Closing down for now

Hey everyone, I love the book nook but I do not want to pay for another round and lately my interaction with the people on here has dropped off due to raising a kid, having family time with my husband, trying to read and now write.

I’m going to let this blog go dead and after I have some time, I’ll come back to it. If you have any questions about trying to publish your book, or any other topic you want to cover please let me know in the comments. I hope to come back to this someday.

Competitions For Short Stories

I decided to go on a binge today (while I’m sitting at work hating being here) and look for short story competitions. You Can find the whole thread on my twitter @Storyfalling if your interested.

I need to get back to submissions. You don’t need to submit to short story submissions if you don’t want too. Ask yourself these questions as a writer. Does submitting short stories give you writing credit when querying? Yes. Does it bring you joy to step away from a big project and just do something new? Yes. Then go ahead but I will repeat that you do not need to do this to submit your novel for query. A literary agent is looking for a book to sell and despite proving you can sell a story (if you win one of these competitions), if your story is not what they are looking for or is not a good investment they will still pass.

I’m merely putting this out here because I don’t view fellow writers as the enemy. You are not my enemy, my writing style (or lack thereof) is totally different to your writing style. You may be competition but you are never the problem with my writing.

So if this interests you put it out there. Have fun with other writers, proof read and cross your fingers. Let’s get back to writing just for the hell of it. And who knows, if you sold a story you might end up with a cash prize. Feel free to brag in the comments.

What Genre sells the Most?

Have you ever wondered, I’ve written the best horror story on the market but how much of that market is available to my story compared to science fiction or fantasy?

In fact, now that we’re on the topic, what genre wins the popularity contest on the market?

I found this interesting article by Gary Smailes, which talks in far more depth about this topic but for my own purposes I’ll try to stream line this information.

825.7 million books were sold by the US in 2021. I’ve been trying to find the right graphic to represent popularity but the best I could come up with was this chart.

You can find this article by publishdrive here: https://publishdrive.com/2021-book-market-report-by-publishdrive.html

Now this might be a comparison of genre growth between 2020 and 2021 but what surprised me was the light novel growth. Perhaps my 150K sci fi should be trimmed down to 20K novella. Comics and graphic novels have gone through a huge growth spurt in the last decade. Art is a big thing with the rise of coffee table conversation starters and surprisingly fantasy has seen a lot of growth between 2020 and 2021.

Here’s the thing in the previous rant I mentioned you need to write the story you want to write and market it after. Since trends come and go with the wind, I might dust off my Rotting Throne and take another crack at it in a couple of years despite fantasy being really big right now.

Anyone have some input on marketable genre let me know. I would love to hear from other people.

Cashing in on the current Trend

Holly’s Hot Tip of the day: don’t cash in on the trend.

*Side note before I start, I debated scrapping my novel and starting a new draft (yet again) but put it aside for a while, really thought about the plot and finally inspiration struck! Whoo! So I’m back on waterfall of writing and you know what, tooting my own horn, it’s way better then where it was heading. I also don’t have to start from scratch and can keep on chugging. Anyway on with my ramblings.*

There is a rise and fall with trends in publishing. Dystopia was big in the early 2000s. Game of Thrones opened up the dark fantasy door. Writers struggling to make a name might be tempted to cash in on the trends.

This is a bad idea.

Speaking of cashing in

But why you ask? If it gets your name out there and agents are racing for a new Hunger Games or the next Gossip Girl, why not write it?

Trends and fads tend to fade as time marches on. Are you really going to sit there and try your hand at science fiction or dystopia when you are a horror writer at heart? Are you going for the candy cotton sweet romance when erotica is what you love to write?

Here’s the thing with publishing. What’s hot one day is dead the next. Racing to keep up with the trends will lead to nothing but misery when you get the book to publish status and everyone has moved on.

But WAIT! I swear my knock off Ann Rice vampire novels are REALLY GOOD! Honest!

