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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BookTempt

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!

On GoodReads? Let’s Gab!

Kindle1This one will be a shorter post today. I wanted to remind anyone who follows me to connect with me on GoodReads, as well. It’s a great little community and an awesome spot to simply start a dialogue with like-minded readers who enjoy similar books. A little birdie told me that you are likely to see me as a GoodReads author out there myself sometime in the not-so-distant future. Will keep you posted on that! For now, click here to stop by for a visit and friend me on GoodReads so we can get down and dirty talking about our favorite books. And let me tell you: I have an eclectic bunch of titles – from plays to novels, existential literature and classic fiction to young adult and my growing obsession with contemporary romance, and most recently, a new addition, some exploring of the erotica genre.

In fact, I’ve just added a few book reviews today of Cameron’s Lincoln‘s last two books in the Holiday Heat Series, TIDES OF LUST and OCEANS OF DESIRE. Cameron is going to be a guest blogger in a few weeks, and if you are a romance reader who has been looking for opportunities to stretch your reading interests in some new directions, one area that seems to be growing in popularity especially with restless romance readers is the more heat-inspired, erotic romance genre. Writers like Lincoln, Paige Thomas and Chase Boehner are starting to garner some serious attention from readers who don’t normally dip in the erotica pool.

Lately, reading in general has been a real challenge for me. I have several books on my Kindle that I pre-ordered and awaited their arrival with great frenzy and yet there they sit now, patiently waiting for me. They include BEAUTIFUL STRANGER by Christina Lauren (the second installment in that popular series) and as of this morning, THIS GIRL, the eagerly anticipated third book from Colleen Hoover (love her!!) to follow two of my absolute favorite books SLAMMED and POINT OF RETREAT.

Finding the time to steal away for a little pleasure reading has been quite a feat. In fact, I started the very eagerly awaited WALKING DISASTER by Jamie McGuire several weeks ago, follow-up to the popular and much-adored (moi included) BEAUTIFUL DISASTER.  Between my work schedule and getting my own book ready to publish, as well as the mixed reaction on my part to the sequel, it’s been slow going. I’m almost done and frankly, can’t wait to be finished. And that reaction surprises me tremendously. Hmm. To be fair, haven’t technically finished yet. You’ll just have to read my GoodReads review when I complete it to find out the ultimate verdict.

So…don’t be a stranger. Let’s shoot the breeze about our favorite authors and titles – old and new – and celebrate the geeky bookish fools that we are. *hoists large banner* Letting the book-reading freak flag fly high…WOOT WOOT!

Happy reading (oh yes, indeedy!)
ck

The Great and Powerful Question…Why?

This past week has been an enlightening one, and sometimes an amusing one, too. So much to do, so much to learn. And on more than one occasion during the week, I found myself interacting with some of my favorite book bloggers. Up until now, I’ve communicated with them as a follower and avid reader.  But what was amusing was that after all of this daily bantering back and forth, many of them weren’t aware that I was writing my own book. THE MUSE UNLOCKED is slated for a June 2013 release.

So it dawned on me.

How can we really get to know the people on the other side of the screen if we don’t truly know anything about them…outside of the person they choose to be in the social media landscape?

On Twitter, for instance, people know me as the punny goofball slinging zingers and one-liners, dropping plops of commentary here and there, inventing vocabulary words and quoting favorite films and Seinfeld episodes. But I’d bet most don’t actually know why I’d be writing a book, let alone a contemporary romance.

Hmm.

Maybe…I should…tell them.

Now, there’s a concept.

So, here you go. A little explanation goes a long way. This goes especially to those of you I’ve gotten to know through the lovely worlds of Twitter and Facebook.

I’m not some reader who simply woke up one morning and decided to write a book. You may or may not know that my day job involves flinging words around, too. I write articles for a living for local magazines and occasionally, for special sections inside one of my hometown’s metropolitan newspapers. I write professional bios for people and help businesses tell their stories through their websites, blogs and marketing materials. And sometimes, I even help people tell their own stories as a — shhhh! Don’t tell! — ghostwriter! When I’m not writing words for other people, I work on my book and in those fleeting free moments when I’m not reading gobs of books, I do what other writers probably do. I write poems. I write essays. I write song lyrics. I blog. (Duh.)

