It’s That Time of the Year

It’s that time of the year again! What time you ask? (Okay you didn’t, but let’s pretend.) It’s almost time for the Africa Online Book Fair: Romance Authors & Readers.

If you’ve been here awhile, than you have a good idea of what I’m talking about or even if you browsed through my old posts. The 3 day fair is an online event I started last year, aimed at showcasing romance authors from the continent.

This year I’ve searched far and wide for authors to take part, to bring some interesting and entertaining books for us.

Here’s a short description of the fair:

The Africa Online Book Fair: Romance Authors & Readers is a 3 day Facebook event that allows readers to shop discounted books, play games, enter to win free books & Amazon gift cards, and engage with authors.

AOBF-FBGroupBanner

 

 

This year’s event takes place on the 1st of June till the 3rd of June 2018. It starts at 9 AM and ends 10 PM each day. Authors will have a timeslot in which to post their promotions and engage with readers. I’m excited about this year’s fair because it’s new to the fair authors, so not the same authors as last year.

I am updating the list of Authors until mid-May, you can check out those who’ve already signed on for the event here https://www.facebook.com/events/215209169033746/?ti=cl and click ‘Going’ *wink* You can also share the event on your social media, I would really appreciate that!

And that’s it! I will keep you posted on any changes *smile*

#happywriting

 

Advertisements

Lessons Learned in Publishing So Far

I feel like this post should be done in point system, because some points need to be elaborated on but not all of them. They are easily understandable.

So let’s get right into it!

IMG_20170615_190435_edit_edit_edit_edit

Ten lessons I learned in my publishing journey:

  1. Do your research. Research the publishers you want to submit your work to. Research the genre you want to write in. Research the subject/theme your story is about. Research your novel. Research your market. Research everything basically. Don’t go into publishing with blinkers on.
  2. Ask if you need help. Yes, you’ll hit a few walls but there will be someone willing to answer your questions. And please don’t let one of those questions be “how much money do you make as an author?” That’s not going to endear you to anyone. No one, and I mean no one, likes to talk about money. If it’s that much of an issue for you, than see point number one.
  3. Writing groups exists for a reason. Authors/writers like to congregate there. It’s a good source of information, creating networks and developing writing skills.
  4. Take a writing course. If it teaches you nothing else, it will test your commitment to wanting to go into writing.
  5. Publishing is a slow process. No seriously, it is. You submit (pitch) a manuscript, it takes six weeks for you to get a response. Depending on the response, if it’s a revise than it can take another couple of weeks to work on the manuscript and to get an answer you’d like. If it’s a contract, pop some bubbly but don’t get too excited. There’s editing. You could’ve written the book a year before and it only comes out the following year. Some publishers work faster and with self-publishing the decisions are up to you, so you can have a book out as soon as you feel comfortable with the public seeing it.
  6. This brings me to number six: Self-publishing. Many authors are hybrids. They can be traditionally, e-published and self-published. Some only take one of the three routes. Authors following more than one lane aren’t as uncommon as it used to be. So keep that in mind when you do your research.
  7. Having a few published books doesn’t make you a master at writing, keep developing that skill.
  8. Branding is important. So is keeping your sanity. If you like writing in more than one category, than by all means do. Just know what your readers expect from you. If they can go on a contemporary, paranormal, science fiction and historical journey with you, than good for you. Pen names are also an option to keep the brand ‘pure’.
  9. Writing awards/competitions work well to establish an author in the industry. If you feel so inclined, than do enter your work. Some competitions give feedback. However keep in mind these awards/competitions also need to be researched. A while back I entered a competition that I thought would be impartial, as it turned out it wasn’t. Not only was my novel never entered, after I paid the fee, but I only found this out after an email was sent to everyone that the judging panel had read all the books and had scored them. Not only wasn’t I given an apology for what happened, but my book was placed under a distinct disadvantage. They now had to scramble for judges on the panel that would be willing to read and score the ‘late’ entry. They rushed through my book to hit the competition’s deadline. Needless to say, I’m still a bit sour over that. Though that’s only the tip of the iceberg of the snafu. So make sure you want to enter, and then make sure your book has actually been entered after you paid the entry fee.
  10. This is not a sprint industry. ‘Overnight’ success isn’t always ‘overnight’ successes. If you put in the work, time and effort you can make it in this billion dollar industry. But that’s on all on you.

