Saturday, October 18, 2014

Getting out the links

In getting a buy site up, with links to Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes, I needed an image for each book, something that depicted the energy of the book. 

Below was my first try and led to ideas for the rest. Once an author has the books at multiple sites, finding a way to notify the readers can be tricky! My site is Romances with an Edge but not all links are live yet. 

Going there gives warnings to those with finicky virus checkers because of those buy links. There is nothing that can hurt a computer IF you don't click on links you don't know where they go. Mine only go to major book selling sites.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What it's all about

The following was written in 2011 at the time I first decided to bring most of the books I had written out as eBooks. The philosophy though has not changed in the last three years. This is what I try to do with my books and why I write.

In the Beginning

My philosophy on writing can be broken down into various aspects. I share them here now not as an ultimate truth of how to do it but just my personal experience with writing. It is about how to get characters, plot, a beginning, middle, and finally wrapping it all up with an end

For me, writing, whether it gets published or not has been a satisfying way to step into someone else's life, to spend imaginary time places I love, and create something rewarding for myself. It has an added benefit unlike say sculpture or paintings, that the end products don’t take up a lot of space. Time though, yes much time, but time spent developing imagination and craft is not time wasted.

One of the things I have found and believe (and this covers all of my creative endeavors), I can only create the best I can. I can only tell my story, create my sculpture or paint my painting. What I do in any of these media may not be appreciated by anybody else. If a creative person doesn't get that idea down and can't live with it, then putting creative work out into the world is a mistake. 

Of course, our work is not that original in the one sense. Where it comes to writing, there really are only so many plot devices out there but what we can individually bring to that story, that ca be one of a kind. There are a lot of authors I admire (likewise painters and sculptors), but I cannot be them. If I try to copy what someone else has created, it is craft at best and drivel at worst. 

I have no interest in writing some kinds of stories but have always thought I'd love to be able to write what I call crone lit, which means good stories about older women but without romance. Up until recently that bothered me, because all that would come to me were ideas for stories about a man and a woman coming together in the midst of some other dilemma as they try to decide if they can build a future together.

When I start to write anything else, say a story of three sisters, their complicated relationships with each other and maybe dealing with the breaking up of their parents marriage or maybe a woman coping with divorce or you know a multitude of real life instances, I start writing, which is how I do romances; and those other stories end up a lot of words strung together but none of the things that I believe a good story needs to not only hold the reader's interest but give them something to take away. If it's not even holding mine as I am writing it, I know it's not going to become of interest to anybody else.

Recently though, after working with so many of my stories at one time, trying to get them edited to a point I would want to put them out, I feel far more positive about romance as a genre. Romances do have a point and a purpose if one understands what to expect from them. Yes, they are the stepchild of the literary family, even though they sell a lot of books. But there is a reason they are popular and it is nothing for which to apologize.

There is an emotional release from a romance novel, a kind of fairy tale with real people quality. I don't like to write the type of story loaded with angst but let's face it, a passionate love is not without angst. I don't care for flowery language; so I don't use it. I also am one of those who writes a simple story, leaving out what readers mostly skim over anyway. On the other hand, who knows what someone else really will find touching their soul and where they will find those words were important. 

My stories do have sex in them, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on what the characters need. Yes, you can suggest sex without doing anything more than a glance but sometimes to show the liberation of a character, the places their love is taking them, sex is part of it. 

Writing is both a craft and an art. If you cannot make yourself understood, you are unlikely to find readers. Making words flow, giving energy to places and times, those are the things a reader will carry away when they close the story.

So first step is to decide what type of story you want to tell. Find its genre and the needs within that genre, and if you are creating a brand new genre, more power to you but recognize there were reasons those other genres were created. They satisfied a need in readers. If you want to create a brand new one, make sure it will do that.

Without Characters

When discussing characters, I thought I'd start with a couple of my story ideas that didn't work. Oh they sounded good, at least to me, but went nowhere although I am not convinced they never will.

My favorite is a reincarnation story that I thought would be simply great. I figured it would be a bit of a murder mystery which fits my ‘romances with an edge’ theme.

The story would incorporate three past lives I planned to use with at least one is possibly one of mine. I found in used bookstores the necessary material for the historic periods I would need (this was before internet changing research so much). Where a romance is a bit of a fantasy, a fairy tale, I like mine to be set in a real period and place, although I might use made up names for a town, but it will always be where there are real towns and describe their feel.

