Posts Tagged ‘Alison Stone’

Are the Amish hypocrites?

 

The Amish aren’t allowed the use of electricity on their properties, so they pay a neighbor to keep a large freezer on their nearby land. The Amish person will enjoy the benefits without having to pay the electricity company directly.  The absence of electricity does not mean that Amish people go without other conveniences in their homes. They power refrigerators and sewing machines using a variety of means from batteries, to solar panels to diesel generators. So are these “loopholes” if you will, a form of hypocrisy?

Perhaps, but consider that the Amish immigration to the new world began in the early 18th century when there was nary a thought about electricity, cars or the wonder that is the internet. As  different technologies came and went, the Amish have had to draw a line in the sand, so to speak. The line is a subjective demarkation that enables them to hold true to their faith while navigating the perils of this world. Does that make them hypocrites? If it does, then I am branded with the same label.

For example, I don’t want my children to become addicted to technology, yet I am guilty of purchasing them both cell phones. I don’t espouse pornography, yet I write for a publisher that produces some work I would not want my children to read. I desire to be close to God, but I struggle every day to stay focused on faith. I do not believe in abortion, but I am conflicted about the subject of capital punishment. Am I a hypocrite? Undoubtedly, because I am a flawed individual, struggling against temptation and sin every day. It’s why I need a savior. It’s also why I understand about drawing that shaky line in the sand.

What sort of personal rules do you use to keep yourself focused on the things which are important to you? I would love to hear your comments. Tomorrow is the drawing for the Dana Mentink and Alison Stone book) and the Starbuck’s gift card.

 

image Would you guess that this is the home of an Old Order Amish family?

 

Series or standalones, pros and cons

I started my writing career as a greenhorn with a three book mystery series set in the tiny fictional town of Finny. I guess you could say, therefore, that I cut my teeth on series writing. However, when that series wrapped I signed on with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense and I spent a good bit of time writing single books before I once again switched to series. So which is better? In this writer’s humble opinion, there are advantages and challenges to both.

With stand alone books, you can get in there and write a book with all manner of murder and mayhem, because the characters and setting will not have to carry on through another book. Ah the freedom! Characters can be discarded at will. Frankly, it’s easier to write a stand-alone because you have fewer details to keep track of over time. The disadvantage? Your reader may not be as invested in buying your next book. Stand-alones do not provide that built in sense of urgency about what happens next.

The series, by contrast, is a whole lot more complicated. Characters must be placed carefully in the narrative who may not have the spotlight focused on them until a few more books have come and gone. Still, they need to be set into place (and they can’t be cardboard placeholders either) until it’s their turn to shine. All of their pertinent details from eye color to family history must be recorded to ensure the facts remain consistent over the course of the series. Same with the setting, if the entire series takes place in one location. That coffee shop on the corner of Cream and Sugar had better be in the same location in book two, unless you’ve explained the change. Publishers appreciate series book because if readers enjoy the first one, they’re primed to come back for the rest which makes everyone’s marketing job a bit easier.

So what about you? Do you enjoy stand-alone novels or series? Got any favorites you’d care to share?  Giving away a Starbuck’s card and two books this month.

image

Why fictionalize a setting?

 

image image image

So you’re sitting there at your keyboard, ready to start that quirky comic romance series that’s going to zoom right to the top of the bestseller chart. It’s going to take place in a seaside town on the California coast. Excellent! Now comes the big decision…are you going to set your story in a real town, like the charming Half Moon Bay or Pescadero? Or will you make up a fictional setting, perhaps modeled from a real town? This is exactly what I asked myself as I sat down to hammer out Return To Pelican Inn. My answer? I set the story in a fictional town called Tumbledown, loosely modeled after Half Moon Bay. Come to think of it, I’ve never, to date, set a story in a real town. Why? Here are my top three reasons.

1. Real towns are more boring than those I can come up with in my mind. I live in a city of 80,000 people and it’s lovely, but do we have sand castle contests and establishments like the Brew Unto Others Coffee shop? Nothing nearly that darling. We’ve got Safeways and Chevrons.

2.  People don’t like to know there are murderers in their towns. I write a lot of romantic suspense and sadly, there’s usually a REAL bad guy lurking around somewhere. Best not to set these kinds of villiains in a real town. It makes the residents feel a touch peeved at times.

3.  A fictional setting is clay under my fingers. Need a nice beach for my characters to take in the boat festival? No problem. Want to add a lovely old inn that overlooks the sea with nary a parking lot to mess up the view? Easy! Fictionalizing a setting gives me delusions of grandeur, allowing me to make the world exactly as I want it to be!

Do you like real life settings or fictional ones? Can you think of any that stand out for you? Giving away TWO books this month (including one written by the fabulous Alison Stone) and a Starbuck’s gift card.

 

 

 

 

Authors collaborating…magic or mayhem?

Collaboration is a good thing…unless it’s not. Authors feel pressure to produce books quickly, and to widen their platforms (the number of people with whom they have contact.) A possible solution? Working together with another author. This is an odd concept for a profession that typically does its thing in lonely, dark rooms with only cold cups of coffee for company.

Actually, though, it’s been done for a while now. Some examples?

Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett

Stephen King and Peter Straub.

Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey.

Of course, the hugely prolific James Patterson collaborates with many other writers and, to my surprise, I learned that the Ellery Queen mysteries were written by cousins Daniel Nathan and Manford Lepofsky.

I’ve considered collaborating on writing projects, too. My biggest obstacle? Uh, er, I like to have it my way, when it comes to writing. I get a little possessive and snippy about how I think the story should go. Sigh. I guess it’s best for me to stick to my solitary cave, for the time being.

What about you? Do you work best alone or with another? Did you ever collaborate on a project? How did it turn out? Speaking of collaboration… we’re giving away a DOUBLE PRIZE this month….a two book set of Love Inspired Suspense novels featuring myself and the lovely Alison Stone) and a Starbuck’s gift card this month! All comments get you entered to win!

image image