Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It ain't easy bein' cheesy

I am, in life, a big sentimental fool. I cry at the drop of a hat. One Thanksgiving, the kids took bets not on whether or not I'd cry, but on precisely when. Sadly I didn't even make it to the toast that year.

In front of a TV or a movie screen or reading a book? I am made of much tougher stuff. Sentimental hooey general doesn't get me. So will someone please explain to me why I was reduced to tears at the end of the Terra Nova season finale? A little girl gives the tough as nails commander a hug and tells him to let her know if he needs another one. I'm getting all verklempt here just typing about it. Ridiculous!

But they got me. I suppose part of it is that the commander is my favorite character in the show. Maybe it's an age thing and I feel a little past lusting after Jason O'Mara although he's definitely cute as a bug. Maybe it's the unexpected tenderness he shows to children despite his total tough guy thing. Maybe it's the man's biceps because those are truly things of beauty. Whatever. I love him.

At the end of that finale, he is beyond comfort. He has won, but has lost so much in doing it. He is utterly alone although he is surrounded by people. A little girl hugs him and I'm completely undone. If you had told me it would make me cry, I would have scoffed at you.

So . . . has anything unexpectedly made you cry recently? Or is there something that ALWAYS makes you cry?

Monday, January 30, 2012


This is going to be short and sweet, because Sinead fixed my book this weekend and suddenly I have so much work to do! Proof once again Sinead is both a blessing and a curse.

But I'm going to give away three free copies of Can't Buy Me Love to some lucky commentor anytime this week.

Also Bantam is doing a HUGE giveaway on Goodreads

While you're there you can sign up to win a free copy of Cecilia Grant's fabulous debut A Lady Awakened...

So, get some free books!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The same story - vastly different results

Have I mentioned how much I love my kindle. Well, let me repeat it. I do and here is one significant reason. Backlists, a lot of author backlists are now available on kindle at reduced prices. So if I hear even a hint of a good review for an author, I'll check their backlist and buy the book that most appeals to me.
It's a great way of discovering new authors, and finding books that might not be available in my local bookstore or that I missed the first time around.
In doing so, I bought a historical romance with a lower class thief for a heroine and a hero who needs her to act like she's always been nobility. And then Molly handed me a romance by another author with almost that exact same storyline.
The same storyline told by two different authors. Fun, right, to see how voice can affect a story. It's hard not to make direct comparisons, which have not been kind to one of the stories.
One is rich, beautifully detailed, grounded in realistic details and really engrossing. Both the hero and heroine are fascinating, well written and imperfect, with great internal conflict.
The other is cute. The heroine is cute, perfect, gets along with everyone and the hero is a little bland and the story itself is exactly what you expect all the way through. And read by itself it would be fine, but in comparison it's plain white rice next to mushroom risotto.
The difference between the two is characterization and detail. One heroine immediately becomes the perfect lady, almost without effort and with little conflict. The other struggles to find a way to fit into both worlds and the choice is inherent with conflict for both leads. In one every opportunity for conflict is capitalized on and in the other, conflict, what conflict, everyone is so nice.
It's been an interesting experiment. One I might definitely repeat.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Poof Magic

So I was talking to Molly the other day saying how I needed to come up with a bunch of new ideas for my editor. This is new for me. Usually I’m a one idea at a time girl. By the middle of the book I’m working on, I usually come up with what I want to do next. I can honestly say it’s kept me steadily writing for years. But it hasn’t always made me the best category writer.

I wrote comedies, then I felt like doing a suspense, then I felt like doing a golf book, then I decided I wanted to write weird historicals.

This has resulted in a lot of complete books. But not a lot of progress in my career. Now part of this wasn’t always my fault. I had several lines close on me which forced me to change gear, but still I have to own up to the fact that I’m a little bit of a writing wanderer.

However, now for the first time in the 20 years I’ve been writing I’ve been asked to think of a bunch of ideas at once. For moments my brain froze. Multiple ideas didn’t compute. Sure I had vague thoughts of what I wanted to do, but the idea of trying to really pull out concrete stories seemed incredibly daunting.

I could no longer rely on my poof magic just happening out of the blue. I was actually going to have to deliberately call on it like a genie in a bottle.

Let me explain - Poof Magic is my very scientific writing process. I think conceptually about the type of relationship dynamic I want to explore….wait for it and then… Poof, magic. The couple pops into my head. Then they live there for a while simmering and eventually I start to see those movie trailer flashes that lead me to the perimeter of what their story is.

The idea of using poof magic for several ideas at once… craziness. I had this very logical and rational fear I would fizzle it out if I over used it.

Surprisingly, poof magic has come through. I need only one more couple to show up and then I plan to just let them all simmer simultaneously. Like four different pots on four different burners all working toward a common goal. Which for me means a little forward career momentum.

I’m sure we’ve all talked about our process before, but I would also love to hear from some lurkers… Another classic writer questios.... Where do your ideas come from?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

MAKE IT STOP!!!!!!!!!!

I am writing the short story that would not end. Will. Not. End. It's my own fault. I went into it with a premise I liked, but not a lot of structure. It took off on me and I'm having a great time with the characters and the dialogue, but I'm nearing 10,000 words and it's not ending.

My darling Andy pointed out that it might be helpful if I knew how I wanted it to end and I do think that's part of the problem. There's really only one good ending. The bad guy has to die. He's a threat that can never be neutralized. He's driven, he's got nothing to lose and he feels that he's on the side of the angels.

I don't think I can stand to kill him, though. I know what happened to him. I know the horror of it all. I know he's certain that he's out slaying the dragons that threaten all that's good and pure about our world. How can I kill him?

The problem is, how can I not kill him?

And so the story keeps going. Help me. Please.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why is Brad Pitt always eating?

Husband and I watched Moneyball this weekend - and I do believe Sinead's house did too! It's a great movie, totally engrossing, enlightening and entertaining. Highly recommend. And I have to say as Brad Pitt ages, he's becoming a better actor - or maybe he's getting better roles suited to his strengths (which are not long speeches, stir the troops, or declare the love or explain the mysteries of the universe - no, he's not good at that).

But, he's got pretty great comic timing and he can be still when he needs to be, which is something not a lot of actors can do. He's got great chemistry with men, even Jonah Hill, there were wonderful believable moments in this Mutt and Jeff relationship. And I think his best skill is his physicality. When he's moving, doing something, he's great. Smashing things up with a baseball batt, destroying enemy soliders, twitching and ticking through 12 Monkeys, bare fist brawling with an Irish accent, as a gum-chewing, goofy dancing trainer in Burn After Reading - give him something to do and the guy sings.

Which is why in contemporary movies, the guy is always eating. The Ocean's movies, and now Moneyball. Endless scenes with the busy working of dipping french fires in ketchup or shrimp in cocktail sauce.

Perhaps the argument is - people eat. All the time. At the very least three times a day. Which reminds me of something Wanda Ottewell told me in the very beginning of my career, when I CONSTANTLY had people eating or taking showers. "Because people do it all the time, we don't need to see it." Unless it means something, obviously. But busy work does not make good reading.

And I think it's time Brad Pitt found something else to do with his hands, because it was the only distracting thing in that movie....

Friday, January 20, 2012

Would you rather write one great book, or three good ones?

Long title, but I've been thinking about some of the great books I've been reading lately, or looking forward to reading soon. A lot of these books are first books, where the author had years to polish and revise, or they have been from authors who took a solid year, or even more to get the book to where they are happy with it.

I just finished the Cecilia Grant book and it's exactly how Molly described it, surprising, fun, beautifully written and very different from any other historical on the market. The same with Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races, it's go gorgeous that it's intimidating to other writers out there, and so beautifully crafted, and I've skimmed her blog to find out how long it took her to write it, but can't find out and don't have the time to do any more research, but it reads like it took her three years to write it.

