NaNoWriMo #Fail

I suppose there is a very, very slender chance that I will finish my book in the next two days. And it may even be something people would want to read. But I doubt it. So I’m going to throw in the towel right now and acknowledge my NaNoWriMo fail.  Truth is, I’ve never been great about writing under duress, particularly where a timeline is involved.

I was the kid who would wait until the very last evening before the essay was due and knock it out between 10 p.m. and midnight, but only because the alternative was to get a failing grade. But maybe I’m being hard on myself by considering this a failure. I have a good number of pages that I feel good about and will probably be ready to edit within a week or so, but the specter of November 30th has had an interesting effect on my psyche – my characters are not speaking to me, they have fallen completely silent over the past couple of days. I visit them in my mind, knock on their doors, ask if they’ll come out to play and for the moment, they have rebuffed every attempt. So I’ve decided to play a little hard to get, ignore them for a day or so and hope they’ll come around.

The characters I’ve been trying to lure out to play are from my new book, ‘Secret’, Trey and Shayla. They’re a complicated pair with difficult pasts, each of them insisting to themselves and to each other that they don’t want a relationship. But sometimes what we say we don’t want is precisely what we need. Here’s an appetizer from Secret (and hopefully not the last piece of writing I’ll do this month)

Happy Reading . . . and to my fellow writers, happy (sigh) writing.

-Nia-

‘Unsuitable Men’ is Free on Amazon Today!

Today only, on Amazon.com, I’m offering ‘Unsuitable Men’ free.

This book I love for lots of reasons. First, because it’s the result of a reader’s challenge to me to go against my aversion to writing sequels or serials that revisit the same characters over and over again. She so liked ‘Commitment’ that she asked whether I would be writing more about Shawn and Riley. I told her I could not, but would give a stab at exploring more about Tracy and Brendan, secondary characters in ‘Commitment’ who played prominent roles. The result was this book which now has me thoroughly convinced that sometimes, revisiting characters, but with a light touch, can yield interesting new material. So if you liked ‘Commitment’, try ‘Unsuitable Men’. And even if you didn’t read ‘Commitment’ this book tells it’s own story that is not at all dependent on the previous book.

The second reason I love ‘Unsuitable Men’ is the utter, and sometimes maddening imperfection of the main character who somehow  manages to make you love her anyway. That was my favorite element of this writing story, making Brendan fall in love with Tracy, warts and all.

Read it and write me a review. Tell me what about it (if anything) spoke to you!

Happy Reading!

-Nia-

Secret – Coming Soon!

I recently “outed” myself to a friend as a writer of contemporary romance. To date, very few people I know are aware that I have this other persona who writes women’s fiction by night and is tortured during business meetings because she would rather be thinking about the fictional characters rattling around in her brain. Anyway, I shared my work with this friend and she read one of my books and came back with a favorable review. Kind of.

“I liked it a lot,” she said. “But nothing actually happens.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Nothing happens,” she reiterated. “It’s just about the ups and downs of this relationship.”

So I mulled that over for awhile and decided that she was right. And she was also wrong.

While I’m still in the process of finding my voice and perfecting my craft, I know one thing for certain. I am not the kind of writer who cares much for action and intrigue. I don’t need there to be a murder, or a stalker or anything of the sort in my novels. In fact, I prefer that there not be any of those devices because in most of our lives, none of that stuff happens, and yet our lives are not static or boring, they are filled with intriguing occurrences that might at first blush appear to be of not much importance at all. What I try to do in my work is examine the progression of relationships through everyday occurrences.

Nights out with friends.

Parties.

Interactions with family.

All of those situations are to me ripe with possibilities for characters to learn and grow. So I use a lot of inner dialogue and write from multiple (usually two) points of view.

In the book I’m working on now, ‘Secret’ – the main characters are in a relationship that they keep secret from others, and one of them has a secret from the other. I explore what it’s like to live with secrets and how that can color how we see the world and interact with others. The secret itself is somewhat explosive, but it isn’t the point of the story. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out because at this point I honestly have no clue. That’s one of the main joys of writing for me.

The outcome itself is secret, even from you, the writer.

Happy Reading!

-Nia-

The Chase

© Tim Pannell/Corbis

Not being a full-time writer myself, I spend as much time as I can reading other writers in my genre not just to enjoy them, but to study them and figure out how things are trending. In contemporary romance, I’ve noticed that increasingly, writers are shortening or even getting rid of ‘the chase’. You know what I mean; that part of the romance arc where the woman resists, protests and runs away from the hero because she is just sooooo overwhelmed by the strength of the feelings he evokes? She wants him, badly. But it’s just too strong a feeling and it scares her. She wants to fall in love, but she resists because he arouses so much more than her emotions, he awakens her libido. And Lord knows, we can’t have that!

Fortunately, we seem to be getting rid of that crap.

Now when I read contemporary romance, I’ve noticed that the chase is a lot shorter. There may be some token resistance but it’s almost never motivated by the woman’s fear of her sexuality, it’s motivated by pride or competitiveness or arrogance, traits that are traditionally male traits in popular fiction. Now, by and large the female leads are now more in charge of and comfortable with their sexuality and tend to be pretty cool about putting an end to the chase on their terms and taking advantage of an opportunity to satisfy their sexual needs, not just provide satisfaction to the man.

