Greetings! I am a fellow reader, who also happens to be a writer, who was also fortunate to become a published author. But I had to believe in myself, and I will share a couple of anecdotes. Hurdles, actually.
The first: “Humor does not belong in a Romance novel.” Yep, that’s what one editor told me, believe it or not! If Jane Austen were alive today, she would … well, I guess she wouldn’t turn over in her grave if she was alive.
I subscribe to the “five minutes of laughter per day” theory. Laughter is good for you, and it fits right in with my other senior citizen vitamins.
The second editor quote I ignored: “Romance novels must have physical sex.” What? Jane Austen, my idol, where are you? Did you hear that? Dang, I should have written a sci-fi instead. Two different editors offered to buy my first book if I would go back and include two to three sex scenes.
If you are an author who includes explicit sex, that is wonderful—for you and for your target audience. It’s just not what I am passionate about writing. If you are a reader like my sister who skims over the sexual, I want to write for you. I prefer writing sensual, with tension and attraction in the look, the near touch. Which suits my 18th century characters perfectly. My grandfather is from England, and I love the Georgian period, where women were becoming more independent yet still had to obey the social rules (except when they could find humorous ways to circumvent them).
In hindsight though … perhaps I should not have asked that one editor, “So how many ounces of bodily fluid would you like per chapter?” I don’t think she will ever buy any of my books.
I have two goals when I write:
1. Allow my characters to be as human as possible. Mankind has not changed in the last three hundred years. People were still witty, cynical, caring, greedy, jealous, and passionate
2. Respect the intelligence of my readers. I know I need to write between 65,000 and 100,000 words, depending on the publisher. That does not give me the excuse to repeat, repeat, repeat. My readers are sharp. They can remember facts and emotions without having them hammered in their face like a bad car sales commercial. Repetition, in my opinion, is an inexcusable filler.
When I write, I think of three-act plays. Act one is for you to get to know the characters and their quirks, their dreams and goals. Act two brings the conflicts to a head, and characters will become stronger and change their fate, or will become weaker and succumb. Act three is the denouement where the good guys win, though I strive hard to add surprises and twists I hope will delight my reader.
I divide my daily writing time across three chores: actual butt-in-seat writing, historical research, and studying books on the craft of writing. I remember a strange man craning to look over my shoulder on the bus one morning. In size forty-eight font, the bold heading chapter said, “How to Orchestrate The Surprise Climax.”
The bottom line here is that you must believe in yourself to be a writer. If your story is good, you will find a reader. I often missed my bus stop when engrossed in a good novel, and my sole wish is that my books may do the same for you.
Sharol Louise and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest, where her psyche was born. However, her body was born in downtown Los Angeles, so it took about twenty-five years for the two to catch up.
As a youngster, she thought people were referring to the dictionary when they said “the good book,” as she grew up in the library reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mary Stewart, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
She’s had three Historical Romances published (Secret Sister, Secret Bride, Rosehill Manor). Raven Heights Manor, her first Mystery—a Gothic Romance—comes out this December from Cengage Publishing. Her books are available in two formats: eBooks (Kindle, Kobo, and Nook), or hardcover (Amazon.com and your local library).