Bad Romance

Adventures in editing.

As I wait (still!) for answers from the second agent to whom I posed questions regarding the querying potential of my self published novel series, I have been keeping busy revising and editing the second book in the collection. Meanwhile, the fifth Bucks County Novel: Breaking Bread, has been in the hands of my beta readers for feedback. My backup plan is to pitch this book if the others in the series are untouchable, with the hope that if this one book catches an agent’s eye, then it might open the door for the other titles. 

My beta team is made up of 3 women and 2 men. Overall, reaction to the story was good. But like some of you who read it here on the blog, two of the beta readers thought the romance was lacking something. One of the women and one of the men agreed with some of the comments I received from you, my blog readers, that there wasn’t great chemistry between the couple. My male beta reader said it didn’t ‘sparkle’ the way the romances of the previous novels did. Obviously, I have some revising to do.

I admit to not feeling the romance between Maya and Brad myself, but I’m at a loss as to how to fix it. Does it need more tension? More heat? (FYI, I don’t write sex in my stories so it has to stay in the PG-13 realm. The four previous books were free of it and the romances worked without it.) Do they need more interpersonal communication? Or perhaps more internal dialogue to reveal what they are thinking about each other? Every romance needs an issue to resolve, something that prevents the couple from falling for each other immediately. After all, where’s the fun in that? 

I gave Maya and Brad two main issues work out. The first is that they’ve known each other as friends ever since they were kids. There is a history there that prevents Maya from seeing Brad as anything but her best friend’s brother. Although Brad has had feelings for Maya all those years, she never had any clue, nor were they reciprocated. Now as an adult, she has to begin to see Brad in new light: as an attractive man she could find love with in an entirely different way.

The second issue is that Brad has inherited a whole truckload of money and he wants to spend it on Maya. However, Maya is fiercely independent as a result of having no support either emotionally or materially from her family. She refuses his help even in little ways. It’s extremely frustrating for both of them. I thought… I thought… I addressed it pretty well about halfway in. 

Or maybe, just maybe…. the romance has to go.

Maybe I’m really not cut out to write romance. I may have exhausted my reserves with the other stories and I don’t have anything left to give these two. And I refuse to recycle the kind of thing I’ve already written. With some ruthless editing, I could still have an exciting mystery and the romance could just go away. Brad stays in Boston with his job and his friends and never even makes an appearance. Maya still has Olivia and Juan Paolo and Detective Jack Staley for company and finding love is not part of this novel. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, would it?

Any ideas, my friends?

Header image: Lady Gaga, video screen shot Bad Romance

The First Novel – A new direction

It has been a tumultuous couple of months. Despite some upsets, much good has come of them. Taking a break from blogging made me realize how much effort and time I had been devoting to thinking up new material to post about. I have been distracted from my primary goal: writing and publishing novels.

In redirecting my efforts, I realized I almost need to start over in this process. Four of my novels in The Bucks County Series are published on Amazon. The fifth is in the hands of my beta readers —that one can sit on the back burner for the time being. So far self publishing has proven to be less than successful. Why? Because all the marketing and promotion fall back on the author. I have neither the time or the stomach for it.

And that is how I fell into the trap of blogging on nearly a daily basis. I love writing —that is what I want to do. I was telling myself that a popular blog would help me to promote my books. That hasn’t happened. Granted, I’m also not hitting the reader in the face with book promotion every time I write a post. That’s how timid I am about marketing. What I need is someone to do the marketing for me.

Back in early 2015, when I finished my first novel, I tried finding an agent but my fragile ego couldn’t take rejection. After only six tries, I gave up and self published through Amazon. That is not how it works. Many popular and successful authors have been rejected numerous times —sometimes for years before an agent finally agrees to represent them to a publisher. I need to brace myself for this possibility and not let it derail my process.

I also realized that my self published novels need to be the very best they can be. If an agent is even remotely interested in your query and the first five pages you send along with it, they are going to look for you in the cyber world. They will find your Facebook Author Page, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, LinkdIn, and WordPress blog. They will find your Amazon and Goodreads Author Pages. They will see that I have four self published novels. These need to be ready for view —even a brief one.

With that in mind, I have revisited my first novel: Three Empty Frames.  Three Empty Frames_02_HR_front_2In three years since I wrote the first draft of this book, I have learned so much. Fortunately, I feel like the story is strong and it’s just the writing that needs polish. And that is what I have been doing the last couple of months —putting my efforts into making Three Empty Frames ready for an agent. And while I do, I am educating myself on the query process, taking webinars on finding an agent and reading everything I can about how to do this successfully. Hopefully I won’t have to wait years for someone to take a chance.

Tan Lines

This is another round of questions via the Sunshine Blogger Award. My lovely friend Alex has bestowed this honor upon me and so I will play along. Alex Rafael has a wonderful blog about film, music and pop culture. Be sure to go visit and follow if you aren’t already!

Alex’s questions:

Which literary character would you most like to be? Robinson Crusoe – as long as I had the skills to survive, I would totally love to be marooned on a deserted island. I just have to figure out who I want to play Friday! And I’d need a trunk of books to survive the wreckage and wash ashore, too. And coffee. Unless it was already growing on the island. This is getting complicated.

Which TV character do you find most inspiring? The Doctor – because even though he has all of time and space at his fingertips, he has particular affection for Earth. That’s very nice of him.

If you could choose one specific drink to make healthy, which would you choose? Tough question. If you mean ANY drink then probably one of my favorite potent potables like a Hendrick’s martini, or maybe Irish whisky. Non-alcoholic? Possibly the Starbucks peppermint mocha. It has like a thousand calories so I rarely get one, but if it were healthier I might treat myself more often.

Which actor/actress did you think would become more famous but faded away? Julia Ormond. Absolutely beautiful and a fine actress. She was in demand in the early 90s and then poof! Nothing. Although, she did play a very small role in the last 2 seasons of Mad Men.

What was the first album you bought/downloaded? When did you last listen to it? Alright so, I remember this very clearly. Right after I got my first record player (dating myself here) I bought three vinyl albums at the same time: The Eagles’ Hotel California, Van Halen 2, Fleetwood Mac Rumours. I only repurchased one of those albums as a digital download – Rumours. And I may have listened to it within the last 6 months, but not real recently.

Which famous mystery do you wish you could know the answer to? What happened to Amelia Earhart and her navigator.

Have you ever had a film ruined by a bad cinema experience? If I get there late and get stuck in the front rows? Yeah, that pretty much sucks. 

Which family member are you most like and why? I would like to say most like my father. He was kind, smart and funny. And he had a knack for storytelling. Nevertheless… For years my mother tried to tell me I was most like my psychotic grandfather. (Nice, right?) So who knows?

What’s the most disappointed you’ve been with a film adaptation from a book? I really avoid movies from books that I truly love. I’m always disappointed. In my mind I have already cast the actors for their roles and inevitably, Hollywood chooses someone else. Oh, alright, hold on I just thought of one! I love the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. They cast Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. Ridiculous. Jack is supposed to be like 6 foot 6 and 220 pounds. Cruise is probably 5’7′ and 160. Ugh.

Which famous person do you wish could live next door to you? Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters – he’s having more fun than anyone. Plus can you imagine the parties? He knows everyone.

What would your dream profession be? Dave Grohl’s event planner. Kidding. Shipwreck survivor? Also kidding. Best selling novelist.

As per my custom, I never play by the rules and pass these on. However, if you want to share your answers or opinions on any of the questions, consider yourself nominated.