Insta-Love

Salryc Genesis 3aIt’s a trope we see all the time.  The cute, vulnerable girl runs into a strong, well-positioned man and is instantly in love with him.  There’s no sensical reason for the relationship.  The reader doesn’t get the joy of watching the tension turn into emotion.  Nope.  Instead, it’s just “told” that they are perfect together, and we, the readers, are expected to believe it.

Some of my astute readers may look at the picture to the left, think of a newly released fantasy book they recently read and be thinking, “Hey, wait….”

So yes.  It’s true.  Power is appealing.  Stability has its own alure.  When we are young and foolish, we often convince ourselves that feelings are “love” when it’s just curiosity or boredom.  We tell ourselves it’s love because we’re too afraid of what might happen if it isn’t.  These are the kind of mistakes I made when I was 16, infatuated with the star quarterback, or the hot teacher, or any other guy who happened to be in a position to make me daydream of a “comfortable life”.  It’s what society taught me I should aspire to.

It wasn’t love.

Sal, like so many young girls, may be good at some things, but her experience with love is basically nothing.  Her past is dark and horrible – she was a slave, after all.  All she knows about how to interact with others is to please them or get beaten.  Is it any shock that she falls for the first man to show an interest in her?  Would you be shocked to learn that a natural born killer might not understand that sometimes men lie to protect their own pride?

When you’re in love, it’s so easy to list the reasons, even if they’re stupid.  Men who love you don’t tell you to change into something you aren’t.  Love never results in abuse!  Love has nothing to do with status or hierarchy of power.  Anything else is just a toxic relationship – but those are so easy to see from the outside.  The same is not true for the person stuck on the inside.

One of the things I loved most about writing BloodLust was showing just how wrong a “perfect” relationship could be.  They fell in “love” too fast, believed it was perfect, and the problems were so obvious you wanted to strangle one – or both – of them!  No matter how atrocious the relationship became, societal vulnerabilities convinced everyone that this was “right” and “meant to be”.  Now, the real question is: can things work out in the end? Should they?

Well, let me assure you, the end is not near.  Sometimes people lie.  Sometimes people figure out they were wrong.  Sometimes people figure out they were right. But, without spoiling anything for my readers, I just have to say that it was interesting to be drug along in a story where the insta-love was just as wrong as we’d all expect, but the lovers were too foolish to see it.

 

Beauty and Romance Novels

article-2343262-1A5E10DE000005DC-158_306x410In romance novels, we expect our hero and heroine to be beautiful.  Maybe not traditionally so, but at least to their love interest.  Recently, I’ve seen a lot of “larger” women in stories, as well as big noses, horrible hair, or other traits that could be seen as less than perfect.  Typically it’s the female characters who can be imperfect and still get Mr. Hot-As-Hell.  I get it.  The readers are women who see themselves as less than perfect, so this makes sense.

So, Can I take it a step further?  What about amputees, someone “confined to” (or liberated by, as the case may be) a wheelchair?  How about disfiguring scars from a traumatic accident?  Can these people become beautiful to the reader?  I think the picture here kinda proves it happens in reality.

And so, I’m now exploring this.  I have a military veteran who suffered a spinal injury, a woman who lost her leg in an accident, and another who was badly disfigured by gang violence.  My problem?  I kinda don’t know anyone who has lived through such a thing.

Yep, research.  The LAST thing I want to do is marginalize a group of people in some misguided effort to prove I can write it.  I can’t even imagine the grief, anguish, and depression that would come with something like this.  Wrapping my mind around viewing the world from waist high is nearly impossible.  And what about the reliance upon others?  Loss of independence would have to take its toll.

I think that so many “imperfect” people are now posing as models (typically seen as examples of perfection) is wonderful.  I’m giddy to see our idea of beauty transforming while I’m still alive.  I want to embrace this, to bring it into our love stories.  The way I see it, if I can make the reader – for even a moment – wish they were someone who is typically pitied, then maybe, just maybe, it means something.

