CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Tamie Burdick of Bookish Temptations: Genre Trends

This week’s guest blogger holds a special distinction and place in my heart, and is not actually aware of this herself. Tamie Burdick at Bookish Temptations is the first book blogger I began following after I discovered the contemporary romance genre, and in particular, the incredible writings of one Mr. Sylvain Reynard, quite possibly…no, definitely…my favorite writer in the genre. It was her book blog that helped me get swept up in sharing the excitement with other fans of his work as well as the similarly awesome writing of such masterful authors as Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber and others.

Tamie started the site in October 2011 after working with another book blog, and soon realized she could add greater reach and value for readers by building her own team committed to passionate book discussion. Now this trusty posse of very diligent and busy cohorts invites readers on a daily basis to engage in a dialogue about their favorite books and authors, with each other, with the bloggers and often with the authors themselves.

I’ve since begun following a number of other excellent book bloggers, as well, who go out of their way to keep readers updated on the latest author news and offer access to cool contests and exclusive book information. If you’re a reader, you know the service that book bloggers provide, and if you’re an author, you recognize the influence and weight their opinion can potentially carry. With Bookish Temptations garnering nearly 10,000 blog followers, I thought Tamie was the perfect person to share a little insight on what she’s seeing as trends in the genre she (and I) and so many readers have fallen madly in love with…contemporary romance. Swoon. So take it away, Tamie…

And you can follow Tamie and Bookish Temptations on Twitter here.

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When Chris asked me to share my thoughts on trends in the contemporary romance genre, and the direction it may be headed in, I was honored. It’s the genre I read and review/spotlight the most on Bookish Temptations. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart.

As far as trends go here’s some of what I’m seeing…

The line between romance and erotica is getting blurrier by the day. They really were very distinct genres not that long ago. I’m a fan of the incorporation for the most part. I enjoy both genres as long as they’re well written.

That’s the tricky part tho. I’m afraid many authors feel the need to write more graphically than they are comfortable with. What can start as a great story becomes awkward and uncomfortable to me as a reader when this happens.

Throwing in sex for the sake of sex, or using sexual words does not a good story make. It takes a certain skill to balance the romance of a story and to include really great erotica.

My advice to authors is simple. If you aren’t comfortable writing it…then don’t. You can make and develop an extremely satisfying sensual scene without the explicitness. I have many favorite authors that do just that. As a reader and reviewer, I’m far happier with that than feeling like I want to flounce on a book because the author is chasing a certain audience.

Two trends that may or may not be related? The prevalence of series and the shortening of books. Series books aren’t new of course, but it sure seems like there are less and less stand alone novels and more stories that are being made into sequels, trilogies, and beyond. At the same time novels seem to be getting shorter, and I have wondered if authors are being encouraged to write with that in mind.

It’s no secret that I love lengthy stories and series as well, so I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I’m all for authors telling the most complete story they can, and it’s hard for me to leave some characters behind. I’ve read some novels that actually needed a 3rd book, but I’ve also read some recently that could’ve been told in 2 longer books.

Epilogues…no, they aren’t a new invention, but I see them more and more and more and…I FLOVE this trend. I’m actually starting to get disappointed when I don’t see one at the conclusion of a stand alone or at the end of a series. It’s the perfect way to end with a peek into what happened to our favorite and beloved characters in the future.

Finally, let me cheat just a little…this really can’t be considered a trend, but I have to give a standing ovation to all the fabulous books being written in the New Adult genre. Some of the very best books I’ve read so far this year have come out of this newer classification and I’m thrilled about it. I think this is going to be a huge market for publishers and self- published alike.

Thanks for inviting me to write this guest post , Chris!

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Angela Schaefers: The Benefit of Writing My Story

It’s another Friday. Are you ready for this work week to come to a close? I certainly wouldn’t object but there is still much writing to do, much more storytelling to take place. And this week’s guest blogger here at CHRIS’S CORNER is no stranger to storytelling. I was first introduced to Angela Schaefers when I was serving as a magazine editor for a local women’s magazine. I learned of a  remarkable woman who had shared her own story of overcoming tragedies and obstacles, including being diagnosed with stage IV cancer over nine years ago.

Angela quickly discovered that by sharing her own story she could inspire others to tackle their personal challenges and begin the healing process. Angela’s message is consistent: everybody has a unique story of value. She’s translated this message into a platform  “Your Story Matters” which has prevailed across a variety of avenues  – from books to articles to social media and speaking engagements, as well as an online radio show aptly titled “Your Story Matters”. In her book Your Story Matters, You Matter, Angela has been able to reach out to others, connect and share her insight on how to learn, heal and share their story.

I asked Angela if she would stop by my blog and talk about the background behind writing her story and the benefits of going through the process, and she was kind enough to say ‘yes.’  Like Angela, I encourage people to find whatever means possible to tell their story – whether it’s through words in a private journal, a shared blog or a book, or through some other means entirely including art, music, food, fashion or another medium. When we share, we learn from each other and ourselves. Thanks, Angela, for sharing with us.

You can follow Angela on Twitter here.

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When I first wrote my story I felt I was only doing so for my kids, to leave them a written record of who I was and who I had become based on my past. I never knew until later how much I was writing my story for my own healing, for others’ encouragement and as part of my journey to discover my purpose. The beginning of writing our story, or any other way we capture it (art, images, etc.) is powerful as it leads to more and more self knowledge. The unfolding of our authentic selves and our lives, while unpeeling layers of memories embedded in our hearts and minds, leads to learning a great deal about oneself.