I knew how the story would progress. She would have nightmares and is looking for a reason for them. She wouldn't be a believer in reincarnation, but her dreams would become more and more vivid as she got deeper into remembering these other lifetimes. And she needs to remember.

Her motive then for going backward from today would have to be a life that wasn't all she wanted and one more thing-- a threat around her where the answer will be found in one of the people in her current life and the relationship from the past one—so a bit metaphysical, investigative and, of course, there’d be love as along with an age-old enemy, there would have to be her soul mate. The story would be told in 'flashbacks' and today. I thought it'd be fun to write and interesting. What could go wrong?

What went wrong is I never had her character. I tried different possibilities for who she was but nothing worked and when I'd start to write, it would just be those words strung together with no form. After a couple of tries, I gave it up because if I couldn't find her, there was nothing else I cared about, but who knows I might go back to it someday if someday she comes to me.

After I had spent time at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, I had another idea for a story that went nowhere of an Anasazi woman and a traveling trader, a Pacific Northwest Native American. Perfect combination of a place I love, the Southwest, and boy have you ever seen some of those Pacific Northwest Native American men? Perfect for a romance-- a totally yummy hero and quite a problem for two cultures trying to come together, one adventuring and more warlike while the other, where the story takes place, is on the cusp of change. I would have placed it when the Anasazi culture was turning violent itself and falling apart, right before they disappeared from their mesas and left behind a mystery as to why.

What went wrong? Well for one thing I had always written about women with whom I could relate, where I understood how they would talk, what they'd want in their lives. What did I know about that woman? I could make her be like me but that didn't feel right culturally. The end result was it went nowhere-- although I have the research materials for that also... Maybe someday.

So I can have the genre and even the plot, but if I don't have the characters, it's all for nothing in my opinion. I have to virtually fall in love with my heroes and feel my heroines are worthy of them with something interesting about them also.

This is just personal preference, but in most of my stories, one of my lead characters will be almost mythic, larger than life, while the other will be grounded and more a stand-in for the reader. It can be the man or the woman for either role. One stands for the fantasy, the dream. The other is possibly the one to whom the average reader relates.

The characters are, to me anyway, most important and without them, the rest is just words. I’ve read a lot of romances, from those years of learning the genre, and some are pathetic for how stereotyped they are, how they manipulate the reader. Call a heroine Fancy and frankly I’m through reading.

A really good story should have characters that seem real. Sure there has to be some fantasy to them but if they are like anybody else, what was the purpose of the book again? Readers of romances want an emotional lift.

Where it comes to characters, there are only so many ‘types’ out there, but if they are too plastic, it isn’t particularly interesting. Strong detective type guy but then what else is about him to make him not seem like you've read about him too many times? Schoolmarm? Ho hum-- but a schoolteacher who is an amateur detective, now it’s going somewhere somewhere.

From where do mine come? Well they aren't real people. They aren't movie stars. Only once have I written one where I later knew who that character was for real, but I didn't know the person when I wrote it; so can't say if that was coincidence or what.

I think music helps me not only get the energy for heroes/heroines but also for plots. It has to be soundtracks with no words. I don't need music to write non-fiction, but when it comes to romances, I want the oomph it can provide. It’s amazing how I find new ways of saying something based on music. Find some really heroic, compassionate, or romantic music and a writer is in business.

Once I had a story that was going nowhere for the hero even with the plot firmly in my mind, then I began to play the soundtrack for Phantom of the Opera (plot nothing like my story) and the emotional passion of that music practically wrote his character and the rest of the story-- the fastest I have ever written 80,000 or so words-- in one month.

Besides the hero and heroine there are sidekicks (several of which I end up liking so much that they get their own romance eventually); and of course, a lot of run to write are the villains. Some of mine have been definite psychopaths; but even then I want them to have believable motivation—crazy as it would seem to anybody who wasn’t ruthless. I absolutely love writing interesting villains and the dialogue between them and the main characters; but they aren't the heart of the stories. They are, however, what I think gives the plot the edge, the zing. I can't live that long with unsavory people, certainly not as much as it'd take to write a story just about them. My inability do that probably limits me as a writer, but it's simply not how I can live my real life. And writing should improve daily life or it's not a good thing to do.