 

11011239_952343081464256_7084399182543489332_n

A Snippet of Poetry

Cards

It’s cards

It’s endless conversations that we had

We can’t forget it,

It’s miles

we walked, feet soles will remember

though years may fade

They won’t regret it,

And nothing remains the same

In our souls we all change

Heartbreak makes fools of us

We vow and swear never to trust

Until the next leap of faith….

It’s cards

It’s laughter when your heart at least expects it

You won’t regret it,

It’s love

undone

This time around you chose better than empty words

Loyalty comes first,

Oh you won’t forget it,

You won’t, you won’t forget it.

~inge saunders

 

screen-20180329-011754_edit

 

Do You Journal?

screen-20180329-010033_edit_edit

 

One of the early signs that I’d end up writing professionally was the fact that I kept journals from a young age. At first I liked the romanticism of it all, then I’d like that I could write secrets in codes inside and then it became part of my psyche as a reflective human being.

The act of writing down my thoughts, not just events but how I felt about them, how I internalized actions and behavior, became the first stirrings of writerly observations.

In my teenage years I would switch from writing poetry, stories and weekly entries into my journal. At varsity as life became busier, taken up by studies, societies and friends, writing took a bit of a back seat. I mostly focused on poetry and keeping a journal. Then in my final year of undergrad when I received a new computer, I started to write stories again.

I’ve heard that writers should keep a journal. I don’t know if I fully agree with it or not. I’m undecided *smile* As someone who did/do still journal (though not as much as I have in the past) I can say that it does create a certain level of awareness. Reflection like this can sort out the cobwebs.

These days I like to keep journals and notebooks that centre more on developing book ideas. I keep my reflections for my poetry *smile*

In that sense, keeping a journal does serve a tangible purpose. You can go back to it and look at an outline, a mind map or character sketch you scribbled down. You can plot out a story in a few sentences. I once rewrote a synopsis in a journal because I needed a different form of writing. I couldn’t look at the synopsis on my laptop screen any more. Fixing it that way became problematic after a certain point, so I grabbed a pen and one of my journals. I could easily see where I hit a snag. Sometimes a different medium offers solutions.

Journaling definitely got me here…on this blog *smile* It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t felt comfortable writing my thoughts down. So there’s that. Oh and did I mention I wrote for my school newspaper? *ha* What I’m getting to is this, keeping a journal can create confidence in expressing thoughts and ideas. That’s a plus for any author. For any type of writer.

So if you haven’t kept a journal before, and you’re serious about writing, why not try it for a month, see where it takes you. If it improves your way of writing, or not, come tell me about it *smile*

 

My Recent Book List

avatar97305_7I read a lot. No, seriously, I do. It’s not the most exciting confession especially from an author. We are after all required to read a lot. Though what makes this confession so special *smile* here is that I’m going to share some books I’ve read recently.

I generally read broadly within the romance genre, but there are two categories I simply can’t help but to return to time and time again. They are paranormal and regency/historical. A close second are science fiction and contemporary. I also have to confess that when I write contemporary I read a completely different category and the same goes for paranormal. I don’t want someone else’s ideas clogging up my creativity, though I’m not reinventing the wheel, I still don’t want someone else’s writing to influence mine to such an extent that I copy ideas. Not cool.

Anyway, back to my book list!

 

bookreview

 

I know I’ve written a review about this book, but I loved the story so much that I went and bought a copy of Landra Graf’s Bona Fide Beauty. I felt like I owed this author because she wrote such an entertaining story and characters. I can’t wait for the next book in the series. Plus, I like supporting authors! *wink*

I also got my hands on a Brenda Jackson novel. I haven’t read a lot of her books, and this one was an interesting choice because she wrote it for one of Harlequins special lines that they create for a limited time. I wanted to see what Mrs. Jackson could do outside of her “comfort zone” so to speak. And I have to be honest; I found the Harlequin brand of editing heavily in this story. It didn’t resonate as much as what I was used to expecting from Mrs. Jackson. But it was still an entertaining read and definitely in Harlequin’s wheelhouse, so check out Strictly Confidential Attraction.

