Archive for February, 2006

Lazy romance or lazy author?

I read another post over on Romancing the Blog today (another old one that caught my eye!), in which the author discusses the use of soul mates in romance.

“…the concept that everyone has a “soul mate” is terribly romantic, but it has a tendency to perpetuate what I call “lazy romance.” Instead of showing two people learning to love and understand each other, the author so often just whips out the concept of soul mates and voila! Instant romance!

I’d go along with that, but I would trade the “instant romance” for “instant conflict”. These soul mate stories have an above average chance of having much more conflict to sustain the story and the romantic tension that most other kinds, if written correctly.

Regardless of their soul mate status, the characters still have to fall in love in a way that makes me care about their relationship and what happens to them. Otherwise, I’ve wasted my time reading a mediocre story, and who wants to leave a reader with that opinion of their book?

So, take the soul mate plot and make it work by focusing on the conflict that the characters have to overcome. Give them common goals, even if those goals don’t seem all that similar on the surface. Dig deeper and you might find that the core beliefs, wants, and needs of your characters fit together much better than they appear to do on the surface.

Personally, I like well-written soul mate stories. :-) Along with marriages of convenience, sham engagements, pretend boyfriends/girlfriends…

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Nerd, Geek, or Dork?

Not about writing in any way, shape, or form, but fun nevertheless.

The Nerd, Geek, or Dork Test

For the record, I am: Joe Normal
47% Nerd, 30% Geek, 43% Dork

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Google Page Creator Bad for Authors?

Google has launched a new service that might be of use to authors who are just starting out with a website.

Although it’s my general rule that any author who has a site should have their own domain name (see this article I wrote: Building Your Own Website :: Step 1: Your Domain Name), if you want to test out ideas for your design and for your site, you can certainly take advantage of a free site to get you started.

However, be wary of what you post.

As per Google’s Terms and Conditions:

By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the general public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt and publish such Content on Google services solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services.

Google goes on to say:

This license terminates when such Content is removed from the Google service to which you originally submitted.

This offers some protection, because you can remove anything you don’t want them to use. However, anything you leave posted is fair game.

Google then tacks on one more condition:

Google reserves the right to syndicate Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services and use that Content in connection with any of the services offered by Google.

Having your own domain and hosting your site with a paid provider offers the most protection to any work you might post online, whether it is your original artwork, your fiction, or a series of articles you’d like to share with others.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Comments welcome.

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Finding time to write

People who fail to write novels don’t do it by sitting in front of a blank page for days without writing anything. They do it by feeding the cat, going out to buy something they need for their apartment, meeting a friend for coffee, checking email. “I don’t have time to work,” they say. And they don’t; they’ve made sure of that.

–Paul Graham

How many writers do you know who regularly blame menial tasks for their lack of progress on their manuscripts? Do you ever feel sympathy because you share the same problems with time and energy?

Have you ever thought that the problem might not be that you have too much to do? It might instead be that you’re procrastinating.

Do you have a favorite television show? How often have you put off watching that program so that you could wash the dishes or catch up the laundry? I’d chance to say that it isn’t all that often.

As long as you treat your writing as a hobby–as something less important than the menial household chores you’re happy to put off when it suits you–you’ll never successfully complete a manuscript–whether it’s your first or your third.


Harlequin word counts

There’s news out that Harlequin is adjusting the word counts of some of their lines. According to the message I received, the reason they’re making the adjustment is because readers have been complaining about how hard it is to read Harlequin’s books without having to break the spines of the books to see all the text, and that some of the books have print that is just too small to read comfortably.

So, to increase the readability of their books, Harlequin is going to be changing the word counts on many of their lines.

Also reported is the news that Harlequin will begin using computer word counts to increase the accuracy and consistency of word counts in their books.

This is a significant piece of news, because the traditional methods of counting words per page (as mentioned in this forum post and in this article) give a word count that is typically higher per page than what computer word count gives. What does this really mean? It means that you might have a manuscript that is 70,000 words using the traditional word count methods but that is only 59,000 words using the word count feature of your computer.

How, you ask? Because the old method says you have a manuscript that is 280 pages long and you assume that each page (if formatted correctly) has about 250 words on it, so you have a 70,000 word manuscript.

Formatted correctly, however, many manuscripts that are heavy on dialogue and whitespace actually have less than 250 words per page. In fact, my manuscripts average 210 to 220 words per page. So my 280 page manuscript might only have 59,000 words in it. This difference in word count is fairly significant.

Here’s what I have for them now. You’ll want to double check these numbers before you make any significant changes. (I haven’t verified the source of these numbers! I’ll be sure to mention it in my blog if I hear anything further.)