Joanne Bourne takes a year to write a book, Sherry Thomas takes almost as much time and I feel like their books really show this. And they have the luxury of time. I know a lot of authors that need to write more than one book a year, more than two really, especially in romance, where advances are low and building a readership means three books a year on the shelves.

And some authors write amazing books in three months, and I'm intensely jealous of them. A lot though, write competent books in three months. And a lot of readers are probably thrilled with competent. As writers, we get excited about the books that surprise us, give us something new and unexpected, something impeccably crafted. Books that get a lot of buzz in the writing community. Buzz that can push a book's sales, or not.

We all know of authors that were intensely admired by writers and bloggers, who never hit a list.

Or do we just learn to write better in less time?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Downton Abbey and Pacing

Is anyone else watching this show? It’s a Masterpiece theater show that follows the life of an Earl and his family at their family estate, Downton Abbey.

If you are at all a fan of historical romance I highly recommend this show. It’s more soap opera in feel but it’s so spot on the with the details of the period that you get completely lost in it. The clothes are spectacular. The second season is set two years into WWI. And I really hope editors are watching this show (I know my agent loves it) because it’s about time we focus on other periods besides Regency with a dab of Victorian.

This period is so ripe with drama. You’ve got the class structure still in place but there are cracks as socialism is starting to take hold. You’ve got women gaining power and fighting for the right to vote. You’ve got the war and the impact it’s having on the people in England. All of it fabulous!

But forgetting all the juicy story lines that are happening in this show, I took a moment when I was watching it the other night to marvel at the pacing. Ever since I hooked up with DWT I’ve been more focused on craft. I’ve learned that movies, TV and books aren’t just entertainment anymore. They are learning tools. Especially the good ones.

What makes DA so completely enthralling (I think) is the way they move from story line to story line and with each jump something “big” happens. There is always a secret revealed, love is expressed, hate is exposed, a new intrigue is developing. There is not one minute of downtime, or a scene for a scene’s sake, or a scene that explains or recaps another scene. It just goes, constantly, in one direction at full speed.

By the end of an hour your head is spinning and you love it. I’m near the end of my WIP that’s due February 1st. And as I edit I really really want to keep Downton Abbey in mind.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I've been working on my line edits for Deviant and gaining further evidence of my insanity. :)

Those of you who've followed this blog over the years (we have our SIXTH anniversary for Drunk Writer Talk this summer, I think...) Anyway, you may have heard me say before that editing and polishing the words is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. Second only to first drafting when (if) the words and ideas are flowing out of my fingers like magic.

But I'm learning that polishing/fine tuning can be the most angst ridden part, too. Yes, I do already have two books in print, but they were done on a write-for-hire basis, and very quickly and I didn't feel as if I really had final say over the text, even though my name is on the covers.

This new book... This is mine. This is a big deal. This is a book that (I hope) more people will read. This is a book that (I hope) more people will review.

And I have been making myself crazy obsessing over the words.

Does anyone else get like this?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not a Thought in My Pretty Little Head

I've got nothing. I don't know why. I just don't. I've read a bunch of good books lately. I'm reading John Lescroat's The Hunter right now. It's awesome. Smart. Emotional. I wish I could do setting like he does. I read Catriona MacPherson's After the Armistice Ball. Also great atmosphere. Great dialogue. Oh, and Harlan Coben's Caught. Love his dialogue and pace.

I don't think I have anything to say about any of them, though, except I liked them.

On TV, I'm thrilled with the continuation of The Good Wife. I love the palace intrigue of the law office and the cases they work on. Incredible characters. Great conflicts. Don't have anything to say about it, though. I'm not so sure I like House of Lies. I've only watched the first one and maybe the people will become less reprehensible, but I think not. I'll give it one or two more episodes, but I don't have anything to say about it either.

I watched a funny little indie movie called happythankyoumoreplease. A little sweet. A little charming. But I got nothin'.

I'm writing. It's going fine one some days. Not so fine on others. I need more time without interruptions. I need to be stricter with myself and my friends and my family. That's all I have to say about that, though.

Help me, please. Get me started. Somebody say something.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Unravelling Eileen Cook

Since Molly's on vacation today, I'm going to assume she isn't posting and hijack the blog.

I interviewed the fabulous and honorary drunk writer, Eileen Cook, on another blog today about herself and her fabulous new book UNRAVELING ISOBEL.

Here's a link to the interview:  LINK

A random commenter over there will win a book! It's lonely over there this morning. Stop by and say hi. :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Making something really familiar feel fresh

It's been a slow start to reading for me in 2012, but I have this sense that it's going to be a great year for books and creatively, so I have nothing but great anticipation going into this year.

The book I'm reading right now is Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and it's flawed. Not every scene is absolutely necessary, it jumps about a little and parts of it feel a little like the author is still learning the nuts and bolts of craft, but it reads completely fresh in the genre and I think that's why it's getting so much buzz.

From the location to the plot points, it does not seem familiar to me and I've read a lot of YA over the past two years. The protagonist is interesting, but it's not her, it's what happens and how and the elements she introduces them and how. I'm guessing on all of this, but it seems as I read this book, that the author hadn't read a lot of YA going into the writing of this book and that's why it seems different.

And truly, I have no idea where she's taking me, which in itself, is exciting. It's not that she's reversing my expectations, it's that the story is progressing in a way that I can't predict and so I don't have any idea where a scene will play out.

Which is fun and I suspect why so many editors and agents love this book.

And on another note - Game of Thrones Season 2 - starts April 1st. Anyone else excited. Molly, I still have your copy of that...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why Tim Tebow is a fictional hero...

I don’t know how many of our readers follow American Football – but if you do, Tim Tebow is the America’s newest fascination. If you don’t follow football and you’re wondering what all those strange pictures are of people kneeling in seemingly odd places… that’s the phenomena known as Tebowing.

As a sports nut and a writer – this guy fascinates me.

Here are the facts. He is not a proto-typical quarterback. He runs more than he throws, he misses receivers more than he finds them. He can only throw so far. And he doesn’t have what’s known as “touch” on the ball. Not to mention a very slow throwing motion and bad footwork.

But this is the other fact: he finds ways to win in clutch situations. He’s had I believe four 4th quarter comebacks in his 8 wins. He just won his first playoff game in OT against a team none of the professional analysts said he could beat.

People either love him… and I mean really love him. Or hate him. And I mean really hate him.

Some people don’t like the idea that someone less talented has a job someone else could do. Some people think he’s just lucky. Other’s think God is on his side. He’s very religious and very open about it. That kneeling motion is no joke. But some people think he flaunts his beliefs in their faces.

So why is he such a sudden star?

I think I finally figured it out. Tim Tebow is Luke Skywalker. Tim Tebow is Harry Potter. Sports in my opinion has always been about the drama and this guy has arrived as an unlikely hero and people are rallying behind him.

Of course there are obstacles. Every good hero has them because he needs something to leap over.

His detractors are numerous. Not just the analysts but other professional players have mocked him and his game. A future hall of fame linebacker when asked about Tim said he was a good “running” back – obviously mocking his talent as a quarterback. To that Tim said, “I take any compliment from a future hall of famer as a great honor.” AND HE MEANT IT!

What makes Tim Tebow special is his innate goodness. He’s sincere and real and … really really good. When asked what was the highlight for him of his overtime win against Pittsburg he said, “Bringing joy to a little girl who in her short life has had 73 surgeries. Because that’s what’s important.” AND HE MEANT IT!

In our stories we want to see good triumph over evil. And in a time of a bad economy, where coaching legends turn out to be pedophiles and baseball legends are drug users… on to the stage steps this weird guy who for whatever reason has captured our attention.

