Monday, May 31, 2010

Smirk-worthy Books

I recently received a review for Between recently that was so right on, I had to share it with you.

"I always know when I am reading a good romance novel because I will start smirking, whether all alone or in public. Well, you've got me smirking! Especially, about the kilt! ... I would definitely buy it and have my boyfriend wondering what I am smirking about!"

The review was longer than I've posted here, but the part that's stuck with me over the last few weeks since I read it is the bit about smirking (hence the name of this post). It's true, but I hadn't ever realized it before she pointed it out. I do smirk when I'm reading a good romance novel. Actually, a good chick-lit novel gets me smirking, too.

The latest smirk-worthy book I've read is Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess. It's the second I've read of hers (the first was Can You Keep A Secret?) and I enjoyed them both tremendously. In particular, I loved the sex scene in 'Goddess'. It was more about the buildup than about the sex, more about the emotions than the deed. It definitely had me smirking.

What about you? Read any smirk-worthy books lately? I'd love to hear your recommendations!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Paying homage

Any blog where I write about inspiration would be sadly lacking without mention of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. In my previous post, I said that I was inspired to write Between after reading Twilight. I'd watched an interview with Stephenie Meyer where she'd said she had a dream about the meadow scene, and just started writing. She was a nobody (like me), so I figured I could give it a try.

So I wrote a scene, not the beginning but the lynchpin, critical scene. It wasn't good. I let it sit for a couple of months while I kept reading.

So I picked up Outlander at a friend's suggestion and to this day, it is my favorite book. Originally, I'd planned to make the hero of my book from England because I like accents. It didn't occur to me at the time that English accents are hard to convey on paper. It wasn't until after I had finished (yes, finished!) the whole Outlander series that I went back to writing. By then, I wanted my hero to be a Scottish Highlander. I couldn't get enough of Jamie Fraser so I had to make my own Highlander: Aiden MacRae.

I was surfing the net, looking for information about cairns and such when I followed a random path of links to Eilean Donan Castle's website. It was exactly what I was looking for by way of backstory for Aiden, and he was born. Just like that. And he has brought me great joy ever since. By the time I got around to rewriting the critical scene of Between, I didn't use anything I'd written the first go around!

So I'd like to say thanks, Diana! Maybe someday, I will be able to send you a signed copy of Between. I told you once that Jamie's name will be in my acknowledgments section, and I still intend to do that. And even though their paths would never cross (Aiden died before Jamie was born), I think they would have gotten along swimmingly.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Home for Between (for now)

I finished my first novel last year, an accomplishment I never thought I'd see. I didn't set out to be a writer. It sounds pompous now, but I read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series and thought, "I wonder if I could that." Turns out I could!

Ok, maybe I haven't written the next Twilight series, but I did finish my novel. And it's good. But I am a new writer and I needed to get some input, to learn how to edit, find out what was working and what wasn't. So I signed up for Authonomy and have received comments on Between from over 200 people. It's helped me to recognize trends and edit accordingly.

The book has been through a great deal of polishing (if you count blood, sweat and tears as polishing!) and is better now than it was when I first "finished" it last year.

Still, there is much to learn about the publishing industry for a newbie such as myself, so I have been actively reading agent and editor blogs to immerse myself in that world. The most helpful blog I've come across lately is Janet Reid's Query Shark. I plan to send her my query and let her sink her teeth into it. Lord knows, the more specific feedback, the better!

I've had to grow some thick skin through this process, but I've learned lessons I would not have had I received a "Yes, please!" from the first agent I queried. So when Between hits the shelves, the readers will be the lucky recipients of the lessons learned along the way.