Monday, July 26, 2010

Shirley Jump’s Writing Style Is So Lyrical I Wanted To Read It Out Loud!

Pure Romance! 5-Star Excellence! I Loved It!

I actually enjoyed reading Vegas Pregnancy Surprise as much as I enjoyed experiencing the story! But then, I love a pure romance. That’s a romance written without the aid of vampires, shape-shifters, murderers, spies, covered wagons, time travelers, or demons – all brought into the story to help provide added conflict and interest. To be sure, those are fine romances, too. But I have a motto.

Show me the romance!

“Vegas Pregnancy Surprise” is about a romance and that’s it! It’s as if the author took all the million parts of falling in love and expertly edited them back into a compelling romance! A romance that gradually unfolds while holding the reader’s interest, page after page, for over 248 pages! It takes a Romance PhD. to do that and the author did it.

Shirley Jump: Doctor of Romance!

The hero, Linc Curtis, is a Las Vegas computer software mogul. The heroine, Molly Hunter, is a just laid off San Diego kindergarten teacher. One night both hero and heroine, while in Las Vegas, do something totally out of character! They have a one night stand.

As strangers in the night.

They then depart never intending to meet again. Except the heroine becomes pregnant. Since she wants to learn something about her baby’s father, she finds him by searching the internet. Molly then goes to Vegas and lands a job in Linc's company.

That’s the plot.

The hero and heroine come to know and love each other.

That’s the payoff.

I loved the story and I loved the writing. The author often writes like a speech writer. Instead of writing a standard sentence, for example, she will write a sentence, allow time of a second or two to pass, (as in a speech) and then have what amounts to a punch line. (Not a funny punch line but a line that will make the reader smile. These are wonderful to have in speeches.)


Standard prose:

She could still see the faces of the administration officials as they told her they were letting her go, with the promise that if funding improved, she would be the first kindergarten teacher hired back next fall.

JUMP prose:

She could still see the faces of the administration officials as they told her they were letting her go, with the promise that if funding improved, she would be the first kindergarten teacher hired back –
Next fall.

Standard Prose:

Molly may or may not be just one more in a long string of quick dates.

JUMP prose:

Molly could have just been one more in a long string of quick dates.
Or not.

Standard Prose:

Molly sighed. She reached for another tissue in her purse and faced the issue of what to do about the baby’s father.

JUMP prose:

Molly sighed. She reached for another tissue in her purse and faced issue number two.
The baby’s father.

Standard Prose:

Damn. Why did Molly Hunter have to come along and open a door he hadn’t even realized he’d shut?

JUMP prose:

And here Molly Hunter came along, opening a door he hadn’t even realized he’d shut.
Until now. Damn.

Standard Prose:

God, he wanted her. He’d always wanted her. The problem was in having her.

JUMP Prose:

God, he wanted her. He’d always wanted her. That wasn’t the problem.
Having her was.

All the above examples are only one of the author's techniques that together give her a delightful voice of her own!

Pure Romance – No One Does it Better!


The Redneck Philosopher Paradox:

What happens when very funny Redneck Philosopher jokes are not understood by the rednecks nor read by the philosophers? Are these jokes funny in the same way a tree falling unheard in the forest is noisy?


Betty Crocker Theory of Truth

You know you’re a redneck philosopher when you think the Betty Crocker Theory of Truth is about whether Betty Crocker told the truth.


You know you’re a gifted redneck philosopher if you think the Betty Crocker Theory of truth is expressed in this statement: “If it tastes good, it is good.”


Straw man Argument

You know you’re a redneck philosopher if you think a Straw man argument is about which actor played the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.


You know you’re a gifted redneck philosopher if you think a Straw man argument is an argument for the straw man selling straw when you really know he sells straws.


Correspondence Theory of Truth

You know you’re a redneck philosopher when you think the Correspondence Theory of Truth is about network news reporters not telling the truth.


