Friday, April 30, 2010

A Little About Me

Hello to writers and readers alike. I’m a new Five Star author, and am delighted to be in the company of such great talent. By way of an introduction, I’ll tell you first that I am one of possibly two native Floridians. (Just kidding, but there aren’t many of us.) In my other life, I taught music, and later English and math to high school kids. That’s where I learned to keep dialogue going and never to slip into passive voice, because their eyes would glaze over.
I took early retirement and began to do some serious writing. My poetry won contests and some was published. Then I decided I wanted to write a book about Florida. I traveled over the state, interviewing people for a book, which would be called Haunt Hunter’s Guide to Florida. It was published by Pineapple Press, a Florida press that specializes in regional books. Last year my medieval historical, Jeanne of Clairmonde, came out, and in October my Five Star book, The Tapestry Shop, will be released. I received the cover last week and I love it, although the colors made me go running to my web designer for a new front page so it wouldn’t clash.
My agent and I decided to part company, so I’m on “the great agent hunt” again. At the Pikes Peak conference this past weekend, I pitched a historical set in Renaissance Venice. The agent requested it, so we’ll see how that goes.
Oh yes, congratulations to Stacy Taylor for winning the jewelry set. I’ll be offering some more glass jewelry later, and the other bloggers have a great line-up of giveaways in store, so I hope our readers will check back often and give Lady Luck a chance.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cross Genre in Romance Writing: Does It Appeal to Readers?

Hi, I’m Jacqueline Seewald, and I also write for Five Star Expressions.
I’m going to discuss cross-genre romance writing and hope you’ll find
what I have to say useful.

At one time, publication of romance fiction was fairly cut and dry. You had
certain publishers who would only accept “formula” romance. They gave
writers a set of guidelines and the writers had to follow them exactly or their work wouldn’t be published.

We still have “category” romances today. However, things have become more flexible, especially, I’m happy to say, for those of us who are published in hardcover. The result is that writers are allowed to be more creative and unique in their novel writing. One end product is cross-genre romance writing.

What is cross-genre writing in romance fiction? This is where elements of
more than one kind of fiction are combined to create a unique romance novel.

There’s a lot of cross-over between mystery, romance and romantic suspense.
I believe classification has much to do with the intent of the writer. In a mystery novel, the mystery is the main plot factor, even if there is a romance. In a romance novel, there can certainly be a mystery, but the romance takes precedence, and the mystery is secondary. In romantic suspense, you have romance, mystery and elements of a thriller, all combined. However, the love interest still dominates. Cross-genre romance novels today tend to be more complex.

Even publishers are often confused about how to classify their novels.
My first novel for Five Star/Gale, THE INFERNO COLLECTION, published in both hardcover and large print, was classified as romantic suspense. However, the novel is actually a paranormal romantic mystery thriller.

Set mainly on a university campus, the novel can also be argued to have elements of literary fiction. There are also elements of horror fiction as well. Cross-genre? You bet! Does it work for a majority of readers? I sure hope so!

The second novel in this series, doesn’t depend on the first book but stands on it’s own. Although THE DROWNING POOL has the same main characters as THE INFERNO COLLECTION, it is unique. THE DROWNING POOL is also classified as romantic suspense but actually is a paranormal romantic mystery.

Today, you can find fantasy romance, romantic horror, romantic thrillers, romantic westerns, romantic historical fiction, romantic science fiction as well as romantic mysteries. Characters have more depth and are not mere stereotypes. Romance writers and readers are becoming more sophisticated these days. I see that as a good thing. My next Five Star novel will be a paranormal historical romantic suspense novel set in the Regency era. Hopefully, it too will find a readership.

