Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Tips On Critiquing Romance Genre

 I love Pinellas Writers where I attend a Zoom meeting to critique others and have my own work critiqued.

I don't think there are many members who read or write romance and it shows in their critiques.

I frequently hear - female protag wouldn't do this or that with love interest so soon. Which does not jive with one of the most frequent complaints of romance readers. Namely, main characters didn't meet or get together soon enough.

I frequently hear - couple is spending too much time together too soon. Which, again, does not take into account a complaint that is common amongst romance readers who say - I did not finish the book because main characters are not together enough on the page.

Critiquers used to non-romance books are also bothered by a man being forward: tucking a strand of hair behind a womans ear or kissing too soon.

FYI: book boyfriends are not realistic. They do things women would never tolerate in real life. 

They range from: 

-ALPHA MALES who are possessive, territorial and claiming five minutes after they meet the woman they want and, though they never force themselves on women, they push aggressively to get consent. Every man Kristen Ashley conjures up to become the love interest of her female characters is this.

From "Rock Chick Revenge":

Luke has Ava handcuffed to his bed and gets called out to work:

"One," he started. "Leaving you cuffed means you can't do anything stupid."

"Two," he continued. "I like thinking of you cuffed naked to my bed."

"Three," he went on. "This won't take long and we'll finish when I get back."

"You leave me cuffed, I'll never speak to you again."

"Babe," now he sounded amused, "that's a good thing. You got a mouth on you."

And yet, they ended up together, happily ever after. 

This should come with a warning, though, men in real life should not try this because even if she puts up with it from a book boyfriend, she's likely to call the police on you or, at least, flee and never return.

- BETA MALES are confident but not arrogant and not agressive in pursuit of their women. Consent would be important to them.  Jennifer Crusie's men are always like this.

From "Agnes and the Hitman"

"What's that?" Agnes said...

"An armored vehicle-launched bridge." Shane said.

"A bridge?" Agnes lost her breath...

Carpenter and Lisa Livia came out onto the porch. "I was going to complain about the noise," Lisa Livia said..."but now I'm just impressed. Leave it to the army to mechanize an erection."

"Do you mind?" Agnes said, watching the miracle of her bridge literally unfold. "I'm having a moment here."...

"That bridge was built for tanks," Shane told Agnes proudly. "It'll take your wedding traffic and then some. It's even better than the one you had."

"Thank you," Agnes said to him, trying not to sound hero-worship-y.

-SIGMA MALES have strong personalites with a mix of alpha and beta male and they tend to be loners by nature. Jayne Ann Krentz aka Amanda Quick aka Jayne Castle writes sigma male heroes.

I'm not going to include a sample here. The type will become apparent if you read any one of her many books.

You should begin to see that critiques which stray into these areas might work for other genres but if they are used for a romance novel they are actually criticizing the genre itself.

Maybe you want to criticize the genre. Maybe you are one of the multitude of people, especially men, who lack respect for romance novels. 

This could dissolve into me ranting because even though twenty-five percent of all books sold every year are romance books, reviewers tend to think they don't deserve space in the world of critical reviews like those in revered publications such as The New York Times. But I won't go there, at least not now.

There is also that portion of the public that looks down on romance novels as the reading fodder of women who are less intelligent than those who read more high-brow work.

For that mistaken portion I would point you to a website that has flourished for more than ten years titled: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Some time spent on that website will point out flaws in your thinking.  

I address this comment to men. If you are one of those men who resents your female significant other reading romance novels - know this: you can easily be replaced.

Two kinds of boyfriends that are frequently found together are book boyfriends and battery operated boyfriends. And, while this combination might not be what she prefers, they do make it possible for women to take care of their needs without the drama that real-life men often bring.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

The Pleasure Of Killing Your Darlings

No one is sure what writer first said it. I encountered it when I read Stephen Kings book "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft". (BTW this is my favorite book on writing.)

SK said: “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings.”

