Friday, September 30, 2011
This book shows the reader how to take timeless storytelling structures and make them immediate, now, for fiction that's universal in how it speaks to the reader's heart and contemporary in detail and impact.
Each chapter includes brief excerpts and descriptions of fiction from many times, many genres - myth and fairy tale, genre and mainstream fiction, film plots of all types, short story and novel.
Find 20 fundamental plots that recur through all fiction - with analysis and examples - that outline benefits and warnings, for writers to adapt and elaborate in their own fiction. Ronald B. Tobias has spent his career as a writer moving from genre to genre, first as a short story writer, then as an author of fiction and nonfiction books and finally as a writer and producer of documentaries for public television. He is currently a professor in the Department of Media and Theatre Arts at Montana State University and the author of The Insider's Guide to Writing for Screen and Television. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
Available at amazon.com
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Yet I was raised from nearly birth till age eighteen in a small north Louisiana town...and it shows. I have small town values, a penchant for peas and cornbread and I love to sit in my rocking chair on my front porch and watch things grow. I salute the flag, love parades, and still go see my high school football team play games. I know the value in having "people" and belonging to a church that has ladies who know their way around a kitchen. It's part of who I am and I don't usually question it.
Funny though, last week, a friend was contemplating making a move. She's in the middle of making a huge change in her life and wants a fresh start somewhere other than the Southwest, so she requested an area that doesn't exist for me - liberal, mountainous, cultural and well-educated. We've got some of that, but rural Louisiana is about as far as one can get from, say, Seattle. Why am I telling you this you may ask? Because it got me thinking about where I live and how I'm perceived. And it made me wonder about my books and how they are perceived by readers.
Okay, I'm going to admit that I've peeked at my reviews on places such as Goodreads and Amazon. It's hard not to do even though veteran writers tell newbies to stay away! They know that often reader comments get under our skin and go to work on our fragile egos doing more damage than good, but it's hard to resist, especially when you want to know how your work resounds with all kinds of readers. Well, apparently my heavy Southernisms don't go over well with more worldly readers. In fact, the colloquialism and versimilitude in my writing really put them off. I believe one commentor even suggested a dictionary for figuring out what I was talking about.
So it puzzled me. Should I be writing real life as I live it or something more palatable for readers everywhere?
Well, I had to think about this because it's a pretty important consideration. What I came up with satisfied me. You see I was raised in a small Louisiana town situated very near Arkansas and Texas, which means I know about living in this area. I get the people, I understand that confirmation must be moved at our church to accomodate the opening day of duck season, I understand that if you schedule a wedding on a fall weekend when LSU is playing Arkansas or Alabama or Florida or Auburn, you may have half the folks missing. I know that good watermelons are sold on the side of the road and that you can wear white after labor day but some may call you trash for doing so. Our kids wear smocked clothing and camo alternatively, and recycling means using the aluminum foil twice and getting mileage out of a cool whip tub. It's foreign to many, but it's my backyard.
And I must write what I know.
That's what I like about Superromance. We've got such variety, and I like that my small town Southern stories can nestle in between the Colorado ranches and Aussie beach resorts. There's a little something for everyone within the line. So I won't float every reader's boat, but some will read a scene in my book and think "Been there, done that" even as others are saying "what the ___?" (You can fill in that blank depending on where you live. LOL. In Minden where I grew up, we'd use heck.)
In October I will end a series that is near and dear to me (and oh, so Southern) when A Touch of Scarlet hits shelves. When I first started writing about Oak Stand, pulling out some of my family sayings and lending them to Grandmother Tucker, I could never imagine the people in that town I would create and grow to love. This last book borders on romantic comedy and really brings the series circular with a determined, straight-laced police chief and the vampy soap actress who pushes his buttons...and at the root of it all is a place anyone would want to hang his or her hat in - a small Southern town in Texas.
Yeah, I write what I know.
What about you? What appeals to you about where you live? And do you think your area is depicted accurately?
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
w/ Jennifer Greene
Actually, it's the other way around. Alison Hart aka Jennifer Greene deserves top billing. I just got lucky. Mitzi's Marine is out this month in Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines paired with Jennifer Greene's Yours, Mine & Ours.
Jennifer Greene lives near Lake Michigan with her husband and an assorted menagerie of pets. Michigan State University has honored her as an outstanding woman graduate for her work with women on campus. Jennifer has written more than 80 love stories for which she has won numerous awards, including four RITA awards from the Romance Writers of America and their Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards.
