Top 10

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10 - Flat characters and stereotypes- Characters that don't show any growth throughout the story and/or are almost caricatures. And stereotypes....urgh. It's just a specific type of flat character, really. The super gay best friend/sidekick who is essentially there for humor, all women but the heroine are just jealous and horrible bitches, the alpha-hole hero who has no redeeming qualities but somehow the heroine loves him and so does everyone else, deep down...

9 - Inconsistent characters - I just said I wanted character growth, yeah? Well inconistent characterization is NOT character growth, though sometimes it seems to be explained away as that. I'm talking about characters acting completely out of character, with no logical or believable reason behind it. Or bam, halfway through the book, it's like reading a completly different character altogether.

8 - Too big a cast - too many people to keep track of - It drives me nuts when I can't keep track/keep up and then have to scroll/page back and figure out who the person is.

Now, I'm actually fine with a larger cast. *I* have a larger cast in my Albion's Circle series, but I hope I avoid (and try VERY hard to!) falling into the trap of making people go "Who's this again?"

So the problem isn’t necessarily a large cast (though I think there likely is a limit to how many people you can effectively have playing a decent role in the story), but more often, the issues is how it’s executed. If the cast is introduced in a style reminiscent of classical literature like The Iliad or J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, the author may want to step back and reconsider a few things.

7 - Insta-love - I know I've mentioned this in another post at some point... I want to see people fall in love. I want to see what about the characters the others love and be rooting for them. That's why I read romances. So, when it's instaneous - and not talking about immediate attraction/lust here - I feel let down as a reader. Big time.

6 - Lack of research - If you're going to write about something, in detail, then you need to know what you're talking about. An example - I was reading a book in which the hero was a private investigater. There was a murder and he's called by his cop friend. The hero then proceeds to show up at the crime scene, pokes around, takes a file in full view of everyone, touches everythign with no freaking gloves or anything, basically compomising the crime scene and evidence. I'm no expert in law enforcement or crime scene investigation, but even I know there is no way that would freaking happen!

5 - Overselling the research and/or knowledge - This is a personal one for me, and I'm sure there are people who disagree and perhaps like this kind of thing, but I don't need a run down of every furnishing and antique in the family mansion. I don't need page upon page of all the sights in the city that story takes place in so I know that the city was googled. For me, if it isn't important to the story, I don't need to be regaled with all this information and it pulls me completely out of the story.  

4 - Head-hopping - When we're bouncing from one character's head to another, when that results in confusion and having to skim back to figure out who's head we're actually in...

And falling under the same umbrella - too many POVs. Especially if it's just once in the story and it's a character who doesn't even play a large role.  There are ways to impart information to the readers without going into, say, the waiter's head for a matter of paragraphs just to let us know a tiny detail.

3 - This is more specific to paranormals.... The vamps, the weres, the supernatural beings are all drop dead gorgeous and physically perfect.

And don't get me wrong... Having pretty characters, not a problem. But being told ad nauseaum just how beautiful and stunning they all are, how they could all be models, etc., it gets old very quickly.

2 - The irresistable heroine. Everyone wants her. EVERYONE. Even her gay married dentist is re-evaluating his sexuality because omg she's just all that.

1 - This is specific to story with BDSM elements - when a character is into BDSM, it's because at some point in their life they were abused and they are broken somehow. That the character just needs to be fixed, and when they are good and whole and healthy again, they won't need to do "that" anymore. Because just being into it, just enjoying it, just getting something out of it without a terrible, horrible, no good past pushing you do it isn't enough.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Gwendolyn Cease | Kris Norris

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10 - First way to hook me? An amazing cover. Not saying a cover will make or break it for me, but if you can catch my attention with a cover...you have your foot in the door, my friend.

9 - Brilliant description - This is a fine line to walk. Some books give hardly any description, while others go a bit overboard - I really don't need a run down of every piece of furniture in the room, thank you very much. There needs to be enough that I can picture it in my head but not so much that it's tedious and obtrusive.

8 - Internal conflict - I'm more drawn to internal conflict. I find it more compelling. I don't know why, exactly, but I will usually choose an book that is driven by internal conflict over one driven by external conflictl. Maybe because it's more identifiable? I can relate and sympathize more? Well, whatever the reason...there it is.

7 - But...give me a really freaking good external conflict...I won't walk away. I can really dig a story where the character(s) is on the run from or fighting a big bad or having to survive a really horrible situation or environment.

6 - Angst... DUDE. Give me an angst-filled story.... Le sigh. I eat that stuff up with a freaking spoon every single time. I will ugly cry and re-read again and again. Yes, I will. 

5 - Good characterization -  Well written, fully developed believable characters that grow throughout the story is a surefire way to hook me. No too-stupid-to-live characters, no major alphaholes that have no redeeming qualities whatsoever... Hell, even a villain should be more than a flat, one-dimensional representation of a bad guy. Some of my all-time favorite characters are villains - usually ones I could identify with, sympathize with and understand why they were doing what they were doing even if it was horrifying and/or wrong. The biggest thing is they just aren't 100% evil to give the story a bad guy. They have layers, dammit.

4 - A good friends-to-lovers story. Oh, be still my heart. My all-time fave trope.. Seriously, I go looking for these, and I will hold onto the ones I love to go back to time and time again.

3 - Originality & Variety - Have you ever really loved an author but then after a while it seems as though are reading the same story again and again? That it's just slightly different look for the heroine or the setting is a bit different but it's basically the same story you read before? No one wants that. 

Or sometimes it's the same character (unintentionally) popping up in every book...with just a slightly different face.

Though I'd like to point out that in Doctor Who, even though each actor is technically playing the same character, they make the Doctor their own. Each incarnation has its own characteristics, mannerisms and quirks. And that's one of the things that makes it freaking brilliant.

Obviously, we all have our favorite types of stories. Like I said, friends-to-lovers is a big one for me. So are books based on Arthurian legend. I love me a good vampire or shifter book too. But what I really, really love is when an author puts new spin on it. They take something and make it their own. I think, as authors, we have a responsibility - not only to readers but to ourselves - to stretch ourselves, to move beyond our comfort zones. And that includes looking at our body work and making sure we aren't writing the same story or the same character again and again.

2 - A balance of information - There is a fine line authors walk when writing. The reader needs to be given enough information to follow the story and to (eventually) understand why characters are doing what they are doing, but they don't need to be hit over the head with every single detail or reason characters are doing something. It's playing in the middle ground, really. The reader isn't stupid and doesn't need to be spoon fed - which will just annoy and lead to a book being set aside - however, they can't be expected to make huge leaps of understanding with nothing in the book to support it - which leaves the reader scratching their heads and leads to a book being set aside.

1 - And finally... Write me a long, well-written, angsty as F&$k with lots of kinky sexy times (and no freaking slow-burn, thank you very much) Merthur fanfic, and I am yours.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Gwendolyn Cease | Kellie St. James | Kris Norris

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A new feature in 2017...monthly Top 10 lists. Woot.

This time, my top 10 is in no particular order.

  1. My kids. Can't quantify the pride I feel as I watch them grow. Incredibly proud of the young men and women they are becoming. 
  2. Putting priority on my marriage, when it's way too easy to get caught up in kids, day-to-day stuff, etc. 
  3. Choosing to do what I love - writing - even with the obstacles. 
  4. My persistence. 
  5. Making the daily decision to love myself - as I am now, not thinner, more successful, etc - and take care of myself. A hard won battle each day but very proud of it. 
  6. Pushing play and exercising regularly. I will never be one to love working out. That just isn't me, but it's still something I do for me, and I like how I feel because of it (just not during!) And I am proud because it's all too easy to make excuses...
  7. Doing things for me. And not like the time to shower uninterrupted. LOL Like big things...for me. For example, traveling to the UK & Ireland with my mom and SIL this past fall. In the past, I'd have felt selfish and never would have dreamed of doing it. But I did it (mostly) guilt free and had the most amazing time.

    Sneem, Ireland
  8. Finding a way to be organized (and keep my head on straight) that actually works for me - Bullet Journaling. Though admittedly it's still a work in progress but I'm doing it regularly and it's working.
  9. I'm proud of every book I've written and published. But if I had to choose one project I'm particularly proud of, it would be my Albion's Circle series. These are the books that made me fall in love with writing again, that pushed me out of my cozy and warm zone of comfort. 
  10. That I'm still here. That I didn't (and don't) give up. I've struggled with depression and anxiety my whole life. Still struggle with it. But damn it, I'm still here. I'm still fighting. 

 


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah MullinGwendolyn Cease
Kris NorrisPaige Prince |  Torrance Sené