Here’s the thing…

Okay, this is definitely a matter of personal taste, and I know it.  But when I read, I read for ME, and no one else.  So what pulls me in works for me, and maybe wouldn’t even interest anyone else.  And what turns me off, well…that might not even bother someone who was more interested in plot or setting or whatever.  But that said, when I start a book, and I love the building romantic relationship, even when the book isn’t a romance but a mystery or fantasy, it REALLY BOTHERS ME when that romance was there  just to pull me into the story and it dies for whatever reason (actual death/political turmoil/etc.) and something or someone else is introduced to jolly me up one or two books later.

There, I said it.  I don’t jolly up all that fast, and I harbor resentment that I thought I was going to enjoy a wonderful romance and got a terrible disappointment instead.  I didn’t really understand this when my agent first asked me to try my hand at romances.  I wanted to show a protagonist, a smart woman, who’d lost her husband and rebounded with Mr. Wrong before she found Mr. Right.  Readers weren’t thrilled with me, even when I made it perfectly clear that the first guy was a BIG mistake and the guy in the background was HEA.  But how much worse is it when an author makes me believe that the woman/’man in the romantic subplot SEEMS to be Ms./Mr. Right and then…he’s not?

I’ll tell you how bad it is for me.  I finish that book, and it’s the last one I read in that series for a long time, maybe for forever.  Because I feel cheated.  Tricked.  And I’m only thinking of that now because tomorrow’s Valentine Day–a time for romance (in theory).  And because I’m reading a book I L_O_V_E, and I’ve been all happy with the tenderness between the hero and the actress he loves, UNTIL I saw an ad for a later book where he marries someone else.

Right away, that tells me that 1.  The relationship is going to fall apart later on or 2.  The author’s going to kill off the love interest.  Both of those plot contrivances aggravate the heck out of me.  Which means, I’d better enjoy this book while I can because when I reach the end, I probably won’t want to buy another book in this series for a long time unless this author comes up with some miracle where whatever happens kind of feels okay.  But it’s too soon to tell.  And I doubt it, because I know similar plots have been death kneels for two previous series that I’d be reading book after book for centuries to come (if I lived that long), until the romance got shot in the foot.  Bang.  Done.  Kaput.  And I felt like the rug got pulled out from under me.

There are many flaws in books I can grumble about but overlook, so it’s odd that this one bothers me so much.  Especially since I love mysteries more than romances.  But who said that enjoying a book had to make sense?  What about you?  Do you have anything that trips your trigger?  Or makes you a fan forever?  Share it with us!

First comes love–but it’s bumpy– then..???

I’ve been reading more lately.  Some of the books are new series to me.  And most of them, no matter the genre, have a touch of romance in them.  How that plays out is interesting.

With the Jazzi Zanders series, I think I stayed pretty typical.  Jazzi, of course, stumbles across murders, but once she and Ansel met, they were always interested in each other, but the timing was never quite right.  At first, Jazzi was engaged to Chad, who ended up NOT being the one.  By the time she broke up with him, Ansel was living with Emily.  It wasn’t until they broke up that Jazzi and Ansel finally were both single at the same time.  And then things started heating up.

But how fast does an author want things to go?  I recently discovered J.D. Robb, and things got hot pretty fast in book one when Roarke and Eve meet.  They moved in together at the end of that book or the beginning of the next one (I can’t remember which).  And they finally made it official in book three.  Anna Lee Huber followed a similar pattern for Gage and Kiera in her Lady Darby series.  Lots of sparks in book one.  A deeper commitment in book two, and a marriage proposal by book three.  Book four shows Kiera biting her tongue as her sister does her best to make her and Gage’s wedding the talk of the ton, but they don’t finally say their vows until a novella between book four and five.  And then what?

For me, the books only got better as the authors balanced marriage with genre plot lines.  Couples who had solved crimes together before developed even more impressive  teamwork after they said their I do’s.  A civilian joined to a professional balance each other out well.  Jenna Bennett outdid herself in the Savannah Martin series when Savannah and Rafe not only got married but had a baby.  I was curious how Bennett would pull that off.  I mean, how does an amateur sleuth solve crimes, toting a baby carrier everywhere she goes?  But Bennett made it work, and she never made grand gestures of putting the baby in danger.  (That would have bothered me.)  But Savannah always worried about her child’s safety.

I talked to a fellow author who’s putting off having her hero and heroine become a couple because she thinks once the romance is done, the story goes flat.  But I don’t agree, not if the marriage is treated honestly and done well.  Look at the Kate Daniels urban fantasy series.  Once Kate and Curran join forces, they only grow stronger and can face more.

