Shiloh Walker

Let me tell you a story…

Shiloh Walker - Let me tell you a story…

Twenty Eight Days to RT…and Counting.

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I refuse to believe that’s how much time we have.  I also refuse to look at a calendar, for fear that number is right.

Are you going to RT?  If you’ve never been, there are some things you need to know.

You don’t get a lot of sleep.  You walk a lot.  Cons are notorious for making people sick.  Food is often a) forgotten b) expensive c) both.

In the spirit of things, I decided to do an RT Survival post.  We see a lot of these this time of year.

I decided to do my own.  Cuz I’m lazy and this is easy and I got books to write.

So my suggestions, in no particular order:

  1. Comfy shoes…remember, you’ll walk a lot.  If you can do cute & comfy, go for it.  I’m more for being comfortable, though.
  2. hand sanitizer…that little kind you can throw in your bag.  If you’re flying, you might want to just buy some and throw them into a ziploc bag to keep in your suitcase, but trust me, you want hand sanitizer.  You will shake hands, you touch things, you will pick things up and as much as it pains me to say this, people don’t always wash their hands. You might be in a bathroom where the soap has run out.  You want hand sanitizer.
  3. Motrin…you’re going to be a place packed with lots of people and many are excited and talking loud, plus you’ll be on your feet a lot, often with little sleep and running on caffeine and often little food.  Mortin or Tylenol or your preferred method of alleviating pain is a wise choice.  Also, if you’re up late and drinking?  Yep.
  4. Water bottle…handy to keep in your convention bag. Keep it full and drink, so you don’t get dehydrated.  That also helps fight the creeping crud.  If you are gonna be up late and drinking? Keep hydrated with water throughout helps avoid hangovers. ;)
  5. Speaking of drinking…if you’re out and about…watch your drink.  While absolutely in a perfect world, you should be safe to go out with friends, have a few drinks and have fun, it’s not a perfect world. You can find tips on staying safe in social situations at RAINN.org
  6. Leave room in your suitcase…yeah, yeah, I know most of us are going to try and pack as much as we can so we aren’t lugging a bunch around, but if you’ve never been to RT, then you might not know about the swag.  There are totes a plenty given away.  Books. Pens. Bookmarks. Etc.  You’ll need room somewhere for that stuff.
  7. snacks…I mentioned that we don’t always have time to eat, right? Plus food isn’t always the cheapest thing to come by.  Taking some of those meal bars, trail mix, etc can cut down on how many meals you have to buy.  You can also find friends that you can maybe go together in on ordering pizza and that sort of thing.
  8. Emergen-C…if you can take it, it can help booster your immune system so you can avoid the creeping crud.  Cons & conferences are notorious for this…people are in closed areas and the fact is, we rush around, we don’t eat enough, we don’t rest enough and other factors contribute to that lovely thing we call the creeping crud.  Emergen-C can help.

Tips offered via twitter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insta-love and building bridges

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The bridge at sleepy hollow

 

H/T to Pearl for giving me a blog topic today!  I sometimes run out of steam when it’s near/around release time because…well, nerves. ;)  FYI, just a reminder, though, there are only a few hours to enter for the ARC of DEEPER THAN NEED.

This is more of a writer/storytelling/craft ramble.

On twitter a little while ago, Pearl asked…

She then went on to tweet that she’s married to a guy that she had that ‘instant’ love thing with…she met him and yeah, she knew right away he was the one. They’ve been together for 13 years, married for ten.

I can relate to that.  While I can’t claim insta-love, I can claim an insta-something.  Ya see, I took one look at my guy and there was just something there.   He was friends with my big brother and I crushed on him, and hard, for close to four years and then I finally blurted out one day… Hey, how come you never come over here to see me… annnnndddd… twenty three years later, we’re still together.  But I don’t claim insta-love, because I met him for the first time when I was 11.  ;) Insta-crush.  Love developed over time.

There was an immediate connection, yes, but if he’d been rude, a jerk, dismissive…or acted the way half my older brother’s friends did (aka…they acted like my brothers), I wouldn’t have felt that draw, I don’t think.  But he was…nice.  Kind.  Sort of shy, at times, but he had a great smile and he didn’t have that attitude a lot of the guys in  my neck of the woods had.  It wasn’t the best of neighborhoods and  the ‘tough guy’ shit doesn’t impress me.

So the foundation for a real connection…love…grew from that first tug.