I write. I write. I write. It’s all that I know how to do.

Damn. I’m starting to depress myself.

And what did I do before that? I worked in other fields with disguised avenues for writing. They call them…marketing, advertising, promotion, communications, financial aid (okay, yeah, that last one doesn’t make sense to me either and neither did the job, but it paid the bills for a bit). Wherever I was, I found a way to do what I love to do best… throw words at the wall and see which ones stick.

Growing up, I was the kid who wrote the paper the teacher hung up on the class door, who won first place in the local student essay contest (or maybe it was 2nd), nabbed the city-wide poetry contest title, served as editor of her school newspaper and actually enjoyed writing compositions and research papers.

Yeah. I was that kid.

I was also the one who was secretly writing satirical advertisement copy, skits with no home to showcase, screenplays in secret and song parodies for no real reason other than…just because.

And now, I’m trying to write a book. Holy hell.

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve been in training for this for…about 42 years. Almost 43. (Ack. It hurts my head to think it…)

But that still doesn’t answer the question of the day…

WHY THE HELL AM I WRITING A CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE?

Three big reasons really, aside from the fact that I enjoy reading them myself and that they’ve inspired me to write creatively again.

 REASON 1.
Women readers of contemporary romance are often older than 24, so why shouldn’t the lead characters reflect that part of the audience? We want to see characters like us experience romance, too — and not like the boring, ho-hum romance novels of yesteryear when Dynasty hair and big shoulder pads were all the rage. I was determined to revolve a book around a leading woman who wasn’t a virgin fresh out of college. My lead character is 38, not 24. She still has her blushing moments, because blushing has no age limit if you’re having an insecure moment and as we all know, those never go away. Not really. Not for anyone. I wanted to show a fully matured woman in control of herself, her career, her life, and allow the reader to watch her delight again in the whimsy, unpredictability and passion of new love. And she doesn’t have to be a Freshman college student to experience that.RedHeelREASON 2.
Love and sex are funny sometimes, and humor is a part of life. Some novelists know how to use humor really well and integrate it into their dialogue like J.A. Redmerski and Colleen Hoover, but unfortunately, I find these authors to be few. I am swooning plenty but chuckling so rarely when I read contemporary romance. I want to experience the full range of emotions when I read – laugh and swoon and cry, maybe all at the same time in some instances. I don’t think I’m alone. And let me tell you: some of the most fun can be had with a little bit of sexy banter between two people who clearly want to jump all over each other. I’d love nothing more than to let the reader listen in, and laugh and swoon along with them.

and finally…

REASON 3.
Older women and younger men can make quite an intriguing and sexy pair. So I wanted to show it. I’ve read dozens and dozens of contemporary romance and erotica titles over the past year and I can only think of two off-hand (one Olivia Cunning title and another, a Tiffany Reisz) that even attempted to show what sexy fun this combination can be. In my book, a 38-year-old woman and 28-year-old man find mutual attraction can exist between two people from different age brackets. I say, it’s about time that it’s not the 32-year-old man sweeping away the virginal 22-year-old woman. Nope, stiletto’s on the other foot in my book, and I really hope my readers will enjoy this different take on romance.

There you go. Something more about the  Twitter or Facebook friend you follow but perhaps don’t actually know, and my three big reasons why I am writing this book, this genre and from this particular approach. I can’t wait to share more about the book in the weeks to come leading up to its release.

I’ll have another snippet from THE MUSE UNLOCKED coming your way very soon. Stay tuned! And if you have any thoughts to share about contemporary romance novels today or about my reasons shared, I would love to hear from you. Bloggers, fellow authors and fans — you are absolutely welcome to chime in with your own feelings on the subject.

Happy reading!
ck

Indie Publishing 101…Join Me?

I couldn’t wait for this day to get here. So much so that I actually listed the dates wrong in my daily planner.

Indie Recon 2013… no, not 2/12-2/14/13 but instead 2/19-2/21/13. (That’s what erasers are for. No problema. A few quick brushes across the page…and voila!)

IndieRecon

Its tagline is “making indie-publishing a mission possible,” and I’m absolutely counting on that.

I wanted to make sure that any new and aspiring authors or book lovers who are contemplating the adventure of writing their own book knew about this conference. Why? Because frankly, I don’t think they did a very good promoting it. Well, they did about a month or two ago but not very much the week before or the week of it. (Sorry, folks, I’ve got the marketing hat on right now and I’m amazed I even located the site at all…)

But once I got there…*whistles* (glad it’s virtual, because I can’t really do this…)  Anyway, I think this online conference is GREAT! 

The agenda features a daily schedule of author posts and online chats with those who are published or in the industry. Colleen Hoover had a post earlier today and M. Leighton is scheduled to offer her insight in a post tonight. So many interesting people and topics on the agenda. I think I saw the talented Samantha Young on the agenda, too, for an online chat later this week.

Already, it’s been so eye-opening just sitting in on a web chat between some as green as me and others much further along in their education posing questions to successful indie author Denise Grover Swank. I learned so much – was overwhelmed some, too (but that’s to be expected). But the benefits of the experience far outweigh the growing pains. Besides, growing pains are a necessary fact of life, aren’t they? Indeed.

And the best part about this conference is you can check in to the online chats if you’re available and participate or go back later at a time convenient for you to read posts and scroll through the Q&A’s with authors. Best of all, accessing the information online is free. I’m sure if we dig deeper into the site we’ll find places we can spend money – I have to think it’s there somewhere – but overall, this is a wonderful, free information resource for writers and writers-to-be.

Can I hear an AMEN to anything free? And informative? Even The Learning Channel can’t claim that anymore. (I mean about the informative part…unless you consider Honey Boo Boo educational television.)

I wanted to get this info into your hands right away, even going against my better judgment and posting this blog at nighttime rather than waiting until tomorrow. Didn’t want you to miss any great opportunities to interact with authors or other writers should you be able to check it out during the day on Wednesday.

Hope you enjoy yourself as much as I am so far. And hey, if you bump into me in one of the web chats out there, please say hi…and no laughing at my silly questions, okay? Alright…thanks.  🙂

Happy reading!
ck

Book Bash 2013: Always the Doting Reader, Soon to Be the Published Author…Whaa??

If you are an avid reader, particularly of the contemporary adult or YA romance variety, then read on. Several of the genres’ best will be appearing at an upcoming event in Orlando, Fla. How I just learned of this only yesterday worries me – clearly I am living under a rock as I’ve suspected all along.

Good to know.

Book Bash 2013 is being hosted by the Hilton Doubletree in Orlando (www.bookbash.net) and is scheduled for 12 p.m to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 29. The event is expected to draw well over 40 top authors in their field.

I do recall hearing of this event about a year ago. A friend asked me if I was going to be attending. I had no clue what they were talking about and did little to investigate further. At the time, I was just diving into the contemporary romance genre as a reader. Now, however, I would be a total fool to miss it given how well it’s represented.

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For one thing, I live just 90 minutes away. For another, nearly a  dozen or so of my favorite authors will be in attendance, including…

  • Colleen Hoover
  • M. Leighton
  • Tammara Webber
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Rebecca Donovan
  • J.A. Redmerski
  • Sylvia Day
  • Gail McHugh
  • K.A. Tucker
  • Maggi Myers

And there are several other names listed that friends and book bloggers I also respect have suggested that I check out, and I’m sure I will, quite possibly before the event…like Jillian Dodd, Charles Sheehan-Miles, Elizabeth Reyes, A.L. Jackson, etc.

And then there are those who aren’t listed as scheduled to appear…some noticeably absent and I can only hope will decide they really want to visit Orlando in the summertime. And since I have no sense of dignity whatsoever, I will make my formal gushing appeal here. Authors like…

S.C. Stephens…where are you, oh mother to one of the most delicious rock star gods this side of the page, Kellan Kyle?

