Tag Archive | romance

Today’s Notes: March 5

dangeronxyone_msrIn addition to the birthdays, quote and tips, I’m happy to announce the print version of my futuristic romance, Danger on Xy-One, is available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. It’s been available as an ebook, but now will be in print format as well. The publisher is Ellora’s Cave found in their “Blush” line (the non-erotic portion of the site). It is a futuristic romance full of danger, mystery, and, of course, romance. A story in the Hunters for Hire series.

Aleksia Matthews is an asteroid assayer who would like nothing better than to be left alone. Her life is soon turned upside down when a band of ruthless pirates attack her ship. Shemanages to escape, but fears the worst for her brother. Ali swears revenge. Although well-trained by Fleet Security, she knows she can’t do the job alone. When she literally runs into a stranger, Jason Cole she knows she has met the perfect partner — in more ways than one.

Special agent and Bounty Hunter, Jason has spent the past year tracking the pirates who killed his brother Zack and Zack’s family. He’s always one step behind, too late to help the victims. There are never any survivors — until now. It is up to him to keep Ali alive and out of trouble until the gang can be captured, and maybe longer. Buy here: http://www.ellorascave.com/danger-on-xy-one-1.html#

Birthdays: Mark Handley, Michael Resnick, Howard Pyle

Tips and Teasers: Go to your nearest public library and browse the stacks. Check out areas you don’t normally go. What can you find that’s new and different for you?

Thought for the day: “When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend one’s life.” – Erica Jong.

Writing a Novel #2 : Choosing a Genre

What do I write?

You’ve got your space all set up, or you know where you’re going to go to write. You’ve got your supplies. You sit down and you look at the blank page…and you blank. What do you write?

This is the first big challenge. A lot of people claim they want to write, but when it comes to actually doing the work, they back off. They don’t have a clue where to start or what to write. The blank page, whether paper or a computer screen, can be intimidating.

One of the first things you need to figure out is what genre you want to write in. There several major genres and dozens of subgenres to choose from. Let’s start with some of the main ones (Note: since I’m talking novels, I’m talking strictly fiction here)(second note: this is by no means a comprehensive list):

  •  Adventure (aka Action-Adventure) – these are stories where the main character does something risky in order to obtain something. Examples include Indiana Jones, Die Hard, Jackie Chan
  • Comedy – something inane, lighthearted, witty, designed to make the reader chuckle. Examples: Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball, Jackie Chan (an example of a combination of two or more genres)
  • Fantasy – contains magic and/or supernatural beings/devices. It is magic based and not technology based. Dragons, sword and sorcery, witches, etc. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc. (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling)
  • Horror – a story meant to shock or scare the reader. Anything by Stephen King fits this genre, but the father of all is Edgar Allen Poe. Also check out Mary Shelley, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice.
  • Mystery – focuses on a problem, usually a murder, to be solved. Includes many subgenres like true crime, crime and cozies. Agatha Christie books, James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, Perry Mason, Carl Hiaason, Elmore Leonard – all good mystery writers.
  • Romance – a story about the relationship between two main characters. Though romances run the gamut of subgenres (romantic suspense(mystery), futuristic romance, paranormal(fantasy), sweet, snarky, etc.) the main focus of the story is the development of the relationship and not the underlying genre. Norah Roberts, Susan Wiggs, Katie MacAllister, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Beatrice Small and more.
  • Science fiction – uses technology. If there is no science, there can be no science fiction. You might have a dragon – but you’d better have a plausible, science-based reason for it being in your world. It can include apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, alternate history, alternate universes, aliens, genetics, plagues, military, social science fiction (concerned less with technology and more with society – think 1984), space opera, cyber-punk, steampunk and more. Examples: Star Wars, Avatar, Wild Wild West, Star Trek, Firefly
  • Thriller – usually something that involves spies, espionage, dark crimes, disasters, etc. where there is a constant sense of impending doom or physical threats. Silence of the Lambs can fit this as well as any Tom Clancy book, Ludlum’s Bourne series, etc.
  • Western – any story set in the American west, usually involves ranches, cowboys and girls. Authors include Zane Grey, Louis Lamour.
  • Literary (also known to some as “Women’s Fiction” – though I might argue with this) – usually have strong female protagonists (heroines) overcoming personal issues. Not always with a happy ever after ending. Authors include Fannie Flagg, Nicholas Sparks, Anne Rivers Siddons, and more.

Each of these can be combined with each other or with other sub-genres to make dozens of different types of stories.

For instance, in mystery, you can have cozy mystery (think Murder She Wrote) where there is a body (or two, but rarely more), an amateur detective (someone who is not a cop/detective/etc.), and a mystery to be solved. There is rarely gore or violence. They are light, quick reads. On the other hand, a straight crime mystery usually has a professional detective or cop as a lead character, the possibility of multiple bodies, violence, gore. They are edgier and darker than a cozy. Both of these can be set in contemporary times, but they can also be combined with science fiction for a futuristic mystery, or placed in a past century for a historical mystery. Or they can be westerns, or psychological, or urban…you get the idea.

Action/adventure can be science fiction in nature (Terminator movies). Urban fantasy takes place in the here and now. You can pick any one or combination of them to write what you want – just be forewarned that not all sub-genres will sell well so if you want to write something marketable, keep this in mind.

Most writers tend to write in the genre which they read the most in. And you’d better be reading! So what do you love? What kinds of books take up the most space on your shelves (or in your electronic reading device)? That will probably be the genre you are most comfortable writing in.

Homework for this week:

Decide on a genre and make notes on what is needed for that particular area.

