Monday, August 26, 2013

I Spy a Similarity: How Chick Lit Main Characters are Similar to Paranormal Main Characters

I’m taking a few weeks off to move and concentrate on marketing KEEPING SCORE. While I’m gone, I’m lucky enough to have some author friends taking care of my blog for me! They have also been spreading the word about KEEPING SCORE. I wish they could come to Florida and help with the unpacking, too.

Today I’m lucky enough to host Carolyn Ridder Aspenson, author of UNFINISHED BUSINESS. Since UNFINISHED BUSINESS is a combination of paranormal and chick lit, I thought Carolyn might have words of wisdom about the two genres, and she was gracious enough to agree to share them. All the begging was on my end.

When I begged Jami to let me do a guest post on her blog and she graciously agreed, I was thrilled-until she hit me with the big whammy.


"How do you feel about writing about the similarities and differences of the paranormal heroine to the chick lit heroine?"



Absolutely! No problem! Easy as pie!

Sure, I could nail that sucker down without even an ounce of hesitation, I thought and then Googled like I've never Googled before.

Do you know there is not one article pertaining to this subject all? Not one stinking article. So yeah, I got tossed to the wolves and had to figure it out on my own. That's always (never) a good thing, me figuring something out on my own. In fact, my husband begs me not to try to figure things out on my own. One day I'll do a guest post about trimming the shrubs because that's a perfect example of why he hates when I figure things out on my own. But alas, Jami doesn't know me well enough to know the kind of trouble I can be so if you're seeing this post, it's because she didn't have any other choice but to post it. (ed. note: Sure I did!)

I thought and I thought and considering the fact that I've only ready cozy mystery-ghost-paranormal-chick lit-romance kinds of books and haven't even seen the Twilight movies, let alone read any of the stories, I thought I might not be the best person for this kind of post. Why? Well, here's a little secret, I don't like paranormal stories.

Now that might sound strange considering the fact that I've written one and almost completed another paranormal book, right? Right. But here's the thing. I don't like dark and creepy and I'm not attracted to vampires and wolves and all that other paranormal stuff. I like ghosts and that's about it. Give me a happy, funny ghost story and I'll read until I fall asleep, which sadly, these days is after about five minutes. I don't read to feel scared. I have teenage daughters. I'm scared enough.

So with that being said, I did come up with a few interesting takes on the two types of characters and here's how they line up for me.

Paranormal heroines deal with scary situations.

But so do chick lit heroines. I mean the real world is scary, right? Getting a new job, a divorce, married, a dog...if you ask me, it's all scary stuff on some level. Don't discount the fear of the unknown because no matter what is unknown, it's still unknown and that's scary.

Paranormal heroines deal with scary beings.

But so do chick lit heroines. Sure, a paranormal heroine is dealing with vampires-some quite horny from what I understand-and werewolves and demons but tell me, have you looked at dating sites? Have you talked to your friends? Let's be honest here, some guys like to dress in all black, wear a little make up and well, they're pretty darn horny. And yay for me, I Googled "Men who dress like vampires" and found this link, so there's proof to my theory!

As for werewolves, before I got married I dated a seriously hairy guy, so what's the difference? Maybe the werewolves have a few added issues but don't most men anyway? As for demons, yeah, ask me what my husband's like when he wants to ride his Harley and it's raining. I'll show you a demon then.

Paranormal heroines have a secret.

But so do chick lit heroines because really, who doesn't have at least one secret? If you can honestly say you don't, I'm calling BS. Dig deep. You too have a secret but it's probably so secret you've forgotten it.

Paranormal heroines have a dilemma to deal with.

You know what I'm going to write next, right? Okay, say it with me...but so do chick lit heroines. So maybe their dilemmas are a little different. "Should I let this hot, sexy, vampire bite me?" compared to "Should I tell my best friend I slept with her boyfriend?" Two very different dilemmas but dilemmas nonetheless and trust me, in that incidence; I'd totally take the bite over the best friend. My best friend is bigger and stronger than me by a long shot.

Paranormal heroines have magical powers (sometimes).<BR>
But so do chick lit heroines (sometimes). No, really, they totally do. How do you think they-for the most part-can be total beyotches and still get the guy? Or, for those who are so darn sticky sweet and naive, how do you think they can still get the guy? Magic powers I tell you, because in the real world, that stuff never happens.

And most of all, the most telling similarity between the two genres main characters is love.

Paranormal heroines fall in love.

But so do chick lit heroines. Duh.

Now if you want to be picky and argue how different they are, I'm sure you can find a difference or two but when you get down to the key factors of any story-the things that drive the character, that make the character who they are-they're pretty similar. It's that way because all of us writers have learned that each story needs a likeable main character, someone the audience can relate to, a central conflict and a resolution that is either surprising or fulfilling or both. The difference is in the details, just not the details I've mentioned.

So if you're not reading one genre because, like me, you don't like certain aspects of it, consider comparing how the characters might be alike and I bet you'll come up with something similar. Maybe I should read Twilight after all? (ed. note: Please don’t!!!!)

More about Carolyn:



Barnes and Noble


Carolyn’s website

Carolyn on Facebook

Carolyn on Twitter

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How to Successfully Mix Genres

I’m taking a few weeks off to move and concentrate on marketing KEEPING SCORE. While I’m gone, I’m lucky enough to have some author friends taking care of my blog for me! They have also been spreading the word about KEEPING SCORE. I wish they could come to Florida and help with the packing, too.