You know you’re a gifted redneck philosopher if you think the Correspondence Theory of truth is about network news reporters, except for Fox News, not telling the truth.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Philosophy of Romance -- Winner of the Redneck Writer Award!

Prestigious Award is so Difficult to Win That There is no 1st Place! That’s Right! 2nd Place is the Highest Award!

In Honor of this Award, Philosophy of Romance Introduces a New Philosophical Problem.

The Redneck Philosopher Paradox:

What happens when very funny Redneck Philosopher jokes are not understood by the rednecks nor read by the philosophers? Are these jokes funny in the same way a tree falling unheard in the forest is noisy?

The First Examples:

Mind-Body Problem

You know you’re a redneck philosopher when you think the ‘mind-body’ problem derives from drinking too much white lightin’.


You know you’re a gifted redneck philosopher when you think the ‘mind-body’ problem begins with white lightin’ and ends in the morgue.


'Problem of Evil'

You know you’re a redneck philosopher when
You think the ‘problem of evil’ is the possibility of getting caught.


You know you’re a gifted redneck philosopher when you think the ‘problem of evil’ is when you wonder why the devil would allow a good God to exist.



You know you’re a redneck philosopher when you think a paradox is a pair of doctors.


You know you’re a gifted redneck philosopher when you think a paradox is a pair of doctors who offer mutually exclusive diagnoses for the same patient at the same time.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Very Interesting Book from a Writer’s POV!

SOS: Convenient Husband Required

Liz Fielding

Harlequin Romance, 2010, 251 pages, Large Print

What do you do after you’ve written over sixty books? You get even more creative. Instead of one romance theme, combine several.

Great Summer Reading!

I found “SOS: Convenient Husband Required” to be a zesty summer read. While I am sure that romance fans will be delighted with the book, I found it even more interesting from a writer’s POV.

The theme is part ‘baby on the doorstep’ (desktop), part ‘poor boy to rich boy’, part Jane Austen-style entailment caused ‘marriage of convenience’ (to be sure Jane Austen is mentioned in the book – a mention I feel sure is meant for other authors) and for good measure there’s a touch of ‘thriller- adventure’ to give the story a dash of life and death drama.

A Little Inside Baseball

In addition to being a poly-themed story, there is also something else going on of interest to writers. The author writes that her editor wanted a major character changed in the book and that she had only two weeks to essentially rewrite the book! It seems the editor wanted to change the ex-girlfriend of the hero who leaves a baby on the doorstep, to the hero’s sister who leaves the baby on the doorstep. (It seems when you are an ‘old’ pro, editors think you can do just about anything!)

One More Ingredient to the Pot

While the story is largely a ‘marriage of convenience’, as the title suggests, the hero and heroine are ‘hot-to-trot’ right from the start with both wanting a real marriage. "OK", I kept wondering, “Where’s the conflict going to come from?” Simple. The conflict comes from areas you don't expect. (I think this is an author having fun. It’s sure fun to read. You think not? Wait to you read the wacky wedding scene. I don’t think there is another like it in all the genre.)

England to Las Vegas

The author has traveled and lived all over the world. So you can always expect her romance characters to travel. Fortunately, they always seem to have up to date passports. The story goes from England to Las Vegas. (There are some stops in South America.) The thing is, it all works. The story is always interesting and enjoyable.

Clear the Buffer!

I think “SOS: Convenient Husband Required” makes a great book for a stressed author to read. It will clear the creative ‘buffer’. (This is computer talk.) It is also instructive to learn how the author made her major revisions. Frankly, I can't see how the book could have possibly been written with the ex-girlfriend character in place. That would be an interseting book, too!)

Add Some Zest to your Summer Reading! Highly Recommended!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

First Lines and the Importance of the Final Sale!

The First Sale

An author really has three sales to make for each book. The first sale is to the editor. This may be the hardest sale of all. First sale considerations always come first. Without the first sale there is no second or third sale. It is of the greatest importance to give the editor exactly what the editor wants. At the current time, editors want great first lines that hook a reader’s interest and bring on a sale.

