In this brave new world of literature, all the old rules have been tossed aside. #Ebooks have been blamed for this phenomenon, but the ebook revolution is only guilty in that it allowed more books to reach the public. According to Bowker, a respected name in publishing industry, over 3500 books are published each DAY! Currently,there are literally millions of books available.Competition for reader attention is fierce.
So, authors are reinventing the novel. A novel used to be defined as a complete story –with a distinct beginning, middle and end–consisting of seventy thousand words, more or less. In today’s world, novels may have as few as fifty thousand words or they may have over a hundred thousand words; the reader might reach the end of the book only to discover that the last page is a cliff-hanger and the second book–which may not yet be available yet–must be purchased to continue the story without any guarantees that book two will provide a satisfying climax and ending. This type of book is usually not labeled as a ‘cliff-hanger’.
Personally, this is when I am sorely tempted to fling the book at the wall then stomp it for good measure! (Unfortunately, I read a lot of e-books and reading devices do not like being bounced off of walls!)
Serial novels are another device designed to hook a reader. These books have an ending, but the main storyline has not ended–much like a television serial. These books are sometimes labeled as a ‘series’, or less often they are labeled as a ‘serial’.
Book series–not to be confused with books that actually belong to a serial story–are frequently written. With some series–like Kay Hooper’s earlier books in the Bishop series–the individual books can be read as stand-alone novels and/or read out of sequence without compromising enjoyment of the individual or of the series.
As a reader, I enjoy the flexibility this offers. This is reflected in the fact that as a writer my Special Crimes Team series (found at http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar) follows this model–the books can be read out of sequence.
Length and endings are not the only things rapidly changing. Gone are the days when romance novels stop the action at the bedroom doorway and mystery novels hint at the blood and gore, yet leave the details to the reader’s imagination. Scenes containing sex and violence have become increasingly graphic and prolific.
At a romance writer’s conference that I attended this summer, one publisher stated that readers not only wanted more graphic sex scenes, but that they were bored with plain vanilla sex. At one time, writers would have regarded such a statement as bordering on the demand for pornography. Today it is more along the lines of ‘business as usual’.
I read one of a well-known writer’s recent works in which I finally defaulted to skimming pages of the novel because various graphic sex scenes were endlessly repeated with a variety of partners. I never did find an actual storyline, unless the sex was it.
Then there are the novels that grossed a huge profit in very recent times, but have been called by some people in the BDSM community a bad example of true BDSM, but a good example of the glorification of domestic violence. (Actually, the Fifty Shades of Gray series follows the warning signs for the entire cycle of domestic violence. In my other life as a counselor, I referred young women like that to psychologists or therapists who specialized in treating victims of domestic violence.)
As a reader, I find graphic sex and violence that is not intimately tied to furthering the storyline boring, at best. On the other hand, as an author I write novels in which graphic sex and violence occur; however, I work diligently to be sure that those scenes are necessary for the development and movement of the storyline. As a reader, I enjoy novels that adhere to this general rule.
Another striking difference in novels of bygone years and novels of today is the level of profanity. In the past a writer who used “crap!” was considered racy. Nowadays, books contain a large variety of words considered to be profanity.
Again, as a reader, I look for novels where the word types used are congruent with the characters speaking. A rough and tumble detective in a hardcore mystery or crime novel might very well curse while an amateur detective in a cozy mystery might be skating the line by murmuring, “Oh, poo!”
Even in the face of changes that they do not like, readers frequently feel that they have little to no influence on what is written and published. In reality, readers are the key element in a novel’s success.
The reader’s input is mainly measured in four ways: 1. Sales numbers 2. Reader reviews 3. Personal feedback from beta readers and from the general public 4. Word of mouth recommendations.
Of those four methods that measure the reading public’s reactions to a novel, reader reviews and word of mouth recommendations are the most important ones. People browsing to find another book to read will often look for “social proof” that the book is worth their time. Reader reviews and word of mouth recommendations are that “social proof”. Unlike word of mouth recommendations, reader reviews can be directly linked to sales increases. An increase in positive reader reviews will increase the sales of a book.
