Naming Characters: An Inexact Science
I wish I could tell you I have this wonderful process by which I come up with just the right name for each character, but the truth is I don't.
Last names of my main characters are often decided on ethnicity and how the name sounds—strong, determined, etc. I own the Dictionary of Surnames by Basil Cottle, but I also use sites like Ancestry.com and this surname site: http://surnames.behindthename.com/.
First names are the hardest, because I believe this is how readers identify with my characters. I try to adhere to certain rules—don't use names that sound alike, don't make them too hard to pronounce, don't start two character names with the same letter—but obviously I trashed that third mandate when I named Ari and Andreas as my main characters. It wasn't deliberate. I knew Andreas's name from day one, but Arianna's name eluded me until I was working on the second manuscript. Until that time she'd been Samantha Calin, but the first name never seemed to fit. I wanted one that conveyed both her heritage and her personality.
Of course, I own a wonderful resource for first names, 100,000 Baby Names by Bruce Lansky, but when I decided the Samantha name had to go, I was vacationing in Florida and the book was at home on my bookshelf. So I did a lot of internet searches, and it's not as easy as you'd think. Most of the baby sites require a registration, which is time-consuming and floods your inbox with unwanted emails, or they're incomplete—one gives you names, another gives you meanings. (If you're stuck like I was, you might try this user-friendly site: http://www.ohbabynames.com/.)
In the end, I can't tell you where the name Arianna came from. It just popped into my head, and I knew it was right. Very scientific.
So what about the secondary characters? Their names often occur to me on the fly and without any research, often matching the character's role or personality. I think about what letters of the alphabet I haven't used for first names and run through possibilities in my head until something clicks. If I change my mind later, it's easy enough to use Find and Replace.
I have one character named after a former colleague because she asked to be in one of my books. I won 't be doing that again. The character always felt like she didn't belong in my paranormal world.
I just finished a new manuscript with elven characters. I wanted their names to be somewhat recognizable to readers yet with an Otherworld look and sound. After some experimenting, I took ordinary names and changed a letter or changed the order of letters with surprising and satisfactory results.
I guess that's what works for me--experiment, try out different names, see how they look and sound, and listen for the muse to perk up and say, "That's it!"
So, readers, do characters' names really make a difference to you?
I'd also love to hear how other writers do it. Do you have resources you swear by or tried and true methods?
Thanks for spending some time with me, and come back soon!
Sometimes you just need to stay alive to fight another day.
Six months ago Ari moved in with the vampire prince Andreas. They defied the vampire elders in Europe, killed their enforcer, and have waited for retaliation that never came.
On a trip to Italy, Andreas is captured by the vampire rulers, the notorious O-Seven, and taken in chains to their stronghold in Germany. Ari goes after him, even though it’s against the orders of her Magic Council. She is fired for her actions, losing her special Guardian powers at a time she needs them most.
But the vampire rulers are not through with her or with those who attempt to help her. They launch attacks in Europe and at home in Riverdale. Ari is forced to fight them on several fronts, and victory grows increasingly uncertain.
Her last chance to rescue Andreas is a daring plan that places her in the hands of the O-Seven and relies on untested witch magic, the final hope for their survival.
Book trailer: http://youtu.be/cer_uURx62s
Barnes & Noble
Good morning, booklovers!
We're talking paranormal today with a touch of romance!
Welcome, Patricia Layne! May I pour you a cup of coffee?
PATRICIA: Unlike most of my coworkers, I don’t run on caffeine. In fact, I don’t drink coffee at all and soda only on rare occasions. My breakfast drink is orange juice, and I drink plain old water the rest of the day. That’s not to say I’ve given up caffeine altogether, because chocolate is an addition.
Ally: A little spring water coming right up. Why don't you tell readers something about yourself?
I’m a computer geek by day and a writer by night. I grew up amid the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, and use the area as a setting for much of my writing. I currently make my home in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, and think I might have been a mountain man in a previous life.
I can be reached on Facebook at https://facebook.com/pjmaclayne
And on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PJMacLayne
Ally: Now for that moment of truth--something about yourself that's not in your bio.