Alissa Woods, Wildling Pack Wolves Book 1 & Book 2: Wild Game & Wild Love. Both books are roughly 150 pages and immediately after I read the first one I wanted to get my greedy little hands on the second one. Hence both books landing in the same paragraph *laughs* If you love shape-shifters, especially werewolves, than these scrumptious novels are for you. Yes scrumptious because the heroes are utterly delicious and you just want there to be more story about them. The heroines are realistic. And by that I mean they are relatable. They are savvy and smart. They have their weaknesses and flaws (and with book 1 I literally jumped out of my chair because the heroine just made me so mad! *ha* which is also why I love her by the way). I love books that get under my skin sometimes, but also leave me deeply satisfied after I’ve read them. I’ve definitely gotten into this series. There are six books, and I’m very happy about that.

Stephanie Rowe isn’t new to my social feeds. I think I mentioned her on here as well. I’m working my way through her catalogue and like Alissa Woods; her Order of the Blade series packs a punch. It’s right up there when it comes to paranormal action and romance. It has a raw viciousness about it that makes the subject matter real. I’ve gone through Darkness Possessed and Inferno of Darkness.

Up next is the historical romance, Unmasking Miss Appleby by Emily Larkin from her A Baleful Godmother series. Let me tell you, these faerie godmothers are not the conventional kind you grow up watching in Disney movies. *nervous laughter* They are tricky and out to trick you. And that was what made this story such an appetite cleanser. It is filled with humor, drama and definitely romance. I’d recommend this story to anyone who wants to unwind for an afternoon with a quirky story and characters.

Secrets of Midnight by Miriam Minger was also such a delight. I’m in love with The Man of My Dreams series now. I love cheeky heroines that find love in unexpected place and people.  This regency novel was read on my lunch breaks, and I would have a ridiculous grin on my face because of the heroine’s antics. She’s so flawed, so strong and independent. Pride and prejudice is not something that’s just reserved for wealthy people, a theme that runs through the story. Again, a book I’d recommend for someone who like to laugh and love their heroines on the bold side of life.

And that’s a wrap!

Though it would be remiss of me not to include the names of books I’m currently reading (yes I read multiple books at once, like I mentioned before, I got greedy little hands *grin*).  First is Vanessa Riley’s The Bittersweet Bride (historical), Eve Silver’s Dark Desires (historical), Carole Mortimer’s The Duke’s Mistress (regency), and Leila Haven’s Royal Playboy (contemporary).

What’s on your book list?

Blog Tour: Africa Online Book Fair #Giveaway

For the next two weeks the Africa Online Book Fair is having a blog tour to promote itself. As part of the promotion it’s having a 20$ Amazon GC #raffle and 4 Guest Authors along for the tour. I’m one of those Guest Authors *smile*

My post for the fair’s promotion will be up on the 17th of March, the tour itself, is starting on the 15th of March till the 2nd of April. So a lot of time for anyone to enter the #raffle if they want to. An entry link will be posted with every blog stop.

Hope to see your there!

AOBF-FBGroupBanner

 

Blog Tour Schedule:

  1. http://2bibliophiles.blogspot.com 3/15/18

Spotlight

  1. http://wickedlyinnocentpromotions.blogspot.com 3/16/18

Spotlight

https://wickedlyinnocentpromotions.blogspot.com/2018/03/africa-online-book-fair.html