Still, the converse is true in the new rash of BDSM romances. In those, the surrender, submission and giving in is dramatic and graphic. The traditional chase in those books is lengthened and the eventual surrender by the female protagonist is more dramatic as a result. That’s interesting in and of itself because it means that women surrendering has become so outside of the mainstream that it’s acceptable only in the context of an overtly dominant-submissive relationship (which has not yet completely achieved full mainstream acceptance).

By now you’ve probably figured out from this blog that I’m overly analytical, and many of you are rolling your eyes and going, “Oh for heaven’s sake, they’re just romance novels.” I disagree. I think novels, like movies and even like television commercials, are the real catalogs of our times, even more so than histories that get written later. So I’m paying close attention and hope you are too. Next time you read a contemporary romance and feel tempted to dismiss it as fluff, I would challenge you to look deeper . . . I think the key to what it all means may lie in the chase.

-Nia-

‘The Seduction of Dylan Acosta’ is Live on Amazon!

One caution for those who haven’t read my blog before, this book is not erotica. Despite the word ‘seduction’ in the title, this is contemporary fiction about a regular girl and not so regular guy in irregular circumstances. Read chapter one here, and then if you’re intrigued, buy the e-book here!

And then, by all means, let me know what think by leaving me a review.

P.S. The page count in Amazon says 283. That’s the Kindle count, but the real page count is 380.

Happy Reading!

-Nia-

Falling In Love and Out Again

I fall in love with all my characters. I come to know them as I write, and slowly fall for each and every one. It is sometimes a slow process and other times moves at lightning speed. The attachment feels as real as though they are living breathing individuals. And when the time comes, it can be difficult to let go. But I manage it because I know that holding on past the affair’s end is often way more destructive.

In the past, I’ve been a little critical of the trend of writing sequels and trilogies because in some cases, it feels a little like a reluctance on the part of the writer to let go when it would be healthy — both for them and for the work they’ve created — to do so. I recently read a sequel to a surprise indie hit because, like most other readers, I was curious about where the author might take the characters. I liked the original well enough and the story, as far as I could see, had been very completely told in that first book. But still, I decided to take a crack at the well over four-hundred-page second installment wondering whether the writer might pull off something that could stand on its own as an independently solid piece of work, and hoping to learn something if she did.

It was very difficult for me to complete even the first chapter. One of the very first things I noticed was that it immediately “picked up where we left off” leaving little doubt that had you not read the prior installment, the new book would make no sense to you whatsoever. Still, that could have been a marketing ploy to reinvigorate sales of the first book, and I’m all in support of writers (especially indie authors) making gobs of money, so I chose to overlook that. I pressed ahead, intrigued by the idea that later on she may have managed to produce scenes that would expose new dimensions to her protagonists.

I was sorely disappointed. Instead, their already established character traits were amplified and became almost cartoonish. The jealousy became insane jealousy, the dysfunction became certifiably lunatic behavior and finally I stopped believing they were real. I could no longer picture these people in my mind’s eye: they became storybook people. Paradoxically, the more she amplified their personalities, the flatter they became. And to add insult to injury, new and outlandish characters and situations were added that sometimes felt like a distraction from the author’s fundamental inability to give us new fodder to fill out our remaining questions about the main protagonists.

I think I know what happened. The writer had fallen out of love with them, and was now belaboring their story to satisfy the appetite of her considerable fan base. And if the fan reactions are any indication, they were predominantly very happy. Still, a minority of fan reviews alluded to what I felt. Some used words like “staged”, “pointless” and “convenient” to describe the situations crafted by the writer.  One reviewer said that she was bummed that the female lead “didn’t grow as a character.” Those criticisms are, I think, at the crux of why it’s tough to follow the same characters over time. Unless as a writer you’re still madly in love with them and able to discern and share new and fascinating things about their lives and their journey, I think the second or third in a series should remain unwritten.

I took a chance when I wrote Unsuitable Men because it revisited secondary characters from Commitment. I wanted to make sure I didn’t say something that had already been said, or say something that was a glaring contradiction of what had been said in ‘Commitment’. What it forced me to do was revisit my long-ended relationship with Commitment‘s main characters. That was tough and felt like the literary equivalent of sharing a house with your ex-husband. But what it did do is give me new respect for people who write long series of books that involve the same people over and over again and make each and every one seem new and fresh. If you can pull it off, more power to you but I suspect that a majority of us writers ought to accept the end of the affair and move on.

Unsuitable Men – AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon

Ah, technology. After many fits and starts, Amazon has finally uploaded ‘Unsuitable Men’ and it is available for purchase now.

The book details and description on Amazon indicate that it is an excerpt and 38 pages long. Those details are incorrect and are residuals from when only the excerpt was available. Amazon is working to update it and will hopefully do so soon.

Still if you purchase now, you will get the entire e-book. Enjoy, and please consider writing me a review!

-Nia-