PATRICIA: I didn't touch my first computer until I was over 30. And no, I won't tell you how long ago that was. But I fell in love with the technology immediately, and ended up going back to school and earning a degree in networking technology. I got my first job in the computer field after I'd hit 40. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't re-invent yourself.
Ally: From computer geek to paranormal romance writer, how did you get into this genre?
PATRICIA: I never intended to write a paranormal romance. My previous book had been a mystery with a romantic element. I dreamt the prologue to Wolves’ Pawn, and the main character just wouldn’t let go of me, so I started it off as a short story. As I wrote, more and more of the story was revealed to me and I ended up with my book, Wolves’ Pawn.
Ally: Tell us about the paranormal beings in your book.
PATRICIA: The majority of my characters are shape shifters who shift into wolves. In my world, shifters only get one form. But there is a sprinkling of other shifters who shift into the traditional forms of their birthplace-like the large lizards of the Hawaiian Islands.
Ally: What makes your books unique from others in the field?
PATRICIA: The main character in Wolves’ Pawn is a strong, independent female who plays by her own rules, and sometimes makes them up as she goes along. I think the story deals with social issues more than most other books in this genre, and a whole lot less with sex. I made a point of not reading other shifter romances while I was writing the book to keep the story fresh in my mind.
Ally: What time of day and where do you do the majority of your writing?
PATRICIA: I do most of my writing in the evenings because I work a full-time, daytime job. The first book I wrote I mostly wrote out longhand and then transcribed it onto my computer. These days I do most of my writing sitting at my desk, at my computer, trying to ignore the internet, except when I need to research details. I kind of miss writing longhand, but editing is so much easier when you’re working with an electronic document.
Ally: Ready for some quick answer questions?
Ally: Thanks so much for joining us on the Coffee Chat. It's been fun meeting you! Before you go, please tell readers about your book and where they can find it.
- favorite flower: Lilacs. I love the smell.
- favorite type of music: Classic Rock or John Denver depending upon what kind of mood I'm in
- the last meal you cooked: I make this great chicken breast drenched in a melted butter/garlic mixture, and then coated in breadcrumbs with a variety of seasonings. Add a veggie of choice (last night it was green beans) a salad and some bread and it’s a quick and easy supper.
- an item on your bucket list: I don't have a bucket list. If I did, a week-long guided horseback trip in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains would be on it.
- favorite childhood character in books, movies or folklore: Favorite childhood character: You don't want to know how may years ago that was. I'll say Daniel Boone. He's not exactly folklore, but there are enough wild stories about him that I think he counts.
Wolves’ Pawn blurb:
Dot McKenzie is a lone wolf-shifter on the run, using everything available to her to stay one step ahead of her pursuers. When she is offered a chance for friendship and safety with the Fairwood pack, she accepts.
Gavin Fairwood, reluctant heir for Fairwood pack leadership, is content to let life happen while he waits. Old longings surface when he appoints himself as Dot’s protector and becomes more than a friend.
Dot goes into hiding again when her presence puts the pack and her new friends at risk. When those same forces threaten the destruction of the Fairwood pack, it will take the combined efforts of Dot and Gavin to save it. But can anything save their love and Dot’s life when she becomes a pawn in a pack leader’s deadly game?
Amazon Buy Link: smarturl.it/tyseu6
Thanks for spending some of your time with us! If you have questions or comments for Patricia, please enter them below.
Come back soon!
It's currently minus 2 degrees F outside, and we have a new three inch layer of snow. It's been a long, harsh winter in much of the US. I can't help thinking about vacation destinations. Especially to someplace warm - the Mediterranean, the Bahamas, or maybe the desert.
Seriously, I love the desert.
What's not to like about Arizona and Egypt?
Warm sands, warm colors, warm breezes. Are you picking up on the theme? :)
I know that my choices wouldn't suit everyone, and I got to wondering just where my characters might go. What would they see as a perfect vacation? There was only one way to find out, so I asked them.
Ryan wasn't picky.