Leah joined in with:

Using insta-love to establish a connection is absolutely fine…I do it all the time.  It’s a great hook and can make for some fun romances.  You take that instant…Oh, wow…heart-racing, adrenaline rush, what the hell is this feeling and then you build on it.

But you have to build on it.

I think this is where a writer can make or break the ‘insta-love’ …or love at first sight sort of story.

I kind of liken it to a bridge.

Or building one, and the writer is the one doing the building.  That first punch of what the hell with the heart racing and blood pounding, even a burst of arousal that you’ve never felt before…you take and lay it down.  That’s a log over a creek.  Maybe you can walk over it once, or twice.  But it’s not going to hold there for long.  Especially if you live in an area where it rains a lot.  One heavy spring thunderstorm… (aka…the first fight)…and that bridge is gone.

So from there, you take that log and you build on it.  You need supports.  You need to show the reader the love.  The deeper connection.  You can’t tell the reader that the love is there–it’s that whole tell vs. show thing and in stories like insta-love, it’s vital.

Why does the hero/heroine love their partner?  One look doesn’t a love-match make.  You can feel a tug and that tug can very well be that first log–the building of that connection, but from there…what is going on?

What if the guy…or girl…is an asshole?  This doesn’t translate to saying that hero/heroine can’t be the love interest, but if the brooder is the love interest, the reader needs to understand the love connection there, and it’s got to be more than he’s so tortured and I just know my love can change him.  For one…that’s telling.

 

Insta-love shouldn’t, really, be any different than any other means of establishing attraction.  You’ve got things like the meet-cute, or the friends to lovers, or enemies to lovers…etc, etc.

Maybe the problem is that too many take the love at first sight trope, and then turn it into a short cut.  There’s love, there’s sex, then BAM, automatic HEA…

That’s lazy-storytelling. There is no shortcut if you want to have a good story.

 

Take that first subtle tug of attraction, when you know s/he/both feel something…(From my book If You Hear Her)

“You’re asking me on a date?”

From the corner of his eye, he could see the bartender listening and not pretending not to. The kid barely looked old enough to be out of college—hell, high school.

Tuning the kid out of his mind, he focused on Lena.

“Yeah, I’m asking you on a date. At least, I’m trying to. It’s been awhile since I’ve asked a woman on a date, so maybe I’m doing it wrong.”

“Well, it’s been awhile since a guy asked me on a date, so maybe I’ve just forgotten how to recognize the clues.” That pretty, wide mouth curled up in a slow smile.

She had to say yes. Because he really, really wanted to kiss that mouth. He wanted to fist his hand in that dark red hair and he wanted to press his face between the slight swell of her breasts and nuzzle the soft skin there.

He was a pretty good judge of people—he knew how to read them. Under most circumstances, at least, and he didn’t think he was reading her wrong.

If he was reading her right, then she was feeling that same, subtle tug that he felt. Banking on that, he reached out and skimmed his fingers down her forearm. “Well, now that we’ve figured out what we’re doing here, maybe we should try it again. I’d like to have dinner…with you. Would you be interested?”

“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had a guy ask me out on a date within five minutes of seeing me.” The smile on her face took on a bitter slant as she absently touched the dark glasses that shielded her eyes. “Usually, within five minutes of seeing me, they are either on the other side of the room or they are trying to cut my food for me.”

Ezra glanced at the lasagna on his plate. “I figure if you can make it, you can cut it just fine on your own. And you haven’t answered me.”

“No. I haven’t. I’m still thinking…hell. Screw it. You know what, Ezra? I’d love to have dinner with you.”

And then you build on it…

Give it supports…

Every time I turn around, he thought…Hell. Maybe this was some sort of sign. He started toward her table, but halfway there, he realized she wasn’t alone.

No, she was sitting at a table with two other people.

A woman, about her age, Ezra figured. She was a looker, too, blond, blue-eyed and tanned. Her blond hair was worn short and sleek. Her eyes rested on his for a few seconds in female appraisal.

Ezra looked at the guy, recognizing him from the other day. He’d been with Lena at the sheriff’s office. Judging by the look in his eye, the man had more than just a casual interest in her.

He glanced at Ezra and then leaned forward, murmured to Lena. Ezra didn’t catch a word, but Lena straightened and turned in his direction as he drew even with the table.

“Morning, Lena.”

“Ezra.”