What does it mean? It means to get rid of words, lines or phrases, sentences, unnecessary plotlines or characters that are mucking up your story.

The problem is - sometimes what you need to get rid of, is precious to you - clever - a turn of phrase you are proud of. And you created it.

I'll give you an example. I was cutting the word count on a short story. I went through it several times. Every time when I got to the section with the dreadlock guy I thought - can't cut him, he is essential to the story. About go through number fifteen I realized - he is not essential to the story. He actually isn't even part of the story. He is just a dreadlock guy who bangs on her window to wake her up so she doesn't miss the music. And I can cut fifty words or more if I have her wake up to an alarm she set on her phone instead.

I didn't want to do it because I thought it was clever on my part to put him there. It made the scene more authentic. He and the scene could have happened in real life in that setting. But he wasn't moving my story along so: 

gun to head, dreadlock guy gone.

The thing is - I never realized what fun that could be.

I decided to turn an abandoned novel start into a short story. I wanted to submit it to a contest that only allowed 8000 words or less. The novel had 10300 words and no finish. 

First I finished it. That took it up to 10700 words. I had to take out 2701 words. I went through it several times and cut a bunch out but not enough.

Then I decided to go through it using the Find feature on Word. I figured out so many words that I use too often that can usually be cut out without changing anything. In fact my story is better without them.

In alphabetical order:
about, begin, but, can, even, first, head, had, hand, just, (a) little, ly*, maybe, (for a few) minutes, pull, push, right (now), so(far), start, still, turn

*ly is not a word but remember all those admonishments not to use ly words. When I searched I had too many.

Anywho - once I got through all of that I was down to 7957 words. All good words. My story was tight. And ready to submit. So I did.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Should we be celebrating the massacre of fellow human beings - NO!

 It's a USA holiday called Thanksgiving. I find it repulsive. 

Should we really be celebrating the massacre of fellow humans. No? We should not.

I know, perspective is everything. So let's change our mindset, right? Let's say this day is actually about gratitude.

To me, that is an act of selfishness and unkindness. You're refocusing the holiday that was originally about wiping out populations of people - to be positive. It's not right. It's about you. It's about you wanting a holiday.

It's not about recognizing that wrong was done and making it right. 

If we were being unselfish and kind - we would walk away from this holiday entirely. Not to assuage ancestral guilt but to avoid the appearance that we are okay with what happened. Anyone with a conscience is not okay with that. 

This year I participated in the feast, sort of. 

Next year I want to do something entirely different.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

BW Placekeepers & playlists

 Nanowrimo is a success because my word count on the novel I'm writing is 15206.

It's not a great success because my word count should be 25005.

Words, I've written words. And a lot of them might not have been written if I weren't participating in National Novel Writers Month.

I've been having fun. Writing scenes I like. Picking placekeepers I like. What's a placekeeper - you ask.

A placekeeper is an image of someone you use for a character until the character forms more fully in your mind.

So far we have:

Main protagonist: Charlotte Bronte Harrison

Placekeeper: Jeanne Damas 

Theme song: Touch of Grey by the Grateful Dead

Love interest: Holden Graves

Placekeeper: Neil Gaiman

Kid at risk: Micah Palaydin

Placekeeper: random unknown boy

Creepy haunted house: renovated church in Limmerick, Maine

Ghost cult leader: Amos Palaydin

Placekeeper: Taylor Kitsch acting as David Koresh

Holden Graves has a stalker and I am having a lot of fun writing her. While I don't have a whole playlist yet - she has a theme song.

Holden's stalker: Angie Lynn

Placekeeper: Angelyne

Angie Lynn's theme song: 

Jane Jensen - Luv Song

This is all pieces of my work in progress - contemporary gothic romance novel - Black Windows.

