Go to any bookstore and you'll find tomes shelved under general categories, first by fiction and nonfiction, then by genre within those categories. It rather resembles the whole taxonomic ranks: kingdom, phylum/division, class, order, family, genus, species. The sub-categorization of genres isn't as orderly.
The discussion of sub-genres does, however, tie into this week's blog challenge prompt: favorite romance category to read and write.
I'll head off on another segue before answering that. Many years ago, I read an interview with Robert Vavra in Equus Magazine. In that interview, he related a story about his friend, author Robert Michener. Michener used to take long walks on a beach. One day, a woman fell into step with him. She said nothing; he said nothing. She joined him day after day and they walked in companionable silence. One morning, she asked him, "Are you Robert Michener?" "Yes," he replied. Silence. "Do you know Robert Vavra?" "Yes, he replied." A longer silence. "Do unicorns really exist?" Silence. "Yes," he replied.
She referred to Vavra's famous photography book Unicorns I Have Known. (If you haven't seen his photography, take a moment to do so. It's absolutely stunning.)
While that anecdote--which I'm sure is not entirely accurate here--might not seem to pertain to the topic of this blog, I can assure you it does. In speaking of it (the anecdote, not the blog) to my husband, I commented, "A world with out a bit of magic is dull. We need magic."
Thus had we world enough and time, to paraphrase poet Andrew Marvell, I'd gush on about the mystical, magical, and miraculous and how the world is a much poorer, more prosaic place without that awe-inducing mystery. Such mystery inspires us, even if scientists would dismiss it. That mystery inspires them to find real explanations. Really, is it so awful to accept the possibility that ghosts, supernatural powers, and the Loch Ness monster exist?
Who says magic can't be real?
Anyway, I'll bring this all together now. If you haven't managed to figure this out yet, my favorite sub-genres within the overarching romance genre are paranormal and fantasy. Give me shape shifters and magic; prophesies, curses and spells; gods and otherworldly beings. Suspend my disbelief and I'll happily dwell in your imagination.
I hope you can dwell in mine.
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Read Books 1 and 2 of The Twin Moons Saga by Holly Bargo
Daughter of the Deepwood Excerpt
“I’ve heard of the Deepwood, for this is where we must be if you spoke truly of the unicorns. But, that is too far to expect you to carry me. I shall simply have to summon the strength to walk myself.”
“Do you forget already? I am a dragon.” She slanted a critical glance at him. “Nonsense. You are a man.”
Calista’s lack of acceptance—or maybe knowledge—appalled him. Falco sought to correct her, understanding somehow that this would be the first of many such instructional moments. “I am Daimónio Refstófae.”
“You said before you were fae. Did you lie?”
“No, my dear. I am Daimónio Refstófae, a species of fae, if you will. My kind live north of the Great Forest.”
“The human territories stretch north of the Great Forest.” “Aye. And the Daimónagi where I live stretches further still.”
“What is this Daimóniogi? What is this Daimónio Refstófae? What distinguishes you from the Seelie and Unseelie Courts?”
Those were fair questions, he conceded. “We are … fluid.” He gestured at his own body. “We default to bipedal shape, a shape the humans say is based on theirs. Humanoid. They claim that our default form substantiates their divinity and superiority over other races.” His mouth twisted in a sour expression. “We can reform to the shape of other living creatures. The higher castes enjoy greater fluidity than the lower.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Our king and other royals can transform into myriad shapes. I myself possess an impressive range. The lower the caste, the fewer alter egos that accept our possession.” She shook her head. “That’s impossible.”
“You have never witnessed this?”
“I have some small magicks,” she said with a shrug that drew his attention to her ruby-tipped breasts. “Or I had. I don’t know whether I still have them. But I have lived all my life serving human masters and they disavowed such heretical abilities, called any who possessed them demons and witches and bound them in iron. One such demon was burned to death in the town square.”
“You lived all your life in service to humans?” She shrugged.
“My parents died when I was but a babe. I was lucky that my masters took pity upon me and gave me a home, rather than drown me as a mongrel.”
Falco’s eyes narrowed. He rather suspected that her masters had hoped to harness the magic of the fae for their own power and profit … and, when she’d not displayed such talents as were useful to them, kept her for her long years of labor. They did her no favor, he thought. Then he realized he’d done the same to her.
He sighed. “My men are waiting for us.” Her expression turned distrustful.
“Your men?” He bowed, feeling a bit silly, and formally introduced himself to his mate: “I am Falco nie Aschanezzi mel Endorellan, captain of the Daimónio Refstófae High Guard.”
She blinked at the establishment of lineage and position and replied, “I am Calista.”
He cocked his head to the side and asked, “Have you no family name?”
“My mistress and her family forbade me take their family name and none knew my parents’ family. The village priest called me Calista Cirrus, because my family’s name was lost to the sky and wind.”
Although her voice remained calm and unemotional, Falco’s heart broke even more at the thorough rejection of her heritage. Had her so-called people been honorable, they would have returned her to that island.
“So, your mistress found you?”
“No,” she replied with a shrug and averted her eyes as though to hide her shame. “A peasant found me in the back of a wagon. I was told that everyone, every beast, in the group of travelers had been murdered by a raiding party. Somehow, the raiders missed me. The peasant handed me over to the village priest, who named me and sold me to my first mistress.”
“Did no one attempt to return you to your ancestral home?”
Calista shrugged again. “Why should they? Why would anyone have undertaken the expense and time to return a babe of unknown parentage to a distant land?”
Falco reached out and took her hands in his. His eyes burned as he vowed, “You will never again be without family, Calista. You will never again be unwanted.”
She met his gaze, then looked away and supposed that his vow was sufficient trade for her captivity.
“What do I call you?” she finally asked, realizing that now they were no longer equals, no longer prisoners trapped by stone and iron and brutality.
Falco raised her hands and pressed light kisses to the back of her knuckles. The feathery touch sent shivers over her skin which sparkled softly like newly fallen snow beneath moonlight. “Falco. You call me Falco.”
As part of my usual weekday morning prospecting, I came across this RFP:
(1) proofread and editing work for my 52200 words document. (2) write synopsis and chapter outline (3) Improve the sentence quality and standard with no grammatical and other mistake. (4) a good and effective English as per a novel standard (5)A brief critique is required (5) NOTE:- no any software edited work is accepted. only manual editing is acceptable. (6). my budget is fixed $10.
So, once again, I return to the topic of reasonable expectations, which encompasses an understanding of the terms of contract and market valuation of the scope of service.
First let's go with standard industry rates. The standard industry rate for editing ranges from $0.02 to $0.03 per word. Editing and a final round of proofreading (avg. $0.01 per word) commands an expected fee of $1,566 to $2,088, depending upon the difficulty of the edit. Hard edits command higher rates because they require multiple passes through the document and require a lot more time and work.
Writing a synopsis and chapter outline. A synopsis generally covers three to five pages for every 100 manuscript pages of content. A standard manuscript page averages around 250 words. That works out to 6-1/4 to 10-1/2 pages which further translates to around 1,575 to 2,625 words. At a rate of, say, $0.25 per word, that works out to $393.75 to $656.25 for the synopsis. (Bear in mind that I am acquainted with a freelancer who won't touch a project for less than $0.50 per word.) An outline's length depends upon the detail required; but, let's be conservative and say the outline for this book would run 2,000 words. That's another $500.
Next we have the "brief critique." I don't exactly know a standard length for "brief," but let's go with 500 words just for kicks and giggles. That's $125 at the same rate of $0.025 per word.
Thus far we have an accumulated project fee that ranges from $2,564.75 to $3,369.25. This clown wants to pay a maximum of $10.
In addition to understanding the discrepancy between the service requested and the proposed fee, clients of freelance writers and editors should also understand the terms of the contract. The first caveat in any ghostwriting project is a mutual acknowledgement that nobody is perfect. We do not aim for perfection; we aim for pretty damned good.
Case in point: I wrote a book for client. He reviewed the draft and left feedback. I revised. He reviewed. I revised. Lather, rinse, repeat until he wrote back with is approval. Per our contract, I invoiced him for the approved content. Upon payment, I delivered the content. Upon delivery, my responsibility for that content ended. Finis. Done. The End.
I advise clients to have their ghostwritten manuscripts edited by a professional third party. No one ever suggests self-editing as the superior option. It's the most expedient or least expensive option, not the best. That client did not have the approved content edited; he formatted the book and uploaded it. Thus far, reader reviews are positive, but the two professional reviews for which he paid brought to light some errors in the manuscript.
Mea culpa. Through multiple rounds of editing and revision, I failed to catch those errors. So did he. I took what was, frankly, a execrable draft and turned it into a pretty damned good story. He took me to task. Because I'm a nice person and my professional reputation was at stake, I quickly skimmed through the document to correct identified errors and found a few more that even the professional reviewers didn't catch. I corrected those, too, and delivered the corrected manuscript. I did this despite my contractual obligation to the project having ended upon delivery of the content.
I let him know that I would be happy--on future projects--to have content edited by a third party professional prior to delivery; however, the anticipated cost of that would be added to my fee.
This tirade isn't about how cheap clients (prospective and actual) can be, but about respecting the scope of work, understanding the contractual obligations, and valuing the service being hired. It shouldn't be that difficult.
This week's blog challenge writing prompt focuses on family members, friends, and pets who made it into my books.
That's easy: None of them. Like "My Secret Life," aspects of people I know and like become attached to characters, but no character is so closely drawn as to resemble a specific person. On the obverse, people whom I know and dislike do make it into my stories. Let's just say they're not written to elicit reader support.
There's the supercilious association president in Cassia, who treats our heroine with disrespect because he considers her utterly inferior. The unreasonable clients in Rowan who demand service and state expectations that go far beyond contracted scopes of service come from my experience.
When it comes to bad bosses and/or clients, one might say I have plenty of material from which to draw ... and I do.
I don't know why those people make it into my books and not the wonderful folks whom I'm privileged to know. Perhaps it's because I don't want to share those good people. I want to hold them close. Or perhaps writing out the rotten ones is cathartic, a way of relieving the stress of their toxic impact upon my life. Regardless, I'm happy to be rid of them.
Pets don't often feature in my books, which seems strange because I'm surrounded by them. However, there's Chester, the spitting attack bunny in Tiger in the Snow. Yes, rabbits really can spit. They have pretty good aim and distance, too. And, yes, they're surprisingly aggressive and territorial. Want to mess with a bunny's mind? Rearrange the accessories in its cage. That infuriates them.
I've got stories to tell about our house bunnies (different from dust bunnies).
I will say that when we saw Tangled, Disney Studios' 2010 animated retelling of Rapunzel, my husband, our children, and I all exclaimed "Stasia!" at the introduction of equine character Maximus. The personality resemblance to my old mare was, in a word, uncanny.
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