The Second Sale

Next comes the second sale. This involves selling the book to the reader – the end user. This may happen when the reader opens the book to the first page while in a book store and is so drawn into the story that a sale usually follows. It is not clear how many readers buy books this way. For example, almost all my books are bought online. I don’t read the first lines before buying. Yet I buy many books. That’s because there are many other ways to stimulate the second sale. Author interviews sell many books to me. Book reviews also are instrumental in my buying decisions. Then there are the authors that are on my auto-buy list. These new books are just automatic buys. I’ll also buy books at book signings.

The Third Sale

You might think that the selling process is over once the buyer buys the book. This is far from the truth! If the author is interested in building a career, there is one more sale to be made: getting the reader to actually read the book! Many romance fans have very large TBR (to be read) piles. These are books readers were sold on buying but have not yet got around to reading. The third sale is selling the reader on selecting an author's book from the TBR pile and reading it. A reader is far less likely to buy another book from an author when that reader already has one of the author’s books still unread in her TBR pile.

It’s been said that 'the first chapter sells the book' and the last chapter 'sells the next book'. For this to happen the book needs to be read. This is why it is useful for authors to do blog interviews. The author can not only stimulate sales but can also entice current owners of their current book to actually read it. I really enjoy blog sites where the theme is: "The Story Behind The Story”.I also like it when blog sites do interviews with characters from novels as if the characters were real people.

It’s OK to Preach to the Choir

Here’s an advertising fact that might surprise you. The highest readership of an advertisement for computer equipment or software comes from people who have already bought the item! An author interview is very likely to attract fans who have already bought the author’s new book.

The Importance of the First Line In Making The Third or Final Sale

I think the first line is of the greatest importance in winning the third or final sale. In my case, I have many books in my TBR pile. When it is time to start a new book I will pull several books out of the pile and read the first lines. If I’m not hooked after a paragraph or two, I just switch to the next book in the TBR pile. Sometimes I go through five books before one grabs me. What if no book grabs me? I pull more books out of the pile. After all, with all those books to choose from, why not choose the best ‘read’? If I were to run out of books before finding a 'grabber', I would go back and select the most interesting book.

Fun Test For an Author

Take your WIP and three published romances from your TBR pile and pretend you are selecting your next book to read. Read the first lines of all four works and honestly state which book you would read next. If your WIP doesn’t win, your WIP needs more work!

Career Building & the Final Sale

To build a career in writing you need readers to buy your books and then read them. Your last chapter should not just end with a HEA; it should have what James Scott Bell calls a knockout ending. That’s an ending that’s so satisfying that the reader wants to go right out and buy another one of your books.

Think of Teasers

Authors should think of teasers for their current book to use when blogging and at interviews. These are statements that intrigue a reader, who may already own the book, to actually read the book.

On a recent blog Liz Fielding let it be known that her new book, “SOS: Convenient Husband Required” had to be substantially rewritten in just two weeks because the editor wanted to change a major character’s status in the book. An ex-girlfriend with a baby was changed to the hero’s sister with a baby. I can tell you, this information moved, “SOS: Convenient Husband Required" to the top of my reading list. I just had to see how the author managed the revision. (I have to say after reading the book that I totally agree with the editor. I don't even know how the book could have been written the other way!)

Authors can also give interesting hints about locations that are revealed in the book. There might even be a recipe or solution to a puzzle. These are only ideas. The idea is to have something that you can say, “when you read the book be sure to be looking for…” thus giving the reader more reason to start reading your book now rather than later.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why the Devil Wants You to be a Pantster

The devil is in the business of making sin look attractive. He wants you to think that the risk/reward ratio is in your favor. That’s why he wants all writers to be Pantsters. These are writers who write by the Seat of their Pants!

In this the Devil is being quite devilish because a great many of the problems writers encounter stem from Pantsterism.

