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Bookstore observations:

Books. They line every shelf, every aisle. As far as the eye can see. Well, except the cafe. The scent of new books fills my nostrils and my heart speeds up. I’m on a hunt for something to fall in love with. Something to read and cherish and mark in and love until the pages are broken and worn. This particular hunt is for that perfect RomCom.

I’ve read other RomCom-y almost stories…

I loved this back in its fic days… The first fic I have ever read, the book series is excellent, too.

The paperback version I own was given to me from Fics 2 Flicks. If they hadn’t sent it my way, I would have NEVER discovered this lovely gem.

And they are fantastic and on my favorites shelf in GoodReads. But they’re too Eromedy for what I’m searching for. (Eromedy is a term I made up when I wrote Life Imitating Art. The author in that story called her tales Eromedies…and I use it all the time now. It’s Erotic Romance meets Romantic Comedy.) Not that there is anything wrong with these stories, but I want something sweet and endearing and not all about the sexy times.

I have a few of those. Much like the books above, I own multiple incarnations of them or the entire series or both. They sit on my shelves and on my kindle. I pull them out on occasion to read through my favorite parts that I’ve bookmarked and/or highlighted. Much like the line in What’s Your Number?, the movie, each thing brings a patter to my heart, a smile to my lips. I love these books.

A few of my Absolute Favorites:

What’s Your Number?

Originally titled: 20 Times a Lady

Both by Karen Bosnak. One is a movie tie-in cover. I own both–in paperback and kindle–because I just love the story so much!
Did you know, in the books, the main character’s name wasn’t Ally Darling? It was Delilah Darling. Anyway…

Between the Lines  series by Tammara Webber

Boomerang series by Noelle August (a collab Veronica Rossi & Lorin Oberweger)

I don’t know what I loved most about these books. The drama. The humor. The story. They just snatched my attention and I couldn’t put them down until the last word was read, at which point I refused to put them down.

These are the types books I went hunting for.

I stalked my shelves first. I tend to hoard books like a squirrel readying his nuts for the winter. I buy them based on the appeal of the cover and a quick scan of the blurb. A few of my favorite books have been discovered with that process (see, The Night Circus). I got excited when I spotted:

Jane Austen Ruined My Life

I pulled it out and went for the description first. Read, read, read, and slowing down and…bummer. This turns out to be more Chick Lit than RomCom. I’m just not in that mood.

So I took to the web. GoodReads has lists and lists and I went straight for the RomCom list. Book after book. Found one that was highly rated and was supposed to be Cinderella meets Falling Down. Just off the pitch alone, I was had. And I got Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman on my kindle and read and read…all the way to 30% when I realized: CHICK LIT! NO! The break-up was inevitable…it just wasn’t working out. It’s not the book, it’s all me. Maybe I’ll pull an Ally Darling and try again in the future, but for now…

I have sadly found, a lot of Chick Lit is lumped into the RomCom categories. I don’t want a woman empowered  because she found her life path in a life of suckage, I want ROMANCE AND COMEDY! GET ME JAKE ADAMS!

(Take that back. I want COLIN SHEA more)

Now, I got excited when I came across The Nanny Diaries on Amazon and Goodread’s RomCom Lists.

And I truly adore the movie, so I thought, why not? The book and the movie align here and there, as it should. But the book took the more Nanny approach to life where the movie went all Harvard Hottie. And I wanted so much for Harvard Hottie to be the story. It wasn’t a bad book by any means, it was just not enough in the Rom to balance out the Com in the story. *heavy, slightly saddened sigh*

It wasn’t getting any better.

A friend (hi, kiTT!) recommended:

A Nicholas Sparks novel. (Found a copy at the bookstore!) It’s on my TBR list and bookshelf, but I’m worried it’s way too DramRom (Dramatic Romance) rather than RomCom…

While I was at the store hunting down that Sparks book, I searched for more RomComs…I’ll take anything movie related, television show related, or just a great, sweet story like it never before touching the screens of the world. I found the romance section and I was thrilled and full of hope. But as I walked through the books, my heart started breaking. These books had shirtless cowboys and southern belles, guys with long hair, historical tales, a dude in a kilt going by the name Outlander. Uh…somehow I wandered into the wrong place. None of them were for me. Totally out of my league and not really my type at all. Even if the shirtless cowboys did snag a peek of my attention…I’m no longer hanging at Billy Bob’s. Time to go.

