#ThrowbackThursday, #ReadWithMe Style

ReadingJD

image source: epicreads.com

To make sure I’m keeping up with Ms. Felicia’s Blog Hop, which is to celebrate March as the National Reading Month, this throwback is, of course, about our favorite subject. Enjoy!

A Fear of Reading?

Originally posted 12-18-2014

Have you ever stopped reading a book, because you were afraid of what was going to happen next?

I can’t recall if I’ve ever experienced this situation before. I started reading this book (won’t name names. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else) awhile ago and can’t seem to bring myself to pick it back up again. The crux: It’s not only my favorite genre [erotic romance. Surprise!] It’s by one of my all-time favorite authors!

The dilemma I’m having is that I fear the protagonist is on a downward spiral into ultimate ruin. A total train-wreck of self-destruction that I simply can’t bear to witness. Have you ever been too empathetic to watch one of your beloved characters crumble?  Do you feel embarrassed for them when they embarrass themselves?  (I do that mostly with movie characters, ha-ha!)

In truth, there’s a lingering mystery surrounding the main character’s misadventure that’s alluring and will probably tempt me back into the book, but it seems I’m using whatever excuse I can to put it further and further off into the future. I have this problem with not being able to not finish a book once I’ve started it – even if it’s a really bad book (again, I won’t name names).

That isn’t the case in this situation, of course. The writing, as always with this particular author, is phenomenal, the characters are intriguing, the scenery perfectly detailed, etc, etc, etc. I know, “just pull up your big girl panties and read the book, already!” I’m getting there. Eventually.

Until then, what books are you enjoying over the Holidays right now?  Any recommendations? (modified for lack of current holiday)

 

 

#ReadWithMe ♥ Reading the Write Way

readwithme1

Welcome back to another ‘Read With Me’ post for Ms. Felicia’s blog hop. If you’d like to link your post or blog to the list, just click on the banner above! This is in celebration of National Reading Month and will be happening all of March, so it’s not too late to hop in.

Read What You Write, Write What You Read

Let me tell you about an adventure I had with this #1 most common piece of writing advice…

When I switched from avid reader to reader/writer 10+ years ago, I didn’t even know ‘genre’ was a thing. Mostly, because I was absolutely clueless about marketing. In my last post, I mentioned that my first book idea was born when I was only 17, but not yet hatched. It festered in my mind for years, warping, evolving, maturing and expanding. One book idea spread into a series with its own maps and timeline, all centered around this singular world, plot, and set of characters.

This is how my brain (aka my muse) works. Simple is a foreign concept we cannot comprehend. It took me 5 years to finish my very first novel at over 150,000 words. As you can see, I was just as clueless about word count limits. It also happens to take place in the middle of my massive series, not the beginning – please refer back to my explanation of simple.

I would classify the book as Fiction-Fantasy. It’s not epic and probably breaks every fantasy genre rule ever created. I couldn’t get it off the ground to anyone. No one wanted this ‘pretending to be fantasy’ novel, not literary agents, publishers or e-pubs. In not so many words, my friend gave me the advice: Write what you read. It was probably more like: “I love Nora Roberts, you should write a book like hers!”

In a weird, roundabout and completely self-serving way, she was right. It had been years since I’d actually read a fantasy novel. During the 5 years I’d been trying to write fantasy, I’d only been reading romance, erotic romance, crime/mystery and Anne Rice (yes, she’s her own genre).

Call me an overachiever. My 2nd novel only took 2 months to write from start to finish at a little over 100k words. I had taken my friend’s advice – and that turned out to be a major problem. Remember all the genres I listed in the last paragraph? Yeah, well… they all ended up in the same book. I don’t think that’s what ‘write what you read’ is meant to accomplish.

I never sat down to write with a particular genre in mind, I just wrote what I’d been reading. It wasn’t until I was asked to label my book’s genre in the submission form to my publisher that I even considered it. And I floundered.

Um…. Can’t it just be a good book about people and stuff? Whatever happened to creative freedom?!