A slow smile curled that pretty mouth. She cocked her head. She shifted in her seat, crossed one slender, jeanclad leg over the other. “We’re about done, but you’re welcome to join us. We’re just talking and drinking coffee. Avoiding the rain.”

From the corner of his eye, he saw the look in her friend’s eye.

“There’s plenty of rain to avoid. Are you sure you don’t mind?” he asked.

“Of course not. After all, isn’t that what friends do?” she asked.

Maybe it was his imagination, but he thought her smile was just a tad bit mocking.

He managed not to wince. Friends—shit, that was the last thing he wanted…well, no. Not really. He did want to be friends with her. He just wanted more than that. A lot more.

Wanted, but couldn’t. Needed, even. Hell, he couldn’t quit thinking about her and he had to.

And then build some more…

“I can’t get you out of my head, Lena. You’re everywhere.” He cupped her face in his hands, angling her head back. “Can’t stop thinking about you, not from the first time I saw you.”

 

Lena’s sex life had been…limited. The last guy she’d been serious with had been Remy—sex with him had been fun, hot, and easy. They had been compatible in bed, but it hadn’t compared to this.

She and Ezra weren’t compatible.

They were damned near combustible.

It went deeper than the heat, though.

He made her laugh.

He made her smile.

Hell, he just made her happy.

 

“You’ve got that smile on your face again,” he murmured. “Like Sylvester the cat just got a hold of Tweety Bird, once and for all.”

“Do I?” She smirked and sat up, stroking a hand down his chest.

“Yeah. Kind of makes me wonder what you’re thinking about.”

“Nothing…exactly. Just this.” She shrugged, absently circling a finger around his navel.

He jumped and caught her hand. “Quit that.”

A grin tugged at her lips. “Quit what?” Unable to resist, she wiggled around until she was sitting up and raked the nails of her other hand down his side. When he flinched and caught that wrist as well, she started to chuckle. “You’re ticklish.”

She wiggled her hand free and poked him in the side again and he swore, catching her.

She tried to roll away and they ended up wrestling across the bed, laughing and swearing—although most of the swearing came from Ezra every time she managed to get free long enough to poke him in the ribs, under his arms. Even a light touch across his spine was enough.

“Whoever would have thought the big, tough cop would be that ticklish?” she teased as he rolled and pinned her beneath him.

“Brat,” he muttered, stretching her arms over her head and holding her wrists in one hand.

Biting the tip of her tongue, she twined a leg around and managed to stroke her big toe down his instep. He swore again and used his knee to press her thighs apart, pinning her hips against the bed. “Would you quit it!”

That ‘love at first sight’ thing is a lot more believable when people see that while that instant connection was there, they weren’t just blindly riding on it–they were building on it.

“You’ve known me for five weeks, Ezra. Five weeks. And you admitted it yourself not that long ago…you just came through a really, really bad experience,” she said quietly, cupping his face in her hands. “How can you think you love me?”

He laid a hand on her heart. “I think I started to fall in love with you that first night. You blushed when I called you beautiful…and then you shared your food with me. You got so nervous when I asked you for a date and I was scared as hell you would say no.” Smoothing his hand up, he rested it on her neck, used his thumb to angle her chin up. “I started to fall for you that night, Lena. I guess it’s why I backed away…maybe I didn’t think I could handle it.”

“And what makes you think you can handle it now?”

“Oh, I’m pretty sure I can’t. But then again if I wait until I can handle things, then I never would do anything,” he murmured, rubbing his lips against hers. “Things happen when they happen, not when you’re ready for them.”

Of course…this is just my take on it.

But when I’m reading a ‘love at first sight’ book and I end up tossing it aside because it’s falling into that ‘insta-love’ thing where it’s all…’oh, i love you i love you i love you…’ but the writer fails to paint me a good, cohesive picture of that love…there is no bridge, in other words…this usually why.

 

FYI, the pic is mine.  I took it at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery a few years ago…that’s the Headless Horseman’s Bridge.

Please… make me like your heroine

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writerNot telling anybody the author or title so don’t ask.  It doesn’t really matter anyway.

But recently I read a romance and I hated the heroine.

She wasn’t bitchy.  Most of the heroines I’ve seen referred to as bitchy I outright love–usually bitchy is just a woman who knows what she wants, isn’t afraid to go after it and she’s also capable of standing up for herself.  I see a woman like that when I look in the mirror. That’s the woman my mother raised me to be…so bring on the bitches!