So I wander past the graphic novel aisle, stopping to consider Saga book 5 and Captain America (The Winter Soldier, Civil War, and the so very heartbreaking, The Death of Captain America…Pass. I think I’ll save my breakdown and ten boxes of tissues for the movie, thank you) and enter the generic fiction shelves. I found a ton of Chick Lit, traditional fiction, a row of Stephen King, a shelf of Gillian Flynn…and oh, look! Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin (the current read)! All I needed was Something Blue. They didn’t have that, but they did have Baby Proof on my TBR list… but that’s total Chick Lit. Ugh. Okay…There were some Sophie Kinsella novels, though the one I’m searching for:

may just have to come in Kindle form. *heavy sigh* Shelf after shelf was not even close to anything I want to read right now.

I go across the main aisle and search the YA section…because I do love me some YA reads more often than not. Twilight barely exists anymore, only occupying a third of a shelf. Sad. But that’s not even RomCom genre. Shelf after shelf. Much like fiction, I notice groupings. There is a section of dystopian love where The Hunger Games and Divergent run into The Maze Runner.  They aren’t bad, but I am sort of tired of reading about heroines who conquer all. Then there is the strong heroine in the contemporary fiction. BTDT. Random fiction, a lot of which I have read already. And much like the fiction section, I am realizing RomCom seems like an antiquated notion these days.

When did it go against the rules for a basic love story to exist? Does it really matter if a girl falls for a guy or vice versa or guy for a guy or girl for a girl? Because it seems like if a girl falls for a guy, she broke some law and the universe will come to a halt. I’m not saying have the MC be a weak little thing and give up her life for the football captain or whatever…even if I do love me some Sixteen Candles  and Jake Ryan types. I’m feeling like any fluff and fun that used to be so easy to find has just fizzled into nothing. And if the guy falls for a girl, he’s seen as weak. And if the guy falls for a guy, then it has to be about him dealing with it instead of just being in love. And same with a girl for a girl…UGH. WHERE ARE THE STORIES OF LOVE WITHOUT A LIFE-LESSON-DRAMA TO GO WITH IT?

Which truly concerns me. Because those are my stories. I love the not-life-lesson-drama and the heart and the fun. I adore the moment someone admits their feelings. I love the chase and typically the happy ending no matter the cliché. I’m a sucker for such things. I’m DYING to read a story like this. I’m on the verge of writing a story like this. Which bring me to the next concern…

If they are so out of sync with the world these days, would it get published? Would it be worth a write? That’s a major thought…one that makes me pause and think of all the sci-fi, the dystopian, the stories of strength and virtue…is a RomCom just nothing in the world of publishing now? Because I know I am hard pressed to find a good RomCom-y movie these days. (Which I can’t wait to see My Fair Dude! Wish it was a book!)

I hope I’m just overthinking again. Because something in my gut is yelling at me to write this story.

In the meantime, I did pick up one book (that hopefully fits this love story idea) since I recently acquired the companion story on my Kindle and I was desperately searching for this one:

I just hope it’s as cute as the book jacket summary reads.

And PS… I totally bought the second one just because of the cover alone. (I have a weird book/page art thing. I have a whole pinterest board dedicated to that obsession.)

So to any of my readers, followers out there…if you can recommend a GREAT ROMCOM, please do. Comments, email, twitter…tumblr…any of them. I am desperate for a new love! I can only Colin Shea for so long… (going on five years now…Who am I kidding? This will probably last for an eternity.)

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Filed under author woes, book boyfriends, book covers, books that speak, keeping entertained, love story, on the book shelf, rêveur, read, romance can't be antiquated, romcoms are my peeps, the fangirling has made it here, write, writing wishlist

Mr. Holland’s Opus

Anyone remember that movie?

It came out about the same time as Powder.

Both movies made me weep crocodile tears and kill off about thirty trees’ worth of tissues. They’re both one of those movies that I could only watch once, but I remember vividly and has yet to leave my mind.

Anyway…That’s the reference. The actual story for this post is this: I’ve decided that Human Touch may very well be my Mr. Holland’s Opus, but instead of creating the most beautiful piece of music, I’m trying to create a saga type tale along Harry Potter lines, minus the wizards, add ghosts, demons, but still witchery and religion mingling in a rom com YA.

Yeah, I still need a lot of work on finding the perfect genre for this sweeping series of stories that I would love to finish, that I want to share with other people, that I know is supposed to be out there in the universe somewhere rather than sitting in various Word docs and Scrivener files…and sitting in my brain.

