Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Days of #Halloween - Holiday Trivia

The month of October is my favorite month, and Halloween is my favorite holiday. And since I write paranormal tales of romance, I thought it would be fun to have a month of Halloween-related posts. Stick around and have some fun. There might be a prize or two in the offing, as well as some fun quizzes, trivia, and perhaps even a true story or two about ghosts. As always, feel free to share your own stories.

Halloween Holiday Trivia

  1. Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the Fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.
  2. Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.
  3. Pumpkins also come in white, blue and green. Great for unique monster carvings!
  4. Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.
  5. Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
  6. The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.
  7. Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.
  8. Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers #1.
  9. Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.
  10. Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the Roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.
  11. Black cats were once believed to be witch's familiars who protected their powers.
Come back every day in October for something else related to October and Halloween!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Liking and Tagging Parties - Shortcut or Smart Marketing?

Every time I begin to panic that I'm not doing enough, writing more, selling more, gaining more fans, or publishing more books, I stop and remind myself that slow and steady wins the race. Just like the tortoise in Aesop's Fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, just because someone is fast and takes off like a shot from a gun doesn't mean they win. Sometimes, to truly appreciate and reap meaning from life or business (and be a true winner), the journey must be slow. You must work through the hardships and down times to build strong relationships that will last forever and to figure out how to pull yourself through those hardships.

If you're an author, or any kind of business owner with a Facebook fan page, you've likely seen a new craze on Facebook in the past couple of months: Liking and Tagging Events. More and more, I feel like these events are like the hare...a fast way to get out of the gates, but not really a good means to gain long-term success or hold steam over the long run.

If you're not familiar with Liking Events, let me try to explain:

At first, these events were set up as Like Ladders (ladders still exist, but events seems to be more popular now). The idea was that you would participate in these "ladders" by posting a link to your fan page on an assigned post on another person's page. The ladder would run for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or even longer. Upwards of a hundred or more people would post their links, and then you would go down and like everyone's pages and they would like yours. I participated in several of these, and even though I was always on a ladder that included between 20-100+ links, I would only ever get 10-20 new likes on my fan page.

The trouble with like ladders:
  1. You were liking random pages and random people were liking yours. There was no way to target a specific audience.
  2. Inevitably, after a ladder was over, likes would trickle off my page as those who had liked my page only to satisfy the rules of the ladder removed themselves. So, really, how successful was a ladder in bringing me new fans? And the 10-20 minutes I spent on the ladder ended up being more or less a waste of time.
  3. Obviously, not many people on these ladders followed the rules, which stated you needed to like at least 90% of the other pages posted. When I was on ladders that contained over 100 posts, and I only received 10 likes, the odds are pretty good that many of the participants weren't holding up their end of the bargain.
Then, suddenly, the Like Event was created: A calendar event where invites were sent out to hundreds, or even thousands of people. Again, the concept was the same: Attend the event, post a link to your page (or your book, your Amazon author page, or what-have-you). Then you would go through and like everyone else's page and they would like yours. This was more successful than the ladders, mainly because, for the most part, the likes I got were from other authors and a better way to build my network. And these likers didn't drop off my page as much after the event was over.

One downside is that the time a Liking Event takes is excessively cumbersome. I spent almost an entire day keeping up with posted links in an effort to participate and like everyone else who had entered the event. And now, there seems to have been an explosion of similar Like/Tag Events, to the point that I can't even keep up with the invites. I don't know about anybody else, but I just don't have that kind of time. My writing and editing time is limited already due to my day job. I can't afford to lose an entire Saturday or Sunday scrolling down a list of hundreds of links, many of which are repeatedly posted (which is another downfall), trying to keep up with liking everyone. And when these events are conducted on a weekday, there's no way for me to participate until after work, and I don't want to lose my entire evening by having to play catch-up. Plus, Facebook has begun to shut these events down as spamming events. So, again, to get involved and spend that time, only for Facebook to shut it down, isn't a wise investment of resources, in my opinion.

But then I got to thinking about this. Are these Liking Events really successful in achieving what these writers/businesses want? Or are they just a shortcut...a means to cut corners? I mean, I liked pages for perfume and makeup and all sorts of things I'll never buy or be interested in (I am allergic to fragrance, can only wear a couple of kinds of makeup due to allergies, etc.). So, are these people liking my page when they will never have an interest in my books? If so, those aren't the kinds of people I want liking my page. I would rather have 1000 fans who have read my books and like them and who actually WANT to follow me than 10,000 fans who could care less and will never read one thing I write.

I'm torn. On one side, I can see that I have the potential to reach new fans, and I have gained one or two acquaintances from the events, but I haven't seen a spike in sales, activity, or anything like that. That's not a huge pay-off for the time spent and considering I received hundreds of new likes from the events. Hundreds of new likes, and just one or two new acquaintances who I talk to once in a while doesn't equate to a wise investment of my extremely limited time, though. I'm glad to have the new friends, but the time invested just seemed inordinate.