If you want to read some of our Five Star Expressions romance novels, check the Five Star website which has our catalog, Barnes and Noble online, Amazon, and Borders for details--or just request our novels at your local library. Five Star novels can be found in libraries all over the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

As readers and writers, how do you see the trend toward cross-genre romance?
Does it please you that romance fiction has become more varied? Love to
read your comments!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Allow me to Introduce Myself

I've really enjoyed meeting the other authors in the group via their blog posts.  Now it's my turn to introduce myself.  I'm going to start with the blurb for The Prodigal Father, my first (and so far only) book with 5 Star.

Beth is faced with the decision of a lifetime when her estranged husband Scott suddenly returns and asks her to give their marriage a second chance.  She thinks he will change his mind once she tells him they have a daughter, and that their daughter has Down syndrome.  Instead, Scott convinces her to come to the resort he owns in northern Wisconsin and along with their daughter, Risa, take a chance on becoming a real family.  He does his best to adapt to his new role as father, learn about his daughter’s disability and show Beth that they all belong together.  Beth realizes she still loves Scott and wants to stay with him.  She is torn between her desire to create a family, the fear of failure and guilt over past mistakes.

My youngest daughter, now 15, has Down syndrome.  I wanted to include some of my experiences as a parent of a child with disabilities into my story.  Fortunately for me, I had a great husband and supportive family with me the whole way.  My heroine, Beth has only herself and sometimes her in-laws to rely on.  That's why the Birth to 3 program becomes so important to her.

There is a state funded Birth to 3 program in every state.  It provides assistance to families that have a very young child (under three years old) who is developmentally delayed.  That assistance can take the form of physical, speech and/or occupational therapy, help in finding information about your child's disability, access to community services, early education and more.

This program is vitally important to families that are struggling to understand their child's challenges and how those challenges will affect the lives of every member of their family.  I know this for certain because I've been there.  I dedicated the book to Theresa, my daughter's Birth to Three service coordinator.  

When 5 Star accepted my manuscript for publication I was doubly glad.  Not only would I be able to share my feelings about children who have disabilities and the professionals who support them, but it was going to be in libraries all over the country!

I am the director of a small, rural library and I believe in the importance of libraries as much as the importance of the Birth to 3 program. I also love blogs and I'm very happy to be a part of this one.  Thanks to Joyce for getting us started.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Letter of Introduction

One of the biggest adjustments in becoming an author, for me, has been learning to use the internet for more than e-mail and researching. I was in a technology rut. When my first book was published in 2008, I was tossed into a learning curve I hadn't really even thought about.

Like it or not, once I signed my publishing contract, I had no choice but to get out of that rut. My teenage daughter taught me how to set up a myspace page and I sought professional website design help since I hadn't the slightest clue how to use html. Heck, I was lucky I even knew what it was.

Now, here I am blogging!

Cyberspace is a funny thing, really. Its very nature encourages us to be conversational when we don't even know each other. So, perhaps introductions are in order.

I write historical American romance, set primarily in the late 19th century in the West. My first book was released in 2008, the second in 2009. I love strong heroines, tender heroes, conflicted characters and plots that explore them. Because I love the history of that period, my inclination is to use this blog to share tidbits of it with you.

For example, if we were meeting each other in 1876, someone would be introducing me. If the introduction were via letter, our friend-in-common might have consulted Hill's Manual of Social & Business Forms: A Guide to Correct Writing. Hill's offered practical examples for nearly every situation, from business affairs to love letters. Penmanship lessons, a short overview of parliamentary procedure, a thesaurus, rules of grammar, and tips on writing poetry were also included. In my book, Chances, conservative undertaker Daniel Petterman relies on Hill's to advise him on how to write a Letter to the Editor while spunky telegrapher Sarah Donovan urges him to forego the how-to book and write with passion instead.

My 1875 edition of Hill's provides seven different forms of letters of introduction. "Introducing One Lady to Another" seemed best suited to our situation (there was no example to introduce said lady to mixed company).

