Reading Writing Rant

On this, a ‘free’ week, I have chosen to talk about writing and reading. Last week we asked readers what they want to see in romance novels and many times, we were told what readers did  not want to see in any novels.

There is an ocean of books out, a sea of cozies, be they romance or mysteries. Many are good, if not always great. Almost all are enjoyable, but often one must overlook a few points.

Sometimes the characters are too good to be true; that gets boring. Sometimes the protagonist is completely unlikable; I never enjoy those books. Usually there is a decent mix of characters, but I would like to discuss several books that I recently read that were not bad, but could have been better.

I would never call out an author by name unless the work was ugly or filled with something I considered harmful. The books I will discuss were fair stories written by nice people, so bear with me not being specific.

Two of the books continually gave descriptions of what everyone was wearing, Unless the work is a period piece, unless the attire has some real significance to the story, it needs to be cut back. In my yet-to-be-finished novel, I do describe some clothing, but it has to do with someone being unsure of what to wear in certain situations. I note the obvious luxury in some clothing and the uniforms of others in what I think is integral to the story. I don’t believe it is excessive.( Beta readers or an editor my disagree.) However, in the ones I mentioned the protagonist is in modern-day wear and wears nearly the same types of outfits every day, be they working, socializing or doing some physical exercise, the same three types of outfits were described every day of the stories, (with nightwear sometimes thrown in). Their shoes were nothing outstanding but every shoe on every character were mentioned. Except in situations where footwear is remarkable, inappropriate or a part of a character’s character, let’s keep the brand names and styles on the rack, shall we?

And the food. I have been berated for not adding more food to my novel because people know me as a “foodie”, but it is not a story about food. I added some because my main characters are in an exotic locale and the foods are new, but I don’t believe that the amount is overbearing. (Again, readers and editors may tell me to change it, and I will.) In a couple of books I’ve read, we are privy to every bite that our main character eats or is tempted to eat, and everything anyone around her puts in their mouths. How many times did we have to hear that a certain edible that was served at every weekly meeting was eaten by which people? Not that anyone was poisoned by it. It was really annoying.

In one, the protagonist was in a certain career and the same two modern terms of jargon used in her field were repeated over and over again. I was embarrassed for the author because in a few years, when new terminology replaces the very “in” phrases she kept repeating, this work will be dated very quickly and badly.
Another book I want to discuss is a high number in a series that is a big-seller, I have no idea why. Her characters were inconsistent and unrealistic, but most of all, her wording drove me insane.

As a writer, unlike the first book’s author, I try not to continually use the same terms often; it’s repetitious and isn’t interesting; it’s one of the first lessons a writer should learn.

You shouldn’t write:

“Come in with me while I feed my cat”, she said.
“I didn’t know you had a cat,” he said.
“Yes, I’m very fond of cats”, she said.
“ When I grew up we raised cats”, he said
“Then you’ll like my cat”, she said.
“Hello, little cat!’ he said.

The second author, however, seems to have a phobia about it. It’s OK to show a little vocabulary, just don’t empty-out your thesaurus.

Indulge me while I parody a scene that may have appeared in her book:
“Come in with me while I feed the kitten”, she ordered him.
“I didn’t know that you had a cat”, he proclaimed.
“Yes, I’m very fond of felines,” she explained.
“Oh, Felis domestica! I grew up in a cattery”, he bragged.
“Then you’ll enjoy my tabby!”, she exclaimed
“Hello, little tiger!”, he called out.
“He is my darling little Gato!”, she cried.
“This one does seem like a sweet little mouser! Look at the size of the furball’s feet! It’s going to be a big kitty,” he claimed.
“Uh-huh. I expect this pussy will become a good-sized tom”, she retorted.
“Come here, you miniature animal-the-Egyptians-worshipped”, he cooed.

All right, so I exaggerated a bit, but not much. You get the idea. Even in simple conversations you might read something like:

“Do you like Xylophone music?”
“Oh, indeed! I am always fond of a good glockenspiel tune.”
“Would you like to hear me play the marimba?”
“You mean the vibraphone?”

She reached so hard and far to use new phraseology within a conversation that it was not only irritating, it sent me to the dictionary a few times just to verify the synonyms, which were sometimes a little off, just for the sake of being different ever, single time, or to throw in every related noun she could find.

