Friday, February 15

Thin spots and tenderness by Liz Flaherty

I've started this post 10 times or so--I think that's what happens when a person blogs too much, which I have a tendency to do. My subject matter gets sparse and the quality of what I write thins out to where I'm not proud of what I'm putting out there. For those of you who read what I write, I thank you for doing so and apologize for the thin spots.

Which opens me up to asking questions of writers who are way, way more prolific than I. Ones who release six or seven books to my one, who get five- or ten- or twelve-book contracts.

How do you do it?

Do I want to? No. That ship sailed long ago--I'm more a rowboat kind of writer now. A book or two a year is enough for me. But at my best and fastest of writing times, I couldn't have done it. I'd say it was because I was also working, raising kids, etc., but in truth, so were most other writers I knew. No, the fact is that I never had that kind of productivity in me. I wish I had--sort of. Maybe I'd have gotten a bigger name, a longer back-list, and more money. So here's another two questions for those of you who out-write me six ways to Sunday.

Do you like it that way? What would you do different if you were starting over in this business?

Thanks for answering. And now on to  something else...

I was thinking about romantic fiction this morning. About the things that matter so much to me in it. Happily-ever-after, empowerment of women, realistic looks at issues that matter to us, strength. I thought of favorite books, favorite authors, favorite scenes, and realized the common thread of what calls to me. And I was, I must admit, surprised by it.

Tenderness.

I re-read a Kristan Higgins book yesterday and cried for the several-th time over the death of a dog. I'm not going to say which book or which dog, but I will say the scene and the ones that followed it created a new and powerful definition of tenderness.

In my favorite (this week) of Kathleen Gilles Seidel's books, Till the Stars Fall, the relationship between Quinn and Danny (who should have had his own
book) was as compelling as the romance between Quinn and Krissa. They were manly men--hilarious and flawed and oh-God sexy--but the  bonds of their  friendship were held together with tenuous threads of tenderness.

A scene in a Pamela Morsi book wherein the heroine described her husband's illness and death compelled me to write an embarrassingly gushing fan letter to Ms. Morsi. The fact that she'd experienced what she wrote made the tenderness all the sweeter. All the stronger.

So now, one more question (if you've stuck with me this far)--what common thread runs through your favorites? Extra credit if you share scenes or books that demonstrate it.

Thanks for coming by. Have a great week!

22 comments:

  1. I like a thread of mystery to run through a short series. Three to five books that each tell an exciting story, but have one question in common you don't get an answer to until the last book. I can't think of titles off hand, but one author who stands out in my mind for this is Brenda Novak.

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    1. I like this, too! I'd love to be able to accomplish it, but I think that's another ship that's sailed. Thanks, Sandy!

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  2. I think what I see in my stories is sometimes people aren't who we think they are--like the geek, the rule-following cop, the crazy co-worker, etc.

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  3. I've had 3-book contracts only. One year I had 3 books contracted to Harper Collins and 3 books to Random House Loveswept, making 6 books due that year. I nearly went insane. When I finished the 6th book on the day it was due, I literally couldn't form a coherent sentence. My husband led me to bed where I went into a wordless coma for 26 hours. No, I never, ever want to do that again. How do others do it? I suspect writing programs or help, because all I could do that year was write. My supportive husband (we're retired) did the dishes, cooked, laundry, and cleaned the bathrooms. All I did was write. Seriously. And do the two rounds of edits for each book Loveswept wanted. Harper only edited my first book, deemed it fabulous, and told me I didn't need editing (WHAT were they thinking?). Once I sent a manuscript in, they sent it on through the pipeline, faults and all. And with me there are always faults.


    What theme runs through my stories? I have two: strong women and devotion. I like tenderness, too, but not all editors want that. Harper loved it. Loveswept wanted macho men and sex. Perhaps that's why Loveswept was recently closed by Random House.


    My favorite books of all time are Linda Howard's "Mackenzie's Mountain." I read it twice a year. Sarah Grimm's "Wrecked," a true love story rather than a romance.

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    1. Thanks, Vonnie. I can't imagine how you did that, although Calvin was a great help, I'm sure. I was surprised at how much the tenderness meant to me, but I was happy with it, too.

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  4. I'm currently in a 4-books in 2 years deal with Tule and it's harder than I thought it would be, although 2 down, 2 to go at this point. I'm not a fast writer, so this is huge for me. I was doing about 1 book a year before now. The theme for me would probably be family--most of my books have strong family ties, even if the "family" isn't related by blood or marriage. Great post, Liz!!

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  5. Those are some tough questions, Liz! I think I would have been more committed when I was younger. I wish that I'd had the guts to take more chances. Although, to be fair, back when we started--before internet, the process took forever.

    My favorite books have a touch of magic--whether real, implied, or the magic of love.


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    1. Oh, yes, always a touch of magic! I still don't take too many chances, although I think fighting the call of indie publishing hasn't been very good for me.

