Friday, December 16, 2011

Blogfest Special: Deja Vu

My good friends DL, Lydia, Katie, and Nicole are hosting this fun fest in which we dig up old posts that didn't get much "play" or that are favorites or whatnot.

This was hard! And as a result, I might sprinkle in some recycled posts in the upcoming weeks.

But anyway, without further ado, a fun rerun and looking forward to seeing what I've missed!

Cups of Literary Tea, July 2010

I'm not much of a tea drinker. I wish I were, because it sounds so refined and elegant.

I mentioned in a previous post that my first boss when I was an editor at LSU was from England, and she observed a strict tea time every day, complete with cookies (biscuits). She taught me so many little niceties.

Anyway, so I've been thinking about books and genre and what appeals to different readers and what doesn't. Of course, I was also thinking about agents...

The other night I looked at JRM and me sitting up in bed reading. He was holding a block of wood entitled TRUMAN. I was clutching my shiny copy of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. Being naturally curious, I leaned over to him.

LTM: What's Truman doing?
JRM: They're making the atomic bomb.
LTM: Sounds.... interesting. (Yik!)
JRM: What do you think it says about humanity that we've had the bomb for 60 years and it hasn't been used.
LTM: We love our children.

Personally, that sort of reading doesn't relax me. I start wondering if I'm getting credit for the course. But to JRM it's fascinating.

I boarded this train of thought because I needed a critique partner. (One of those non-relative, or husband or friend types.)

And I was pondering if it's really necessary for him/her to prefer the genre I write in. I think it is, but could I be wrong?

I recently "met" a fellow blogger who's writing fantasy books. This very imaginative (and good!) writer suggested I read his WIP, but I had to come clean--I think I'd be a terrible helper with fantasy fiction. (The true kind, I mean. The kind JRM devours.)

I felt bad. But I think my answer was correct. I've tried many times to read hard-core fantasy, and I always follow the same pattern: my mind starts to wander and I get lost (you really have to pay attention to that stuff). Then I'm faced with having to start over, and instead I just put the book down and grab a good-ole escapist YA romance.

(Not genre romance, mind you. I get the itch if I can feel the formula in a book I'm reading.)

But maybe that wasn't the right answer. Maybe having a critique partner who's not a big fan of the genre in which I write would make him/her more likely to catch problems...

I don't know.

Last weekend we hosted two of JRM's old law school buddies who are serious fantasy fans. I asked them what it is about the genre that appeals to them. Is it the descriptions? The worlds? The literary devices (e.g., time travel, quests, magic). They couldn't really say.

I don't think anybody can. That's like saying why you prefer chocolate over vanilla.

At the very least I like knowing there's a genre for everyone.

Mine's more the love story-anything genre, although I have to admit an aversion to creatures. LOTR was not my bag, baby. Sorry. So the love-story-anything-without-creatures genre.

JRM: There are no creatures in The Dragonriders of Pern.
LTM: Do the dragonriders fall in love?

That's all for today, kids. I'm actually on the road headed back home, so let's all thank Flower the cat for today's post.

My genre's anything I can bite.
Have a great weekend! And I actually am out of town til Sunday, so I'll be late making the rounds. But I'm coming! Til Monday~ <3


Laura Pauling said...

Some of my best critiques come writers that write outside my genre. They see things that others accept and find believable. And it's worked well for me to listen to both sides and find that balance.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I don't know if I could crit a genre I didn't really enjoy reading. But I bet it would help in being more objective.

Stina said...

I've critted outside my genre, but it's something I prefer to avoid. It just depends on the genre. I recently beta read a paranormal romance, but I read YA paranormal romances, so it wasn't a stretch for me. I've beta read a women's fiction novel, but I'm not into that genre, so I was kinda bored reading it. I wanted her to turn it into a suspense.

The latter individual started to crit one of my YA books, but she kept telling me my character wouldn't do that when she would. The beta didn't get teens as well as she thought she did (even though her youngest was almost one at the time).

Pat Hatt said...

Sometimes it can be a mixed bag, but you do learn some things I guess. Yes thank the cat, it's always the cat. Humans need to realize this..haha

Old Kitty said...

Kitty is wise and wonderful!!

Personally I'm glad I'm eclectic in my reading - it's the story that counts for me whatever the genre!

Yay for tea - am having peppermint herb tea as I type this! Take care

LTM said...

@Laura--my best crits actually come from JRM, and he would NEVER pick up a book from my genre voluntarily. :D But you're right, balance is good. For me, I just get bored reading a genre I don't find interesting, and then everything slooows down. Not really fair for the poor writer on the other end waiting on me. ;o) <3

BECKY said...

Hi Leigh! I'm here via Deja Vu blogs. I love the way you write, and I totally agree about not being able to "get into" genres that I just don't like....and I don't think I could possibly critique them, either. A funny side note: When I first saw that JRM was reading Truman....a couple of things crossed my mind. Truman Capote....and the movie "Truman" with Jim Carrey. Yeah....I'm kind of dense sometimes! LOL
I'm a new follower!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

This is so true! My hubby is exactly the same way. He just finished Catcher in the Rye because he thought he "should" read it and his response was: "This was the most pointless book ever written." Yeah, he basically sticks with NF: wars and bombs and science and sports. Which is why I don't ever ask him to read my books and that's fine! We're all different. :)

Thanks for the great post!

Donna K. Weaver said...

"JRM: There are no creatures in The Dragonriders of Pern.
LTM: Do the dragonriders fall in love?"

What? There are, too, creatures in that series. They're dragons! Or does he mean something else?

