CRAFT MATTERS: Keywords, Metadata, Core Story, & Favorite Tropes

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about keywords and metadata, which essentially brought me to analyzing my core story and favorite tropes. In Atlanta, at RWA#13, Bella Andre, Courtney Milan, and Liliana Hart all spent a portion of the time talking about keywords and metadata. Each one emphasized the importance of getting those keywords right so that your readers can find you. These women have found astounding success as indie authors. First of all, let’s get this out of the way, each of these women are fabulous story-tellers. If they couldn’t tell a great story that held together, it wouldn’t matter what you called it or how you tagged it, people wouldn’t read it. However, beyond that, these women have found a key to success in getting their books in front of readers who want to read the kind of story they’re telling.

Enemies to Lovers

Megiddo Mark Novel Final CoverSo I began to think about what kind of story I tell. What are the keywords I’d use to describe each of the books I’ve written and indie published? First thing that came to mind is enemies-to-lovers. Many of my books–both my paranormal romances (indie published) and my contemporary romances (soon to be published both traditionally and indie)–are stories where the hero and heroine start out as enemies or opponents. During the course of the story, they must learn to work together, and in the process, they fall in love. The Megiddo Mark (first indie published as a serialized novel in four parts, now released as a single novel) is an enemies-to-lovers story. So is Pompeii Reawakened, its sequel and a continuation of The Megiddo Series where Sienna and Kane get their own story. Even To Have & To Hold, the first in my dragon shifter series, is an enemies-to-lovers story, which is harder because the couple is married. But still, the trope is there, if a bit twisted.

Two Dogs Fighting Over The Same Bone

The second trope I noticed as part of the core story of many of my books is the two-dogs-fighting-over-the-same-bone convention. In this scenario, the hero and the heroine are fighting over something–usually something physical–that they both want or must have for very good reasons.

TH&TH FINAL ThumbThe Megiddo Mark is clearly a two-dogs story, as is Pompeii. While To Have & To Hold and From This Day Forward (the second dragon shifters story released in late August or early September) don’t focus on the two-dog-one-bone convention, there is a suspense subplot where the hero and heroine must vie for an object that the villain is after. So, truly, those two stories also fall into that camp.FTDF_Final Thumb

Even my contemporary romances (Essence, out in the spring 2014, and Out of Bounds, out in October) are clearly stories where the hero and the heroine are fighting over a bone. In the case of Essence, the hero and heroine are fighting over a piece of land. In Out of Bounds, they’re fighting over the discovery and exposure of a secret. Even in the contemporary romance I’m currently writing, working title Every Heart Sings, the hero and heroine duke it out over the career of a rising musician. In every case, the two protagonists have a stake in this “bone.”

Beauty and The Beast

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All of my stories except one (so far) are beauty and the beast stories or have elements of this story line. There’s something appealing to me about pairing a character who is monstrous (or believes he or she is) with a character who offers unconditional love. In every case, that supposed monster is tamed or healed by the love of a good protagonist. If you take that story line even a step further, it becomes the-bad-boy-redeemed trope, which is totally the focal point of Pompeii Reawakened.

Woman in Jeopardy

PR_1667x2500_72dpi_Final_Kindle - SmallFinally, I think most of my stories have at their core, a story of the woman in jeopardy. This trope definitely encompasses The Megiddo Mark, Pompeii Reawakened, To Have & To Hold, and From This Day Forward, which all contain a strong suspense subplot. However, even my contemporary romances contain an element of the woman-in-jeopardy scenario. In Essence, it’s the heroine’s livelihood that’s at stake. Same with Out of Bounds, it’s the heroine’s good reputation and career as an Olympic athlete that’s hanging in the balance.

So, if you’re a writer, what are the keywords or tropes you’d use to describe your stories? Do you have favorites that you are drawn to?

As a reader, what conventional story is your favorite type of story to read?


