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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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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.


Do I read authors or books?

I read an interesting post on Romancing the Blog today. It was my first real visit to the site and the word spreadsheet in the first sentence caught my interest. (Yes, I’m addicted to spreadsheets.) The post was When do you say when? by Yap Away Jay.

The post poses the question of when do you quit giving new authors the chance to impress you with their books. (Trust me, I’m paraphrasing here. If it sounds intriguing, I suggest you read the post.)

Although I agreed in principle with most of the stuff she said, I’ve found that with new authors I rarely remember their names, unless I just happen to love–and I mean LOVE–their books.

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