And yes, there's wonderful love stories in Anne McCaffrey's books.

Laurel Garver said...

I love what you say about a genre for everyone. But I also think our needs as readers change over time. I was a voracious reader of fantasy and SciFi in my teens and twenties. Now it doesn't grab me to the same degree. I'm more drawn to realistic fiction and literary.

It sure can be helpful to have readers both inside and outside your genre, however. It's why I belong to two crit groups.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Loved finding your blog on the Deja Vu blogfest. Definitely following. I love finding fellow writers going through that arduous journey to publication, willing to share hints!

DL Hammons said...

None of my critique partners write in my genre (mystery/suspense/thriller), but most of them read it. I have gained valuable insight from all of them, but I have also ignored some because I felt they were relying on their own genre's experience.

I have also critiqued outside of my genre, and I've struggled with it some...especially YA.

You choice an excellent post to breath new life into! Thank you for breaking your routine to participate in the blogfest and helping make today so special! :)

Lydia Kang said...

I can read the Lord of the Rings books--I love them--but I draw the line otherwise at fantasy. Great one, Leigh!

Margo Kelly said...


I have a critique partner within my genre and one outside of my genre. I think it's great both ways!

Unknown said...

I met my writing group in a writing for YA and MG class so we have everything from realistic MG to realistic YA to fantasy. I like critiquing in different genres because I think it brings something different to the work.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Lol - I <3 Flower's genre! Sounds vaguely paranormal though. ;)

Sarah said...

I'm similar to you--my husband always laughs about my "luuuuv interest" interest (said exactly like that, all drawn out, in a South African accent that makes it sound particularly funny). I personally would prefer not to crit out of my genre. Selfish, yes, but probably healthier/safer for the writer.

LynNerdKelley said...

I can get into pretty much all genres, except for horror because it scares the heck out of me, so when someone tells me they don't like paranormal (not horror) or some other genre, I accept that, but I wonder why they don't like it. I can see how someone outside your genre would notice things that need some tweaking, but I don't think it's fair for someone outside a genre to rate a book because of course they're not going to be that interested in the book to give it a fair shot. Fun blogfest, isn't it?

Unknown said...

What a cute post! I can tell you why I love reading and writing fantasy. 1. I love the adventure. It's new, adventurous. I get to explore and see new things. I'm a change addict.

2. I get to create new worlds, new cultures, new everything. Yeah, this goes back to the change addict thing, too.

3. There are usually strong themes of good versus evil. That appeals to me.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love love-story-anything too - and I LOVE the Hobbit, LotR AND the Dragonriders of Pern series! :)

My crit buddies write romance as well, but very different styles of romance! It works very well :)

Nancy Thompson said...

I so get this post! I write thrillers, and while my 2 BFFs write in the same genre, a lot of my other writer friends do not. But I critique for them anyway. I have a very difficult time with fantasy. I just don't get that world, but I can crit the story, the elements, the characters, the writing, and all that. The dialogue I have a harder time with, but a story is either good, or it's not, regardless of the genre. Plus, critiquing other genres makes me a better critiquer and being critted by writers of other genres makes me a better writer.

(I'm a new follower vie the Deja Vi blogfest!)

Tracy Jo said...

Mmmm...I love tea! Interesting point. I think it would be hard to critique something I wasn't into but I suppose it does come down to the writing. Good or bad. That is a hard call! Hope you are having an awesome weekend!

Coleen Patrick said...

I read a lot of different genres, always looking for a great story! But you are right it's so subjective! Thankfully there seems to be room for just about everything these days!:)

Romance Reader said...

I read in all genres and enjoy it too.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy most genres, but some I'm not enthusiastic about. I've been able to critique things that are not my cup of tea. Writing is writing to me.

Nas said...

I enjoy reading most genres.

LTM said...

@Heather D--Hey, thanks! You're so right about meeting like-minded people, and this community of writers is the BEST! Welcome~ :o) <3

@Margo--The feedback is certainly worth it. It's good to be ambidexterous! :D

@LynNerd--LOL! Silly name, and yes! Fun fest. I'm with you. Horror's scary! ;p And it's true that "outsiders" might not get certain things and might be bored. For me, it's really a matter of story. I was just telling someone I think I should add an "update" to this post b/c I *loved* "Daughter of Smoke & Bone," and it's fantasy. AND it's full of creatures! What tha??? ;o) <3

@Colleen--You're so right about room for everything these days. And it's awesome that you're so versatile! :o)

Theresa Milstein said...

My husband is not a fan of fantasy and YA, but I love him anyway. It makes him a terrible beta reader, though.

I know what you mean about not wanting to critique for something that's outside of our genre. If I don't think I can help someone, I'll let them know. Even though I read widely, I mostly focus on YA and middle grade fantasy, so I think I'm the best at offering advice on those types of manuscripts. With a few exceptions.

PK HREZO said...

I know fantasy is not for a lot of peeps.... the really hard core kind, anyway. I'm a huge fan. I think what appeals to me is the uninhibited imagination--the never knowing what may turn up next. In writing fantasy, I adore creating fantastical worlds where anything goes.
My hubby is not a big fantasy fan so he doesn't appreciate it either.
But I think if you can find at least one beta reader who doesn't like the genre but is WILLING to read it, it's worth a shot. Me personally, I don't read genres that don't interest me (which is almost nothing lol) cuz I'd be bored out of my mind.

LTM said...

@PK--ahh. See? You are so smart, and I always think people who get into all that fantasy are just brainiacs. Also nonfiction readers. ;p But it is nice to have those willing eyes to help, even if you're not necessarily prepared to return the favor! :o) <3

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