Line Word Count Book Pages Manuscript Pages @ 250 Words Per Page
Desire 50,000-55,000 192 200-220
Intimate Moments 60,000-65,000 256 240-260
Special Edition 60,000-65,000 256 240-260
Bombshell 70,000-75,000 304 280-300
Love Inspired 60,000-65,000 256 240-260
Everlasting 70,000-75,000 304 280-300
American Romance 60,000-65,000 256 240-260
Blaze 60,000-65,000 256 240-260
Intrigue 60,000-65,000 256 240-260
Superromance 70,000-75,000 304 280-300
LI Suspense 60,000-65,000 256 240-260

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Writing as an effective distraction

I had surgery yesterday, and although I’ve spent the day in bed, at some point, watching television and sleeping lost the ability to keep my mind off the pain of stitched up wounds.

I’ve discovered that writing has the ability to keep my mind off things much better than reading, so here I am, writing in my blog when I can barely keep my eyes from crossing because of the pain medication I took a little over an hour and a half ago.

I don’t think I would try to write fiction at the moment, because it would require too much concentration, but I do think that this isn’t the first time I’ve used writing as an effective distraction from unpleasantness.

As a girl, I had a habit of using books as a way to hide from the world. On the night I received the news that one of my favorite uncles had died, I remember almost nothing except holding the phone and overhearing the news as it was delivered to my mom and then returning to my bed to cry. That night I finished reading a historical romance novel instead of sleeping.

After I started writing, it became my avoidance method of choice. I’ve written lots of pages of my stories while trying not to think of certain somethings.

I doubt I’m the only person who has found writing to be just the right kind of distraction.

My husband and parents didn’t tell me about my uncle this time until after I’d come out of surgery and was on my way home. Neither wanted me to be thinking about death as I went in, and I can see why they did it, but I don’t think it was necessary.

My uncle died during the night on Tuesday, a few hours before I had my surgery.

I hope that my aunt understands how badly I wish I could be there for her right now, instead of in my bed.

And if any one of you have found writing to be a solace or an effective distraction during trying times, be sure to share. Thanks.


Writer’s Groups

Do you find writer’s groups helpful? I’m a member of many groups, but the truth is, I don’t receive email for most of those groups. I want access when I need it, but I don’t want the day-to-day hassle of 200 emails in my inbox.

My writer’s group, HEA Writers Group, is much more lenient than others, because I don’t worry about what topics we discuss. But then again, it’s a very small group at the moment.

How do you feel about the rules that many of the popular writer’s groups use to control the group? Are they necessary, or do you believe they’re a hinderance to discussion?
I would love feedback on this issue.

Also, join my writer’s group at Google Groups for email discussion of writing for publication. It’s a low volume group. Discussion of goals, quotas, useful articles, writing techniques, etc are welcome. Treat it as a motivational tool. :-)


Safety isn’t just a word…

As authors, our number one goal with a blog is usually to get readers to notice us, our books, and our writings. It’s important to remember though that not everyone who stumbles upon our sites is going to be friendly.

I read this post this morning, and it brought home to me how careful you need to be when it comes to blogs and websites for authors. Authors, more than most, need their websites and blogs to reflect them and their books in a way that pulls readers into their worlds.

There’s an article I wrote about having a “professionally personal website” that I never got around to posting, but I’m going to quote it here.

…be careful about giving out too much personal information. Talk about your family if you want, but keep it brief, avoid mentioning full names (in fact, consider pseudonyms for your children), and don’t talk about personal subjects that might make your visitors uncomfortable. Sure, you hope your readers want to know a little about you, but you’d do well to remember that some readers will be put off by too much personal information. And not to belabor the point, but don’t talk about personal subjects such as marital difficulties.

Although I wasn’t talking about issues of safety and privacy, nor about blogging, in this article, these same principles apply. If you put out too much of your personal business on the web, you could be asking for trouble.

Blog safety is important for authors.

Tips to keep us safe on the web

Use a post office box or your publisher’s address when you give out your address on your website or blog. Readers like to write to authors on occasion. We want to be safe, but we don’t want to make it impossible for readers to contact us.

Ignore comments that seem threatening or strange. Delete the comment, block the user or email address, and move on.

Plan ahead for the worst. If someone figured out where you live, do you have measures in place (like a security system or neighborhood watch program) that would alert you to someone stalking around your home?

I know it seems vague and unlikely, but cyber stalkers exist. Darren Rowse can attest to that fact and does, “‘Stalker’ is such a harsh word and one not to be used lightly but in December of last year I realized that I had one.”