- BDSM topped the list. A lot of readers are apparently totally over D/s. As in, it's been beaten to death with the flogger of overindulgence and whipped beyond novelty, to the point that readers are gagging on their ball gags.
- Fifty Shades knock-offs were second on the list. If you count responses of "billionaires who hook up with a recent college grad/innocent young woman/etc." or any such derivative thereof as Fifty knock-offs, this was easily the number one answer. But since Fifty Shades was what made BDSM so popular, how about we just lump these first two responses in one gigantic category called "Readers Would Like To See This Die A Fast Death."
- Weak Female protagonists ranked high, as well. We're lumping comments such as "wishy-washy," "stupid girl who falls for the bad guy," and "weak females who let their men walk all over them" in this category. In other words, readers want a strong, smart heroine who doesn't do stupid things or let her jealous friends persuade her to do something idiotic to risk her relationship. Thank God for Samantha, Gina, and Cordray of my AKM Series. Strong girls ROCK!
- Unfaithful hero/man-slut. I was shocked to see so many responses for this, because it's common knowledge that in a romance, you don't want a hero who's sleeping with every girl in town. There are exceptions to this, but they have to be pretty compelling exceptions with realistic, believable reasons for the man-slutting.
- Virgins (male or female), especially the female virgin with the man-slut. Snooze-yawn. This was why I made sure Karma wasn't a virgin in my Strong Karma novels. Even I thought that wasn't realistic.
- Motorcycle club books, aka Sons of Anarchy.
- Insta-love. This one received a lot of hate, as well.
- Erotica (surprise!) One reader commented that this was the first year she didn't have any romance on her Christmas wish list. The sex has become overwhelming. A lot of readers would like to see more tension, plot, and story over sex. Thank goodness my contemporary books are taking a turn this direction.
- Vampires. One reader said she's tired of vampires being seen as the good guys. This one makes me sad, as I love my AKM vampires. However, readers have said my vampire stories are so unique and fresh that they make an exception to read them. So, yay! Here's to being unique and fresh! But I will say that I've been playing with the idea of a novel where the vampire is the bad guy and follows a more traditional, "Dracula" approach. So, even I would like to see vampires represented as the bloodthirsty, evil beasts they've been portrayed as in the past.
- Repetition, repetition, repetition. Readers are tired of seeing an author play out the same story line over and over with different characters. One gal even said she is sick of repetitious sex, where the same language is used in every sex scene.
- Speaking of sex: Readers got a good laugh regarding overly creative descriptions of sex and body parts, such as "his love wand invaded her slick love cave," or "his engorged muscle slammed through her cervix." Ouch! Um, that's not even remotely sexy. Does the author know how painful that would be? This is the hazard of trying too hard to use words other than dick and pussy/vagina. As Stephen King says, keep it simple. If a character has to take a shit, say he has to take a shit, not that he has to perform an act of excrement removal. In other words, he drove his cock into her vagina. Nuff said?
- Rape disguised as romance was another item readers don't like, but it opened an interesting conversation about how rape should be presented in novels, and that it can be used as an excellent device to show a character's strength and ability to overcome adversity.
- Cliffhangers. Nothing new here. This continues to be something readers generally don't like. The warning to authors is, "Hang readers off a cliff at the risk they'll grab you and take you down with them."
- Serials (but I think that's because the readers who said they didn't like serials read serials written by authors who don't truly understand what a serial is, based on the reasons given for not liking them.).
Monday, December 29, 2014
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Sometimes to look forward, you have to look back. To make goals for next year, you need to look at your accomplishments for this year so you can build on them.
The other challenge preventing me from finishing GK was that I kept putting it off so I could work on my All the King's Men Series. Good Karma finally forced me to shut down everything else so I could focus only on it. I hated stopping work on Bound Guardian Angel, which is the next AKM novel, but with the Strong Karma Trilogy taking up every single brain cell, nothing else could get through. My choice was to finish Good Karma, along with all the other Strong Karma books, or stop writing completely.
Then I took time out to rework an old novella called The Arms of Winter I got the rights back to. I added 40,000 words to the novella, turning it into a novel, and completely reworked the plot and the ending. This was the story as I'd always envisioned it, and I republished it under the new name Winter's Fire this month.
Monday, December 22, 2014
What's up for the winning? Check out this list:
Insidious by Aleatha Romig
One to Hold by Tia Louise
Last Resort by Kate Roth
Blue Falcon by Tia Catalina
Heartless by Vanessa Marie
Soundless Silence by M. Katherine Clark
Good Karma by Donya Lynne
Waking the Beast by Lacey Thorn
Revealed by Britni Hill
Embracing Destiny by Suzanne Purewal
No Stranger by Anya Breton
For Nicky by A.D. Ellis
The Cheyenne Bride by J.J. Devine
Intoxicated by Jeana E. Mann
Ember's Center by Jillian Jacobs
Don't wait, and make sure to share every day for a greater chance of winning.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Saturday, December 13, 2014
The answer is so simple and something you've heard so many times. You're going to say, "Really? Is it really that easy?" And my answer is, "Yes. Yes it is." Bear with me a moment.
I've been a full-time writer since May of 2013. This is my job now, and like with any business entity, I'm learning how to function as a business, right down to creating a business plan and a company structure. Of course, my structure at the moment is little ol' me, but even I need structure. And in the last few days, I've learned that structure is everything.
For me, a schedule usually means filling a room, or in this case, my mind, with unusable clutter that bogs me down. As a writer, I'm a creative entity. Schedules don't serve me. They stunt my creative flow because they make me think about what I have to do next. So, schedules and I don't mix well.
However, I learned today that structure and I get along fabulously.
Last week, I took a free course called How to Write 50 Books a Year! by sisters Elle James and Delilah Devlin. Fifty books in a year!?!? I know, that's impossible, but that doesn't mean we can't aspire to write more than we do.
Here's what I learned from the class that helped me blow my daily writing goal out of the water this morning (more on that in a minute):
- The power of goal setting is immeasurable.
- Discipline is key.
- My time is as important as everyone else's.
- I needed to be brutally honest about how I was spending my time, and just as brutal about killing the time wasters that were preventing me from hitting my daily goals.
- I needed to have a plan I could stick to.
The first day of class, I wrote my author bio for five years from now. That was fun. Here's what I came up with:
Donya Lynne, author of such award-winning and bestselling series as the All the King’s Men franchise, Strong Karma, Hope Falls, and Cupid’s Playground, spends most of her time writing and building new fictional worlds for readers to love. In her free time, she enjoys vacationing—and writing—in relaxing locales such as McCall, Idaho, which was the inspiration for her Hope Falls Series, as well as on the beaches of the Carolinas and California. A New York Times Bestseller, Donya is working on the next novel in her Progeny Series, the much-praised dystopian spin-off from the All the King’s Men, Knights of Justice, and Children of the Sphinx family of series.Next, I wrote down what I called my shoot-for-the-moon goals for next year:
- Write 3 novels of 60,000+ words
- Write 3 novellas of 40,000+ words
- Write 3 short stories
- Send query letters to 5 agents
- Administrative and Accounting Tasks
- Tetris Battle
Monday, September 1, 2014
That's right, it seems that not even our English dictionaries can agree on blond vs. blonde. Here are the three schools of thought I turned up:
School of thought #1
School of thought #2
School of thought #3
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
I went to the chiropractor for an adjustment. Hubby was there for his appointment, too. As I was sitting beside him, checking my email, I pulled up a message and scoffed. Hubby looked over. "Check this out," I said. It was an email allegedly from this celebrity's personal assistant, asking me to contact his manager at my earliest convenience. No reason was given, just an email and a phone number. "Do you think this is some kind of scam?" I asked hubby. "Should I reply back?" Hubby said, "Sure. Just don't click on any links." He's a computer guy, so he's pretty cautious about opening emails from unknown sources.
So, I replied back with a short email that said I had been asked to contact him but wasn't sure why. Off I went about my business. I got my adjustment, grabbed a snack at home, watched my recorded The Young and the Restless, then went to meet my friend and critique partner to discuss self-publishing and my latest WIP.
After returning home and eating dinner, I checked my email. There was a message from this celebrity's rep, thanking me for replying so quickly and asking me to call him on his personal mobile.
I was watching MasterChef at the time. I was not calling until MasterChef was over. I was busy, you see. Uh-huh. Well, keep reading.
My curiosity began to get the better of me. Maybe this was legit. Maybe this really was this celebrity's rep. So, I started doing some internet searches for his name during the commercials. Hmm. Yep, there was this guy's name, associated with the celebrity in question. And, oh look, there's the rep's email address linked to one of the celebrity's YouTube videos. Okay, this was looking more and more like the real deal.
MasterChef ended, and while I was now getting excited, I forced myself to stay cool as I dialed the number. Yep, this could still be all a big fat hoax. Not likely, but my wary inner voice was hovering nearby to keep me on my toes.
The rep answered, and I said, "Hi, this is Donya Lynne?" As if I didn't know who I was, right? Yes, by now I was pretty sure this was for real. "Donya Lynne! Pleasure to finally meet you!" the rep said. We proceeded to have a pleasant, upbeat conversation, and then he said, "Hey, I've got [celebrity] right here. Hold on and I'll put him on so he can talk to you." At least, I think that's what he said. I was a little flumbergasted that Mr. Celebrity was right there, and that, yes, I was about to oh-so-(not)-casually chat with him.
