Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why it's good to push yourself

Two weeks ago, a miracle happened. I had the house to myself for the weekend. That's almost three full days without the TV squawking, the constant inquiry of "Mommy, can I...." and the interruptions of my husband's friends. What did I do with this glorious time? Well, yes I did reserve a few moments for bubble baths, celebratory drinks, junk food, and trashy movies. But most of the time I dedicated to my writing. I knew that I would not get another opportunity for uninterrupted solitude, and I needed to use it. I set myself the seemingly impossible goal of 10,000 words for the weekend.

Well, just five minutes before midnight on that Sunday night, I accomplished my goal. Getting started was the hardest part, but there were many moments when the blinking cursor seemed to ask, "What now?" and I did not have an answer. Still, I blundered through, writing some lifeless crud that I know will be cut in the next draft. But as I plugged along, often an amazing thing happened. The story would jolt to life like Frankenstein's monster (couldn't resist the Halloween-esque analogy) and it seemed the words poured out from my fingertips on their own. It was magical and I was living the story along with the characters.

It happened again today. I had hoped to have this draft finished by Friday, but I have little hope, because I was sick for the last three days. Still, I'm going to try. This morning, hacking and sneezing away, I forced myself in front of the word processor, I had a staring contest with the blinking cursor and won. The story has come back and I'm excited about it once more.

Does this happen to you? Please, tell me of your ups and downs in story creation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"My Journey" featuring

In honor of twitter's #WriterWednesday, I am starting a new feature with this blog. My Journey will focus on paranormal authors and how they got into the genre and the wild world of publishing. Today I would like to welcome author, Beth Ann Masarik. 

My name is Beth Ann Masarik, and I am 26 years old.  I live in New York, the publishing capital of America.  I primarily write urban fantasy/romance stories, though I will be slowly branching out into the sci fi world with my next novel.  I first got into the genre, when I started reading the Harry Potter books, and fell in love with them.  I fell in love with fantasy-romance when I read the Night World series by L.J. Smith.  She paints such a wonderful picture, and I decided that I wanted to model my writing around her.  

I found my publisher, Otherworld, through an ad on facebook, and took a chance by sending them in a query letter.  They have been wonderful so far, and I have heard of nothing but good things about them.  
I currently have a short story published in the AugnoWrimo anthology called Milestone.  It's a short story anthology with about thirty other authors.  I have received some great reviews for my short story, Murderous Regrets, which is a The World Among Us short story.  

Currently, my contract with Otherworld Publications is for my novel, The World Among Us.

The World Among Us, is an Urban Fantasy Romance story about the Greek moon goddess Selene Aysel.  Selene is one of Gaia’s grandchildren, and is the main victim of Hade’s evil plot.  Gaia is the creator of the world, and all the creatures that live in it.  Hades wants to take over and remove Gaia from power.  To do so, he sends his only son Damien to do a horrible task, one that Damien regrets doing later on.  As the result of Hades’ mission for Damien, a prophecy is made that will aid the gods and goddesses in the final battle.
Will the gods and goddesses be willing to work with some of the rogue vampires and demons who want to turn good, and bring down Hades?  Or is the world as we know it doomed to fall under dark shadows forever?

The World Among Us is a series with at least two books, and possibly a few novellas and some more short stories.  I am plotting out my next big novel called The Adventures of Clockgirl, in which I create my own world, and is about a girl who goes undercover as a super hero to help save the world.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Beth! Your series sounds like a lot of fun. Readers can follow Beth’s website here, and follow her on twitter as @theworldamongus

If any paranormal romance/ urban fantasy authors would like to be featured here, please email me at annarkie12@gmail.com

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's Your Favorite Paranormal Hero?

Forget the whole "Team Jacob" vs. "Team Edward" thing. For one thing, they're so limited. What I am talking about today goes far beyond opposing creations of the same author, or even two or three authors. I am talking about what cover description, what "creature feature," if I may, that is most likely to tempt you to take out your wallet and a book to the cashier.

Back in the late 80's and early '90s, when the paranormal romance genre came into being, the choices were fairly limited. You had the ghosts, classic brooding vampires (that never wanted to be vampires), and in a rare case, you'd get a sorcerer or a Djinn.

Now we have fey, selkies, satyrs, mermaids, were-everything (Authors, Stella and Audra Price even have weresnakes! Check out Entwined by Fate) witches, sorcerers, ghosts, demons, djinn, and classic vampires.

Even with all these choices, I still gravitate towards vampires. To me they are the epitome of all that is dark and sexy. Witches and sorcerers are a close second, because I've always loved magic.

I've never been all that into ghosts because face it, they're dead! I suppose the same would go for zombies. I've grown up on too many zombie flicks to even remotely considered an animated corpse as a sex object. Howver, there's a disclaimer. I have yet to read a zombie romance, so though I'm reluctant, I will give em a shot.

