Thursday, June 30, 2011

Franchising an Author

Hail thee Nora Roberts.

She is worshiped up on high and is considered one of the more prolific authors of our time. Now, how anyone can crank out as many books as she does a year is beyond me. Maybe once you have the formula down it is easy peasy. Or maybe, just maybe, there is a ghostwriter involved. She claims to write all her own books, but I call bullshit. When I had read a few books from the "In Death" series, I felt like she dictated a Mad libs or phoned it in from a vacation home. Hence I never finished it or liked it. Same as Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series or Hamilton's Anita Blake series. I know I have discussed them before and it quite clear I am not a series type reader, except for Fforde's Thursday Next, but I am impressed by the fans who gush at every publication. Blinded by reused plot lines, poor writing, typos, editing errors and the same sex scenes used over and over. Example: Every time Roarke touched Eve I knew just where his hands would go and how her eyes would roll to the back of her head while his went opaque. Not that sexy, but whatever. I wanted to smack Eve more often then not and I doubt that was the author's intent so that was that.

Moving on.

Let me say I was shocked when a recent review of one of Romance Queen Nora's books on Smart Bitches garnered a D grade. The discussion was very revealing to me. I always enjoy reading why people love or dislike a book and this was no different. To read how and when others started to notice the regurgitated plots and characters and how it pissed them off. How a few actually stated that they wanted better from Nora since she can be damn good. That is very, very true. When Nora Roberts is on, she is on, but when she is off good God it is a disaster.
No one should walk away thinking I am disparaging light reading or fluff. When it is done well it is a lot of fun and there are authors who do it well. I just really loathe when fluff is half assed and given high marks because the author always produces "best sellers". Publishing is a business and money is money so even if a book is bad, if a 'name' wrote it, it will be put out there before anything else. Especially before an unknown gets a push.

Author CS Harris did a great post on the topic called "Authors as Franchises". She discusses how this new trend is exploitative and a gyp to the co-author and the reader. Not that an author should not try to make the most out of their name or market themselves, but it sucks when it is at the expense of unknown underlings who may make the author seem prolific or an even better writer than they are.
I tried to empathize, but I cannot. If I was published and had deadlines, would I use a co-author? I doubt it. My voice is the one readers are paying to hear, the one they want, not some co-author. If they wanted someone else, they would go out and purchase an entirely different book.

I hope the publishing industry uses the big bucks raked in by their franchised authors to offer a new voice a chance, but I fear it may not be so.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A little infection and antiques

I had a pretty bad sinus infection the past 5 days. I could barely lift my head or get comfy and using a computer was pretty much not going to happen unless it was to try and watch a film. writing was impossible as well, but thanks to the gift that is amoxicillin, I am recovering quite well and able to get back on track with my storytelling.

I love this post on furniture that no one really uses anymore, but some still love. As far as antiques go, I adore telephone tables and would enjoy having one to use. Pie safes are also up there for me. I would love to have one in my kitchen to store all my bulk jarred goodies. Maybe have it built into an alcove.

Since I am still a little knocked out, I am off to nap and hope to get back to regular posting soon.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Modern Designs in the Home

Modernism and I only get along in small doses. The too clean lines, pristine white walls and low furniture do not do it for me. But, that does not mean I can't conjure up an appreciation for well thought out concepts and designs. Lately I have seen things that make me reconsider who modernism can be in the home and how well it can be executed.

After lightening struck their home, the owners decided to update their kitchen to a more modern look. I think this works brilliantly, though I would most likely never have done that in our kitchen.

This house on Fire Island is exactly what I loathe, the all white, etc. but I can appreciate the use of colorful touches throughout.

I am sure black is as hard to keep clean as white is, but my God, this Attic Studio in Stockholm is gorgeous and I could live there without issue.

Love the skylights, hate the clutter and open shelving in this English kitchen.

The windows in this Lopez Island residence are amazing. I even love the exterior.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An Author Don't

Things have been a whirlwind these last few weeks with a visit from the in laws and a bunch of other crazy things going on. This sort of threw off my writing schedule, which I admit made me frustrated, but I had to suck it up. I am getting back on track with writing as well as reading some of my favorite blogs.
One of my favorites that I have mentioned before is Smart Bitches Trashy Books. They have a great on going series called "Help A Bitch Out". You read a romance novel a decade or so ago. You cannot recall the name but would love to read it again. You send it in to Smart Bitches and BAM! Comments and suggestions abound.
A recent post was titled: HaBO- Her Husband Was A Little Person

The book seems to have been Lady Jane and there was some great discussions about the need for more diverse heroes like a little person. Then someone asked what was more appropriate, "dwarf' or "little person". This then brought on a discussion about what to call people when you do not know them, what is PC, what is inappropriate, etc. Needless to say, there is always that one person in the bunch who gets nasty and keeps going.
What bothered me is the one poster got down right fresh and condescending with people who disagreed with her, who challenged her and she even questioned others who claimed to know more about a topic then she did. The real kicker was this woman is a published author. Now, I can get behind the fact that people have differing opinions and relish a dam n good discussion. What I do not care for is reading insults directed at others who were not trying to engage another in some type of battle of the sexes. I doubt the author would care, but because of how she addressed everyone and was so self righteous, I would never buy one of her books or recommend them, no matter how good they may be.
On a whim, I went back to the post just now and she apologized to one of the women she was unnecessarily snarky with. While I appreciate that, it would have been better if she had considered the fact that blogs, emails, etc do not always convey emotion which means one must be very careful with how they word things and speak to others. Clearly she needed a day to realize there were cultural and age differences in play with everyone involved which made her reconsider how harsh she was to some and offer an olive branch. I can appreciate that, but her first impression on me was not a good one. We'll see if I allow a second.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Sometimes all you can do is laugh

Thanks to Neil Gaiman's Journal, he really rocks, I have been introduced to a site that will most definitely be bookmarked.