Characters, who can come from anywhere, really are where it all starts and if a writer can create characters who are exciting, interesting, complex, and can grow through their experiences, I think it's the heart of the story. Without them, along with some great villains and secondary characters, it goes nowhere even with what seems like a good plot at least not for me.

Plotting Plots

So what does work to put together the plot if you have the characters? Basically there are only so many plot outlines and they have all been used many times. The trick is to give a derivative of that so what you write is fresh.

One thing you absolutely had to do back when I began writing seriously was to understand your genre. That would still be critical if you wanted to sell something to a publisher as they want things to fit niches that have already been successful. Each genre has requirements. Readers expect when they pick up say a mystery that it will have certain qualities. I have read authors say, who can write mysteries and romances, that they would literally have to clean their palette between, by reading something totally different like Hemingway, as romances were one way and mysteries quite another for what was needed.

For years when I was trying to write romances, I read a lot of them which was highly recommended. I read them until they were coming out my ears. I also read books on developing stories, worked with a consulting writer on one of mine, and I wrote. Even if my efforts weren't as good as I thought they could be, I'd still write.

Then I stopped being able to even tolerate reading romances. It was like the time you get too much sugar. Your teeth ache (not really) and you think you can't stand one more sweet thing and you go months without any. This turned into years before I had to move a bookcase which meant sort books and discovered there were some romances in those shelves that I was still enjoying. Mostly they were stories with a lot of what I am trying to put into my own stories—limited flowery language, no euphemisms, and a real problem to resolve. If there is an obstacle between hero and heroine (and in a romance there better be) then it can’t be something silly to satisfy me.

Also, endless angst wears me out. I like real situations involving strong characters who besides falling in love are dealing, not endlessly whining, with a very real problem/s. Whiners aren't my cup of tea in life or books. I also don't like weak heroines who do silly things but still have this exciting man wanting them. If any of my lead characters start out that way, they better grow and stop moaning about the situation, take life in their own hands and responsibility. And when they do take life into their own hands, it should be believable. Skills you knew they had but they are just learning they can wield etc.

Although I generally start out knowing where my stories are going, the core of them, I like to make discoveries along the way.  I don’t do an advance outline. When you have these two people (and their assorted connections) then I will stop and think now what might happen as a happy little addition here or there—or an additional complication.

Not for me either is writing a plot like Stephen King or what Anne Rice used to put out. I do have one paranormal and it worked okay for me to have a monster, although I didn't much like the research I had do for that one; but generally I don't like to immerse myself in negativity or scary stuff. Some danger, that's fine; but not horror. If I won't read them, I sure as heck won't write them where I'd be spending months, not hours with some situation.

I saw a non-fiction book (I prefer non-fiction at this point in my reading life) the other day, The Murder Room that looked interesting as a story about three men with expertise in criminal cases who meet monthly to try to solve cold cases, which are brought to them by someone else. I thought it might give me some future story ideas for villains and the possibility, from different angles, as to how they might be found out (my romances usually have a crime and villain as part of their edge); but I didn't purchase it because in skimming it, I saw it looked to me like it dwelt way too much on the psychopaths and not enough on the ones trying to solve the cases. It had some photos in the center and they sent me quickly setting it down. I kind of like Ann Rule books for how a crime happens and how it is found out but I can only take so much and hers are best when the emphasis is on how they find the bad guys.

The Craft of Plots

My writing of plots has been influenced by Joseph Campbell's writings on the power of mythology because a great romance really is a kind of myth. So what must it have? Usually to start, a grounding of where the hero/heroine is before the story begins. Where are they living, who are they before comes what is called the gatekeeper experience. It is when something happens that sends that character into another world and on their way to their adventure. It might be meeting their soul mate. It might be a disaster, but it has to be strong enough to get them out of their world and enter a new one. The new one is where change happens. Writing the gatekeeper section for me has to be believable. If there isn't a strong enough reason to move forward, the story falls apart for me.

When in the adventure, there has to be growth, threat, relaxation and then more of each. Some name that the W which means you start out one place, go into a valley and then something helps you get back up to the next apex and back you go. A good romance has those valleys and hills. Excite, relax, back to threaten. The romantic moments can come in either place but they are part of them-- but in my stories, not the all.