This story has been ___ years in the making. The story idea started in my head in 2010, written out in a short “Note to Self” post-it on my computer–a literal post-it stuck to the laptop lid. 2011 it was a passing thought as I couldn’t figure out the story, the hook. 2012 it clicked when I was at Comic Con…and I was literally seven to ten people (depending if I let the others in my group go before me or after me) away from meeting someone while camping out for the Thursday Hall H opener. And after, I sat thinking, as most of the line was going to sleep…this is how my ghost would feel if this guy just missed her. She would be super bummed, like it should happen, but she’s a fracken ghost in love with a human…

And everything just became a waterfall. Possible names. Possible places. Events that go on in a high school senior’s life, things my ghost would have missed out on, the things that have changed from the 1980s to the (then) present day of 2012.

And this tale started spilling onto journal pages decorated with birds and trees. And when I had a rough plan, I began to type and type and type. Through tired fingers, tired brains, and temporary carpal tunnel as I’ve never typed that much before in a single sitting. Nikki and McClane came to life. The only thing I didn’t have, was an ending. Did I want to go typical HEA or did I want to go with reality?

I opted for HEA with a twist, leading to another book, then another, then another, then plans for two more just on their story, plans on four others for stories of other characters, then the alternate ending story which, truthfully is a book within itself (and almost completed in first draft now).

Spring 2013 – I had the first three books of Human Touch series typed. I call this first half of the series my baby, though it’s been said to never call it that. But in my eyes, it is. July to April to complete the three (very long) books in first draft. Nine long, learning filled months. The amount of time for a baby to grow and be born. My baby.

Fall 2013 – The first work was edited and formatted and re-written…a few times…then voila! I considered her done. Researched queries…which admittedly is still a weak point of mine…and sent them out. No after no. I’ve had about four personalized noes, feels like a thousand form noes, and a few that said it was great, but the genre was falling apart and they were taking less Paranormal Romance YA…which, this truly is being about ghosts…not that Vampire/Werewolf stuff they say is Paranormal. (THOSE ARE SUPERNATURAL!)

So fine. I put it away for a bit. Made some changes. Wound up expanding on the story. to over 150,000 words…and it still doesn’t cover everything.

And after taking out what was considered “non-essential” I had it down to 126,000…but it lost so much to me. Nikki’s personality was gone. Events that run through all six books, some through three, gone. Nothing made sense anymore. I hated it.

Summer 2014 – Queried that version. Again, the same amount of noes. pretty much just like that first list. So I put it away. Very far away. I even have drafts in a folder labeled: NEVER LOOK AT THESE AGAIN

Seriously. Those drafts are horrible. I hate them, but I refuse to delete them. Reminders of how terribly things can go wrong when writing.

Fall 2014 – Started another series, Love, Darrows. (As if I hadn’t written Last Man Standing, Life Imitating Art, Life Inspiring Art, and an untitled novella in there.) And it took a while to find my style and voice. I am pithy. I am also very verbose. (150,000 + words for one book!…*looking at Order of the Phoenix and wondering the comparison on that.*) I don’t like info dumps, though everyone critiquing my story (except the BFF and someone whose opinion on writing I trust more than Honest Abe) kept harping on show don’t tell. But I was showing. Maybe not in long-winded descriptions like most authors seem to do, like most agents seem to like as these books/stories are published. I think it detracts from the story. (see also The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo) I think describing bits and pieces that are important works with all of the events going on in the story. You’re getting the story. You’re getting the descriptions. You don’t need to know that McClane is in a western style shirt that is blue plaid with small black lines broken up with white and a t-shirt under that came from some band Nikki thinks is fake because Thirty Seconds to Mars makes no sense, though DeLoreans going 88 mph to time travel makes perfect sense, and how those items pair well with his tight denim jeans then the boots, cowboy not work, but I’ve seen some places where even the color of the shoelaces have been described just to paint the complete picture.

I hate it.

So it would go with me that Nikki would notice the worn jeans that are just right tight. She would jaw drop at those old boots of his, as though he’s been riding out on the range all day and is just now swooping into town all dusty. But then they talk… He says, “Hey, Kitten. You ready?” as “Hi, Cowboy,” wisps from her in a quiet breath. She can’t think of an answer to the rest. That hours later, during a hug, Thirty Seconds to Mars must make some great music. That t-shirt has been worn a thousand times, because it’s the softest thing she’s rested her cheek on. McClane’s football-sculpted chest rock was hard though. Then during their moonlight stroll, he offered her this cowboy shirt that was blue, plaid, and thin when she was shuddering from the cold breeze swarming them.