Noooo… this heroine was shallow.  (There were other issues with the book, but if I covered everything, I’d blog all day.)

Let’s talk about the heroine.  Just the heroine.

She was shallow.

She was vapid.

She was vain.

She had several other female friends in the book and naturally she was the prettiest, but it wasn’t enough that she was the prettiest.

She had these ongoing mental critiques of the flaws these other women had–one was overweight and talked a lot.  She was nice. She was kind.  But she was overweight and talked a lot and if only she’d lose some weight, because she had such a pretty face.

That right there put my teeth on edge.  Maybe it’s because I’m overweight.  Now granted, I’m an overweight asthmatic with a bad knee who can run three miles.  I’m an overweight asthmatic who lifts weights at the gym.  I’m an overweight asthmatic who is actually in pretty decent shape when my lungs aren’t screwing things up for me.

But there’s a hell of a lot more to a person than the number flashes up on the scale.  I mean…the woman was nice.  She was genuinely kind.  But of course, she was overweight and she talked a lot.  This was the heroine’s inner monologue, her observations-not intended to be mean or anything.

The other friends? Yup.  Physical flaws.  Poor.  Didn’t dress well.  One didn’t ever show her teeth when she smiled and she didn’t like to talk.

And oh, dear.  They were poor.  Didn’t she know how to dress

(picturing me snarling & gnashing teeth.)

Again, inner monologue.  Not said with intentional malice.

Poor…in what world is being poor a character flaw?  One that deserves such heavy deliberation?  I didn’t have much growing up.  If that’s a flaw in somebody’s eyes, that says more about that person than it says about me…as it says more about this heroine.  These women met up because they were smart and they worked hard and achieved something.

That clearly didn’t matter as much as their appearances, though, not to the heroine.

She comes from a nice upper-class white family with plenty of money.  She doesn’t understand hardship, from what I could tell.  She has a few sad things happen in the book, but it’s almost like it’s done to get her some one on one time with the hero–it never really affects her on any level.   Maybe it was done to make the reader feel for her?  I don’t know.  But it was empty because it was like these events never really touched her–caused no change inside her, in how she acted, felt, viewed the world.

So our heroine has had a charmed existence, and don’t you just know it…she’s slim, trim and gorgeous and she just knows how to dress.

All of this creates one simple picture, in my mind-and it’s the picture the writer drew for me.

The heroine is a vapid, shallow creature who doesn’t bother to look beyond the surface and all she really cares about is shagging the hero.

How can I care about this woman?  How can I be expected root for her?

Throughout the book, she doesn’t ever give a real glimpse into what she is like. Oh, I get that she’s panting for the hero.

She makes benevolent gestures to these women who she has befriended, yet somehow, because of how she acted in the beginning, that friendship seemed…empty.  She never really acknowledged the fact that maybe there’s more to a person than what you see on the outside.

I never got to know who she was and the more I read, the less I cared to know.

 

When we write books, we want the reader to connect to the heroine.  Heroines ideally should be realistic, dynamic characters and we should remember our readers don’t fit any one set image.

People don’t fit any one set image.  We are rich, poor, struggling to finish school and some never started.  Some of us passed every class with honors and flying colors.

We are every race, every religion. Some are brilliant, some are of average intelligence and others struggle.

Many of us have been poor–some live in poverty while others are blessed to have never known it.

Some struggle with their weight–in both ways.  Some want to lose it while others battle to gain it and yes, that really is a fact.

Some of us hide physical flaws and others don’t care if people see them.  Some of us might not be all that pretty.  Some of us are average and some might well belong on the cover of a magazine.

There are so many things that make us different…and so many things that make us the same.

Every single of us experience loneliness, moments of inadequacy, moments of joy, curiosity, hunger, exhaustion, moodiness, envy, boredom, grief, pleasure…and the list goes on.  These are human emotions.

I imagine we all also have our moments of shallowness…I had more than a few moments when I was reading that book and I’ll have them when I see women at the gym.  It’s not their figures that make me all catty, though.  They work hard-harder than I do so good on them.  What makes me feel all small and petty is this…how can you spend an hour at the gym and not sweat? I don’t think it’s natural.  There you go, one of my personal shallow moments.  And that’s not one of my bad ones.

I’ve got some catty irritation threaded through this post and I know it and I’m torn between rewriting it…and letting it go.  I think I’m going to let it go because if I smooth it out, it’s going to lessen what I’m saying.  This book rubbed me wrong on so many levels.

