Several years ago, I was looking for paranormal romance that was hot and exciting. Naturally, I stumbled onto Kresley Cole. This week’s post will highlight a few major observations I’ve taken from Cole’s sexy paranormal romance series, Immortals After Dark.
1. HOT sex scenes.
I started Immortals After Dark with book one and systematically worked my way through the series. I felt like a blushing virgin when I read the first sex scene in The Warlord Wants Forever. Whew, I thought. That’s a bit rough isn’t it? A bit…gloriously…rough?
It’s been less than five years since I began gobbling up her work; I’d been reading PNR for many years before that. I thought I was above being kinda shocked by the steaminess that can be found in PNR. I was a fool.
2. Character interaction can set a novel high above others.
The texts between some of those Valkyrie are freaking hilarious. And who doesn’t love Nix and trying to follow a conversation with her? I read one interview where Cole said she comes up with much of that on her own while writing. Maybe - maybe - I could come up with something nearly as witty if I had a clever, sarcastic friend to play off of. On my own? I try. I really try.
Chemistry between all the characters is just as important as between the hero and heroine. It makes us readers fall in love with the whole book. We fall in love with a book, we fall in love with the characters. If one of those characters gets their own book, we’re already in deep lust before the book is even published.
3. Learn the finesse of world building.
In my first set of contest feedback, the judge recommended I find and take a class on world building. I found one, and it costs $350…so…afraid that’s not going to happen. She also suggested I study my favorite authors.
Way ahead of you.
IAD takes place on earth, but very few of the characters are actually human. Cole has created a whole world, and many realms, all with different species. At no point did I ever feel like it was a stretch of my imagination. Information dumps bore me to tears and if there’s too many of them, I give up on a book. My mind is blown at the subtle world weaving found in IAD. We are introduced to realms new and old, and characters new and old. At no point are we overburdened with them, feeling like there’s a quiz waiting at the end for us to fail.
4. Simultaneous time lines spanning multiples books is possible.
There are five books and one short story in my Sigma Menace series. The time spanning the books is just short of two years (I think). I should be able to tell you exactly how much time has lapsed between Fever Claim and Pure Claim, but I can’t. I’d have to go back and draw a timeline. It’s all vague and I’m a horrible pantser that doesn’t outline very well.
So paint me amazed when I read books in IAD that overlap each other. To have the planning and foresight to write overlapping stories that highlight similar events…Mind. Blown. I’ve read an interview with Cole where she mentioned how she charted, plotted, and outlined the IAD world. I want to be epic like her, so - teach me, great master.
I’m a pantser and that’s fine. I have a shitty memory, and fine - as a reader. I can’t remember book titles or character’s names once I’m done with a story. Unfortunately, I’m only slightly better with my own books. I pantsed all of Sigma Menace. There was a lot of going back and checking info as I wrote later books. There was a lot of, oh shit, I started a storyline there I’d better get back to. Even more, what color were his eyes, again? How long ago was that? What season was it?
Fortunately, I’ve discovered outlining does not inhibit my pantser imagination. As long as I have a scene down on paper in some form, the next scene is waiting to unfold. And omg, what stress relief to know where the story’s heading!
My WIP, the one I want to reel in an agent with, I pantsed. So as I’m editing, I’m taking notes. I had computer notes, but good ol’ pen and paper seem to work better for me. For now at least. Until my girls get ahold of them and draw hearts and flowers all over. But! I have the first book of my indie spinoff series outlined. Mostly.
5. Use contests to prep a manuscript
Confession: I don’t have beta readers.
Naughty, I know. Pure Claim is coming out at the beginning of December and I’m determined to utilize my best friend to give it a read through before I publish it. She did that for Fever Claim - after it was published, when I realized how many typos my editor and I had missed.
A lot. It was a lot. It was my first book and talk about a sea of red.
I’ve studied enough, and been active enough on Goodreads, to read the resounding benefits of beta readers and/or having a critique group. Especially since my editor only copy edits, I risk leaving large gaping holes and tiny cracks all over my story. But I’m sorry, I can’t afford two or three times more than I’m paying right now for an editor. And it’s been impossible for me to turn my completed, unpublished work over to a stranger I met online. Regardless, I need to do something more as I move forward in my career. I have friends that I can approach, but it’s hard for me to ask for help. I know how busy we all are. Although…I know how much they all love coffee...I can pay in coffee…
In another Cole interview, she talked about how she got started in the business. She mentioned entering her work into contests, using the feedback to polish it, and then submitting it. That’s exactly what I’m doing with my current manuscript; it’s the next best thing for newb like me. I’ve been going through the feedback, brutal as it is, and chipping away the rough spots in my writing, attempting to polish it up. I have one more contest that I’m waiting for results from so I can grit my teeth and bear my way through the comments.
I have to say, 90% of the comments have been helpful. Not all of the contest feedback is soul-shattering. I’ve had some excellent scores and some very encouraging comments.
6. Write hard
“Showers are for suckers!”
Kresley Cole works hard. In all her interviews, her passion and drive is obvious. She diligently works on every sentence to make it the best it can possibly be. She puts in long days, sometimes even longer nights, and sacrifices to meet deadlines. She’s a professional.
Writers don’t clock in and out every day. Doesn’t mean 40+ hours aren’t getting put in each week. Much time, tons of effort, and all of our heart gets put into every product. Then there’s marketing, social media, and the business side of books. If we aren’t writing, it’s always on our minds. Success in this business does not come from being idle.