Genre Fiction

I’ve been blogging about the craft of writing fiction for some time now.  I’ve been passing on tips learned from other writers and a few things I figured out on my own.  But I find that now when I sit down to write a post, the ideas no longer crowd each other in their need to be heard and read.  So I’ve decided to widen the scope of my blogs.  But how?  What else to say?

I write genre fiction.  Several genres, actually and often all are in the same book. Romance.  Sci-fi.  Small Town.  Paranormal.  Sweet.  Eco-fiction.  And probably a few more I haven’t heard of.  And I’ve learned that not everyone agrees on what belongs in which genre.  There are some generalities, but once you get beyond those general descriptions, genre fiction seems to be all over the place.

So I’m going to jump in head first and see what happens.  Okay, honesty compels me to admit that anything I jump into will more likely involve a belly-flop than a swan dive.  But you get the idea.

Any thoughts?  What genres do you read?  Which do you write?  Why?  Do you like cross-genre fiction?  What would you like to see done differently in the world of genre fiction?  Which genres would you like to see more of?  Less of?  Let me know and maybe we’ll get something going.

As a former first grade teacher, I know that sometimes when there’s  mud puddle in your path that calls out to you with a mesmerizing siren song, the best thing to do is hold your nose and jump in.  And enjoy the mud.

(Note:  It took me years to develop a tolerance for leeches, and guess where they live?  In the mud.  But that’s another story.)

I Love My Kindle

Last week our son visited.  Happened to be here on Sunday so he went to church with us.  Before leaving the house, he asked about this particular church.  Whether there were bibles in the pews.  We looked at each other in puzzlement and wanted to know why he’d ask such a question.

There was a good reason.  He wanted to know whether he should bring his own bible or whether there were bibles already in the pews for those people who wanted to look up passages the pastor was referring to.  We didn’t know the answer to that question because we don’t look up passages, we just listen.  (Hey, at least we don’t sleep!)

He’s a Regional Pastor.   In his job he travels constantly to churches in many states.  When visiting churches he wants to be able to smoothly handle different ways of doing things so if the church doesn’t provide pew bibles,  he wants to have his own.  But carrying several bibles (to have whatever bible that particular church prefers) would add to the weight of his luggage and airlines charge per pound of extra weight.  Several bibles equals several extra pounds and many extra dollars.

So, that Sunday he pulled his Kindle from his suitcase.  He had all the bibles he could ever need right in that one, small device.  Along with all the reading matter his job requires.  And several novels to choose from when he’s done working.

And here I thought Kindles were only for enjoyment.  Mine takes the place of the library I gave away when we moved into a house too small for all those books.  Doesn’t matter now, I’m quickly gathering a new library.  A more extensive one.  And all in that one, small device  that fits in my purse.

This isn’t a plug for Kindles per se, instead it’s a plug for progress in the form of any electronic device that makes life easier and fuller without adding to the mental and physical clutter that present day life involves.  And Kindles, Nooks and all other electronic readers do just that.

Long live Kindles!

Guns and 99 Cent Reads

I’ve decided that Americans like their guns and I have the data to back up that claim.  My data, as inconclusive as it may be, is that my novel Wanted Sharpshooter is selling better than any of my other books, even Spirit Legend, the book that was prominent last week in a book blast that sent it to be featured in a dozen blogs.  I admit this is a surprise to me.

Why has it  happened?  I have a thought.  Just a thought.  If you check out Wanted Sharpshooter, you’ll see that the cover features a guy with a rifle and he’s ready to fire it.  Both the guy and the rifle are prominent and can’t possibly be missed.  Both man and gun are dangerous.  The book sells for 99 cents.

Conclusion?  We Americans like our guns and I suspect we aren’t the only people who do. And I know that people everywhere also like a good, inexpensive story to read.  So perhaps Wanted Sharpshooter fulfills both desires?

As far as guns go, I can’t hit the broad side of a barn.  But when my dad died, our inheritance was guns.  Growing up, he repeatedly reminded us that guns are capable of killing people and you must remember that every single time you so much as touch one.

Books can be equally dangerous, though in a different way.  Words have the potential to change the world.  Not the books I write, they are for enjoyment and relaxation.  But both words and bullets are extremely potent weapons.

And a good, affordable story is a well-deserved treat.

