`1` Romance worth killing for
Shattering Romantic Suspense
Author Websites
Elisabeth Naughton
Joan Swan
Linda Winfree
Author's Latest Releases

Coming Soon

AddThis Feed Button

Industry Blogs We Like
Agent Obscura
Anatomy of a Book Deal
Bookends Literary Agency Blog
The Bradford Bunch
Buzz, Balls & Hype
Jennifer Jackson, Literary Agent
The Knight Agency
Magical Musings
Mid-Willamette Valley RWA Blog
Kristin Nelson, Literary Agent
Jenny Rappaport, Literary Agent
Miss Snark
Murder She Writes
Paperback Writer
Romancing The Blog
Running With Quills
Working Stiffs
Samhain Publishing
Wine Country Romance Writers, RWA
Author Blogs We Like
Elisa Adams
Carol Burnside
Brenda Coulter
Tanya Holmes
Larissa Ione
Lydia Joyce
Elisabeth Naughton
Patti O'Shea
Edie Ramer
Kate Rothwell
Marissa Scott
Lynne Simpson
Amie Stuart
Joan Swan
Karin Tabke
Stephanie Tyler
Linda Winfree
Recommended Resources
Agent Query
Charlotte Dillon
Common Redundancies in Writing
Cop Talk--Karin Tabke
Crime in Mind
Cruisie/Mayer 2007 Online Workshop
Kiss of Death RWA Chapter
Publisher's Marketplace
Romance Agents
Romance Writers of America
Previous Blogs
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
What We're Working On Now

Elisabeth: Marked

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
33,126 / 95,000

Joan: Buried Secrets

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
68,000 / 115,000

Linda: Facing It

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
45,540 / 85,000

:~: Wednesday, April 19, 2006 :~:

I have a confession...

I avoid the book aisle at every supermarket, Walmart, Target and Longs. I rarely go into bookstores unless I need a comfy sofa to write on or have to pick up the occasional non-fiction, research book.

I have...issues. Fears that I'll never bridge the gap between where I am now and seeing my work on that Barnes and Noble shelf.

Since I started writing, I stopped reading. Okay, that's an overstatement. I do read...sometimes.

And when I do, the result is invariably the same. I either A) get depressed that the author is so much better than I am (their voice, their vocabulary, their suspense, their storytelling, their humor, etc.), and do the woe-is-me thing...I'll never get there from here, or B) I get depressed because the author is so much worse than I am (a cliche every paragraph, a heroine who's TSTL, more telling than showing, slow suspense, dragging pace, etc.), and I think it's all about luck, which I'm, evidently, not high on at the moment.


That was E, forcing me toward the glass-half-full side of life.

So, with my cherry-red cheek, I head out to run errands, determined to pick up Allison's books while I'm out, which I fully intended to buy hot off the shelf...and didn't.

Well, it was Easter Sunday and the bookstores weren't open. (I'm sure the subconscious daemon made me pick THAT day to decide to buy books...but that's another post.)

I was disappointed when I couldn't find Allison's books but was determined to buy something and read the dang thing. I searched the shelves, browsing every last blurb on every last book. (Of course my selection was extremely limited since the only places open in my vicinity were Longs and Kmart. )

And you know what I found?

There's a lot of killers running around out there.

Like...in every book.

I must have picked up two dozen, and all the jacket copy started to sound the same...someone's been killed, the heroine is now threatened and the hero is going to save her. Of course the hero is some version of law enforcement--sheriff, cop, FBI, ex-military.

That familiar slink of self-doubt started crawling through my belly again; they all sound too familiar to MY work.

I think: this is why I don't read!

Book 1:
heroine--physician conducting research whose safety threatened by villain

Book 3:
heroine--famous author stalked by psychologically damaged villain

Book 4:
hero--undercover cop
heroine--physician on quest to find the truth behind her family's deaths, threatened by villain

Book 6:
heroine--artist threatened by the Russian mob after putting a member away with her sketches

Book 7:
heroine--dancer first thought to be a murderer turns out to be the intended target

Do you see the emerging theme here? My stuff is like every other author out there. Same set-up, same characters, same conclusion.

So, what do you do?

I suppose you could go on forever rationalizing the prevalence of the theme: that's what readers like to read; there are only so many themes; that's the make-up of both human nature (men as protectors) and reality (women are often targeted for violence and victims of crime).

Or you could tip the scales, change the rules and risk even more rejections by editors putting out the same pattern of material which your attempt at freshness doesn't fit.

Talk to me...


Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

ROFL. Okay, took me a minute to realize those were YOUR books and not books you picked up off the shelves. I was thinking...WOW, Books #4 and #6 are just like yours!


I think you've hit it...people love books about cops and women in trouble. Look at what's popular on TV! How many CSI crime shows are out there? That's a big part of the reason I wonder if I'll ever make it in this biz...I DON'T write about military or cop heroes.

And you're right, there are only so many "themes" and plots out there. The difference is your unique voice and fresh twists.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

E wrote:
I think you've hit it...people love books about cops and women in trouble. Look at what's popular on TV! How many CSI crime shows are out there?

But I often wonder how long this bubble of interest will last. How many serial killers and stalkers can you read about before they all run together?

I often feel as if it's a lazy writer's guide to adding suspense into a romance...make the hero or heroine a cop, give them a case and find a way to weave their personal histories into it. YAWN. Yet I keep doing it, and doing it, and doing it.

I think I'm revising too much. I've got that tongue-stuck-to-the-roof-of-my-mouth flavor to my work.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

Make your story different- turn the tables. Make the heorine the protector and the hero the absent minded professor. Or have the hero or heroine start out to be the bad guy who comes over to the right side. It isn't always the theme that sells a book it's the chemistry between the chracters. That is what keeps the reader reading.

I have been trying to read two books by well known writers. I have yet to fall in love with their hero and heroine. I probably won't finish the books, because I don't have the time to read something that isn't keeping my interest.

The plot and theme don't matter to me, it's the chemistry that keeps me reading.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Paty wrote:

Or have the hero or heroine start out to be the bad guy who comes over to the right side.

ROFL. Now there's an idea. ;)

3:02 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

The plot and theme don't matter to me, it's the chemistry that keeps me reading.

Good point.

But what makes you buy?

4:43 PM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

But what makes you buy?

If I've heard of the author, I read the blurb and it sounds interesting, and the pages I skim pique my interest.

Sometimes a cover on a book I've not heard of the author will catch my attention, then I do the same thing- read the blurb and a few nonsequential pages. If there's something in those pages that makes me want to keep reading I buy the book.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Yeah, I think that's about what I do as well.

Which has me thinking...if you want your book to stand out, read all the blurbs of similar work and twist yours in a different way. Pull out an element that makes your story different and play it up. Or if you've got an exceptionally strong voice, maybe a humorous voice, use it in creating the blurb.

Of course, I'm not published, so I'm assuming the author is the constructor of the blurb, but maybe it's the publisher, which just blows my great idea out of the water.

Anyone know about that?

8:20 PM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

From what I've heard the editor writes your back cover blurb. Dumb I think since it's your book and your baby. But they say they know the marketing and what should go on the back cover. Maybe that's soemthing that shoudl be negotiated in the contract?

10:35 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Yes, E said the same thing. Which would make sense why all the back copy sounds the same...they're looking at it in a marketing angle where as a writer could pull out what's really special while also appealing to the popular market.

Sigh. I have a lot to learn.

2:28 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home