Something like that. That’s not even a part of the story which is how easy those characters are for me to write.

So here we are. 2015. Summer-ish. The story has been put away for a year now. One whole year–with the small exception of formatting a chapter for self-pub(?) here and there as writer’s block hits or I am too tired and it’s easier to type what I see than think. . And these characters are screaming at me. Like taking Cruz, Tyler, and Jamie–three guys from the newest story I’m writing–and shoving them to the side as though they aren’t important. McClane, Nikki, and Jaden are screaming at me, “Pay attention to us!” And a thought hit…what if I took my longest draft to date (the 156,000+ one) and kept the events the same, because they are perfect, and used my way of show not tell, only highlighting the most important things to these characters instead of painting out every little detail like I have.

And yesterday, since it was bothering me and I couldn’t go to sleep until I had it done…

I took chapter two…the real, almost original start to my story, the moment I love…it starts with him and her and it will end with him and her…and typed it out as though Nikki was talking through Quentin with less poetry. So far, I’ve condensed 2,505 words down to 1,600, and divided two-thirds of a chapter into two smaller chapters.

I rather like it. This is just a smidge more Nikki from the first drafts then the rambling long-windedness I hate.

So I’m now toying with writing the rest like this. Like Quentin without the poetry, but with the voice on an 18-year-old girl from 1989. Like it was. Taking this format that a few agents have liked enough to ask for full drafts of Darrows…That maybe there is a light to the end of this Human Touch tunnel

My Opus.

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Filed under author woes, editing worries, finding myself, human touch, learning lessons, love darrows, my opus, paranormal, rewrite it, self publish, self-doubt, supernatural, write

As Homer Simpson would say…

D’OH!

Yeah…that about covers it.

Yesterday, I did my kill-myself-until-I-die exercise routine. Turned on the water and checked email while pacing about in my exercise gear and waiting for the hot water to kick in. In my email, I found something that had me falling to my knees and crying hysterically. My story, Love, Darrows–yes, the same baby I belly ached about last week–had a callback…um, that’s an acting term, sorry…chapters and a synopsis request. I still can’t believe it happened.

I read the thing like a zillion times, through tears and notified those that would get it…and after my very tears-of-joy-filled shower, I sat down to reply to the email.

I copied everything from my MS into Google Docs to format it for email compatibility. Then copied and pasted from there into the email as requested. Yay me for getting it in there correctly, although I had to go through and create all the necessary indentions for paragraphs. PITA, but done. Yay me for doing that correctly again.

I’m really good at this point.

Then yesterday afternoon, I had my first “D’oh! Moment” of this journey. I freaked out thinking the agent asked for a summary instead of the synopsis…which would mean I sent THE ENTIRE WRONG THING! And I freaked and the severe shakes came back…and I couldn’t face the email she sent…and after an hour I checked because I wasn’t getting anything else done…and there it was in black on a white screen: “synopsis”. Mild heart attack. No damage done. Good. I could breathe again.

Then I was trying to fix my Google Doc with indentions, a royal PITA (oooo….The Royals starts on E! this weekend!) and I found a missing word from a sentence! It had to have been lost during the copy and paste process… UGH!!!

Major panic mode two. Do I send an updated email with the word replaced or not? A quandary I have yet to figure out. All because I don’t want to look like a newb, although I am a MAJOR NEWB at this! That decision is still up in the air.

Panic Mode three. DEFCON 1!!! I keep thinking my response left a lot of information out of the body of the letter. Though I’ve Googled plenty of times of what to do when someone requests chapters or pages, the only advice was to follow the agent’s request to the letter. Which I did—Yay me! But I haven’t found anything about what to say in said letter. And I keep thinking I should have added more info…I did add the title, and thank yous and mentioned her request and label the email as requested, but I didn’t put in pages or word count, I didn’t mention YA novel…And I keep thinking I should have. Right? Did someone blog this and I missed it or wasn’t in the circuit at the time?

So today, I am left with this MAJOR D’OH! MOMENT hanging over my head, questioning every little thing I’ve done…Analyzing how wrong I’ve done it.