This Is Not The Six Word Novel by Jen Campbell has interviews with writers, discusses her own writing process and the book industry, but the posts singled out by Mr. Gaiman are titled "Weird Things Customers Say". Ms. Campbell works in a bookshop called "Ripping Yarns" and for the Love of God this poor woman is subjected to some unbelievable insanity which proves once again that truth is really stranger than fiction.

Here is a quick sample:

Customer: Do you have a copy of 1986?
Me: 1986?
Customer: Yeah, Orwell.
Me: Oh – 1984.
Customer: No, I'm sure it's 1986; I always remember it because it's the year I was born.
Me: ...

And that my friends is just the beginning...


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Roadblock or a Sign?

I have hit a snafu and I am none too pleased about it either.

While working on my Angel of Death story, I realized what I was having one of the main characters do as her purpose left way too much free time. This means I need to reconfigure a major part of the story and change it.


Now I have to figure out how it effects the story. By eliminating the specifics does it open up possibilities or kill it? Nothing like sabotaging your own work while going over stuff and doing research. Research I had done before, but did not really look at the statistics it seems.


Of course, all I need to do it remove the original premise of what she was doing and step back. This story can still work, but will need a rehaul. And as we all know, I am now a champ at doing rehauls when it comes to story writing. This means the whole plot line can change, well, not the core, but the reasons I had certain events take place. Major events mind you.

Dammit again and again.

But wait, maybe, just maybe, if I take a moment here, this is a good thing. Yesterday, I had one of my all time favorite movies on while writing. The Grifters. Right then I got the urge to read it and of course my library does not have it, but could get it for me. This then compelled me to read the Wikipedia entry on the author Jim Thompson and as I read about this man, I got this overwhelming feeling that this Angel book could be pulp fiction/noir. I started to wonder if it was dark enough. Should it be? Sure there are parts that are pretty damn funny, some a little dark even. But should I go the Thompson route and have some serious and heinous character flaws be present in those closest to the Almighty? Inspiration does strike in odd places no? This made me think about all the light hearted books written about Angles, relationships, how romance is never ugly in certain books and we all expect this wonderful solid happily ever after. As a somewhat cynical person, I know I have it in me to write some pretty dark stuff, but for some reason I was looking at the story as more of a happy land-some turmoil, but it is all gonna be alright kind of story. Now this has me thinking, maybe that is all wrong. Why else would this snafu have come up? I should take it as a sign and let this 'accidental' roadblock allow me to find the proper detour. After all, I am not writing to a specific audience as of yet. Hmmmm, this is why I need to write things out on this blog. We see problems differently when they are out of our heads don't we? Amen.

On a lighter note, I think I got my four line pitch for my other novel. I don't want to get too excited, but Booyah! Okay. Now to find the next round of agents who get the four liner.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Heirloom Kitchen

Sunday night. Trolling websites for design ideas. Came across a very interesting kitchen and wanted to share.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Four Line Pitch

Today was a day of napping and a lot of tea and orange juice. My husband and I caught a summer cold, which sucks, but we are doing better now.
One good thing is I have finished editing my novel about Enforcement Agents aka Hunters in a dystopian/utopian society. Of course I continue to pull my hair out over the inevitable query letter. But wait, there is more! I am not talking about the ones we all see on Query Shark or agents blogs, no,no, no! I have decided I want to make my brain explode and go for the four line pitch.
Yup, you read that right. Sum up an 84,000+ word novel in four lines. You may wonder why I am choosing this line of torture and to be honest, I am not one hundred percent sure. On one hand I figure if I can tell you about my book in four lines, I am pretty damn good, if I cannot, I must really suck. Okay, not true, but I think it is an interesting approach in today's ADD filled world.
Jillian Manus of Manus and Associates Literary Agency gave a terrific speech on The Perfect Pitch and posted it to her website. I am in awe of how she took the original long pitch and cut it down to 4 lines, (set up, hook and resolution) to sell to movie studios. Now, while I would love to have a book I wrote made into a film, that is not really my goal. My goal is to get an agent to read four lines and demand the manuscript.
Here is where the primal scream echoes through the hills of Appalachia. What is aggravating and irritating and curse inducing is the fact that I cannot figure out for the life of me how to do it for this completed novel. As for my third book about the Archangels and Angels of Death, I think I could do it with my eyes closed. A dilemma, but maybe not. Perhaps that is what is supposed to happen. I pitch the Angels book and sell that one first. A weird idea, but I believe that one can crank out faster. This then gives me the hope that if I can get that done, it may help break through the block that is eating my soul for the other book. Dramatic I know, but this is how writers think sometimes.
Self reproach can be a good thing, but not for this situation. Sometimes you can write five novels before you sell one and those five may never see the light of day. While I hope that does not happen, I am prepared to allow the third novel to become the bread winner and not look back. Sometimes pride does get in the way, but hard work pays off. None of this was for naught. And if four lines is what sells it, then dammit, I am good.