Shallowness isn’t appealing.  A heavy focus on external things is selling the story and the reader short. It’s taking what could have been a relateable heroine and turning her into a caricature.  The story itself was just so…blah, but maybe it wouldn’t have been pure torture if I could have liked the heroine.

Whether the heroine is a teacher, a doctor, an alien, some kind of paranormal investigator, a vampire slayer, a lawyer, a stay-at-home mom, an editor, an author, a movie star, a college student…whatever

There are certain things a writer should be able to do make that character relateable, no matter who she is, what her life experiences have (or haven’t) been.

Plenty of people have loved and watched Buffy and while none of us will ever be able to claim we were vampire slayers, (I don’t think)…

  • how many of us were able to connect with her when she cried over Angel?  Most of us have known heartbreak.
  • how many of us could relate to the sibling stuff with her and Dawn?  Not the shiny green energy key stuff, but Dawn was an annoying little sister…how many of us have dealt with annoying siblings?
  • how many of us can relate to how insecure or outright lonely she’s felt?  Yeah, she felt that way because of her isolation as the slayer, but who hasn’t felt isolated or lonely?
  • how many of us grieved when her mother died?  Who hasn’t known grief?

These emotions are what bring a character to life.  That old idiom…write what you know… screw that, but you can write what you’ve felt.  If you’ve known pain, bring that to the book, to your character.  If you’ve known love, bring that. If you’ve known insecurity, bring it on.

If all you can bring to your character are shallow observations and endless references to how friggin hawt the hero is but oh, you can’t be together because of this [insert manufactured plot device], then don’t be surprised when people can’t relate to your character.

Don’t use internal monologues about shit that doesn’t matter.  That’s not storytelling. That’s filling up pages with empty tripe that tells us nothing about your character.

If the words are there, they should reveal something or hold importance…about the person, a mystery, the town, an emotion…something.

So many words in that very long book that inspired this rant were there for no other purpose than to A) remind us how pretty and perfect the heroine was or B) how hot and sexy the hero was and how much she wanted him.

I figured out she wanted him after she told us that several times…lots of telling, rarely showing.

YAWN.  Perfect people are boring.  They have no growing to do and that growth/change stage thing is what makes a story worth reading, IMO.  It causes tension and frustration and when she (or he or both) get to the end of the journey, they are different and the story is much more complete.

She can’t finish that journey if she never really starts it.

Image from Dreamstime Free

What do you write?

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When I was in New Jersey, I went out to dinner with a lady from my street team and a couple of writers.  We had a great time and one of the writers looked at me and asked me what I wrote.

But she wasn’t exactly talking about genre.  She’d mentioned a discussion she’d had with another writer.  He’d just looked at her and told her she wrote about tribes.  Families.  And he was right. She did.

I thought about it for a minute and then I said, “I write about broken people.  Then I fix them.  And sometimes second chances.”

I’d never really boiled it all down in a nutshell like that, but I guess that’s the running theme throughout my books.

One of the reasons I ended up writing the Kit Colbana books was because I wanted to play with the idea of having somebody who was weaker than the others, who had frailties and weaknesses others around her wouldn’t understand, but who got by because she was stubborn and wouldn’t give up.

I didn’t want a kick-ass heroine who bowled everybody over.  I wanted somebody who was battered, who had to fight and scrabble for every step she took, but she kept taking those steps anyway.  It’s a different sort of strength, but sheer will and determination keep her going.

Underneath all that stubbornness, she was a broken mess and I see all those wounds even though some of them don’t really start to come out until the third book, maybe even the fourth one.  She’ll probably still be finding out who and what she is as the series goes along, but I couldn’t fix her in one book.

The Protected had a broken hero…he was messed up.  We can’t even call him a bad boy.  He spent his life taking care of one person–himself–and whoring, stealing, fighting his way to accomplish his goals and then a phone call changes everything and he has to go from watching his back, to fighting for a kid’s life.  He never trusts anybody and then he suddenly has no choice.  Fixing him was fun and it was just as much fun to watch him fall.

A Forever Kind of Love had a hero who walked away from the girl he loved in high school all because he wasn’t ready to be the responsible guy, be an adult, all that.  He comes back years later, realizing he still loves her, only to find her married to his best friend.  Then life sucker punches all three of them.

Yeah.  I think broken people are just my thing.  :)

I guess, being a writer and all, that knowledge should come in handy.

So, writers out there… what do you write?

 

So this happened…

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I decided to make a last minute pitstop before we headed onto vacation.

There was an awards show and somebody told me I should really, really go.

I’m really, really glad I did.

unwillingawardThe Unwilling won the National Readers Choice Award in the Novella category.  I entered Hunter’s Rise, The Departed and Stolen as well. All finaled.  This one won.

It’s so pretty.

 

A break…

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This post is sticky… there may be newer posts below.

I need a break.

My brain is tired.  To be blunt, I feel burnt-out, not on writing, but on all the stuff that isn’t writing but is necessary to do in order to be a writer.  Although if I could take a month or two off from writing, I’d do it in a heartbeat.  Sadly, I’ve never caught up from how sick I was a couple of years ago.  I used to have enough of a backlog to let me take a week or so here and there.  Not any more.  Time is something I never have enough of.

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Why Amazon & BN reviews matter

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I had a reader ask me why the Amazon & BN reviews matter… 

dreamstime free

I’ve noticed you’ve been pushing for more reviews…the book club thing and periodic requests for reviews, etc on twitter, FB.  I don’t ever pay attention to them.  I ask friends or go to blogs.  Store reviews just don’t matter to me.  What’s the big deal?

Well, bottom line… they are a very big deal.

I can’t claim a lot of hard knowledge on this but these are some of the things I’ve discovered with selfpublishing.  The number of reviews I received on Blade Song helped get me some of the ‘promo’ deals, like the daily deals, which actually benefits readers, too.

But again, this is just stuff that’s either been my experience or things I’ve learned in workshops, etc.  None of this has come straight from the horse’s (Amazon/BN’s) mouth.

Reviews at Amazon and BN add up to two key things:

  • ‘discoverability’
  • ‘promo’ offerings from online retailers offer (sales, etc)

 

So what’s with the ‘promo’ thing and what does that matter?

The promo thing translates to sales…and who doesn’t like sales, right?

X number of reviews can lead to things like

  • ‘daily deals’
  • ‘gold box’
  • other stuff


 Reviews alone aren’t going to get the daily deals, gold box deals, etc.  The majority of the reviews need to be positive.  Your pub has to push for the deal, there’s wrangling and hassling, etc.  I didn’t do any of it to get the daily deal… Inscribe did it all for.

But it’s not just the promo thing.  Increased reviews leads to increased discoverability.  You show up in search results more…people who looked at this also looked at…etc, I think.

If people aren’t seeing your book, they can’t buy your book.

Once you hit X amount of reviews on Amazon (and I think BN), you move into a different ‘algorithm’ which means your books show up more on book searches.  When your books pop up, more people see them.  If your books aren’t popping up a lot, then people can’t see them to buy them.  Decreased book sales will eventually lead to your publisher deciding not to renew your contracts…and that leads to canceled series.  Which has happened to me twice.

Yes, the readers looking for you will find you, but the casual buyer?  Not so much.  The browsing days in a bookstore are fading so the discoverability factor for online shoppers is becoming crucial.

The market is getting tough and yes, reviews are important, more now than ever.  You don’t have to be a professional reviewer… just say…hey, I liked this book and here is why.  Or even…this book didn’t appeal as much…and this is why.  I don’t want to be that author who is constantly begging for reviews, but if you enjoy a book of mine, if you feel inclined to leave a review, posting it to Amazon or BN is a huge help and I very much appreciate it.  :)

 

Rethinking how I think

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writer

So there’s a big hullabuloo (is that how you spell it?) going on because an UF writer turned erotica writer is having some issues… her UF doesn’t sell, and she doesn’t like that.  Her erotica writing does… and she likes the money, I think, but she’s not really into erotica.  She thinks it’s trash.

I don’t want to go into this a great deal… she’s wrong, plain and simple.  Dismissing an entire genre as inferior?  Yeah, I seem to recall SF people who view UF as inferior.  A bunch of lit folks who smash down all genre books.

Disregarding an entire genre because you don’t get it is narrow-minded, at best.  And it’s all wrong.

To quote the awesome David Morrell who spoke at the RT Awards Show…

There are no inferior genres, just inferior writers.

Every genre has its lousy books, and every genre has its gems.

Just like every genre has books that are going to be overlooked…books that people poured their heart and soul into, and those books just don’t sell worth shit.

My Veil series was cancelled because of low sales.  Does that suck?  Yep.  Do I blame the readers?  Nope.  Sometimes a series just doesn’t connect with the right group of readers.

Every genre is going to have books that sell like gangbangers.  I mean… hello, Fifty Shades of Grey, right?  That thing sells like mad.

The author in question, Kendall Grey said crap that was insulting.  She was dismissive of her readers who laid out their hard-earned money, who enjoyed her work, who complimented her.

She was dismissive of an entire genre of writers who spent a lot of time crafting their work… Ms. Grey bemoans how she spent years crafting her UF trilogy, how much money and time and energy, and then she wrote an erotica book that earned $10k.  Hey, that’s awesome money, go you… but she doesn’t get why the books she loved didn’t make the money, and the book she doesn’t seem to care about did.  Well, she thinks she understands.  Readers like simple.  They don’t like art.  I looked at her art…it didn’t catch my interest, and I’m a diehard UF lover.  Sometimes, that happensA book just fails to connect with the right group of readers.

Sometimes, you can do all the supposed ‘right’ things…and nothing happens.  There is no magical cure or shortcut or answer in this business, and I think that might be the root of the problem.  She’s looking for answers, and she thinks she found one…

Readers, in her opinion, basically want trash…that’s what her post boiled down to.  She thinks erotica is trash, writing it is selling out and there’s the implication that her readers are dumb. Yes, I had to pick up my jaw off the floor, too… she earned $10k and instead of… wow, thanks guys…she insults them.

If you want to read more about the mess, you can check out Lauren Dane’s rant.  When she puts on her ranty pants, it’s a beautiful thing. And that’s as much detail as I’m going to go into.

The meat and bones of what I want to get at is this…

On twitter the other day, a comment was made by Jane of Dear Author (paraphrasing here…) It’s insulting readers when an author knocks their own work….

And I disagreed.  Not, at all, because of what Kendall Grey said, or what she thinks.  What she said was insulting.  It was dismissive.  I don’t really write a lot of straight erotica.  The closest thing I have is Beg Me.  Erotica isn’t generally my cuppa but Ms. Grey’s comments still come off insulting as hell.  Many women like erotica… they are becoming more comfortable with their own sexuality and rock on with that. Nobody has the right to dismiss them or insult them or make them feel belittled for it.

The reason why I disagreed with Jane is this… I often think a lot of my writing sucks.

And I need to rethink how I think.

It’s not that I’m putting out ‘garbage’ as one twitter follower said and thinking…hey, look at what these suckers might buy

My line of thinking is this:

I’m a perfectionist and I’m never satisfied with what I put out.  Eventually, I have to let the story go and move on, so I can write the next one.  Because I can do better with the next one.  And the next one.

know I have a talent for writing.  I know that, in my gut.  I read books by Lynn Viehl and Nora Roberts and Ilona Andrews and Stacia Kane and I think…wow. I want to be able to do that.  I want to suck people into my stories and hold them in tight so that they can’t let go until the very last page.  And if the story I’m writing doesn’t hold me like that, then I don’t know if it’s good enough.  But I can’t trust my own judgement because I’m a harsh critic.

But it’s also been made clear, very clear… (insert mollified face here) that it’s not really doing a reader justice either to so vocally put it out there like that, and I’ve been known to do that.

This is entirely my problem and I’m sorry if anything I’ve said in that vein has bothered one of my readers. That totally wasn’t my intention at all and I will work on it.  I’m never going to be one of these authors who can honestly (and I can’t say something if I’m not being honest on it) say hey, my books always rock, check me out…

I will be blunt and say I think that’s a tricky road to walk, too, because in this industry, arrogance can be a downfall. I don’t ever want to get to the point to where I think I rock.  I really don’t.  I’ve, sadly, seen several people who let arrogance and success get in the way.  Once that gets in the way, the writing…the story will suffer, and for me, it’s always about the story.

My stories are in my blood and I don’t want them to suffer.

But…the upside to me being critical is that if you see me saying…Whoa, I think I really did something amazing there, that means that book blew me away.  Because I am so critical on myself.  Books like Blade Song, Night Blade, Wrecked and the Ash trilogy are books that actually caught me by surprise.  These books, when I finished them, instead of…I need to do better, it was like… huh.  These are pretty damn good.  Which seems to be a decent indicator, because those books are the ones that have hit really well with readers.

