Monday, June 28, 2010

The Overused Plot

One of my all-time favorite comments left on this blog came two weeks back when we were talking about the different genres within Christian fiction. Somehow in the middle of the comments we switched from genres to particular plotlines that show up within the genres repeatedly.
Commenter extraordinaire, Cara, described her least liked, often used plot as, “Guy meets Girl. Girl can't stand Guy. Guy and Girl develop a weird love/hate relationship…Eventually, Guy kisses Girl. Girl is furious with Guy. But because of that Girl somehow comes to the realization that she really actually is terribly in love with guy. (gag)”
So, as I laughed, that got me thinking; Are there plotlines that have been used one too many times?
Frankly, I always seem to like the “angst-filled romance” plot, the “Pride and Prejudice from yet another point of view” novel, and, as a mystery lover, I’ll probably never get enough of the “one dead body, six suspects, and a snarky detective” story. I can name stacks of novels I’ve read and enjoyed with these plots.
Of course, there are some that I just can’t stand to read one more time, particularly the “Girl must choose between poor Guy she loves and rich Guy who can support her” plot. I find myself thinking, “Am I really willing to sit through 300 pages when I know she’s going to go with the poor guy?” And there are some subgenres I just don’t get! Really, how many Amish books can possibly be written?
NOW LISTEN, before you send me lots of messages about how there are some really awesome Amish novels out or you have seen the poor guy/rich guy plot done well look at what I’m saying. My point is plainly EVERY PLOTLINE IS OVERUSED. Seriously think about that. There is nothing really new under this sun.
How many mysteries can be written staring a sleuth with a penchant for baked goods? How many heroines are going to be city girls trying to survive in the old west? And, for goodness sakes, how many times are people going to try to convince me that there is actually something romantic about blood-suckers? (Ooo, I’m going to get some comments about that one, aren’t I? ;)
If you really think about it, in some way every book is using a plotline we’ve seen before. The only difference is YOU and what you happen to like and dislike.
So, now it’s your turn! What plotline can you not stand to sit through one more time and what one have you come to realize you’ll probably buy in some form or another every time you go book shopping? :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Commenter’s Choice! (A follow up and what’s coming up.)

In the previous post we talked the art of book covers. I told you what I thought and showed you a few of my picks for best cover design. Now it’s your turn. The following is a selection of covers several people told me were their top picks for favorite cover art.
I will say, among all the people who left comments on the previous post there were some definite trends that developed. Several people stated that they preferred photographs over illustrations on covers. The words “must have intrigue” came up often. A distain for books with covers that have nothing to do with the book came up (I hate that too). And a number of people admitted to overlooking books with lack luster covers.
So, publishers if you’re listening (dreams) listen to the people!!

Now to the covers. Just a little disclaimer. I haven’t read any of these books, so I can’t officially recommend them. This all about the cover art. There’s just something about these covers that grabbed the readers. :)

Have a great weekend!
And thanks to Susan, Jon, CMOM, and Joanna for your cover picks! :)

A quick notice to what’s coming up on Monday. The post is title “The Overused Plotline.” I am frankly a bit afraid of offending people. ;) Be prepared to give your opinion.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reviewing The Book Cover?

I’ve noticed an interesting trend recently amongst book reviewers. After reviewing the book itself, they toss in a comment or two on their feelings towards the cover. I think this is kind of a neat idea because the cover is a huge factor in the sale of the book. We are told not to judge a book by its cover, but when faced with rows of books we are unfamiliar with we’re naturally going to grab the one with the most interesting cover. (Be honest ;)
First and foremost, I think the cover of a book should represent the genre. Marketers will tell you most people stick to a particular genre. So, if you write mystery you want to catch the eye of the mystery reader and if you write romance you want to catch the eye of a romance reader. In many cases color alone will separate different genres. For instance: Dark, moody colors for mystery and light or bright colors for romance.
Personally, I have a couple things I don’t like. Book covers that simply show the location of the book bore me silly. :P One of my favorite writers put out an awesome suspense novel about human smuggling. The cover? A quant picture of the Chesapeake Bay area the story took place in. If I hadn’t already known the author I probably wouldn’t have picked it up.
I’m also iffy on the trend of putting a picture of what the character looks like on the cover. Sometimes it works, but sometimes I want to say, “That is not what the character looks like!” ;) I do know a lot of people who prefer the character’s picture to be front and center, however.
Below I’ve got a few of my favorite book covers and why I think they work. Here’s your part. Leave me the name of a book who’s cover you like! On Friday, I’ll put up a “Reader’s Choice” with a selection of your reviews. I can’t wait to see what you think makes a good cover! :)

The color pop is great, plus the image plainly says “Drama and humor!” ;)

The color and frilliness clearly say “romance,” but the designer also achieved a sense of intrigue. Frankly, it’s better than a lot of mysteries I’ve seen.