The Allure of Pantsterism

Say you’re a novelist. You have this wonderful idea for a novel. You can almost ‘see’ it with your mind’s eye. Everything fits perfectly. It’s an ideal story. You can’t wait to open your laptop.

But…do you outline your story? Do you lock-in all the pesky details so that no loose ends can derail your story?

Of course not!

Doing that would stifle your creativity. After all, you want your story to be spontaneous! You want to dazzle and delight your readers. Something written from an outline would be cold, dead, and uninspired long before the writing was completed. Better to write by the seat of your pants. After all, as Tony Hillerman wrote, “if I don’t know what is coming next, the reader sure won’t.” Tony was also the first to admit that he had many half-completed manuscripts in his home. These half-manuscripts were excellent. They made great reading because they set up a conflict which Tony could not realistically extricate himself.

But…but…Tony Hillerman was a great writer! He wrote many best selling books!

That’s true. Tony was a great writer, perhaps the leading Pantster of all time. He was able to make Pantsterism work – some of the time. The question is: are you as good as Tony Hillerman?

The Price of Pantsterism

Remember how the Devil likes to make sin look attractive? Well, pantstersim makes everything look wonderful as you start your writing journey. All options are open. You have maximum freedom. Your novel is free to be as wonderful as any novel ever written. Why, with a little exercise in ‘creative visualization’ you’ll be motivated to write the next RITA winning romance.

Then something happens.

As you start to write you begin to hear an annoying sound. It sounds like doors slamming. What you hear is the sound of your options slamming closed with each choice you make -- with each sentence you write.

Soon that fuzzy but wonderful HEA ending that you visualized at the start of your novel is no longer quite possible. Given the choices you’ve made, that great ending won’t work.

Then Comes Depression

First, there’s writer’s block. Surely you and your CPs can figure a way out of your dilemma. Rewrite and make more choices. Ah, but those choices close more options requiring new rewrites. Next depression sets in. Doubt prevails. Maybe the story really wasn’t that good. If Tony Hillerman can write himself into a corner, I sure as heck can. Perhaps I should just start a new book. I have this idea that is much better. Yes, I should start a new novel. (The Devil smiles and tells you that a new book is just the thing. Once again you can see the wonderful novel you dream of writing.)

Your Guardian Angel Speaks

“Don’t be a Pantster. Plan your book. Make a detailed outline this time. Then you will know in advance if your great idea will actually work.”

“But, Angel, what if I can never come up with an outline that works? What if in the final analysis I can’t come up with a solid plot for a publishable novel? What if outlining kills my creativity?”

“Then you will discover that your idea won’t work before you spend months or years on a project guaranteed to frustrate a saint.”

“But you're not a writer. It just doesn't work that way. I won’t even know my characters until the book is half written. Outlining won’t work until I know the characters.”

“It’s a simple matter of who’s the boss: you or your characters.”

“But my books are character-driven. My characters really are in charge.”

“And do they make good bosses? Do they make good choices? Do they deserve being in charge? Or…could it be that you’ve abdicated your responsibility as the author?”

“What do you mean?”

“It is far easier to let your characters write your book for you. Of course, you have given your characters ‘free will’ so the book’s failure is their failure and not your fault as an author.”

“So Pantstersim is the work of the Devil?”

“The devil makes Pantsterism look attractive. He lures you into a beautiful swamp and then when you get hopelessly lost he gives you a wonderful justification for giving up and starting over. Pantsterism will always seem more attractive. It will always seem easier and more fun. It will always generate the greatest hopes.”

“So you would have me plot my stories? You would lock me into a straightjacket of uncreativity and take all the joy out of writing?”

“No, I would have you spend your time on WIPs that have the best chance of being successful. Plotting is hard work and it has a price. But then it’s your choice: "You can pay the price now, or you can pay it later.”

Join NAPP: the National Association for the Prevention of Pantsterism.