Ideally I like to write something that makes the reader and the character think this is it, they got it... and then comes the letdown, the boom, the threat, the demand they must go somewhere they don't want to go but it's the only way for them. So something fun, light, maybe even humorous, romantic, and then the character faces a challenge. Great moments followed by a what the heck is this ones.

Good music is like that also. There is the build up and then the drop, the filled with joy part and then the threat right behind it. Western soundtracks are the best at this. I work to them quite often whether it's a western (actually I only wrote one true western) or something contemporary because they have that heroic bent that I always want. For me, it's hard to write to any song with lyrics although I have used a few soundtracks where the lyrics seem to be submerged in the melodies and they work-- best though is something like the soundtrack to Red River. Perfect!

Then comes the story's conclusion and a writer really has to think about that. One thing is it has to seem like it was right that it happen that way. I hate a story or movie where it seems the writer just made something happen that earlier hadn't been going that way.

Also I don't like a drop in ending that wasn't being built toward. All of a sudden it's rush to a conclusion that didn't seem right for everything before it. Don't cheat the reader. Where it comes to a romance, a person has spent a number of hours with these people and needs to care that they are getting at least for the moment a happily ever after. Save the tragedies for literature. Romances are not meant to be tragedies, just make you think they might become one.

My stories all have happy endings which means I have to make that seem believable. There is enough tragedy in life without my creating it for a book, without my dwelling on it for the months most manuscripts take to create. I like to write what I'd like to read and that's something that makes me feel better when I set the book down than when I first picked it up.

The Setting

For me, an important aspect to a story coming together is where it's set. It is important to me in reading or writing one. So far I have never written one that wasn't in places I have been and experienced. The closest to an exception would be the story of the wagon train. But I did see the parts of the trail from Wyoming on West, had driven some of it in my part of Oregon.

When I am thinking of characters and plot, I also consider where I'd like to write about in terms of country. For me it's fun to write about places I have enjoyed being and incorporate them into a story.

Equally enjoyable is to write about someone's home and have it be a home I'd love to have. One example is a contemporary romance where the artist heroine had gotten an older home along the Tualatin River in Oregon. She had bought it needing to be repaired and fixed it up.

When I was a kid, I had been in a home very similar to it when my uncle had rented it and I stayed there with my cousins for a few days. I'd have loved having that home even though it was older and not my uncle's idea of a good home. I gave it to my heroine and let her do with it what I'd have enjoyed doing if I had gotten it.

Some of my favorite books to read have had the same situation where the characters are living somewhere I find fascinating. I don't know how many readers find that an important part of their reading pleasure, but it's sure mine and it adds a lot of enjoyment to writing a fiction piece when I can set it somewhere I'd love to live in an alternate life.

If you know where the story is taking place, you know the birds, the feel of the wind, what kind of storms are likely, the flowers or fall colors, and you can insert that all to let the reader feel they are really there. Not like a travelogue but as it is for us when we are somewhere and the sounds, smells and sights around us are what it means to be there.

In a novel, it's nice to, instead of writing it all down in one block, do it like you'd feel it if you were there, pieces here and there throughout the story. It keeps the reader grounded while they are getting this bit of a ride with your story-- hopefully.

Snappy Dialogue

One of the things the consulting writer drilled into me over and over was to show not tell. Dialogue is a wonderful way to do that. You want to show what a character is really like, the easiest way is how do they treat other people. Tell your reader how wonderful they are but give them boring, long expository dialogue and watch it not be believed.

What people say in real life, how they communicate will be different from one person to another and it's important to keep the dialogue true to each different one. Now this isn't easy because all the dialogue is really the writer's. It's easy to end up having all the people sound alike for how they talk, for what is important to them, but it is not the best dialogue.

There are some great movies for getting ideas for snappy dialogue. Watch how the characters communicate and the sharp line that says it all. There are films I can watch over and over just for that snap. Pretty much anything with Humphrey Bogart in it is a good example.

The other thing is listen to real conversations wherever you are. People don't talk in a line. They come and go with their thinking and ideas come in seemingly from nowhere. Don't finish up every possible dialogue hanging line because sometimes that's what leads the reader to wait for the answer. Have people insert things that are red herrings because that's life.

Some of my characters are better at dialogue than others and when that happens, I try to go back at it and see if it is the character who is lacking in personality too.
"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."
"...You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.”
"As you wish."
"You had me at hello."
"I wish I knew how to quit you."

Lines like those say it all about the character and the story. Even if you don't know what came before or what movie they were from, you know the feeling they generated. Naturally all dialogue is not that powerful but it's the goal.

There's nothing wrong with a lengthy piece of dialogue but if that's all that is in the story, I think it doesn't work. If dialogue isn't how people talk but simply to tell the story, that doesn't work. When I am reading someone else's story and a character talks for too long, I tend to zone out on it. I try to avoid that failing (it's easy to slip up) in my own stories. Keep the dialogue to the point and make it fit who said it. If a character is driveling on, make it clear that it's their personality and not a plus.
"Here's looking at you, kid."

The Ending

So basically these are the kind of things I have been working to make my stories have-- characters, plot, setting, somewhere to go, emotionally satisfying vicarious experiences for the reader, and dialogue that would be fun to read aloud.

I came to have more belief in my own stories, see the value of a romance that really creates a mythology to reach for in life. Unrealistic? Possibly but it's something for which to reach. That's why it has value as an inspiration. Well some also is a momentary escape from reality. That's no different than a movie or special music. It isn't so much wanting what the romance has told as a story as it is strengthening our own energy for whatever we face.

Chronology of published Rain Trueax books

Chronology of Published Books

Contemporary Romances

1998      Moon Dust (Oregon)
1999      Evening Star (Oregon)
2000      Desert Inferno (Arizona)
2001      -
2002      -
2003      -
2004      -
2005      Bannister’s Way (Oregon)
2006      Second Chance (Oregon)
2007      Hidden Pearl (Oregon); Sky Daughter (Idaho)
2008      -
2009      Her Dark Angel (Oregon, Nevada)
2010      Diablo Canyon Part I-- When Fates Conspire (Montana); 
           From Here to There (Montana)
2011      -
2012      Diablo Canyon Part II -- The Dark of the Moon (Montana)
2013      A Montana Christmas (Montana)
2014      Diablo Canyon Part II Storm in the Canyon (Montana)

Chronology of Arizona Historicals

1883            Arizona Sunset
1884            -
1885            Tucson Moon
1886            -

1898          Comes the Dawn

Monday, July 21, 2014

covers that didn't work for readers

Many covers for one book, From Here to There, and not one of these did the job for readers. This book got more reviews mentioning the cover negatively. The dilemma of creating a cover to satisfy the book, the reader, and me. 

As the writer, here was my problem. This is a love story but not just of two people, also of the West and ranch living. It is a love story to Montana. How does one cover do that? Well, until maybe the last one, it hasn't. We'll see about the last one.

This is, of course, not the only book to have had reader dissatisfaction with my choice of covers. It has been an ongoing issue. Luckily with eBooks, changing a cover isn't hard... or is that lucky?

Is this one going to work? Time will tell. I like it for now and it's not so different from my original painting.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

♥ Everything we do cannot be purely for noble purposes. Sometimes, like say sneaking out and having a cinnamon roll or whatever qualifies for a guilty pleasure in your life, it's healthy to do something just because it's fun. I liked this article on guilty pleasures and thought romance books really do qualify as one. Books don't have to be Moby Dick or a weighty historic tome to have value for our lives.

Guilty Pleasures

I see value in doing things because they feel good so long as they do not hurt others.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sex and romantic books

 To start, when someone is reading fiction, never assume the author has experienced any of what they write about. It's hard to say exactly from where stories come but where it comes to sex, it'd be easy to imagine an author with a very exciting sex life or maybe one totally warped. Neither have to be true. It's fiction.

There can be romantic books without any sex. There can be romantic books that are pretty much erotica which means with a plot of sorts. They really are never pornography (although a Puritan might accuse them of that). The sex in a romantic story does serve a purpose, and it's not purely to gratify prurient interests even if it seems pretty sensual. It is there for a reason. The range the genre spans include where the couple never 'do it' to it starts from their first meeting. The books also can be pretty graphic or full of euphemisms.

My own stories all have sexuality as part of the story. Some have more detail. Others brush over what is happening. The couples do have to have a level of commitment to become sexually involved but that does not mean marriage. In fact the only married couple sex I have ever written about was when the couple were divorced or about to divorce or had one of those romance book devices to get them married when it's not for real.