Just like any good hero out of any great story.

I will be watching Tim against the Patriots this week. I will be rooting for him with everything I have. I don’t think they stand a chance against Brady and the Patriots… but what if our hero wins again?

It’s going to make for a great story.

What do you all think? Do you know about Tim? Do you secretly Tebow in the shower? Come on… you can tell us.

And just because I haven’t heard anything – Kristin Fischer you were the winner last week. If you want to claim your prize you can reach me at www.stephaniedoyle.net.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


No, this isn't a flashback post about one of our favorite topics of years past -- Battlestar Galactica -- it's a post about a great movie I saw last night that I expect very few if any of you have heard of or seen, unless you live in Quebec.

The movie's called Starbuck and I can't remember when I last had such an unexpectedly good time at the movies. After I got out of jury duty this afternoon, I went down to the TIFF building just to see the Grace Kelly exhibit before it closes... and this movie was starting in an hour and I'd remember people raving about it during the festival this year, so thought I'd check it out.

The star is Patrick Huard who's not well known outside of Quebec, although according to the programmer who introduced the film, he's just about the biggest movie star in Quebec TV and film these days. I saw him a few years ago in the Canadian film Bon Cop/Bad Cop, which could have been fabulous, but was just kind of okay... But this post isn't about that movie, one that frankly was trying too hard to be "Canadian". This post is about Starbuck, which wasn't trying to be anything but funny and heartwarming and succeeded at both.

I'm trying to analyze Starbuck from a DWT perspective, but honestly, I think I'd have to see it again. I think there's something to learn about introducing a less than heroic character, but I can't 100% remember how the character was introduced. No, that's a lie. We first see him about 20 years before the story starts, jerking off at a sperm donor clinic... But then I can't remember what came next, (oh, that pun was not intended!), except that I started laughing out loud (really loud) soon after the movie began, and also teared up at least twice near the end. For me, that sums up an perfect comedy movie experience.

The premise is a tad ridiculous and some of the ways in which the story develops aren't plausible, but it's so funny and has so much heart, you don't care. The premise is this affable 40-something screw up who's just learned his girlfriend is pregnant at the same time she breaks up with him for being a screw up (oh, and some loan sharks are beating him up daily for the $80,000 he owes them, and he's trying to start a grow-op, but doesn't have a green thumb and his plants are dying...) Anyway, things are already not going well for this guy when he's visited by a lawyer who tells him that based on all the sperm donations he made back in the late 80's, using only the name "Starbuck", he's fathered 533 children, 148 of whom have filed a class action lawsuit to force the clinic to divulge his identity.

In one of the implausible plot points (which honestly, you just slide) the lawyer hands him an envelope with a profile and photo of each of the 148 young adults he's fathered who want to meet him, and after realizing some of them turned out well (the first is a famous pro-soccer player) he decides to visit (stalk) more of them and be like a guardian angel to as many of them as he can.

Of course, it doesn't go how he plans, but what enfolds is just so funny and so sweet... And Patrick Huard is beyond hot. These photos don't do him justice... You really need to see him in his soccer shorts to fully appreciate the hotness. ;)

Okay, here's a photo I found of him, but not from this movie... Are you getting it now?

The film is in French with subtitles but so worth that tiny bit of extra effort. It's really, really funny. I have no idea how easy it will be to track this one down. imdb.com only lists release dates for France and Belguim right now, later this year... Looks like it screened in Quebec last summer...

But if this one comes to a theater near you that plays foreign language films, it's seriously worth checking out.

If a movie is really funny, I think I can forgive some implausible developments... like court cases happening almost over night... How about you? How many "mistakes" can a movie or book make before you're done with it?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

5 Things Not to Say to an Author

I am offering this post as a public service both to authors and the people around them. I am the first to admit that we authors can be a tad on the sensitive side. Honestly, we wouldn't be able to do what we do if we weren't. We feel deeply. While we have no choice but to develop thick skins when it comes to the public in terms of reviews and public commentary, it's not always so easy to toughen up that epidermis in social situations. I am offering a list for any of you out there who know an author and would prefer not to have him or her seething or plunged into despair after an encounter with you.

