Thursday, February 28, 2013

Has it been done before?

Regardless of subject matter, the answer to the question has it been done before is "Probably." Especially if we're talking about art in any form. With about seven billion people on the planet, you can bet that someone somewhere at some point in time has attempted the same thing or gotten the same idea.

The upside is that with so many people and the great span of time, we usually don't know. I'm not talking about plagiarism by design; these accidental similarities are a function of our society, of fashion, and of there being a finite number of things (objects/words/colours/notes/chords) to start with.

Don't believe me? I was a musician for many years, and once you start picking songs apart, comparing them to music from the past, everything resembles something else. I could go into why, but that subject could cover a blog post in itself, so it'll have to wait until some other day. =)

When it comes to writing, every author battles mountains of media. Think about this for a moment: the printing press was invented around 1439. We have been able to mass produce printed products for nearly 600 years. IMDB contains around 300,000 feature films. How many TV shows might there have been since then 1920's? I can't even imagine the number.

When it comes to books, the numbers are even more staggering. According to Pat Bertram, around 15,000,000 ISBN numbers were issued in the US alone in 2012. Granted, many of these aren't used, or are used for different versions of the same book, but this is only one country. There are around 200 countries in the world.

When I released Kidnapped I thought it was a pretty good name. (I still think it's a good name.) There are pages of books with the same name on Amazon. Someone tweeted me a while ago to say, "Isn't that name already taken?" Well yes, they're all taken.

Should artists even try to be original? (Spoofs and paying homage to someone else's work is a different discussion, of course.) I think so, but it's important not to be hurt when someone comments on name, cover, or content reminding them of something else. Regardless of what you do, it will remind someone of something else.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What is romance?

Definitions and categories can create headaches for many writers. Not just definitions in the books, but regarding the books themselves. At some point in time, every author needs to look at their work and decide, "What is this?" If you look at Amazon's category system, it fills pages, and the category you want usually doesn't exist.

I generally tell people I write science fiction romance or contemporary romance. For me, personally, the definition romance means the story has an element of people meeting and caring for each other. It doesn't necessarily have to be explicit sex. In my world, there's a special category for explicit books, called erotica. This is my definition, and not necessarily anyone else's.

I'm talking about this today because I recently submitted a short story to an anthology, and it was refused on the grounds of not containing a romantic element. The main character meets a girl, and they start caring for each other. It's been a year since I wrote this and I don't remember all the details, but I'm pretty sure they kiss, and I intended for the story to end with readers having a feeling of these characters getting together in the near future. To me, that's romance. To this publisher, it wasn't romance at all.

This is interesting, because definitions are so subjective. In my world, the main motif of a book doesn't necessarily have to be about people falling in love to be a romance. I mean, these ingredients have to be there, but romance is something that happens every day in life, while people go about their business of living. It's usually not a matter of, "Hey, today my main objective will be falling in love." Other people have another definition.

According to dictionary.com, the definition of romance is, "A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love."

What's your definition? Is it about feelings, flirting, sex...? I'd love to hear what you think!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Eye of the beholder!


My good writer friend Patty Froese is celebrating a new book release: Eye of the Beholder. Patty is a wonderful, warm, and funny person, and I'm thrilled to introduce a blog post from her. Particularly since it gave me some good awwww and laugh out loud moments!

Welcome Patty Froese!

My First Christian Guy

I met my husband during my starving artist years.

Those were fun years! I lived on the cheap, worked as few hours as possible at part time jobs, and wrote in every spare minute.  I lived in downtown Toronto in a tiny apartment with a leaky roof and a mouse in the wall. My first published novel was written during that time--so it was definitely productive.

One week, I decided I wanted to go to church again for the first time in a few years, and I looked in the yellow pages (I had no internet at home) for the closest one to my home and then hopped on the streetcar. I didn't own "church clothes" anymore, and I didn't look the part, but I figured that shouldn't matter too much.

My husband was the first person to talk to me when I stepped in the door of that downtown church. To hear him tell it, he spotted me across the foyer and thought, "I'm going to marry her." I think it probably took a little longer than that to get to the commitment stage, but not much. He gave me a little booklet and wrote his phone number inside.