  1. http://bookedandloaded.com/ 3/17/18

Guest  Inge Saunders

  1. http://barbarasbookreviews.blogspot.com 3/18/18

Spotlight

  1. deborahfavoritebooks.blogspot.com 3/19/18

Spotlight

  1. https://readourthoughtsbookblog.wordpress.com/ 3/20/18

Spotlight

  1. https://fransbooklove.wordpress.com/ 3/21/18

Spotlight

  1. http://eskimoprincess.blogspot.com/ 3/22/18

Guest  Marie Dry

  1. http://musingsfromanaddictedreader.wordpress.com/ 3/23/18

Spotlight

  1. https://www.facebook.com/GirlyGirlBookReviews-478286152238072/ 3/24/18

Spotlight

  1. http://louisesbookbuzz.blogspot.com/ 3/25/18

Spotlight

  1. https://www.facebook.com/LittleShopofReaders/ 3/26/18

Guest  Eden Walker

  1. https://www.facebook.com/ThePowerofThreeReaders/?fref=ts 3/27/18

Spotlight

  1. https://writtenlovereviews.blogspot.com/ 3/28/18

Spotlight

  1. https://www.facebook.com/TripleABookBlog/ 3/29/18

Spotlight

  1. http://contryreads.blogspot.com 3/30/18

Spotlight

  1. https://www.facebook.com/Thosecrazybookchicks 3/31/18

Guest  Amaka Azie

  1.  https://www.facebook.com/DirtySecretsBooks/   4/1/18

Spotlight

  1. https://www.facebook.com/GirlyGirlBookReviews-478286152238072/ 4/2/18

Spotlight

 

*If you want more information on the book fair, than join the Facebook Group https://tinyurl.com/ka3ucvl

You can also find them on Twitter: @AfricaOnBookFr & Instagram: @africaonlinebookfair

If you are a South African or romance author from Africa and want more information about taking part in the next online book fair you can contact us via email at africaonbookfair@gmail.com

Book Review: Bona Fide Beauty by Landra Graf

When I finished reading Bona Fide Beauty I had to make sure I read right the first time, that it was Book One which meant a second was on its way. That’s how much I love this story, these characters and Landra Graf’s writing style.

reading as

I received a review copy of the book, but unlike other times when I’ve received a review copy in exchange for a review, I forgot that I had to look at the book ‘critically’ and just laid back on a Sunday morning and inhaled every word. I wasn’t in reviewer or author mode, but full on reader mode. Many books I’ve reviewed had either all three elements or at the least, two. As an author it’s tough to review a book without looking at the technical aspects we know editors highlight in our own work. The highest compliment here is that the characters gripped me, pulled me, made me root for them and ultimately close the book with satisfaction after I read the last page.

*Grand Prize Raffle at the end of post. Enter to win!*

But before I get further into my review, here’s the blurb:

She’s going to lose her house.
Kathleen Baum has four months to complete the city’s required code changes to her grandma’s home. Otherwise, she loses it. Strapped for cash, Kat’s only way to get the funds is to bargain with her devil cousin. She agrees to an unwanted makeover, but she’s not good at taking direction, pretend or not.

He’s going to lose his business.
Devid Esposito has worked all his life to build a successful image consulting company, but if he doesn’t start bringing in new clients the business will be bankrupt in three months. The board is ready to oust him when his partner, Kat’s cousin, enters with the opportunity to get his mojo back; all he needs to do is help Kat, with a makeover. Unfortunately, Dev doesn’t take on female clients anymore since the last one broke his heart and used his tips against him.

When they find out they have a common enemy, his heart-breaking client is her code-breaking-whistleblower, and the easiest way to bring the foe down is to accept the other’s help. Losing their hearts to each other was the one thing they didn’t plan for.

 

Here’s what I loved:

Kat’s a tomboy; she’s confident, brash and accepts herself for who she is. Does she have flaws? Yes. And those flaws make the plot so great. At any point Kat could’ve been turned into a whiney heroine whose insecurities suck the life out of the story, but Landra Graf has a good grip on human behavior and character development. I took the make-over journey with Kat and found her relatable.

Another aspect I loved was that both Kat and Dev (Devid) are underdogs. Though not the type of underdogs to be pitied, but rather ones you admire for their resilience. Dev also has issues needs to work through, he’s not the perfect man. What I liked about his character

Needless to say, but I will here, the chemistry is off the charts. It’s instant attraction but don’t be fooled, it’s not instant gratification. It’s a slow burn that fans into flame at times when the story requires it. And yes, I loved this.

Here’s what I didn’t like:

That the story came to an end! Yes was ready to jump into book number two and binge my way through the series!

And that’s why I’m giving Bona Fide Beauty 5/5 stars.

