Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Library-themed Mash-up

Tim Coates made an interesting speech at the Frankfurst Book Fair on publishers vs libraries and the way forward. You can read it here: http://alangibbons.net/2012/10/tim-coates-speech-at-the-frankfurt-book-fair/

A librarian's viewpoint on the issues: http://www.goodlibraryguide.com/blog/archives/2012/10/if_there_are_to.html

Amazing libraries from around the world:  http://www.news24.com/Travel/Multimedia/Amazing-libraries-20121019

And then on a completely non-library related tangent: a view on the effects of self publishers cutting book prices: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/self-publishing-authors-killing-publishing-ebook_n_2008374.html?utm_hp_ref=books

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tropes, Archetypes and Stereotypes

Since this has become a discussion among both the Entangled Smackdown and Minxy groups, I thought today I'd clear up the difference between tropes and archetypes.

A trope is a concept, while an archetype relates more to character. So as an example, 'Reformed Rake' might be the trope, while 'Bad Boy' would be the archetype. A cop or sheik might be an archetype, but their story could be any from the lengthy list of tropes, for example, Boy Next Door or Stranded.

And this is exactly why I think the romance genre will never be boring or formulaic. There are endless combinations of characters, settings, conflicts and tropes, so every story is different from the one before. Add in the author's own voice and no two stories are ever really the same.

However, just as a trope can head into cliché territory if not handled properly, so weak writing can turn an archetype into a stereotype. The line between the two is thin, but very clear.

An archetype is a universal character type that your reader can immediately identify.

Examples include:
  • the young man on the rise (Luke Skywalker)
  • the wise grandfather (Obi Wan)
  • the court jester (C3PO)
  • the damsel in distress (Princess Leia)
  • the lone ranger (Han Solo)
  • the sidekick (Wookie)
  • the evil villain (Darth Vader)
Written well, these characters are complex, well-rounded people, even while representing certain character types we can all immediately identify.

A stereotype, on the other hand, is a cardboard cut-out. This is where the writer has used a character type as a shorthand rather than developing a true-to-life character, and often it signifies laziness (or ignorance) on the author's part.

Examples include:
  • the timid secretary
  • the villainous boss
  • the blonde bimbo
  • the dumb jock
  • the Mary-Sue
And the ultimate of all stereotypes - Prince Charming in Disney’s Cinderella – the poor man doesn’t even get a name!

Have any questions, good examples, or even want to disagree? Please leave a comment,and keep teh discussion going.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tropes in Romance

Image courtesy of Harlequin Junkie

I've signed up to do the Nano smackdown with Savvy Authors and Entangled Press and scared as I am that I've bitten off more than I can chew, I'm already glad I signed up.

Aside from meeting the lovely group of writers who'll be holding my hand through Nano, the Entangled editors are already helping us focus our conflicts and get our plots, characters and GMC sorted. If only we could have editorial feedback this early in the process on every book!

Entangled are very big on being clear up front what tropes your story contains. Since I've never really thought of my stories in terms of tropes, this has been a steep learning curve for me, and I spent the weekend researching them.

For those who, like me, were wondering what the hell a 'trope' is: it's a convention, or a familiar plot line or set-up, that is instantly recognisable to readers, a kind of 'shorthand' that helps both writer and reader identify what the story is about.

While I would hate to give any ammunition to those who say that romance is formulaic, every romance reader will recognise these tropes. And let's face it, we all have certain types of stories we love and some we hate. Done badly, they can become cliched, but haven't we all read a book that gives a new twist on an old trope and thought 'Wow! Wish I'd thought of that'?

Harlequin Junkies also has this fabulous post on romance tropes.

With some help from my fellow Indulgence Smackdowners (especially Amalie Berlin who has done a similar post, broken down beautifully into categories) here is the list of tropes I've compiled so far. Please feel free to leave a comment suggesting any I may have missed.

List of tropes:
  1. Accidental Pregnancy
  2. Across the Tracks / Lovers from different worlds
  3. All grown up
  4. Amnesia 
  5. Arranged marriage 
  6. Athlete / Sports romance
  7. Baby makes three (the classic epilogue scene where the happy couple add a baby to the family)
  8. Bait & Switch (hero or heroine thinks the other is someone else)
  9. Beauty & the Beast 
  10. Betrayal 
  11. Billionaire/Millionaire hero
  12. Blackmail 
  13. Celeb crush
  14. Childhood friends
  15. Cougar (older woman / younger man) 
  16. Cowboy / rancher hero
  17. Damsel in distress / Knight in Shining Armour
  18. Enemies to lovers (Kiss or kill) 
  19. Fake relationship
  20. Family feud
  21. First Love
  22. Fish out of water 
  23. Forbidden love / Off limits
  24. Forced proximity / trapped together (see Stranded below) 
  25. Friend’s big brother / little sister 
  26. Friends to lovers
  27. Friends with benefits
  28. Girl/ Boy Next Door / Love thy Neighbour
  29. Guardian / Ward 
  30. High school sweethearts
  31. Honey Trap
  32. Impersonation
  33. Jilted
  34. Love at first sight
  35. Love triangle 
  36. Make-over story / Ugly Duckling
  37. Marriage of convenience 
  38. Masquerade (one of the characters in disguise) / Becoming the Mask
  39. Matchmaker
  40. May / December romance (also known as Cougar Romance if a woman is the older partner)
  41. Military
  42. Mistaken identity / Hidden identity / Disguise
  43. Mysterious past 
  44. Nanny to wife 
  45. New in town
  46. New old flame
  47. Not blood siblings / Flirty step siblings
  48. Office romance / Working together
  49. One night stand 
  50. On the run / Flirting under fire
  51. Operation Jealousy
  52. Opposites Attract 
  53. Political Scandal
  54. Pretend marriage / fake engagement 
  55. Rags to riches / Cinderella
  56. Redemption
  57. Reformed rake / Bad boy reformed
  58. Reincarnation romance
  59. Returned to hometown
  60. Reunion / Reunited lovers 
  61. Revenge 
  62. Royalty
  63. Runaway bride / groom 
  64. Second chance at love
  65. Secret 
  66. Secret baby 
  67. Secret crushes 
  68. Secret romance / marriage
  69. Secret royal / Secret billionaire / Secret heir
  70. Slow burn
  71. Soul mates / Fate
  72. Stranded / snowbound 
  73. Sudden parenthood (eg. Doorstep baby, inherited baby) 
  74. The Bet 
  75. The one that got away
  76. Tortured hero(ine)
  77. Twins (secret twins / impersonation) 
  78. Undercover as lovers
  79. Unrequited Love
  80. Working with the ex