In the future, I’m going to try to ‘retrain’ how I think.  Logically, I know I can write and I get that.  My satisfaction, or lack of, comes from a desire to improve, and it has nothing to do with putting out less than the best book I can.   If the book is less than the best I can do, I put it aside until I can make it my best.

I write the best book I can, but each book improves the craft and I can’t get better unless I keep writing.

Instead of the ‘this book sucks’ line of thinking, I’m going to try and go with… this book might not be as good as I wanted, but it’s the best I can do. Onto the next one.

And readers, please don’t ever let any writer, or anybody else, make you feel inferior because of what you read.  You’re awesome and I love you.

The definition of success

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A workshop I attended…

 Author Unknown tells Supercool Author:

You’ve been my idol.  You did everything I wanted to do.  Tell me…how can I avoid making the mistakes you made…your career just tanked.

At this, I just kinda gaped.

Because Supercool Author has the kind of career that makes me starry-eyed. A movie made after her books.  She’s mega cool.  Yeah, yeah, sometimes we perceive things to be bigger or different than they are, but she’s still an author I’d call a success.

Author unknown has set the bar for success at hitting a list.

I haven’t hit a list yet.  I’m wondering…will I?

I’ve been doing this for a while now. I see shit that happens behind those names.

I’ve known authors who put on a happy, smiling face while secretly they have families who don’t support them.  They have husbands who try to force them to walk away from a career they wanted.  They have significant others who do not care about the things that make them happy.

They hit lists…. and ten years later, you see their books in the remainder bin at the dollar store and are they still writing?

I see authors in dollar store bin all the time…USA TODAY BESTSELLER…and the names ring nothing on my mental scale.

I see MEGA BESTSELLING AUTHORS who treat their readers like shit and walk all over the people who helped them get where they are.  Because nobody does it alone.

Does all of that add up to success?  How successful are you if you’re full of spite?  How successful are you if you have nobody to truly share it with at the end of the day?

This author who supposedly tanked?  She’s funny.  She’s sweet.  She’s genuine and kind.  She’s happily married and she’s got kids she loves.  And she’s able to pursue a career she loves with the support of her family.  Regarding her career, people know her name.  She has readers who know her and love her and support her.

That is success.

I was talking to my husband about all of this the other night, and damn it, I want that list thing. So bad.  I want it so bad I can taste it, and I’m not giving it up.

But… I have a guy who tells me this, in a matter of fact way.

You’re doing what you want.  It’s all you ever wanted to do with your life and you’re doing it.

I’m married to my high school sweetheart.

We have three beautiful kids.

I have a family who loves me.  A husband who supports me.  He doesn’t see my writing as a hobby and he doesn’t mock it, make light of it…and when it did get big for me? He didn’t try to take from me or make it seem like it was something he’d done for me.  It’s mine…I worked for it and he’s happy for me and he’s proud of me.  He’s there for me and he supports me and it’s the most amazing gift.  I pity women who don’t have that.  I’ve got three kids who think it’s pretty damn cool to have a mom who tells stories for a living.

And I’m a storyteller.  That’s all I ever wanted to be when I grew up…a storyteller.

I’ll define what is my own vision is.

Am I successful?

Damn straight.

Waiting for the waves

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One of the talks I listened to at the WRWDC retreat was giving by Jane Porter and it was about how much she learned just from being in love with a surfer.  And not just because hey…surfers, that’s gotta be cool, right?

Listening to her talk, you get the feeling that Jane has had one of those careers that has had its ups and downs…and she isn’t generally the person who goes with the flow.  She jokingly talks about her German/Scotch heritage and how that makes her dig and fight change, how she’ll clench her teeth… how she’ll stay on a sinking ship until the water is up over her head.

And she fell in love and married a surfer.

She talks about how a surfer will sit out there and just wait for the waves.  The waves aren’t always there.  You can’t chase the waves down.  It doesn’t matter if you try, because waves will not come to you.  Once the waves do hit, you can chase every little wave… (ie: trend), but the good surfers know when to wait for the right wave…

Translate that to a writer’s life.  We can’t chase every little trend that comes along.  You can either keep writing the best books you know how, or look at the trends that are out there, if you want to write the books that are hot and trending like mad.  Think about what they have, then ask yourself.  What can I add that to these books/this genre that other authors aren’t doing?

Just chasing every little wave, every little trend means when the time is right for you…well, how are you going to know?

You’re going to be too exhausted, or maybe even underwater.

There was a lot more excellent little bits of wisdom in that speech, but that’s one of the gems I got.