Thursday, March 28, 2013

Radio Show Rewind

286px-Yeti-USB-Microphone-publicdomainI was honored to be invited to a talk radio show just the other day. Now, I’ve never done talk radio; in general, I’d much rather be interviewed in print. I write better than I talk. But how could I resist? I like doing new things – okay, sometimes I do. And this is an artsy show where they celebrate creativity. Right up my alley.

So, if you go to Creative Mojo with Mark Lipinski and click on the March 20 show, I’m Nessa Reifsnyder’s first guest. We talk about writing and creativity and inspiration and publishing, in particular self-publishing.

With the radio show format naturally creating a short and concise interview, and with Nessa touching on so many pertinent issues, I thought I’d use that discussion and expand on it here over a series of blogs.

Go listen to the show and then come back for discussion. If there are things you think should be addressed further, please comment below!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ever wonder what I sound like?

Okay, probably not. But if you are odd enough to wonder (and I do like odd people, by the way), I'll be on live internet radio today.

When invited, my urge was to bolt, but then my constant interest in doing new things kicked in and I'm very honored to have been asked.

Mark Lipinski's Creative Mojo broadcasts every Wednesday from 3 to 5 Eastern. I'm scheduled for about 3:20 today. If you can't catch it live, they will have it archived.

Here's the info link: A Pocketful of Creative Mojo!

I'll be chatting with guest host Nessa Reifsnyder about creativity and self-publishing. If you do listen, be lenient. This is my very first radio appearance!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

3-13-13 or Shades of Art & Porn

MaksbeingpaintedI love Pinterest. I really do. As a visual and artsy person, it’s a wonderful place to spend some downtime. Of course, I also use it for promo and have boards to depict each of my books in images. A lighthouse photo I found there last year inspired a new story.

They might, however, need humans to watch for inappropriate images instead of bots, which I’m guessing is what they use.

I also love Michelangelo. He is my all-time favorite artist. The guy was pure passionate genius mixed with a lot of hard work and creative talent. Of course I re-pinned someone’s photo of the David in all its glory. It’s a truly gorgeous sculpture that I’ve been lucky enough to see in real life. The muscles and sinews are life-like, other than being marble, and it does show the beauty of the male body. Michelangelo did believe the male body is far more artistically beautiful than the female body. I very much agree with him, although maybe I’m biased. David is more than just a statue of a legendary Biblical figure. And it’s more than the small man defeats the giant theme. It’s an artistic statement of the beauty of the human body.

It got deleted by the site for nudity.

Now anyone who has been on the site knows darn well what kind of pictures you can find that show pretty much everything and likely barely covered in lazy black undergarments and in provocative photos. So I was rather aghast that Michelangelo’s David was removed.

Being the smart aleck I can be at times, I put it back up, covered by a big fig leaf with bright red border. Maybe I should have used black lace undergarments.

Either way, I mentioned it on Facebook and it led to a conversation about the difference between art and pornography. Many artists, as they call themselves, have done shows of nude photos in the name of art and they are open to the public. Is this art? I think that’s borderline. Maybe, depending on composition and such. But then what’s to keep artists from posting any kind of nude pose online and claiming artistic license? And why would a nude marble statue be less okay for public viewing than a photo of a woman in black lace lingerie?

It all comes down to common sense. We all know David is an artistic masterpiece, as are Renoir’s nude women and other classics. They are, however, paint or marble. Does it follow, then, that anyone could sit and draw an obscene pose and call it art that should be publicly available? Of course not. (Yes, obscene is a judgment call, but I bet you all know what I mean.)

As I see it, sex in fiction is the same. Is it there just for the titillation factor (or for the sales)? Or is it artistry and character development? There is a difference. Each viewer/reader has his/her own taste, of course, but common sense is common sense. There is gray area. But there is also black and white and the difference between the two is clear.