I’m not really sure what, but I know that love rarely knows any bounds and that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.  They say that love conquers all.  Can it defeat our cultural prejudices?

 

Waiting for Reviews

airport-923970_1920Sometimes, as an author, it feels like I’m all alone.  I work on the next book.  I stress over the cover.  I try to think up a blurb that is accurate and still enticing.  Between all of that, I wait.

Just me, looking at my phone, my tablet, or my monitor, hoping a review comes in.  Wondering if all those people who read the book even liked it, or if I need to seriously look at what I’m doing.  Hoping that I can get some kinda of hint about how the public feels about my writing.

I’m not alone.  I know that.  All authors deal with this.  Now that Amazon is cracking down on who can review the book, it’s even harder.  To help readers find us, we turn to social media – and yet those people who do follow us are often not eligible to review our books.  Our best fans, our loyal haters, and so many in between have their reviews eaten by the system.  Why?  Because they could be biased.

It’s an infuriating thing, and one that I don’t have a clue how to deal with.  I could go and beg for reviews from well-known reviewers, but would they even get posted?  It’s not like I want people to say my book is good when it isn’t.  I’ve had enough book bloggers tell me they honestly love my work for me to feel a little confident.  But book bloggers aren’t readers.  They chew through so much that they are now looking for different things.

So how am I to know what the average reader wants?  Some of my fans have been kind enough to send emails.  So far, they have all been good (even if a few are honest about pointing out mistakes I missed!).  But I’m pretty much operating at a 1% feedback rate.  Gah!  And I thrive on feedback.  I’m all about making changes (often when I shouldn’t but that’s a different story!)

And, of course, I’m even worse when the editor is done with my work.  After wading through the technicolor vomit of corrections, I can’t help but worry that I need to do more, do it better, and do it NOW.  Hoping for some sign, I’ll click on my books only to see….

Nothing.

Man, I really hate waiting.  Maybe I’ll work on a book, instead.

Must Focus

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In my head is a war.  It’s part perfection, part creativity.  One segment of my mind is screaming that I need to get the iliri series completed, out, and available to readers.  I’ve already written it, so I need to complete all the polish and shine that these books deserve.

The other part of my mind is wandering through my library.  Oh, there’s that book about the world after global warming.  Right, then there’s the one about the gamers.  Oh hey, what about that romance that you’ve almost finished?  You could just sit down and smack out the last couple of chapters since you’ve already planned it all.  Wait, what about the urban fantasy, the steampunk book, or maybe the sci-fi colony thing?

And KABAM!  I’m staring at the screen, flipping through twitter, and obsessed with my sales – all while doing NOTHING about my writing.  Grr.

I’ve reached that point in authorship where the demands of producing books are equal to that of writing them (marketing/promotions vs clicking of keys).  Free time is at an all time low, readers are at an all time high, success is “in sight” (depending upon how one defines that) and I’m comfortably happy with my foray into this field.  I actually LIKE being an author.  I like it so much that my brain just wanders off to some remote island and wallows in the warmth of it, laying around like some beached whale…

… and completely stumped as to what comes next!  I have a list of things to do.  Like how I should be nicer to my editor (but seriously!  She said the comma doesn’t belong there.  Is she blind or daft?!?) or maybe working on the cover for book 3.  How about deciding on a friggin title for that book?  Never mind that I shouldn’t be blogging about my writing.  This space should be something entertaining and wonderful for my fans.

Instead, I’m wallowing in the joys of being an author.  I’m gonna take a moment and just let this happen.  I think a day will do.  Maybe plant a flower, while reminding myself that I’ve done it.  I’m an author.  I made stories that other people – people I don’t even know – like enough to tell me about.  I made something, and it’s kinda good.

Yes.  I did this.

Wait.  Wasn’t I supposed to be focusing?  Hmm.  I think I’ll go do that in the sun.  Maybe with a good book.  I think Instinctual needs another read through, and then I can call it “working”.  Now why didn’t I do this before?

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