04 April 2008

Another Annotation: Joely Sue Burkhart

I was planning on posting an updated one-sentence summary for my dragon murder-mystery story today, but Ms. Five has been home sick for two days, and at the moment I’m tired and grumpy and can’t stand the sight of my own writing. So I’m going to talk about somebody else’s writing, instead. (Yes, I’m copping out. Get over it.)

“Somebody” is Joely Sue Burkhart, whom I recently added to my “Brain Food” list. In a word, Joely is great. Her blog has become required reading for me, not only because of posts like the one I found so inspiring the other day, but also because of her snippets, which appear fairly regularly and are awesome. Especially the ones about Gregar. :-D

Joely is a fantasty-romance writer and does a lot of things really well - many of them things I wish I did well and don't (yet). World building, for instance. The best word to describe it is deft. As a reader, you are imperceptibly drawn into the worlds her characters inhabit until you are there, no info-dump necessary, thank-you-very-much. I envy her skill at this, and it's lovely to read. There are other technique-y things I admire too - her characters are complicated and interesting, her plots are well constructed and tight (and decidedly not full of holes like mine!). The heart of the reason I like Joely’s writing, however, is how well she balances the fantasy and romance elements in her writing.

Now, before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight: I am NOT a romance reader. At all. I think I picked up a romance novel in high school or college once and I just didn’t get it. (What, no swords? No magic? No murder? Huh? What kinda book IS this?) And so I proceeded for years to read nothing but fantasy and murder mysteries, with the occasional Prodigal Summer or The Red Tent foisted upon me by my book club.

I was perfectly happy.

And then something weird happened.

A couple of years ago, when I had the time to actively participate in Critters (which, alas, I don’t these days), I crited a short story. It was basically a love story – a romance – only it had really strong, really well-developed fantasy elements. The weird thing? I loved it. The author of that story, in her notes at the end of it, wondered whether there was a market for a story like that, I found myself wanting to shout “Yes - ME!”

This reaction was really quite shocking, given my reading history. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I like to have a love story in my fantasy, and even though a lot of fantasy stories have a love interest/aspect/what-have-you, they rarely get into the details of emotional turmoil and conflict (and, let's be honest, sex) that I discovered I enjoy. While this epiphany did not make me run out and buy straight-up romance novels, it did put me on the lookout for other stories like that one.

And lucky me, that’s exactly what Joely writes and writes well. Yahoo!

I highly recommend checking out Joely's blog. You can pick up her stories either through the links on her blog or by going directly to Drollerie Press.

And while I intended to review those stories as part of this post, as I said I'm too tired and grumpy today. :( Hopefully, tomorrow (if everybody stays healthy - cross your fingers).



Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I'm *tickled* that you enjoyed it! I'm never sure how fantasy readers will take the romance aspect, let alone how the romance readers will take the violence and fantasy elements. You've made my whole month! May I link to your review?

Bethanie said...

Absolutely! Link away!

I think you're brilliant and I think there are a lot of other readers like me who will, too. :)