I have made more new friends tweeting on writing chats, participating in a writer's forum, and through my blog posts than I have from the Like Events, and these friendships are deeper and more meaningful to me because they were formed because the other party actually knew who I was and the friendship developed naturally and from a place of common interests. I didn't just post a link and hit like. I actually formed a bond with these people through natural progression.

From a personal POV, that means so much more to me than just hitting "like." From a networking POV, the time invested in these other types of endeavors (not the liking events) has been more than worth it, because true friendships are forming between these people and me. Sure, it might take longer to build that chain of bonds with one person after another, and to see my fan page numbers slowly creep higher, but it feels better and means more to me than the instant gratification of seeing my fan page numbers go up by 500 in less than two hours. Why? Because it means I've actually EARNED those likes. I didn't just post a link and get them without having to work for them. I earned them through friendship and because these people made a decision based on free will to like me, tag my book link, or like my author page. There's a greater feeling of accomplishment when you've actually earned new fans, and I don't have that ugly feeling inside that I'm just using people to get my numbers up, or that I'm being used to get theirs up.

Maybe I'm way off base. Maybe there is a hidden benefit to these events that I'm just not getting. Or maybe I'm just anal or overly conscientious of morality. All I know is that I want to earn the accolades and fans who join me along my journey. I don't want to drag someone along who doesn't want to be here, and I don't want to spend valuable time on an endeavor that won't reap longterm results. That's just not good business. To me, knowing I earned my likes and tags means so much more than simply cutting cormers, because if I cut corners, I don't learn a damn thing.

My numbers may not be as high as someone else's, but the numbers I've got are more precious and special to me because of the journey I took to earn them.

Yes, I'm a tortoise...and I'm damn proud of it.

Happy reading and writing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Dastardly Semicolon - Take Two - #WritingTip

A dot above a comma. That's all a semicolon is. So why does it cause so many issues in the writing world?

There are two schools of thought about semicolon usage in fiction:

1) The semicolon is a valid punctuation mark that serves a purpose and should be used.
2) The semicolon has no place in fiction. At all. Period. No exceptions.

Both sides have a valid argument, but I tend to sway toward not using the semicolon, although I don't take such a hard line against its usage the way I used to. Here are my reasons why I prefer not to use the semicolon, though:

First, and probably most importantly, a lot of writers don't know how to use the semicolon properly.

The two grammar guides I use only list a couple of proper uses for the semicolon. The first is to be what could be called a super comma to separate a list of items that, themselves, contain commas.

For example: Jim's choices included the starry-eyed, quiet blonde; a gum-chewing, hair-twirling bombshell; and a quiet, mousy, doe-eyed librarian type.

In the above example, if we replaced the semicolons with commas, readers would be challenged to get through the sentence as easily as they do with the semicolons, because it would be difficult to tell which components went where.

The second proper usage for semicolon usage is to connect two grammatically equal parts of speech that are similar in meaning. That's a two-parter. The parts of speech being separated by the semicolons must be both grammatically equal, and they have to be similar in meaning.


Incorrect: John struggled to hold his tongue during the conference call; up in arms.
Reason: The two clauses are not grammatically equal. John struggled to hold his tongue during the conference call is an independent clause. That part of the sentence can stand on its own. On the other hand, up in arms is a dependent clause. It can not stand on its own and still have meaning. Consequently, the two clauses are NOT grammatically equal and should not be separated with a semicolon. A comma would be better.

Incorrect: I walked to the store; it was a beautiful day.
Reason: While both parts of speech are independent clauses (grammatically the same), the meanings of each are not similar enough to separate with a semicolon. The fact that it's a beautiful day is not the same as going to the store.

Correct: I walked to the store; it was right down the street.
Reason: Both clauses are independent, and both refer to the store.

HOWEVER, I would have written that sentence as: Since the store was right down the street, I decided to walk so I could enjoy the beautiful day.

See, I removed the semicolon and made the sentence more meaningful, encompassing the beautiful day as part of my reason for walking to the store, and clearly showing the relationship between the clauses with the word Since.

Which brings me to my second reason for leaning toward not using semicolons in fiction.

Semicolons are clunky. Period. They remind readers of dictionary entries and formal or technical writing, especially if they're overused. And when an author doesn't know how to use them correctly, readers don't know how to interpret their meaning correctly, and their reading experience is negatively affected. Moreover, if writers struggle to understand where to use a semicolon for the effect they're going for, it's safe to say that most readers of mainstream fiction probably don't understand the relationship being formed by the use of the semicolon, either. So, why use it if readers aren't going to get it, anyway? That's not an insult to readers, either. Let me explain:

The rule of thumb is to write fiction in a way, and with words, that every eighth grader knows (and I've even heard that rule as being for sixth graders). Now, I know I did not fully comprehend semicolon usage before high school. In fact, it wasn't until the past five years that I got a handle on the semicolon, and I can assure you, I was not in eighth grade five years ago. So, if the general rule is to write at or below an eighth grade reading comprehension, then why use elements that are, generally speaking, above that level?

Since I am all about the reader, I try to do everything I can as both a writer and an editor to enhance the reading experience, and that includes taking a hard look and a fairly hard line on semicolons. I rarely use them in my own writing. I think I've used one in all the manuscripts I've written, and that one is in my latest and will probably come out during edits as I find a better way to write the sentence.

I firmly believe that there are better ways to write sentences that contain semicolons so that the meaning is clearer, the sentence is more visual and interesting, and the semicolon can be removed. All it takes is a little work. Yep. Work. Sorry, but writing wasn't meant to be easy. It's a job like everything else, and while it may not feel like work for an author (I know it doesn't feel like work for me), a writer still needs to remember that their craft is work and apply some elbow grease once in a while rather than take the easy way out or say, "Eeehh, it's good enough. The book will still sell. I don't need to fix the punctuation." No, that's not "good enough." If it's not the best an author can make it, it's not good enough, and readers deserve better than that for investing their time and money in an author's work.

Finishing up here, some say to use a semicolon when you want a longer pause than a comma, but not the hard break that comes with a period. A moderate pause, they call it. Eh. Whatever that means. I've seen writers struggle with when to use a period over a comma and vice versa. Now we're adding the semicolon into the mix? Ah, hell. I'd better get my flack jacket, because this could get ugly trying to figure out a short pause, a moderate pause, and a hard pause.

I personally don't get that suggestion of a moderate pause. My grammar guides don't mention it, and I think that would just add to a reader's confusion about why the semicolon is being used, especially if you've got a reader who does understand the grammar rules of its usage. In my opinion, it's just not worth the risk to use it. There are more effective, less confusing ways to write a sentence without having to use the semicolon, and most Big Six and industry editors actually take a harder line than I do on the subject. While I will look the other way if a semicolon is used properly, they stomp their feet down and say absolutely not. Their stance is that the semicolon has no place in fiction. Period. No exceptions.

So, there's my take on the semicolon. Here's a site I found that included some fun ways to remember the rules of usage, although this site did promote using it for a moderate pause (whatever that is).

Rules about using the semicolon

Happy Reading and Writing!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Why #Editing and #Proofreading Terrify Me (and it's not what you think)

Recently, I've been doing some editing and proofreading for other authors' work, and I'm a bit worried—and maybe even terrified—about how they will react to my changes and suggestions.

Earlier this year, I stopped editing for other authors, because I found, unfortunately, that it was more trouble than it was worth. I don't go into an edit thinking that I'm going to destroy someone, even though I will admit—and have done so many times—that my edits are harsh. I know that it takes someone with a thick skin to receive one of my edits, because I go after every detail. I edit spelling, punctuation, structure, etc. But most of all, I edit content. I make sure that 1+1=2. For example, in one piece I edited (names withheld, because this isn't about knocking anyone. It's about teaching, and examples are the best way to teach), a man arrived home and entered the house, and then a couple of paragraphs later, he entered the house again. In another story, it's raining, but a few minutes later, the ground is covered with snow. Obviously, these are content errors, and I draw the author's attention to those. I try to be objective but assertive, and sometimes I will throw in my reaction as a reader so that the author can see how their story is affecting me, the reader, which I think is pretty important to know.

So, what's the problem? you might ask. The problem is, through experience, I have learned that this isn't what authors want to hear. I am literally terrified about turning this proofread back in because I found sooo much that still needed to be edited (the editing was supposed to have been completed at this point), and I'm afraid I'll receive the same reaction I've received in the past to the suggestions I've made, which is basically pretty violent and severe. For instance, last year my "best friend" posed as two other people on Facebook without telling me, and then proceeded to pull everyone I was close to aside and bash me in private chats, telling horrible lies about me and ripping me apart to everyone in a calculated attempt to destroy my writing reputation.

Why? Because I had given her a less than glowing, honest critique about a story she was writing. I hadn't been mean about it. I hadn't called her names or anything like that. I simply pointed out where I thought the story was weak and offered suggestions for how it could be strengthened. I actually thought we'd had a healthy discussion about the story, as a matter of fact. I guess I was wrong. Mind you, this was my best friend at the time, and she got so mental over that one, tiny, simple review, she practically destroyed me in every writing circle I was in, and her deception and plotting was so far-reaching, deep, and severe, I honestly don't think I'll ever fully recover from the damage she inflicted. I had to leave one writing group I was in and still feel like many of the people she talked to believe to this day the lies she told them about me.

It was only a freak accident that caused me to find out that the person doing this to me was my best friend, and when I called her on it after she'd been at it for nearly two months, she tried to deny it before finally going crazy on me. We haven't spoken since, but thank God my editor didn't fall for the games, because my ex-bestie went after her the hardest, trying to turn her on me.

So, yeah, after an experience like that, which was the absolute worst thing anyone has ever done to me, I get a bit gun-shy when it comes to offering critique, doing edits, providing feedback, and the like. Because, not only did ex-bestie go postal on me, but I've had other authors ask, "What do you think of this?" and when I give an honest answer, no matter how hard I've tried to soften up the negatives and glorify the positives, 9 out of 10 times, they blow up. I've seen some interesting things get posted on Facebook after I've given these folks the feedback they asked for, and it's clear they're reacting pretty badly to what I've said. If you don't want an honest answer, don't ask for it. That's all I can say about that. Because I can't lie. I just can't.

Consequently, I don't offer my opinion anymore, and I don't do edits or proofreads unless someone is very clear up front about what to expect and assures me they're cool with that. But this is one proofing situation I wasn't able to get out of due to the circumstances, and my heart is very heavy right now. I really don't want to piss anyone off. That's not my intent. I just want their stories to be the best they can be. When I edit/proofread, I do so from both a reader's POV, as well as from a writer's POV. I am advocating the reader while I edit and proofread, and I know that I know my stuff when it comes to the writing part (I'm not going to list all my credentials, but I have them), but I'm tired of being accused of hurting people's feelings and of purposely trying to make them look bad when I'm not.

I know that an author's story is their baby. I know this because I'm a writer, too. And maybe I just take a different perspective on the whole proofing and critiquing thing, because I love when my beta readers tear up  my work. As outside readers, they see what I can't. They are the ones to show me how readers will react, and if they react badly to parts of my books, readers as a whole will, too. I just had a fabulous ongoing, week-long dialogue with one of my betas over a component of my latest story that she hated, and she let me know she hated it. She pulled no punches, and I love her for that. Thank God she did, too, because SHE WAS RIGHT! My betas are right 99% of the time when they react negatively to something in my stories, but if I closed myself off every time they gave me negative feedback, I would never learn how to make my stories better. And if she had held back her reaction for fear of how I would react to her, I wouldn't be overhauling a character right now in my latest story...and the character NEEDED the overhaul (which is coming along fabulously, I might add, so yes, good call, awesome beta reader. Well played indeed). But it was only through my open conversations with my beta that I was able to finally see how this character needed to change to be more likable.

I guess I just assume all authors are like that. Maybe I'm wrong for thinking that way, but I believe every author worth their salt wants to get better at their craft and should be open to honest critique and feedback, no matter how it's presented (but I do try to be objective and professional, never issuing personal slurs or insults).

Whether authors are open or not, I can't go half-assed on an edit or proofread. It's not in my nature to cheat the system. That's not fair to the author I'm editing, but more importantly, it's not fair to the readers who will ultimately read their stories. And when it comes right down to it, I edit first for the reader and second for the author. And that's pretty much how I write, too: My characters come first, because it's their story. My readers are a close second, because the story is for their entertainment, not mine. And my needs and opinions come dead last. I don't write to entertain myself. I write for the reader and to tell my characters' stories. I am sooo not a part of the equation except to be the vessel that connects reader to character and vice versa. If I can't do that, I've failed, and I want anyone who's not feeling connected to speak up and tell me why, damn it, because I don't want to fail.

Okay, at this point I'm rambling. Ugh. The point is, I'm terrified to turn in this proof/edit.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dangerous Alpha Heroes #BlogHop - Who's Your Favorite Alpha?

What is it about powerful, dangerous male protagonists that make women go weak in their knees, their hearts to beat more forcefully, their breathing to accelerate? We see a damaged male with the power to destroy a city block, and we instantly swoon.

Traceon, one of my characters from my AKM series, is one such alpha male. In fact, he damn near stole the show from one of my other dangerous alphas, Micah, in Rise of the Fallen (book one of the series). And let me tell you, stealing the show from Micah is no small feat. Micah relishes in the spotlight and doesn't give it up easily.

Trace is the most dangerous and tormented of all my characters, and he's the one I get the most "fan mail" about: "When will you write Trace's book?" "I want more Trace." "Trace, Trace, Trace!" "I love Trace." "He's MINE!" He has built a loyal and rabid fan following of women who fight to be his, and his book is still 3 away from being published. Everyone wants to know what happens to him and who he will be paired up with, especially since it appears he has a connection with Micah, as well as with Micah's mate, Samantha.

The pitfall of charismatically dangerous alphas like Trace is that there is oftentimes a ton of pressure to make their stories perfect in the eyes of everyone, which is impossible. Just as with Vishous of the BDB and Acheron of the Dark Hunters, I'm sure Trace's book will receive its fair share of criticism. Inevitably, some fans will feel let down that he went this way instead of that way, but just as many will have felt let down had I taken him that way instead of this. All I can do as the author is stay true to my characters and give Trace the story he is demanding in my head. If I deviate from what he tells me he wants, he'll make me pay for it, but if I stay true to him, he will reward me in spades. Regardless, I will never shy away from writing about dangerous alpha heroes. I love them, readers love them, and they make for good stories.

My favorite alpha male is Micah from my own series. He has become a huge part of me and sizzles every time I write him into a scene. He's no holds barred and balls to the wall, and that's what I love about him. Before Micah, Vishous was my favorite (and do I really need to say where Vishous comes from? LOL). Now it's your turn to tell me: Who's your favorite alpha male?

Happy reading

I am giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner, as well as a free copy of one of my three AKM novels (your choice): Rise of the Fallen, Heart of the Warrior, or Micah's Calling. Make sure to leave your email so I can contact you if you win. If I am unable to reach the winner within 24 hours, I will draw a new winner.

Make sure to visit the other bloggers participating in this blog hop for more opportunities to win.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bitten by Paranormal Romance #bloghop

Paranormal romance. Mmmm. Vampires, werewolves, and shifters. Oh my. These days, paranormal romance seems to be synonymous with erotic romance, and the more erotic the better for many readers. But how did the ideas of erotica and paranormal come to be such cozy bedfellows?

I just started reading Dracula for the first time, and the edition I have comes with a long introduction with a breakdown of Bram Stoker's history, as well as the manuscript. Did you know that Bram Stoker was quite possibly gay and might have used his writing symbolically to illustrate his true feelings? Or that many of the vampiric/blood references in Dracula were sexual in nature, even alluding to fellatio and infidelity, and that Dracula himself was sexually ambiguous with an eye for men as well as women? For its time, Dracula was an extremely erotic book, even though we don't see much in the way of outright sexuality. So, could the Granddaddy of all paranormals simply be the first erotically flavored paranormal romance, and all vampire stories that have come since simply carried on the tradition and followed the natural progression into racier and more obvious eroticism? Who knows, but today's paranormals certainly make for good reading, don't they?

So tell me, which do you prefer: vampires or werewolves? Who's your favorite paranormal author, and what's your favorite paranormal book? Because even I, an author of paranormal romance, love to find new books to read. :)

A winner will be drawn on September 17 to receive a $10 Amazon gift card and a copy of one of my books: Rise of the Fallen, Heart of the Warrior, or Micah's Calling. Please leave your email where I can contact you if you win. If I am unable to contact the winner within 24 hours after the draw, I will select a new winner.

Make sure you visit the other blogs on the hop to enter for one of many more prizes.

Good luck to everyone, and happy paranormal romance reading!

...Since this is an over 18 giveaway, here's an over 18 excerpt from my latest work in the AKM series, Micah's Calling, which is a follow-up to Rise of the Fallen:

Trace took a deep breath and blew it out as he stood, and then he made the short walk to the door and carefully opened it. He couldn't even breathe, he was so nervous. And yet, something drove him onward.
After entering the hall, Trace quietly followed the sounds of their muffled grunts and gentle, rhythmic gasps. A soft cadence of slapping flesh beckoned him forward, and his cock kicked up to full mast as he thought about the two people dearest to him making love in the way of true mates.
Damn, but he wanted what they had so fucking badly.
He kept to the shadows, using his power to partially cloak himself, which wasn't hard to do in the dark hour before dawn. The blinds and drapes hadn't even closed over the windows, yet, and no lights were on. Only the lights from the city below, brightened by the snow, illuminated the room.
And then he saw them.
On the couch.
Their coupled forms faced each other, and their bodies moved in perfect synchronization. Sam was on top, her hands pressed against the back of the couch on either side of Micah's head, her body churning and bouncing aggressively as Micah took her hard from the bottom. She faced Trace, but her eyes were closed. Her face was the picture of bliss with her bottom lip dropped open as she breathed heavily.
Her breasts were small, but buoyant, and they jiggled with the power of Micah's thrusts.
Trace pressed his back against the wall and watched, his cock straining as he gaped.
The two of them together were beautiful. So in love. What did it feel like to love someone like that? And to be loved the same way in return? To want someone so badly you didn't care about anything else?
Micah suddenly changed tempo, slowing down, breathing hard. Sam's eyelids opened halfway as she smiled at him and rotated her hips around and around.
Trace hardly dared make a sound for fear of being discovered. He didn't want them to stop.
The air smelled of sex and of lilacs mixed with Micah. Sweet and sultry. Heavenly.
Then it happened. Sam's gaze lifted and caught Trace's. He froze, unable to turn away, unable to move, and unable to speak.
Almost immediately, Sam's body seized and shuddered as she fell into orgasm. Her eyes rolled back as her body collapsed forward against Micah, her breathing erratic and choked as she wrapped her arms around Micah's head and held his face against her chest before opening her eyes and staring right into Trace's once more. And she came again, gasping, but not looking away from him.
Oh fuck! Fuck! He was dead. Micah was going to kill him. And yet, Trace couldn't move.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Rules of Writing - Part III - My Own Contribution to the List

Look at those pictures. Do those look like a nice, friendly altercations or angry ones? Pretty angry, right? Now, is this the kind of reaction you want to provoke in your fans and readers? Probably not.

My contribution to the list of rules I've posted over the past week would be: Unless you are Stephen King or any number of other highly successful authors who have earned the right to do pretty much whatever they want without repercussions to book sales, don't use your author persona to post your political agenda or publicly display where you stand on certain heated, societal issues. And definitely do NOT start a campaign against any one person or group of people who piss you off, don't agree with your political/social agenda, or write a bad review of one of your books. Doing so is akin to starting a protest, and from countless pictures we've seen of protests, not very many end happily or peacefully. Of course, if you're not serious about your writing, or if you have such a massive and loyal following you don't have to worry about losing fans, protest away.

Here's a true story: A few months ago, I became so disillusioned with one author's political and social agendas, as well as her posts against those who she felt "had it coming," that I had to unfriend her. Sad, but true. She is an exceptionally knowledgeable writer, and someone I had truly liked for quite some time, but I just couldn't take it anymore and found myself becoming angrier with every post she made, which is not something I want to feel when I'm trying to be productive. Her posts had progressively become more belligerent and argumentative in groups I was in with her to the point I had to leave the groups, and when she went on a crusade to out another writer/person who had a history of making stupid and inexcusable comments, I said "enough" and clicked unfriend. I wish her luck, but I can't be part of her success story anymore. But her actions did make me realize the importance of this rule, because I saw how her behavior made me and a few other people react to her by distancing ourselves from her. As a result, I never want to instigate such a reaction from my fans (and I will honestly admit that I could see I had the potential to do that), and I'm sharing this story with you so you don't make the same mistake, either.

Here's the thing: I don't care where my fave authors sit on political issues, and I don't want to see them get into cock fights with another person who, quite frankly, doesn't deserve the attention, whether justified or not. That's not why I follow them or their fan pages. To engage in such politically and socially charged conversations and crusades is counterproductive and can damage your reputation, and you can turn friends into enemies with just one carelessly written post.

You don't see J.R. Ward, Nora Roberts, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and other best sellers posting about such heated subjects and making public outcries for the rights of certain segments of society (and even if they do, look at where they are. They've earned a place where they can afford to behave that way. We indie authors aren't quite there, yet). And you don't see those best selling authors arguing with their fans, making passive-aggressive posts against them and becoming the very thing they are speaking out against. That's not how you keep fans or win new ones. It's how you lose them and dissuade others from joining your ride.

If you want to be taken seriously as an author, you need to behave the way a serious author behaves. See that which you wish to become and emulate it. If you want to become a best seller, you need to behave like one. If you want to be the next J.R. Ward or Stephen King, do as they do and emulate the paths they took to get there.

The long and short of this rule is to be very careful what you say and post when in your author persona. I have learned this lesson from experience in the past few months, and it really is an important rule to abide by. One that I wish I had followed a few months back myself, because I've overstepped my boundaries once or twice, as well. Luckily, I'm learning from my mistakes. I hope you do, too, because you'll be much happier.

Happy Writing and Reading! (Operative word: HAPPY)


