Books, Writing

A writer’s struggle: exploring spirituality in characters without boring the reader to tears

One of my biggest struggles as a fiction writer is that I want to explore spirituality and religion with my characters, but I absolutely do not want to write Inspirational or Christian fiction.  Why? Well…

I’m a romance novel junkie.  Seriously. There is nothing I love more than reading, and writing, romance.  I love experiencing those emotions, the excitement and the pain and the fear and the lust and, ultimately, the love. Continue reading “A writer’s struggle: exploring spirituality in characters without boring the reader to tears”

About me, Reflection

My favorites of 2013

I thought about doing a reflective, sentimental year-in-review, but then I said, “ahh, forget it!” and decided to just highlight my favorite things of the past year.  (I’m leaving the sentimentality to the last paragraph!) This is going to be a hodgepodge of real life and pop culture and just about everything else, but these are the things that made 2013 fun for me:

Continue reading “My favorites of 2013”

Books, Reading

Cookie-cutter fiction

So the thing about me is that when I find a new author I like, I read everything I can from that author.  This happened to me recently because I borrowed a book from the library (ebook version, of course) by Diana Palmer.  Because I have a thing for cowboys, I really enjoyed the book.  So then I borrowed about seven more from her.  By the time I was into the fifth one, I was pretty sure I’d read this book before.  That’s when I realized that all her books follow the same formula.  Young virginal woman + older man + tortured attraction + unrealistic characters who profess love in gorgeous prose = every Diana Palmer book. Ever.

The same can be said for Nicholas Sparks.  I know he’s wildly popular but his books wouldn’t be his books unless someone dies at the end, bringing everything full circle and leading to the main character(s) having profound realizations.

What is it with these authors?  Why do they publish the same book, over and over again?  Why does the reader never seem to mind and just keep buying them?  Is originality dead?  I mean, Colleen Hoover runs circles around Diana Palmer – yet Hoover had to self-publish at first!  As an aspiring author myself, I’m beginning to realize that there’s no rhyme or reason to getting published.  Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is proof of that.  That series should’ve ended about ten books ago, yet it just keeps going and going and going.  Stephanie’s car blows up + Grandma Mazur is funny + Lula makes fat jokes + Stephanie can’t decide between Joe or Ranger (the answer is ALWAYS Ranger, in case you were wondering) = every book in the stupid series.

The only thing I can surmise is that readers aren’t picky and that there’s no accounting for taste (or the lack thereof).  50 Shades of Grey is proof of this!

Reading, Writing

The POV debate

As I have stated in a previous entry, I’ve had a long-time ban on books written in first person POV (known as FPPOV for the rest of this entry).  That ban ended, though, upon giving in and reading Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless, because then I read Slammed and Point of Retreat.  This past weekend, I read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which is another book written in FPPOV, and also another book that had a gutting, heart-wrenching effect on me.

So all this crying I’ve been doing over these books lately – all written in FPPOV, no less – have me thinking:  is FPPOV the new “thing” in popular fiction?  Because all of these books that have knocked me to my knees with emotion are best sellers, and they’re all written in first person.   Is that where it’s at now in the world of fiction?

I’m struggling to write my own book.  Each and every sentence feels like a monumental task because I’m still trying to find my characters’ voices.  The idea of just one voice, flowing so freely in “me” speak, is appealing.  But I’m a third person kind of girl.  I love third person.  I’ve embraced it my entire writing life.  Third person POV and the Oxford comma are my two favorite parts of the writing process.  Can I write my story, and tell it as authentically as I want to, if I’m only inside one character’s head and only sharing her voice?  One of the reasons I love writing romances is because I have two characters who are world apart at the beginning who have to find their way to a spot where their orbits intersect.  If I’m only sharing one voice and one character’s thoughts, I can’t do that.

So what’s the answer – is FPPOV the way to go now?  Do readers have a particular narrative that they prefer?  Am I using this debate as just an excuse to put off writing even more?  I need answers!

About me, Books, Reading

When a book leaves you shattered and moved and hopeful

I just finished reading this incredible book.

17156082-1

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover.

This book is written in first-person.  One of my cardinal rules of reading is “never, ever read a book written in first person!”  The reviews for Hopeless, though, were so positive and glowing and full of fangirl key-smashing (both on Goodreads and Amazon) that I threw caution to the wind and click “Buy” anyway.  For once, I am absolutely relieved that I let go of my “no first person” rule because if I had, I would’ve missed out on this treasure of a book.

It starts off innocuous at first.  We meed Sky Davis, the narrator, who has been raised by a hippy-dippy mother whose aversion to technology and public education are both so severe that Sky was practically raised Amish.  However, Sky is about to start her senior year at a real, public high school while her best friend Six, who has a less-than-stellar reputation that has rubbed off undeservedly on Sky, goes of to Italy as an exchange student.  It’s obvious to the reader from the very beginning that Sky is “damaged” somehow, but it’s not clear why until much later.  As soon as Sky starts school, she meets Dean Holder.  He’s a “bad boy” with a reputation of his own and the word “hopeless” tattooed on his forearm.  He has a temper, a wealth of secrets, a past that is both fuzzy and frightening.  He also has heart-stopping dimples and a helluva physique (that made me feel guilty for lusting after him since he’s only 18) and his very presence makes Sky react to him in a way she never has to anyone else.

I’m not going to give the plot away because then you wouldn’t need to read this book, so all I will say is that Sky and Dean’s connection causes truths to be shared, secrets to be stirred up, and hard facts to be realized.  I will say that this book is far, far more than just a simple romance story.  It’s light-years beyond just being about two teenagers falling in love.  Trust me, this is no ridiculous, teenaged angst like Twilight. (Don’t get me wrong, Dean Holder sparkles, but not in an Edward Cullen kind of way.)

This book moved me.  Inspired me.  Gutted me.  I read the entire thing, from cover to cover (well, from 1% to 99% on my Kindle, anyway), in the span of about eight hours.  And then I flailed about it on Tumblr and Twitter.  And then I gifted three copies of it so that others can read this book.  It’s the kind of story that sticks with me long after I’ve finished.  Only a book or two a year ever do that to me and this one is definitely going to stay around.  In my head.  In my heart.

Read it.  You have to read it.  Here, here’s the link to it: go buy it right now.  And if you’ve read it, please leave me a comment to tell me how very much in “live” you are with Dean Holder, too!