"Definitely a beach somewhere. With a six pack of beer."
Steffan wanted a bit more.
"Beach volleyball, here I come! I'd kick sand on Ryan until he joined us, and we'd have a keg. Or maybe two."
Claris: "I would love, love, love to tour Europe's gardens, but not until the spring or summer."
Gabriel had to think about it a while.
"Well, love, I guess I'd choose to go home. I haven't been back to England in almost two hundred years. Perhaps it's time."
When I found Andreas and Ari, they were together, and he had a quick response.
"It would be my pleasure to share Tuscany with Arianna. To show her all my childhood haunts and ride over the lands I love so much."
Arianna: "I've never had time for vacations. The last time I wasn't working I was in rehab with my sensei following an injury. But spending time with Andreas in Italy would be just about perfect."
Thanks so much for spending time with us dreaming of warm climes and fun times. Where is your dream vacation spot?
Watch for news later this week. Fire Storm (Guardian Witch 5) is coming soon!
Good morning, booklovers!
On a change of pace, I'm welcoming author Dennis Larsen today to talk about his thriller, The Living Hunger, and to tell authors about a wonderful site for free promo.
How do you take your coffee, Dennis?
DENNIS: I’m not one for hot drinks but on a cold Canadian afternoon hot chocolate with mini marshmallows is wonderful.
Ally: It's afternoon somewhere, and it's certainly cold enough! Hot chocolate coming right up. Why don't you show readers your bio?
Dennis F. Larsen grew up in Brigham City, Utah, a small town set into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. He attended Utah State University before graduating from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon with a Doctorate of Optometry degree in May of 1987. He has worked as an Optometrist in an Edmonton, Alberta group practice since that time.
Dennis was married to his hometown sweetheart, Holly, in 1981 and they have four children, as well as a golden retriever, Hannah. In recent years their lives have been blessed with the addition of five grandchildren, and one on the way.
The author lives for time with his family but is enjoying the exploration of his new found love, writing. Hours that were previously devoted to work, community responsibilities and rearing children, are now spent honing his creative edge.
Ally: Can you add something unique or personal that you wouldn't ordinarily include in a bio?
DENNIS: I dreamed of being a major league baseball player and lived for the sport, until I got married and started university.
Ally: It's interesting how our lives suddenly change directions. And now, you've taken another career turn into writing. Which leads to an obvious question. What genre or genres do you write? I've heard you have Zombies. Are there any in the book you brought today?
DENNIS: I enjoy writing thriller and suspense styled novels with an end of the world theme. The Living Hunger is a post-apocalypitic story that avoids zombies but puts survivors into life and death scenarios that are very real.With my medical background, I’ve tried to write plots which are entirely plausible and force the characters to struggle with moral decisions, thus coming to terms with their own mortality while trying to overcome hardships and trials.
Ally: Since some of your work is defined as dystopian, would you explain the term to readers who might not have tried that genre?
DENNIS: Dystopian refers to a society that in some way is less than desirable, generally brought about by some upheaval in the community: war, disease, oppression etc. In my depiction there is a return to basic survival needs and reliance upon friends, family and others with similar values and goals. Loss of life’s luxuries and the need to create some sense of order from the devastation of dramatic change are a central core to my idea of dystopian.
Ally: So, talk about the zombie-like books. What makes them stand out from others?
DENNIS: I am currently working on a serial entitled The Raven Falconer Chronicles. Episodes 1&2 are available (Operation Z-Day and Rise of the Huskers). They are unique in that they are very plausible. There’s no reanimation of dead tissue, no stumbling dead, but very real human beings altered by environmental factors that turn them animalistic. A common thread in all reviews point to this fact - the story is perhaps the most realistic look at zombie-like humans currently available. I also write the story, not only from the survivors point of view, but also from those who are infected — the Huskers.
Ally: I find readers and other writers are always interested in an author's writing routine. Do you have a particular place and time?
