One of my favorite sites to visit is Mrs. Giggles.com. She reviews books, movies, game books and more. Her reviews are her honest opinion and she doesn’t pull punches. If she doesn’t like something, she’ll tell you and why. With the books I’ve read that she has (same with movies), I don’t always agree with her simply because her reason to read or watch often seems to be different from mine; however, overall, our interests match. And I love that she reads and watches eclectically–not just a focus on one genre or a particular aspect of a genre. Like me, she reads and watches what interest her and that can cross the gamut of subjects.
Now, this isn’t an endorsement of the site; I’m getting nothing by singing its praises. I just wanted to tell you a little about it because the one thing I completely disagree with her on is rich and perfect characters.
She doesn’t like them and many of her reviews are very clear as to her view of perfect people. However, I love perfect characters.
I have to ask–what’s wrong with perfect characters? We write and read fiction, after all. I read fiction for escape. I want to read about ‘perfect’ characters living their ‘perfect’ lives even if they have to struggle to get those ‘perfect’ lives.
There are tons of articles on writing the imperfect character and dismiss perfect characters as one-dimensional, flat and paper cutouts. They’ve achieved perfection so there’s no need for further improvement. They are the tall, dark and handsome man who stands on the side of right or the beautiful woman with flawless complexion, stunning shape all men love.
Writers are told to give characters flaws to make them more interesting so they suggest making your characters overweight, too tall, too short, with frizzy hair or they are pushy, obsessive, workaholics, rigid, makes excuses, etc. I find those fine secondary characters but I don’t want to read out people I experience in my real life.
So, what’s wrong with the superhero? Or the woman who gives tirelessly and is beautiful? Why shouldn’t I want to read about people like this? Why should these types of characters be dismissed? I’m told they don’t exist in real life. Big deal. I can live with that because I don’t want to read about real life. The fiction I read and write is about escape. If I want flawed characters, all I have to do is pick up a newspaper or go out, any time, into the public. That’s not what I want from my fiction. I want, need and crave characters who are handsome, beautiful and overcome all obstacles with perfect skill and abilities to achieve lives we all dream of. They work and play hard but look great doing it.
How about you? I believe perfect characters also mean different things to different people–writers and readers and I also believe it depends on why you read–the kind of experience you want from your fiction. I’m really curious. I don’t think I’m the only one who enjoys reading about handsome, beautiful and rich characters.
1. You are a romance writer who hasn’t met the RWA qualifications for PAN (published author network).
2. Precursor to the Golden Heart and national recognition
3. Quality feedback from three writers (at least one of whom will be published)
4. Great judges in the final category
Contemporary Series Romance
|Nicole Fischer, Avon/HarperCollins|
Contemporary Single Title
|Rebecca Strauss, DeFiore and Company|
|Jennifer Udden, Donald Maass Agengy|
Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
|Emily Ohanjanians, HQN|
|Amy Boggs, Donald Maass Agency|
|Eric Ruben, Ruben Agency|
|Lauren Ruth, Entangled Publishing|
5. You are a contest slut and love flaunting your winnings. Oh, wait, that may only apply to me.
6. You support Rose City Romance Writers and we love you for it.
7. The idea of a real golden rose appeals to you – particularly since you won it.
8. You know you are a better writer than everyone else – and this will prove it.
9. 10,000 words – no synopsis until final round.
10. It wouldn’t hurt to give NY one more chance.
Here’s the URL. http://rosecityromancewriters.com/contest-home/
Entries accepted beginning June 1. Enter early. Enter often. Make Favorite Aunt Nancy proud.
This mother’s day weekend I’ve been missing my mother who died two years ago. I could use her use her wisdom and advice.
My mother was an early feminist. That designation was thrust upon her because she refused to follow the rules. When she graduated from college during WWII her career options were limited. Teachers, nurses or office help were available and very little else. Her father and grandfather were small town lawyers who had never told her that her gender would hold her back until she wanted to go to law school.
