Annette's blog

A student of the genre

As part of the mission given to me by my editor, Maudeen Wachsmith, I’ve been reading  romance novels so that I might better understand how to create sexual tension. To that end, I turned to bestselling author, Teresa Medeiros, and I dived into two of her more recent releases: The Temptation of Your Touch, released this past January, and the book that predates it, The Pleasure of Your Kiss, released December, 2011.

The Pleasure of Your Kiss tells the story of Ashton Burke, the black-sheep brother who leaves his childhood love, Clarinda, for the life of an adventurer. When Clarinda is kidnapped and sold to a sheik for his harem, Ashton rescues her and in the process, reawakens their romance. She dumps her fiancée at the altar to marry Ashton. The dumped fiancé, Max, is Ashton’s older brother, and the main character of The Temptation of Your Touch.  

Both books are engaging reads, but I found myself drawn more to the characters that live amongst the pages of The Tempation of Your Touch. In this book, the main female character, Mrs. Spencer, looks after not only Cadgwyck Manor, but also her father, two half-siblings, and a gaggle of girls she rescues from the London streets. She’s a caregiver. I get that.

By contrast, Clarinda is not a caregiver. To some extent, she watches over her friend, Poppy. But by and large, Clarinda’s focus is Clarinda. I personally don’t have that luxury, although there are many times when I wish I did. For that reason, I didn’t connect with this main character.

Also, unlike Clarinda, Mrs. Spencer has a purpose: she’s hunting for a lost treasure, which she will sell to provide for herself and her charges. Meanwhile, she and the others scare away anyone who gets between her and that goal. I like that. I like characters who have a goal.

It might also be the setting. Sure, a lazy life in a sheik’s palace in the far-off desert sounds exotic, but I’m in love with the agrarian setting. I want to raise chickens. So, while Cadgwyck Manor sounds pretty rainy, I’ll take that over a harem any day.

Here’s my take-away: in my romance novels, my main character has to be more than a 20-year-old who thinks only of herself. She has to be a mother, a sister, a daughter or a mentor. She has to care for more than just herself. And she needs a purpose, not just to survive the situation, but a plan. I love a good plan.

I think these reasons are why I brought The Temptation of Your Touch downstairs on a Saturday morning. I buried my nose in it, allowing my young son to watch all the TV he wanted so I could keep reading. With this book, Teresa Medeiros had me. I couldn’t put the book down. Answers to my husband became one-syllable; I would say anything so he would leave me alone and let me read. I had to know what happened to Mrs. Spencer and Max!

Clarinda and Ashton, well, their book stayed upstairs on my nightstand. They could wait.

Right now, I’m revising my paranormal romance, Celebration House. I’m perusing lots of romance novels, not only as a reader, but as a student of the genre. I’m just getting started, but if I’m to be a successful romance writer, I need to know how these books work. What makes a reader choose to bring the book downstairs on a Saturday morning or leave it on the nightstand? That’s what I need to know.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: the siren’s call of giving up.

Annette's blog

No. Nada. No, thanks. Don’t call us; we’ll call you…

Some days you’re the windshield. Some days you’re the bug. Last night, I was the bug. Here’s why:

“Hi Annette,
Thanks so much for letting me take a look at your submission
BONE GIRL. I love a good horse story, so I was interested in reading it.
Unfortunately the writing is just not quite there for me, so I’m afraid I’m
going to have to pass.
Best of luck finding a home for your project, and
thanks again for sending it my way.
Taylor” (editor at Chronicle Books)

Annette's blog

Hi, ho. Hi, ho. It’s off to work I go…

On Tuesday night, when I sat down with members of my critique group, I secured my goggles and executed a perfect swan dive into a pity pool. Thankfully, my fellow writers grabbed my arms and fished me out.

Almost two weeks ago, I returned to the grind of a Monday through Friday job. It’s work I’ve done before, so it’s familiar. I enjoy immensely the people I work with – they laugh at my jokes, which is always a good thing. Thank you, Emily and Sean. And I enjoy my patients. I work as a triage RN at a local cardiac practice.

The thing is, my heart’s just not in it. I know. I know. This is the real world, not the fantasy I create in my novels. And it’s pretty darn hard to be a writer when the electricity has been turned off because you couldn’t pay your light bill. But, still, if I had my druthers, I’d write full-time.