You're welcome to contact Jennifer through her website at www.jennifergreene.com.
Meanwhile, we're pleased to have her with us today for this interview...
Jennifer: I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hunt and peck an old typewriter—but my mom
was determined to raise a daughter who could earn a living, so my writing was supposed
to be a hobby. I don’t know why that didn’t work out. Once I started writing stories,
it was like an addiction I couldn’t shake. Loved it then. Love it now.
The ‘making a living’ business took a while in the beginning…and unlike ‘normal’ career paths,
it’s never really steady. Publishing has always had its ups and downs. I’ve always felt
lucky to still be doing the work I love.
I write in romance—well, I’ve never liked that ‘romance’ word. I like the term ‘love story’ better.
My favorite stories have been about women’s issues…women striving to overcome problems and ‘be all they can be’.
Rogenna: How do you keep up with multiple pseudonyms and publishers?
Jennifer: I don’t! Whatever I’m writing at the moment gets l00% of my concentration. I can’t seem to do it any other way.
I’ve written for Harlequin, Silhouette, Dell, Berkley and Avon. I’ve been with Harlequin the longest (by far)….but have found super editors, caring staff and wonderful writing opportunities
Wherever you write, whatever you write, gives you new experience—something to bring to the next book. Some writing projects have earned more than others, but I’m seriously happy to have an opportunity to try new things—because that growth and experience always seems to ‘rejuice the creative engine’, so to speak.
Rogenna: What is your writing process like? And do you have any advice for those of us wishing we were more prolific?
Jennifer: I’ve had a number of writing processes that worked really well. And then stopped working (!). There is no one process that will work forever for any writer. The trick is not panicking when
The current process balks. Just relax. Remind yourself that ‘it’s not you’… the Creative
Muse can get cranky for no reason at all.
Don’t keep pushing a ‘process’ that isn’t working. That can just make you frantic. ! Consider
Things to coax the Muse into behaving. Fresh air, a walk. Writing a scene from a different point of view. Give yourself some sensory stimulus—find a scent that works for the heroine, a song
Or music that’s right for the story, a food (M&M’s) that the hero eats when he’s stressed, a favorite color, a lucky shirt...go through magazines and clip images or pictures that make you think of the hero/heroine.
None of those may work for you…but something will. (I had one book where the heroine was a redhead—which I’m not—so I went shopping, not with a credit card, but with pen and paper, to
Pick out clothes and makeup and shoes for her.) I know. That sounds ditsy. (Guilty as charged.) But these kinds of things are FUN. And when you’re stressed about a writing passage that won’t come for you—or you don’t know what should come next—and you’re tearing out your hair…that doesn’t make sense. It makes SENSE to put JOY back in the work, yes? Playing is
Good. We need it on a Tee Shirt.
On being more prolific—no advice. I think we writers all have a natural length book we write…and a natural speed. Forcing square pegs into round holes never works. Finding
Your natural length and speed and comfort zone always works the best.
Rogenna: Give us a glimpse of your day to day life.
Jennifer: Up at daybreak. Pour coffee, don’t speak, open e-mail, force open eyes. By 9:00 I’ve generally lost the early-morning-hostility and write solid until lunch. After lunch is for reading, side
Writing ‘work’—but I don’t get back to the manuscript until around 3, then work until dinner.
I used to write more after the kids went to bed…but then I got older, and those late night
Hours aren’t fun any more.
1) First job….my first ‘real’ job was teaching French at the local high school.
2) Cat or dog?...yes, and probably yes to any other critter you can think of. We raised
Newfoundlands for a long time. Rescued animals of every shape and size.
So far I haven’t found an animal I couldn’t love, but my husband keeps hoping I’ll learn to say no.
3) Something we’d be surprised to learn about you…
Hmm. One of my hobbies is duplicate bridge, and I’m about a year away (with some luck!)
To being a life master.
Jennifer will be stopping by today. So please give her a warm welcome. And if you have a burning question for her it never hurts to ask <g>. We'll be giving away a copy of our Special Moments featuring Yours, Mine & Ours and Mitzi's Marine.
So tell us something we'd be surprised to learn about you...
Monday, September 26, 2011
I’m not even referring to the option of staying in my pajamas all day. Or the cool fact that my commute to work consists of walking to my laptop. The two operative words for me last week were: Research Trip.