"Dear Blogger: I take this occasion to introduce you to the bearer of this letter, Ms. Pamela Nowak, who is on a visit to her friends in cyberspace. Ms. Nowak is a very dear friend, of whom you have often heard me speak. Believing that your acquaintance with each other would be mutually agreeable, I have urged her to call upon you during her stay. Any attention you may bestow on her, during her visit, will be highly appreciated by …. Your friend, Merry Blogfan."
We've evolved quite a bit, wouldn't you say? Thos. E. Hill would be shocked at the level of informality we share on the internet and, indeed, in our everyday lives.

And, so, now you know a bit about me…what I write, my cyber baptism, my love of history. It's time for you to let me know who you are. I encourage you to tell me (and the rest of the authors) about your interests and how we can make this blog one that you'll come back to.

Here's your chance to let us know what you want to hear! Sound off!

(Pamela Nowak is the author of Chances, recipient of the 2009 HOLT Medallion for Best First Book, a WILLA Award Finalist for Historical Fiction, and named to Booklist's Top Ten Romances of 2008. Her second historical romance, Choices, was released in 2009.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

UFOs, Thrillers, and First Love

What could UFOs, Thrillers, and First Love possibly have in common? They're all in my debut novel, The Cost of Love. Set in Roswell, New Mexico--the UFOs are a prerequisite. Chapter One opens with Dean evaluating a decomposing body, enough said about the thriller portion. And Lucy does find her first love, as silly as that sounds--though neither of us planned it that way.

But then novels often don't go as you plan them. I certainly never intended to write about Roswell the first time I drove through it, or when I sat in one of its little diners (quaint would be a kind word), or even when I hiked the Guadalupe mountains to the south. Imagination has a way of taking hold though, and when you sprinkle in a good dose of nightly news, a bit of research, and characters that won't turn you loose, you have a story that's not only fun to read, it was also a complete joy to write.

Story ideas come in all shapes and forms, and from many different places. What works for one book, might produce nothing for the next. A tried-and-true method for your favorite author might leave you staring at a blinking icon on a blank screen. You have to find what works for you, for this moment.

Writing and reading are mysterious that way. When you pick up the next novel you've been waiting to start, or flip on your e-reader, kind of makes you wonder though. Where DID that idea come from?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

And in the beginning. . .

Every story has a seed, and my newest book at Five Star, A Corner of Universe, started with PBS documentary where elderly survivors told of their harrowing and heroic experiences in the concentration camps during World War Two. The interviewees' stories were catalogs of pain that were too difficult to watch, but too compelling not to. Of all the survivors, one woman dazzled me. Bent and twisted as a twig, the wrinkles on her face compressed by an infectious grin, she was bubbling with happiness. The interviewer asked how she moved beyond her experience, how she lived with zest after seeing the worst. The old woman lifted her arm and waved it through the air as if to encompass the universe.
“Forgive," she said. "Forgive everyone for everything.”
That woman and her sentiment stuck with me for months, and eventually, I knew I had to write her into a book. In A Corner of Universe, she plays the role of mentor to my heroine.
To help launch our Author Expressions blog, I'll be running a contest soon where the prize will be a personalized copy of my book. Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to meeting you!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Contest Announcement

We're kicking off our new Author Expressions blog with an awesome prize. The winner’s name will be drawn at random from those who leave a comment. Members of our blog group, of course, are not eligible to win. The prize is a set of jewelry (example to the right) designed by a glass artisan. Wait! If a man wins, there is a whole list from which to choose: gorgeous wine stoppers, letter openers, and other things.
The contest for this prize ends next Friday, April 23, but I won’t be drawing until Monday. I’ll be at Pikes’ Peak Writers Conference, where I hope to learn from all the workshops and faculty. They have Cold Read sessions with agents and editors. That should be fun.
Just today I learned that I won a copy of a book I’ve wanted to read. I have never won anything, except a bottle of champagne one New Year’s Eve, and I don’t care for champagne. So winning this book made my day.
Most of my future blogs will probably be about a historical figure or event, because I love history.