Today I’m lucky enough to have Caroline Fardig here to talk about mixing genres, as she does in her bestselling novel, IT’S JUST A LITTLE CRUSH. I’m very lucky because Caroline is incredibly busy… IT'S JUST A LITTLE CRUSH has been #1 on B&N's Humor Bestsellers list for four straight days! Get your copy now while it’s still on sale for $0.99 (through tomorrow)at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

When Jami and I were trying to come up with a good topic for a blog post, she said, “Your book is part mystery and part chick-lit romance—why don’t you talk about how to mix genres?” I mulled it for a while and decided it was a great idea! And I am going to talk about how to mix genres in your writing, but I’m going to explain it by using a movie as an example. I love movies (even more than books *gasp!*), and as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a movie critic, so someone would pay me to watch movies all day.

We’re the Millers is the #2 movie in the country right now, and for good reason. It’s FUN. (Even better, I got to see it at the drive-in in my convertible!)

We’re the Millers is also very raunchy, so if you don’t have a sense of humor, don’t go see it. That being said, I think the writers blended a lot of different elements into the movie to make it very interesting. It’s not just your typical raunch-com.


They added some action in the form of car/RV chases and hand-to-hand fighting. It made the movie exciting and broke up the comedy so it didn’t become just a series of one-liners. Action and comedy seem to go well together, but if the movie had been all action, with Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston as the leads, it would have been a bit unbelievable, don’t you think? You can do the same thing with your writing. Let your big, strong hero have an off-beat sense of humor. Every little quirk you can give your characters gives them another facet to their personalities.


Who doesn’t love a little romance? We’re the Millers added some romance, both adult and teen—and the teen one is super-sweet. Sudeikis and Aniston had good chemistry throughout the movie, and you were rooting for them to get together. Sorry if you think that was a spoiler—it’s pretty obvious that they like each other but won’t admit it. In writing, give your characters something else to do besides go to work and come home to an empty house. If you do it right, your characters “will they or won’t they” can be as suspenseful as your plot.


Surprisingly, there’s also quite a bit of drama in the movie, but they don’t let it get too heavy. They deal with the subjects of broken families, broken dreams, self-confidence, right vs. wrong, and the dangers of drug dealing. Pretty serious stuff, but because it is masked in humor, it’s not too much of a downer. It’s pretty great if you can work in a “lesson learned” into your writing, especially if you’re writing a series of books. Readers love to see their favorite characters grow, and it definitely adds depth to them.


Just kidding. But if they had thrown in a couple of zombies, they would have had nearly every genre covered!

Just remember—don’t let your genre label dictate your writing. If your character needs to do something wild and crazy, let her! If she needs to have a big, emotional breakdown, let her. Allow your characters to experience many emotions and situations, just like in real life. It will make your writing more believable and much more fun!

About the Author:

CAROLINE FARDIG was born and raised in a small town in Indiana. Her working career has been rather eclectic thus far, with occupations including schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom. Finally realizing that she wants to be a writer when she grows up, Caroline has completed her first novel, IT’S JUST A LITTLE CRUSH, and is currently hard at work churning out a second novel in the series. She still lives in that same small town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

My website

My blog



Book on Amazon

Book on B&N

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Guest Blogger Laura Chapman Takes on Plotting

(I’m taking a few weeks off to market “Keeping Score” and get ready to move. In the meantime, I’m hosting a few other authors on my blog. Today Laura Chapman gives some advice on plotting.)

I wish I could be a full-fledged pantser. Someone who weaves a page-turning story, while spinning brilliant prose.

Though I've learned to be a bit more spontaneous with my writing, I'm a plotter at heart. When I come up with a story, I like to know the beginning, middle and ending before I get down to the dirty work of writing. I've adopted and developed a few practices for keeping my thoughts in order. Some of these can work even for you pantsers who don't have to know every detail between Point A and Point Z when you're telling your story.

I'm going to suggest using supplies such as folders, index cards, pens and paper. If you're opposed to killing trees (and that's a good thing), you can do this same idea by creating documents and folders on your computer. I do some of my writing longhand with notebooks, because I like to take breaks from technology at certain points of a story, and these physical copies help at those times.

One way to learn the shape of your story is through creating character sketches. More than coming up with a name, this tells more about who your character is, what he or she likes and why he or she acts a certain way. I like to keep these organized by using folders -- one for each of the primary characters (usually my main character and her leading love interest(s)) with another folder for the secondary characters, who don't need as much of a back story.

As part of this, I like to consider where a character will begin and end. Story is what happens to characters. Knowing the before and after will establish the path your character takes.

You can simplify this process by using index cards. I'm a big fan of index cards, and even if I do character sketches with folders, I like to write down the specifics I'll need for each of my characters on an index card.

If you're a full-time plotter, then a working synopsis is a must. This includes a chapter by chapter breakdown of the scenes you will write. I did this for my two completed manuscripts, which I worked on during National Novel Writing Month. Doing this work in advance allowed me to focus on writing the 50K words during November, followed by the rest of the story in subsequent months.

You can also break down your chapters -- and even scenes -- with index cards, in addition to having a working synopsis file on your computer. I keep all of my cards together in a small file box, which I carry with me in my purse most of the time. It allows me to pick up and work on my story whether I am in a coffee shop, on a flight or settled at my desk.

About Laura
Laura Chapman is a blogger and soon-to-be published author of women’s fiction. A 2008 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Laura studied journalism, English and history. She spent four years in corporate journalism, traveling the country as a writer/photographer, and currently works in marketing and communications. Born and raised in Nebraska – in a city, not on a farm – she is a devoted football fan, lover of British period drama and frequent bar attendee. Her debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, and a holiday novelette will be released later this year.

Contact Laura
Website (
Blog (
Facebook (
Twitter (