hosted by Donna MacMeans
Please join me in welcoming Monica Burns into the lair. I met Monica last year at a reader's event when we discovered we share a publisher and an editor. We had a ball. Today, we're celebrating Monica's March release. RT Bookreviews said this about PLEASURE ME: "Multilayered, sexually charged, innovative and emotional, Burns’ novel will touch readers because she compels them to believe in the beauty and tenderness of love, and the value of every person in a relationship." Can't ask for more than that!
Most everyone enjoys music, and no matter who you are, you have a favorite singer or composer that you like to listen to. I’m also betting that when you hear one of their latest songs without the announcer telling you who’s singing, you’ll recognize it’s your favorite musician. I love John Williams’ soundtracks from all the Star Wars movies, Jaws, ET and many others he’s done. I also love Jerry Goldsmith who’s done many Star Trek movies and others. I can pick out their work even without seeing their name on the screen.
A number of years ago NBC News changed their opening soundtrack. The first time I heard it I knew John Williams had written the piece. My husband told me I was crazy, that I couldn’t possibly know it was Williams’ work (umm, yeah, like I wouldn’t be able to tell whether it’s Pepsi or Coke if I’m blindfolded! LOL). When the credits rolled that night, he looked at me in amazement and asked me how I’d known. I said it was the sound, the chords that I picked up on.
Books are the same way. Ever wondered why an author’s work resonates with you? Some readers and authors will say it’s because they write wonderful characters that are well-rounded. Others will say it’s the ARC in the story, how the author develops the story and brings it to its full conclusion. Then there are readers who want to get to the sex right away. They want “the nookie” right up front, they don’t want to wait for it, and don’t care for sexual tension in their books. Then there are the readers who despise what’s referred to as purple prose, while others want more dialogue between characters. ALL of these things and more are reflected in an author’s voice.
I’ve been published since 2004, but I started writing for publication in 2002. During the first two years, I heard nothing but I had to do this and that in order for a book to be brilliant enough for me to get an agent and get published. I learned “rules” about GMC (goals, motivation and conflict). I learned about deep POV and character ARCs. So I worked on these things, but over time I’ve developed a new theory about what makes a good book. I’ve since come to the conclusion that it’s an author’s voice that is the most important thing in whether readers enjoy a book. I’ll even going out on a limb to state that all the GMC, deep POV, character ARCs, etc, doesn’t mean squat if an author’s voice doesn’t grab a reader. I admit that those things enhance a book, but I truly believe they’re a small fraction of what makes a reader think the last book they read was wonderful, meh or lousy.
A reader falls in love with an author when the book resonates with them, when they feel as though they’re seeing the book directly through the author’s eyes. The story is unfolding for them just as it would if they’d written it themselves. It appeals to their own inner voice and the reader can identify with the story’s characters. I firmly believe this is true because of reactions I get to my own work.
Pleasure Me is a good example. I’ve gotten rave reviews for the book and reviews where readers panned the book in a major way. With my work, I’m seeing a pattern. Readers either love my work or they find it annoying. They cite all the “rules” they’ve heard from other reviewers or writers as to why a book is good or not. But I’m convinced that these “rules” have nothing to do with what makes an author popular. My theory says it’s all about how the author’s voice appeals to the reader, and how the reader can identify with the characters.
For example, I have three author friends who write wonderful, sexy, angsty romance with delicious heroes (two are in the same genre, one isn’t). IMHO, they all have all the right “rules” in place in their work. Guess what, one of them is close to being a superstar, while the others aren’t even mid-list authors. Why? What makes one of my friends increasingly popular while my other two friends are struggling to climb the ladder? Voice. I’m convinced of it.
I’m the same way. My work tends to make readers love it or hate it. There’s not much middle ground with readers who read me. I’m a wall banger or a keeper. This is perfectly okay because I have never expected everyone to love me. My latest book, Pleasure Me is a good example of that love/hate relationship. It’s important to understand that when an author writes, they write for themselves first and then for readers. I love pleasing my readers, but I know that if I’m not happy with the book, then those who DO enjoy my books, won’t enjoy the book either
I analyze my work constantly because I want to improve the way I write my stories. I want to create
full-bodied works, but when I take into consideration all the “rules,” I keep coming back to the same idea. Voice is all that really matters. I tend to cite Dan Brown as an example constantly, but I think his work is wonderful example. I love Brown. I think he writes amazing books, but his characterizations totally suck IMHO. Langston is completely flat and one-dimensional. This opinion however is based on what I was taught about writing. The “rules” if you will. BUT, as far as
I’m concerned I don’t care about the “rules” because I love Brown’s storytelling, I love his books, and it’s because of his voice. His voice keeps sucking me into the story.
Now maybe I’m unusual, but I don’t think so. I’ve been reading for many
years, and not until I seriously considered trying to get published did I even think about what makes for a good book. I read, and either I totally fell in love or was just meh about a book. I can’t think of too many books that made me want to chuck them aside. Wait, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I just wince when I think how I struggled to finish that book. I eventually put it down. I never thought it was badly written, I just didn’t get it. Yet it was a hit. Why? Because people loved the author’s voice. They got the book. I didn’t.
Romance books are the same way. We can analyze a work all we want, but IMHO, it’s just to try and make romance appear literary, to give it respectability. I don’t care about respectability, I care about making myself happy writing a book I enjoy reading, and finding readers who like it too. My voice is like a dark and stormy night, followed by a beautiful sunrise when the grass is still damp from last night’s rain. I am who I am. Love me or leave me because it’s my voice, and even if I could change it, I wouldn’t. I like who I am, and I like what I write.
Read the first three chapters of Pleasure Me
So do you think we over analyze romance books? Do you have an author you willing forgive just about anything simply because you love the way they write? Leave a comment to have a chance at winning a copy of Pleasure Me.