So, there I was with this novel that takes place in the near future with advanced technology and some space travel, told mostly from the male POV, whose female love interest is mute, explicit sex scenes and dark, gritty crimes that needed to be solved – and they want me to put a genre-specific label on it? 😐 I didn’t even know where to start!

Anyone perusing my collection of books would call me genre ignorant. A genre floozy, if you will. I am unbiased of genre – at least, I used to be a lot less biased. This was the first of many lessons in my professional writing journey. I ended up slapping a multi-genre label on it to satisfy the masses. The Zen Lounge is listed as a Futuristic Erotic Romance with Crime/Detective elements. But, that’s a freaking mouthful!

I learned my lesson, mostly. I’m a bit more conscientious about genres and ‘reading what I write’ rather than trying to write one book about everything I’ve ever read. We shall call this Reading the Write Way. Authors should be reading, at any rate. It’s a great way to expand your vocabulary, find inspiration and keep up with what’s already being done to avoid cliches.

Personally, I’d rather not to be known as a copycat or a Bandwagon writer. You won’t ever catch me referencing or comparing myself to the most popular authors or their books in my genre. I don’t want to be known as being “like [insert author name here].” Our greatest achievement should be when our work and therefore name, stands on its own merit, because it is that good and that loved by readers. However, there are ‘genre specific’ elements that readers expect to get and those are important to know. At the end of the day, we’re still running a business, and if we hope to succeed, then we need to be mindful of our demographics.

There are many authors who decide to write different genres, typically under different pen names, so readers won’t get an unpleasant surprise. This is a good approach and one that I might put to use someday by returning to my long ago attempt at Fiction-Fantasy. This time, I’ll make sure I spend a lot of time brushing up on my fantasy reading first!

I’ll likely keep reading other genres for the pure enjoyment of it, and have a variety on my TBR list. But, I’ve noticed that since I started writing Erotic Romance, that’s definitely the first genre to grab my attention while looking for new reading material. How about you?

Do you Read What You Write? Do you find yourself drawn more to your own genre, or away from it?

#ReadWithMe ♥ Finding My Genre

readwithme3In celebration of National Reading Month, Ms. Felicia is hosting this amazing blog hop for all readers to spread the love and joy of this favorite pastime with the world. If you’d like to join in the fun, please click on the banner above to add your post to the linky list!

The Novel Brick Road

Every reader develops differently, but it seems that we eventually come to a specific genre that calls to us more than any other. Even if we take brief detours, we come back to the one genre that always puts a smile on our face.

My path to Erotic Romance is paved like a game of hopscotch, jumping genres back and forth and crossing wide gaps in random patterns. I’m not counting all the books I read as a kid or had to read for school. I’m talking about when I started taking control of my own reading choices.

It started off innocent enough. The reading bug coming to nestle in my brain, demanding that I find something to entertain it. My mom had a wide variety of books to choose from. She was a fan of Stephen King, Terry Brooks, Ann Rule and V.C. Andrews – I didn’t understand these were all different genres. They were just books! I read Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always and wanted to live in his brain, but it was really V.C. Andrews I became addicted to for quite some time. Luckily, my mom had plenty of her books to feed my obsession.

I went through a phase following this that I call the researching years. I wanted to know things, so my dad and I started going to the library on a regular basis. I love ancient Egypt. I have books and then I have BOOKS, as in large Coffee Table hardcovers spanning every dynasty of Ancient Egypt. I was going to become the next Howard Carter. I was 14. I was also going to be a supermodel, fashion designer and a Marine Biologist. Not necessarily in that order.

Around the same time, I got my first taste of the paranormal from the (now famous) author L.J. Smith and her Night World series, which includes the well known Vampire Diaries and Secret Circle. This was the first author I ever purchased from a book store with my own money. It was a big accomplishment in my life as an avid reader. I had never heard of L.J. Smith before, but I suddenly had options. Lots and lots of options!

It led to more research. With the help of Francis Ford Coppola, I became extremely interested in reading everything I could get my hands on about the truth behind the myth of Dracula and the real life Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. It eventually led to me learning about the medical condition of Porphyria, which disenchanted my research, so I returned to my fiction. I read Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. My dad never would’ve let me check it out from the library if he’d known what it entailed. A fanfiction sequel of sorts to Bram Stoker’s masterpiece with all of the dirty details a Victorian era Englishman would never dare to write.

On the hunt for new material, I found Anne Rice and never looked back. As much as I loved L.J. Smith, I couldn’t return to what I suddenly realized was very YA in comparison. More than that, Anne opened my mind up to the world at large, sating my inner traveler and historian simultaneously.

I became obsessed again, and only wanted to read Anne Rice… until I couldn’t find anymore of her books and needed another loan – mind you, this was before the wonderful invention of eBook retailers. Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey was placed in my hand with a “You have to read this,” and so I fell headlong into the mind-blowing world of epic fantasy. Now, I remembered, vaguely, The Hobbit from when I was younger and my favorite movie The Last Unicorn. It was a bit nostalgic diving back into this kind of world – only better, because it was at an adult level without losing any of the wonder of magic.

My first book idea was born on the cusp of my 18th birthday, but not yet hatched… more on this later.

Over my young adult years I read a wide variety, even some non-fiction, but mostly it was keeping up with authors I already knew, like Rice and Lackey. Then I ended up with a Nora Roberts book (honestly can’t recall how) and found myself obsessed yet again. I wasn’t alone this time, though. My friends got on the same kick and we had a grand time swapping books, buying new ones to share, putting them on our birthday and Christmas wish lists and discussing them like crazy. I think between just 3 of us we might own almost 75% of the books she’s ever written… okay, maybe 50%. Nora was my first true Romance author and not what I’d been expecting. I had never even glanced at the ‘obvious’ romance books on the shelves with the bare-chested buccaneers and Scarlett O’Hara wannabe’s.

Having children gave me the perfect excuse to return to YA with Harry Potter, Narnia and Eragon… yes, the books, not the movies (though, I love those, too). My oldest also has some of the Immortal Instruments novels, which I’m very tempted to read since watching City of Bones.

Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb unwittingly led me to my first erotica series, though it falls further under the Crime/Detective genre, the sex scenes are explicitly detailed, whereas Nora Roberts’ usually aren’t. I think she sneaks it in every once in awhile.

I went through a stint where I felt left out from a pop-culture standpoint, because I’d never read any of the ‘literary classics’. So, I attempted the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and found it far too dry and boring (don’t hurt me), so I moved onto The Catcher in the Rye, which was entertaining, yet 100% pointless (again no hitting). Of Mice and Men left me emotionally damaged and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a prophetic masterpiece that’s already coming true, therefore should be reclassified as non-fiction horror.

My first BDSM novel was Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Again, by ignorance. I thought it was just a fantasy. I was deliciously wrong. Later, I found out that Anne Rice also had other pseudonyms… and why. Exit to Eden followed by the Sleeping Beauty Chronicles added to my Erotic-BDSM shelf, Belinda borders on taboo and I haven’t finished reading it, but I think it might be along the lines of Nabokov’s Lolita – don’t quote me on that.

The ability to read an eBook helped open up the Erotic Romance genre for me even further when I became a reviewer for a friend’s reviewing site. It wasn’t long, though, before a new bug burrowed into my brain demanding to be fed – and I started writing…

But, I will save that for the next post. 😉

Are you still reading the same genre you first fell in love with, or perhaps the second? How many genres span your most cherished collection?

Book Tag: My Life In Books

mylifeinbooks

I found this on Felicia’s page, who found it on Didi’s, but it appears to be an ongoing blog tag, and too fun to pass up. Make sure to visit the other sites to see their answers!

Find a book for each of your initials. I’ve chosen these books from my ‘Read’ list on Goodreads.

