars and ninety-nine cents they plunked down for it.

Okay, your turn to play. Let your imagination run wild and think of something bad that can happen to Jake and Daria on their date. Then figure out what would be even worse than that. And maybe even push yourself to go one step further along on the worst-case scenario continuum. Is it possible to push too far? Yes. For example the abduction by aliens (unless you are writing sci fi) is too far for a mainstream romance. But in general, the worser the better. And please share your ideas in the comment section. We all want to read them!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jayne Ormerod is the author of The Blond Leading the Blond, set in a fictional lakeside resort in Ohio.  A lot of bad” things happen to Ellery, her main character, as she searches for her aunt’s killer. More information about Jayne and her writing can be found at her website.

There are very few things that pull me out of a story when I read. I’m terrible at history so inaccurate facts like corn in the wrong century … don’t bother me. A dutchess that can’t own land … psshaw, I wouldn’t know it couldn’t happen.

I was horrible at English (I know … don’t laugh.) so if the theme of a story isn’t strong and the symbolism doesn’t work … it’s all lost on me.

Very little makes me walk away from a story. I can put up with a whole heck of a lot in the technical aspects of writing if the story has pulled me in.

Since I’ve learned the “rules” of writing, I am a little particular about too many point of view shifts within the same scene. You know when the hero is thinking one thing and all of sudden the heroine is thinking something else? Technically that’s head-hopping and it’s generally frowned upon. (Unless of course your a NYT Bestseller then editors seem to be less picky about this point.) It does bother me. But if the story is really good, I’ll roll with it.

But the one thing I hear writers complain about the most is roaming body parts. I have to admit, I don’t see it. It doesn’t bother me. Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, it often happens with hands and feet …

She threw her hand up between them.
His feet raced across the room.

But could also include …

He tossed his head.
Her jaw fell to the floor.

But the body parts I manage to magically move all the time … EYES!

Her eyes roamed his torso.
His eyes raked her face.
Their eyes flew across the room.

Okay, okay, I know I’m not supposed to do these things. You can’t throw a hand and feet can’t race. Heads can’t be tossed and jaws don’t fall all by themselves. And eyes, well eyes never come out of their sockets to roam, rake or fly. I know this. You know this. But sometimes when gazes are locked and two characters are staring at each other, how much description can you do without saying their eyes are doing something?

I’ve even heard one person laughing because the line read “She laid her head in his lap.” and the reader couldn’t get the image out her mind of the heroine removing her head and placing it in the hero’s lap. Really? I wouldn’t go there. It wouldn’t even cause a blip on my reading radar. I lay my head in Mr. Nina’s lap all the time when we’re snuggling.

The phenomenon of wandering body parts just isn’t something that would bother me in a story. I’m not saying it’s okay, so much as I’m saying it’s just not a big deal for me as a reader. But I know it’s a hot button for many readers.

So do wandering body parts bother you? Because you know me, I’m curious about stuff like that. And while we’re at it, anything else drive you absolutely nuts as a reader?

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