the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Writing Dirty Books

I know several people who write erotic romance, both straight and gay stories.  Their sex scenes are, um, let's say explicit.  Terminology is raw, with lots of oportunities to make use of it.  Nudge, nudge.

By comparison, my sex scenes are tame.  You might have to read 100 pages before you find one.  Maybe 200!  I'll tell you what happens, but the emphasis will be on their emotions.  Romance, you know?  Then again, if you're used to reading Dan Brown or Sue Grimshaw, the scenes are a bit lively.  So let's say I write sexy romance.

But that's winthin the romance writing community.  Outside of it, definitions are a bit less exact.

Scene:  I am introduced to my neighbor's adult son, who is visiting.

Neighbor:  This is our neighbor, Starr.
Me: (shaking his hand)  Hi.
Neighbor:  Starr's the one who writes the dirty books.
Me:  Well, they're not really...
Son:   Oh, you're the one!

Sigh.  I guess that's me - the one who writes dirty books. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

They Love Me, They Love Me Not

I possibly shouldn't write this.  It's arrogant and picky.  But darn it, this must happen to all authors.

My first e-novella, "Wild for the Girl," was released last month, and in three days my latest novel, "Gold Fire," will be out.  That means reviews for both are beginning to pop up on various web sites.  Nothing's better than to hear someone say they enjoyed your book, the characters were great, and the plot was fun . . . unless the way they say it is grammatically incorrect.  Painfully so, like fingers on a blackboard.  Like, my characters are "well wrote."  It grates on my useless but fairly earned English degree.

Does that mean their praise for my writing is uninformed and worthless?  (We'll ignore any criticism, because obviously that's just crazy talk.)  Does it negate all those nice things they said?

Nah.  I think it's like the way I appreciate a painting by Monet.  My knowledge of artistic technique is limited to staying inside the lines; Monet's way over my head.  But I'd still put his pictures on my wall, and reviewers who don't know a verb from a past participal will still buy my books.  So their opinions are valid.  Even if they're not well wrote.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Difference Between Men and Women

The Set-Up:  A contractor is working in my kitchen this week.  He's listening to a John Grisham book on tape as he works, and we've discussed Grisham's books.  Also the fact that I write romance novels. 

The Scene:  I walk into the room as Grisham (on tape) recounts a sex scene.  Actually, he describes his character's confused feelings about the woman after having "done the deed."

contractor:  "See?  Grisham writes romance, too."
me (smirking) "Sex isn't the same as romance."
contractor:  "Yes, it is."

The end.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hook Them When They're Young!

Romance comprises half of the paperback book market.  Mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, mainstream fiction, etc. - that's the other half.  Readers love romance! 

Why?  MUST YOU EVEN ASK?  What's life without love?  But in case you feel you've somehow been manipulated into liking romance stories, into expecting a muscular, dashing hero to swoop a scantily-clad heroine into his arms. . . um, maybe you have.

See any similarities?

We suck in all those malleable young minds so that years later, when they see an echo of that childhood fantasy on the bookshelf, they snatch it up without question!

(The author of this book, Cheryl Ann Smith, is a good friend of mine, so I don't think she'll mind this free advertisement.  And remember, it's the publishers who pick the covers, not the authors!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing With A Reluctant Muse

Time to write my next book.  I set a trap for my missing Muse - an open Kindle with two new romantic suspense downloads, a glass of wine, and a fleece afghan.

Within minutes she fluttered over, eyeing the set-up suspiciously, then settled delicately onto the Kindle's home page.  She tiptoed across the screen and bent over to read the new titles, glowing with anticipation.  I leapt from behind the recliner and snatched her by the wings.

"#&!@%!"  She struggled, taking futile swings at the air.

"Time to go to work, lazy bones."

"Ef you!"  She spit pixie dust at me.  It drifted down to the cat sleeping on the couch.  He looked up, blinking in surprise, as if he'd just been struck by a brilliant idea.

"Save it, fairy," I told her.  "I haven't written in weeks and I'm going to need all the inspiration you've got."

"Buy a thesaurus," she said.  "And stop pinching my wings!"

"It only hurts because you're out of shape."

"I'm in prime condition!"  She arched her back in fake agony.  "Ow!  Ow!  You're killing me!  Someone help..."  She paused in mid-complaint.  "What's that?"

I dangled her in front of the computer monitor, the ultimate temptation for a Muse.  "That's my opening scene."

She squinted, then shot me a look of horrified disbelief.  "It was a dark and stormy night?  God, Ambrose, you need help."

"Like I said."

"No cliches!  How many times have I told you?"  She wiggled and made little fairy grunting noises as she scanned my desktop.  "Where's your notes?  What's the situation?"

Cautiously, I set her down.  She shook herself, scattering pixie dust, then walked with exagerated dignity to the legal pad on the desktop and began reading my notes.  I eyed the sparkling powder she'd left behind.  Brushing it into my palm, I patted it on my head.  Every little bit helps.

Meanwhile, my Muse was becoming interested.  "This sounds like romantic suspense."

"That's right."

"So she gets attacked in scene one?"

"If you say so."

"Of course she does.  Damn, Ambrose, how dumb are you?"

My Muse is rude.  She's also a sucker for a good suspense story.

"Her father just died, huh?  That's good," my Muse mused, reading my notes.  "But why are you starting at the funeral home?  A cemetery is creepier."

I typed a couple lines.  "Like that?" I asked.

She studied the monitor and tapped a finger thoughtfully on her chin.  "Make it colder.  Late fall.  And get rid of the stupid sunshine."

"Got it."  I backspaced and re-typed.

"Much better.  And the bad guy mingling with the mourners is good."  She read more, frowning.    "Where's the hero?"

"He's not here yet."

"Are you fucking kidding me?  Of course he's there.  Make it happen."

Obediently, I typed him in.

"Yes, see?  Like that."  She nodded approval.  "I like that she's suspicious of him and totally misses the bad guy."

"I have a good idea now and then."

"Not often enough.  Hey, where's that wine?"

"Later.  Write first."

She pouted.  "At least some chips, then."

"Trail mix."

She rolled her eyes.  "You are so boring, Ambrose."  She's wrong, of course, but I know better than to argue with her so I said nothing and waited.  "Okay," she fianlly said. "Let's get this thing moving.  Can we shove her into the open grave?"

"Absolutely!"  I typed, smiling.  "Welcome back, Muse."