Because readers,like everyone else in our busy society, have a large number of demands on their time, reviews are sometimes difficult to obtain. As a reader, I will often end my day by sitting down to read for a while before I go to bed. As a voracious reader, it is not unusual for me to read anywhere from five to ten books per week.
Each review requires approximately five minutes to write and post on Amazon or Goodreads–the sites most widely used to find new books. Five minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time to invest in such a worthy cause, but when time to relax is at a premium it can feel like ‘one more chore’.
In order to combat this feeling, while supporting authors whose work I enjoy, I keep a pad of paper and a pen handy. While I read I jot down notes on the points I liked best about the book. Authors love long, detailed reviews, but a two-sentence review that summarizes what a reader enjoyed most–one reader’s review focused on her enjoyment of the character Grandma Greene in the novel Old Woman Gone(http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Gone-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00OICBEV0). In Backlash (http://www.amazon.com/Backlash-Special-Crimes-Team-Book-ebook/dp/B00W7UJAWA), a woman identified with the struggles faced by several supporting characters–is deeply appreciated (especially if the star rating is four or five! As an author, those reviews make the long hours of writing, editing and rewriting worth every minute spent).
There you have it–with a few minutes of your time you, the reader, decide whether a novel succeeds or fails. In so doing, you ultimately choose everything from the length of future novels to the amount of profanity used to how graphic the scenes containing sex and violence will be written. You are the future of literature.
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Do you enjoy:
1. Short novels of less than 200 pages?
2. Do you feel short-changed by a novel that does not contain over two hundred pages?
3. Do you like cliff-hanger endings?
4. Do you buy serial novels, with serials defined much the way television serials–such as Special Victims Unit–are defined?
5. Would you rather have a series of novels connected by the characters, but still able to be read out of sequence as a stand-alone novel?
6. Are you comfortable with graphic sex scenes used in romantic situations during which sex would be a natural progression?
8. Do you feel violence should be depicted graphically in the more hardcore crime and mystery novels, if it is a natural occurrence within the storyline?
9. Are you comfortable with the use of profanity by characters depicted as people who would likely use such language?
10. What would you like to see different in the development of novels?
10 Ways to Tell if Someone is an Author
1. Do they often hear voices in their head?
2. Do they see things that don’t exist, like unicorns and dragons?
3. Do they sometimes suddenly laugh with no apparent reason?
4. Do they spend a lot of time thinking up ways to kill people?
5. Do they write pages about steamy love affairs?
6. Do they sometimes speak with different accents?
7. Do they always having their nose in a book?
8. Do they know more about alien worlds than they do about their own neighborhood?
9. Do they sometimes forget and invite their main character to dinner?
10. Do they frequently walk around with a faraway look in their eyes?
All ebooks are now $2.99! Go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar to grab your copy today!
After a busy summer of bike-tripping, I made one last five-day trip to Colorado. I’d never been to the state, except to pass through on my way to someplace else. One of the places I visited was Estes Park.
Eleven thousand plus feet took me from eighty degree weather to finger-numbing cold on the Colorado tundra!
The next day, my companions and I hiked up into the hills of a place call Red Feather.
My hiking companions: my daughter, Lyn, and my grand-dog, Raven.
Many of the rock formations looked like a giant had carved them.
And trees grew out of stone.
Though I loved seeing new places and wondrous things (to view more photos from Colorado, go to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar)it was good to return home and get back to writing! #AmWriting a literary novel to be released in early 2016: Beyond the Silence.
Barb Hensen always felt different. Trapped in an abusive marriage, she is slowly killing herself; and, the only hope she has is that her death won’t be long in coming. The day she meets Yona Long Runner Barb’s life is forever changed. At last, she understands her feelings of “differentness”. As she struggles to accept herself and her growing attraction to Yona, the abuse in her marriage escalates to an intolerable level. Now, she must choose between living and dying.
Meanwhile, the Vampire War is heating up! #AmWriting the second book of The Vampire Wars–The Return of Arundia (this is the working title only. The actual title may be different). Serena Longer, the First Councilwoman of the North American Region, faces deadly foes.
My readers are important to me. This short survey will help me decide on the content of this blog and the newsletter.
A SHORT SURVEY
What would you like to read on this blog and in the newsletter?
1. First chapter(s)of published books?
2. First chapter(s)of upcoming books?
3. Background stories of main characters?
4. Background stories of main and supporting characters?
5. Research that was done in the course of writing the books?
6. More background stories about the author?
7. Some of the reasons/motivations that moved the author to write certain books?
8. More image quotes?
9. Other:________________________________(please specify, or give an example)
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW ON WHAT YOU WANT TO READ AND I WILL TRY TO INCLUDE IT! THANKS!
Genre VS Author
When searching for a new #book to read, do you first look in the genre or do you search by author’s name? How important is it for an author to write in one genre versus writing in several genres–such as an author who writes mystery, literary, paranormal and young adult versus an author who writes only mysteries or only literary or only paranormal books?
As an author I am always seeking ways to improve my visibility to readers and make it easier for them to find my work. I have been given various pieces of advice about writing in only one genre versus writing in several. There is one school of thought that says an author can “get away with” writing literary novels in conjunction with writing another genre since literary is in a class by itself. I write both literary and #mystery on a regular basis.
However, being an avid #reader myself, who consumes books from all genres except religious and erotica, I have had characters wake me up in the middle of the night yelling, “Write about me!” So, off I tromp to the writer’s dungeon, sleep still clouding my mind, and I kick up the computer. Fingers on the keyboard, I begin typing while not fully awake.
The next day when I re-read the beginning of whatever scene or story I worked on in the middle of the night, I gasp! Oh. My. God! I’ve written the opening scene of a vampire story with werepanthers (or a young adult story with a feisty grandmother and a young girl who loves horses).
A dilemma is upon me. Do I erase these poor characters, do I assign them to the Purgatory of the dreaded “Uncompleted Stories”, or do I continue to develop them and the story they have to tell?
If I do proceed to tell their story, do I publish it under the same name as I publish my literary and mystery novels, or do I use a different name–like C. W. Anon (Crazy Writer Anonymous)?
What would you recommend? My characters beg of you, please leave a comment.
Black Wind, a young adult novella, will be released July 24, 2015.
What would force a seventeen-year old girl to steal a horse? Follow my FB fan page and find out! http://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor
In the unheard screams that rip the fabric of the night, in the silent tears of a victim huddled in upon herself in the corner of her own kitchen, Sketch of a Murder was born.
Domestic violence and rape are patterns of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence.
Once the first seeds of an idea are planted, I begin to research. What I found in the case of Sketch of a Murder was:
One in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.
4 MILION women experience physical assault and rape by their intimate partners http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics–facts-52.html?gclid=CJ6k76f9rcUCFYeEfgodUwYACA
The number of women murdered by current or ex male partners between 2001 and 2012 were 11,766. During that same time period, the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq were 6,488.
FBI Statistics for 2013 for Washington State:
Forcible rapes in seven cities: (these are the ones actually brought to trial. Until conviction, they are only considered alleged rapes) 657.
Rape and domestic violence are among the most under-reported crimes. Frequently, women internalize the blame for being beaten and sexually assaulted. Shame and a sense of hopelessness; a fear of the abuser increasing the abuse; a fear that there is no way to escape; fear of reprisal against them or their family, seals their lips against reporting the crimes.
When the crimes are reported, the woman often finds herself grilled as if she is the perpetrator–what did you do to anger him; why were you wearing that slutty dress; isn’t it true that you’ve slept with other men; how many other men; how long did you know X before you invited him to your home; and the interrogations go on and on.