CoverMOTO M – Moto by M. Never
coverenslavemesweetly E – Enslave Me Sweetly by Gena Showalter
coverlasher L – Lasher (Lives of the Mayfair Witches #2) by Anne Rice
covermicemen O – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
coverdyingforaliving D – Dying For a Living by Kory M. Shrum

 

Y – I am now challenged to add a book beginning with Y to my ‘Read’ list!

Count your age along your bookshelf: What book is it?

The 39th book on my shelf is The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles #6). It’s funny one of her books would come up in a post about my life in books, since I first discovered Anne Rice in a stack of old books when I was about 17. It was a dark green paperback with a small window showing a rundown Colonial mansion in NOLA. That was about 2 years before Interview With the Vampire hit the silver screen and by then, I was already fully invested in anything Anne Rice penned.

coverarmand

Pick a book set in your city/country.

The closest major city to me is Seattle. Home to Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and 2 absurdly popular book series I will not be naming. Therefore, I choose Possession by Ann Rule. Referred to by many as the ‘foremost true crime writer in America’, Ann Rule is a former Seattle policewoman and based this fiction novel on a real event/crime that she later wrote about in her True Crime (non-fiction) series. I was quite young and naïve when I stole this off my mom’s bookshelf and was completely unprepared for the explicit, graphic details. If you like crime-thrillers that leave you questioning the human psyche, though, you might like this.

coverpossession

Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to.

Since Middle Earth, Narnia and Hogwarts probably don’t count, I chose The Right Path by Nora Roberts. Although, I would love to travel to many places, Greece and the Greek Isles are at the very top of my list, especially Santorini. Nora goes into beautiful scene setting with this novel, plus it’s full of suspense, action and one dangerously sexy Greek Tycoon, Nicholas Gregoras. Yum.

coverrightpath

Pick a book that’s your favorite color.

No matter how girly my mom tried to make me growing up, blue has always been my favorite color. To keep with the theme of ‘Shameless Self Promotion’ my predecessors have established, I chose my own book The Zen Lounge for this one. TZL is the first full-length, standalone (no cliffhangers) novel in the Matron City Trilogy. It’s a Futuristic Erotic Romance with heavy Crime/Detective influence. You can read the first chapter for free right here: Chapter One of The Zen Lounge

The Zen Lounge.Final.niina

Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Dawn by V.C. Andrews. I read it when I was about 12 or 13 and it was my first real taste of a ‘grownup’ book, not to be confused with ‘adult novel’. It was my first non-YA fiction and I can still remember almost every detail – actually, of all the V.C. Andrews books I’ve ever read. She was another remarkable author that inspired me from a young age, especially in regards to character depth and development.

coverdawn

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

The Day of the Dolphin by Robert Merle, because it had little to no punctuation marks – anywhere. It was like one long, run-on sentence. Maybe it happened when it was translated from French? It took me forever to read because of this, but I don’t often stop reading a book once I’ve started. Curiosity vs. Cat= I don’t have many lives left.

coverdayofthedolphin

Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, because I know it’s going to put me through the ringer on every level. Literary classics tend to do that to me, which is why there are so many still on my TBR list. I actually started studying the Russian language, because I was hoping to read the original, rather than a translation, but I’m not that ambitious anymore. Yet, 407 pages of emotional upheavals, dark satire and mind-altering perspectives will undoubtedly feel like a major accomplishment once I’m through… I just hope I survive the aftermath.

covermaster

If you enjoyed reading this consider yourself tagged 🙂

Ooh, La, La…

Can we talk about the art of expressing sexy sounds?  The ones that trigger a deep-rooted response to any who hear them, rather it be in blushing embarrassment, lewd shock or a sensual hum of appreciation … from text?

There are so many ways to use words in order to construct the most appealing sentence for our readers, but sometimes, there isn’t a single word for that particular sound our characters make in certain situations.  We can’t just say “She made that sound… yeah, you know the one…”  That sound is inevitably different for everyone.  We find ourselves having to supplement with something ‘close enough’ to that mewling, almost keening desperation escaping from our heroine’s clasping throat in short, choppy breaths at the peak of pleasure…. and that’s a lot of damn words for one noise.

