Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Little Update

I finished the rewrite and submitted it, so that's the primary reason I haven't been blogging much lately. Now the waiting begins again.

The other reason I didn't get around to blogging is because a brother-in-law became terribly ill and was taken, unconscious to the hospital three days ago. He passed away late yesterday afternoon. It's hard to lose someone who shares so many memories, and who has been 'family' for so many years. He was a diabetic who lost his fight with a sneaky illness.

There was a little matter too of a grandson qualifying for the District wrestling tournament in his weight. Of course I had to go watch it. He went three rounds and did a great job for his first year competing in the sport.

I'm not going to promise to do better. It seems that each time I think my life is going to settle down a bit, a new crisis arrives. Anyway I just finished reading a really fun Western and had planned to include a review in my next blog. Maybe next time. The current contest goes until noon Monday, but because I'll be involved with family and the funeral, I may be a little slow announcing the results, but I'll try to do it Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I promised a blog today to kick off the next contest, but as usual life happened and my plans went awry. The contest is still on. Comment on this blog or any blog I write between now and the end of the month and/or sign on as a follower to be eligible. On March 1 I will draw the name of a commentor or follower who will then send me a wish list of books he or she would like to own and if I have one of those books it will be the winner's prize.

I started a new novel a week ago and have reached a little over seven thousand words, which means the story has a long way to go. Instead of continuing to work on it though I'm going to be very busy with rewrites for A New Day Coming (working title). It seems a major communication glitch occurred between me and my editor about the time my computer crashed a few months ago. He thought I was busy working on the rewrite instructions he'd sent me, which I never received, and I was still waiting for any kind of word on my manuscript. So now I'm working like crazy on rewrites instead of my new manuscript. Actually it's kind of fun revisiting this historical after so many months. I'm finding a lot of weaknesses I didn't see before, yet other portions I'm quite pleased with. I'll keep you up to date on its progress.

Monday, February 15, 2010


KARENG is the winner this time around. Please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com with your mailing address and a list of books on your wish list. I'm having my carpet cleaned tomorrow morning, so I'll post the new contest as soon as I can get back in my office.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Last week I spent a little time playing with some ideas for a new book. I actually outlined the first eight chapters, then life got in the way. One of my cousins died unexpectedly and we went to Idaho for the funeral. Today I tried to get back in the outlining mode, but it just didn't work. I'm not really an outline type of writer even though I know I write faster when I work from an outline, and when I only have small blocks of time in which to write, I find the story flows more smoothly if I have a rough outline to follow. Yet for some crazy reason I like to surprise myself as I go and find it more fun to just write than follow an outline. So instead of staring at my outline and trying to decide what chapter nine is going to be about, I did what I usually do. I jumped in and started writing. I actually made it to 1500 words. This one is shaping up to be a murder mystery. We'll see how that goes.

How would you like to help me name my heroine? Reading back over my rough outline I discovered I was using a name I've used before. I changed it to a similar name, but it just doesn't feel right. She's single, 27 years old, shoulder length brown hair and hazel eyes, 5 feet 7 inches tall, an executive at an advertising firm, and enjoys running. She's smart, grew up as an Army brat, recently bought her first home, and has been called as a den mother in her family ward. I'll consider any reasonable suggestion. If I choose the name you suggest, I'll give you two entries in my current contest (three if you're also a follower.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Literary or Genre

I have twenty-one published novels to my credit and I've been officially reviewing novels for almost nine years, but I'm still not certain why some novels are considered literary and some are not. I have long assumed that a literary novel would be one that is well-written, finely edited, and treats its subject matter at a deeper level than is usually seen. But over the years I've read many novels that have been described as "literary" only to discover the only thing that diffrerentiates them from other novels is wordiness, overdone descriptions, endorsing controversial causes, poor plotting, and crude language.

Don't get me wrong. I have my share of books I consider literary classics. They each have a message that has stayed with me though many years, the language is beautiful, they're superbly edited, they've introduced me in many cases to a new perspective and encouraged me to think on a deeper level. I'm also aware that a book that has a significant impact on one reader may be boring gibberish to another or at best a ho-hummer. Sadly I've seen few books I'd consider "literary" in the LDS market published by either the larger LDS presses or by the smaller ones, though I've seen a few authors whose work encourages me to think it won't be long until we see some really great literary works.

It's my opinion that LDS fiction writers have produced some really first rate genre novels. Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Science fiction/fantasy, are all being produced at a level comparable to the best in the general market. With one or two expeceptions, Romance novels in this market don't measure up to the general market. I've wondered if this might be because romance writers have been ridiculed so much, most romance writers combine a love story with another genre such as Romantic Suspense, Historical, or resort to Chic Lit. For those who scoff at romance novels it might be well to remember Barbara Cartland who amassed a fortune in her prolific career. I don't think she's ever been accused of being literary, but she has made a lot of readers happy.

Which brings me to another point. Why is it that many of those who profess to only read and enjoy literary novels look down their noses at genre fiction? And why do even genre fiction readers poke fun at romances? I think the true book afficiando would enjoy a wide array of books. Personally I sometimes want a book that explores in depth a concept or issue, sometimes I want a tight, but convuluted mystery, and sometimes I want a quick read that will only entertain for a few hours, then be forgotten. I'm not fond of speculative fiction or of imaginative retellings of scriptural events, yet I've found some novels in those categories that impressed me a great deal. In reading Whitney nominees, I found a number of books I didn't care for overall, still most had passages or sections I found to be excellent. I have found vocabulary and scenes in genre fiction that rival anything I've read in top so-called literary works. I've also seen ridiculous imagry in literary works that have made me want to gag or giggle.

I've always maintained that a book a writer writes isn't the same book a reader reads. Just as the writer brings his/her own background and research to producing a book, the reader brings his/her own understandings, experiences, and biases to reading it. A had a recent discussion with another writer, whom I respect and greatly admire, over a book we'd both read. Our opposing views surprised me in this way. She found the book a chic lit like light ghost story. I found the same book a not-too-well-done parody of The Sound and The Fury by Wm. Faulkner. I found the main character mentally ill and all of her "ghosts" merely representations of her struggling mind to regain functionality. In the end the main character's socially inept and not-too-bright cousin who always let others, especially her mother, run her life got the good job, the great apartment, and expensive furniture. The heroine, who had always been strong and independent, became healthy when she gave up her independence and ambition to marry her greatest competitor and work for him in a behind the scenes, no-stress kind of job. My friend loved the book; I found it sub-par.

I'd love to hear from readers what you consider literary--or what you don't think is literary--and about your feelings concerning the quality of LDS fiction, literary or genre. And by the way, this is the begining of a new contest. All those who comment or become followers on this blog or any of my blogs between now and Feb. 15 are eligible. The winner will pick his/her own prize from my overflowing bookshelves.

January Contest Ends

Primary Mary is the winner of the January book give-away. Please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com to give me your choice of prize and your mailing address. My over abundance of books is not dwindling very fast so the first person to contact me via the above email address and refer to my blog will also receive a book. Please give me a list of at least five books on your wish list. Good luck!