Earlier this spring I completed a science fiction romance novella. I actually made the deadline for an open call. I'm usually a day late. Now I'm continuing to work on a new BDSM erotica. (This is the story of the creation of the B&B in Management Skills. The H/h are older. I'm planning a series centering around the establishment.)
In between the two projects I took some time off to read. I read Nora Roberts' Black Rose as a model for an older couple romance. Unfortunately, when I write romance, I have a tough time reading it. I read like I'm a back seat driver, critiquing the entire thing. (Yeah, even Nora Roberts!) That sucks the joy right out of reading. Usually I'll read non-fiction or a thriller to get out of that critical frame of mind.
Last month I decided to read a bit of literary fiction. It was a way to "cleanse the palate" in between courses. I read Justine by Lawrence Durrell. This is a first person story written in 1957 about a group of self-absorbed, intellectual snobs. The tale is only mildly chronological. The star of the novel is not Justine, or the narrator, but the Egyptian city of Alexandria. The world-building is spectacular. Sadly, the human characters are so unaware, they don't offer much insight into "the human condition", which is one possible role of literary fiction. Oh, but the language! Extraordinary, poetic and vivid. If I could only write like that! Reading Justine was a refreshing break.
B&N and Fifty Shades
Last week I went to the local Barnes and Noble store to get a map of Connecticut. I like the ambiance of B&N. However, I usually buy stuff online at amazon, and never from BN.com. As background, I've had friends who have tried to get jobs at B&N, and been turned away because they don't know enough about books. So, supposedly even the checkout people are expected to up on bestsellers, genres and whatnot. While I was checking out, a checker asked another checker if she had ever heard of "a book called Fifty Shades of Grey." Neither of them knew anything about the book.
This little anecdote illustrates why B&N will ultimately fail at modern book-selling.