I was clueless. I'd never really dated a Christian guy before, and I thought his phone number was just being Christianly. I knew what things meant with "regular" guys, but Christians? Weren't they supposed to be uber-nice to everyone? But when he gave me his number again the next weekend, my roommate insisted that he was probably interested, which gave us scads to talk about over a pot of tea in our leaky kitchen. Christian men were alien to both of us. So I gave him a call.

We talked all night. He had a thick African accent, so he and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what each other were saying, but it was worth any frustration. He was unlike any guy I'd ever met.

About two weeks later on a long walk together, he asked me to marry him. Two weeks in, I knew it was crazy and I knew exactly what all my friends and family would say to me, so I said, "Yes, I'll marry you. But let's not tell my family just yet..."

It was eight months from "Hello" to "I do." He was the conservative church guy in a black suit, and I was the artsy girl in jeans with a shaved head.  Nearly eight years later, we've balanced out. I have hair, and he's been known to wear jeans to church. (Gasp!) And we're still crazy about each other.


***


Blurb:
Eye of the Beholder
By Patty Froese


Tricia Hunter was an extraordinary beauty... before a horrible bus accident left her irreparably scarred. In an effort to accept the things she cannot change, she heads to her uncle's cabin for some time alone.
Forest ranger Jesse Reynolds recognizes Tricia the minute he sees her, but nothing flickers in her eyes. That's fine by him. The same accident that stole her good looks killed his fiance, and he simply can't bring himself to feel sorry for Tricia like everyone else in her life seems to do.


Thrown together in the autumn woods, they are faced with the past, an uncertain future, and a struggle to find out why God allows terrible things to happen.

Amazon


Friday, February 22, 2013

SFR Brigade presents...

This week has flown by so fast I almost missed this... The SFR Brigade presents! We got this down by now, right? I'll post a little snippet of a work in progress below, and you can go here to see what some other scifi romance authors are up to.  :-)

I just have a short one this week, from my upcoming novel Operation Earth. It will be available in August and I still have some work to do on it, but it's getting there. :-)



Peter's presence in the house seemed more surreal now than when he first entered. 

There’s a tall handsome man I don’t know in my home. A tall, handsome alien man, dressed in uniform and armed to the teeth.

He followed her gaze and patted a gun on his hip. “This is rude, isn’t it? Can I… Do you have somewhere I could put them?”

She nodded towards her recliner. “Knock yourself out.”

An expression of utter surprise flew over his face. “Oh, it means, do what you want. Put them over there, and we’ll go have dinner.”

Why are you here? Why me? She closed her mouth around all questions and went to the kitchen to set the table. Peter followed, standing very close to her. It made her heart race.

He nodded towards the plates. “Can I help you with that?”

“No, I’m good. You can eat Earth food, right?”

The question seemed reasonable, maybe something that tasted good to her would be repulsive to him, or make him sick, but he laughed. “We’re not that different.” 





That was a weird test...

I'm Swedish originally, and I lived there until late 2008 when I moved to the US. For me, English is a foreign language that I learned in school. This becomes a little backwards when attending an American college; I think I'm doing awesome taking classes and getting As in a foreign language, but the school thinks I need to fill a foreign language requirement in order to graduate. (After writing the word 'foreign' this many times in one paragraph it's starting to look funky, hahaha!)

I've been procrastinating. I could have taken classes in German, or Spanish, or something and it probably wouldn't have been too bad since I almost know German already. I can read it fairly well, but their grammar is so intense trying to speak gives me a headache. I haven't wanted to take language classes; I have enough to do anyway, and since I'm a foreigner I already know a language besides English.

Today was the day to prove my skills. I ordered the test online and drove up to Tampa to take it at USF's main location. I get lost every time I go there. The campus is like a little city about the size of my home town in Sweden, and this was only the fourth or fifth time I've been there. I had to stop and ask a security guard for help. He was so sweet and helpful, told me where to go and where to park, and I wanted to plead with him to get in the car and come with me on this scary adventure. I didn't, of course, but it was tempting. :-)

A friendly young man manned the test center, and he told me all the exams for languages not taught by USF come from a Mormon college, because they send out missionaries that have to know a lot of languages. I thought, "Whoa, I'm not sure I like the sound of this."

The test was weird. I expected to have a hard time understanding the spoken portions - I thought they would sound kind of like Pam on True Blood where you can hear an American trying to say the words without really knowing the language. The people talking didn't have much of an accent though, but they sounded like they came from then 1930's. They wouldn't be able to fool a native, because no one talks like that. The written portions were even weirder; poorly spelled and incoherent. Parts looked like a school book from the 1950's, others as if someone translated with Google. You know, a bunch of random words that doesn't mean anything when put together.