Winning The Race

As you can see, I’ve changed my blog into a website with a blog component.  I did so to facilitate sales of my books now that Spirit Legend is out there and selling.  Feel free to check out the page Florence’s Books that leads you to the buy links of both Amazon and Smashwords if you want to see what the old lady’s writing is like.

But, not to worry, I’ll still post with tips on writing fiction.  Not as often as previously because there are only so many tips I’ve learned over the years.  But they’ll still come.  Which leads to today’s tip:  Pacing.

I’ve read a lot of books lately because their authors’ asked me to review them.  For the most part, they were good books and well written.  But, with the exception of two of them, the pacing could have been improved.

They weren’t jagged.  They weren’t abrupt.  They simply kept the same pace throughout the book.  And that was their mistake.

Because writing fiction is like running a race.  A long race if it’s a book because, in the case of stories, novels are equivalent to distance races.  (If you are interested, my book Wanted Sharpshooter is about distance races for horses, something one of my daughters is involved in that I find fascinating.)

Anyway, in distance races, the runners start out slow and careful, conserving their energy and learning all they can about the race itself.  Who’s in it, what they are like, what the course is like.  Everything.  And they stay that way until they know the finish line is getting close.  Then they speed up.  They pay less attention to the other runners and the course itself in order to concentrate their efforts on running faster.  On sprinting to the finish line.

Writing fiction is like that.  The closer you get to the end of the book, the faster the pace of writing should be.  Forget those long conversations among characters that, in the beginning, were both wonderful and provided insights into the characters and the story.  Forget the descriptions that go on and on and on, no matter that the setting is incomparable and essential to the characters getting where they need to be.

Instead, write tight as you approach that finish line.  Eliminate everything except that sprint to the finish.   Because the reader now should know the essential details about the characters and the story and should be caught up in the action and shouldn’t be distracted by any unnecessary words.  Or sentences.  Or paragraphs.  Those details that are necessary should be provided in capsule form.  In as few words as possible.  So the reader doesn’t wish the writer would stop leading them through fields of unnecessary prose and would get them to the finish line in the shortest time.

So they can win the race.

SHARPSHOOTER… NOT!

I finally… finally… finally… got my next novella… Wanted:  Sharpshooter… (originally Night of the Puma but that didn’t work out) uploaded to Amazon where it’s for sale.  I’m still in a state of shock at how different on-line publishing is from writing for paper books and magazines.  Which is only relevant because it took me way longer to get this done than I expected.  I guess it’s a case of this being my first made-for-e-publishing story and, as such, it was an educational experience with a steep learning curve which I hope is now finished.

But I digress.  This post is about a specific element in Wanted:  Sharpshooter.  And about my dad.

My dad made his own knives, bows and arrows, and slings (yes, that’s slings, the kind David slew Goliath with) and he re-worked guns until their configurations satisfied him.  At any given time, our home was filled to the brim with weapons of various types that he could… and did… use with unerring accuracy.  Like hitting a small bird on the fly with an arrow.  Or killing an Alaskan bear with a sling because a bunch of guys wondered whether a sling really could kill a giant and a bear was about the same size. 

Yes, he truly did all those things, and he also taught his children about weapons.  I think he did a passable job of teaching my brother and sister.  With me, all I can say is that he tried.

He made me a re-curved bow when I was a teenager.  It was a thing of beauty made of Osage Orange with black rawhide on the front.  I loved it.  But I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with it.  Neither could I hit the bulls-eye with any of the many guns he chose for me when he patiently tried to teach me to shoot.  To be honest, I was lucky to hit the target, let alone the bulls-eye.

Years later, when my husband had to travel for his job and I was concerned about being alone in the wilderness, my dad provided me with the most awful-looking pistol (a Dirty Harry look-alike) and loaded it specifically for me, a lousy shot.  It was a six-shooter.  The first two were salt that would spread widely and act as a deterrent without actually killing anyone.  The third and fourth were buckshot that also spread widely but were more serious.  If I needed the last two, he informed me that I’d want all the power possible, so they were for killing.  I never needed that gun, thank goodness. 

The hero of Wanted:  Sharpshooter is a former Army Ranger sharpshooter and the heroine is a woman who can’t hit the broad side of a barn but whose father provided her with a shotgun for protection because buckshot will scatter and hit almost anything, anywhere.

Thanks, Dad, for all those lessons and for teaching me that even people who can’t hit the broad side of a barn can protect themselves.  That information proved invaluable when writing Wanted:  Sharpshooter.