Guest Interview: Karen Duvall

I recently reviewed Karen Duvall’s book “Knight’s Curse” for my Crystal Clear Reviews site and liked it so much, I went to the source herself and asked her for an interview, which she graciously agreed to:

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live with my husband, three cats, and one spoiled dog in Central Oregon. I run a freelance graphic design business, however lately I’ve been writing more than designing, which I prefer anyway. J

You have a new book out, what’s the lowdown on Knight’s Curse?

KNIGHT’S CURSE is an urban fantasy starring a heroine named Chalice, who is half angel and half human, with superhuman senses. She’s enslaved by a group of sorcerers who use her special skills to steal cursed artifacts. To keep her in line they bond her to a homicidal gargoyle and the only way to break the curse is to kill the beast. Problem is, gargoyles are immortal. Her fallen angel father gives her the secret for killing the beast, but freedom is expensive. Chalice must pay for hers with either love or death, or both. Publisher’s Weekly has listed Knight’s Curse as a Top 10 Pick for Fall 2011.

What is your process from “Hmm, that’s an interesting idea” to “Done!”

I think about the idea for a few weeks before I actually write anything down. And the idea usually begins with a character, so I create a backstory for her and other players to offer me an idea of where they from and what motivates them. I sketch out a general summary with a beginning, middle and an end, then I write the first couple of chapters to get a feel for the story. After that, it’s kind of like adding pieces to a quilt, designing and fitting it all together. After the first draft of the manuscript is done, I go back through it to make revisions. However, I also do a fair amount of revising as the story progresses.

Do you belong to any writer’s groups? Which one(s)?

I belong to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a professional organization for writers of commercial novel-length fiction. I also belong to Romance Writers of America and Horror Writers of America.

Do you have a crit partner or pre-readers? What do they help you with?

I belong to a great online critique group through Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. We’ve been together for years. They help with everything from characters and scene structure to grammar. They’re an invaluable resource.

Do you edit as you go or write first, then edit?

I do both. I edit as I go because it helps cement me into the story. But I always have to go back to fix things about the story that may have changed towards the end, or things I just missed.

Do you write anything other than this genre?

Everything I write has some fantasy or magical aspect. I’ve written a supernatural thriller, a paranormal mystery, and a romantic suspense with mild paranormal elements. I also wrote a steampunk alternate history novel that’s my current favorite, but it hasn’t found a home. I have an idea for a paranormal romance series being considered by my publisher so I can’t talk about it yet.

How much research do you do before you start to write?

It depends on the story, but since I pull a lot of my ideas from real life, I do a fair amount of research for everything. My supernatural thriller had aspects of futuristic medicine, so I did a crazy amount of research for that one. I enjoy research. Even KNIGHT’S CURSE required some research as I explored a variety of curses and charms that I put my own spin on. I write the way I cook: I never follow a recipe to the letter. I have to make it my own.

How do you feel about this race to self-publish backlists?

It’s probably a good idea. I have only 2 books on my backlist, and I’m only thinking about self-publishing those at this point. The issue I have is that I’m a writer, not a publisher, and I don’t want to get caught up in that end of things because I know it will take energy away from current writing projects. But that’s just me. I know a lot of authors are experiencing success with it and I think that’s awesome.

How important do you feel having an online presence is to an author?

I think it’s extremely important. I’m still building my online presence so it’s thanks to blogs like this one that help introduce me to new readers. I’m a very social person, but I’m far better at face-to-face meet and greets than connecting through the Internet. I really enjoy interacting with people and though Twitter and Facebook kind of offer that, it’s not the same as shaking hands and giving hugs. I confess I’m a hugger. Hugging my computer screen is a cold replacement for the real deal. J

What’s a typical writing day for you?

I switch on my computer as soon as I get up in the morning, check email, check Twitter, and then check a site related to my design work. I open whatever writing project I have in progress and read through what I’ve written the day before. I check my notes to see what my plans were for continuing where I left off and start writing. I’ll write for hour-long stretches, sometimes less, then move to research, email, blog, design work, then back to writing again. I realize it’s kind of an A.D.D. approach, but it works for me. The flipping back and forth refreshes (or resets) my story-brain. I try to stick to a goal of writing 1000 words a day, but I’ll go over if the mood strikes, or under if it doesn’t.

Who/what do you like to read?

I go through phases and read a variety of genres, but it’s usually either Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. I’m a slow reader and rarely read while I’m writing. I’m in between projects right now and am at the tail end of judging some paranormal romance contest entries for my local RWA chapter. It’s been exhausting. I’m thorough when I judge and probably spend way too much time providing comments on entries, but I know how important feedback is to an unpublished writer. I want to help as much as I can.

What are the links where readers can find your books?

Wow, KNIGHT’S CURSE (trade paperback & ebook) is literally available everywhere. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Booksamillion, etc. Harlequin’s channels of distribution are amazing.

What are the links where readers can find you?

I’m everywhere, too. Ha! J I’d love more followers on Twitter @KarenDuvall and I can always use more friends on Facebook http://facebook.com/karenduvall2 and at GoodReads. Find me on my blog http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com and I have a website http://www.wix.com/jkduvall/knights-curse

What’s next?

Look for book two of my Knight’s Curse series, DARKEST KNIGHT, on store shelves in spring 2012. The third book has a working title of KNIGHT TO REMEMBER, but that might change. It isn’t finished yet. Then I have additional surprises I can’t talk about, so please follow my blog for future updates. J


Our official Grand Opening celebration kicks off October 27th at The Haunt! Please join us to meet some of our authors, staff, and learn how you can win a Sony e-reader, as well as other prizes!

Though my new book, Crystal Keys : The Emerald Key, isn’t out yet, I’ll be offering previews of this urban fantasy. Come take a look at what we have to offer.

CAPTIVA PRESS is a great place to find exciting new books.