DENNIS: I prefer to write late at night when it’s quiet and there are no distractions. Once I get started I have a difficult time going to bed until I’ve finished a particular thought or chapter. Occasionally, I will write at work, either between patients or at lunch depending upon how obsessed I am with completing a work. Once I’ve finished a manuscript, I travel to Southern Utah for a week to have my wife (chief editor) read the manuscript out loud to me so I can make adjustments to the flow and content. Thus begins the editing process on the way to the final product.
Ally: One of the great things about you is
you're not only an author but you promote other authors. Can you tell us about eReader Recon, and how you got started.
DENNIS: After I published my first novel, a crime thriller (With Cruel Intent), I was surprised at the lack of support for new authors, without someone looking to make a buck, so I created www.eReaderRecon.com. It is a website devoted to promoting new authors and new release novels. The service is free and has grown rapidly since its inception. Well over a hundred authors have taken advantage of the service, and I’ve made some remarkable new friends and read some incredible novels. There is a sister Facebook page and I also use my personal blog and twitter to assist in promoting Indie Authors. I have to say thank you to the many authors who have returned the favour and assisted in the expansion of my readership, as well.
Ally: It's a terrific service, Dennis. Thank you for doing it. I hope all our readers and authors will take a look at your site. Now, I'd like to finish off our chat with a few quick answer questions.
- (1) favorite TV show(s): Murdoch Mysteries (Canadian) / Sherlock (British) / Justified (American)
- (2) cool trucks or cool cars? As a teenager, my first car was a 1971 Camaro, which I later sold for a 1970 Chevelle Malibu. I dream of having one of those again.
- (3) When will you know it's spring? When the snow melts from my deck, and I can get to the BBQ.
- (4) favorite dessert: Chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.
- (5) last movie you saw in a theatre: The Book Thief - Incredibly moving story!
Ally: Thank you so much for being on the Coffee Chat! I hope you'll come back again, but before you go, I'd love to see the book you brought...
Back of the Book: Blurb:
A hardened war veteran collides with a venomous leader and rogue assassin, turning the Western United States into the next great battleground.
Sergeant Farrell Jenson survives a world lost to nuclear and biological warfare only to find his home destroyed and family missing. He joins forces with Gary Merrill, a local business leader, and Major Melanie Ghostkeeper, a Marine Medic, to begin the process of rebuilding. A small group of survivors unite under a banner of freedom and hunker down in Bear River High School. Friendships and love are forged in the hot fires of adversity as they fight for their very lives, amidst a world turned upside down, where death is the new way of life.
A festering evil is combing the land, led by one man, Don Bullock. The rotund, venomous leader spearheads a community with a taboo, underlying secret that will pit good against evil in a dramatic show of force and violence between the two groups. Solomon, a rogue African assassin, launches a one-man assault on the Bear Riverites, seeking blood and retribution to satiate his bloodlust and quench his need for flesh.
Each side gambles all to control a new found drug with the potential to save mankind. This new 'currency' trumps all, where money is worthless and food and women are king. As the struggle escalates and new battle-lines are drawn a host of unwitting participants are pulled into the fray, fighting for all they hold dear.
Book One of The Living Hunger Series begs the question: 'Which side will render your support and where will your allegiances lie?'
Banres and Noble: http://bit.ly/1oETXgt
Thank you to everyone for stopping today. Come back soon!
Most Efficient & Most Effective Author Marketing A Newbie's World with Erin Moore (reposted with permission from MFRWorg)
What is the best use of my marketing time and will bring me the most sales? Starting out as a new author, I had little idea how much time I would be expected to devote to marketing my book.
And it all seemed overwhelming: Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Pinterest, blog posts… But do any of these really generate new sales? It is my belief, backed up by some marketing experts, that most of our social media is merely an avenue for fans to find authors they already like and admire, not necessarily a place to generate new sales[i]. Social media is all about engagement, i.e. after that fan/reader has already bought your product, then they will want to know more about you and your other works. But not necessarily before. If you have to go looking for followers or likes, or use give-aways to get more people there, then you are probably not generating sales via social media. Yet. So what will bring a reader to you? REVIEWS. Reviews help Amazon to promote your book for you. I read somewhere (though of course I can no longer find the source!) that after 30 reviews, Amazon starts to list your book in its recommendations. In addition, the more reviews, the more likely a potential reader is to buy your book. Think about it – we want a trusted source – other consumers – to tell us that this book is great! So how do you get them? Unfortunately, it involves EFFORT.