Pinterest Board for Black Windows here

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Pinellas Writers, Death Cab For Cutie, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom



Let me tell you about the authors who participated in Pinellas Writers Zoom meeting tonight (actually Tuesday 11/8):


There’s Glenn – who sent me down the first wormhole because I had to find out if Mars is cold or hot. Turns out it’s cold, as Glenn read, and it’s only logical that it would be because it’s 50 million miles further away from the Sun than we are.


Continuing with the “competency porn” was David who spun humor from tragedy with his preference for leeches in the morgue-cold hospital where he experienced alien abduction minus the probes.


Then there was Eve who was planning strategy for when former Presidents get arrested. I like her thinking. And her fictional president’s name is Schicklgruber – wormhole again – which means “moneygrubber" and now I can’t call certain former presidents anything else.


Richard was pursuing a jeweler whose significant other wore panties covered with diesel dust. You had to be there. (Why weren’t you? There, I mean.)


And Louise, our dear beloved Louise. There’s no predicting what she will say or do or, in this case, write. The perfect name for a cheating husband – Thaddeus Chenowith III. It just doesn’t get better.


Then we come to Tad. He has my full attention immediately because he’s quoting lyrics from Death Cab For Cutie. And he’s using phrases like “superhuman tolerance for tedium” and “traveling makes him feel light”. I can relate. Staying in one place for too long used to make me feel stuck – trapped. And, as usual, there is a word I have not encountered before: agitprop. It means political propaganda, especially in art or literature – wormhole!


Susan – also unpredictable – and apparently ruthless, is reading a story in which her heroine is plotting to kill her husband. Quite boldly. With no shame.


Of course, Linda writes thrillers, and while her body count is not in the triple digits like George RR Martin, it’s high enough to make this listener cringe while still admiring the prose and the details.


Sallie, Phillip and BJ were present. They didn’t read – sad – but they did provide their usual useful critiques.


As for myself, my characters Holden Graves and Charlotte Bronte Harrison were enjoying a perfectly prickly road trip until Angelyne the stalker came along – and – as David wisely put it – bonded them together against a common enemy.


That wraps up another week of throwing words at the wall to see what sticks.


You could be part of things. Join the fun. Tuesday 11/15 – 6pm for technical help. 6:30 to 9PM Eastern time zone. ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM


And, as my dad would say, god willin and the creek don’t rise – yours truly will be moderator!!!


Saturday, November 5, 2022

Pep Talk - so good - Elizabeth Acevedo

 From Nanowrimo.org 

"So, write. Find your recipes on the days that writing is hard. Slow down on the days the plot is throwing speed bumps your way. Lift dialogue directly from your life. Allow the play and experimenting and process to teach you as much as the finishing point. There will always be a reason why you cannot finish your project. Now go ahead and list all the reasons you not only can, but you most definitely will."

Elizabeth Acevedo

Nov 22,2020 

For me - substitute POEMS for Recipes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Front Not a Political Party

 When I started this blog I didn't want it to be solely about my writing stuff. Because...boring sometimes.

Elections are 6 days away so let's talk about that.

I have always been a left leaning but bipartisan voter. I am registered democrat but I have always voted for some of the other parties.

The former republican party that, in my opinion, is no longer a party but rather a front for rich bullies, their wannabee rich followers, oligarchs and one issue voters - will never get my vote again unless they police themselves and become a real party instead of a front.

And for people who say the democrats are just as bad as the republicans no they are not. Here are some differences that represent significantly different mindsets:

the republican front values:
corporations being more important than people / families / children
Book banning
Trying to rewrite history and teach a lying version in public schools
Trying to force a version of family created in the 50s that was only ever beneficial for white males
Suppressing the vote in any way they can

So much more 

the republican front has no moral compass

We need women and people of color to come out in droves and vote on Tuesday.

I could go on all day but you get the gist.

Whatever your beliefs - please vote on Tuesday.

And if you are a republican please do whatever you can to get rid of the front and become an actual party again. We need our two party system. We need our checks and balances. The way you have allowed things to become - we don't have that anymore!