Saturday, March 29, 2014

Out of My Comfort Zone

I'm writing a contemporary romance.My first love in writing is historical. I branched into paranormal, but I didn't leave historical far behind. In fact, even though my paranormals are set in modern times, history plays a huge roll.

Not so with contemporary. Previously known as Chick Lit, contemporary is traditionally set in a small, Americana, town full of quirky characters. The main characters are either coming home, reinventing themselves somewhere new, or long time residents stuck in a rut. This can be either the male or the female. Then the love interest arrives. Attraction and conflict ensue. Character arch involves personal growth, forgiveness, etc... then happily ever after. There isn't usually an external stake. The internal stakes are all about the main characters finding happiness.

The current hot trend in male love interest is the emotionally unavailable tycoon, and why not? The unlimited money really leaves a lot of options as much as having the hero in a historical be a Duke. So, yes, I'm going there. My only concern is that I don't generally write 100% alphas. Why? I don't respond positively to them (maybe this is why I'm not published?). I like balance in the relationship and all my books include the heroine discovering she is worthy of love and wielding her own power in a relationship of equals. And, as the unnecessary trolls in Frozen said, everyone is a bit of a fixer upper. I don't write perfect people.

My contemporary will not include perfect people either, but it will be in a small town brimming with quirkiness (I can do that). My hero is super rich and super hot, of course. My heroine is established in her own right. Both have given up on love. He misjudges her place in life as lack of sophistication. She misjudges his place based on being a cold bastard. Then they get over themselves, actually communicate, and, viola! HEA. I'm even including a puppy.

I can do this. I know what I'm going to write and I can write it. I have to keep saying it and then I'll believe it.  I know it doesn't sound like a challenge and it shouldn't be, but I'm working outside my purview. I'm putting my Irish paranormal on the back burner to write this one, not because the muses told me to, but because it would be good for my career. I always told myself that any agent would be lucky to have me because I am capable of writing anything. You tell me what you need and I'll write it. Well, now is the time to prove it. Use it or lose it. Put my money where my mouth is. Look a gift horse in the mouth. Eat yellow snow. Or something.

Wish me luck. I'm only 2k into it  (aiming at 80) and need to write like the wind.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I Really Hate Titles

Seriously, I do. I will come up with something clever, but not sexy. The titles I like don't give a clear idea of the story and aren't gripping. It's really a problem.

Next time I pitch, I think the header on my one sheet should say "Insert Title Here" instead of whatever I come up with. After all, editors often change the title anyway, right?

Currently my Irish paranormal is called Touching the Past. The forest is central to the story, so when my critique partner and I discuss is, she calls it Sexy Trees or Psychic Trees. My husband, who really is a proponent for the titillating angle (which is not the entirety of the story and, therefore, shouldn't be the only selling feature) wants me to call it She Gives Him Wood. I like the idea of the title One (inspired by the U2 song) or Eternal Memory or The Heart's Guardian... but no, not sexy.

Allow me to scream. Hey, Screaming Trees... no, that was a grunge band.

Okay, better now.

How do you come up with a title?

The image shown left (and more!) can be found here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Where's the Love?

Over a year ago I posted a blog (rant) about a run in with an acquaintance who had such a scathing attitude to the romance genre that it left me reeling. I understand not choosing to read it or just not getting into love stories, but the vitriol dripping from the comment was overwhelming. Any attempt at pleasantries between us was effectively crushed. Honestly, unnamed person, you could have just smiled and said no, then brought up the weather. Social niceties 101.

At the time I assumed this person must read obscure but profound literature. You know, the stuff college professors assign or the titles on your list that you never actually read but plan to some day because the names show up on crossword puzzles. Plus, it's fun to seem like you're smart, right? And, of course, the best way to do that is to make sure everyone else knows you think they're an idiot.

The fact that thinking about it still bothers me shows how sensitive I am. Oh well.

My point, you ask? Well, today I found out that this person reads sci-fi/fantasy and my jaw dropped. Wait, after that absolute slap in the face about the genre fiction I write and love, you read genre fiction too? You mean you deign to waste your brain space on formulaic, commercial tripe? You respond to the hero's journey? Say it isn't so.

Oh, it is.

Don't get me wrong, I love sci-fi/fantasy. My adolescent reading started with mystery and then morphed into sci-fi/fantasy with Xanth trilogy (or so it began) and I kept going from there. I only started on romance ten-ish years ago. I'm not insulting the genre, but I am saying that it is a genre of commercial fiction.

So what makes one genre more elevated than another? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say NOTHING. Within all genres there are good and bad authors and it's entirely subjective. That said, why the disdain? I teach high school and I can't remember even a student being that rude before. Seriously.

Image from HBO's mini-series Game of Thrones, written by George R.R. Martin (and yes, I've read it but not seen the series). High fantasy with a lot of kinda rapey sex.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Today, while my daughters practice their Irish step dancing in preparation for the St. Patrick's day performances, I find myself making use of the WiFi at McDonald's. It's not the first time I've done this. Starbucks is often too crowded or hipster for me, plus the coffee is cheaper here. This is, however, the first time I've done this at the McDonald's on Nordahl in San Marcos. This is only significant because this is the location of my first official job. And, no, I do not feel nostalgic. In fact, McDonald's occasionally features in my nightmares. If it wasn't for the coffee, good price on drinks, and cheap cones I would probably never patronize a McDonald's again. Seriously, I've seen the how they make nuggets (shudder).

It was a great first job for me. I got to learn to follow rules and focus on people other than myself. I was sixteen and cute, so I worked the counter. We got swamped one night after a movie got out. My shift ended at nine, but there I was at nine thirty frantically taking orders and making fries while my dad's impatience burned hot (I didn't drive -- he was picking me up from work). I told one of the manger-type-guys there that my shift ended, at that point, almost an hour ago and I had to leave. I clocked out and left. The next day a higher manager on the totem pole pulled me aside and gave me a talking to about responsibility and the McDonald's family. She told me that McDonald's counted on me and, since I had true McDonald's potential, I should take my responsibilities seriously. I told her I was sixteen and my shift had ended almost an hour previously and I wasn't sure whether it was illegal or not to work a minor over a certain number of hours. A month later I got a role in the school play and quit.

I don't mean to trash working at McDonald's. For me it was a great start out job. Some people turn it into a career and that's great. I knew when I took the job that it was only serving to add something to my resume. I knew I was going to go to college. I knew my McDonald's potential would translate into a lot of fields that required a smile while you did something unpleasant. Since then I've worked in retail, insurance sales and service, and education. Eventually I look forward to adding 'published author' to that list.

So here I am, more than twenty years later, blogging whilst I sit in a McDonald's that in no way resembled my job sit of yore. My daughters are working on their hop two threes while I work on my fifth novel. The pretty girl behind the counter politely took my order and smiled while she pretended to be interested in the fact that I used to stand in the same place. I wonder where time will take her, what will her McDonald's potential translate into?

Just for fun, in honor of fast food employees, view this drive through prank video:

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