Monday, September 30, 2013

A Word from Beatrice Plotter...

“Of course I pantser. I pantser from the end of the novel to the beginning and I have it all pantsered out before I start writing.” 

Vince Mooney

Friday, September 27, 2013

Writing Quote of the Day


“It’s easier to tell perfection in a short story.”
Vince Mooney

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pantsers & Plotters

“Pantsers don’t want to know how the story ends until after they write it. It is their hope that their story will be better than they could have ever imagined it. Plotters want to know how the story ends before they invest a lot of time writing it. It is their hope that their story will at least be as good as they imagined it.”
Vince Mooney

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Romances, Indie Publishers, & The “Feel Good” Experience

Are We Seeing the Birth of a new Romance subgenre?  
Spousal abuse theme romance

"Romance Realism"

I think traditional publishers understand that romance readers are after a ‘feel good’ experience. Romances are about how the reader feels as the book is being read. This is emphasized by the reality that a happy ending is guaranteed. Fans don’t read to see how the story is going to turn out; they know how it is going to turn out. Some fans even read the last pages in a book before they buy it just to insure that it has the exact kind of happy ending they prefer. A reader would not do this if the pleasure of a book was in finding out how it ends. A mystery fan, however, would never do this since the whole idea is to figure out ‘who did it’ before the story ends. The reader wants to out smart the author.  

In romances the reader wants to enjoy pleasurable vicarious experiences. The reader wants to vicariously ‘feel’ loved, cherished, desired, sexy, appreciated, needed, important, and victorious. Vicarious feelings are real while they are being experienced. I call these feelings emotional vitamins. Humans need to experience these feelings to remain healthy.  

Hospice them romance
Literary fiction, on the other hand, tends to be the opposite of romance. Literary fiction seeks to have us experience reality. To have experiences that will change us and, perhaps, enlighten us so we actually become different people. Often these experiences are intentionally painful. It is almost as if critics believe the more painful and depressing a work is, the more literary value it has. Many of these critics don't even consider romances, with their happy endings, to even be literature. Literary fiction is in a very different world than the romance genre inhabits.


So here’s the point: some romance authors insist on writing romance realism. (Note: I do not want to use the terms, ‘romantic realism’ or ‘realistic romance’.)  Romance realism is  comprised of romance genre novels, complete with HEAs, but with often unpleasant real world themes.) Romance realism can, and often does, make readers feel bad or at least uncomfortable. In this sense it is much like literary fiction. Romance realism is also what many genre romance readers want to avoid.

 Reading a genre romance is like taking a bubble bath – a pleasant 'world all its own'. It’s a soothing experience where the reader is bathed in a swirl of welcome emotions and feelings that may be in short supply in the reader's ‘real’ life.  Bad feelings and unpleasant experiences are not part of this world – or are not part of it when a traditional publisher is on the job.

Child death adultery
theme romance
 When Traditional Publishers Take a Risk

Sometimes a traditional publisher will take a chance on  romance realism. Francine Rivers finally published a romance with an abortion theme, “The Atonement Child”, however, this book was of very high quality. Most of its most favorable critics were probably from outside the romance genre.

Another book like, “The Atonement Child”, is, “The Bossy Bridegroom”, by Mary Connealy. This romance is about spousal abuse and giving a wife abuser a second chance. The major view of characters in this book is ‘don’t be a fool! Don’t take him back.’  While "Bossy" has the literary quality of “The Atonement Child” it was not well received by those readers expecting a 'feel good' romance. "The Bossy Bridegroom" is an excellent book but it has the wrong title and the wrong publisher. I think it could achieve its full potential as an indie release with a different title (like the "Atonement Husband")
Child molestation
theme romance
Another very unlikely traditional romance is “Autumn Rains”  by Myra Johnson. This book has a hero just out of prison after serving many years for a crime he actually did commit and a heroine who is almost crippled by agoraphobia. This is another 5-star quality book literary critics love. It has won its share of awards. "Autumn Rains' is so well crafted that it even works as a genre romance (because of its sympathetic hero and heroine). I think this is why it was given a chance by its traditional publisher. It seems that if a romance realism novel is of exceptional quality it has at least a small chance of being published by a traditional publisher.

Abortion theme romance
Not published by a traditional publisher are “Running on Empty” and “Try, Try, Again” by Ruth Logan Herne. “Running on Empty” is a book about girl victims of a child molester.  It is more like the “Lovely Bones” than a genre romance. Of course, the “Lovely Bones” was  both a best seller and successful movie!

That’s just the my point: traditional publishers mayvturn down perfectly good books, even award winning best selling books, if they do not meet the expectations  of their readers.

“Try, Try, Again” is about how the death of a child destroyed a marriage and how decades later the adulterous husband wants a second chance. This is not exactly the good feeling experience of a traditional romance. Herne's two books mentioned here are romance realism novels. The author did published a traditional romance, “Winter’s End” about a very sad hospice experience. It had a subdued HEA but, since it also showed so much excellence, it made the cut and was accepted by a major traditional publisher.  Not many such books do.

Readers Want to Get What they Expect

If a reader reads a line of romance because she likes the tone, the level of sensual heat, and is comforted by the publisher’s guidelines, then one “Lovely Bones” in that line can turn off the reader for good. The reader will never know if another such book will pop-up. This experience is particularly deadly to lines like Harlequin which sell monthly subscriptions to its new releases. These subscribers trust the publisher to deliver the same quality stories month after month, year after year, all sight unseen. Traditional publishers are wise not to abuse this trust.

 Enter the Indie Publisher 

Ex-con & agoraphobia
theme romance
Authors who write good books that do not fit within a given genre or do not deliver the expected experiences of that specific genre's fans, can now offer their books outside the traditional distribution channel. Their books may still be genre romances with guaranteed HEAs but with a different set of vicarious feelings. This opens a new market. I call this the romance realism market.

What marketers may need to do now is determine how large the romance realism fan base really is and how to best flag the attention of these new readers so they will know these are books they will like.

In both traditional and indie publishing it is very important that readers get the type of books that they think they are getting.

For major reviews of these books click on the title below:
Autumn Rains (Book of theYear)
The Bossy Bridegroom
Winter’s End

Perhaps we will see the birth of more new subgenres like romance realism in the future.

Indie Quote of the Day


“A frequent hallmark of an indie published book is a silly title that no traditional publisher -- with a scintilla of marketing sense -- would ever allow.”

Vince Mooney

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Writing Quote of the Day

“Ever since I’ve switched totally to eBooks  I’ve stopped throwing books against the wall.”
Vince Mooney

Friday, September 20, 2013

Writing Quote of the Day

“The greatest writing frustration is to be smart enough to know what to do but not talented enough to do it.”
Vince Mooney

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Writing Quote of the Day

“There is no middle as a story is happening. Just make sure your story is always interesting, regardless of where it is going,  and you’ll never face a sagging middle.”
Vince Mooney