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Confessions, Fantasies and Books

I have a confession to make: Instead of writing in every spare moment these past few months, I've been doing a LOT of reading. And I haven't even been reading the line or even the genre I'm targeting (like a good girl would), nor have I been catching up on all my friends' books in my teetering TBR pile. No, what I've been indulging in is the entire series of Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.

The book that started it all...
These are the novels on which the True Blood series is based, and though I enjoyed the series, let me tell you... the books are way better!

The books are whodunit-type murder mysteries which just happen to be set in an alternate universe (known to fans as Sookieverse) peopled by a whole lot more than just vampires. They're Southern Gothic at its best, very easy reads, and un-put-downable.

I love the dollops of chick lit wit thrown in, one-liners like "These ladies knew how to throw a search party." and "Maybe he needed the bodyguards to protect him from the fashion police."
Sookie Stackhouse

And there are many laugh out loud lines like: "I remembered my New Year’s Eve resolution: I wanted not to get beaten up. Note to self: I should have included 'shot'."

But the best thing about these books? The heroes. The reader's as spoilt for choice as Sookie is, with enough fantasy material to keep you drooling long after you've turned the last page.

Can it get better? Apparently, yes it can. I've been told Ms Harris' Grave series is a real treat. So if you don't see me around for a while ... you know where I am.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Playing Blog Tag

New Zealand author Cherie Le Clare has tagged me (thanks Cherie!) so for the second time this week I'll be sharing a bit about me, and passing on the favour.

The rules are:
** Give credit to the person/blog that tagged you
** Post the rules for the blog hop
** Answer the following ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog
** Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

What is the working title of your book?
Waking Up In Vegas

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea came from the Katy Perry song of the same name, and the characters came from my 2009 Nano novel. But now they're getting a whole new story.

What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version? 
If I were casting a real movie, I'd definitely be looking for different actors, but my inspiration for the characters are Heath Ledger and the kick-ass Maria Bello from Coyote Ugly.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 
Ouch. I really have to work on this, since it's required for the Nano Entangled bootcamp I've signed up for, but here's a start:  
A drifter with an easy come / easy go attitude to life wakes up in Vegas and finds herself married to a man who not only believes in true love but is determined to convince her they are destined to live happily ever after. Forever.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
Neither. I'll be pitching this direct to my publisher of choice.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 
Firts time around this book took me 30 days to write (thanks, Nanowrimo!) but I have yet to begin the new, improved version.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 
This is a hard one, since I don't really compare myself to other authors.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? 
Asked and answered above under Question #2

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The majority of this book is set in the fictional principality of Westerwald, which is situated in the Rhine River area between France and Germany. The hero just happens to live in a magnificent medieval castle overlooking the river valley on one side and his extensive vineyards on the other.

If you've reached this part of my blog post, consider yourself tagged!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunshine Award

Author Rosemary Gemmell has nominated me for this delightfully-named award. Thanks, Rosemary!

1. What is your favourite Christmas/festive movie?
Though I love the season, I'm not big into Christmas movies (I find them schmaltzy) but the first 3D movie I ever took my daughter to was the fairly recent Arthur Christmas and it was so much fun experiencing it with her.

2. What is your favourite flower?
The iris. I love the delicate three-fold patterns and its history as a royal emblem.

3. What is your favourite non-alcoholic beverage?
Elderflower cordial! It's such a refreshing, summery drink.

4. What is your passion?
Romance novels, of course! Reading and writing them.

5. What is your favourite time of year?
Without a doubt, summer. I don't handle cold very well, and I adore the longer days, sunshine and warmth of summer. (Which is why this award is really special to me!)

6. What is your favourite time of day?
I've always loved late afternoon. That time when the sun is just going down, but it's still light. In my childhood, it was the time my parents were home from work and the family all sat together on the verandah drinking coffee and eating biscuits. Though these days I prefer to think of it as cocktail hour.

7. What is your favourite physical activity?
None - I'm not find of exercise. Though I have taken up yoga and I'll admit it's not bad.

8. What is your favourite vacation?
As long as it's warm and sunny, and away from the stresses of the day job, I'm happy. Throw in a reasonable internet connection, and I'm even happier. My favourite so far was probably the Greek Islands.

I'm passing this award on to the following bloggers: Olivia Miles (I love your posts!), Scarlet Wilson, fellow Rosalites Zee Monodee, April Vine, Kathy Bosman and Joss Wood, and all my fellow Minxes.

Monday, October 1, 2012

An Endless Possibility

It's a fresh new month and here in the southern hemisphere spring is in the air, bright flowers are blooming and the sun is shining. With all this wonderful new energy in abundance, I'm bringing back my favourite game: Endless Possibilities.

Who lives behind this door? The possibilities are endless...
Please share your ideas in the comments below, and let's have a little fun.