If the crime does go to trial, the woman’s ordeal is increased. She is placed on the stand and forced to testify to humiliating and painful memories in a hostile environment. She is cross-examined as if she is the defendant. Evidence can be difficult to collect or has been contaminated; the woman waited too long to report the crime; the woman’s character is put on trial; the trial becomes a “he said–she said” fiasco. Technicalities and good attorneys allow men to smile as they walk away unscathed after perpetrating horrible crimes that will scar their victims forever.
With research as a foundation, I begin a process of creative “what-ifs”. What if a person decided to take justice into their own hands? What motivates a person to seek violent revenge? What type of personality would such revenge require? What type of training would a person need to be successful? What type of tools would that person have to use?
From this process, the Avenger sprang. In Sketch of a Murder, the Avenger has been triggered by a life event to exact justice. After the first murder, the Avenger goes on a spree of gruesome killings. The Avenger, however, doesn’t simply pick guilty men who have skated on serious charges; the Avenger wreaks havoc among wealthy men who have used position and power and monetary advantage to walk free.
Now that I have the antagonist–or the bad person and that person’s motivation–I must decide who will oppose this person and why; who will be the protagonist.
Some crimes are far reaching enough to warrant the formation of a Task Force. Again the creative “what-ifs” are employed. What if a task force is created by the governor because the Avenger has eluded multiple police forces and the deaths of wealthy men negatively impact her position? What if the task force is not constrained by jurisdictional boundaries within the state? What if the best cops for that force are misfits, cops that have ticked off a superior because they refused to toe the blue line? What special attitudes and abilities would they bring to the story? What conflicts with each other would such renegade team members face?
The Special Crimes Team was born from the governor’s desperation to find and stop the Avenger. Purely a political move, or was it?
All books need a place of occurrence. Whether that physical place plays a large or a small part in the story depends upon the story. The state of Washington is blessed, and cursed, with features that attract the best of people, and the worst of people. Mountains, wilderness, farmlands, big cities, airports, seaports, railway stations, high immigrant and migrant worker populations, a diverse and mobile population, a down turn in the economy that resulted in foreclosed and abandoned homes, proximity to another country’s border and a general attitude of live and let live makes this state a haven for human traffickers, dog fighters, kidnappers, and other criminals who need unlimited places in which to blend and/or to use to escape.
With those elements–the crime, the antagonist, the protagonist, the scene and some of the complications–in place, the work of writing begins.
The first draft is written without concern for grammar, punctuation, or even logic and timelines. It is the story in the rough. After the first draft comes multiple drafts, each one refining the story, further developing the characters, fleshing out the scenes, fine tuning the dialogue, checking and fixing the timeline; and, reassessing the logic and the story arc. When I decide the story is finished, I begin editing. After I edit as much as I can, I send the work to others to edit. When that work is returned, I read the feedback and evaluate what changes must be made.
After editing, Beta Readers are engaged to comment on the story as readers–did it hook them; did the dialogue sound real; were the situations believable, and so forth. With that feedback, I make final corrections then send the book to the publisher.
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Novels represent the intersection between reality and fiction. What really happened? Is this novel a thinly disguised autobiography of the author? A biography of another person? Did those events actually occur?
Authors of literary fiction are more likely to be asked this question than authors of sci-fi, murder mysteries and fantasy. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, the Qatar author of An Unlikely Goddess, was asked if the events of her novel actually happened to her. I, too, have been asked if my literary novels are autobiographical. Though we would like readers to focus on the issues in the story, such a question is truly a compliment. People have connected to the novel on a visceral level.
It was once said of the western writer Louis L’Amour that if he wrote of a stream in a certain place, the stream existed. The Law and Order series on television boasts of ripping their episodes from the headlines. In my mysteries, I use extensive research to present reality in a fictional milieu. In Street Harvest, I take the very real issues of human trafficking and the danger in which street children live constantly and blend it with fiction as a way of highlighting these current issues to allow people to connect on an emotional level.
Reading a powerful book can change our lives.