The prize question was near the end, telling the story of a woman named Mona who managed to drive to England without stopping. That is quite a feat considering England is an island... I thought, "Fantastic, they're not only bad at Swedish, they're bad at geography too, and these people are scoring me?"


Luckily, I was the only one taking a test. I couldn't help but giggle, I even laughed out loud a couple of times, and other people would probably have found me really annoying.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jessica Subject on sci-fi romance!



I’ll have some science fiction with my romance, please

Hello everyone! It is a pleasure to be back on Maria’s blog to visit with you again. Thank you, Maria, for inviting me back!

Anyone who has read any of my stories knows that no matter which you choose they are romance stories. The plots follow the romance guidelines no matter whom or what my characters are. But I love to add a dash of science fiction to many of my stories. No, never heavy on the sci-fi. The story may include aliens or clones, be set in the future, or on another planet. All those classify as science fiction romance.

Why do I add the sci-fi aspect to my stories? Looking to the future and beyond our world has always been something I’ve done. I’m curious as to what technologies will develop in the lifetimes of my children and future grandchildren. Look how far technology has come in our own years on Earth. And, I want to know what else is in our universe. What is life like on other planets? To me, it’s not a matter of if there is life, because I already believe there is. I want to know how different or similar they are to us.

Plus, I have always believed in equality for all. My mother instilled in me from a young age, never to judge someone who is different from myself. And I don’t, usually. Though when it comes to harming children, I have other opinions. Anyways, I try to show that in my stories. I show the struggle with aliens and clones finding love, how cultures can clash when two people come from different worlds.
But, above all else, I believe that love conquers all.


Intergalactic Heat by Jessica E. Subject


A date on a space station? Alien lovers? Madame Evangeline, owner of the exclusive 1Night Stand dating service is known to be magical in fulfilling the ideal dates of her clients, but she’s outdone herself this time, bring together beings from Earth and beyond. As long as applicants are willing to let go of their pasts and open their hearts and minds, she will find their perfect match, whether they be a former sci-fi television star, a nurse, an employee of the Space Service, a former Marine, or even an extraterrestrial. Because everyone in the universe deserves a happily ever after…


Buy Links:

Book Trailer:


Excerpt from Satin Sheets in Space (incl. in Intergalactic Heat)
– MFM Science Fiction Erotic Romance

She had her eyes closed, her lips pressed against his, when the sensation started. First, a tingling in her hands and feet, as he swept his digits deep inside her. The buzz spread up her arms and legs until it engulfed her entire body. She no longer sensed the ground below her.

The man continued to drive his fingers into her core with vigor, ridding her of the urge to pull away and find out what was happening to her. She landed with a thud, feeling returning to her limbs. Nothing stopped the man who held her, though. He continued to ravage her mouth, her jaw, her neck, keeping her pressed against the wall.

But something felt different. Gone was the hard brick pressing through her corset and against her skin. She reached behind to brush her hand along the surface. Soft. Almost like cushioned satin.
With a whimper, she pushed the strange man away. Where was she? What had she been thinking? This is the stupidest, most insane thing I’ve ever done. 

The Prince Charming she’d had the fortune of being set up with peered down at her, his gaze intense and filled with lust. “My name is Galan, and we’re in my spaceship.”

At least she now knew his name, but wait…. Spaceship? She stared at the man, disillusioned. She could think of no other explanation for how they had traveled to a new location with the press of a button. Oh God, she’d been abducted by an alien. How would she get out of this situation? The first time she’d done something spur-of-the-moment, and she’d ended up being finger-fucked by an extraterrestrial.

Or was this some kind of elaborate stunt Josh had pulled off? But why? He was on his honeymoon, unable to enjoy his handiwork. Her body grew numb; a loud ringing pierced her eardrums. She could no longer think with the clouds invading her mind. Then she blacked out.
Bio:
Jessica Subject started writing to encourage her daughter to read. Now she writes to keep herself grounded. Although she reads many genres, she enjoys writing Science Fiction Romance the most and believes everyone in the universe deserves a happily ever after. She lives Southwestern Ontario, Canada with her husband and two kids and loves to hear from her readers.