Friday, March 30, 2007


I tend not to enter awards, especially when they're popularity contests of the "please vote for me" category. Too much like American Idol for my liking!
But I do enter the EPPIES every year, the RITAs of the electronic publishing world, in that they are entered by the author then judged by ones peers. And I do like to support organisations I believe in, and EPIC is certainly one of those!
Well I won it two years ago with the historical, HARLEY STREET. It was the Romantic Suspense EPPIE, not the historical romance one, so I showed you can write a thriller set in the past! It was a real jolt to my career, and the award sits on my shelf to encourage me and help me along.
Well a couple of weeks ago, I won another one! This time, the Paranormal Romance EPPIE for A GRIFFIN'S TREASURE. This time I was a bit more than thrilled. Where I come from, we call it gobsmacked! This is the a boost for the new Department 57 series, a series dear to my heart, and the other bookend. My DH wants to do a display case with the awards and my books in between, but where to put it? That's a little too much for me, and in any case, my room is festooned with dollhouses already!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Give it up!

Recently, I've come across an author who has decided to give up writing fiction.

While I respect her decision, that's something I could never do, but it does give me an idea.

I will always write. I wrote for years without even considering publication, it didn't matter. It wasn't part of my life.

When I did write with publication in mind, I had a different attitude. I'm asking people to pay good money for my work, so all the self indulgence had to go, and I had to have a more professional attitude. That meant looking at markets, producing a book regularly, a proper working day.

I still love it, and I think all the discipline has actually raised my game. I'm certainly happier with the way I'm writing.

But could I give up writing? Hell, no!

However, I've seen writers in despair, because they can't find an agent, can't find a publisher, can't find a home for their work. So my advice would be to give yourself a holiday from that.

Just write. Remind yourself why you do this, how much you love it. Forget markets, forget the business and just give yourself permission to write, something you care about that doesn't fit anywhere, or do anything except maybe hone your craft a little, and free up your voice.

You never know, you might end up with your first published book! But it doesn't matter. If you don't, you have reminded yourself just why you put yourself through this torture, what is at the heart of your writing, why you do it.

And if you find yourself writing nothing, don't despair. Perhaps that was the break you needed and you'll come back refreshed, or even find yourself turning in another direction.

powered by performancing firefox

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Romance rules OK!

Yet another post on another blog (no, I'm not linking to it) saying that romance is rubbish and formulaic. Why is it only romance that is judged by its poorest examples, instead of its best?

Romance is seen as the lowest of the low by many people, and invariably, those people haven't actually read any, or have read a couple and decided it's not for them. From this you get the view that "Harlequin is boy and girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, no sex involved, the end." You see that all over, but anyone who's read a good Intrigue or Blaze can tell you just how wrong that is.

The other is that romance is the single largest genre in paperback sales (I don't know about hardback, so I'm leaving them out). And in ebook sales, too. So it's a lucrative market, if you can break into it. That inevitably leads to a slew of 'also rans,' writers that are just okay, writers who are cynically exploiting the genre (yes, shock,horror, they do exist!) and writers who think, "well, it's only romance, so I can get away with stuff."
Well, in the long run, they can't. Romance books have to be deeply felt, original and exciting to truly make the grade, although, as any romance reader will tell you, she will read a bit of fodder just to keep her habit running comfortably.

Romance is no longer "boy/girl," it can be "boy/boy," "boy/girl/boy" or "vampire/girl," and so on. So "boy meets girl" no longer applies. Romantic suspense has also enlivened the genre, so some romances read more like a James Bond novel or even a police procedural. The romance still has to be upfront and centre, but the story can feature catching a serial killer, exploring vampire society, and the darker elements are really hot at the moment.

But look at the keeper shelves. I have a healthily sized keeper shelf. Not every book by a favourite author makes it there, and they don't make it for the same reasons. Sometimes, when a book that's part of a series doesn't come up to par, I keep them for the sake of the others.

I can think of only two authors whose books invariably make it on to my keeper shelf. Laura Kinsale, who writes historicals, and Robin Schone, who writes highly erotic romances set in the late Victorian era. Both these authors are original, and far from prolific, so everything they release is a treasure, and because they push boundaries, even if the book doesn't work entirely, it's always worth a look.

Then there are more prolific but equally talented writers like Linda Howard, Elizabeth Lowell and Suzanne Brockmann, as well as Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Liz Carlyle. Great writers, but not all their books are keepers for me. They are more prolific, sometimes they try something that doesn't work for me, but I don't want them to stop trying, because even if it doesn't work for me, it will work for someone else, and it develops them as writers.

Since I love reading paranormal romances, I find it surprising how few paranormals make it. At the moment I'm keeping them all, but really, I haven't found a resonance and a depth that I think I'll stick with. I'm working hard trying to add that, but it's not for me to say if I succeed or not.

A New Start

Sounds ominous, doesn't it?
I started a new book today, the next Department 57 book. It's taken me all week to sit down with a blank screen and start to write.
Starting a new book paralyses me. I invariably work and re-work it before I get it right, or somewhere near right. I lose sleep worrying about it.
Yet once it's underway, it just starts to flow. I finish books with a vague sense of dissatisfaction, then I go back a few weeks later, re-read, tweak and polish and think to myself, "It's not half bad, really."
Every time I start a new book it's the same.
And I love it.
There must be something wrong with me.