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  6. In books I read, I love a romance thread and/or a mystery thread running through the plot. In books I write, I'll admit to having heroines who sublimate their needs and desires by assuming responsibility for others' happiness. I guess it's not a surprise that I've done that often in life. I was raised to believe that focusing on oneself was selfish. What a shocker in today's world, right? *g*

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    1. I still feel that way, too. I do believe in taking care of myself, but if I reach a point of "me, first," I've completely lost who I am. Thanks for answering, Joan!

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  7. I don't write that fast anymore. I've slowed down over the last couple of years, due to stress and things in my life just haven't gotten crazy. But I did write four books in one year (though before that, 3 was pretty average), and it's like Vonnie said. Writing is all you do. I'd get up early before the kids and pound out some words. I wrote while dinner was cooking or laundry was doing its thing and often after they went to bed. This particular series, though, was one that just grabbed me. I couldn't get it down fast enough.

    What I do I like to read...I prefer a little "sweet" in my books, men who treat women with respect (aka not the alpha jerks that are so popular), and I prefer shorter books where the basic plot revolves around the romance. I have a short attention span. lol It's not that I don't like longer books, but they have to hold my attention. I'm not much into suspense and whatnot. Too much plot is a turn-off for me.

    Great questions, Liz!

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    1. Thanks, Joanne! I like shorter books, too. In a way, I miss writing when time was a real factor, like when I would write in the car while waiting to pick up the kids--I think the forced productivity had to do with how fast I wrote.

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  8. I write pretty fast when I get down to it, but it's the pre-planning that allows me to do that and that part takes time (character and setting research, outlining, plotting, scene sketches, beats, etc.) Drafting is my least favorite part. I much prefer revisions, but in order to get there I have to draft first. So, head down and plow through, turning off my inner critic is what gets me through. I recently signed a new three book contract with Harlequin Medicals and was just invited to participate in a Christmas continuity for next year, which puts me at four books due for them this year, plus I've got two books releasing with the line this year to promo and two books with Entangled coming out this year two. That's not mentioning the new books I'll contract with them. I'm not complaining. This is what I dreamed of since I started writing. I'm very grateful to have contracts during these though times in Romancelandia. But it takes lots of scheduling and organizing to fit it all in. And this is all on top of the freelance writing I do that pays the bills. So yeah. Do I want to keep up this pace forever? No. Am I going to make the most of it while I have the chance? You bet. Everyone has their own path. Comparison is the enemy of peace. The older I get the more I believe this. Do what works for you and forget the rest. (((Hugs))) 😊❤️

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    1. Wow! Congratulations on everything! I agree that comparison CAN be the enemy of peace (can breed envy and jealousy), but I was just doing it because I found it interesting. Promise. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

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  9. Wow, Liz! This really hit home. In five years, I've published 10 books, with three coming out in one year. It was insane! I kept telling myself I was doing it all for my readers. Really? I believe it's my "A" type personality. I've kept to a rigid schedule until a few months ago. After I turned in my latest manuscript, I took some time off. Usually, it was back in the writing cave plotting out another story. I'm one to never look at the past--it's a closed door, but I'm setting new guidelines for the future. It will be interesting to see what the next five years holds for me in this business. As for favorites in stories: tortured heroes is a must, along with strong (though flawed) heroines. Life is messy, so I don't want to read something too sweet, lol! Great post, Liz!

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    1. It's never a good idea to look that deeply into the past, is it? Although learning from it's good and memories are lovely things. I want my H/H both flawed, too. Thanks for sharing, Mary, and good luck in that next five years.

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  10. Kathleen Gilles SeidelFebruary 17, 2019 at 12:11 PM

    Tenderness is not a word I have ever thought about, but now that I am thinking about it, "gentle touch" is what I am coming up with. I know that tenderness in a relationship is more than physical, but physicality is an important part of the word. A tender piece of meat is easy to chew (that's a romantic image, isn't it?). When you are injured, that spot may be tender when someone touches it. Some physical pain you feel all the time; pain is described as tenderness only when, rather than being constant, it is elicited by touch. That feels like a more important metaphor for us than chewing.

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    1. I think you have something there. I didn't even think of physicality being part of it, yet even Quinn and Danny--remember their matching hands? I like my attachment to tenderness even better now.

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  11. 2018 was one of my busiest years writing-wise. While I didn't write the 3 book series I released last March in only one year (I think it took it me two), it was still a lot of work. And the writing is only the beginning. There's all the promoting and begging for reviews that comes after. I'm still working at it.

    There are a lot of different things I like in my reading. I love a thread of mystery in a romance. I also love a touch of the paranormal, or maybe you'd call it magic. I love the depiction of friendship or a realistic depiction of family, especially sisters and brothers. Great topic, Liz. Not so thin afterall!

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    1. Thanks, Jana. I like the family thing, too--in the end, romances are relationship books, and "relationship" is the best thread of all.

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