Friday, 22 February 2013

Romance writers

I suppose if I had to describe it myself, I’d call my writing romance. I am still not entirely sure what defines it as a genre, nor why it is discredited as not ‘real’ literature when compared to other genres. Surely there are just as many poor writers in science fantasy or some other category? Nor why readers of romance feel the need to defend reading it as escapism? All reading is escapism.

I recently fell into the book depository bargain bin. They mail free to Australia so I love that I can buy a book and have it delivered to my door for a quarter of the price if I bought it at a bookstore in Australia. Sorry guys, the budget wins that argument hands down. Thanks, +The Book Depository.

So I picked up a few new titles at an average price of between $4 and $5. It costs $2 to reserve a book at my local library and Roberts’ new release paperbacks have a RRP of A$29. I am not kidding.

My reading list:
·       Captivated by Nora Roberts
·       Nightshade by Nora Roberts
·       The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
·       Torn: Book Two in the Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking
·       Wake: Book One in the Watersong Series by Amanda Hocking

I have read one Nicholas Sparks book and seen a couple of his movies. I am fascinated as to why he is not categorized as a romance writer. Is it because he routinely kills people? Is it because he is not a slave to the standard HEA ending? Is it because he has a penis? It seems very odd that he has such a stranglehold on the movie tie-in. He must have a brilliant agent. I mean, Safe Haven (his latest movie version) has such a bizarre storyline that some sites have described it as ‘batsh*t crazy’. Spoilers in the article, if you haven’t seen it and want to.

I proposed a Sparks recipe after reading the Lucky One:

·       Make up perfect people,
·       Take an odd or quirky reason for the perfect people to meet, (a death, a photo, a bottle, a letter)
·       Add kids, dogs and/or dependent parent,
·       Add ugly one dimensional ex-partner, usually abusive
·       Heat to generate love,
·       Add a storm/flood/natural event,
·       Kill someone or threaten to do so,
·       Stir to mix.

I shall see if ‘Best of me’ follows the same recipe.

Nora Roberts writes a book every 45 days or some such crazy statistic and is estimated to earn $60m a year from them. She also writes detective stories as JD Robb. She's spent 16 years  on the New York Times bestseller list.

I have never read any of her work and I want to scribble on it, so a library book was out of the question. I want to see if she follows a similar recipe to Sparks.

Hocking is the poster girl for self-publishers after signing a book contract for stories she had already sold in the millions as ebooks. I did read the first book in her troll series and was a little disappointed. I want to see how the others are. Wake is about mermaids and sirens; the new vampires, I hear, in YA fiction.

Pity, I like wolves, myself.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


Evernote is an app that can be installed on Chrome browser. I discovered it a while ago as a way to collect, copy, sort, tag and label information. It works for mac, windows, android, ipad, etc. Pretty much everything.

When I am writing I sometimes waste too much time looking for an article I know I read ages ago and I desperately need right now! The wonder of the Internet is that a search often seems to bring up different things each time. So I bookmarked articles as I read them. But then, my browser bookmarks became cluttered and impossible to search. All of which wasted my time as I racked my brain trying to remember where I put that essential piece of information or what the article was called.

I have now lost the impetus and wasted hours searching when I could have been writing. Bad MTR. And of course, as I like to say - the journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click. An hour later, I would be reading something fascinating or funny, but that had nothing to do with my original search. And then I just have to share that on twitter and so it goes…

Evernote is designed to interact between a phone and pc or laptop. I am a tech dinosaur as I have said before and have a ten year old phone, so I just use the app for online browsing. You do need to register, but it is free for a basic subscription and that has 60meg of transfer cloud storage (I think). So far I haven’t run out; not even close. You can disconnect folders from the synch once you have them stored if you wanted to. And of course, if you lose your laptop etc, your notes are all stored safely in the cloud.

An app (Web clipper) allows me to select and copy a selection of a page, copy a URL or an image, or an entire page with a right click from my browser. Page copying tends to have ads and comments and other clutter, so imagine how excited I was to find an extension called Evernote Clearly.

Wow. It converts a page from cluttered mess to simple text.

I will use this article to demonstrate.

before Clearly.

It’s great for just reading. I have problems reading some pages where the background decoration is really bright or cluttered with images so that I can’t see the text.

after Clearly.

One click on the elephant button and it saves the clean page to Evernote. Even more cleverly, Clearly takes a guess at where you might want the item you just clipped to go. You can turn that off in the Extension setting in Google Chrome if you wish, but so far, it works for me. So I clip a quote from Neil Gaiman and it puts it into my writing folder and tags it as Gaiman for me, or I clip a recipe for walnut pancakes and it pops it into my home and recipe folder. It knows me so well. *pats Clearly*

In the basic program you can sort, tag and read through articles. You can select and combine several notes, copy paste, edit, highlight and rename. You can search by tags, date etc Whatever you want. Copy text into your Scrivener research folder for that particular story. And never lose it again.

I know I am probably using a tenth of its functions with no smart phone. I know it also allows sound file recording, so you could take a pic of a meal and record a vocal message about how great it was who you were with etc, and yes, there is an Evernote food app, too.

Definitely worth checking out.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Servants and sex

Okay… I think I have worked out what the book buying market wants. They want servants and sex. I give you the unbelievable success of shows like Downton Abbey; the remake of Upstairs downstairs, the Paradise and other TV shows like that.

And clearly sex is the new big seller. I’ll use ‘50 shades of meh’ as an example there. Or better still, Sylvia Day who has sold Five Million Books in Seven Months - yes you read that right. I gave it capitals so that you would notice it… seriously? Five million… sigh.

And this year is the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice so if you could mash all of those together you’d have it made… cue evil laugh  - mwahaha…



Someone has already done it?? article here


Jo Baker, a British novelist, recently completed a book titled “Longbourn,” named after the Bennets’ home, which tells a parallel story of “Pride and Prejudice” — the story downstairs.

I am not sure how much sex it has… but it is already a success. Her agent was quoted in the article as saying:

“I sent it out last week,” she said. “Knopf bought it Monday. On Wednesday, it was bought by Doubleday in the U.K. By Thursday the film rights had gone. By Friday we had signed up two foreign translations.”

It is now listed for eight translations and the film rights have been sold as well. You read that right; she sold the domestic, international, translation and film rights in a week.

I will also add this to list of fanfiction that makes it to the big time; because basically, that is what it is. The servants may be the jumping point to lead into a new story and new characters, but the framework of the story is the one set by Jane Austen. She has written a P&P AU.

Good luck to Jo Baker. If anything, it shows that there is still a demand for a good story; no matter where it comes from.

So, now I should get to work on the story of Nelly Dean, the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights and her torrid (and obviously secret) affair with Joseph the religious zealot and manservant… hmmm?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Pull to Publish

Pull to publish ( P2P) is a divisive issue in the fanfiction world. Many people are derided for making the choice to sell their words. There is always an argument that if it is fanfiction, then it wasn't your world to start with, even if you have expanded it. As I have said before, it is much easier for writers of all human (AH) stories to do it.

I was very intrigued to see this in my RSS inbox today. A book from tarasueme called ‘The Submissive’. A few of you may remember her from fanfic. Not only has she published her fanfic story, but she has done it under her fanfiction penname.

I wish EL James had done the same thing… imagine? The prize for Publishers Weekly "Publishing Person of the Year" goes to Snowqueens Icedragon. Lmao.

The book cover sports this message:
While posted online, The Submissive garnered almost three million hits.
Hmmm… well that is a little misleading. Hits are not equivalent to book sales. It doesn't mention that those hits are presumable on fanfic sites and hits at are recorded for each chapter. My story, ‘Best friends share everything’ is up to 943,000 hits as I write and ‘Apologies’ is right behind it at 907,000.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Film versions

I love movies. I watch them all the time. I cry like a tragic at the sad parts. I try to buy my favourites on DVD so that I can watch them again. In internet news today I saw two things that made me gasp and then when I had read the articles, I wanted to chew my nails.

Mark Helprin wrote ‘Winter’s tale’ many years ago - 1983 I think. It is one of my favourite books.

The story is set in New York City, but it is an arctic city; cold and snowy and set at the turn of the century. But it is a magic world. The language is poetic and doesn’t appeal to everyone. The main character, Peter Lake, is a middle-aged Irish burglar. When he attempts to rob a mansion he finds a girl who sleeps on the roof in the snow. Her name is Beverly Penn and she is dying. They fall in love.

This is a quote from the book: “Nothing is random, nor will anything ever be, whether a long string of perfectly blue days that begin and end in golden dimness, the most seemingly chaotic political acts, the rise of a great city, the crystalline structure of a gem that has never seen the light, the distributions of fortune, what time the milkman gets up, the position of the electron, or the occurrence of one astonishing frigid winter after another.”


So imagine my gasp when I read that it is being made into a movie. And with Colin Farrell as the middle aged Irish burglar. (tick) And Russell Crowe as the NY gang leader who is in constant battle with Lake. (ooh… tick) Russell does a very good thug.

Cue me whispering… oh please, oh please…

One of my other favourite books (I do have one or two) is the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This one dates from 1911 and is the story of a spoiled, sickly girl who is orphaned and sent to live with her uncle in Yorkshire. My childhood edition had beautiful line drawing illustrations that made me yearn for a secret garden of my own.

Mary is an awful child, but she finds a garden locked up behind a door. The garden and some friends from the servant class, teach her valuable life lessons and she begins to change for the better.

It’s the kind of book that I read to my own children. And cried, I might add. I adore it.

So the news that it, too would be made into a movie made me squee. It has been done before, several times, but this news mentioned Guillermo del Toro - the man who made Pan’s labyrinth, Hellboy and Blade 2 amongst others. Hmmm… I read the article and I saw this quote:
 "[the movie] will be set in the American South at the turn of the 20th Century."
Wait… what???! The whole point is that it is an English garden.

Noooo *wails* How can they move the quintessentially English book about a girl born in the colonies who discovers the magic of rural England and thick accented servants, to the south of the United States of America? Del Toro likes fairies but here there is no magic and no mystery; it is the garden and exercise that heal her.
Chews nails - worries.

Do you have a favourite movie that was a perfect representation of the book?