 

BonaFide BeautyLowRes

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Afterglows Publishing

Bona Fide Beauty  ~ Book 1 in Bona Fide Series

Buy Links: Books2Read ~ Kobo ~ Amazon

ASIN: B07B52R528

Rafflecopter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/86fdd2f82/?

Grand Prize: A goody basket with – $25 Sephora Gift Card, 2 Contemporary Print Books, a pair of LulaRoe Tall and Curvy leggings,  Delicious Treats and more.

 

Landra

Author Bio: Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Social Media links (including newsletter signup):

FB: https://www.facebook.com/LandraGrafAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LandraGraf

Website: http://landragraf.com/

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bdKi9H

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/landragraf/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7847192.Landra_Graf

Book Spotlight: Blood Bond by Susan Leigh Noble

 

 

Blood Bond

Book Blurb

Man severed the alliance with the dragons fifty years ago. But now an invading army marches north destroying everything in its path. The dragons believe only together can the invaders be defeated. They need an emissary.

Womanizer. Drunk. Failure. Soren is many things. A leader isn’t one of them. But, Dex, the dragon that saves him from a cliff, believes different. Thrust into an adventure he never wanted, Soren’s life changes forever when during a battle Dex’s blood mixes with his blood creating a mystical blood bond – forever linking them.

As the bond strengthens, Soren must decide whether to return to his old life or accept the bond and embrace his role in the battle against the invading army.

Amazon purchase link – http://a.co/4nIdtYK

 

Excerpt:

Soren scrambled to his feet as the golden dragon, Rakkah, landed near him. For a moment, they stared at each other.

“You shouldn’t be bonded to Reddex.” Her voice reverberated within his head as she flicked her tail.

“It wasn’t by choice,” he said, speaking directly into her mind.

He didn’t like the feeling of being trapped with the tree behind his back and stepped away from it. He carefully kept Rakkah in front of him as he moved.

“That matters not.” She walked around him. “Definitely not worthy to be a dragon rider.”

Pride had him lifting his chin. “Maybe not but Dex said I was the one to help bridge man and dragon.”

“Is that what he told you? Did he tell you about the others?” She studied him, before chuckling. “I can tell by the look on your face, he didn’t. You weren’t the first one he approached you know. There were others. He settled for you.”

Soren shook his head. “No that isn’t true. He said he had a feeling I was the one.”

“A smooth line if I ever heard one. I’ll let you in on something. If he said that, it was him manipulating you. There were others who turned him down. He was under time pressure, so he settled for you. And it is only by accident he is now linked to you. I am sure he would rather not be. I know I would.” She flicked her tail. “Take Warnox up on his offer. It will be better for everyone.”

He shook his head. “I don’t…”

Before he could continue, Rakkah’s words sunk in and his bewilderment turned to anger. His heart pounded, and his shoulders shook. And then Dex was there. The red dragon faced Rakkah, slashing his own tail. Soren couldn’t hear anything but was sure words were exchanged between the two as they circled each other, their eyes locked. Suddenly, Rakkah leapt into the air and flew back to the other dragons. Dex turned to Soren.

“I don’t know what Rakkah said to you, but I could feel your confusion…and your anger.”

“Tell me the truth,” he said, his fists clinched. “Was I your first choice?”

“My first choice? Choice for what?”

“To help you approach the King.”

Dex stared at him for a moment before looking down. “You weren’t the first I approached, but Soren…”

He didn’t wait to hear any more. Soren walked over to Warnox. With each step, his anger grew. He could still hear Rakkah’s taunting voice. She had been right. He wasn’t Dex’s first choice. He had lied to him about being the one the dragons needed. He shook his head as if to clear the thoughts away. But they persisted, and he quickly covered the distance to the other dragons and to his freedom.

“Take me back to Ballinger,” he said to Warnox.

The brown dragon regarded him for a moment. “You can ride on Barth. Mount up. It is time to go.”

Soren briefly recoiled at the thought of riding without a harness but reassured himself it would only be a short distance. Barth bent down, and he scrambled onto his back.

“Soren?” Dex asked, his voice cautious.

He didn’t respond or even look at Dex as Barth took off, following the other dragons into the air. He grabbed for the harness before realizing it wasn’t there. His hands searched for something to hold on to but found nothing. As Barth leveled out, Soren resisted the urge to look at the ground far below.

