Thursday, May 31, 2007

No News is No News

Every writer out there understands what it's like to wait, and wait, and wait for an answer to a query or a request. It's the nature of the business, and some of us take it better than others. I fluctuate between forcibly ignoring the time when I know the mail is due to arrive to glancing out the window every five minutes.

The old axiom "No news is good news" does not apply to a writer. We obsess over whether our query actually made it to the appropriate party in the first place. Did we have the proper address? Did it get lost in the mail or in cyberspace? We obsess over whether said party is so engulfed with queries that ours is at the bottom of a HUGE pile that may not be seen until the next calendar year. We obsess over whether our SASE was properly stamped, especially when rate hikes hit while our material is still out there. We obsess over whether the SASE was lost or properly addressed. Yes, I have been known to print out an envelope addressed to me with the incorrect address. Luckily, I caught it before sending it out, but I bet sometimes things like that get missed.

I have no problem with rejections. Okay, they aren't my favorite pieces of mail, but at least I know the outcome and can tick that agent or editor off my list. When I don't get a response within the stated guidelines of the entity's website, I don't panic. With the busyness of agents and editors I rarely receive a response within the time they claim. And that's okay. I accept that and don't begrudge them the time they need. When it stretches into twice the time, I get nervous. Usually by then I've zapped an email asking if my query arrived. Most have responded in a timely manner to that. Not necessarily in a "send me your full manuscript" or "we want you" manner, but a response nonetheless.

I've learned a lot about patience since starting this writing thing. Oh, I don't claim to have it, but I've learned a lot about it. I've decided it's a bit like being pregnant. Lots of anticipation and excitement, lots of anxiety over the arrival. But when you're pregnant, you know that in roughly 40 weeks you'll have something to show for your efforts. While waiting for a response to a query, you could have become pregnant, had the baby and watched it take its first steps until the mailman coughs up your SASE.

Also, while you're pregnant you are urged not to drink. While waiting for a response you are essentially expected to drink.

In the wise words of Miss Snark, I will quit obsessing and write well.

Okay, so I'll write well, anyway.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Erotic Romance Does Not Mean Porn

Anya Bast has a new release coming out in June called Witch Fire. Witch Fire is the story of a young woman who discovers she has magical ability associated with the element of air. She is paired up with a male witch who controls fire, and let me tell you, the sparks do fly!

Anya writes steamy paranormals, but more satisfying than the sex (which is HOT) is the character development and engaging plot. I was not a regular reader of erotic romance, but with the likes of Anya and my other pal Ellie Marvel writing the genre, I've happily expanded my scope.

Some folks mistakenly equate erotic romance with pornography. They couldn't be more wrong. In a good erotic romance there are characters you want to have as friends, who you care about; the story lines are well plotted and exciting. The love scenes enhance the story, bringing the hero and heroine together on an emotional level as well as a physical one. Anya and Ellie give you the whole package.

To me, porn is a collection of sex scenes strung together by the thinnest of story threads without the benefit of characterization. Porn is meant to titillate, not tell a story. But that's my opinion. Your idea may differ.

Check out Anya and Ellie. You'll like what you see. And buy their books!!!


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Suspending Reality

{This is a post related to writing. Don't be shocked.}

My friend Sharron and I were discussing one of her upcoming books. She told me she needed to work on the ending because it wasn't quite right. I asked what she needed to tweak, knowing it wasn't the fact her heroine had certain physical abilities beyond those of normal humans. No, she said, it was a problem with speed and water. She was concerned someone would scoff.

I completely understood. While her heroine's bizarre biological makeup could be readily accepted (Sharone does a great job of relating the scientific whys and wherefores without killing you with it), a glitch in physics may throw you out of a story. Well, me and Sharron anyway. There are Laws of Physics. With biology, they're more like basic guidelines.

What it boils down to is the suspension of belief. It's what we rely on to keep a reader in the story. One or two goofs, even if they're fairly minor, might make a reader toss the book across the room. And we don't want that. Sometimes it's easier to believe a far-fetched plot than to have a plot point that's too close to reality come off as wrong.

One case we discussed was the comparison of the TV shows "October Road" and "Drive". In "October Road" (rant in an earlier post), this guy goes off and leaves his hometown without calling or writing to his girlfriend for TEN YEARS! My first thought: What a crock. Add to that, the girlfriend has a son about 9 years old and claims he's not the guy's kid. right after he left for this supposedly short trip, you screwed around? Niiiiice. These are not the kind of people I want to know about. Where's the remote?

"Drive," on the other hand, is about an illegal cross-country road race where the participants are gathered via some nefarious means. The main character, played by the yummy Nathan Fillion : ), is searching for his missing wife who was kidnapped by the race coordinators to get him to race. Plus they go through all kinds of mind games with him and the other participants. The concept is ludicrous. Yet, I'm willing to set that aside because it's the world the creators have set up. And because of my lust for Nathan Fillion, but that's neither here nor there. (NOTE: It looks like "Drive" may have been cancelled, with its final episodes airing in July. Dang!)

As paranormal writers, we can pretty much be guaranteed that readers will go along for the ride if we say our characters have shape-shifting ability, see ghosts, drink blood to survive, or what have you. A reader picking up such a story has already "agreed" to accept your world. As long as you have good characters to care about and can give a decent explanation (without the dreaded info dumping) for why this phenomenon occurs, you're probably good to go. But defy physics without explaining how, or say a soldier in the US Army uses a type of weapon a G.I. would never be issued, or tell me some teenager will leave home and never even send a postcard to his girlfriend, and your believability goes out the window. And possibly your chance at having someone pick up another one of your books, unless it is to mock it.

Not that I'd ever do that }: )