I thought sending queries was tough. I’m just totally clueless…

…but I am still going to keep working my way towards that ever calling goal of getting published, learning from my mistakes along the way. And I’m super glad someone got Quent. He is a hard sell, but so worth it. Love ya, Darrows!

all gifs found on {giphy}.

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Filed under author woes, CW dramas rule, fictional beginnings, love carter, love darrows, publish it, query, self-doubt

Love, Darrows.

Quentin Darrows. My guy. Book one of the duology…although I love to call them a duet more. A picky, uptight fellow. And the guy I’m pimping out right now.

Ish.

Querying him is difficult. Because his tale is as old as the idea of sand yet entirely new and modern. Because he is gay, and while everyone says they want that diverse character, not everyone mentions that on what they want to see in their query inboxes, so I’m questioning whether I chose the right agent.

Because much like I do with people IRL, I take a big sister approach to my guy. I don’t want anyone to put him down, or belittle him whether it’s for being gay or because this story is admittedly on the far side of a normal teen going to a normal high school and falling in love…but it’s just a love story. And I will defend it him them to the end.

Because my family, when this gets published, will NOT be happy with me because they don’t accept gays or lesbians or any one they perceive as not being ‘normal’. Which is highly sad because they’re missing out on a lot of great people. That and causes a lot of riffs among us. This may very well put that final stamp on my familial exile.

Because I love these two. Alone. Together. They’re unique and different. Unlike any other characters I’ve read, and I’ve been reading a lot lately. To have someone turn them down…For me, it equates to being back in high school. I was the weird girl who never fit in, but embraced her oddness and really flaunted it. It hurt to have people judge me or oust me because I’m different…Weird. I don’t want my guys to be judged for being too far off what someone would expect, but I am fully expecting it to happen.

So why am I scared? All of the above, sure. I mean, my other series, Human Touch isn’t quite the norm, either. And I was nervous submitting those queries, but I was never crying-and-throwing-up-as-though-I-got-a-positive-on-a-pregnancy-test-when-he-promised-the-condoms-weren’t-expired sort of scared to death.

Two so far. That’s all I’ve been able to get out there. Two queries. Today.

We’ll see if this goes anywhere. I’d love for it to, because I know in my heart Quentin and Lex are two great guys that need to be shared. I just need to get over this fear and get them out there.

Why am I so scared?

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Filed under author woes, human touch, love carter, love darrows, love story, publish it, query, self-doubt

I’m lost. Again.

The doldrums of just having completed a novel, series or not, is really taking its toll. I miss my guys. I miss them insulting each other, kissing all the time. I miss them just being together. My guys…

Well, as close as I can get to what I have going on in my head. Lex is more tan, darker hair always in a beanie. White-grey eyes. Grunged out to back in the 90s. Six feet tall. Lackadaisical. I LOVE HIM! And Q (Quent, Quentin) is the same hair with curls at the end and sandier. Speaks without a Brit accent. Has a slightly more rounded face. Preppy as though life will end should a shirt not come with an embroidered emblem on it. I LOVE HIM TOO!

My guys. They’ve been with me every single day for the past seven (ish) months. Since that day I walked into my kitchen after having gone shopping and it hit me, why couldn’t this one being be different from how everyone else perceives him. And it literally avalanched from there. I started writing out in journals trying to find his voice, making notes on his world, others in his world, rules he has to abide by, and it grew and grew until I had this being and his best friend. Before I knew it, chapters were frenetically flying from my fingers onto documents in my computer, page after page quickly filling.

And now, they’re done.

It’s like breaking up with someone you’ve been dating exclusively for a very long time, and suddenly you find yourself sitting at your favorite little nook, hoping to catch a smile or a glance should they happen by, but they don’t show. Because it’s done. Over. I’m sure we’ll slide back into bed at some point as I try to get them published, but it could never be the same as what we had for all that time.

*Heavy sigh*

I miss my guys. I can’t be the only author who can’t let her characters go…I guess that’s how series came about…oh, and fan fiction…Wait…I could write a FF about my story…and save it until my book it published then post it…

Suggestions for moving on? Any advice out there?

In the meantime, I have entered Love, Darrows into PitchWars, the Sorry! edition. We’ll see on March 2nd if I made it past an entry. If not, I can and will query this baby out. *fingers crossed*

gifs from Giphy and the topmost image is my own edit.

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Filed under author woes, love carter, love darrows, Pitch Wars