Olivia Cunning, can you sneak down there, maybe bring the Sinners on Tour to the Sunshine State?

Oh, Tiffany Reisz, how we will miss you so and your sinfully mesmerizing menagerie of memorable characters. (See, you even inspire me to get all alliterative on you…) 

Samantha Young, want to hop over the pond and meet Mickey Mouse? I hear there’s a little Irish in him… wait! That came out much more dirty than I ever intended. 😉

Shelly Crane…any chance you would consider bringing your own signature significance to our little party?

I will admit after my initial shock that such an event existed and nearly down the street from me (figuratively speaking, of course), I had my greatest jaw-to-the-ground moment when I read that Sylvain Reynard was “scheduled to appear.”

I believe I actually shrieked.

Squealed even.

In delight.

Is there any other way to squeal?

Wait a second, now,  let’s get our minds out of the—never mind, I should know never to go there with a bunch of romance and erotica readers, writers and followers! Yowzah…

And then…I clicked on the link and read the disclaimer. ”

NOTE: SYLVAIN REYNARD will be represented at the event by his assistant “ENN”

I almost wept. My stomach sunk. Damn. So close. Ah well, that just keeps that mystery rolling along, doesn’t it? I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised but I was still a little disappointed after that initial euphoria.

 As soon as I learned about this event, I knew immediately – I would be going to it. After all, I am fortunate enough to occasionally  have the honor and sheer joy of bantering a little with some of these wonderful writers who are gracious enough to interact with their readers on Twitter and Facebook.  And then it hit me —

Chris, you are aiming to release your book in time for summer.

Your own target self-pub release date is JUNE 2013.

Holy crap, I’m babbling like a geeky fan about everyone I’ll meet but I should really be taking notes. Hell, my whole goal is to be part of an event like this myself.

For now, I will keep writing and strive to finish my book by March as planned. And I will buy my EventBrite ticket and plan on meeting some of these clever writers who inspire my own imagination. And if the fates allow and all goes as planned, perhaps I’ll have my own little table at events like this and others. Soon…

Patience, young grasshopper.

Okay, the young part might be stretching it a bit.

News from Some Trusty Bookworms (01.13.13)

Happy Sunday, folks!

It’s been a busy week of freelance work for me, so not too much to report on the novel-writing front – but keeping to my chapter-a-week pace, with writing time blocked off this afternoon (thankfully).

But many of my favorite writers have been busy generating some news of their own this week. So if you happened to miss a groovy book blogger spill it or a tweet or Facebook update from the authors themselves, maybe you haven’t heard…

  • One more Hoover news nugget… she and her colleague Jamie McGuire and Tammara Webber are going to be appearing together at a group book signing event Sunday, January 20 at A Real Bookstore, located in Fairview, Texas. I’d love nothing more than to attend but given that Fairview is about 1,200 miles away from me, I’m not seeing a road trip in my future. Perhaps I can persuade them that Tampa Bay is lovely at this time of year or even nearby Orlando and they can bring family members with them to enjoy the many local attractions and beaches 🙂 I am also not above bribing in Florida wine, cigars, strawberries and other produce, so just name your preference…
  • And speaking of Travis…Much as Stephens was able to deliver something special to her readers a little early because of their social media enthusiasm with a sneak peek at Reckless, Jamie McGuire recently announced that her publisher Atria has agreed to release the sequel to Beautiful Disaster — Walking Disaster — two weeks early if the author reaches 30,000 likes on the author’s Facebook page. As of this afternoon, she was a little under 800 shy. So “like” away, readers! I’ve done my part, have you? Come on, you know you miss Travis…
  • Author Samantha Young hosted a Twitter chat with fans earlier this week, during which she revealed that her next On Dublin Street series book will focus not on its predecessor’s leads Joss and Braden but instead on Jo, Joss’s friend with whom she works at the local bar and the telling of her story. She offered the reasoning behind the decision, assuring readers that they will continue to get a glimpse into the world of their beloved Joss and Braden but that Jo’s story had yet been told and would offer insight into her perceived identity as a “golddigger.” So perhaps we will fall in love with Jo and her adventures with Cameron MacCabe just as we did her friends. Down London Road will be available in the U.S. May 7, 2013. (Okay, everybody…chime in: hurrah!)

So many books, so many bottles of red wine. Perfect! I think perhaps I’ll crack open a new one of each this evening.

Happy reading!
ck

What Makes Lead Characters Compelling?

It’s a question writers never stop asking themselves, and it’s a question that I think readers don’t consider: they just know. They are either drawn to them or they aren’t.

I’m currently building the lives of several characters but primarily a lead female protagonist and her potential love interest, a male. Ultimately, I want readers to root for these characters, I want them to wish they could take them out to lunch or go to a movie with them. I want them to fall in love with them.

And interestingly, I am finding that the most difficult thing is painting a picture that feels real and honest while also creating the complexities of a character so that they are worthy enough of the reader’s love but still human enough to make mistakes and disappoint them, too. After all, who has a best friend or lover who doesn’t disappoint at least some of the time? Besides,  many of us set unfair or unrealistic expectations in the first place! So I find it’s a fine line to walk, and since I can’t walk a straight line when I’m sober or traverse a balance beam without plummeting to the ground, it hasn’t always been easy but it is my personal mission.

I completely realize that some authors couldn’t give a rat’s ass if you like their lead character and in fact, may not care either way or instead may want you to totally despise the character. But as for me, no, I want you to discover things you love about each of those characters the further you delve into their stories as they unfold.

hOne observation I’ve made and recently touched on in a GoodReads book review of J. Redmerski’s Edge of Never was that I’ve noticed in the genres that I’ve been exploring recently (namely, contemporary romance and erotica), I am finding myself much more engrossed in the background, dialogue and livelihood of the male protagonists far more often than the female protagonist, most of which are the leads in these stories quite often. Sure, people care about Anastasia Steele but it is the potential casting of Christian Grey that has led to a social media melee of sorts. I truly believe we may have to put some women “on watch” when that much-anticipated casting news is announced, because I do believe the “wrong choice” in their eyes could send some readers over the edge. It won’t be a wrong Ana but a wrong Christian that will do that.

As I pointed out in my review where I bring up this subject, there are some authors who simply know how to build complex, fascinating characters regardless of gender – I name Colleen Hoover (Slammed, Point of Retreat, Hopeless) and Rebecca Donovan (Barely Breathing, Reason to Breathe), specifically, and add Redmerski to the list based upon my one and only read so far.

It’s so important to me that my readers want to hear what “she” says – in this case, Cate – as much as what “he” says, and that would be Oliver. (You’ll meet him soon, too.) I am going to confess something right here, and if you’re reading this and have experienced the very same thing, will you do me a favor: will you admit to it, too? Because I have to know that I’m not alone here. Sometimes…not always but sometimes, I am so smitten and carried away with the male lead and so underwhelmed by the female lead that I catch myself racing through “her” parts of the story that don’t involve my “book boyfriend” to accelerate the pace of the read so I can get back to the words and antics of said studly fellow.

Am I alone in this affliction? Again, it is not always and I’d prefer not to say which books because I fear the wrath of their loyal fans, but I have had this happen to me with at least three major series, two of them, long-time chart-topping series, in fact. Frankly, I’m not even sure that I like the woman I’m supposed to be rooting for in these books but the men positively intrigue the hell out of me (and for some readers who use Pinterest to enthusiastically share quite provocative photos of actors and models who they envision in these roles, these men clearly “rock their world,” too).

But the afternoon’s rolling away from me, and I must return to my own book-in-progress. I’d love to hear your thoughts as readers and authors, for those who care to comment, on not only what makes a character compelling to you but also any of your own observations in the romance/erotica genre. Do you too see a growing trend toward building what may perhaps be viewed as more intriguing and engrossing male protagonists than female leads? I’m curious to read your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

ck