How to write about a sexual encounter is something I think about when I am writing as I don't want the action to seem phony, but on the other hand, they have to have some creativity or what is the point? I also ask myself how comfortable would I be for me if my kids read what I wrote.

To date, my main characters have all been pretty much in their twenties to early forties. They have beautiful bodies and appreciate each other's bodies very much. They are heterosexual only because it's what I know, but the stories sometimes have gay characters who are friends or even villains.

My favorite villains are actually bisexual (this is not used technically but means purely that these people use sex to subjugate and might be of any genre because sex isn't about attraction but power). Now I am not sure why I like bisexual villains; but maybe it's because by the nature of being outlaw types, they obviously are people who break all the rules and where we like to have people's sexuality put into tidy boxes, a villain who can't be pegged, adds a dimension. He becomes equally a threat to the heroine and hero.

My romances and the sexual encounters between the hero and heroine are fantasies. These are soul mates who know how to please each other or very rapidly will be learning how. The sex is idyllic.

I never write about sex that is not voluntary. They used to have a category of romance called bodice rippers where the hero was likely to rape the heroine their first time because the heroine would say no when she wanted to say yes.  I find that revolting. Sex, to me, should be a choice that both make; and if someone says no, they should mean it.

Not long ago I watched a German film about sex between seniors-- Cloud Nine. The three people in it ranged from late 60s to late 70s and looked their ages. It is a story about an affair and the consequences. It was not in the fantasy category for the sex it portrayed, but it was pretty graphic and honest about sexuality. It could not have been made in the United States as here, if two old people are going to have sex, they better look like Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren!

So maybe someday I'll write a story about older people and romance.  I mostly have kept my characters close to my own age, which means a future story might be about an older woman and if that happens, sex will be part of the story and the characters will not have perfect bodies but rather ones appropriate to their ages.

It can be complex for me to write about sex, to feel comfortable with what I have the characters doing. I don't add it without thought and also don't put it in just to satisfy a genre which expects it. In my stories, it will be there when I think it's what would have happened; but I admit, I enjoy writing about it and trying to make it beautiful. Romance after all is about fantasy and should be satisfying, making the reader feel mmmmm that was nice, not ack!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Angst of the Romance

Romance novels have the advantage of giving someone emotions to wallow in which they can then leave behind when they set the book down. For those who have purposely suppressed feeling (and that doesn't mean necessarily sexual feelings but emotional ones), the romance novel might seem a threat.

Although a romance novel can feel very real, it can also seem forced. As a writer, you want to evoke a certain feeling and you force in a gimmick to make that happen. As a reader, you come along and think-- you gotta be kidding me. Some authors throw in every single gimmick known to humankind to the point it becomes a parody which is fine if it was meant to be one.

A well done romance will remind someone of what can be between a man and a woman which will necessarily include the angst. Without the possibility of pain, can there be glory? Actually every time we enter into a love relationship, we lay ourselves open to pain because everything ends one way or another. I think the intensity of possessing happiness is enhanced if you truly do know the alternative emotion.

In my experience the things that didn't work out are where the angst comes in. The I wish it had been but it wasn't. These are the moments that you tried but could not hold onto. A romance novel takes those kind of moments and multiplies them but then lets the ending come in a way it might not have for you but will for those hours spent with the book. It's that ahhh moment where it goes deep and you get that energy.

The energy is real. It stays even if in real life when the actual experience isn't one you could keep for yourself. So there's some of the rose and the thorn. Avoid the risk of the thorn and you cannot have the rose.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Energy of the Romance

Where it comes to romantic energy, it seems to me it's not as simple as it seems to define what it is as it's not just about lust and sex.
When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. Anne Morrow Lindbergh
To me what a reader wants from a quality romance novel is an emotional experience, the experience of pathos and victory. It is emotion and fire but with tenderness and truth. Through the difficulties (and without difficulties there is no story) is the knowledge (unlike life) that this will work out in the end, and it will be worth the struggle.

Finding some music that duplicates that feeling was my goal to put together a slideshow of the eBook covers I created for my stories. I debated over quite a few good romantic songs. The thing is, there is the beginning, but then what makes it last? So

And then the one that speaks to the deeper level. In some ways, this shows the growth of my covers as the ones above were the first (including two I have yet to decide to release as eBooks). Then comes where the books had to go to have covers that worked for readers and me. It's not that different from real relationships where we must grow and take them where they are meant to go, not being afraid of change.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Romance of Cactii

Cactus blossoms are very relevant to the underpinnings of a romance.