By the way, the photo above is not mine and I have no rights to it. Maksim Chmerkovskiy posted it on Facebook, and art lover that I am, I couldn’t help appreciate its beauty. He’s a dancer, you know.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Labels of Gray

Snowy Trees in Gray-Feb2013

I was explaining Chick Lit to someone the other day, or trying to explain it since that genre isn’ t my forté and I haven’t read much of it. To be honest, I started one or two of them and set them aside. But I wanted something light recently to read in between two fairly heavy reads (yes, I have made a habit in the past few years of reading 2-3 books at once – why not, since I write 2-3 books at once?) so I grabbed one from my to-read shelf I’d picked up at a library sale some time ago. The whole thing screamed Chick Lit and light easy read, from cover to description.

The first third of the book definitely screamed Chick Lit. And then it changed. But back to that later…

While explaining Chick Lit, I compared it to Women’s Fiction, which is a term I don’t appreciate a lot since it’s mainstream fiction that would just be called Fiction if centered on a male character and was written by a male (why not Men’s Fiction, then?). Anyway, I said Chick Lit is a lighter version of Women’s Fiction, usually centered on 30-40 somethings, working moms and career women, usually light and humorous but with serious issues such as marital problems or trying to date with children involved and so on.

When Chick Lit was first labeled as such, it was meant as a derisive term, meaning throw-away type books only suitable for women who didn’t want to read “serious” literature. Hm. Like many derisive labels, authors and readers of Chick Lit grabbed the term and gladly used it to define what they were writing or reading and fully enjoying. There are wonderful Chick Lit books out there by a myriad of authors - female authors talking with their readers about specifically female issues in a nice camaraderie style, with humor, because let’s face it, the strongest women do have a good sense of humor that helps us deal with everything under the sun.

Back in 2009, I wrote a post about my genre and how to define it since it doesn’t fit neatly into any one category already accepted in the industry. Author Sydney Logan stopped by that old post yesterday to comment. Apparently, she writes the way I do: with deep social issues and commentary highlighted by a budding/growing romance that becomes central to the story. How wonderful! I see on her blog that she’s been compared to Nicholas Sparks, as I have as well, but I haven’t seen Sparks called anything but a romance writer. Maybe it’s time for a new label to take hold, a different offshoot of women’s fiction (that men can use, as well, if it fits).  But the question is still: What do we call it?

Author Celia Yeary wrote a post recently about the difference between romances and love stories. One publisher defined a love story as of a married couple, but I think that limits the definition far too much. All of my books can be called love stories but the characters aren’t married and may not get married. Love doesn’t always equal marriage; sometimes love equals letting go because it’s better for one or both of you. It’s still a love story.

And then, of course, there’s the new genre New Adult, which I love, because I write plenty of that. It’s somewhere between teen romance/young adult and adult romance. It focuses on legal aged teens and twenties but it’s romance more than coming-of-age and a bit past coming-of-age from what I gather so far. Some of my work fits the New Adult category, but much of it doesn’t.

I still call what I do Literary Romance. So far, it’s not a very trusted genre term when I use it because people haven’t heard it, or because literary fiction and romance as a genre seem to be at complete opposite ends of the novel scale. Maybe they are, but as one reviewer said, it “shouldn’t work, but it does.”

Most, or all, labels are pretty well shady when it comes to a strict definition, therefore all the recent genre blending. I’m always amused when I see a book described as something like “contemporary fantasy romantic suspense … with a Moon at DuskTwist!” And I’m still waiting to see “literary erotica” which could happen.

I have to wonder: do readers actually care how a novel is labeled? (And authors, please please do not call your book a fictional novel. Novels are fiction. It’s redundant. Please know what redundant means.)

Maybe we should stop labeling and just make sure our blurb explains what the reader should expect. Yes, I hear publishers and bookstores yelling about that idea since they would be hard to organize without labels.

So… how about Literary Romance? Why not? Any bookstore out there ready to add a new section?

Oh, about that book I’m reading that screamed Chic Lit? After the first third, it turned heavily literary instead. Elizabeth Buchan’s Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman will get a nice review on Goodreads soon.