This came up because of an encounter at a book signing I recently attended. The author is a hugely successful (like fourteen or fifteen times at the top of the NY Times Bestseller list successful) guy who lives in my town. He's also a total sweetheart and very supportive and helpful to other authors. I went to try to be supportive back (not that he needs it, but you know what I mean). The signing was huge. Packed. Bigger than any of his other signings I've attended and I've been to probably all the local ones over the past three or four years. We ran into an acquaintance there who said, "So, Eileen, are your book signings this big?"

I was completely floored. My sweet and somewhat clueless sweetheart launched into something about how well-attended my signings are, but I was really stung. What was I supposed to say? No, I'm not as successful as John and probably never will be. It seemed rude to point it out, especially in front of an audience. My honey contends that it wasn't meant as an insult, but was just a casual and thoughtless remark. It still was hurtful, though. Here's a list of a few more casual remarks that tend to leave me gnashing my teeth.

1) Wow. You're really cranking those books out.

I understand that you're trying to say that I'm prolific, but what you're implying is that I'm like a factory. My books are not widgets. I do not crank them out. I work very hard to produce a book a year and sometimes more. I'm crafting, revising, plotting and thinking. Not cranking.

2) You should send your book to Oprah!

I don't get this one as much anymore as most people realize that Oprah is now off the air, but for Pete's sake, really? Do you think the book isn't sent out for promotion? Don't you realize how many people send books to Oprah or Kelly Ripa or any of those celebrities? Do you honestly think that's a helpful hint that no one's considered?

3) Do a lot of research for those books?

Honestly, I've only gotten this one once, but it really stands out as incredibly offensive since we were at a school function and he said it while staring at my boobs which I realize are magnificent, but really?

4) I'll read your book and then I'll tell you what I think of it.

Then the next day I'll stop by your office and tell you how I think you're doing your job, 'kay?

5) So are your books self-published?

This one is slowly leaving my offensive list with the rise of e-pubbing, but it used to drive me nuts. I would not tell you I was a published author if I was self-published. Why are you assuming that no publishing house would want my work? How about just asking what publishing house(s) I write for?

I know there are more, but these are the ones that I can come up with off the top of my head. Any others out there?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Cage Match: Cecilia Grant's A Lady Awakened vs Joanna Bourne's The Black Hawk

For Christmas this year I gave my son a series of books called "Who Will Win?" It's sort of like a Deadliest Warrior for animals. Like if a Tiger and a Lion would fight, who would win? T-Rex and a Velociraptor? In the only one I've actually read a Polar Bear and a Grizzly Bear duke it out, but it ends up as a tie - the two are too evenly matched.

That's how this cage match is going to go for me, these two books are too evenly matched, but I REALLY want to talk about them.

These books rocked my world. They are totally different, Bourne's is an intricate historical spy novel and Grant's is an intricate historical landowner novel. Not kidding. Landowner.

But as different as these two plots are, in each book the plots are utterly key to the romance. Each character being (or becoming) GOOD at thier jobs was a big part of why the characters fall in love. So, Bourne's book wasn't just a romance with a dangerous espionage suspense plot thrown in - the plot and it's details ware crucial to what keep the leads together and throw them apart. And again, it wasn't vague. It wasn't easy. She's a French spy. He's an English spy. She shoots him, vows to kill him at one point. And we BELIEVE it. We believe she hates him as much as she loves him. Deeeeeeelicious.

Same with Grant - this wasn't a story with a wall paper village life. The character's attatchment and involvment with the land created the turning points that made the love believable. Made the love possible. Cheese, actually makes the love possible.

And because the non-romance plots are so nuanced and detailed and so tied to character growth - the romance is nuanced and detailed and tied to chracter growth.

