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Readers and Writing

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a reader event in Washington DC. I went, not as an author, but as a reader and friend. Since I use a pen name I try to separate the two a bit-although that line gets fuzzier as the days go by.

The view of "Nick's office" from the release party location.

I was busy doing my thing, but since I know the author I was hearing little details about the readers that were coming in. A few came in early to tour and look for locations from the books. (Hello authors, research is important!)

As you know, I'm chairing the Emerald City Writers' Conference this year and have attended for the past few years, but a readers event is much different than a writers event.  For one thing, as big as the romance industry is, everyone knows someone. Especially the readers. They connect with authors in a way that is impossible for us to connect with each other. And, at an event like this, they like to talk about who they know, who they read, who they don't care for, who wasn't so nice to them when they did meet them all gets around.

But more than anything, I kept realizing that so many new authors see these events and think, "That is what I want." while missing the larger picture. The readers are there, first and foremost, because of the books. Because of the quality of work that they enjoy, that provides them a release-that little moment to escape from reality and take them away from their own troubles.  We, as writers, need to concentrate on the books and the quality of our work. Let's not rush that part, the most important part, in order to have a cool release party.  Because if we do, it may be the only one we ever have.

I had a fabulous time meeting everyone and hope to do it again soon! For those who want the dirty details, the party I attended was for Marie Force's FATAL MISTAKE, the sixth book in her FATAL series, which is set in DC. The first book in the series (FATAL AFFAIR) is free until the end of the month-as are the other first books in her other series.

Writer's Block...aka pets

Angel Nicholas complained that she'd never seen a photo of my constant source of writer's block. She challenged me to blog about, so here I am, taking up the gauntlet.

 You see, this past December I finally won a year long nag-fest I'd been having with my husband; we adopted a dog. To be fair, my husband has never had a dog before (he was attacked by a neighbor's dog as a small child-leading to my mother-in-law being terrified of all dogs). He had never experienced the selfless love that dogs provide.  And now that our children are old enough to understand that a dog's ears are not teethers, that a tail isn't a leash and that type of thing, we took the plunge. I'd been searching and falling in love with every dog I came across.
Hubby took over the search and found a 2 year old boxer mix named Taz.

I met him first, and as you can guess, fell instantly in love. I set up a time for the rest of the family to come and meet him. Hubby was sold, but the boys were a little hesitant. We left Taz at his foster's house and went home to think about it some more.

The kids addressed their concerns re: the dog chewing on their toys. We reached an understanding and made arrangements to get Taz the following weekend. YAY!

Then the foster called because his dog had attacked Taz and could we move up the adoption. MOST CERTAINLY! Taz came home to live with us the 23rd of December-making a seriously divine Christmas gift for all of us.

And since our house didn't seem *quite* chaotic enough, I needed to bring in another tiny being to serve as writer's block and a distraction. About 3-4 weeks ago a friend called telling me her brother had found a tiny kitten that needed a home. If we didn't want her, he was going to take her to the shelter.

How could I say no to that face?? I couldn't. There was no way.

What I didn't realize when I agreed to take her, was that she was not just diminutive in size, as I'd thought, but really young. As in needing to be bottle fed and potty trained still. 

Lucky for me Taz was more than up to the task of acting like a daddy to the pipsqueak...who has been dubbed Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, by my super hero loving boys.  
And she's living up to the name. 

Hubby has made me promise that I won't bring home any more critters, no matter how cute they are. I had to agree. I mean, if I bring any more in I may never finish my book!

What about you? What's your current, biggest distraction? 

Worldbuilding; Not just for SciFi or Paranormal books

I've been thinking a lot about worldbuilding lately. According to wikipediaWorldbuilding is the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe.[1] (Click on the link for the full wikidefinition).

I love being so wrapped up in a book, in the world that the author has created that I lose myself for that brief moment in time. There are no dishes that need to be done. No children to feed, no laundry to fold. All I want to do is curl up in that little bubble and read.

In romance, we most often see worldbuiling in paranormal works: Karen Marie Moning's Fever world is Dublin, after the walls separating Faery and the Human realm collapse. Donna Grant's Warriors live in a Scotland, after a dark druid (she has another term for it in her books) releases the "Warriors" in a group of Scotsmen. JR Ward, Lara Adrian....the list goes on and on of very recognizable worldbuilding.

But what about the other genres? Certainly every book/story/series develops a world to some degree, but they aren't always as recognizable as those in the paranormals. Pamela Clare's I-Team is set in Denver and follows a group of top notch journalists in dangerous stories and events. Tara Janzen's Steele Street is also set in Denver, but it's a very different Denver than the I-Team.

Why is that? The setting is the same...mostly. The locals that are mentioned are the same, sometimes even described similarly.

The short answer that I've been able to come up with is: Character. The characters respond to their surroundings in a certain way. The way that they respond makes the world take on certain characteristics, which lay the foundation for the world to be built. This doesn't have to be a city, like my example, it can be anything. A homelife. A workplace. Whatever their environment is, the characters are reacting to it and building their own world.
Our jobs as authors, is to suck the readers into these worlds with us.

What about you? What are some of your favorite worlds? Or do you have any tips on worldbuilding?