Twisted Ankles, Tree Frogs, & Timelines: On The Road to Atlanta #RWA13

Bridge in Woods 123RFThis year I have time. Lots of it. So I decided to drive to #RWA13 in Atlanta, Georgia, from the D.C. area. Yay! An eleven-hour trip split into three days and two overnight stays. Nice. Alone. Did I mention I’m driving alone? LOL. Yes. I had several people look at me in horror when I say that . . . yes, indeed, I’m driving alone. It’s an introvert’s dream. Three days of quiet before I enter the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta to meet and greet 2,000 of my closest friends. Well, not really. But, still. They’re my tribe. They talk like me. They think like me. They write stories about love and relationships, just like me. And even though I love these women, I’m an introvert and this huge conference sucks mega-energy from me. So this year, I’m fueling up my emotional tank before I arrive. Smart, right?

Yes. I think so. And I still think so on my second overnight stay in lovely Lake Hartwell, South Carolina–only two hours from Atlanta. So how’s it going? Hmmm. Here’s what I’ve learned on the road to Atlanta so far . . . and really it does apply to writing & Indie publishing, too. I promise.

Determination is Key

Well, the day before I embarked on this great quest for peace and quiet before the on-going party that is RWA, I sprained my ankle playing volleyball at a family picnic. I rolled my ankle so badly on Saturday that I could barely put weight on it. But because I played sports in high school and college, I knew I needed to ice it, take ibuprofen, and make sure I continued to walk on it–keep it limber. The pain you often feel is because of the stiffening. So I pushed through. Used my prior knowledge of sprained ankles and worked with it. Today I’m walking fine. It doesn’t hurt. However, I do have a fat ankle. Sigh. Oh, well. Can’t have everything, I guess. Point 1: If you’re going to succeed in the publishing industry, you need to push ahead with determination. Use your prior experience and knowledge, but will power will take you a long way in your journey, even when you take a hit.

Nerve is a Must

This morning I shared my shower with a tree frog. Yes, a tree frog.Tree Frog 123RF Did I mention I’m camping? LOL. I turned on the hot water at the shower–yes, an indoor shower–and climbed in, only to find a tiny tree frog up in the right-hand corner staring at me. He tried to get further away. He didn’t go far enough in my opinion. So I kept one eye on him and he kept one eye on me as I took a quick five-minute shower. I think my husband would be okay with me sharing the shower with this fellow. I hope! LOL. Point 2: With writing, Indie publishing, and in publishing in general, you will be afraid. There’s no doubt about it. Things will pop up that surprise you and scare you. Stand your ground. Keep an eye on the situation. Don’t let it scare you away. Act only and when you need to take action. ;0)

Attitude is Everything

Final lesson from this morning. I wanted to leave Natural Bridge, Virginia, by seven o’clock a.m. I packed my belongings, folded my bedding, stowed everything in the car. Then I drove to the camp office to return my cabin key. The hours posted on the office said it didn’t open until eight-thirty. Ugh. Didn’t these people know I had a time schedule? A timeline I wanted to keep? I had a seven hour drive ahead of me. No. They didn’t. So I drove back to my cabin, turned the AC back on, and meditated. Then I sat on the front porch swing and listened to the birds and watched the squirrels. I watched sleepy people in their PJs stumble off to the showers/bathrooms. Finally, at eight o’clock, I watched a little golf cart pull up to the office. Yay! A staff member to open the office. I jumped in my car and raced over there to return the key and hit the road. Point 3: Life is short. Not everyone has your agenda or schedule. Sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy the journey. There’s no use getting mad about situations out of your control. The only thing you can control is your response and your attitude. When I finally dropped off the key, I talked amiably with the staff worker and we discussed a solution to the before-hours key drop/return deposit. I became a creditable voice who contributed to the solution–not part of the problem.

Anyway, these are the lessons I’ve learned so far on the road to Atlanta. Tomorrow I’ll check in at the Marriott Marquis and go from one workshop to luncheon to pitches to dinner to party and so on and so on. I’ll network. I’ll take an interest in people and I’ll learn lots and lots about publishing and writing. By the end, I will be exhausted, even though I took my days to fill up my emotional tank beforehand. However, this way, I’m going in charged up. Besides, I’ll have two days to recharge again before I get home. Yeehaw!

Hope to see you in Atlanta. I’ll be giving away free copies of To Have & To Hold on July 18th between 3:00 and 4:15pm at the Indie Book Signing & Giveaway. See the details under Events on my website. Please stop by and say hi!