To some extent this seems like a no-brainer, but in EVERY SINGLE BOOK I WRITE - I get bored writing about the "life stuff" the subplots about jobs and family that create a characters sense of self-worth. I kind of want to yada yada that stuff.

But Grant and Bourne take thier time. They totally commit to these "job" scenes. You can't skim this stuff like so many historical romances.

Grant's book challanges every single expectation, it zigs and zags. Bourne keeps us climbing deliciously upward, ratcheting up tension.

Both are difficult to put down, both are two of the best books I've read this year.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Best supporting characters

One of the new shows I've started watching is Suburgatory. I love that the humour is dry and the main narrator is a snarky teenage girl, a fish out of water type and that her single Dad is drool worthy, but what I love most about the show is the Cheryl Hines character, Dallas.

At first glance she is the typical rich, suburban housewife. Enhanced, clueless and a little batty, but Hines brings such a sweet vulnerability to everything, a real sense that she only wants to be a help to those around her and I'm not sure if the character was written as such, or if Hines brought it to the screen, but she is utterly compelling.

A character that could so easily have been cliche is the best surprise about the show. When Hines fell for the single Dad, with just an expression, we could see her hope, her heartbreak and even a hint of pride, all without dialogue.

I know in the past I've wasted my supporting characters, I haven't thought enough about them, gifted them with surprise elements or taken them past just being support to the main characters or possible heros and heroine's in future books, but going forward, I'm going to try and pull a Suburgatory. Because we should all have a Cheryl Hines in our books, or at least try to.

And I finally got my replacement kindle. So excited about the reading ahead of me. The first is Cecilia Grant.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

And the winner is...

Kristin Noel Fischer! Congratulations.

Kristin if you either want to leave your email address in comments or you can contact me through www.stephaniedoyle.net I'll arrange to send you your gift card.

Happy Reading!

Last call for Free Stuff and Chemistry

Just a reminder I’ll be announcing the winner of the $20 Amazon gift card later today. And today’s comments still count so feel free to say anything that moves you. At the end of the day (that’s 5:00 pm est) I’ll put all the non DWT writer comments in a hat and draw. Good luck!

Now onto my thoughts for the day. I’m reading a book now where a reviewer made the comment that she liked both of the characters but didn’t necessarily buy them together. As I’m reading the book this does make sense to me. All the pieces are there but for some reason I’m just not getting that click. And I don’t know why.

As a writer of romance obviously I need to make sure the click happens. Naturally I’m starting to obsess about it. I tried to break it down analytically by reading different stories where for me the chemistry just leapt off the page.

An easy example - kicking it old school - I’ll use Nora Roberts. In her first “In Death” book Eve and Rourke meet and there it is. That magic moment when they are standing at the funeral and you realize he’s found the button off her drab grey suit. As a reader you just know these two want each other. It’s not overdone, it’s not obvious. It’s just there somehow on the page.

I went back and re-read the early chapters of my current WIP and yeah, I really feel this chemistry between my hero and heroine in spades. Somehow it’s just there. Yeah me!

But then I went back and read some of my other stuff and … yeah not so much. Boooo… I suck.

It’s not that the book sucks. The characters, their development, their growth… all that’s there. And yes you get to a point where you can feel the love between them – at least I hope. But that’s not the same thing as chemistry.

Chemistry is the click. It’s the thing that makes you look at a person and decide you want to take your clothes off in front of him. You can write words like lust, and tension, and desire. But for whatever reason sometimes that works and sometimes it just doesn’t. No click.

The editor in me – I obviously wasn’t able to see this flaw. I hope by having this new couple show me the way I’ll be able to recognize it going forward. But I don’t know. Can we ever see the click as we're writing our own stuff?