There is no easy way to get more reviews. Here are the ones I have discovered:
1. Friends and family: your network is always your best shot. Ask people who you know have read your books in a personalized email (not a mass email), and explain why reviews are important to you. I also include some tips – ask them to talk about why they liked a specific character, setting, or theme in your book.
2. Review groups: reviewing other authors’ books for a review in turn. These should never be reciprocal reviews, however, as Amazon frowns on this practice. And, it might give a bit of dishonesty to your review. MFRW often offers up new review groups starting up.
3. Bloggers: check out bloggers who review your type of books. Simply Google your genre and reviews and you should get a bunch. Also try the same search on Facebook. Personally, I have not had as much luck with bloggers, however one good trick is to include a few pieces of personal information on the specific blogger in your request. For instance, “I read your review on…and thought you might be interested in my novel___ because of its themes of ____.” Also be sure to always find and use the blogger’s name and some other piece of information about them (likes, personal preferences, hometown, whatever).
4. Regular people: search on Amazon for books like yours, and then find reviews that don’t seem to be from a friend or family member. If the reviewer has an email address listed, send them an email and ask if they would be interested in your book in return for a review. No obligation.
5. If possible, in your next release, include a note to your readers about how much you appreciate their feedback (listing all of your contact information), and then make a request for reviews. Note how important they are for you.
[i] recent Verso survey estimated that barely 12% of books are discovered from social networks whereas 50% are passed on via personal recommendations. (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jun/06/become-an-ebook-superstar)
Sources: http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/RNCWTLEMV71VM (great information here!!) https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/352865-you-want-your-book-tagged-on-amazon http://thefutureofpublishing.com/2012/04/what-have-we-learned-about-amazon-book-reviews/
Think Twitter is better for generating sales? Leave your thoughts!
Erin writes paranormal romances as Erin Moore and has only just begun to learn all about marketing them! She contributes to the MFRW Marketing Blog with her monthly column,
A Newbie's WorldShe is usually found on Twitter, but may soon be on an Amazon binge, so look out! She manages two monsters and one unruly husband in Atlanta, main-lining chocolate and tea. Look her up on www.AuthorErinMoore.com or, of course, on Twitter: @AuthorErinMoore.
This article, Most Efficient & Most Effective Author Marketing, is syndicated from MFRW Marketing and is posted here with permission.
Books and coffee ~ and chatting about books and coffee. What's not to like?
I want to welcome cozy mystery writer Judy Alter. Can I pour you a cup of coffee?
JUDY: Yes, please. I take it black.
Ally: While we're settling settled, let's let readers take a look at your bio, including something personal that you wouldn't normally include. We like to know dark secrets around here. :)
I’m a lifelong writer—started at the age of ten—and have been published one way or another since 1978. I’ve written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, many books about women in the American West (some of which are available again in e-book form), and a some random books that don’t categorize easily but the last six years or so I turned my attention to cozy mysteries. I’ve written the Kelly O’Connell Mystery series with four books in print, and the Blue Plate series. I plan to branch out soon.
I was also in publishing for almost thirty years, twenty of them as director of a small academic press. Learned a lot that has help me but also hindered me from adjusting to the changing times.
The most important part of my life, however, is not writing but the four children I raised as a single mother. They are wonderful people today and have given me seven terrific grandchildren.
I currently write two series: Blue Plate Cafe Mysteries and Kelly O'Connell Mysteries.
No dark secrets, but I’m a devotee of chocolate and white wine (preferably together). My youngest daughter once said our house could run on cottage cheese, Paul Newman’s Own Vinaigrette, and white wine.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Judy-Alter-Author/366948676705857Twitter: https://twitter.com/JudyAlter (although I’m not good about checking it)
Ally: I know you've written in more than one genre, but it seems like cozy mystery is your favorite. For readers who are not familiar with the genre, how would you define a cozy as contrasted with a traditional mystery?
