Monday Musings – Hold On by Alabama Shakes – Great advice

I recently discovered a band that sings what could best be described as a hybrid of soul and rock. The music of Alabama Shakes really speaks to me. The song that introduced me to them is Hold On. The lyrics are inspiring because of the message of persevering through the ups and downs of life. Reading between the lines, and given that this appears to be a relatively unknown group, I think I know what they’re saying, and I can definitely identify.

Alabama Shakes is a group of aspiring artists (music), I’m an aspiring artist (books) and I certainly know what it feels like to run up against wall after wall in my journey toward the stars in the sky. The key is just to grab hold of your dream and shove it forward day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Some days you’ll make great strides. Others you’ll feel like you’re pulling the moon with your teeth. It all evens out.

Instant success is rare. What’s much more common is the long, slow slog of pursuit, ending in moderate but satisfying success. I decided a long time ago that I was up for that slog. Because the end result is my goal…but the pursuit is my passion.

See you on the slog!


Monday Musings – Real Life? Or Escapism?


My personal philosophy as a writer (and as a reader too) is to stay away from too much real life in my entertainment. I do this because in books, as in movies, I watch or read to escape real life. For this reason I mostly hate reality programs on television and avoid obvious political bias in my entertainment.

I’m a functioning adult. A contributing member of society. I work hard, pay my taxes, try always to do the right thing…even the hard thing…and I raised my kids to do the same. That’s who I am and I’m proud of it. But I wouldn’t want to read a book about that because it would be less than fascinating. #:0)

When I pick up a book I’m looking for heart-pounding excitement, or stomach-twisting suspense in a world vastly different from my own. I’m looking for a larger than life romance, or at least a life-changing passion. I want characters to leap off the page, engage me, and drag me, willing or unwilling, through their world. When this happens life is beautiful. When this happens the story sticks with me for months and years to come…the story and its characters feel real to me. But thank god the stories aren’t real. Because real life is vivid and hard and cruel. It’s also sweet and wonderful and sometimes even exciting. But it’s too real to be entertainment.

Monday Musings – Sex with your Plot?

I find it fascinating to read reviews from readers because, with any given romance novel, you’ll have readers decrying the lack of sexual content and readers complaining the same book was nothing but one sex scene after another. It’s unfortunate that many great books are unfairly maligned because, three bears porridge style, they weren’t just the right heat for the reader. Unfortunate but unavoidable I’m afraid. I’ve come to the decision that heat level is the great, subjective beast and, even within the erotic genre the range is wide and varied on how sex is portrayed and how intricate it is to the story line. Personally, I want my heroes to experience an emotional bond and have sex. But I don’t like accessory sex and I need the balance between sex and plot to be appropriate for the story/genre. For example, when I write a romantic suspense novel (a.k.a. Hoale Construction Mysteries) I focus much more on the plot, and the romance between the characters is woven into that story line. By contrast, my Blood-Hound series is erotic paranormal so the emphasis is on the relationship and the story falls into line behind that.

Part of why authors write stories with more sex than seems plausible is pressure from both readers and publishers. I once had a publisher tell me I had too much plot in one of my books. I sat there blinking for a while and then decided I wanted to write under my own imprint so I could tell my stories the way they should be written rather than to a formula requiring so much from column a and so much from column b. But the reality is that certain publishers require a higher heat level and, to be fair, they’re simply reflecting the tastes of their audience. The good news is that there is indeed an audience for just about any story or heat level the author can write. So, if one man’s erotica is another man’s sweet vanilla…well, so be it. It’s all good.