Thursday, May 25

A Tale of Two Books

by Margie Senechal

Thanks to Goodreads Deals and BookBub, I have more books loaded on my Kindle than I will ever read. I think Amazon needs to come out with a solar-powered version so if I ever get stranded on a desert island, I'll still be able to read.

Because of this heavy backlist and my shortage of spare time, I must admit to have become a little more selective (picky??) about what I start. Mostly I hate starting a book and not finishing-as if it's a personal failure.

There are some authors that I will buy at full price and drop everything to read--Kristan Higgins, Kristin Hannah, Sarah Addison Allen--and others I've discovered because of these services and special deals.

One of my favorite authors in the past was Michael Crichton. I think I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about being excited about the publication of a "found" manuscript. And on Monday, it downloaded.

Also on Monday, I received the May edition of OnceUponABookClub in the mail which contained the book, Love and Gravity by Samantha Sotto--an author I've never heard of before. Quick refresher about this crate club--it  comes with a book and then 4-5 gifts that you open on appointed pages. Sometimes the first gift is later--one was after page 100. But, this particular package, the first prezzie was on page 16.

I started both books kind of simultaneously. I read the first about 25 pages of Love before going to bed and then started Dragon Teeth before I fell asleep--the lighting in my room is horrible, so generally if I'm going to read in bed, it's on my phone Kindle app. Dragon Teeth didn't immediately suck me in, but I stayed with it, reading about fifty pages or so before going to sleep. And I was kind of critiquing it while I read it--why is the VP character ducking in the carriage while there's a shootout going on around him? Why does this story feel so dry?

The Tuesday arrived and it was my day off. What do do? What to read? I opened up the Kindle app and it told me I was 85% through Dragon Teeth. What??? How was that possible? Was it a novella and not a full length book? 

It ended up that somehow--late night reading?--I had inadvertently began the book at the wrong spot, about 80% through it. Sad thing is, I couldn't tell. I should've been able to tell within a few pages I was joining a book in progress and I didn't. And if I wasn't enjoying the story as it crested to it's end, would I enjoy it in the beginning?

So, I set aside the Kindle and picked up Love and Gravity. I got sucked right in and couldn't wait to the turn the pages. The prezzies were just a bonus as the book was so good. It's an alternative history/romance/time travel book about Sir Issac Newton and a cellist whose music causes a crack in the time barrier. 

I don't know that I'll return to Dragon Teeth and that makes me sad. Or mad. As I've read up on the "discovery" of this manuscript and it was actually written in 1974 and never published. Pretty sure there was a reason it was never published.  Mr. Crichton had plenty of time during his life to rework the story and had the kind of career that he could've published it at any time in the last few decades had he felt it worthy of being published.

While I won't prebuy another "found" Crichton manuscript, I will check out  Samantha Sotto's next book.

Wednesday, May 24

The Music of Life ~@AuthorKristina Knight

Y'all know by now that music plays a big part in my life. We turn on a playlist or the radio in the morning and the music goes on all day. Some of that music makes it into playlists for my characters and books...some of it makes it on life's playlist and is turned to when setbacks occur, when amazingness happens, when we just need to cry or when no one is around to offer a hug...but there is a song that is as powerful as a hug.

Here are a few favorites:

FUN. carry on: There is something very uplifting about this song, and for me its all about one line: "when you're lost and alone or sinking like a stone...carry on". It is so hard, sometimes, to see the silver lining of whatever rain cloud we're under...but I have yet to walk under a rain cloud that didn't, at some point, have a silver lining. Give it a listen:

P!nk, just give me a reason: I adore duets - everything from Kenny & Dolly singing about islands to this one. I like the juxtaposition of one lover thinking it's over to the other trying to show how what they have isn't over at all. Here it is:

Brothers Osborne, stay a little longer: I've been on a serious Brothers Osborne kick lately. They are all over the playlists for my Slippery Rock books, and this particular song - no matter how often I hear it - I stop what I'm doing and sing along...

Do you have a favorite song lately? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, May 23

The Perils of Being a Blogger

Well, if you all were here yesterday, you know that our Lizzie kinda got blindsided by a couple of commenters when she posted a blog about ghostwriting romance. Now, she was asking a perfectly innocent question of the blogosphere: Why would publishers hire ghostwriters to do what so many writers are doing already? Why indeed? Personally, I thought it was legitimate subject for discussion. Apparently, some ghostwriters took offense, which shocked the dickens out of all us wranglers because offending someone is never, ever part of the plan when we blog.

I'm bugged that Liz's innocent question raised ire among some ghostwriters--that's too bad because that got in the way of having a legitimate discussion about why publishers would hire ghostwriters to write for them when they have so many opportunities to help new authors build their careers. Publishers keep telling us they want something new and different and I can tell you, often when you offer them something new and different, like older characters, for instance, they reject it and claim they can't sell it.

We're all struggling here to find our niche in the romance genres--we’re a group of six romance authors, all at different stages in our writing careers—some of us are published traditionally, others are indie pubbed, and a couple of us are hybrid authors (both traditional and indie pubbed). But no matter what route we’ve taken to get our novels out to the public, we’re all in accord about respecting one another’s choices and process. I think we can all agree that all working writers deserves kudos for the hard work they put into their careers, especially romance writers!