Since I write to not only entertain, but to also enlighten and empower; and to ultimately make a positive impact on our world, it is important for people to emotionally connect with my work. I love hearing such comments as “I want Grandma Greene for my grandmother.” The greatest compliment I have ever received was from a young person who said Good Intentions helped him to deal with being adopted and to forgive the fabrications of his adoptive parents.
A good writer knows that verisimilitude–details that lend the appearance of being true or real; what has happened to real people–increases the authenticity, the believability of her work. As such, it provides a more satisfying read and, in some cases, tidbits of knowledge.
While the cities and mountains and issues are often ripped intact from real life, the protagonists, antagonists and other characters within the novel–the good people and the bad people–seldom resemble any one person, living or dead. An author gleans characteristics, traits, eccentricities, and manner of facing life from a wide variety of people then builds the character from specific ones that will allow the story to unfold in a logical and entertaining way. The reader is guaranteed to “see” Uncle Jack or Aunt Milly in at least one of the characters, and therefore more likely to connect on a visceral level with the novel. In the end, it always returns to the reader–what will enhance the experience of the novel for the reader? What will give the reader the most value for her/his time and money?
The fiction I most enjoy reading incorporates reality with fiction to provide entertainment, enlightenment, and empowerment. It is also the type of fiction that I write.
I have tackled the tough, and sadly all too real, subjects such as family secrets, homophobia, racial tensions, hate crimes, betrayal, loss, grief, pedophilia, rape, domestic violence, street kids, human trafficking and much more in both my literary and my mystery novels. Yet, in each novel I have shown how people can triumph over horrendous circumstances and rise to live worthy and good lives. Much of my inspiration comes from real people I have known; people I have admired. Those people were ordinary people who quietly lived extraordinary lives.
So, what is real? The reality is that authors draw from real life, whether we write sci-fi or literary novels. We take what’s real and shape it into a novel. We write of love and hate; joy and sorrow; triumph and despair.
Do you identify with the characters in novels? Would love to hear! Please, comment.
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Mohana’s An Unlikely Goddess (ebook) is on sale for $0.99! Go to http://www.amazon.com/An-Unlikely-Goddess-Mohanalakshmi-Rajakumar-ebook/dp/B00FVSP82Q
To see a list of my novels go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar
I love to read. Of course I would love to read…after all, I am a writer. What I love even more than reading is to share stories.
Give you a little background:
Both my mother and grandmother were oral storytellers. I spent hours at their feet listening as they transported all of us to another time and place.
At age fourteen, I had my first brush with being published. A well-respected newspaper in my area accepted my heavily researched, five part series on racism in America. At age eighteen, a different well-respected newspaper published my researched, six part series on the child welfare system.
Since then I have written articles, short stories, poems, non-fiction self-help manuals, an award-winning literary novel (Good Intentions), and two internationally-selling crime fiction books (Sketch of a Murder and Street Harvest).
What does this have to do with you?
December 1 I will launch a brand new enterprise: a monthly newsletter. In this newsletter I will share special offers, announcements of upcoming events and books, inspirational images; and stories, poetry, character back stories, the motivation behind writing some of my novels, and glimpses into my personal journey as a writer.
I invite you to share in this new enterprise. Simply go to the book image beneath the heading JUST FOR YOU NEWSLETTER and click. Enter your email address and follow the steps to opt-in to my newsletter. Once you’ve signed up, you will receive a PDF of Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team series. This offer is only good from NOW through the month of December! Sign up now and get your FREE PDF of Sketch of a Murder!
Opt-in and enjoy the benefits of JUST FOR YOU NEWSLETTER. Remember, you have to enter your email address for the newsletter. Entering your email address to follow my blog will not put you on the newsletter mailing list.
If you already follow my blog, be sure to get on the mailing list for JUST FOR YOU NEWSLETTER! I don’t want you to miss out on some good deals and wonderful content.
If you haven’t already joined my blog, NOW would be a great time to do so! Just CLICK and FOLLOW!
To see all my books, go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar
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