Thursday, July 19, 2012

Are We Going Too Far for the Market?

Here's some food for thought. I was trawling around on the Internet and stumbled upon an article in the Independent Mail discussing an upcoming series of re-worked classics. The "re-working" consists of the insertion (mind the pun) of erotic scenes into such beloved stories as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

My first reaction to reading this was "Oh no they didn't."

I don't want to debase anyone's reading preferences, but seriously? I know re-workings are all the rage right now. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, etc can all be found on today's bookshelves. I've never read either, nor the other multitude of paranormal tales interlaced with classic stories.

Have we come so far as a society that we must re-write Pride and Prejudice to include erotic sex? Therein lies the issue: the point of these novels was the simmering sexual tension beneath everything. What's more, the company behind these re-workings as a true devotee of both Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, I would not even think to degrade their works by adding these scenes. It's just wrong.

The article cites the enormous success of Fifty Shades of Gray as reason for these re-workings. I haven't read Fifty nor do I intend to. I did however read an absolutely laugh out loud (which is rather funny since I've lost my laughing is actually a long high pitched wheeze) review on GoodReads. If you are easily offended by language, don't click over. I generally feel like reviewers should be respectful in their reviews, even if they are negative, but I'm making an exception this time. Please forgive.

Ok, so I digressed off point. Fifty of Shades of Gray was originally a fan-fic. And so to use that as a measure of whether or not to make classic novels erotic is just a bad judgment call. It's one thing to have some fan fiction fun for your own amusement and quite another to give it a world wide audience (i.e. a publishing contract, movie, etc). Sure, I used to write Jane Austen fan fiction when I was in high school, but I never would have had the audacity to  change the names and publish it. Of course, I've never been a huge proponent of re-writes or add-ons. I can kind of see finishing unfinished classics, but the multitude of authors cashing in on making Jane Austen a super sleuth, continuing on where one book left off, or filling out other secondary characters from classic works has never really appealed to me. It's nearly impossible re-capture the same panache and style as the original author. And personally, some things are better left to one's imagination.

So how far is too far? Should we relegate re-workings of any author's work to the internet world of fan fiction or should a larger platform be made available?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Travel as Inspiration

Nothing gets the writing juices flowing better than a good trip abroad. Perhaps that is why I like to travel so much. I have a tendancy to favor European climes however, which unfortunately makes it difficult to do on a regular basis. I usually take an international trip every three to five years and in keeping with that schedule, I am eagerly planning a trip to England and Ireland next spring. Originally, the hubby and I had planned on going last month for my aunt's wedding, but the finances didn't pan out. Then we had hoped to go this fall, but Hubby is going back to school to finish his degree. So NOW we're looking at the end of March/beginning of April as to coincide with his spring break.

I've already laid out a list of potential site seeing trips while we visit (I can sense Hubby rolling his eyes), with an eye for stimulating my writing mojo. You see I hope to have Rebellion in the can and out on submission, so I should be in line for something new and extraordinary. I figure the following places may help:
Blenheim Palace has long been on my list of places to visit. I know, I know... I ought to be ashamed given that I majored in historic preservation (read: architectural history) in college. Most notably associated with the 1st Duke and Duchess of Marlborough (John and Sarah Churchill), Consuelo Vanderbilt Churchill, and Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is sure to get my imagination firing on all 4 (or 6) cylinders. I'm looking for unique personages in little done time periods for my next venture so maybe something Georgian will spring up as a result of this foray.

Ah, Castle Howard. Another to-be-not-missed English landmark. I'm really hoping that we will be able to make the trip north to Yorkshire. I have seen this place from a distance (I think...I've seen so many great English houses they all run together after a while) but I've never taken the tour. It's another architectural wonder and I'm looking forward to seeing it. Of course, it has appeared in dozens of movies including my favorite The Buccaneers, a late 90s BBC adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel. While we're in the area, we also hope to visit Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.

File:Castletown House - - 1008007.jpgWe're also hoping to make it over to Ireland which will be fitting since we will be within a few weeks of our 5th wedding anniversary and we honeymooned there. I had originally planned on doing some heavy research for Rebellion but since I am going to play armchair historian for that one, we will be bumming around Dublin and making a few excursions out of the city. Now I am keen to visit Castletown House, not only because it was the model for Lord Edmund's palatial Irish estate, but because it is connected with the Connolly family. If you are a student of history, you will know that Thomas Connolly was married to Lady Louisa Lennox, one of the famous Lennox sisters, whose great-grandfather was none other than King Charles II. Plus it's just an all around cool house. If money allows (e.g. sell Rebel Heart sell!), I really, really, REALLY want to stay at the Carton House which is the former home of the Duke of Leinster, who was married to Lady Emily Lennox, Lady Louisa's elder sister, and mother to Lord Edward Fitzgerald (the inspiration for James in Rebellion).

