Tag Archives: writing

Leaving the backlist behind

Over the past week—especially since Wednesday when I discovered my dog had chewed through my computer cord—I have been working on getting the last three of my self-published books online at Smashwords. Smashwords will make these books available in multiple formats at multiple outlets, so that you aren’t just limited to Kindle if you wish to read in ebook format. In a few days, every one of my books will be available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks—you name it, I’ll be there. Every format.

Revisiting my backlist became less of a chore than I’d imagined it would be. I actually found myself giving my last three books (Weeds and Flowers, Ducks in a Row, and Saturday Love) a thorough proofreading…and enjoying it. I haven’t read those books in ages.

Weeds and Flowers isn’t even a romance like I write now. More of a coming-of-age story that was written in a sort of patchwork quilt way—bits and pieces that I stitched together to make a novel. Appropriately, it was actually probably the first novel I wrote, though not the first one published. I had forgotten how much that book meant to me, though. It’s the only one—so far—that has something in it that actually happened, not actually to me, but to people around me. Re-reading it was like reliving some of my own childhood, even if I was more watching than experiencing at the time.

As for the other two, Ducks was the most difficult book I’ve written thematically. I think of it as sort of an anatomy of both a marriage and an affair. I actually still dislike the heroine, though she did grow a lot during the course of the book. And I fell in love with one of the male characters. So much so that he ended up getting his own book, Saturday Love, because I just couldn’t leave him hanging like he was at the end of Ducks. Regardless of my feelings for the characters, however, re-reading those books was like visiting with family I hadn’t seen in a while. And it revived a past resolve to write a third book in that series. If I can ever get past the two or three other projects I have waiting for me now.

But for now, I am returning to work on Dickens Magic, my next in the Sleight of Hand series and my first ever attempt at a holiday-themed book. I’d reached a sort of roadblock on that one. I couldn’t quite figure a believable way to drive a wedge between the hero and heroine but over the course of the week, I had a brainstorm. I plan to give myself two more weeks to finish the first draft of Dickens Magic, then I have another start on a not-magic-related book and at some point I have to get to work on Magic at Sea… 

But maybe that would wait. Maybe I could start my third book about the Hubbard family, Agape Mou (Greek for “My Love”). There’s a reason it’s Greek. If you read Ducks and Saturday Love, you’ll understand. I have plans for a very good-looking Greek hero for that one, but his ties to the Hubbard family are very complicated and bound to result in some drama. Especially when he gets involved with the daughter of the family…

Oh crap. If I’m not careful my imagination will get stuck in sunny Greek vineyards instead of a theater all decorated for Christmas. Better get back to work! Herete, my friends.

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A New Kind of Romance: Changing the soul of romance literature

I just read a wonderful article in The New York Times by Alexandra Alter called “The Changing Face of Romance Novels”. The article addressed how romance novels are slowly changing to more accurately reflect the growing diversity in our world. However, Alter points out that many of the more diverse authors who write diverse romance must turn to alternative publishing outlets to get their books to readers as traditional publishing does not embrace change—at least not right away.

The article got me thinking. More diversity is a wonderful thing. More accurately reflecting the world we live in is invaluable. And yet, that doesn’t address what I see as the core problem in my genre the way my new kind of romance will. You see, though the face of literature definitely needs to change with changing times and audiences, the soul of romance must be addressed as well.

Gustave Flaubert said, “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” If the romance genre continues to explore the darker desires and pitfalls of humanity, is that what we romance authors believe love is all about? Is that what the publishing industry believes?

Isn’t it our duty as artists to illuminate the brighter side of love?

Yes, sex sells. It always has and always will. It sells books and clothes and cars. It sells candy and music. The publishing industry needs to take note, however, that you can’t just give the romance genre a facelift (even if it does need one). In today’s world, however, it is more important than ever to show through the romance genre that sexy does not need to include what women don’t want in their lives—whether that is controlling heroes, discrimination, assault or harassment of any sort.

 

 

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The importance of secondary characters in Becoming Magic

It’s a common misconception that a romance has two characters: hero and heroine. Unless you literally strand those two characters on a deserted island, you must create characters who figure into their daily lives. And unless they work and live in the same place, those secondary characters are going to be different.

I always strive to have secondary characters serve a purpose. I feel like old friends or family members can help reveal something about the main characters’ backstories or character traits that we didn’t already know. For this reason, I brought in Connor’s brother Jeff, the handsome pilot of Connor’s private plane, and Mira, Carole’s cute if a little immature college student sister. I feel like Mira probably serves more of a purpose to the storyline since she’s at first jealous of Carole’s relationship with Connor and later appalled that her sister would leave him. Check out these two short excerpts that illustrate the ways these two characters serve their purpose. First Jeff:

“Forgive my brother, ma’am. Jeff Wallace. The older sibling of the Wallace clan.”

Carole’s jaw dropped. “Oh. Well, that explains some stuff, then.” She felt like an idiot. The two men were very similar in height, build and features. She glanced at Connor. “You might have mentioned that your brother was the pilot.”

“Sorry.” Connor didn’t look at all sorry. “You just seemed so certain of yourself, I didn’t want to disappoint you.” He smiled a little wickedly. “I mean, it’s a shame to disabuse you of the notion that I lose touch with who and what I am whenever I’m offered a bit of Hollywood hospitality.” He turned to his brother. “Sorry, bro. She drank your champagne. You got another glass?”

Carole’s face felt aflame with embarrassment. “Oh my God. I’m so sorry. I—”

“He’s messing with you.” Jeff punched his brother in the arm. “Cut it out.” He turned back to Carole. “I never drink when I fly. Of course the champagne was meant for you. He called ahead to arrange it.”

And now Mira:

Mira stood in the doorway. “Better take some jeans and sweaters too. Just in case Connor takes you hiking. I hear he likes to hike.” She spoke casually, but Carole detected a glitter in her eyes. Was that really envy? As long as she could remember, Mira had been the prettier one, the more glam one, the one everyone loved without effort. Carole was smart and decent enough looking, but her little sister outshone her at every turn.

Carole frowned. “What’s up?”

“What do you mean, what’s up?” Mira didn’t meet her eyes.

“I mean you sound all jealous or something. Like I stole your boyfriend. This is work, Mira.”

“Ugh!” Mira threw her hands into the air. “I’m sorry. I just…maybe in a way you are stealing my boyfriend.”

“I was not aware of this thing between you and Connor Wallace,” Carole said solemnly.

Mira’s lips twitched. “Don’t laugh. You go to L.A. and be spotted on Connor Wallace’s arm, you’re stealing a lot of girls’ boyfriend. Because it’ll mean he’s off the market.”

“Why on earth would it mean that? He’s dated lots of women.”

“Because you’re the kind of girl a guy dates when he’s ready to settle down.”

Of course, my Sleight of Hand books wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from one of my other magical couples. In this case, Walt and Sabrina from Movie Magic are (slight spoiler alert if you haven’t read their story yet) planning their wedding and working on Connor’s documentary about becoming a magician. In a way, they serve almost parental roles for Carole, who has been Walt’s assistant since high school. Here’s just a taste of what they’re doing in the book:

Connor pulled out the linking rings, ready to manipulate them, and paused, his eyes on the engagement ring. “Well, that’s not right.” He pretended to try to get the ring off only to have it caught between two rings. He looked up. “Did somebody lose this?”

The audience tittered, but it had a surprised, anticipatory sound to it. Connor worked the rings again, managing only to get the engagement ring looped over three. He worked until he had managed to get it off all but one. “Finally.” He set the others aside. “I think this ring will only be released into the hands of its rightful owner.” He tossed it up into the air and caught it, the ring still in place. He glanced around, turning to Carole. “Is this yours?” He tossed it to her.

She caught it with pride, holding it up to display the diamond still hanging on.

“It would appear not.” Connor held out a hand and she threw it back, watching as he caught it expertly. He appeared to think. “I have an idea. Maybe I need another magician’s help with this one.” He swung around to Walt and threw the ring to him.

Walt caught it, tossing it back in one fluid motion, then turning to drop to one knee in front of Sabrina. He held up the diamond ring. “No magic is equal to what you’ve done to me. Say you’ll stay in my life forever.”

Tears spilled over onto Sabrina’s cheeks, amazing Carole. She’d never seen Sabrina cry before. But as she held out her hand to let him place the ring on her finger, she could only nod, wordless and obviously happy.

In a very real way, this book—and the whole Sleight of Hand series is about family. It’s a very large family made up of lots of smaller families, but they’re all bound together by a love of magic and each other. And a belief that love is a magic all its own.

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One Day (!!!) to Becoming Magic: Why do I write about love?

IMG_3576Just one more day to the release of Becoming Magic. My fourteenth—if I’m counting right—novel. All of them, to one degree or another, about love and the importance of love in life.

As a child, I wrote fairy tales, dreamed of dancing with a handsome prince and living happily ever after. I peopled my daydreams with heroes and heroines from the books I read nonstop. They weren’t all romances that I read, either. Mysteries, science fiction, fantasy—they all had romance in them, I realized. Or they could have. Sometimes I rewrote those stories in my mind so they went the way I wanted them to.

So I guess I have always been fascinated by love. Love has great power that has nothing to do with paper valentine hearts and fat cupids. Love can rule the world if we let it. Or it can destroy lives.

I know, of course, that love stories don’t always end well. Maybe that’s why I write romances. I want that happily ever after, not just for me, but for everyone. So, if you’re struggling in life and are lonely, it’s sort of my letter of encouragement to you. Maybe you haven’t found love yet, but I’m rooting for you.

Love,

Michelle

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Five Days to Becoming Magic: What is “a new kind of romance”?

Another romance writer might well ask me what I mean by “a new kind of romance”?

It’s not a new old idea. I’m not saying we need to go back to the days when women were women and men treated them like delicate flowers. I’m not saying you shouldn’t write about sex in your romances. Sex is an integral part of character development in romance. I’m not even saying tying people up isn’t sexy. If you read Escape Magic (which I call my anti-50-shades bondage romance), for instance, you’ll see there are ways for that to be worked in that are definitely okay.

A new kind of romance is not about going backward. It’s about moving forward. It’s about recognizing that the problems women face today are very much rooted in attitudes we’ve faced all along that are perpetuated by the submissive heroines and macho man heroes from the romances of yesteryear. If we don’t want to be dominated, our reading material should reflect that. Here’s my best definition of what a new kind of romance is, followed by the print cover of my new book with the blurb:

Five days to the release of Becoming Magic! If you want to know why I call it “a new kind of romance”, check out my blog at http://michellegflye.com or read this:
 
What is a new kind of romance?
 
A romance where women are in charge of their own fate and aren’t considered property. A romance where rape is rape, not fantasy. A romance about what real women really want—real men secure enough in their own masculinity to be able to both protect a woman who wants it and back off when she doesn’t.
 
That’s real romance. It’s sexy and fun and no holds barred. It’s loving and tender and passionate. And for me it starts with Becoming Magic.
Becoming Magic Print

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Poem: Why Can’t You See the Dark?

Why Can’t You See the Dark?

By Michelle Garren Flye

 
Why can’t you see the dark?

It creeps up on you

Concealing all that is bright—

Why don’t you see it?

 

Please see the dark.

Shadows fall and evening rises—

The sun is gone, leaving…nothing.

Please see it.

 

You’re blind to loss.

You don’t miss what’s gone,

The light you let go.

You are blind in the darkness.

 

You could still fight it.

The dark can’t take everything.

Maybe if you reach out

You’ll find the light again.

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Looking back while facing the future

IMG_3378Yesterday my oldest son graduated. What does that have to do with writing and my blog? You’re right. Absolutely nothing.

Except.

Except I didn’t start writing seriously until I became a mother. I will not presume to speak for all women, but my creativity is, I think, closely linked to my maternal drive. After all, I’d never had less time to write than after I became a mother, but since then I’ve written thirteen novels. And, interestingly, I have seen my writing grow, not just quantitatively but also qualitatively, with my children.

Other than that, what does my son’s graduation have to do with my writing. Probably nothing.

Except.

Except now he’s old enough to—if he wanted—pick up one of my books and start reading. He’s certainly old enough to run into someone else who’s read my books or to have a friend who, out of curiosity, picks up one of my books to read. It’s a half frightening thought. I don’t write or publish anything I am ashamed of having read, regardless of by whom, but it’s always a possibility that anything I put out there will change someone’s perception of me. And that’s now a possibility I have to face with my child.

Other than that, surely my son’s graduation doesn’t have anything to do with my writing. Right?

Except.

Except I can’t help wondering how it will sneak into my writing. I often find my life events do. Especially emotional ones, and this one is a doozy. How does the love between a parent and child change when a parent has to face that the child no longer truly needs her in his day-to-day life? It will surely change, and probably deepen into something I haven’t yet experienced. Since I write about love, this will probably factor into my writing in ways I cannot yet predict.

So, while I look back on my past writing with pride and see how it matured with my children, I also face forward and embrace the changes yet to come.

And speaking of changes…

Screenshot 2018-06-03 10.53.37

Coming soon

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