Took a trip to Waldenbooks in Silverdale, WA today to see Ellora's Cave books on the shelves and talk to them about my upcoming releases. Those books are flying off the shelves! They can hardly keep them in stock. I got two from the incredibly picked over selection, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're out of stock tomorrow.
They assured me that they would be delighted to stock extra copies of my books and arrange for me to do a formal signing if I like, or I can just come in informally and sign the copies on the shelves. Everybody in the store is very enthusiastic about E.C. Clerks are recommending them to customers, and customers are hauling them away.
It's easy to see what the enthusiasm is about. There's something about a trade paperback that says "not your ordinary paperback" to begin with. And the stories are not just steamy reads, they are fully three-dimensional books, full of action and emotional complexity and rich characterization. This is not your mother's romance novel! And for those of us who love speculative fiction, it's very female oriented. Much as I adore SF/F, it is largely male oriented and the female empowerment in speculative romantica is tremendous.
On a less happy note, I've had to turn off comments on the blog because I kept getting spammed. This is also why I haven't added a forum. I simply don't have time to monitor the site for spam and obnoxious posts. But I welcome comments and would be pleased to hear from anybody by email. Just use the contact link on the site to send a message.
My incredible in-house tech support guru ported the blog over to Word Press yesterday so that it will RSS feed. Translation: the URL for yesterday's news article on E.C. went to uberping and the blog will continue to feed out. Which means I have a different interface to work with on the backend, but all should be seamless on the viewer side of things.
There, was that technical enough? I was reminded today that my last job was highly technical, working for Hewlett Packard. In some ways, my life is unchanged; I still spend most of the day at my desk, drink a lot of coffee, and start off my morning reading <a href="http://www.sluggy.com" target="blank">Sluggy Freelance</a> and <a href="http://www.ubersoft.net" target="blank">Help Desk</a>, and figure out how to put specific things into words that a reader will understand.
It's just that today I wrote about a vampire who hadn't had sex in 500 years and then I wrote about what to do when your printer doesn't work. Vampires are more fun. Although my quad mates never subjected me to Teletubbies and my daughter does. I think I can directly blame my vampire's suffering on Teletubbies, in fact. The music alone made me want to torture somebody horribly.
I haven't got my site updated with links from the book titles to the publisher's site, www.ellorascave.com, which is on my list of things to do. But Ellora's Cave is the most exciting thing that's happened in publishing in my lifetime. I'm delighted to be an E.C. author and very pleased to see this kind of coverage.
Check out this article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, one of the top 10 most read newspapers in the US. It's the cover story in the arts section.
As the article states, many of us write fantasy/science fiction erotic romance. In fact, my confusion as a writer has been, what market am I in? Is this erotica? Is it romance? Is it Fantasy/SciFi/Horror, what? Praise be, E.C. lets me do all of it in the same book!
Love and Rockets features a rocket scientist, not your typical romance heroine. And Dangerous Games features science fiction in spades. Since I can't seem to write anything that doesn't mix erotic romance with speculative fiction, I would probably die with a lot of manuscripts in my file cabinet that never saw the light of day without a revolutionary publisher like this.
If you think romance is boring, go to www.ellorascave.com and see what romantica (TM) is all about. I guarrantee you'll find something fun to read. The site is wonderfully user-friendly and allows you to sort by theme and genre both so you can find exactly the kind of read you're looking for.
My husband laughs at me when I obsess over a love scene. "Where are the hands?" I mutter. "What does it matter?" he wants to know. I tell him it matters because writing a love scene is like writing a gunfight.
Think about it. The hero is crouched behind a tree, exchanging shots with the black hats. Then suddenly he's on his belly shooting around a rock. Huh? How'd he get there?
The little connecting sentence, "Joe dropped to the ground, crawled on his belly to the rock, and fired around it," is necessary to keep the reader from coming to a screeching halt in the middle of the action.
In a love scene, you do not want the reader to come to a screeching halt and wonder, "wait a minute, how'd they get there?" If they change position or location, it has to be described. If the hero's hands are in her hair one minute and on her waist the next, a connecting explanation along the lines of "Joe slid his hands down to her waist" has to be there.
A love scene, like a gunfight, is all description. No dialog, or very little. How well the reader can picture the action depends on the accuracy of the description. If the description of the action is confusing, the reader will spend more time wondering how the characters were magically transported from spot to spot than being caught up in the emotion of the moment, and that's a Bad Thing.
In a romance, the love scene should have tremendous emotional impact. There's a lot at stake. Something important is happening. The outcome matters just as much as the outcome of the lone hero in the white hat exchanging shots with the guys in black hats. The love scene is a pivotal moment, like the western hero's inevitable gunfight, and what happens will determine the course of their future.
I won't make any tacky jokes about pausing to reload, but I stick to my guns on this one. Where the hands are and how the hero gets from point A to point B is important. So I will continue to obsess about the details.
There are generally two kinds of writers: those who outline, and those who fly blind. If, like me, you're a blind flyer, there are ways to use your bat sense to detect the shape of things around you and navigate without taking wrong turns.
You start with whatever you know, which may or may not be the beginning. From that vantage point, you can see the next critical event. Logical steps will lead up to that event, so you lay the groundwork for it and build towards that climactic moment. (I write a list of scenes I know have to happen on the way to the next big scene) Once you reach The Big Scene, you pull out all the stops and give it everything you've got. The Big Scene shouldn't be tiptoed around.
Then what? After the Big Scene is done, you can see far enough ahead to know what the next Big Scene will be, and the logical steps in between where you are now and where that is, and build towards it. And so on until you're done.
I got this (and many other handy plot tools) from Plot by Ansen Dibell. Great book!
Does it actually work? Yes. I started Dangerous Games with an image of two people meeting on a
deserted stretch of highway, a man on a motorcycle and a woman in a broken-down car. That was the sum total of what I knew. What's beautiful about this method isn't that I finished the book, because I always do, it's that I did it without throwing away 50-100 pages of wrong turns and blind alleys. I threw away a list of potential scenes I ended up not using because as the story structure unfolded, they didn't fit; a waste of 50-100 words instead of pages.
And now I'll go focus my bat sense on my current story. I know this isn't the gunfight/love scene blog entry alluded to previously, but it's what was on my mind this morning.
I thought I'd better update the blog lest anybody out there think I've been doing nothing but reading Incubus Dreams since the last entry. Incubus Dreams is certainly worth reading twice and thinking about, but I have actually been busy.
Writing news: cover art for Love and Rockets is getting underway. When I have it, I will post it. More writing news: Dangerous Games was accepted and will also have a 2005 release. I will get excerpts or at least blurbs on both up soon.
Dangerous Games was a very intense book to write, which makes me admire LKH even more. Both of her series are very intense, and I don't know how she keeps doing it. I like to take a break with comedy. The intensity is gripping and powerful, but uncomfortable to do. Not unpleasant, but uncomfortable. Writing comedy is like a vacation. I have many more intense projects lined up but I think for the forseeable future I will continue to alternate them with lighter stories.
I'm developing a theory that pacing in writing life is like pacing in a book. When you write something intense and suspenseful, you have to give the reader a break and let them catch their breath periodically, and from the writer perspective you need to do the same for yourself. If not in the form of writing something different, in the form of doing other things to break up the mood and lighten up in life. Although with my daughter's current loves, I might well begin to welcome the intensity as an escape from Elmo and Teletubbies.
<p>So there's my news and my theory of the day. Next time I'll go into my theory on how writing a sex scene in a romance is like writing a gunfight in a western.</p></p></p></p>