The best excuse to travel to a place you’ve always wanted to visit is to set a book there. Let me interject that the list of places I want to visit is long and getting longer. I add to it whenever I watch a episode of House Hunters International.
The Eastern Shore of Virginia, however, is within easy driving distance of my home. Since large portions of the area are quiet even during tourist season, it’s also the ideal setting for the Superromance I’m working on.
The book, which will be published some time next year, is about a woman who may have been abducted as a child almost thirty years ago. To keep the readers – and the hero – guessing if she is indeed that missing child I want her to have grown up on the road less traveled.
The Eastern Shore qualifies, especially now that September has arrived and tourist traffic is light. It’s a sparsely populated peninsula sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay dotted by tiny historic towns and boasting hundreds of miles of shoreline.
My husband and I stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast near the waterfront town of Cape Charles. The B&B wasn’t even a mile from the 20-mile-long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel that crosses over and under open water and connects the Eastern Shore to Virginia Beach. We could walk for miles along a semi-private beach with only skittering crabs and seabirds for company.
Getting back to the advantages of a taking research trip, how’s this benefit? My husband didn’t question any of my whims.
That boat trip we took to see the wild ponies of Assateague Island? My characters might want to do that. Side note: Remember the book Misty of Chincoteague? The boat left from Chincoteague but the ponies live on Assateague.
My whim to stop at an old-fashioned diner in the middle of the day for a cup of crab soup? Surely my hero or heroine will want to eat at such an atmospheric spot.
The miles of rural roads we drove past fields of potato crops and maritime forests to get to a remote beach community? My hero will travel the same route to get to the out-of-the-way beach cottage he’s renting.
It was heavenly, really. I was able to immerse myself in the area while enjoying all it has to offer. Dinner at a restaurant with a view of the sunset. A walk on a fishing pier into the Chesapeake Bay. A visit to an empty museum where a native extolled us with tales of the once-occupied barrier islands off the coast.
I think my husband had fun, too, although he did have to stop the car abruptly whenever I saw something I wanted to photograph. I even took photos of houses that looked like places my characters could live.
I usually set books in spots that are already familiar to me. THE CHRISTMAS GIFT, my November release, is set in my birth state of Pennsylvania. I’m rethinking that tendency, however.
At the top of my list of places I’d like to visit (er, set books) are Ljubljana in the Czech Republic, Australia and the Greek Isles. How about you? If you could go anywhere in the world on a research trip, where would it be? This is fantasy so money’s no object. Also, these trips are tax deductible.
Remember, when you post a comment on our blog before Nov. 30 you’re automatically entered in a drawing for a Kindle and $25 Amazon gift card.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Boy, am I glad to be here. I feel like I’ve just been accepted into the cool girls’ corner of the schoolyard. I’m Kate. From Canada. I’m a new Superromance author and this is my first blog, ever.
I wanted to write about the windows and doors thing. You know, one closes, another one opens. I’ve had a lot of changes in my life in the past few years, so I’ve grown to understand the concept intimately. One of the most exciting and fun changes has been the sale of my book, A Deliberate Father, to Superromance. The day Megan Long called to say they wanted to buy my book a window opened.
And the door part? We’d just sold our farm that we had homesteaded thirty-five years earlier. Homesteaded as in, yes, we cleared the land, built a house, outbuildings, ponds, roads. Had our children and watched them grow into independent adults. The farm defined who we were, but the time had come when that wasn’t enough. We wanted something different.
Our friends thought we were crazy to sell and start over. Change is not a concept many of us welcome with open arms, and as the years pass, I welcome it even less. But it’s often imposed on us, and I’ve discovered if you listen or look hard enough, you’ll hear that window open. I swear. It’s an opportunity for growth, even if we like things as they are, thank you very much.
My December release, A Deliberate Father, is all about change. Both my hero and heroine resist the altering circumstances in their lives. Not surprisingly, they discover resistance can lead to heartache. But once they accept there is no going back and start looking forward, good things begin to happen.
If you’ve just heard a door close firmly behind you, like me, you might want to start looking for that open window. No telling what wondrous events are waiting for you.
I know I’m not the only one who has had to deal with change in their life. I’d love to hear your stories.