There is at first glance the beauty that is almost transcendent but around it are the thorns. No thorns, no story.

A well-written romance story will be like romance itself. Grab it too tightly and it will be destroyed. There are always thorns.

It doesn't last in the form it is no matter how one might wish. Lovers can try to hold onto it through words or photos but the only real place it can be held is in one's heart and through memories as it is a fleeting thing, not the forever kind.

Anyone who tries to hold onto romance through life is looking for a lot of disappointment as well as ignoring other things that are deeper.

Friday, October 7, 2011

In the Beginning-- that is for me

Years ago, more than I can count right now, I began writing romances. Actually the stories began before writing. As children, when the family got together, my cousin and I would go for walks and we'd tell each other stories, taking turns where we took the story and then letting the other carry it to the next step. Great fun.

Going along with this was my desire to use dolls where I created stories and worlds to live these scenarios out. When my own dolls (this was pre-Barbie era), could not match my imagination, I made paper dolls where the men and women were nude (guessing about that back then) and had elaborate wardrobes usually to fit historic periods of time.

Unfortunately there came an age where I felt paper dolls were no longer age appropriate and I destroyed all of mine. I feel rather disappointed in that now except maybe they live better in my memory than I actually had made them.

Then came the years where I began to write my stories on a typewriter, one of those old fashioned type that look so cool and require strong fingers to make the letters equal in value. Add to it the use of white paint to wipe out the errors. Not such great fun but it got the stories down on paper.

Next step in writing came with an electric typewriter that had two advantages for the writer-- even pressure on letters and one key that let you type over mistakes with a special paper that covered typos.

Reluctantly I tried my first computer as an Atari. I thought it'd never be as easy to work with as the typewriter. Yeah right. No more white out and the ability to move around whole paragraphs when required were among the many many pluses.

I wrote two stories back then. The first was a historic about a wagon train, two young adults and the trip west. It had come out of one of the ones my cousin and I told each other. The second was a rodeo romance. Those were the days when nothing got saved online or on a CD and so the rodeo romance I only had a printed copy until this year.

With computers came more stories, a lot of writing and rewriting, a lot of reading. What does a romance have to have in it? Each genre has expectations from the readers and I tried to make the stories that came to me (eventually there were thirteen of them on my hard drive) fit what I wanted and the reader might expect.

During this time I laid out money (quite a bit of it) to have a consulting writer (I got her name from an agent) help me with editing my wagon train story. What she taught me, as I would send the chapters to her and get them marked up and her notations, was worth all I paid. I needed that insight into my work and used her teachings in everything else I was writing.

Some of the stories I had written were submitted to publishers only to be rejected. Most were not read by anybody but me. When I did send them off, sometimes I got them at least read. Sometimes not. Mostly I found I didn't actually fit the expectations for assorted reasons. I wasn't really a writer that fit a niche. I didn't blame them for that. They are in this as a business and it has to make money.

Life went on and I had experiences that opened me up to more understanding of the characters. Perhaps the planets changed their angle or something, but I got interested in writing these stories again. My first thought was to see how they held up. Some very much. Others not so much. Mostly, the characters did, the plots did, but the dialogue was in the not so much category. My time online taught me a lot about how people talked to each other.

So this spring, at the age where I have experienced a bit more than I had back when this all began, I sat down and worked on them and felt better and better about what I had written. The stories, with each editing, became truer to my own sense of truth and life but still with the romantic slant.

As I got to this point, I thought of doing a blog on this subject. One that would write about writing but also that would be a place for these manuscripts, as they come out as eBooks, to be discussed, where I could write more about how they came to be, my own philosophy on romance.

Most of them are contemporary, all (except for the characters on their way to Oregon) are set in places I have lived or love. Some are connected to each other as in some characters know each other and in the next story, they will reappear. They are romances with a dangerous aspect. Each story will have the emotional aspect that the characters wrestle with but also something more, that edge which I enjoy reading in other books.

Here, in this blog, will be the place for me to write about the books, new ideas for future books, about the process of writing, the disappointments, the pleasures, the problems, and about the value of romance to life.