I really like this particular rerelease St. Martin’s did of Agatha Christie’s mysteries. Each cover is a simple, but eerie photograph that captures both the mystery and the vintage look Christie has come to be associated with.

This is the first romantic-western I was ever inclined to pick up. Why? It stood out on the display because every other book in the genre had a picture of a girl in a dress standing in front of some form of western scenery. I am not exaggerating. :P It gave me a "Hm, wonder what that one is about?" moment.

By the way, I would highly recommend all of these books.
So, what about you?

Monday, June 14, 2010

You mean me?

Okay, so, in my previous post I mentioned that my library book singing-turned book talk last week resulted in an interested situation due to the way it was advertised. (Not a bad one sentence summary. ;)
It all started when the librarian in charge suggested some things I should talk about and finished with saying, “And you should talk about this new genre you write in.” I sort of stared at her blankly so she added, “You know, Christian mysteries.”
Well, I thought about it for a minute and tried to come up with a way to tell her it’s not really a new genre, but I realize that to some people it is. So, when I was discussing the topic I said that Christian mystery isn’t exactly a new genre, but a lot of people associate Christian fiction more with historical novels. I did start to notice that questions came up time to time about it…particularly from other librarians. They wanted to know what this new genre was all about.
…..Much to my surprise, towards the end of the day, I discovered the library was handing flyers out that boldly stated, “Emily is one of the first to work with the Christian Mystery Genre.” That is an exact quote and it caught me totally off-guard. :P
Am I one of the first writers working with the Christian Mystery Genre? No. I’m not sure where that came from. But I have noticed that in a lot of circles Christian fiction is a pretty foreign concept and mystery is even more so. I’ve just never had it be quite so foreign to a group before. LOL
So, I’m here today to ask you, my friends, what your opinion is. ;)
Have you heard of or read Christian fiction? If so, is there a particular genre you associate with it more? Is Christian mystery all that unheard of in the world of books?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Turns Out Interesting

So, Saturday was my first ever Library book signing. I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew it was being announced as a “talk” but I wasn’t sure if that meant I actually had to give some sort of speech or just talk to people as they walked by wherever I was stationed.
….Turns out I had to give a speech…. :)
When I arrived I was promptly directed to a back room with a few rows of chairs set up along with a podium. Yes, a podium. The only problem was it was almost as tall as I am so I had to stand in front of it. Lol.
When we realized in the upcoming minutes that I might actually have to give some sort of presentation my family suggested I test run standing up and talking. But I sat down instead. ;)
Honestly, over the past year and a half since my book came out one thing that has changed about me is the way I face stuff like this. I just don’t face it until I absolutely have to. LOL And by then it’s sink or swim so I just swim (by the grace of God, I assure you ;).
There is a verse in the Bible that talks about not preparing what you’re planning on saying a head of time and I sometimes feel like that’s my motto. Oh, I do run through a few things about what the book is about beforehand, but by and large I don’t think new situations like this through too much. It’s weird in a sense because I don’t get as excited about stuff as I use to, but I also don’t get as nervous. :)
So in the end it turned out fine. Groups of people sort of moved in and out of the room. I talked for a little while about the book and the writing process then they asked questions and I answered. :) Often I was speaking with people one on one.
I actually didn’t sell many books, but that’s okay because I think the experience was good overall. Plus we got chocolate chip cookies!!
One really interesting situation arose due to the way the event was advertised, but I think that calls for a little more in depth post. So, I’ll save that one for next Monday. (Sound interesting?)
Have a good week all! I’ve got one more week of job training to go, so hopefully by next week I'll have a little more time to cyber-visit. ;)