“Are you sure this is what you want?” Barth asked.

Soren hesitated. “Yes. It is for the best. I am not meant to be a dragon rider.”

“Can you sense Reddex from here?”

Soren felt unsettled but couldn’t determine if it was his own feeling or if it came from Dex too. As he concentrated, he could feel Dex’s anxiety.

“He is worried,” he admitted reluctantly.

You shouldn’t be able to connect with him at this distance. He told me how far apart you two have been when you have communicated. It is farther than any other linked pair.”

Soren watched Warnox and the other dragons disappear before his eyes, Blinking back to the City of Ballinger. He knew Barth would follow suit in a moment and felt a twinge of regret.

“You shouldn’t be doing this,” Barth said.

Suddenly, he dove toward the ground, flipping over in the air. Soren’s fingers tried to grasp onto Barth’s back but there was nothing to hold. He fell through the air. He saw Barth above him and then nothing but the blue sky as Barth Blinked.

 

Author Bio:

Susan Noble has always loved dragons and magic, so it is no wonder that she became an author of fantasy novels. As a cat lover, she also had to throw in a telepathic cat to the mix in her The Elemental trilogy. In addition to her trilogy, she has published The Search, a short story prequel to the trilogy and The Heir to Alexandria, a full-length standalone fantasy adventure. Her latest fantasy, Blood Bond, was released February 6, 2018.

When she isn’t writing, Susan is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and at her children’s schools. She lives with her husband, two children, three cats and two Cocker Spaniels in Texas.

You can find out about Susan on her blog Into Another World – http://susanleighnoble.wordpress.com/

35 Authors 35 Winners!

Enter the Raffle below to stand a chance to win Gift Packs, GCs, Signed Books, Swag, etc.

I am also one of the 35 authors, so you’ll stand a chance to win one of my ebooks if you enter.

Here’s the link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ec8aae6726/

The Raffle ends on the 24th of February!

My Books!

You’ll be able to choose the one you’d like most to read 🙂

The Wolf's Choice_500x750

Dance-of-Love300x450

Falling-For-Mr.-Unexpected-200x300

 

 

Pop Culture and Writing

gallery-1495811930-gettyimages-628841150

I was watching a Nail Horan performance (yeah I never thought I’d open a blog post with that line) and what hit me about his performance was the level of honesty in his music. An earnestness. And I couldn’t help but compare him to the other One Direction “boys” who’ve released solo albums.

If you didn’t know, which none of you probably did, I was a One Direction fan…but not a fan-girl because I’m (honestly put) too old to be getting pfklahbjkllmwnhkowz about boys in a boy-band. I did that with Backstreet Boys, Nsync, Boyzone, Westlife, 98 Degrees, Five…*cough* uh yeah, I have a thing for boy-bands so sue me. I should add The Beatles to the list too since I jam out to their music once every blue moon. But I digress.

So being the fan that I am, I still follow the members and former member’s solo careers. And recently Nail and Liam (Payne) has released albums. While I wasn’t too hyped up about their releases, out of the two Nail’s music seem to resonate with me more. (Let’s ignore Liam’s Justin Timberlake inspired offering of “Strip That Down”.) After watching Nail perform on the Ellen Show, I understood why. He wasn’t trying to sell his music to me as the next number one hit in the world (though I’m sure he’d love that); he was just singing a song that came from a sincere place. My Mom actually walked out of the kitchen into the TV room and said she loved his voice. This people, is a feat in itself since my Mom isn’t big on music in general if it’s not gospel.

As I watched him perform I also realized that as a reader sincerity is what I look for in a book. It can be from the straight-forward romance story of a Harlequin/Mills & Boon novel to the more complicated genre bending dark romance; I still expect sincerity.

But now you ask, “Inge isn’t that what every writer puts in their work?” And I’d have to say, no. Not all writers write books because they feel compelled to write them or because the characters can’t leave them alone or because the story is important to tell (and I’m specifically referring to the romance genre here). I’ve read romance novels that felt rushed, whose characters were one dimensional and the plot unmemorable. Someone once said in a writing group, the romance is the plot. And I thought, yes it is. But, the journey is what makes it interesting. The intrigue. The pushing, the pulling, the crisis, the misunderstanding, etc. you get where I’m going with this.