These are my peeves of the month. May I have your input on my rant?

Posted in authors, Book Reviews, careers, free week, Random thoughts, Tonette Joyce | 8 Comments

Rescued By That New Guy in Town

By J. L. Salter 

When Kris awakens in a costume, behind wooden bars inside a pitch black community center, her only available rescuer is the hung over new guy in town (who’s dressed as a pirate).  Problem is:  she’s sworn off men, especially buccaneers.

 Badly burned four years ago by a player who ruined her financially, Kris Prima’s heart is locked down as tightly as her lifestyle is confined by those massive debts.  When first assisted by recent newcomer Ryan Hazzard, Kris is resentful, slightly afraid, and determined never again to trust men.  But when court-ordered community service brings them together once more, she begins to appreciate Ryan’s charm, good looks, and capable manner.

With all the rumors and assumptions which followed Ryan from a large metropolitan area, how can small town Kris even begin to trust him?  And why won’t he explain any of those situations?  Through her efforts to learn Ryan’s mysterious past, they share further experiences:  many comedic, one quite dangerous, and others very tender.  Despite several misunderstandings, Kris’s bottled up feelings slowly reawaken and she finally learns enough about Ryan to know she wants him in her life somehow. But can Kris regain her ability to trust a man and allow her heart to be freed from its jail?

Rescued by the New Guy in Town

Only $2.99 in digital formats:

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

One man’s opinion

Sorry that I missed last week’s post. I am putting it up this week. When asked to interview someone I asked my oldest brother Samuel Schroeder. Here is the interview copied straight form Facebook chat.

What are you sick of seeing in romance books?

the same old wealthy/famous meeting up with the lower class, or not so well off person to magically fall in love at first sight.

what do you want to see more of?

More realistic, every day life events. Meeting and shy people meeting up but possibly missing the chance. Realistic every day people.

Are there certain things on a cover that makes you want to not read a book?

Cover really does not matter as long as it catches my attention. The title should be visible for sure, and if it is not a catchy or exciting title then the pictures should be from the best scene in the book. Oh, and faces of models, leave the depiction of the characters to the readers imagination.

Have you read any of my books. What did you find lacking in them? What did you like?

I read Dinosaur tamers, and am working on Love over comes. Then already bought 2nd life of Magnolia  which I will read next. Dinosaur tamers was a cute short children’s story, should be a series. So far in Love over comes, it seems to jump quite a bit. From ones emotional aspect or thoughts change quickly. Tamers was nice, but should be a series as I said before. Love over comes, I like how there was a chance for someone to turn their book to a movie. Also that the main character will put her son before anything, that is realistic of most mothers.

What genre do you normally read?

I normally read psychology, sociology and world history books. I also enjoy the classic fiction such as Huckleberry Fin, and treasure island. No matter what the book, it has to catch my attention or I won’t finish it.

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Thank You, Miss Seeley

We have another free week, and I had planned to tell you about another one of my groups of friends. Instead, I’m going to tell you about someone who had a great influence on my life. Last week I said goodbye to her – in this life, anyway – and I decided to share a little bit about this remarkable woman.

AnnAnn Seeley was born in Washington, DC, but grew up in rural southwest Michigan. On her family’s farm she cared for the animals and pitched in on all the chores, but she was recognized as the resident mechanic and eventually invented an asparagus picking machine, receiving a patent for her efforts. Her love of music took her to Western Michigan University, where she earned a degree in Music Education. But instead of directing bands and choirs, she became an elementary classroom teacher, and that’s where I had the privilege of knowing her. As a fifth grade student, I was assigned to her classroom in the mid-1960s.

Miss Seeley was known as a strict teacher, but she was fair and consistent. Her students knew exactly what was expected of us as well as what would happen if we didn’t meet expectations. But she was also full of surprises. I remember one young man who had difficulty remembering the rules, and was constantly reminded of them. One day he declared, “Miss Seeley, I wish you would just forget I’m here!” To our surprise, she said, “Okay,” and for three days she ignored him. By the end of the third day he was more than ready to listen to reason.