JUDY: I get all mixed up between cozies and traditional mysteries, because I sometimes think the two terms are synonymous. What they are not is suspense, thriller, paranormal, etc. My definition of a cozy is that it usually has an amateur sleuth who has a job beyond her sleuthing; she is often single and in the midst of a romantic entanglement. Violence and sex are hinted at but generally off-screen, and there is a satisfactory ending. The reader unravels the mystery along with the protagonist, whereas in a suspense or thriller, the reader knows who the killer is. The protagonist and killer are on parallel paths that will eventually intercept—can the protagonist solve the mystery before coming face to face with the killer?
Ally: Why do you write, and I presume read, mysteries? What is the lure?
JUDY: I write cozies because I’ve read them all my life and like them better than any other genre. It’s less plot than character that draws me to them—I like to get lost in the world of the book. I don’t think I have the stomach for violence or the imagination for the paranormal.
Ally: Describe your typical writing day - where, when, daily goals.
JUDY: When I’m actively in the midst of a novel, my goal is a thousand words a day. But that gets interrupted a lot. I like to write in the morning or late evening—but mornings are sometimes taken up with grocery trips, doctors’ appointments, and the like, plus I frequently have lunch with friends. Afternoons are devoted to one of my grandsons—I pick him up at school and we do homework together. Long answer short: I write when I can.
Ally: Your latest book, Murder at the Tremont House, has a paranormal aspect. Can you tell us about grandma?
JUDY: Gram raised her twin granddaughters from early childhood, ran a café all their lives. When she dies suddenly, Kate takes over the café, and she often hears Gram advising her from the beyond. Since Kate is the only one Gram talks to, it’s frustrating. She can’t say to her troublesome twin, “Well, Gram said….” Gram’s advice is often cryptic, and she fades away before Kate can start a discussion with her. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to writing paranormal.
Ally: Let's try some quick Answer Questions:
Ally: It has been a pleasure visiting with you, Judy. I know you brought a book for us to preview, so it's all yours...
- sneakers or sandals: sneakers
- favorite nail polish color: don’t wear nail polish; if I did it would be subdued colors
- favorite writing tool: writing in Word and getting that first sentence down, which unleashes thoughts I didn’t know I had
- what comes first, characters or plot: characters definitely come first—in writing and in reading
- last vacation destination: Santa Fe, New Mexico; love it, might live there if I could afford it.
Murder at the Tremont House launches February 27, 2014.
It’s the second in my Blue Plate Café Mystery series. It all begins when free-lance journalist Sara Jo Cavanaugh comes to Wheeler to do an in-depth study of Kate’s town for a feature on small-town America, Kate senses she will be trouble. Sara Jo stays at the B&B, Tremont House, run by Kate’s sister, Donna. Unwittingly, Sara Jo drives a further wedge into Donna’s marriage to Wheeler’s mayor Tom Bryson. And soon she’s spending way too much time interviewing high school students, one young athlete in particular. Police chief Rick Samuels ignores Kate’s instinct, but lawyer David Clinkscales, her former boss from Dallas, takes it more seriously.
Sara Jo arouses so much animosity in Wheeler with the personal, intrusive questions she asks, that when she is found murdered, the list of suspects is long. But Kate heads the list, and she must clear her name, with the help of David and Rick. A second murder confirms that someone is desperate, and now Rick is convinced Kate is in danger.
There’s a love triangle, a cooking school, a kidnapping, a broken marriage, and a lot of adventure before the ingredients of this mystery stew are discovered, and Wheeler can go back to being a peaceful small town. If it ever does.
Thanks for joining our Coffee Chat! I hope everyone will come back soon!
And Judy, remind us when you're book launches. I want to get in line!
Since Marketing for Romance Writers, a group in which I'm a member, is generous enough to allow reposting of their blog articles, I may occasionally share certain posts that I think might be of interest to you. This one recently caught my eye.
What's HOT?? What's NOT???
We hear the question, ask the question, participate in discussions about the question. What is hot in books today? What are readers poring over when they should be sleeping, cleaning, cooking (writing!) or mingling with live people instead of characters in a book? And when we hear or read the question, don't we all just lean forward just a bit to hear the answer? Maybe click on that link to read someone the words from on high, if it's a hot agent or editor?
And don't we sigh a bit when we learn that shape shifters/vampires/elven lords are out, gone, passe, never to be sold or read again? Especially since we're just polishing our unique take on shape shifters/vampires/elven lords.
How many of us put that book away and force ourselves to start something that's up with the times? Only to read a few months later about the sale of an innovative shape shifter/vampire/elven lord series? I'm hoping I don't see a show of hands out there. Anyone who has been in the writing business for more than five years should have learned by now, there is no way to predict what people will be reading six months from now. Every time we think we understand market trends, they take a sharp turn to the left and leave us in the dust.
The new and exciting and innovative books we see on the shelves NOW were bought up to two years ago, often presented by agents who believed in the work. Especially the 'Big Six' published books. Anyone who scrambles to emulate those books is already months or years behind the trend. If you follow the publishing news, you might learn when those books are bought, so you're not as far behind the starting line. Of course we won't know how the books fare until they are on the shelves and/or in our e-reader.
Remember when Western movies, or television shows, were dead? Or Space Opera, or Relationship or...? Until along came something so exiting, so well done, it grabbed the viewing audience by the the throat and made massive amounts of lovely cash for all participating?
What's hot? A well written book. A book with characters who grab our hearts, put into situations where we cringe for them and stay up late to read their success. For romances, what's hot is the HEA in spite of all odds.
What's hot is what people want to read, written by people passionate about their words.
Okay, dino porn is also hot right now, but so were Pet Rocks (for anyone here old enough to remember them!)
Rather than writing to trend, think about writing to last. What makes those keeper books stay on the shelves? Which sounds like a great topic for next month.
This article, What's HOT?? What's NOT???, is syndicated from MFRW Marketing and is posted here with permiss
Happy Valentine's Day!
In honor of this special day for sweethearts, my characters are revealing their softer side.
* * * * *
This morning, Ari found a dozen red roses and this card from Andreas next to her morning coffee.
Since Andreas was asleep for the day, she slipped this response under his door...
Hope you've found your fantasy! Have a wonderful day, and come back soon!
It's time for our Wednesday Coffee Chat!
Since Friday is Valentine's Day, romance author Milly Taiden and I are discussing how romantic relationships are handled in today's novels.
Welcome, Milly! I'll have your decaf, sweet with light cream, ready in a minute. Before we start talking about sex :) - why don't you remind my readers who you are?
Hi! I'm Milly (AKA April Angel) I love to write sexy stories. They're usually either paranormal or contemporary with a large dose of heat. My paranormal stories can be anything from wolf-shifters (my favorites) to witches, demons and anything in between. My contemporaries are usually anything from soldiers to corporate romances.
I was born in the prettiest part of the Caribbean known as the Dominican Republic. Currently, I live in New York City with my hubby, the bossy kiddo and our little dog "Needy Speedy". Don't ask.
When I'm not working some really long hours at the day job, or hanging out in the awful life-sucking invention known as Facebook, messaging my bestie in the UK or shopping with my sis Julie, then I can be found watching scary movies. Buuut when I'm not doing that, I'm usually writing because the voices won't shut up.
I am addicted to shoe shopping, chocolate (but who isn't, right?) and Dunkin' Donuts coffee.
Come on over and visit me! I love to meet new readers!
Like my books? Want to stay on top of all things Milly? Sign up for my newsletter http://mad.ly/signups/87477/join
There’s a monthly $50 GC Giveaway to all the emails signed up to get the latest news on my releases.
Find out more about Milly Taiden here:
Facebook Friend Page: http://www.facebook.com/milly.taiden
Ally: Last time I asked you to reveal something personal about yourself that wasn't in your bio, and you talked about a unique physical ability (to see that interview, click here). What do you have for us today?