So what about you? Where do you go to stimulate your writing juices? Do you have any big trips planned for the upcoming months?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Whereupon I Dithered...and Then Changed My Mind

"Indecision may or may not be my problem."
Jimmy Buffet

So I have yet another announcement to make.

I just couldn't do it.

"Doing" it constitutes changing the entire MS of "Rebel Heart" into 1st person. I could have done. I started to, but in the end, it just didn't feel right. I passed the first few chapters onto one of my writing partners and after being told that she didn't mind the POV change, I started to waffle a bit. Then I went back to AbsoluteWrite and polled some more folks--the consensus was overwhelmingly "do what you think is best."

So my best is taking a stand (so to speak) and keeping the 1st and 3rd person layout of "Rebel Heart." Yes, this is an unusual style, but let's face it, I've never been a run-of-the-mill type of girl. And to highlight two very pertinent comments made on the forums--I'm self-publishing because I don't fit into the predetermined molds and I can't cater to everyone. At the end of the day, I have what I think is a great story with compelling characters. It's been vetted a bazillion times (OK, not that many...) by different beta readers and writing partners (who are, for the record, wholly unrelated to me by blood or friendship).

So by many standards, I do believe I am ready to go. And with that mind, I hope to have "Rebel Heart" available for sale by next Friday, July 13th. It's either going to be an auspicious or infamous day to publish! I have gone ahead and posted the first chapter as a freebie. It has it's own page up top, so check it out if you have a chance.

Finally, I want to take a moment to thank all of you, my humble and loyal readers, for bearing with me during my periodic regular mood fluctuations, moments of temporary insanity, and general wishy-washiness. I keep writing because of the feedback I get from you guys (and my betas/writing partners), so it is no small thing to me when you take the time to comment. Keep them coming and hold on tight--things are about to get interesting!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The POV Question

My final edits of "Rebel Heart" are coming along quite well. I spent most of last week and this past weekend going through line-by-line and looking for accidental POV shifts, repeated words, useless voice tags, etc and I believe that the manuscript is much tighter as a result. I've got roughly 100 pages left before I'm done and then the major work will commence.

After polling you guys and the forums at AND AbsoluteWrite, I have decided to stick to one POV instead of having the 1st and 3rd shifts. To be honest, it's still a hung jury. Many said, "Do want you think is best!" while others said, "You just don't use 1st and 3rd in the same story." To add to it all, very few people seemed to understand what how things really were. Some thought that I had multiple POVS, all written in 1st. It occured to me that if people couldn't even wrap their heads around the way that I describe the writing style, then it might not bode well for the actual readers. The way I have written the manuscript makes plenty of sense to me and I think the shifts are not at all confusing. I was inclined to take the gamble and leave the manuscript as is, but let's face it, I don't have the courage it takes to be a rebel. I think so much of your success as a self-publishing author comes from reviews and if I get too many people saying that they think the novel is written weird, then I'm up the creek without a paddle.

So I really stressed over the weekend or rather yesterday, thinking that I would change everything to 3rd person so that I could keep POVS for Alex and Richard Ashby. But as I tried to re-write Julienne's part in 3rd person, I realized that it just wasn't working. Sure there were sections that sounded better in 3rd, but overwhelmingly, the result of a few edited pages was just "off." I didn't like it at all. So I made the excrutiating decision to delete the forays into the minds of Richard and Alex, and just stick with Julienne's 1st person view. It makes more sense to be honest, especially since the majority of the novel is already written this way.

Soon I will be tackling how I can convey the things about Alex and Richard that will be left out as a result of having their POVs deleted. Richard is turning out all right (I started working on him first) although I was very concerned that without a direct line into his head, the reader wouldn't be able to see his dissent into madness. Now Alex is going to be difficult because he has a lot of backstory, not to mention the fact that he is a spy. So conveying that through Julienne's eyes is going to be difficult. But I like a challenge and it certainly has stirred up my creative juices (thank God!), so even though I spent most of yesterday banging my head against the wall, I'm kind of happy to be feeling something in regards to my writing.

So how about you guys? Have you had to make gut wrenching decisions when it comes to your writing?