Now, I understand that life and timing can slow couples down.  That’s another matter.  When I first met my future DH, we were in college, and I was determined not to get married until I had my degree.  Unfortunately, DH went to a junior college, and the minute he graduated, he was drafted for the Vietnam war.  He didn’t want to make any promises once he was drafted because he didn’t think he was coming back.  Fortunately, he wasn’t in Vietnam very long.  A sniper shot him through both legs and he ended up in a hospital in Japan, then finished his draft time in Texas.  And he WAS lucky.  The bullet didn’t hit any bone or major blood vessels in either leg.  He came home alive and in one piece.  A lot of his friends didn’t.

But after surviving a bullet, the poor man made the fatal mistake of leaving the army and marrying me three days after he was discharged.  Out of the frying pan into the fire.  But life’s detours meant we’d known each other for four years before we finally tied the knot.  I know it can happen, but in stories, I’d rather it didn’t.  And if has to, I’d rather it was for a good reason, not just because the couple can’t make a commitment.

Regardless, once they take the step to be man and wife, I think the relationships, as well as the plot lines, can get even better.

September 23rd is the equinoz, the first day of Fall.  Enjoy it, and happy writing!


Writing–random thoughts

I’m not an especially social person.  I like people, but as a spice that accents my more ordinary, sit-in-front-of-my-computer habits.  A sprinkle here, a dash there, but nothing overpowering.  I like my alone time–a lot.  My husband wanders in and out during the day, but he gives me plenty of writing time.  So it’s really unusual when I fill my calendar with social events.

Last week, we had my daughter from Florida, John’s brother from Oakland, and Tyler from college at Bloomington, come to stay with us for five days.  And I enjoyed every minute of it.  Then on Thursday night, John and I took my sister, Mary, to see So You Think You Can Dance at the beautiful, restored Embassy Theater downtown.  (We used to grab Mary and go to Chicago once a year to see dance shows.  Now we hope something comes to us.)  On Saturday, I had my sisters over for an afternoon tea.  We’d planned it before everything else filled up our time, and I’ve been dying to use the blue glass, luncheon plates I snagged at an antiques store, so we decided not to reschedule.  And today, Sunday, my sister and I went to see the Parade of Homes on the far, far north side of our city.  We walked through homes neither of us will ever be able to afford, but they’re fun to visit to see the latest trends.   Everything was wonderful and fun, but now, I’m ready to hibernate and hide in my office and write.

I’m still working on plotting my new book.  I’ve been adding scene ideas sporadically.  And it’s occurred to me, as I go, that there are other reasons to do at least a smidgeon of plotting before you start your book.  One, I’d have never realized that some of the scenes in my head would have a lot more punch if they were told from Angel’s (the 10-year-old’s) POV instead of Enoch’s.  In my head, I “saw” the scenes, but I couldn’t see that Enoch would just be a distant bystander, where Angel would be a particant.  And the scenes would be a lot more vivid and powerful if SHE told them.  I also couldn’t see where the VERY slow building romance between Ulrich and Scarlet would sag if told by Enoch, but might sizzle if told through Ulrich’s POV.  (That vampire has no patience).  And the romantic tension between the two of them just wasn’t going to be enough, in and of itself, so I needed an extra oomph going on between them somehow.  Scarlet needed a big problem of her own that she’s trying to overcome.  When I hit a wall in the plot points, I knew I didn’t have enough to carry the story.  That’s a lot easier to fix when I’m doodling with plot points than when I hit page 100 of my novel and don’t have enough threads to keep the tension going.

I also tried to do a little bit of marketing last week.  And for any new, indie authors out there, I can only say that my numbers go up when I market and they fall when I don’t.  Readers don’t find your books if you don’t help them.  And if they don’t like your book covers, none of it makes any difference.  I paid $10 to be on last week.  I also tweeted about my new novella bundles three times.  And my rankings rose on a few of the novellas/novels I have online.  Nothing has worked as well as Bookbub, but that was $90, and it’s hard to get them to take you now.  But for $10, I was happy.

So, all in all, I spent a lot of time socializing last week, but I squeezed some writing stuff in.  And the more I do plot points, the more I’m convinced they save me time later on when I’m hitting the keys and the story’s flowing.

And last, for Unikorna, a fellow author and blog friend ( –she asked to see a picture of the boys since I talk about them a lot.  This is for you:  P1030036