As for werewolves, at first I cringed at the thought of a werewolf romance. I'm a cat person and the smell of dog makes gag. To have a canine lover that would reek when he came out of the rain? Ewww! But I've read so many good werewolf stories that, if recommended to me, I'll give em a try. Favorites so far are the Kitty series by Carrie Vaughn and 13 to Life by the awesome Shannon Delany.

So which monsters and creatures are your favorites? What turns your dials up to ten? Which paranormal heroes do you loathe? And why?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stripped-Cover Paperbacks and Pirated e-books.

When a bookstore or grocery store fails to sell as many copies of a paperback book as they intended, they strip the covers off and send them back to the publisher for a refund. The stripped book is then to be thrown away or recycled.

But that doesn't always happen. When I was little, many of the books I read were missing covers and depicted the statement on the front that sales of the book without its cover was unauthorized because the author or publisher were not getting paid for it since it was stripped. I felt terrible about that, but confused. It never said why the cover was ripped off.. And I know that it wasn't bought that way. It was free.

For a little extra money, my mom and aunt would go "do magazines." What they meant was that grocery stores hired them every month or so to take down old issues of magazines from the shelves and stock them with new ones. The same thing went for the stripped paperback books. The store allowed them to keep what they wanted. Mom had a little bookworm at home, so she would save books just for me. The first few Harry Potter books I read were missing covers.

Now that we have e-books, just like anything in a digital format, piracy is an issue. As with the stripped paperbacks, the authors and publishers lose money on pirated e-books. However, I believe that reading a pirated book is much worse than reading a stripped book because it is deliberate stealing, whereas one obtains stripped books because the seller threw them away.

One cannot ignore the fact that both are bad for authors. As an author myself, the thought of my book being stripped of its cover and thrown in the trash, or some yahoo downloading it for free makes me cringe. I think the return policy needs to change drastically. Piracy needs to stop but I have no idea how it will. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On "Coerced Seduction."

Anyone remember the old "bodice rippers" of the 70's and 80's? It seemed that there was a rape scene guaranteed  in almost every one. I've read some particularly horrible ones in my lifetime. One of the worst in my memory is that the hero brutally raped the heroine and then dipped his signet ring in her virgin blood and stamped his "mark" on the sheets for some other guy to see. Yikes!!! Squick!

It is now practically universally agreed in the romance community that it is wrong for the hero to rape the heroine. But the issue still raises debates to this day of why those books featured rape so frequently in the first place. Google "rape in romance novels" The theories are fascinating.

But today there is still a sort of gray area on what is often called "forced seduction" in romances. What is "forced seduction?" As I told a twitterfriend who inquired when I mentioned doing this very post, I and many readers define "forced seduction" as "almost rape but not quite."

Notice, though that I titled the post "Coerced Seduction." Why? Because in my research for this blog I did not run across a clear definition separating forced seduction from rape. One post stated, "use of the word 'force' indicates that is IS rape." Ah, semantics. So I made up my own term.

"Coerced Seduction," in my opinion is anything from flat out blackmail: "Sleep with me and I will give you this" to the whole "no, no, no, YES!" scenario. (I always picture the scene from SPACEBALLS with Dark Helmet playing with his action figures with this one.)

But are these scenarios "okay?" My answer: It all depends on how they are written. Do the characters learn and grow from these experiences, or was it thrown in there to show that the hero is "Alpha" and the heroine just takes it? Women do want to be seduced, and don't want a wimpy guy who stammers as he asks to kiss her on the cheek. There is something flattering about a guy so consumed with passion that he "couldn't help himself." My (now ex) husband actually said that before our first kiss (the "I can't help myself," not the "consumed with passion" bit.) But that was just a kiss. If he'd thrown me on the ground and ripped my clothes off, not only would we not have gotten married, but he'd likely be maimed and in prison.

What inspired this discussion is a misunderstanding between my characters in my current project*. I won't get too detailed here, but the basics are that they hopped into bed together right away (there was a misunderstanding there too) and when a side character hears about it she brings up the question as to whether or not the hero would have raped the heroine if she had said, "no." Don't worry, dear reader, he wouldn't have. I think the point I made was that if you hop into bed with someone you just met, the potential for disastrous misunderstanding is epic.

* That novel is IRONIC SACRIFICE.

Also, what defines the hero being too "forceful" or "coercive" in his seduction? It's not like good sex, in romance novels or real life is planned. How many sexual encounters have you had where the partner actually asks, "please may I make love to you?" (I do have the hero say that in this novel after they hash out the misunderstanding.)

Thoughts, please?

Side note: When looking for an image for this post featuring a lady who appeared reluctant, I came across this one:
 *Sarcastic voice* Hmmm...what's wrong here?