It really is lightening in a bottle to have your chance. Which is why I always suggest writing a story you want to tell instead of one that will cash in on the trend. It might not sell but at least it was a joy to write. That way should querying turn up bumpkiss you can still enjoy the process of writing the story you wrote.

Word Count Actually Counts

Holly’s Hot Tip of the Week- watch the word length.

So good news I’m now done with set up and we are in the meat of the novel now friends! However I’m sitting at 30K and I’ve just beginning to get into it. Yikes. Which posed my query to twitter verse, how long should this be? If I aim for selling this as one book it’s going to be 200K by the time I’m done. Which is a lot of pages. But how do we judge word length vs. agent submission? Well someone was nice enough to link me to Writer’s Digest and this handy little map. Please find the link below to be taken to the article.

https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/word-count-for-novels-and-childrens-books-the-definitive-post

Courtesy of Writers Digest check out the link

Now it’s not a bible on what you can or should submit, as agent guidelines are very important, but this should give you a rough estimate to work with.

This is also bad news for me as I need to trim the fat, drop some subplots and focus the story more. However this is the 1st draft and I can write whatever I want. When I write draft number 2 I will start to keep an eye on that word count.

Has anyone had success with larger word counts in publishing? Or is this chart measuring up to your own experiences. Let me know in the comments.

Enemies to Lovers

I think the problem I have with the new Bridgerton season came down to the trope they were trying to pull off. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was too much enemy in the enemy to lovers trope.

I’ve been down in the Reddit trenches and people are just singing this seasons praises and for the life of me I can’t understand it. Those two hated each other. Not at first but it really took a turn to the enemy side of things and while I understood the tone that the writers are going for- execution wise they never pulled it off. Then there was the moment was got there and it was very anticlimactic (or in some cases badly over acted).

Here’s the thing, a good enemies to lovers has to have spark. There’s something there that makes us go “are you sure you dislike this guy/gal?” and have close friends and family think the same thing.

When writing this trope, author beware of falling into the pure hate pit. I need to know the characters are digging each other no matter how they feel they shouldn’t. At no time should we hear the words I hate you. I find you irritating, I dislike you, but never out right hatred.

Notable good enemies to lovers in media: Nina and Matthias from Six of Crows, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Kat and Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You, Rogue and Gambit in X-Men.

All the Shakespeare heroines in one form or another.

Point is, done well it’s a great trope. Let me know what you think about it! Is it over used? Do you like it? Hate it? I want to know.

Bridgerton- Season 2 Review

Sorry I’ve been gone for so long. Little man was sick with the tummy bug, the birthday party was fun between naps and relaxing. The novel is still coming along but I hit snags where I have my outline but I want this to be interesting so I end up doubting what I’m doing. That’s the charm of the first draft, I just need to get it on paper, not get caught on being perfect right out of the gate.

Anyway I also played Elden Ring and binged Bridgerton season 2. I have a lot to say about this season. Not all of it flattering. I know, surprise, surprise, I have something negative to say. But can you really blame me?

Spoilers ahead and swearing-if that’s something that offends you skip this.

Hello boring, terrible, and just there

I love Brigerton and to say my hype was off the charts with the second season is downplaying my emotional reaction. The balls, the music, the dresses, the decorum, my precious lady Whistledown, it has it all my friends. I was so excited despite not liking Anthony in season 1. Let’s be honest Anthony is a 18th century Fuckboy. While Anthony was trying to find someone to marry that he didn’t want to strangle, in comes Kate and her younger sister Edwina. Visiting to find Edwina a husband so Kate can go back to being alone. She’s down to being a spinster and we all respect her for it. Her attitude however needs some adjusting. You can be strong without being a total bitch to people who are trying to help you. Just saying.

Despite this I liked sensible Kate and darling Edwina quite a lot. Kate was like Anthony, shouldering the responsibilities that her mother should, suffering the loss of her father. She had the best interaction with Anthony when they were first introduced. His callous remarks she overhears later was a great foil for their true love, promising that the sparks would fly.

To my great disappointment they never did. Because Bridgerton season 2 made one big mistake dear readers. They made Kate a secondary background character in her own season.

Oh yeah Nicole, I was as shocked as you.

They focused on so many other things that when Kate and Anthony were getting down and dirty all I could wonder was why? Repeatedly you two have said you hated each other. There was no love or attraction at all because the focus was Edwina and her courtship. Edwina should have been the secondary character. Edwina should have faded into the background bringing Kate and her desires to the forefront. Since they chose to put emphasis on this ‘love triangle’ we never get to see Kate. I have no idea what motivates her other then the desire to be a spinster, live in India and find Edwina a good husband.

The only time she truly gets to shine is when she’s at the croquet match, sitting in the mud with Anthony, and unconscious. Wow that’s insulting. Someone quoted that Anthony and Kate get a whopping 95 minutes on their romance when this season was supposed to be about them. That’s not romance that’s bad writing. The antagonistic nature of their relationship wasn’t playful. It was hateful and I am not down with that at all.

What do I remember from the show in regards to their love story? He’s really unlikable, she’s cold as ice, he wants to marry her sister, she won’t allow it. A croquet match, bee sting and fall from a horse later we get happy ever after. Somehow.

Don’t get me started on the will they/won’t they the writers had going on all season. Will they/won’t they only works for so long before people give up or get frustrated. I was annoyed by episode 4. And I LOVE the will they/won’t they. It’s my favorite trope! I’m down for longing gazes, intensity, the close but not close enough. I lap it up. It’s terrible they never gave us will they/ won’t they with Kate and Anthony because they had straight up won’t for the longest time. The sparking start to their romance was lost in the intense and palatable hate we felt between them. They never got back to that playful beginning and when they were knocking boots it was more lustful then lovey dovy. I’m ok with people having sex on screen. Daphne and Simon had a lot of sex scences and I was very on board because they loved each other. With Kate and Anthony it was a hard sale until the end.

It also hurt that stronger, more interesting things were happening around the couple. But I’m putting that in another post. This has gone on far too long and unlike the writers for Bridgerton, I know when to cut my losses and rein myself in.

I’m still going to watch the show and I will still pump out reviews for it. I’m just sad I’m glad it’s over so we can all move on. So what did you think about season 2? Are we all in for season 3? Let me know.

Get A Life Chloe Brown

This is a review of Get A Life Chloe Brown by the talented Talia Hibbert.

SPOILERS AHOY!

Chloe Brown is easiest the most interesting romance heroine I’ve seen in a long time. She has a lot of issues mental and health wise that interfere with her daily life. When a car nearly takes her out, it doesn’t take her big brain to figure out her obituary would be two lines long.

It’s time Chloe Brown got a life.

I LOVED this book. The relationship was full of sass before it was a romance. Being plus size and a person of color never really comes into play. Chloe isn’t a soap box. She’s someone trying to get through the day with little to no support. She has her faults (imagine that! She’s not perfect!) She’s a good person trying to improve herself.

And now let’s talk about our male love interest Red. He’s a ginger who rides a bike. At first glance you would think he was the typical bad boy but you would be wrong. This guy isn’t swoon worthy because he rides motorcycles and has tattoos. He’s swoon worthy because he has a heart of gold. It’s a little battered and bruised but solid gold. The whole painting without a shirt thing, sign me up! Then there’s the way he takes Chloes needs and wants into the picture is just heart warming.

I have little to nothing bad to say about this book. The fight at the end was contrived, it gets a pass from me, as the author laid the ground work ahead of time. It’s still contrived but it’s not a crime against literature.

Word of caution, this book is not for pure romance fans as descriptive sex acts took place. Get ready to clutch those pearls ladies! I would not classify it as erotica but definitely raunchy. I don’t mind as I am a fan of two consenting adults doing what feels natural but some people might be shocked by the lack of fade to black.

Anyway if you like enemies to lovers, sass and sarcasm, a swoon worthy male lead and a cute heroine, this book will definitely be for you.

Let me know in the comments what your reading or if you have read this one. Did you like it? Did you not?

Query Tip- Sell the book not yourself

Holly’s hot query tip of the day: you have to sell the book, not yourself. I’ve said this before ( a lot) in previous posts and mentioned a rather scathing response from a literary agent but I want to flush out the details.

Some people might find this to be a big ‘well no kidding!’ moment. In reality you’re going to get a little desperate for validation during querying and start looking at garbage advice to stand out a little more. A lot of it will come down to making yourself more visible in the slush pile by being personable. This is a load of garbage.

How do I know this? Because I took this rotten advice and tried it out on two people. Nothing else was working so you know what? Why not! What is the worse that can happen?

One did not respond- rightly so because I sounded like a lunatic. The other sent me such a scathing rejection, I was emotionally distraught for the rest of the day and seriously considered never submitting again. No matter how you approach literary agents you should never feel like you are the worst thing to ever happen to them. A little bit of quirky attitude from me is unprofessional but should never have this reaction. And this is all I wrote to get such a vile reaction.

God why- talk about trying too hard (prepare yourself? For what? My crappy writing?)

So this happened and after her response it never happened again. I did so much wrong here. “Did you catch the Mete Gala?” who cares! She doesn’t know me. She doesn’t care. Because of rotten advice about trying to stand out and blah blah, I did EVERYTHING wrong in my bio portion of the submission. She probably would have passed regardless of my trying but this would certainly turn any one off from offering representation.

Anyway, disregard such things as ‘open your query with a line or two about yourself’ or ‘hook them in with a personal anecdote’ OR ‘appeal to them on a personal level’. NONE of this is good advice. A literary agent is looking for a book to put on the market. They don’t give a crap who you are unless you have previous writing credit. They might ask for a brief bio after the pitch but nothing upfront. Keeping in mind while querying “What is your story?” Not “Why are you telling it or what themes you are using?”

Please, I beg you, drop the gimmicks, stop trying to stand out, the personal stories, the anecdotes, presenting themes of the story upfront. Drop it all. Just be blunt. This is the story. The end. I cringe when I think about those emails to those two agents and I just hope I never make that mistake ever again.

Querying is buckling down for a long haul of rejection. It’s taking the pitch and watching yourself strike out over and over. It sucks but it is the reality. Nothing will make you stand out except your story. That’s it.

Let me know in the comments if you ever tried and had success with it or if you feel appealing to the agent on a personal level is a better query tactic. I would love to hear if anyone else got this terrible advice.

And Just Like That- People loath Sex in the City

Hoo Boy, I’m going to be catching some flack for this one but I need to talk about what is happening to Sex and the City. Not the controversy as it’s a small part of the problem with this show, but the general lack of direction and writing for this series.

I found the dip in quality story telling started around the end of the series and the movies. The ending to Sex and the City gave us a good place for all the characters. Miranda was helping her mother in law, Charlotte was a mom, Carrie was swept off her feet by Big and Samantha was heading to Hollywood with Smith. The first movie was pretty solid, although it was treading well worn ground and the ending was Paris all over again. Then came the 2nd movie. Oh boy that 2nd movie was trash, fun trash but still trash.

And then they announced Just Like That. I was excited. Hey, I’m nearly 40, I’ve had my kid and I want glamorous romps of the rich and famous in New York. Hows my girl Charlotte doing? Hows Carrie now that she’s Ms. Big? What are Miranda and Steve doing these days? How’s Samantha? (Fingers crossed she went back to Smith)

Here’s where we get into spoliers. Be warned.

And Just Like That- the series is worse then the movies. I know that seems hardly possible but here we are. And a lot of it could have been great. There’s a lot to digest as Big died on Carrie, Miranda is expirencing a late life sexual awakening, Charlotte is dealing with transgender issues and there are a slew of new characters to be interested in.

What should have been a commentary about late in life issues and grief suddenly became this gross, uninteresting train wreck of Carrie letting everyone know (even Big’s brother) that her husband is dead. Miranda explodes her marriage for Che Diaz. Charlotte has no plot other then trying to be more diverse in her social circle, chewing out Harry, dealing with her bratty kids and that’s it.

The paper thin plot is crazy. No real characters grow or change. What is going on in the writers room? I found myself skipping a lot of events that were happening to get to anything remotely interesting. All of Miranda’s character arc such as quitting her job and heading back to school is abandoned for Che Diaz. Che as a character is unfunny, her actions very inconsistent or inconsiderate. Despite being not a good character, we’re told Che and Miranda are hot for each other but we never see why. A homosexual couple does not make me hateful of the pairing. The events leading up to their ‘romance’ are just mild flirtation and cheating. Not the stuff of a solid relationship.

Let me put it this way -when Smith and Samantha fell in love, it took time. It took her waiting out all the other competition at a fresh vegan restaurant, it took her making his career and promoting him, getting Cancer, cheating on him with her ex Richard, and seeing nothing but his shining love for her, to know this was the love of her life.

Before the 1st movie destoryed that but I digress.

What epic romance do we get with Che and Miranda? There first romantic encounter is at Carrie’s apartment, while she is trying to get out of bed and go to the bathroom after hip surgery, which results in Carrie peeing the bed. Side Note get used to the gross out humor in this show. Anyway after this illicit tryst, you would think Miranda would be wrecked with guilt but no. She’s empowered, she loves cheating on Steve and she keeps doing it until she nearly gets caught at a LGBT rally by Brady which prompts the worlds most unfunny comedian to remark about Steve and Miranda’s open marriage. Imagine her shock when our Harvard educated gal fesses up that Steve is unaware of what they are doing.

And Big’s dead.

Now Miranda has to make the tough choice (that strangely does not blow up in her face) and make statements like ‘I’m in a rom com’ or ‘what’s happening’ as she stumbles from one Che whip lash to the next while her new drive in life is forgotten. When Che let Miranda know she was leaving for her netflix special, I was actually happy! Miranda left Steve, this is the consequence for her crappy attitude all series. But no, Che is taking Miranda with her but couldn’t tell her ahead of time so we get some cheap drama.

Bigs Dead by the way.

Charlotte isn’t the New York blue blood I loved and adored. She’s in hell. Her daughter is transgender and decides to be Rock from here on out. I get that, I respect Rock’s choices and it’s such a shame I can’t support such a crap person. Rock is a they but they are a absolute nightmare to their mom. Nothing is likeable or relatable about Rock. They are trash. Charlotte deserves more then this bratty kid. What happened to Charlotte? Gone is the social savvy kind person and in her place is a diversity bingo card carrying Karen. While Harry and Charlotte had a marvelous story I’m sorry to see the state this show leaves Harry. He’s the supportive person he’s always been but more often then not he’s just a plot point not a character in his own right.

Did you know Big died?

Samantha is out of the show and I imagine in my head she’s in London with Smith having skipped all this horrible writing. Kim was lucky to do How I Meant You Mother and get the hell out of dodge.

And now, ladies and gentlemen we get to the heart of Sex and the City, Carrie. Big’s death is devastating but the events that transpire afterwards are not heart breaking and more what the hell then anything else. Dating and navigating after such a loss should make me ache for her. I just wanted to strangle her the entire time. And the man she does end up moving on with doesn’t have time with her. We focus on so many things that could be glossed over like her book or her first attempt at a date after Big’s loss, apartment shopping. These ideas should have been better presented or flushed out before suddenly love scene. She ends up making out with her podcast producer in an elevator at the last possible moment. No build up, no real interaction, just ‘here you go, plot point done’ and why should I root for this couple? Why would I root for anyone in this series as they are pale shadows of their former selves?

More to the point I feel that this entire chapter of Sex and the City was utterly pointless. More and more I feel like these sequels, reboots and rehashes are getting out of hand. Be careful what you wish for has never been more true because what we get just is never as good as the original.

Anyway that’s my hot take on the series, let me know what you think in the comments.