Monday, May 28, 2012

The Write Stimulus for Women

Romance, erotica, or maybe... pornmomgraphy? 

Erika Leonard’s genres are drama, erotica, and fan fiction.  They are rolled into one book (iffy on drama).  The author said she wanted to write a love story and joked that her husband didn’t mind the research. 

Aside from the titillating study, her first novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, is a flippin’ best seller.  Not exactly anti-climatic.  Not only that, according to this week’s Globe and Mail, the three top selling books for the last few weeks are all by E. L. James.  Fifty Shades of whatever. 

I purchased the book with the intention of doing a review.  Alrightalready, I was curious, too.  Unable to help myself, I started highlighting awkward segments (phrasing−not positions) and marking repetition, which became tenaciously eye rolling.  I finally gave up.

There was a great deal of eye rolling by Anastasia, Christian, and other characters in the book.  Actually, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes reading about a woman in her twenties who could barely put one foot in front of the other without falling on her face.  Seriously, did that not bother anyone else?  The first twenty-five pages were painful to read.  She was stumbling, falling, dropping, tripping, struggling...

What makes this book such a great seller?  Is it the writing?  Not by a long shot. Even though the emails are cute, we’ve already determined it’s not the writing or the character profiles that make this trilogy a Best Seller.  It must be the story.  No, there is no story.  The author started to tell a story.  She offered us a little but I wanted more.

Christian’s background intrigued me.  I kept reading...and reading...until the last page.    There was no satisfying reveal.  Maybe that was her strategy.  The book left me hanging, and not from the ceiling. 

At the end of Fifty Shades of Grey (well, it had no ending), my first thought−one of my first thoughts−was that they took an unedited overly long manuscript and split it into three books.  With a trilogy, they would triple their sales.  A fantastic marketing ploy.  AND, it’s working.

Why is Fifty Shades of Grey so popular?  It must be the sex.  BDSM.  Is it the novelty of it, or the familiarity of it?

Women love porn and erotica.  There is a difference between the two.  In fact, I learned a few more juicy facts that I will investigate further for an upcoming column.  According to online sources, one in three people viewing pornography online are women. 

Be assured that many more books of this persuasion will inundate the market. 

Admittedly, I have not read the other two Fifty Shades books, nor am I particularly inclined to read them at this time.  Is it sour grapes?  No, of course not−well, maybe a little.  Imagine, this is her first novel and it’s a mega hit and a soon-to-be movie.   

Oh, well.  Maybe the book I’m trying to get published needs more sex.  Yes, that’s the answer! 

Let the research begin......

Monday, May 21, 2012

Inspiration for the Write Journal

Last year, a friend gave me two delightfully girly gifts.  Nail polish for one.  As a present from one mature gal to another, I did not miss the irony of the name of the shade.  Forever Yummy!  It is shocking fuchsia red.  I could be wrong about the colour.  (Remember the blog, My Cones are not Write, from March 19th?) 
The other gift was a thick little notebook.  A glossy metallic pink cover adorned with a huge heart-shaped stone surrounded by itsy little stones.  Let’s call them diamonds.  The edges of the paper are shiny silver.  With the book closed and the pink chiffon ribbons tied in a bow, everything shimmers.  I stroked the iridescent cover and the multi-faceted stone.  Then I set the book aside.  Unsure.
Journals have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Each time I finished a book, I would tuck it away before beginning another.  Not always in the same place.  Could be a dresser drawer, a shelf in the closet, or the great old leather trunk.  Periodically, I would come across a journal that could be months or years old.  Of course, I would always take a moment –sometimes hours−to scan through the pages.  Not all the memories were good. 
Actually, a few years ago I destroyed many of my journals.  Memories I didn’t want to come across again.  Before shredding them, I dutifully recorded the entries about my son from the time he was a baby right into his late teens.  Some happenings I barely remembered, and others I would never forget.  I passed those excerpts along to him for his amusement.
Often when skimming the blue lined pages of long-ago, the individual in the journal seemed like a stranger.  I wondered how many transitions the average person realizes in a lifetime.  My schedule was frenzied for so many years that it made me breathless reading about it.  Was that really me?  Honestly, if I had to do those things today, my heart would be hammering.
I like to think that everything we experience in our lifetime is part of this great plan.  Everything we learn we will use; if not now, then thirty years from now. 
Did my journey as a writer begin with my diaries all those years ago?  Was it self-preservation or merely self-expression?  Then, of course, writing is self-expression.  Even fiction writers reveal more of themselves than they realize.  Ooh, when I think of the horrid circumstances in the book I am working on now, I shudder to suppose what part of me I am revealing. 
Bearing in mind the writings from my years of journaling, I decided to record only happy thoughts in my luxurious new diary.  Very wise!  Now when I skim through the book, each page brings back beautiful thoughts and memories.  There are a lot of exclamation marks, celebrations and hearts, the names of dear friends, x’s and o’s, and accomplishments, however small. 
Some days I jot down a single word or phrase that gives me a feel-good glow: the smell of lemons, fresh laundry, Sophie’s hair.  The feel of soft towels, a child’s arms around my neck, a visit with a friend.  The sound of Tiki’s purr, Sadie’s laugh, and whispers in the night.
If you don’t have an inspirational journal, think of starting one.  It’s guaranteed to lighten a disheartened mood, ease a nagging headache, and bring serenity and gratification to the reader.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Writers Forum - The Truth Hurts

A towel hanging in my kitchen reads Real Women Drink Martinis.  Maybe it should say Real Writers Drink Martinis.

At a recent one-day literary convention, every panelist agreed on one thing.  Writers drink – a lot!  This is a good thing.  Writers and agents have a better chance of connecting in hospitality suites over an iced beer, or standing three-deep at the bar, than they do during the scheduled appointments.

Networking is the key to success.  Each guest author stressed the most important thing−other than sharing a brewsky−is to be yourself.  Relax.  Yes, a drink would definitely help.

I gleaned every tidbit and morsel tossed my way.  These are the pearls, or my interpretation of them, from the seminar that I attended.

1.      Be nice to everyone.  The person ahead of you in the lineup for booze could be the agent that you have an appointment with the next day.  No elbowing.

2.      Editors sometimes read only the first one to three sentences of a manuscript to determine if they are interested.  Do you think I would get an agent’s interest if I sent only one to three sentences along with a note....interested or not? 

3.      Appointments booked with agents at conventions are terrifying.  One martini-sipping agent said to an author wannabe, you have ten words−not ten minutes−ten words.  Tell me about your book in ten words or less!  (be prepared)  That’s worse than reading only the first two sentences of the manuscript. 

4.      Getting an agent is not the coup I had hoped.  Some agents sign you on and never get around to promoting your work.  After a year you switch agents (does it take as long to find the second agent?) and then you start over.

5.      Be agreeable.  Agents don’t want whiners or demanding discontents.  They look for a congenial personality.  That’s almost as important as the quality of the book.

6.      Beware!  Finding a publisher is not always the thrilling experience you expect.  Their editors can change the title of your book (the one you have been living with for five years) demand reams of edits, and then not publish your masterpiece for another two years.  When exactly do you pop the champagne? 

7.      Beware of the publisher’s contract!  They could print a couple thousand copies and then decide not to reprint, and by the way, you sold them the rights to your book so you can’t send it anywhere else.  You can’t even self-publish.  Byebyebook!

8.      All those rules on writing queries?  fehgedaboudit.  It’s the query that stands out from the others that gets the attention.  Start with a death threat.

9.      Forget agents and publishers altogether.  Self-publish.  After 6 or 7 titles you will begin building a fan base.  (I should live so long.)

10.  Self publish but hire a professional editor to read the manuscript.  A potential problem here.  If you are paying the editor big bucks (and you will), this person may not be as honest about the critique.  After all, you are the employer. 

11.  There’s an influx of retirees who think they should write a bestseller−who think they are capable of writing a bestseller.  Get back in the garden where you belong.  (No one at the conference suggested this.  It’s the voices−the voices.)

I came away from the seminar feeling disheartened.  I couldn’t help it.  It was a downer.  I wasn’t the only one who felt depressed learning the daunting truths and formidable obstacles of becoming a published author. 

A few days later, my positive outlook prevailed over the cold facts.  The possibility of never getting my novel published is discouraging, but not enough for me to lay down my pen.   

Now, where was I........

Monday, May 07, 2012

Prepping to Write Suspense

My time management skills suck.  It’s even tough for me to organize getting organized.  I gave it a good shot last week.  It’s crucial when beginning a new project−namely my suspense novel.  I wanted to free as many hours as possible for the first week of writing. 

To begin with, I considered the time wasted spent online.  Too much.  That became number one on my to-do list.

1.      Inform family, friends, and colleagues that I will not be responding to emails for the week (gulp).  It seems I am not disciplined enough to read through my emails without scouting facebook, analyzing blogger stats, scanning favourite blogs, and checking out online publications for comments on my stories.  No, I can’t do one without the other.  Staying off the internet for a week gives me hours of extra writing time.  It’s all about sacrifice!

2.      Discuss plan with my husband.  The plan being that I would not break away from my writing to cook meals.  Okay, so that’s not a sacrifice.  Remember this is only for my first week blitz.

3.      Reject all social engagements for the week.  Definitely no Tim Horton’s breaks.  (hours could be spent over coffee with writer friends)  No lunches with girlfriends.  Not even dinner and a show.  I must stay focused.

4.      Give up my day with my granddaughter.  It’s just one day.  Ooohh, (sniff, sniff) I miss Sadie already.  This is tougher than I thought.  Her excited little face and cheery ‘Hi Nana’, her chubby little arms reaching for a hug.  Okay Phyllis, move on.

5.      Buy a digital recorder.  More than once I have swerved onto the shoulder of the road or pulled into a parking lot to jot down a piece of dialogue that I feared would be lost forever.  Then again, some of my best ideas come to me while enjoying a bath.  Agatha Christie said, “The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes.”  Hmmm, must be the bubbles.  Better make sure I have the recorder.  I would hate to miss a single brain spark.

6.      Buy several notebooks each earmarked for characterizations, plot, and chapter overviews.  Since the suspense genre is new to me, I think I will sketch it out first. 

7.      Research poisons.  My husband, privy to an earlier plot, has already stopped using Coffeemate.  He switched to Half and Half.  It’s only a story idea, I told him.  At a writer’s seminar last year, one of the guest speakers recounted the time her husband sidled up to her and whispered,Honey, what are you thinking about; you’re a million miles away.”  Oh,” she replied,I was just wondering how long it would take a person to bleed out from a gutshot.”  Mostly, it is best not to know what a writer is thinking.

Reading my list, I am more excited than ever.  It’s like planning a trip.  Actually, writer Terry Ervin ( used that analogy when responding to my query about writing suspense. 

“It’s kind of like mapping out a vacation—the routes one will take and places to stop and visit. Just like in a vacation, some places are visited longer than anticipated, with a few surprises and additions along the way. Detours sometimes occur and places anticipated for a visit get bypassed. But, in the end, the destination is reached.”  

Thanks Terry, I can’t wait to get on the road!