Her father believed she was bored because all the men were at war. But the war would eventually end and my mother would get married, so any money he spent on law school for a daughter would be wasted. He was wrong.
My mother did become a lawyer and practiced law for over fifty years. When the woman’s movement reached the forefront of American awareness in the late sixties, a lot of women were overjoyed to have thrown off the oppressive yolk of male domination. I, however, had not been raised with limited options. My mother raised me with these words. “You need to have a career, because while you might marry a man who can support you, he could die and you will have to go to work.”
We laugh at that advice now, because everyone works, but in the fifties and early sixties that was not true. The woman’s movement changed the relationship of men/women. As women became empowered, men struggled to figure out their role in a changing society.
Statements like, “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” told women it was okay if they weren’t marching in step with a man, but it didn’t tell men what their options were. The seventies were a decade where men did not fare well.
Fast forward to present day. The pendulum has definitely swung in the other direction. It appears easier to be male than female.
Why? Well, one reason I believe is because we are living our lives on social media so every decision is dramatic for high impact. The drama exhausts me, but there are no longer any easy decisions. Everything has consequences and maybe always has, but it seems more so now.
Thirty years ago there was a time when I sat in my mother’s office and believed God was in His heaven and all was right with the world. My mother emitted that kind of confidence, but also crazy people didn’t dominate the landscape. I clung to the illusion that America was the most powerful nation on earth. The world wasn’t at peace, but we, as Americans, felt safe on our soil.
My mother couldn’t have solved today’s problems. I know that. And in fact as she aged she worried more and more. In reality it would probably be me saying “there, there, now, now” to her rather than the other way around.
But she was my first anchor. And when the world appears to be staring into the abyss, I find the need to ground myself in sanity more and more. Today I wish I was scrambling to send her flowers or Harry and David’s because this weekend has crept up on me rather than remembering how much I miss her.
I am also thinking about my heroine and her relationship with her mother. Incorporating these feelings into a story is what we do because the first rule of being a writer is to bring universal truths to the reader even if they are only from your own perspective.
Putting together a cohesive story is difficult. If it wasn’t, everyone who thinks to himself, “I could write a novel,” would. And it would be a best seller, otherwise why write? And really how difficult can it be? We’re surrounding by stories every day.
Stories must have two arcs – External and Internal. The external or plot simply answers the question: What is the purpose of the story?
The external arc must be tangible. In action/adventure such as the recent events in Boston that is easy enough to see. Indiana Jones is going after the Skull, the Arc or the sacred rock. Frodo has to dispose of the ring. People have to save themselves from a disaster. The world is coming to an end. The Titanic is sinking. A run-away Russian submarine is on the loose.
The Boston Marathon bombing has a pretty straight forward external arc. Create mayhem, destruction and death – first at the marathon and then Times Square. It is the story of small men with small dreams. Movies have taught us that a big man’s dream would have been the overthrow of the entire nation.
We all know every story must evoke emotion and a senseless bombing scene will not garner public empathy. There must be a secondary or underlying arc that builds on the emotional storyline.
Once the Boston marathon bombers were captured, what was our most pressing concern?
Why would anyone do this? And we still don’t know all the details. But many of us are waiting with bated breath, because we want the story to have a nice tidy ending. We don’t want to hear that the men were simply crazy or misguided. We want to know what they thought they would accomplish and whether or not they believed they would get caught. A couple of day ago I learned that three of the younger brother’s friends helped hide and destroy evidence that had been stashed in his room pretty much in open sight. That doesn’t sound like a guy who was worried about the consequences of his actions.
One of the most shocking facts was that his friends volunteered to destroy the evidence. Where is their social conscience? How does friend loyalty trump the death of innocents? And worse where are the parents of these young men? Why aren’t they jumping up and down screaming at their sons, “have you lost your mind?”
The underlying arc must satisfy those details. It must show growth and must have a satisfying ending. For me, that usually means the evil get punished. Having written that, I’m sure you can imagine how I would like the Bomber story to end – not just for the younger bomber but for his friends, as well.
Each of the protagonists must have both an internal and external arc, not to mention the only female lead on American soil needs her two arcs as well. With enough characters the story line resembles a complex genome map. In this case both brothers had arcs, but so did the wife and the mother. I’m sure the friends also had storylines, but they appear to only be spear carriers, not plotters.
Personally, I find it difficult to believe that the wife was totally unaware of what was happening, particularly as the husband became more and more verbal about his radicalization.
And the mother…
Well, the mother is a piece of work, isn’t she? Another reason I suspect so many of us write about dysfunctional families –we are surrounded by them. Apparently being Russian does not exempt anyone.
The truth is none of us would write the bombers as the heroes. We would choose the story of one of the three who died, or one of the 260 bystanders who lives changed forever because they lost a limb, or even those who lost a family member.
The boys aren’t heroes, but I bet they wanted to be. Apparently they didn’t watch enough American television to figure out that protagonists seldom set out to become heroes. They just are.
My name is Mia Langdon and I’m a tomb raider.
That sounds like I’m in a 10 step program for recovering tomb raiders, doesn’t it?
Well, that’s as far from my reality as it can be. Of course, I like to think of myself as a protector of ancient history because not only do I liberate relics from the dirt, sand and rocks but also from the hands of greedy bastards who only care about possession, not appreciation or protection. If it wasn’t for me or those like me, these priceless pieces of mankind’s past would be destroyed and lost forever, sold on the black market never to be appreciated again, or even worse than destroyed, stuck in some moldy old basement of a museum without the resources to display them. Now, that is truly sad. No disrespect intended toward museums or their curators but the reality is most museums just can’t display all they have.
So, I take our precious history and find worthy homes for them. By worthy, I mean those who can afford them but who will also keep them safe and enjoy them. Sure, I’m paid well but that’s not why I do it. My previous business partner liked to tell me I was an adrenaline junky and I guess there’s some truth to that. The thrill of the hunt, the discovery, the moment I hold the artifact in my hand–yeah, it all adds up and is addicting.
I’m aware I walk a fine line. I like to consider it more gray than black and white. I’ve had countless arguments with ye olde stick up the behind, Harrison Braden Stanton, ex-lover and Egyptologist, about this and while I get his points: the relics belong to the people for all to see blah, blah, blah, like my father who instilled in me a love of history, sometimes we need to protect the relics from people who might do the most damage to them.
The thing is, and what my ex keeps forgetting, is that I’m rescuing the most priceless items before the looters and other unsavory folk find them. They don’t care about preserving the site; it’s about the money. Long before me, many of the amazing architecture of Egyptian tombs were destroyed by thieves in their quest for gold and other things to sell. Hell, Iraq, during the war with Saddam Hussein, was not spared and many of their treasures were looted and likely never to be seen again.
That’s where I come in. Someone’s gotta do it and it might as well be me. At least, I will take care of the item’s recovery and locate final resting place that treats the artifact like the truly wonderful gift it is.
And if it isn’t, I’ll just liberate it again.
I hope you enjoyed this post by Mia Langdon, my heroine in Blood on the Moon, a story that pits her and Harrison against ruthless characters who are searching for an ancient weapon with a taste for human blood. I thought it might be fun to write something from her point of view on why she does what she does. Want to learn more about Mia and watch her save the world from bad guys while exploring Egyptian mythology and archeology? Well, Blood on the Moon might appeal to you.
Here’s the blurb:
Mia Langdon—tomb raider and adventure-seeker—has everything she wants. Freedom. Independence. No chains (a.k.a. a man). Her troubles begin when she’s attacked on a dig in Peru. Soon, she’s forced to use her tomb raiding talents to find the flaming arrows of an Egyptian goddess. In the wrong hands, this weapon could destroy the human race—and nearly had.
Used to doing things her own way, it isn’t long before she figures out that she needs the help of Harrison Braden Stanton, her stuffy, but so yummy, Egyptologist and ex-lover. There’s one problem. He despises what she does. As Mia and Harrison find themselves in the middle of a battle between the Egyptian gods and goddess, there’s no choice for the woman with a Grand Canyon-sized independence streak and the man working for the Egyptian god, Osiris, but to work together to prevent the destruction of all they love.
If you’d like to read more, check out this page. Champagne Book Group, is giving away nearly half the book in a free preview! How cool is that?
Spoiler Alert for the following shows: Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Lost, Sons of Anarchy, Beauty and the Beast, Once Upon a Time, and Spartacus.
I admit it. I felt special. I was one of the lucky ones from the thousands of people waiting in line, for seven hours, to get inside the 2011 San Diego Comic Con: Game of Thrones Panel. Inside the room, fan, after fan, worshiped upon George R. R. Martin’s ground and collectively bowed to the creative genius. He has set himself apart by creating such a rich and deep world that his characters could be secondary to the reader’s experience and therefore expendable. In his world, he could break the golden rule that the good guys always win in the end. Now that the novels were being turned into a television series, the production team swore to stay truthful to Martin’s stories and they received thunderous applause from the audience. As I hadn’t finished the first book yet, nor the 1st season of the show, I sat there thinking, that’s all fine and dandy but you hired Lord of the Rings Sean Bean to play Ned Stark and genetic perfection Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo so I assured myself that at least they would be okay.
Seriously! At the conclusion of each episode, I found myself saying, “they did not just do that” as I watched my favorite characters, one-by-one, fall to their demise.
Traditionally, readers/viewers get emotionally attached to their characters and want to ride their storyline as their co-pilot. Creators realize that their audiences aren’t just watching their shows, they want to see what is happening with their favorite characters. In the past, unless it’s a Soap Opera, having a major character leave the show or be re-casted was show suicide. Just ask Lost.
While trying to distract their audience with polar bears and black smoke until they could figure out the island, the show Lost killed off my favorite character, Boone, in the episode Do No Harm (Season 1, Episode 20, Year: 2005) and the fans reacted with their absence and hopefully lower ratings. However, like when I start a novel, even if the book is horrible, I have to read the last few pages so I did return 5 seasons later to see the final episode. Boone was back, proving that order had been restored.
Yet, Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, apparently hadn’t learned their lesson. They created the show, Once Upon a Time, and tried it again, killing off my favorite character, Sheriff Graham, in the episode The Heart is a Lonely Hunter during the first season. They seem to be repeating a broken pattern, just to prove to themselves that they can break the golden rule. However, nobody else seemed to be that crazy.
Then it started happening.
Shows started killing off the beloved character for “emotional impact”. Already a dark series, Sons of Anarchy, killed off the heart of their show, Oppie (Ryan Hurst). I was devastated. I read online that they considered Ryan Hurst part of the “family” and it wasn’t about contract negotiations, it was just about storytelling. Bastards.
Not even novel based characters that live on the written pages are safe from the television ax. Have you been watching Walking Dead lately? Rest in Peace Andrea. I read that Laurie Holden didn’t know until a few days before filming that her character would be off the show, for storytelling purposes. No Way!
I realize that not every show has the premise that their characters are going to live happily ever after. You didn’t need to check Wikipedia to know that Spartacus and Crixus weren’t going to end up as farmers. Survivor rates are low on shows like Dexter, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, or the Following but the audience knows this coming in as a viewer.
What tipped me over the edge? Recently, I watched an episode of Beauty and the Beast because this CW show is good for a few things, campy melodrama and Jay Ryan’s dimples that even a scarred face can’t dimmer. Halfway through the episode, Evan (Max Brown) took a bullet to the stomach as they tried to escape the compound. Get some duct tape because the man could walk it off. After some sympathetic dialogue of regret and his feelings for the heroine, he walked into the light… as in lifted his arms and allowed his body to be showered with bullets. Now CW is trying this move?
No, Bad TV…George R. R. Martin is the exception to the rule, not the rule. Stop thinking that it’s suddenly cool to kill off a character just because everyone else is trying it.
The act of killing off beloved characters, for dramatic effect, is spreading to the literacy world. I’m reading a lot of stories where the hero sacrifices himself for the heroine instead of ending up married with 2.5 kids, a four car garage and white picketed fences. I fear that romance authors might forget our roots; our audience wants a happily-ever-after. Romance writers are collectively standing on a bridge. It might seem fun to do what others are doing but we don’t have to jump. Geesh, I sound like my mother. Time to step off my soapbox.
Here’s the question I read on Facebook this week that I thought would have some interesting answers. I had no idea.
If I were arrested what would you think I did?
The best answer was this one:
Linda Paul wrote: If you were arrested, I am certain it would be because you simply could not contain yourself when faced with the stupidity, obtuseness and rudeness of a customer service person. Your frustration grew until you finally couldn’t take it anymore and began to loudly demand to speak to a person who isn’t stupid. But instead of helping you, the unhappy customer, — they called their security guys. They were tall, blond, Nordic in appearance…. their tight uniforms showed off their six-pack abs and their broad shoulders. The fine golden hairs on their strong arms tickled you as they picked you up and carried you off for questioning. And maybe discipline…..
Is this woman a romance author or what?
I ate dinner with friends (all authors) last night and we tried to determine what each of us would have done. I tried for embezzling and murder but no one bought it. Apparently lots of people think Linda is on the right track with my intolerance with stupidity. (And my fondness for tall, muscular types to hold me captive – I mean – arrest me).
Here were the crimes my friends felt they might be arrested for: defending one’s family, dancing naked in a public European fountain, murdering one’s mother, and road rage.
But we were reminded that Gina Fluharty had recently declared she had figured out the perfect murder – Injecting insulin into her victim which she said would be untraceable. I care about murder, so I asked how would she know what quantity was needed? Her answer was internet research at the library. Sounds good? Right?
However based upon her statements Jessie Smith did research and found there is a test that can determine if insulin or blood sugar spikes is the cause of death.
Technology is making crime more complicated and becoming ‘a person of interest’ easier.
Which led me to wonder, did the two Russians who set off bombs at the Boston Marathon think they wouldn’t be caught? Or did they think their success would make them heroes? Or did life have so little meaning that dying for a cause didn’t bother them? Although I’m aware nothing so far has indicated they truly had a cause.
In truth, I have to confess I was relieved that the bombers were not American grown who felt school shootings had become passe and needed to branch out. I prefer having my enemies exist outside my borders. Like the Irish curse I want to be able to identify them.
May those who love us love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.
This week will start the beginning of the politicizing of the bombing. And we will hear politicians make cringe-worthy statements and people will post inappropriate items on Facebook. And none of that will help the wounded or the dead. It won’t make them whole or give their families peace.
Although we as Americans will sleep better at night knowing the guys responsible were caught, but that will only be true until the next Newtown, Aurora, or Boston.
We are a broken society. But the solution to our problems is unclear. How do you fix crazy?
Bet you all thought I forgot about wrapping up the workshop? I know it’s been a while and if you want to get caught up or are new to this, visit these posts to get up-to-speed.
Now, onward and let’s discuss platform avenues, the roads you choose to travel to build your platform.
In all of the discussions I’ve ever heard or many of the studies and tips/tricks I’ve read, the number one thing authors need to have is a website. Would you agree or disagree?
Another thing everyone seems to agree on is that outside of a website, authors should engage in at least ONE platform avenue of their choosing and that you should not do a swan dive into all of them.
Mr. Sambuchino says that while, with platform building more can be good, it’s often not. He belies that more can dilute your channels’ effectiveness and cause complications rather than payoffs. Why do you think that is?
The idea of trying to do everything is, as he puts it, often means skimming the surface of EVERYTHING in an attempt to do it all which usually means that NONE of what you do is done correctly or nothing is properly accomplished or effective. Sure, you can do it all but the idea is that while you may see some bumps in sales, the kitchen sink approach is not as effective as picking one or two things and doing them well. Sort of like the old adage – Jack of all trades; master of none.