MILLY: I am afraid of the ocean. Like major big time sissy. But I'm going on my second cruise February 21st. I can't watch movies about the ocean because I start to hyperventilate. LOL
Ally: OMG. Good luck with the cruise!
Ally: Now that people know a little about you, let's move on to today's topic. If our characters are going to be real, they're going to think about and have sex. How that element is handled defines the heat level of the book, often labeled as 1--5 or sweet to erotica. As a frame of reference for today's discussion, the following is a fairly common rating system:
1 - no consummated love scenes, or cutaways with no details
2 - some love scenes; more sensual then graphic and mild language.
3 - sensual, but more explicit love scenes, and the language may be more graphic and direct.
4 - frequent love scenes, explicit and described using graphic and direct or raw language.
5 - many love scenes, explicit, described using graphic and direct language, and/or contain controversial or potentially objectionable subject matter.
My books would be level 1-2, but I would call Milly's a 4+, erotic but not quite erotica.
Ally: We talked a little about the difference between erotic and erotica in our prior chat (link here), but I think it's appropriate to take another look at the subject. Where do you consider your books fall on this spectrum and why?
MILLY: I think because I am always looking into the romance side and the happily ever after of my couples, that I could always consider them erotic. Though I've written erotica, I find erotic ROMANCE is much more fulfilling for the romantic in me. I need that emotional connection. I need to know these two people aren't going through all this to then say "see ya!" at the end. It would break my reader heart.
Ally: How did you get started writing erotic romance?
MILLY: That's interesting. To be honest I don't know. I mean the very first romance I wrote had sex in it. I've been reading Erom for so long that it came naturally for me to make mine that way.
Ally: What's most important to you - and to your readers - the romantic chase or the sex scenes?
MILLY: I think there's got to be a good balance. I mean while we can have a few hot scenes of sex, we need them to enhance the romance, not take over. So romance is most important to me. I need readers to finish the book feeling good about the couple and how they got together. Feel that their connection was there, and it wasn't all about sex.
Ally: Your books contain what some have described as "raw" language. First, do you agree with that assessment, and if so, what led to that choice? Is language character based, event based or genre based?
MILLY: Yes, I agree and have a warning on my sales pages. There are words that some people wince when they see either spoken or written. I think the language is more of a character thing. They come with their own personalities and attitudes and what they will and won't say. But I don't tamp them down or cut things out.
Ally: What would you like your readers to take away from reading one of your books?
MILLY: Probably that no matter how many differences a couple could have between them, they can still be just right for each other.
Ally: Let's try some quick answer questions.
a. Do you believe in happily ever after? Absolutely!
b. How about love at first sight? Yes!
c. What is your favorite kind of chocolate? Milk
d. Number of shoes in your closet:: hehehe A LOT
e. Sexiest male actor or other public figure: Vin Diesel
Ally: Do you have romantic plans for Valentine's Day?
MILLY: Yes. Hubs and I go on a date every year. Hoping to have another one this year too.
Ally: As always, it has been great having you, Milly. Before you go, we'll show our readers a couple of your covers that are "family friendly" with a reminder that the contents are only for those 18+. Thanks so much for visiting. Have a great Valentine's Day date! And make sure you come back safely to us from that cruise! :)
MILLY: Thanks so much for having me over Ally. You rock!!!
A woman with a secret… The Federal Paranormal Unit is an elite squad of supernaturals dedicated to solving missing persons cases. Erica’s gift allows her a special connection with the crime, but it comes at a deep personal cost… She’s kept her gift a secret, even from the rest of the team. But this case will throw her together with Agent Trent Buchanan. He’s the object of her secret desires, but a womanizer. She’d rather swim in shark-infested waters with a paper cut than admit she has feelings for him.
Mission: Don't fall in love
After an explosive night of passion during a scenting ceremony, Karla Alves is sure she was just a one night stand for the man she'd been crushing on for years. Her fear of becoming clingy kept her from risking her heart.
Amazon reviewer: "the book is sexy as hell and incredibly sweet."