In romance we only have so many tropes. Sometimes it can become generic and repetitive. I’ve read so many romance novels in my teens and while all of them were enjoyable, I couldn’t tell you who wrote them. I kid you not. I just didn’t pay attention. I paid more attention to the logo of the publisher printed on the book because I knew what type of story I would get.

Back then authors didn’t have to be writing machines the way they are required to be now…and because of that, I do believe a lot more honesty in prose has fallen to the wayside. Characters and plots that grip you at the heart rather than ones that tick off all the boxes that makes them a “hit on the charts” *smile*

There is no formula to romance, no matter what people say. Writing a romance isn’t that simple. However, there are elements to romance novels that are expected to be in there. And for some writers/publishers just hitting those marks are enough to put the work out and on your virtual and non-virtual bookshelf. The same way you hear the same generic pop songs on the radio or on music channels. (I haven’t listened to the radio in years. Wow. I should try it again. *ha*) For the same reason we love artists like Adele and Lorde, because they stand out from the crowd. They offer you something that doesn’t sound standard, but sincere. Authentic, if you will.

Which brought me full circle to myself as a writer; so far I have three published works out there in the universe. I like to believe I hadn’t become generic in my writing (though a part of me suspects that I might have) and with my current manuscript, another paranormal romance, I’m aiming to not just hit all the elements of what’s expected. But to bring honesty to my work.

074a76e324623ad4e7817fd2d246b6fe

I recently read a Brenda Jackson novel, (a first for me) and though the premise of the story has been done before, the way she told it completely drew me in. I’m hooked to the series now. She put a spin on the “brothers-coming-home-per-the-patriarchs-request” on its head by throwing in a murder mystery that spans three books. Nothing felt contrived. I didn’t get the sense that she was writing a series because her publisher or readers demanded the next Brenda Jackson novel. This in turn made me think of the latest Veronica Roth novel that I read, racist and mind bending insensitivity to people who suffer from chronic pain aside, the story hit the checklist of a “hit making” YA sci-fi novel aimed at teenage girls. And it is a bestseller. Like a Veronica Roth novel would be in this decade. It still didn’t change the fact that it was generic. (I’m not going to read the second book.)

What’s funny to me, is that you’ll get big names like Adele and Lorde (yeah I’m back to music again *smile*) who will go to pains to give you something true…honest…authentic. But then also artist who because they have big names, seem to think, they can sell you anything and you’ll buy it. And let’s face it; a lot of us buy it.

I recently mentioned to someone that Taylor Swift’s 1989 sounded to me like she took a lot of inspiration from her friends and sister-music-group HAIM. And it seems to be right around the time she met them that Tay-Tay’s music started to change. Now I’m not saying we can’t be influenced by people, but if you want to listen to the ‘original’ download a HAIM song (my favorite is “If I Could Change Your Mind”).

As a writer, as someone who is operating in the realm of creativity, honesty in anyone’s work matters to me. It’s become one of the things that cause me to return as a customer. If you’re sincere in what you’re offering to me, I’m more likely to buy in to you. Over the years I can only name a few authors I’ve consistently bought and read.  At varsity I bought so many chicklit books but I can’t say I consistently bought a certain author over and over again. I’d invested more in the genre than the authors and when I got sick of the genre, I stopped buying the books.

What I will add at the end of this very longwinded view on Pop Culture and Writing is that I love what self-publishing has done for sincerity and authenticity in the romance novel. Too many checks and balances can make for generic reading. It can keep out voices that stand out from the crowd, that write for the love of it, not just for the deadline or bottom-line. This is a shift I noticed in music too. Singers who start their own label and produce the type of music the recording companies wouldn’t allow them to make. Something that I as a (reader and) listener want: artists who walk on stage like Nail Horan with the ‘world’ at your feet but still have the sensitivity to know that your audience isn’t stupid. We can spot a fake. We’ll know if you put your heart into it, if you borrowed from someone else and if you’re just doing it for the money.