Agree or disagree? Why?
And this leads to another jewel we should all keep in mind – NO ONE will agree on the best way to promote. As we’ve learned, some swear by FB and some Twitter. Some only have a website and some blog until they turn blue.
For each of us, something WILL work but just because so and so is successful at blog tours doesn’t mean you will be. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try; just means don’t go in expecting it to work for you as it did for so and so.
As you decide on your platform, also keep in mind Mr. Sambuchino’s advice that “your audience will not respond well to reluctance, aggressive salesmanship, or a general inability to perform a task.”
What does that mean? Well, it means your audience will know you have no real interest or belief in a particular avenue you’ve chosen if YOU don’t believe or have interest.
“There are too many bad blogs, blogs about people’s cats, blogs about the day’s word count, blogs by people who think they need a blog out there already. Don’t add more to the pile. Blogs by a clearly reluctant author are the worst.”
The other part is that we know (me being your audience) when someone’s whole reason for engaging is to sell me their book.
If I’m following someone and all I’m getting is what amounts to buy my book or someone lazy who is just retweeting other’s tweets or just posting links, then I’m done and I don’t care how interesting that person othewise is.
Take the time to properly engage or don’t do it. At all. Find something else you WANT to do.
The book has some great agents answering the question what is the most important platform avenue? Take a guess as to what they say is? And I’m sure you won’t get it wrong.
If you said, it depends, you are absolutely 150% right. Why? Because each author, each book is different so the platform is different. Yes, it does mean, to some extent, you will need to create a platform for your book unless your platform is you as an author.
In March, at EPIC, Jennifer Fusco of Market or Die, did a workshop on promotion and marketing and she talked about brand you (platform you) and that while it is mostly for non-fiction folks, sometimes fiction authors can, and should, be branded as a whole and not their books. This would be for those authors who write across genres so then the platform becomes them, not their books.
But they still need one and the principles to brand/create an author platform apply the same.
So, selection of a platform venue? That is an individual choice and I can’t help you with that. You need to wrestle with the various options out there and decide which one fits within your criteria.
For example, I can give you my criteria for a platform venue. After this, maybe someone else can share how they did.
Easy – not only can I get up to speed on it fast, it’s easy to post and track. This is why I love Twitter. Was so easy, 140 characters and I’m in and out.
Plus, if I want to watch what’s going on, I bring up Tweet Deck and just keep it running and pop in and out as I like. To me, Twitter is the epitome of easy. The worst part of it? Initially learning about what to Tweet and I don’t mean the weather, my personal life as such. I know people care but I will unfollow someone quicker than wind when their posts are nothing but peronsal matters. For me, I want substance related to my profession. Others mileage varies.
Speaking of Twitter – I hear all the time, I don’t know what to say. I hear ya. I was the same but there are loads of resources to give you ideas on what to Tweet. Here are a couple of links but it’s simple to find wealth of ideas. In your favorite search engine, enter “what to Tweet” + authors and you get a nice selection. Plus, just follow a variety of Tweeps and watch their tweets. You’ll get the hang of it.
Back to how I pick my promotion avenue. Here’s my list:
- Inexpensive or free
- I’ll enjoy doing it.
- I can educate as much as I will learn.
That is all I wanted. And as soon as my life settles, I’ll be back to doing it. <grin>
This means the first thing you should do is sit down and ask yourself what you want from a platform venue then find the venue that fits. Not sure which one will?
Well, this is when seeking help from fellow authors can help. Ask and you’ll get tons of feedback on the things your fellow authors like–and don’t like. But remember, the caveat above – check out the venue as what works for them may not work for you so evaluate each one based on YOUR criteria, not whether it was successful for them.
I had planned five sessions and can easily fill the fifth one but thought I’d ask for input. Based on what I’ve discussed in these last four, is there anything specific you’d like more information on or to discuss?
I hope you’ve found this as enlightening as I have.