Don't ask me what was said between me and Mr. Celebrity. I know the gist of it, but my brain was starting to misfire right about this time, so perfect recollection of what was actually said now eludes me. Mr. Celebrity was really cool, very appreciative, and said a lot of nice things. I just can't remember them. I really need to work on my memory. For real.
I then hung up the phone and proceeded to laugh for about two minutes. Hubby, having heard my entire side of the conversation (and knowing I had, in fact, talked to Mr. Celebrity) calls from the next room, "Are you having a bit of a fangirl moment, honey?"
Really? Do you have to ask?
But, in hindsight, it wasn't so much as a fangirl moment as it was the realization that good things come to those who do good deeds and refuse to let fear hold their tongue. You see, a little over two years ago, I contacted Mr. Celebrity and asked him to appear on my book cover. "That's ballsy," you might say, but my way of thinking is "Never be afraid to ask. The worst they can say is no, and the best they can say is yes. You have everything to win and nothing to lose by simply asking." We emailed back and forth a few times but couldn't make the cover happen. I was on a shoestring budget at the time and didn't have the resources to pay for the rights to use one of his pics. But he was gracious, and so was I. Not able to make it work, I bowed out of the discussions with a sincere "thank you for at least considering" and went on my way.
Afterward, I could have gotten angry. I could've become defensive and immature. I could have behaved badly and lashed out that I couldn't make this endeavor work and had been told, in essence, no. I've seen others take "no" personally and do worse for lesser reasons. In fact, I've seen some do worse for lesser reasons and being told no in the last few days.
I always preach that authors need to be careful what they put on their platform, because this is their professional reputation they're building and showing the world. Don't post profanity-laden messages all over social media. Don't troll. Don't bash anyone—ANYONE—in the business. Not other authors, not publishers, not editors, not agents, not cover artists, not cover models, not potential cover models...NO ONE! Don't post controversial subject matter such as politics, religion, or your own personal opinions about touchy subjects (I learned this one the hard way and refuse to walk that path again). Don't go on and on about your health problems (the occasional post is okay, but posting about your health issues every day is a drag for your readers, and they don't want to hear it). Your author platform—your brand—is about you, as an author. Be social and be professional, but keep your posts relevant to your author persona, not everything else going on in the world, your life, and your head.
Well, because this celebrity is going through a re-branding right now, and, in my case, if I hadn't maintained my professionalism and my own brand awareness, I doubt he would have reached out to me. Furthermore, if I hadn't reached out in the first place over two years ago, he might not have reached out to me now. By sucking down my fear and "going for it," I put my name in his head, and by maintaining my professionalism, I indirectly earned the right to speak to him on the phone last night.
I won't divulge the nature of our conversation, but for those who pay attention, you'll be able to figure it out over the next few months. Maybe. But even if you don't, that's not the important thing here. The lesson to learn is to be fearless and professional...and to never take "no" personally. All the rest falls into place with time.
Peace out and happy writing
Saturday, April 26, 2014
|"Hey, baby, wanna make out?"|
Monday, January 13, 2014
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Last May, at the RT Convention in Kansas City, I commissioned Mr. Quill to create two prints for me of one of my AKM characters, Micah. He gladly charged me $400 and told me it would take about three months to create the prints. Here is what has happened since:
In June, I emailed him to ask him if I paid for VIP service. I couldn't remember if I had and wanted to make sure I did. No response.
In October, which was five months after RT and two months after I should have received my artwork, I emailed Mr. Quill to inquire about the status of my order. I had given him two extra months past what he had stated for my delivery, but it was time to begin inquiring. No response.
October-December were incredibly busy months for me with a book release and a huge blog tour, so I didn't get back around to following up with Mr. Quill until last week, because, honestly, time got away from me. I could barely remember what day of the week it was and forgot my own birthday. I emailed him again January 2 to inquire about my order. No response.
I contacted the RT organizers and asked if there was anything they could do to help facilitate communication with Mr. Quill, since it was there that I met him. I also wanted to let them know what has happened so they would reconsider allowing him to have a booth at future RT conventions. They assured me that he has been banned from the convention in the future, because apparently, they have received a lot of complaints about him similar to mine. They also said one of their organizers would attempt to contact him to try and get a resolution to my situation. No response from Mr. Quill.
I emailed him again yesterday morning, stating clearly in my subject line that he needed to reply immediately to avoid legal action. No response.
However, I'm pretty sure Mr. Quill has received my messages, because in the five days since I emailed him on January 2 to today, he has shut down his website. I pulled it up last week to ensure he was still around, and it was there. This morning, I tried to pull it up, and it's gone. UPDATED TO ADD: Lo and behold, his website came up again about an hour ago, as of 1/7/14.
Hmmm. Not a good sign.
So, this morning, I filed a dispute with my bank for the $400. I asked them, "What if he doesn't respond to the dispute?" and was told, "He has to respond." I was like, "Well, he had better say yes to my dispute, because if he says no, I'm taking him to court."
During my research into how to reach Robert Quill, I found that I'm not alone in my troubles. Check out these links to others who have also been unable to get a response from him. Note that Robert (and his wife) did reply on the blogs. Interesting that they can respond to public outcries against him but not to private emails.
Abbielog - Deadbeat Artist
Killian McRae - Author-to-Author Warning
For those like me who are unable to receive responses from him, perhaps these links will help. I'll be saving these for my own files in case I have to sue him to get my money back:
Here's a listing for him on Wizard World
Robert Quill on Facebook
Better Business Bureau Listing
That's my story. Be warned and stay away from this guy. He took advantage of me, took my money, and that's the last I saw or heard of him. I guess I should have known something was awry when I returned to his booth at RT (when he told me to so I could see the sketches of the artwork he promised me) only to receive a curt and almost rude remark of how he hadn't had time to do it, yet...as if it was my fault. I should have asked for a refund then. Live and learn. But hopefully I'll help others learn from my mistake.
UPDATE: I did send Mr. Quill a Facebook message this morning, as well, notifying him that I've been trying to contact him and that I've filed a dispute with my bank for the $400. So far, no response. We'll see what happens.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
I won't always do a weekly recap, but since this series is still so new, I thought it appropriate this week.
We started the 365 Ways with last week's blog post on creating a 5-Year Plan. Since I already spent ample time on that topic, I won't rehash it here. The other topics I hit this week are:
- Know yourself
- Read "On Writing" by Stephen King
- How to start your story.
- Your pregnant heroine walks in on her husband in bed with another woman. (What will she do? Will she leave him? Will she meet someone new? Will she be able to make it on her own?)
- A mother is getting her kids ready for school when an explosion shakes the house. (What caused the explosion? Will she be able to save her kids? Will their crumble? If so, then what?)
- Your middle-aged hero is unjustly fired from the job he's held for ten years. (Will he be able to find a new job? Why did he get fired? Will he sue? Will he get retribution against his former employer?)
- Your heroine opens an envelope which contains divorce papers. (How long were they married? Do they have kids? Was he cheating? Was she cheating? Why are they divorcing? How old is she? Is she scared to be single again?)
- Your hero is in a car accident and loses his leg. (Was it his fault? The other driver's fault? Is he hurt? How will this affect his life? His job? His relationship?)
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Since it's January 1, I thought this would be a great time to talk about Nugget #1: The Five-Year Plan.
Every writer should have a five-year plan. You have to know where you're going and what you want to achieve if you're going to get there and achieve it. Think of your five-year plan as your road map to reach the destination you've projected for yourself.
What do you include in your Five-Year Plan? This could vary for everyone depending on where you are in your writing journey, but it could include:
- Your targeted annual sales for the next five years
- How many books you want to publish each year (including their titles. Use "working titles" if you haven't yet named a manuscript.)
- How many drafts you want to write each year (including their titles or working titles)
- Total number of words you want to write (make sure the number of words you're targeting makes sense given the number of drafts you want to write and the number of books you want to publish. For example: If you plan to write three novel-length drafts, you will need to write a minimum of 180,000 words)
- How many books you want to read on the writing craft (including the titles of those books if you already know them)
- How many writing classes you want to take (and the names of those classes, if applicable)
- The number of conventions you want to attend, including which ones and the dates.
- Any contests you want to enter
- Your five-year bio
I've been planning for the past couple of months to devote all of 2014 to writing. Everything I've done since the end of October has been to prepare myself for one solid year of writing. There's a few reasons for that, some personal and some professional, but this change in plans made me pull out my the Five-Year Plan I worked up in May and revise it. This is what my 2014 plan now looks like:
As you can see, I have a MAJOR writing year ahead of me. Will I reach all my goals? I don't know. All but three of my planned drafts have been started. I just need to finish them. And all but two of the books I plan to publish have been started or are in some stage of editing. But I know one thing for sure. If I don't map out my goals, I definitely won't reach them, and I won't have anything pushing me to keep surging forward when I would rather take a day off. Goals give you that. They give you a guide and motivation to keep going when you would rather watch TV.