I’m not sure I thought about Miss Seeley much once I reached high school, but when I started my own career I knew that it was teachers like her who had inspired me to become one. I knew that she took certain students under her wing – students from broken homes, children who struggled to fit in, and kids who just needed some extra attention. And I knew I wanted to be like her.

Ann ducks

Ann didn’t like to have her picture taken. She’d often duck when she saw a camera!

After I retired from full-time teaching, I got involved in the quilting group at my church – I wrote about them on March 30. Since I was one of the women who sewed the quilt tops together, I often sat next to a tiny, wizened woman who really didn’t talk much. It took me over two months to realize she was my fifth grade teacher! We had several conversations over the next few years, comparing notes about teaching and catching up on news about people we both knew.

Miss Seeley was as sharp and quick-witted as I remembered. And she was just as giving. In addition to sewing quilts, she was a member of the group Warmng Ears Ministry, making hats, and she worked at her church’s food pantry. When I started writing romance novels I gave her one of the first of my print copies. I wasn’t sure whether or not she enjoyed reading romances, but I wanted to give her some tangible evidence of what she had done for me. She graciously took the book, and went back to our sewing. A few weeks later I got an email, sent through my website:

“I read your book. I liked it.”

Ann & hats

Ann’s no-nonsense approach to life extended into everything she did.

Those seven words validated me as an author more than any review or award. I was humbled that this eighty-year-old woman who struggled with using her cell phone took the time and effort to email me. To do so, I’m assuming she had help – and asking for help was another thing she struggled with. I am so grateful that I had the chance to see my former teacher again and do something to thank her for what did for me.

When I heard Miss Seeley had passed, I posted an announcement in my high school’s Facebook page. Almost immediately, messages of condolences and fond memories began pouring in. It seems many of my classmates remember her the way I do. I copied all their comments and put them into a small scrapbook for her family, since most of them live in California. I wanted them to know what a treasure she was to us.

Most of our teachers are in our lives for only nine months, but their influence can last a lifetime. If you can read and write, your teachers have given you the keys to endless adventures. Be sure to thank them, if you can.

Posted in inspirational people, Patricia Kiyono | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Romance and the Reluctant Reader/ Last Week’s Giveaway Winners

This week we were to ask a romance reader what they would like to see more of in books of that genre.

At first, I was at a loss; I have no romance readers in my family. I don’t think I had any friends nearby who were and most of my ‘romantic’ online friends are romance writers. My plan was to go to my lovely local library and grab an unsuspecting patron, but those plans were dashed when my car threw a rod or something. (It’s making a terrible noise and my trusty mechanic is extremely busy.)

So, I nabbed a mother and grown daughter who I know and are avid readers, not knowing all of their preferences in books. Surprising to me, the mother indeed enjoys a good romance novel, and here is what she told me:

Eileen would like to see more story, more background on the main characters. She would also like to see great deal of character development on them, but not so much on secondary characters.

She doesn’t want to be sidetracked by subplots involving secondary characters.
To quote her: “If you consider ‘Wuthering Heights’, a ‘romance’, there are far too many characters and descriptions” to wade through to get to the main storyline. She doesn’t want to see, hear, smell every possible sensation while trying to concentrate on the story.

Eileen asked me to tell you that she doesn’t like to see two people immediately fall in love, simply because she, (and I) , feel it’s unreasonable. She said that she’d like to see real ‘courting’, [as opposed to the love-hate thing that goes on so often].
And she’d “like to see both characters have backbone”. She doesn’t suffer  simpering wimps of either sex.

Eileen reminisced about a book that she read when young by an author who called herself “Lady Rich” It was an Elizabethan romance, which shaped her ideal for the perfect romance novel.The protagonist was a strong young woman and the hero was a really good fellow. The young woman did not want to lose her independence and the young man loved her enough and was secure enough that he didn’t expect her to.

Eileen would like to see more of this in romance novels.

On the other hand, her daughter, Amy, was spoiled for romances by reading some of the worst of the genre. She said that she doesn’t like romances, that she has found them “boring, contrived and formulated.” First I congratulated her on her articulate and concise response, but I also told her that there are many bright stories in the genre these days and will work up a list of a number of writers which would surprise her with the freshness of their stories and characters…we’ll see if she takes the bait.

I hope we can all take to heart what our guests have all told us this week.

