Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

  • Subscribe

  • Hanging by a Hair

    Hanging by a Hair, a Bad Hair Day Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Shear Murder

    Shear Murder

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Writing the Cozy Mystery

    Writing the Cozy Mystery

    Writing Guide

  • Warrior Lord

    Warrior Lord

    Paranormal Romance

  • Warrior Rogue

    Warrior Rogue

    Paranormal Romance

  • Archives

  • Categories

Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Looking for a Good Book

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 5, 2013

Recently I read through a bunch of novels to judge for the RITA contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America. Out of the 7 books sent me, I truly liked only one. That’s not to say I didn’t attempt to be fair and to objectively evaluate the others according to the supplied criteria. But only one out of the seven books appealed to my taste as a reader.

This exercise made me realize what I like about my favorite genres, and also what factors I don’t like that will make me put aside a book.

DISLIKES

No plot: In many of these romances, the romance portion was beautifully done but not much else happened. Reading page after page of angst and relationship problems quickly lost my interest. Now keep in mind that my cup of tea may be your cup of coffee. You may be an avid fan of contemporary romance and love these types of stories. I am not.

I like adventure, danger, and intrigue along with my romance. Or at the very least, I like something to be happening other than the emotional rollercoaster of the main couple. My taste runs to historicals, scifi/fantasy, and paranormals. That’s why romance can delight everyone. Different subgenres broaden the appeal.

Of course, the opposite problem can also be a deterrent: too much plot and not enough emotion. Haven’t you read stories where you don’t get a feel for the people? The action keeps moving along but you want more reaction? Balance is the key.

Graphic Language: Erotica may be a hot selling genre, but I don’t get off on the f-word or other graphically depicted details. You don’t even need a plot when these people are in bed for most of story. Or they’re thinking of doing it. Where’s the falling in love when two people are hot to trot right from the start? I’d be happier with a Jane Austen novel.

Contemporary Settings: I like to escape reality when I read, hence I prefer historical romance or futuristic/scifi/fantasy settings, or a contemporary setting with a paranormal element. My reading pleasure is focused on escape and entertainment, not enlightenment on heavy issues or a rehash of societal woes. All stories reflect on society in some manner. I prefer my tales Star Trek style, i.e. in disguised parallels to humanity’s foibles. As for location, Texas doesn’t draw me in although it seems to be a favorite among readers.

Unlikeable Characters: If the people are too far out from what’s normal for me, too eclectic or weird or damaged or tortured, I am apt to not be engaged. I want people I can admire and aspire to be like, not whom are unpleasant so that I can’t wait for the story to end.

So if these were the main things I disliked, what do I look for in a story? You may ask yourself the same thing. What draws you to a certain type of writing? A certain genre or a time period?

LIKES

Out of Time/Place/Experience: As I said above, I like to escape the toils of daily living, and so historical settings or futuristic/fantasy stories appeal to me. Ditto these elements or a paranormal angle in a modern setting.

Humor: I’m a sucker for humor. In any kind of story, if you make me smile, I’m more likely to keep reading.

Strong Plot: I want something to matter other than the relationship. Let the main couple race to find an artifact, missing sister, stolen chalice, spear of Atlantis, or anything that adds suspense. Throw them into situations that make me turn the page.

Archetypes: While I’m not fond of reunion stories, I do like hidden identity, royalty, rags to riches, and certain other archetypes. Some of these turn me off, like cowboys. What about you?

Mystery: A smidgen of mystery, even about a character’s background, adds tension. If you know everything up front and the characters like each other right away, where’s the story going?

<><><>

Now that I’ve finished the books I had to read, I can’t wait to dive into my TBR pile. Adventure, romance, fantasy, mystery, scifi—here I come.

So what kind of stories do you gravitate toward and which types do you generally avoid? How much will you read before you put a book down?

Posted in Florida Musings, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

What Readers Want

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 13, 2013

Florida Romance Writers was lucky to have Columnist Barbara Vey from Publishers Weekly speak to us about What Readers Want. Basically, they want authors to be polite and respectful toward them. They want their expectations to be met. And they want to know if you’ve reissued a book they might already have.

Barbara Vey (800x600)

Readers may be disappointed if an author breaks her promise to readers. For example, the reader expects a certain type of reading experience, and the author takes a favorite series in another direction. This might sour the reader toward buying any more books in this series.

Readers may not like it when an author switches genres and the reader is expecting the same type of book as before. Either use a pseudonym or indicate by the cover that this is a different genre.

Readers aren’t happy when they buy a book only to find they already have it on their shelves, because it’s a reissue. Have it say so somewhere on the cover or inside the front pages.

Readers blame the author for anything and everything: bad covers, bad editing, etc. They don’t understand that publishers may be at fault. All they know are authors.

Readers hold authors in high regard and expect courtesy and respect in return.

Avoid politics online (and religion) or you’ll risk alienating your fans.

Readers who post reviews shouldn’t give away significant plot points.

To gain reader interest, Barbara advises authors to interact online with readers, put out questions, chat as though with a friend, and be yourself.

Readers, what would you add?

<><><>

I was pleased to receive Member of the Month award from FRW. Here’s a photo of me with FRW president Rose Lawson, and another one of FRW Board members Heidi Lynn Anderson, Rose Lawson, and Lisa Manuel with lifetime achievement award winners Linda Conrad, Heather Graham, and Joan Hammond.

Nan Award2013     FRW BoardJan13 (800x600)
We went to lunch afterward at the Field, an Irish pub. Here I am with Barbara Vey. And that’s the rest of the gang!

Nan Barbara Vey   FRWLunch Jan2013

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Movies vs Books

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 18, 2011

Do you prefer to watch a movie first and then read the book, or vice versa?

I’ve done it both ways. Here are some movies I’ve watched that have spurred me to get the book: City of Ember, Legend of the Seeker, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and the Alex Rider teen spy series, beginning with Operation: Stormbreaker. Even my husband has enjoyed these books, most of which are YA novels.

City of EmberCity of Ember book

Legend of the Seeker, on the other hand, is based on Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth epic fantasy series (see Wizard’s First Rule to get started). After seeing this show on TV, I was delighted to learn there were twelve books waiting for my reading pleasure. It didn’t matter that Disney altered the storyline to suit their audience. Both were equally enjoyable in their own right. Terry Goodkind is about to release a new book about his beloved characters. I can’t wait to read it.

Legend of the SeekerWizard's First Rule

Now we’ve discovered I Am Number Four after renting the DVD. This is book one in a proposed series, and a movie sequel is already planned. I recognized the hero of this film as being the same actor who played the lead in Alex Rider. Coincidence, huh?

Alex RiderNumber Four

Harry Potter stimulated me in the opposite direction. I read all the books, then devoured the films. I’d say the same for Jane Austen movies. I love those classic romances. Who hasn’t watched Pride and Prejudice multiple times? Ditto for films based on Charles Dickens titles. And another remake of The Three Musketeers will soon appear on screen.

There’s one novel I am not rushing out to read, and that’s the one based on Castle, the witty TV show starring Nathan Fillion as a bestselling mystery writer. I can pass on the book supposedly written by his character because I’m not fond of movie or TV tie-in stories. I’d rather read original works by an author, where the world building originates in his imagination. Thus I’m willing to read books after watching a film based on the work, but I won’t run out to buy a book solely derived from the movie.

What about you? Do movies excite you to read the original book, or would you rather read the book first and then watch the film?

Posted in Florida Musings, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,658 other followers

%d bloggers like this: