Inara Scott's Blog, page 4
August 3, 2012
Writing for publication is both an intensely personal and shockingly public act. Writers who put their work into the public realm know people will read it and respond to it. This is, of course, why we put it out there. If writers truly didn’t care about readers, we would put our stories under our pillows and forget about them.
But that isn’t what publishing is about. Publishing is an act of connection. It is an intimate, emotional tie between writer and reader. I create the characters but they don’t truly live until you read them. Your experience of them is its own act of creation. You connect emotionally, bringing your own experiences, hopes, dreams, and fears to the table, and the characters that emerge are changed BY YOU. You are the only one who knows what you have experienced, and how the characters took shape in your mind.
If I have done my job as a writer, I have created a hardy, but ultimately incomplete framework–an emotional canvas that is 90% filled in. I can’t fill in 100%; partly because I work in language not cloning, and partly because I don’t want to. I want you to create the last 10%. I want my characters to spring to life, new and fresh, each time they are experienced by a reader.
For that 90%, my goal is to draw a sustainable, reliable picture that is internally consistent, honest, believable, and real. If I don’t give readers enough, they can’t finish the picture. Actions become unpredictable and therefore unsatisfying. Emotional journeys become opaque. The connection cannot be made. On the other hand, if I give readers too much, the work is boring. Your emotional connection stems from the piece of my characters that you inhabit. If I fill them up all the way, there’s no room for you. But I have to give you the springboard so you can jump, effortlessly, into their skin.
When I get a review of one of my books, my first thought is, OF COURSE, “did they like it?” I want to be liked. I really do. I’ll admit that. But then I wonder, “Did they get it? Did I do my job as a writer? Did the characters work?”
It is this second level that, ultimately, sustains me as a writer. Because I’ll never be liked by everyone. The emotional journey of each character is different, and the emotional journey of my readers–which, as I mentioned before, is informed by their own life experiences–will vary. Liking me is ice cream sundae stuff. I love it, but it isn’t enough to fuel the body forever.
This brings me to the review I received today, from an incredibly thoughtful, insightful woman at The Romance Reviews. Here’s a snippet of the review. You can read the rest here.
“I love Inara Scott’s writing, and her well-crafted, passionate characters. And it’s because this story is so well written that I had a hard time with Tori. Her insecurities run deep, and her mother’s wealth of painful lessons have left her believing that she will neither find nor deserve love. Maybe it was because I felt so deeply for her and genuinely liked her so much that her insecurities really bothered me. I was hurt by how much she herself was hurting—and while this is unequivocally the sign of a well-written story, I don’t think I was quite prepared to feel this way about her as a heroine.”
In explaining her rating (three out of five starts) the reviewer goes on to say,
“Coming up with a rating for this story was a little challenging. The tension and chemistry between Tori and Brit really is explosive and passion and tender, and I really wanted to follow their story to the end. However, I wasn’t prepared for just how emotional the story was going to be, or how I personally would respond to Tori’s psychology.”
And that’s where my heart, as a writer, leaps. This is a well-written, honest review that considers both the author’s contribution AND the contribution of the reader. Both combine to make the experience of reading. And while for this reader, the journey was perhaps not the one she was prepared to go down at that moment, I still feel like I scored a 10.
July 21, 2012
Happy Saturday, friends!
Thanks so much for helping spread the word about romance. It was such fun to see my PSA repeated on the internetz; maybe now those doubters will start listening!
(Okay, probably not, but we can hope, right?)
So, somewhere in the midst of my contest I added enough Twitter followers to hit 2200, which is such a fabulous, round number that I decided to give away prizes to TWO WINNERS!
1) MELODY MAY! Please contact me to claim your prize!
3) STACIE BARTH! Please contact me to claim your prize!
Have a great weekend everyone!
July 18, 2012
No, I don’t have any statistics. I’m not going to link to any studies or articles in the psychiatric literature. I’m just going to say: DUH. How happy are all those people reading literary fiction about people dying, being trapped in closets, suffering abuse, and getting addicted to drugs? NOT VERY HAPPY.
How happy are romance readers?
Yeah…that’s what I thought.
One of the things I love about the national Romance Writers of America conference is that it brings together thousands of like-minded people. Smart people. Great writers. Enthusiastic readers. We don’t all like the same kind of romance–there’s people who like inspirational romance, people who read contemporary, and those who wonder what all the fuss is about 50 Shades because they’ve been reading and writing erotica for years. But we all agree that reading and writing happily ever after is good for the soul.
Unsupported assertion: reading and thinking about happily ever after makes you happy. Reading and thinking about how two people work through conflicts and–despite life not being perfect–carve out a life that is meaningful and joyful makes you smarter.
Reading about people finding physical fulfillment raises your pulse. And we KNOW that’s healthy.
So in honor of the RWA National Convention in Anaheim, which I will be at for a couple of days next week (Friday July 27-Sunday July 29), I am sponsoring this important Public Service Announcement/giveaway. To be entered, you must:
1) Tweet “Reading romance makes you smarter and happier” (add @inarascott so I know you did it) OR
2) Update Facebook status to: “Reading romance makes you smarter and happier” OR
3) Go tell someone (that wouldn’t know this about you) that you read and love romance. Comment here and tell me you did it.
Do any of the three and then fill out the form below. If you don’t fill out the form I won’t know how to contact you about your prize!
1) 1:1 Pitch coaching at RWA–I’ll only be around Friday evening (July 27), but I will buy you a drink, hear your agent/editor pitch, and give you feedback.
2) Autographed copy of one of my YA books (The Talents or The Marked) sent to your home or delivered to you in person at RWA.
3) Electronic copy of Radiant Desire or Rules of Negotiation. I will email to you and also send a signed postcard with autograph.
Contest runs for 2 days–winner announced Friday July 20.
May 13, 2012
Some happy news to share this Mother’s Day–I just received my contract for a follow up to my February adult contemporary romance, RULES OF NEGOTIATION! This book is tentatively titled (are you ready for this?):
THE BILLIONAIRE’S FAKE FIANCEE!
No, seriously, that’s what it’s called. I’m not even joking.
Here’s the blurb:
She’s his worst nightmare…
Reclusive billionaire Garth Solen learned a long time ago that weakness and emotion only lead to pain. The last thing the “human computer” wants is a relationship, especially with a woman like Melissa Bencher, who thinks with her heart and not her head. When Melissa’s impulsive act lands the two of them on the cover of a tabloid, Garth is furious. To protect his ailing grandmother, he’s forced to play the adoring fiancee. But what happens when the lies become the truth?
…or a dream come true.
Melissa Bencher never meant for things to go this far. She only wanted to make her cheating ex-boyfriend jealous–and what better way than to suggest she was dating her gorgeous boss? Now she’s trying on rings and spending private weekends with a dangerously sexy fake fiance. The game is clear: for two weeks, they’re an adoring couple, and then they part ways. No emotions. No entanglements. Unfortunately, when it comes to matters of the heart, Melissa’s never been good at following the rules…
I’m thrilled to share Melissa and Garth’s story with you. If you read RULES, you will remember that Garth is a genius entrepreneur and scientist who guards his privacy like the crown jewels. Getting a job with Garth helped pull Melissa out of a dark depression; falling for him was the last thing she wanted to do. But in matters of the heart, there are no guarantees, right?
(Okay, there is one guarantee: there will be an HEA at the end of this book. Sorry if that ruins the surprise for anyone. )
BFF (as I’ve been calling it when I chat with my editor, the amazing Libby Murphy) is very tentatively slated for release in November 2012. It’s part of the Entangled Publishing Indulgence line. I am having a blast writing for the talented people at Entangled and am thrilled to be able to work with them all on this new project.
For all my YA readers, don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about you. You’re next.
April 19, 2012
A lot of romance writers supply their blog readers with “man candy”: that is, pictures of beautiful, scantily-clad men. Despite the fact that I write about gorgeous men, I don’t really enjoy gawking over male models. Just not my thing. BUT–lest you think you’re missing something by visiting my blog, here’s MY version of Man Candy:
These two sexy guys are Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. They host a radio show called RadioLab. I don’t remember when I started listening, but at this point, I’ve downloaded every podcast and listened to them all (some more than once). It’s kind of like This American Life, only funnier, and with science.
So these guys are my current crushes. They’re smart and funny, and for me, that’s the best kind of Man Candy.
(Okay, my geeking out is done for the day! Back to your regularly scheduled program!)
April 15, 2012
Sitting in my hotel room, leaving in a couple of hours for Austin for school visits with fellow Disney authors Megan Crewe and Robin Mellom. Had an incredible time at TeenBookCon, and must give a big shout-out to all of those who worked so hard to organize and make it happen, especially co-chairs Lisa Stultz and Aria Tatelman. Thanks Lisa for the adorable picture, too!
I was on a panel with the irrepressible Maggie Stiefvater, the adorable Jessica Spotswood, and Orson Scott Card (hereafter known as OSC). Not sure what single word could describe Orson. Instead, I’ll say that, after writing, teaching, and working in publishing for decades, he has an incredible amount of advice, wisdom, and opinion to share. I thought he gave a brilliant keynote, and while our panel occasionally devolved into lunacy (seriously–ask the people who got a little sex ed at TeenBookCon!), I also learned a lot from the wonderful questions posed by the audience, and my fellow authors’ answers.
Among my fav memories from TeenBookCon 2012:
1) Best moment of the event, which brought tears to my eyes: OSC firmly instructing the audience to never, ever, let anyone make them feel ashamed of what they enjoy reading. As a romance reader, and strong supporter of the most-maligned and disparaged genre in literature, this meant a lot. I love OSC for saying this, and hope everyone who heard that speech takes it into their hearts and believes it.
2) Moment in which I knew I was truly odd: when I admitted I write in silence. Maggie and OSC clearly think I’m nuts: they must have music to write. Maggie builds a playlist for each of her books and listening to it transports her into the world of her novel. I love how different writers are!
3) Coolest author moment: meeting Ruta Sepetys, who wrote the book Between Shades of Grey. This is a book I am terrified to read because it is dark and sad, and chronicles the journey of a girl taken from Lithuania to a Soviet labor camp in 1941. This is a fate my mother, who lived in Latvia until she was 6, could easily have suffered, if she and my grandparents had not managed to escape to the United States in 1948. I am sure many of my other Latvian and Lithuanian relatives (my father is Lithuanian) were not so lucky. Ruta is an absolutely delightful person, and now that I have heard her story, I am determined to read her book.
4) Most outright FUN time: hanging with blogger friends Lindsi, Lena, Sarah, Ginger, Kelsey and others at dinner at Chuy’s in Houston after the conference. These girls are awesome fun and I’m so glad I got to get out of the hotel and see a little of Houston! Cheers ladies!
5) As always, I met so many wonderful people, too numerous to name, who I know from Twitter and blogging (waving to Yara Santos, I’ve been wanting to meet forever!)…not to mention all the fans, readers, teachers, librarians, booksellers (Blue Willow Books is amazing!) who made TeenBookCon a wonderful success. Thanks everyone who came to say hello–xoxox to all!
Keep reading my friends!!
April 4, 2012
Remember that post I put up a while back, about saying thanks (with prizes)? Well, it's time to announce the winners:
Okay, you knew that, right? I'll be sending something (as in, bookmarks, postcards, stickers, adorable faerie tattos) to everyone who filled out the form and sent me their address. But I did promise some other, bigger prizes, so here they are:
1) ONE COPY OF THE TALENTS
2) ONE ARC OF THE MARKED
3) ONE E-COPY OF RULES
4) ONE E-COPY of RADIANT DESIRE
and ONE GRAND PRIZE:
5) A PACK WTIH BOTH THE TALENTS AND THE MARKED!
Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me, my books, and my writing. I wish I could give each of you a big ol' hug, but that may be inappropriate, and/or get me arrested. Besides, all that traveling would be really hard on the pocketbook.
April 1, 2012
Hey everyone, I hope you enjoyed the YA Scavenger Hunt!
The fun is over, but the prizes have only just begun. Check the YA Scavenger Hunt blog to find out if you won one of the grand prizes. But for those of you who entered my contest, here are the three winners for a prize pack with both THE TALENTS and THE MARKED!
I will send out prizes to the winners. Thanks so much for playing!
March 29, 2012
March 27, 2012
Yesterday, as did hundreds of other authors, I sat by my phone, desperately hoping for a call. I didn't get one. (Okay, my husband called to ask what color paint I wanted in for the dining room, but that didn't really count. ) Slowly, I watched the finalists for RWA's RITA award appear on my computer screen, and didn't see my name.
That was a little sad. This was the first time I'd entered, and I'd thought RADIANT DESIRE had a shot. It didn't sell thousands of copies, but it got really lovely reviews, and I had the feeling that if the judges read the book, maybe they'd score it high enough for it to final.
But at the end of the day, as I scrolled through the list of names, I had a little relevation. None of the names were from small presses. They were all Big Six publishers and imprints–Grand Central, Avon, Ballantine, etc. Being the analytic type, I mused on that a little, and why that might be.
Here's what I came up with:
It could be a basic law of percentages.
I don't know how many authors from small presses entered, compared to the Big Six, but I suspect we were a minority. Entering the RITA is expensive: $50 for the entry fee, and then you have to buy and ship five copies of the book. That can run you in the nature of $100, particularly when you have a small print run, so your book isn't set to mass-market prices. Many of the Big Six publishers foot the bill for that. Small presses–and small press authors–can't afford it.
But even if small presses are percentage-wise, a smaller portion of the entries, I would think percentages would put at least one or two small press books on there. So that doesn't ring true for me.
It could simply be coincidence that there's no small presses on the list. However, I think this happens every year. So I doubt that as well.
It could be quality. That's the next most obvious answer. Those small press books just aren't as good as the Big Six. The small presses get the leftovers that weren't good enough for NY.
I tend to doubt that, as well. Without being too defensive, I'll tell you about RADIANT DESIRE. I wrote this book for NY. My agent adored it and was eager to sell it. We submitted widely, and had a lot of the same response from editors: this is a lovely book, but it doesn't fit the paranormal sub-genre. Paranormal readers want dark, alpha male stories, not stories about humans and faeries. We don't think we can break it out of the midlist.
Determined not to leave my book under the bed, I went to Entangled Publishing, a small, boutique publisher with an eye for quality and a willingness to take stories that didn't fit squarely into the mainstream. I had a fabulous developmental editor, Libby Murphy, who made the book shine. Entangled's incredible cover guru, Heather Howland, created a gorgeous, ethereal, beautiful cover that has been universally adored.
So, modesty aside, I don't think it's quality. I've never believed that there happen to be exactly as many "top tier" books as there are slots for publication by the Big Six. I believe there are fantastic, wonderfully written books that don't fit into an editor's list, or may not have the potential for a huge, NY market. They may never find a home in NY. They may find it with a small press.
Yet after dismissing percentages, coincidence, and quality, what's left? What about prejudice? Do the RITA judges mark down small press books simply because they're from a small press?
Let's assume right from the start that RITA judges are smart, well-read, well-meaning people, many of whom are themselves published by the New Publishing (e-books, small press, etc.). I certainly don't think they deliberately mark down a small press book. I do think, however, that it influences their score–in several ways.
We judge RITA books with a single number. I believe that number really comes from our gut. I bet if you asked a RITA judge to mark a book after the first two pages, and after reading the entire book, the scores would be remarkably similar. And I think the name of the author on the book, the publisher of the book, and the look of the cover, has something to do with that gut reaction. I think books that were enormous hits, written by popular authors that received top scores from reviewers, get a better gut reaction than books no one has heard of. If you settle in with a book with "NY Times Bestseller" on the cover, you probably start out with a different scale in mind than if you settle in with an unknown small press book. Or if you crack the spine of a book from Ballantine, and you know dozens of people who were rejected from Ballantine, you probably unconsciously assume the quality of this book must be good, to have gotten past all those gatekeepers along the way to publication.
It's natural. It's inevitable.
And as you start reading, there's a good chance that book is going to have emotional appeal. There's going to be some quality to the book that attracts you the same way it attracted a NY editor and publisher. I don't think it's as simple as saying the book is going to be higher quality than a small press book–I've already said I don't think that's the case. But this book has been carefully chosen as one that has the highest likelihood of appealing to the biggest number of romance readers possible. So the deck is stacked in its favor.
And isn't that the point of publishing?
The purpose of the RITA is to "promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas." I think it's natural for sales, gut feeling, and emotion to play into that determination. I don't think the RITA can or should be some unemotional measure of "writing quality"– I think it must embrace feeling, emotional reaction, and broad crowd appeal. And based on this, I think an enormously popular book, and yes, a book published by a Big Six house, will have a better shot at winning a RITA.
So I'm not saying a book with a smaller audience can't final in the RITA. Many of them do. I'm also not saying it's not fair that a small press book is much less likely to final.
I've just realized it's part of the nature of the contest.
It should be — it's part of the nature of publishing.