So when I sat down to share these sentiments with my critique group, I was quickly met with skepticism. One of the writers, Bill, is a police detective. When I said I didn’t know how I would find the time to write, he related the story of Frank Zafiro, a fellow police detective, who has written and published numerous novels, all while working full-time. Show off.

But I know there are others. Writers like Anthony Trollope, who wrote 47 novels, three times as many as Charles Dickens. He wrote from 5 to 8 each morning and then marched off to his job as postmaster.

Or a fellow children’s writer: Deborah Hopkinson. I met her at an writing conference several years back. Then, she worked full-time at a university. I’ll never forget her words: “You’ve got to want it more than sleep.”

The trouble is, I love to sleep.

But there are others things I love too. I love the idea of my dad reading my novel. I love the idea that someday, a kid will stumble onto my book, Bone Girl, and realizes it’s okay to be a band geek who plays a hand-me-down instrument. Or every writer’s fantasy: sitting in a darkened theater while the images that have inhabited my mind for so many years play across a movie screen.

Okay. These things, I love more than sleep. I’m heading to bed now; 5 a.m. comes early.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: rediscovering the joy of reading romance.

Annette's blog

How ereaders are changing the face of publishing

Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, spoke May 2 at the annual Romantic Times Booklovers convention in Kansas City. He presented the results of a survey that studied the e-book market and he made this prediction: “I predict that within three years, over 50% of the New York Times bestselling ebooks will be self-published ebooks. It’s possible I’m being too conservative.”

I’m a novice when it comes to ereaders. In fact, I haven’t bought mine yet. So, I’m going to defer to Meghan Somers, a volunteer at Digital Alberta. Her article, The Rise of the E-Book, in the Nov. 27, 2012, issue of the Calgary Herald, reviewed some eReader basics. Here is her article in its entirety.

“In the beginning ebooks were written and published to a select audience, and in a limited run. Then, in November 2007 released the Kindle and the industry changed. In early 2011 the company announced that they sold more ebooks than paper books – and that number is constantly growing. As this article from TechVibes points out, tablets and ereaders are doing to print what the iPod and iTunes did to music: changing the way people buy and consume content. The numbers certainly reflect this.

In the US 2012 so far has seen $282.3M spent on ebooks in adult literature alone. This is up from $220.4M in 2011. Children’s/young adult eBooks saw an increase of 475.1% from 2011 to 2012. In Canada, while the number of ebooks sold has not overtaken traditional book formats, ebooks account for 16.3% of all book sales – a number which surpasses the expectations of industry experts.

Reading in general seems to be on the rise as a result of ebooks and ereaders. This may have something to do with the ‘I’ve got it so I might as well use it’ mentality people develop towards their digital devices. Research says that on average people who own an ebook device read almost double the amount of books in a year than people who don’t own one. But there are other factors to consider as well. Speed of accessibility, ease of use while travelling and access to content are the top three reasons people prefer ebooks. What is even more interesting is that 88% of people who read ebooks also read printed books. The rise of ebooks has also heralded a rise in readership of books in general – half way through 2012 the total sales (ebooks and print) for books in adult literature alone is up $17.1M from the same time last year.

The rise of the ebook has also seen a rise in self-published material. Perhaps the most famous example of success in the self-published ebook industry is E.L. James’ ’50 Shades of Grey’, but she was not the first to see success in the self publishing world. Amanda Hocking is generally agreed to be the first self-published author to reach over a million dollars in sales with her ‘Trylle’ series. With series like Trylle and 50 Shades opening readers eyes to new avenues for reading content more ‘serious’ subject matter is also being broached in the self-publishing realm. Renowned journalists who spend a lot of time crafting a piece for a major news outlet are often left with a lot more research and material then what ends up on newsstands. Self-publishing allows them to take that leftover material and get it out to the public.

What we can take away from this is that the traditional book industry is not dying – it is simply evolving. People prefer to have multiple ways to consume content, a fact that seems obvious due to the rapid adoption of tablet and mobile content, but until you see the actual stats it is sometimes hard to wrap ones head around the concept.”

Meghan is a volunteer at Digital Alberta. In addition to being a digital media enthusiast she is an Account Executive at The Agency, a boutique PR firm that specializes in the technology sector.