We’re giving away a Kindle! If you leave a comment, your name will be entered into the draw.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
|Note how expression problem has been cleverly solved by photographer.|
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I am a loyal member of the Harlequin family. That's me over there - at fifteen - on vacation. I'm lying on a quilt up in the hills of Michigan with a sleeping bag on top of me to keep me warm. My very best friend in the world took that picture. Our families were spending a week together at my family cabin. My grandfather bought 17 acres in the middle of nowhere because of the little cabin situated way back in the woods on a trout stream. My folks honeymooned there. I spent every vacation of my growing up there. I knew our property and the surrounding forest as well as I knew my arms and legs. I loved it there. (Still do!) And what I loved most was to have days and days where I was allowed to bury myself in Harlequin romances to my heart's content. I introduced my best friend to Harlequin books and that year , we spent our week together sharing our love of Harlequin Books. We'd breakfast with the family in the morning and then pack our lunch and our quilt and sleeping bags and mostly books, and we'd head up into the hills, into undeveloped forest land, we'd make our camp and we'd read until dusk. We were reading Romance and Presents back then. The two books in the picture were Presents. I still have them. Here is one of them! This is actually the first romance I ever read. You see up in the corner where it says Introductory Copy? I picked up this book at my hometown grocery story when I was fourteen! If you've never read it - look for it! It's a classic. I picked up a free book and found a life!
I was in college when Harlequin Books decided to give us longer romances. These new books were similar in feel to Harlequin Romances and Harlequin Presents, in that there was a guarantee of a happy ending. And a guarantee that no matter how bad life got, there was always hope, always beauty. In Harlequin Books good always prevails. Love is real and true and strong enough to overcome any challenge. These longer romances incorporated all of the treasures that I knew I would get in a Harlequin read and there was more story, too.
I loved the longer books. They weren't actually published under the the Harlequin brand at first. They were published by Worldwide Library - a subsidiary of Harlequin Books. I think they were testing the market. If the books hadn't hit with success, then the Harlequin brand would not have been tainted. I only read Harlequin books back then, for my pleasure reading, but I bought one of those Worldwide books because it looked so much like on of my Harlequin Books and after that first read, I read every single one of Worldwide Library longer romances. Imagine my surprise when, just a short time later, these Worldwide books that captivated me even more than the Romances had, suddenly had the Harlequin name on the cover. They were called Harlequin Superromance.
And this morning I sit here, after just having come off a mammoth, forty seven page day, the sequel to two solid weeks of twenty-five page days, with my fifty-eighth book complete. All but one of those 58 published books are published by Harlequin Books and its subsidiaries. The new book is the first of three Superromances that will be out back to back in the summer of 2012. The books revolve around a twenty-five year old cold case involving a missing child. A box of evidence has been stolen out of the vault and the police want to know who took it and why. Today I start book two.
Full contact is a Shelter Valley Story. It's the twelfth book set in the small Arizona town I created back in the late 90's. All of the Shelter Valley stories stand completely alone. No prequels or sequels that grow into one big story. But in every single book, you see some of the same people on the outskirts of the story. You see the same town.
Shelter Valley reminds me of Harlequin books. Each story is different, and yet, when you come home to Shelter Valley you feel part of a community that will not let you down. Shelter Valley is a place where people care about each other. Where you really do love your neighbor as your own. The people in Shelter Valley are not protected from the bad things in life - but they have the means and the support to deal with them. The people in Shelter Valley have the key to happiness. As do Harlequin books.
I love Harlequin Books. I love what they stand for, I love the promise they deliver, and most of all, I love that the hope that they give us is real and the love that the books depict is more real than the earth on which we live.
I have a couple of copies of Full Contact to give away today to anyone who wants to test me on this. To be entered to win, simply leave a comment!
Monday, September 19, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
This book provides solid instruction for persons who want to write and sell fiction, not just to talk and study about it. It gives the background, insights, and specific procedures needed by all beginning writers. Here one can learn how to group words into copy that moves, movement into scenes, and scenes into stories; how to develop characters, how to revise and polish, and finally, how to sell the product.
This is the book for writers who want to turn rejection slips into cashable checks.
About the Author
Dwight V. Swain spent a lifetime writing newspaper and magazine articles, pulp fiction, and screenplays. For more than twenty years he taught in the Professional Writing Program at the University of Oklahoma. His popular book Techniques of the Selling Writer is also published by the University of Oklahoma Press.