We Wranglers sure love it when people visit the blog and we love it when you leave comments, so always feel free to give us your thoughts and ideas. We welcome opinions, even if they differ from our own, but we are never mean and disrespectful, and we ask our commenters to be kind as well. It's tough out there in the blogosphere--we should all take care of one another.

 Thanks and have great day!

Monday, May 22

About ghostwriting...and respect... @Liz Flaherty

Last week, I posted an old article about being a romance writer on Gems in the Attic, a blog penned by a group of authors from Kensington's Precious Gems line back in the 1990s. It made me think of the things people say to and about us, starting with "When are you going to write a real book?", the question I addressed there.

I was going to write about more of those things we're asked, but when Google and I took a walk to look for them, I found this article instead: "5 Things I've Learned as a Romance Novel Ghostwriter" by Catherine Kovach. I don't want to quote extensively from the article and I couldn't reach Ms. Kovach to ask her about it, so I'll wait here if you want to go over and read it. If you don't, I'll just say I found it disturbing.

There are a gazillion romance authors out there, many of them good ones, who don't want to go the route of indie-publishing. Even knowing they might make less money, they prefer the traditional route. And yet we have small publishers who are actively seeking and hiring ghostwriters. Obviously, the article is written from the viewpoint of one of those writers.

What I didn't find on my walk with Google was why the publishers are taking that route. Why so many talented and knowledgeable romance authors who love and respect the genre are ignored by these publishers and ghostwriters sought out instead? Although Ms. Kovach didn't exactly belittle the kind of book she's ghostwriting, neither did she talk about the quality, emotion, accuracy, and research most of us put into our work.

I have to admit, I was immediately mad. As I write this, I'm still not fond of that article, but in the name of that research I mentioned, I read more of Ms. Kovach's work on the Internet. She supports romance. Supports YA. Supports writing.

And yet...

Am I the only one who feels both the publishers who hire ghostwriters to write romance and the ghostwriters themselves are giving it to the rest of us in the back? Is this just more of the same thing Harlequin used to do when their writers used pseudonyms that stayed with the company even if the writers let? Is it more of the "work-for-hire" contracts the Precious Gems authors I mentioned above were so disparaged for signing?

I'm not telling anyone else what to think or do, nor am I throwing stones. At least I hope I'm not. If anyone knows Catherine Kovach, I hope they tell her about this post so she knows it's here. Mostly, I'd like to know what you think.

Have a great week.
Later Monday morning. I heard from Catherine just a little while ago, so I'm adding her response here, with thanks. 

I needed to take whatever jobs I could get that would pay (not very well) very quickly, or else I would end up completely broke. Unfortunately, with tight turnaround times, the quality of my work suffered, so I ended up ultimately leaving the romance ghostwriting world in the hopes that I could one day turn something out that I would be proud of publishing. When I wrote that article for bustle, I needed to make it seem less dire, and I couldn't put the nuance I would have liked to.

It's never been my intention to spit in the face or offend "real" romance novelists. I want to become one of you. I've been chasing any opportunity I can get in the meantime, and maybe one day I will actually be successful. However, I do not consider myself a ghostwriter, I consider myself a writer who needed to do what she had to do in order to pay rent and keep food on the table. 

I would also like to add that the romance novel ghostwriting I did was not through "real" publishing houses, most of what I worked on was Amazon self-publishing mills. - Catherine Kovach, 5/22/2017.

Here's a link to Catherine's book, Evangeline.


Saturday, May 20

Me Time

Okay, put up your hand if you can relate to this. You’ve got a free morning and you’re all set to write (or substitute anything else that you want to do for yourself). The phone rings and your child has forgotten something they desperately need for school (or substitute your mother wanting to talk, the dog needing a walk, whatever). And just like that, the time you thought was yours and yours alone is suddenly gone.

Often circumstances beyond our control make it difficult to carve out time for ourselves. I’ve written here about the reno my husband and I have undertaken on our kitchen this spring, a renovation that has since crept into our bathroom and now the living room. Tradespeople have been traipsing in and out of our house on a regular basis. We’ve found the whole thing stressful and time consuming, and at times overwhelming.

It's tough to concentrate on writing with so much going on. Now that we’re near the finish line on the renovations – just the painting left to do - I think I need to create some time for myself. Time for rest and recreation, and time to refill the creative well. Some me time.

My husband takes time for himself on the golf course. He loves the game and plays several times a week in the spring and summer. He’s much better at taking time for himself to do something fun than I am. I love writing and it's often fun, but it’s also work. What I need is to take the time to do something completely different.

So I need some fun ideas. Here are a few of my thoughts:

1. Go to the zoo to see the polar bears. (love the polar bears!)

2. See the Picasso exhibit that just opened at the art gallery.

3. Shopping. I’m not a huge shopper, but a new outlet mall just opened and I could use a new pair of sandals for the summer.

4. Visiting with friends.

5. Reading, of course!

What are your ideas of fun things to do for relaxation? Feel free to give me some suggestions!