When I started to write my story, from my beginning, I was charged with this surreal energy that was stirred by wanting to remember all the details that shaped me. There were times that details I suddenly remembered made me laugh and smile, especially those experiences that instantly made sense about why I was the unique person that I am. Silly and fun loving, but unique!

And then there were the moments when I was writing and had to pause. Sometimes these pauses lasted more than a day or two. It was overwhelming at those times when I recalled parts of my story that were uncomfortable, painful and even gut wrenching. I had to take the time to catch my breath and let it all sink in. I had to allow the pain to surface. I may have wanted to stop writing my story, but I knew that my story needed to be unraveled. As time went on, I knew it should be shared.

Knowing my story, facing my truths and dealing with my feelings about it helped me to discover more about myself than I ever knew I could. It helped me to interpret where my worldview came from. It helped me to understand why I felt a certain way about things and why I  reacted and responded the way I did to various things and people.

Part of the healing process for me, that stemmed from the knowledge of my story, was learning to forgive both myself and others over painful circumstances through out my life. I was finally able to discern ‘why’ about a great deal of things and to put into perspective how my current life and my future was not based on my past. What was imparted to me from my story was all part of the process of learning and growing, yet it (the past) no longer had a grip on me.

The gift in learning from my story was the awareness that all I had been through in my life was worth it because it was all for the purpose of gaining wisdom. That enlightenment helped me to change my life for the better and when shared with others has helped many on their own journey.

Over time, I discovered that my story mattered! My story offers hope to the hopeless, encouragement and inspiration to many. I was empowered by it and am able to empower others too! This knowledge brought me to the realization that my purpose is, in part, to share my story and others’ stories, too; to incite positive connections to those similar to us and not. Sharing our stories with one another creates kinship and can  help overcome barriers to conflict and communication. What better way for each of us to do our part to change the world, for good, one story at a time!

I implore you to get your story out of your head and onto paper, on a canvas or into a media form. Learn from it, heal from it and share it!

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Karen M. Hanks: Celebrating Indie Authors

Happy Friday, everybody! This is that time of the week I look forward to most. Not just because I typically open a bottle of wine by the end of the day, though I will say that is something that has suddenly perked up the little corners of my lips a tad just thinking about it. Mmm.

Oooh, but not tonight. How could I forget! I have a date with three other ladies to see a musical parody of Fifty Shades of Grey onstage here in Tampa Bay. Should be divine. The fella playing the Grey-like creature is supposed to be quite divine, too, and…ahem…blush-invoking. Sigh. It’s going to be a fun day, all-day, yes indeedy.

But the real reason for my joy is that on Fridays I get to invite a friend over to CHRIS’S CORNER, my new weekly guest blog feature. This week, I’m especially excited because I had an unexpected opportunity to meet this lovely woman last month when she visited from the Great White North to take in some fabulous spring training baseball in my fair state of Florida. Karen M. Hanks is a talented writer who recently teamed up with her friend and poet S.A. MacNeil to launch a new blog So The Story Goes, specifically designed to promote the words and people behind today’s world of independent publishing.

I asked Karen if she wouldn’t mind stopping by to share what inspired the two young women to dedicate their time and energy to championing the spirit and work of independent authors across genres. And I know when she’s done, you’ll want to skidaddle over there to learn more about independent publishing and to see who’s in the spotlight this week at their site.

You can follow Karen on Twitter here. And be sure to follow So the Story Goes on Twitter, as well.

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We at So The Story Goes were graciously asked by the lovely Chris Kuhn to write about the allure of the indie writing community and thought we’d start with how we came around to creating our blog, one that celebrates indie writers and why we love them so much.

Both of us are writers in our own fields of interest – as for me, fiction writing, and S.A. in poetry. As many of us do, we turned to Twitter as a way to share our work and connect with other writers. During times of writer’s block and other frustrations, we were simply looking to find a person or two who might like to read what we were working on and even offer support. But what we came across was a seemingly endless world of indie writers, all very friendly and all so passionate about what they did. So we decided to read one of their books. Soon, one book turned into ten, which turned into twenty, and now the list keeps growing every day. Not only were these books wonderfully written, thought-provoking and fun to read, but the authors were always so grateful when you’d tweet them a little note telling them how much you loved their work. We were hooked!

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As we continued our exploration through the indie world, we realized how hard these writers truly work. They take on the role of designer, publicist, and social media director, working their butts off every day to get their names out there and yet so many people are missing out on these literary gems simply because they don’t know where to find them. Thus, how the idea for So The Story Goes was born. We wanted to create a place where we could promote indie writers of all genres, somewhere indie writers could turn to when they wanted to share their latest piece. A place where, if someone was looking for something new and fresh, beyond what the bookstores sell, they could find it.

Don’t get us wrong – we still love reading books by well-established, big five published authors and would enthusiastically recommend their books, as well. One of our favourite Canadian writers, Sylvain Reynard, has recently had his books picked up by Berkeley. But his stories started out as Twilight fan fiction that gained great momentum thanks to readers that believed in his writing. And through his success, he has always maintained a connection with his fans, always gracious in his interactions with them. It’s this connection and camaraderie that make the indie community such a wonderful place to be. If we can help an indie writer succeed by building their fan base, that’s fantastic. But if we can open a reader’s eyes to a new writer they may never have heard of otherwise, that’s even better!

So The Story Goes features weekly book recommendations, poetry installments, and exclusive interviews and excerpts by indie writers from all over the world. You can find us at www.indielitgems.wordpress.com