Is it the characters? Is it the writing? Is it the way we set the couple up? Who knows! What do you all think?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

When Flawed is Good Enough

I'm reading a YA novel right now that I shall not name, but it was one of the big anticipated books of 2011 and while I don't think it hit high on any bestseller lists (or as high as it was expected to) it did pretty well.

I can't quite decide what I think about this book. (Am waiting for Sinead to finish it, so we can discuss.) In parts it's amazing and creative. In parts it seems cliched. Parts are graceful and breathtakingly beautiful. Parts are clunky and awkward. Parts I've skimmed. (I'm not a skimmer.) And ultimately I've decided, reading it through writer's eyes, that the author, while clearly very talented, didn't know that much about writing. I'm guessing she didn't go through the "apprenticeship" that many of us go through writing multiple books that gather rejections and criticism through which we learn the craft of writing.

But the book is entertaining. And I keep turning the pages. So like other bestsellers that weren't considered "well written" clearly the story is making up for the muddy POV's, the occasional lazy choices, like repeating the same scene from two different points of view, or adding of a random POV for no reason other than to explain something she couldn't figure out a better way to explain... The things that stand out like sore thumbs to me as a fellow writer.

It almost makes me think I've wasted my time learning all that I have about "good" writing. But then I remember. I actually care. I know not everyone will like or appreciate my style or agree with my choices in storytelling, but no matter what criticism I hear in reviews, I know why I made the decisions I made in my books.

And in contrast, a study in perfection... I saw an absolutely wonderful film tonight that I highly recommend. Do not let the fact that it's a silent film made by a French filmmaker scare you off. It's very commercial and very entertaining and at its core is a really simple and believable and very sweet romance. Of course I'm talking about The Artist. The lead actor, Jean Dujardin, is favored to get an Oscar nomination and if I had a vote I agree. I'd also nominate the jack russell terrier in the movie for best supporting actor. Awesome.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I don't believe in writer's block

I don't. I really don't. I think it's . . .self-indulgent. Yet, I've spent the last two weeks not making any progress on my book.

Oh, there are reasons. Holidays. Kids. Mother. News I didn't like that set me back on my heels a bit. But I've never been this clabbered up for this long. Never.

I tried outlining. I spent quite a few hours looking at my current favorite plot structure craft book. Then I played a bunch of spider solitaire. Let me tell you, it didn't leave me feeling better about myself or my book.

I've now been reduced to just making a list of scenes that need to be written. Usually that gets my juices flowing. I'm still playing solitaire although the juices are starting to trickle.

So I lay it on me people. It's the start of a new year. What are you favorite ways to unstick and unblock yourself? I need info!

Monday, January 02, 2012

A very Kindle Christmas

I am a really nostalgic person. And for me the act of reading a book in my bed is part nostaliga part habit. All love. And when I asked for a Kindle I thought primarily it would be helpful with my critique group so I wouldn't be reading manuscripts on my computer. Because there was no way that a Kindle was better than reading a book.

And it's not. Not really. What it is however is way better than how I usually buy books. Like, hugely better. Like the best thing ever. I never get to book stores - I live in a huge city and love bookstores, but I never get there. SO, for years I've done most of my book shopping on line. And then waited for the books to arrive.

But I am a junkie. A filthy dirty reading junkie. I am Bubbles with books - a heart of gold, yes, but I will do anything to get my next fix.

Having a kindle is like living with a dealer.

Since getting my Kindle the day after Christmas, I have read Cecilia Grant's AMAZING! Truly truly amazing A Lady Awakened (I can't wait to talk about this, so hurry up and read it guys!) Courtney Milan's self-published Novella and novel. I've started Joanna Bournes' Black Hawk. And Stephen King's latest.

And there's no way I'm the only one like this - buying books like crazy. Full-priced, mostly agency books. Those three million Kindle's sold in the weeks before Christmas are an exciting reality. I'm not sure what it will all mean, but for me it means more books, faster. My habit and the habit of at least three million other readers will only get worse. I mean better. Or something.

How about you guys? Kindle Christmas?
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