Yet, it highlights just how wonderfully expressive the English language can be.  When we think of a sound, any sound, no matter how simple or lascivious it is, more than one word tends to come to mind if asked to describe it.  Granted that’s because there are so many words with similar meanings (hence a writer’s true best friend, the Thesaurus).  In text, expressive words can often be misinterpreted, though, because people may hear them differently in their mind than what the writer intended.  A good example, is one of my personal favorite ‘sexy’ sound words:

Guttural [guht-er-uh l] : adj. 1. of or relating to the throat. 2. harsh; throaty

There are countless synonyms for the word guttural from gravelly to raspy, and is commonly used to describe the inflection of a character’s natural born pitch/timbre or the accent of their native (often foreign) language.  Like the definition states, I tend to see it used mostly to describe ‘harshness’, a harsh voice or perhaps even disgust or anger.

I prefer to use it when describing that baritone huskiness my male character’s voice drops to when he’s at the height of arousal.  To me there’s nothing hotter than the deep, chest rumbling motor of a man’s aroused voice – even if his voice would not be considered deep under normal circumstances – it still tends to drop an octave or two in passionate settings.  It’s as thrilling as hearing a classic muscle car turn over for the first time, or a wicked guitar talk to you….

Oh, yeah, guitars can talk dirty, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t believe me, here’s a short, but decent example:

That sound instantly calls to mind a handful of descriptions, guttural or gritty being two of them.  A finger walk up the spine, a delicious shiver over the flesh, a pull in the chest… and these are all physical reactions.  And they’re mine.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that my readers are going to have the same reaction.  To them, it may just sound like the creaking of a floorboard, or the opening of a creepy old door.  There’s no right or wrong response to the words that we read, or the sounds that we hear, it’s completely subjective… So, the responsibility for delivering just the right meaning, triggering just the right response, belongs to the author.

I have to confess, as a writer of erotica, I’ve become almost obsessed with the challenge of finding those perfect words, or the best combination thereof, not only to aptly convey my intended meaning, but to ensure that my readers are responding to them on multiple levels.  I want their brains enticed, while they experience physical, sensual, emotional reactions right alongside my beloved characters, beyond the normal emotions most decent literary works should already invoke (i.e. humor, fear, sympathy, love, etc.). It really is a captivating art form to constantly strive to be better at, understanding many hurdles lie in our unique complexities and the countless vocalizations we’re capable of producing as human beings, mixed with the individual ways we react and respond to them… and don’t even get me started on body language! Mmm… Talk about ooh, la, la! We’ll have to save that for another post. 😉

Writers & Readers, what’s your favorite sensually expressive word(s)?

A Fear of Reading?

Have you ever stopped reading a book, because you were afraid of what was going to happen next?

I can’t recall if I’ve ever experienced this situation before. I started reading this book (won’t name names. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else) awhile ago and can’t seem to bring myself to pick it back up again. The crux: It’s not only my favorite genre [erotic romance. Surprise!] It’s by one of my all-time favorite authors!

The dilemma I’m having is that I fear the protagonist is on a downward spiral into ultimate ruin. A total train-wreck of self-destruction that I simply can’t bear to witness. Have you ever been too empathetic to watch one of your beloved characters crumble?  Do you feel embarrassed for them when they embarrass themselves?  (I do that mostly with movie characters, ha-ha!)

In truth, there’s a lingering mystery surrounding the main character’s misadventure that’s alluring and will probably tempt me back into the book, but it seems I’m using whatever excuse I can to put it further and further off into the future. I have this problem with not being able to not finish a book once I’ve started it – even if it’s a really bad book (again, I won’t name names).

That isn’t the case in this situation, of course. The writing, as always with this particular author, is phenomenal, the characters are intriguing, the scenery perfectly detailed, etc, etc, etc. I know, “just pull up your big girl panties and read the book, already!” I’m getting there. Eventually.

Until then, what books are you enjoying over the Holidays?  Any recommendations?