Would you like to add anything more?

Before I leave, I’m pleased to announce the winners of the giveaway from my guest from last week, Victoria Hamilton:
Copies of both the first of the Teapot Collector series, “Tempest in a Teapot” and the newest release, “Shadow of a Spout” go to :Tonya Hundley
The $10.00 gift certificate for Omni Bucks to be used at All Romance Books (ARe) will go to :Debbie
And the lovely “Reading is My Passion” tote bag goes to:cyn209

Congratulations to the winners. I do  not have email addresses for all of you. Please contact me ASAP on  Facebook. If I do not hear from you by Midnight, EDT, a new winner will be chosen.

And thanks to all who stopped by to visit and comment. Please come back again soon.

Posted in authors, Friendship, GIveaways/Contest, Lists, reader interview, reading preferences, romance, Tonette Joyce, writing | 6 Comments

Guest Kim Marcum

By Jeff Salter

This week we’re collecting readers’ perspectives to learn what kinds of things they like in romance books… and what they want to see more of.

My Guest Interviewee

Please welcome Kim Marcum as my Guest Fox for Hound Day. She’s an avid reader and very supportive of me and other local authors. Members of Kim’s family are published authors or aspiring writers and Kim herself has written down many interesting story premises and scene openers. I’m hoping to see Kim fully develop some of those and come back to 4F1H as a guest author.


Interview Questions

I borrowed several of these questions from my 4F1H colleague, Patricia Kiyono.

What genre do you usually read for pleasure?

Kim: Most of what I read is fiction. I enjoy romance the best but I also like stories with some “unnatural or supernatural” elements. For example, in Jeff ‘s “The Ghostess and Mister Muir” — I absolutely loved the interaction between the live characters and the ghostess.

Other than your friends asking you, what would make you pick up and read a romance?

Kim: I keep track of what my friends are reading, and I belong to several Facebook groups that focus on authors. Their recommendations have led me to some great reads!

What kind of characters appeal to you?

Kim: I love characters that have real life problems to overcome. Strong and genuine leading men who are not afraid to show their “soft” side. Strong and independent women who are not afraid to go after what they want all while still staying in control of their lives.

What do you dislike in a character?

Kim: There always needs to be the third wheel character, the one who causes some turmoil for the main characters, be it from jealousy or just because that is their nature.

Do you get bored with the “happily ever after” of traditional romances?

Kim: Not if there was adversity to overcome to get to the happily ever after. Even Cinderella had to overcome a lot of heartache before she got her prince.

What advice would you give romance authors?

Kim: I love it when the author describes in detail the surroundings, I want to feel like I am seeing exactly what is in the room that the characters are seeing. I want to feel what the characters are feeling, hear what they are hearing. I love details like the “creaking floor” as they are walking on it, the “cool, moist gust of air” that out of nowhere rushes across the nape of the neck! Don’t be afraid to give the readers enough detail so they feel like they are IN the situation with the characters.

Approximately how many books do you read each year?

Kim: Before 2014 it was very few. Now that I have met some great authors (JL Salter, CK Gray) and have befriended many others through social media (Wendy Knight being top on my list), I have already read one book a week for the year 2015. That may not sound like much but with being a full time (disabled) mom & wife, to read one a week is a great accomplishment! I intend to read as much as possible from the many authors I currently read plus add more new author friends this year!

What kinds of writing are you doing now… or do you want to do in the future?

Kim: I get random thoughts & type them up but [so far] I never get past that thought.

Thanks, Kim, for helping me out this Hound Day… and with pretty short notice!


Do y’all agree / disagree with Kim’s views? What would some of your answers be to any one of these questions?

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hold in suspense

Week of Apr. 13-17 –

*** FREE WEEK ***

Week of Apr. 6-10 –

A reader’s perspective: find a friend or family member – or anyone we know who read something we wrote, or just reads romance in general – and interview them to see what   kinds of things they want to see more of in romance books

Well, Darn.  I’d thought this would be the post for the week of the 13th, but now I realize I needed to have another purpose for this week’s post.  Since it’s too late for me to interview anyone I guess I’ll have to not do that and hold you in suspense as you wait for my free week topic next week.  My past week has been QUITE eventful.  EVIL GRIN.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments