Somewhere between work and love…

January 25, 2008 at 12:54 pm | Posted in books, getting organized, Karen Foley, Meg | 2 Comments

When all is said and done, I think I’m an organized person. I color code my calendar to keep track of all my family’s appointments, my crazy work schedule (I currently have three part-time jobs) and social occasions. I have notebooks for each job and home to jot down things I can’t juggle in my head. Bills are kept in a separate file and junk mail is immediately discarded. I even maintain all the records at my main job- attendance, registrations, evaluations, etc.- all in a carefully constructed system. I can do this in most areas of my life, so why can’t I do it in my writing?I do have a notebook for all my literary pursuits. The front opens to conference issues; the back lists topics for the blog. Somewhere in the middle section, notes on writing ideas begin in a jumbled fashion depending on what I’m working on (the new YA or submitting the women’s fiction). Yet this is the extent of my organization. I wish I did more.

For example, I’ve always heard it’s best to research your genre and know what’s out there so I’ve been reading numerous YA authors. I know what I’ve liked about the books and what I didn’t like. Problem is, I haven’t been keeping track of the important aspects of the books to see if there is a general theme to them. Sort of like what our Heartlette Karen Foley did when she targeted the Blaze line.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing Karen share the research she did before jumping from historicals to Blaze. She read a large number of Blaze novels (maybe 60?) and kept a spreadsheet of important aspects- when the hero and heroine meet, first kiss, first sex scene, number of sex scenes, etc.- so she could learn the ‘rules’ of these typical novels before she wrote one to target the line. An impressive organized approach to writing. And I’m jealous of it.

I’m not a spreadsheet person (see Bria or Jessica for those) and the thought of designing one to monitor my YA reads gives me a headache. However, unless I start focusing on what may have made the books different enough to attract a publisher’s interest, all my reading may be a waste of time (and we know how I hate wasting time!). But the thought of dissecting each chapter and reading it as a ‘researcher’ instead of a reader makes me want to cry. I worry it will ruin the enjoyment of the book and will turn it into work instead of play.

Take my current read- Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. I’ve fallen in love with her characters. Why? I don’t know. The heroine is a flawed, unpopular, sad fish in a zoo, if that makes sense, and I desperately want her to be happy. And the hero? He’s enigmatic, hot and cold, and a bit arrogant (aren’t they all- and note, I’ve only started the book so I haven’t gotten to the why he’s like this), but I think I’m falling for him. Every time he enters the scene, I catch my breath and wait, just wait to see what he’ll say or do. Why? What is so special about Stephanie’s writing that makes me want to crawl into the book or read them out of it a la Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart?

So if anyone has any ideas on how to organize my reading so it can be both enjoyable and useful, let me know. I would love to balance both!




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  1. Meg, thank you for your kind words! I don’t think you need to dissect a book in order to get a feel for what makes it special, and you definitely shouldn’t go that route if it’s going to take away from your enjoyment in reading the book. It sounds like you’re already doing the most important thing, and that’s reading as much as you can in the genre that you’re targeting.

    BTW, I absolutely love the Twilight series, and am so envious that you’re just starting to read these books; you are in for such a treat!!

  2. Nice insights Meg

    You should check out Stephanie Meyer’s website for Edward’s POV of Chapter one —- Talk about intense!

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