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Micah's Fall - Chapter Five

"What's happening?" Katarina joined the crowd collecting in the courtyard.
When she and her parents had awakened, they had heard the commotion and hadn't even bothered to dress in their regular clothes before venturing out to see what was going on, still dressed in their sleeping tunics. Kat pulled her robe more securely around her.
"King Bain sent messengers."
She spun around at the sound of Nicolas's voice, and her heart fluttered. She hadn't realized he was there.
"Oh! Nicolas. Hi."
He smiled at her, his dark, shoulder-length hair falling around his face in a way that made her want to reach up and tuck it behind his ears.
“Aren’t you a bit underdressed to meet the king’s liaisons?” His dark eyes reflected the flickering of the torches surrounding the courtyard, illuminating it.
Kat looked down at her informal attire and self-consciously pulled her robes more securely around her.
Nicolas chuckled. “You look presentable, Kat. I was only teasing.”
With an awkward giggle, Kat met his gaze. “Oh, I see.”
He stared at her, that humored grin on his beautiful lips, his eyes ranging her face. “I saw you dancing last evening,” he said. “With the child, Micah.”
Nicolas had been watching her? Heat filled her cheeks at the thought. “Yes. I’m friends with his mother. Why?”
With a shake of his head, Nicolas glanced down then up. “No reason. You just caught my eye is all.”
“I did?” The question had come out before she could stop herself from speaking.
“Is that so surprising?” His congenial features softened.
“I just –” Kat pressed her fingertips against the base of her neck, flustered and unable to form an intelligent response. She had caught the eye of handsome Nicolas, a male she had secretly fawned over for months.
He took a small step forward. “What I think is so surprising that it took me so long to notice you, Katarina. How have I missed such a beauty as you when you’ve been here for so long?”
Dear oh dear. Katarina thought she might faint from his courting words.
With a blush, she looked away shyly. “Nicolas, you flatter me.”
He took another step closer. “And you captivate me.”
Could he be any more romantic? For so long, all she had wanted was to capture his attention, and now she had succeeded.
Nicolas was about to speak again when a restless murmur within the crowd rose behind her. She turned and saw Yaris approaching, and he had 4 knights and a regal male dressed in velvet and satin robes with him. The way the man in the robes talked and gestured with Yaris made her think they knew each other and that whatever needed to be said was not good news.
Kat threw a worried glance toward Nicolas as he stepped up beside her and tentatively took her hand. She threaded his fingers through his, her body warming at his touch as he flashed her a reassuring smile.
“I wonder what’s going on,” she said.
Nicolas shook his head. “I don’t know, but it looks to be that we shall find out soon.”
Her heart raced, but she couldn’t tell if it was because of Nicolas’s newfound admiration for her or from the foreboding look on Yaris’s face. Or maybe it was Isabelle’s tear-streaked face as she followed behind her mate, attempting to stifle her sorrow as their blood servant, Sylvia, comforted her.
Kat couldn’t see little Micah, but she assumed he was with them.
Yaris stepped up onto the platform in the front of the courtyard where only last night the quartet had played. What a difference a day made. Last night, they had all celebrated the mating of two of their own, but tonight the mood was anything but celebratory. Worry, concern, and a sense of dread hung over the crowd. Everyone was expecting the worst, which could only mean one thing.
Her hand tightened around Nicolas’s.
“May I have everyone’s attention?” Yaris didn’t need to ask. Everyone had fallen silent and turned their eyes toward him the moment he had stepped before them.
“A liaison to King Bain has been sent to us with an announcement that requires our immediate action. He and I have already spoken, and I have been fully briefed on what has happened and what is to come. Now I will let him speak on behalf of the king.” Yaris stepped aside and gestured with a slight bow toward the male in the robes, who walked forward.
“People of Yaris’s lordship, I have come with grave news. The war between the vampires and the drecks has reignited after nearly two decades of peace.”
Hushed gasps and a few stifled sobs rose from the collection of villagers.
The liaison continued, “As you may have surmised, King Bain has called back into service those who have fought before, effective immediately. They are to leave for the royal capital within seven days. Furthermore, all young who are able are to return with us immediately to begin training for the guard.”
A near uproar rose from the crowd at the thought of their young being taken away, and Kat dashed a glance toward Isabelle, who broke down in tears almost immediately. She was losing her son. Little Micah was to be taken away. And Yaris would have to leave, too. He and his brother, Rory, who stood near the front of the crowd, had been powerful warriors in decades past.
What would happen to Isabelle? What would happen to all of them? Kat had yet to go through her change into adulthood the last time there had been war between the vampires and drecks. What had sparked this latest uprising, and how would they protect themselves in the village if all their males were called away?
As if reading her mind, the liaison said, “All adult males who have not taken up arms in prior war time will remain in the village with two of these knights.” He gestured to the side toward his human companions. “They will train you and stay here as protection in case of attack.”
“What are the chances of that happening?” called out one of the villagers.
The liaison raised his hands, palms out, as if to stave off their worries. “The war has erupted far from here. You have no need to worry at this time.”
“Then why train us?”
“As a precaution.” The liaison raised his hands. “That is all. Ready your young for we depart at sunrise.”
The liaison turned and march away amid a cacophony of questions and cries for more information. Yaris followed, as did Rory.
Kat watched and caught a glimpse of little Micah, caught up in Isabelle’s arms, tears flooding his cheeks. It was too much for Kat to take. She finally broke down, sobbing heavily as Nicolas pulled her into his embrace.
“Sshh.” He stroked his palm down her back. “It will be okay.”
But Kat had a feeling it wouldn’t be. How could it be okay when families were being torn apart and war had broken out once more? Couldn’t the drecks just accept what Fate had dealt them? They were the inferior race. Drecks could not win against a vampire army, but they could cause terrible grief and pain for the survivors of those they managed to kill. Their greed knew no bounds.
“I hate them!” She gripped Nicolas’s tunic, her tears dampening the material against his shoulder.
“The drecks,” she wailed.
“We all do, Kat.” Nicolas pulled her closer, trying to comfort her.
Drecks wanted nothing more than to destroy all the vampires so they could turn their pitiful hatred toward humans and systematically transform them into slaves. Humans couldn’t compete with the strength and poisonous venom of the drecks. If not for the vampires, who served as protectors of the human race, mankind would already be held in servitude. That was something vampires would never allow to happen on their watch.
“Please tell me you never fought before,” she said, looking up into Nicolas’s dark eyes. They were so dark, they were almost black.
He shook his head. “I was too young in the last war. I missed it by a couple of years.”
For the first time since the liaison began talking, Kat let out a grateful sigh of relief. At least Nicolas would be staying here with her. Now that she had finally caught his fancy, she didn’t want to lose him. “Thank the heavens.” She closed her eyes and rested her cheeks against his shoulder.
Caresses soft and delicate as a feather brushed her face, and Nicolas pressed his lips against her forehead then bowed his head against hers. “Yes,” he said quietly against her ear. “I would not have wanted to leave now that I just found you, Katarina.”
His comforting words were welcoming, but she knew she had to tear herself away. She couldn’t let little Micah leave without saying goodbye.

NOTE: To prevent me from having to put an adult filter on my blog, I will be posting upcoming chapters  of a more adult nature here: - this is my fan page for the character, Micah Black. I will be posting the chapters in the notes on that page, as well, but will only post adult content chapters there. I will provide a link here when such a chapter gets posted. Thank you.

The Rules of Writing - Part II

Last week I posted Part I of the Rules of Writing, but there were so many, I needed to create a second part, so today I continue the list, with my commentary. The contributing authors for Part II are: Hilary Mantel, Michael Moorcock, Michael Morpurgo, Andrew Motion, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Will Self, Helen Simpson, Zadie Smith, Colm Toibin, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, and Jeanette Winterson.
  • Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant. [DL: And an attorney, a group of beta readers, an editor, and an EIN number. And don't forget a dash of sanity.]
  • Read Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande [DL: Here's the link: Becoming a Writer on Amazon
  • Be aware that anything that appears before "Chapter One" may be skipped. Don't put your vital clue there. [DL: I believe in Part I of these rules, there was a rule that even said not to write prologues. This is why. Like it or not, people skip prologues. If the information is vital to the story, don't put it in a prologue or other front matter. Find a way to work that into your manuscript and skip the prologue. I have heard the rule many times before.]
  • Description works best if it has a human element and comes from an implied human viewpoint rather than from the eye of God. If it is colored by the viewpoint of the character doing the noticing, description becomes part of the character definition and part of the action. [DL: This is why omniscient storytelling is not encouraged and can be dry. When the viewpoint comes from outside the characters, the reader doesn't get a good sense of the characters.]
  • Read. [DL: This rule comes up often, with a variation that says to read outside your genre as much as possible.]
  • The first third of your novel is the introduction, the middle third is the development, and the final third is the resolution. [DL: Introduce characters and plots in the introduction, develop them in the development, and resolve them in the resolution. We shouldn't be meeting a main character for the first time in the development, and we should be starting to wrap up the main action by the time we reach the final third of the story].
  • Once the book is finished in its first draft, I read it out loud to myself. How it sounds is hugely important. [DL: If you read Part I that was posted last week, this rule should sound familiar. It came up over and over and over (and over again) on the list. In other words, if you're not reading your story out loud while editing it, you're probably not catching flow problems.]
  • Think with your senses as well as your brain. [DL: This rule ties in with the following rule.]
  • Honor the miraculousness of the ordinary. [DL: Eating a pear may seem ordinary to you, but to someone who has never eaten a pear, it's an experience. Remember in the movie, City of Angels, when Meg Ryan described what eating a pear was like? Sweet, juicy. Grainy, like sugar that melts on my tongue. I think that's what she said. Does that sound "ordinary" to you? Try to imagine what these "ordinary" experiences feel, smell, look, taste, and sound like. Make them EXTRAordinary.] 
  • Let your work stand before deciding whether or not to serve. [DL: This one is so important, I need to expand on it. When you grill a steak, you're supposed to let it stand so the juices seep back into the tissues and don't escape when you cut it. In other words, don't serve the meal before it's ready to be eaten. Same with your books. I see a lot of authors crank out a first draft and then publish it within a few weeks. Whoa, whoa, whoa! A few weeks is not enough time to let your precious baby sit. A manuscript needs to rest a while, then go through edits. Right after you've finished writing it, you think it's a masterpiece. Only after you put fresh eyes to it after a resting period will you see all that still needs to be done before it's ready. I've looked at my "masterpieces" after a couple of months and wondered what drugs I was on when I wrote that crap. How embarrassing (and reputationally damaging) it would have been had I published it immediately after finishing it. Hold tight...more rules on this coming up.]
  • Use plain, familiar words, not polysyllabic ones. [DL: I used to write using large words no one knew. Now I know better. You don't want your readers reading two books: yours and a dictionary. KISS - Keep It Simple Sweetie.]
  • Rewrite and edit until you achieve the most [well-suited] phrase/sentence/paragraph/page/ story/chapter. [DL: Much like letting a manuscript sit for a while, I put each manuscript through at least five rounds of edits. At least. Letting it sit between each edit. The first two edits are for large amounts of rewriting and editing, where I will add, rewrite, remove, or relocate entire chapters or scenes. The next couple/few edits are for honing smaller scenes and paragraphs. Then I move on to fix things on a sentence level. Finally, I go through and address individual words, cutting out the extras or changing them. Only by running a finer-toothed comb through each read-thru can I get to a point where I feel I've fleshed out all the fat. You can't fix all the small stuff until the big stuff is fixed, so this requires many rounds of edits.
  • Don't look back until you've written an entire draft. [DL: This is another rule that was repeated often. Do not begin editing until you've finished the first draft. You have to have something to edit before you can edit it.]
  • The real work is in the edit. [DL: Here's another rule about letting your work stand before you serve it. I have seen too many authors publish their books without so much as a cursory re-read, only to see their work published with an ungodly amount of errors. Writing the book is the easy part, but once you type the last word the REAL work is only beginning. If you aren't willing to do the real work, this is not the profession for you. Editing is hard f'ing work. No joke. No lie. If I spend a month writing a manuscript, I spent 3-6 months editing it. Just because you have an "editor" does not mean you can skimp on this step. It's your responsibility to double-check your editor's work, because editors are not infallible.]
  • Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. [DL: This goes without saying, because you never know where your next idea will hit you. You don't want to be without your notebook when it does. Write it down or you'll forget it.]
  • Regard yourself as a small corporation of one. [DL: This is a job. Treat it like one, including lunch breaks and Christmas parties for yourself. Like I said earlier, get an EIN number.]
  • Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it. [DL: Are you beginning to see the importance of this rule? It comes up repeatedly on the list. Let. It. Sit. Before. You. Edit. And. Serve. It.]
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself. [DL: Feeling sorry for yourself kills your creativity and energy. I know. I've been there.]
  • Never be satisfied with a first draft. [DL: Ahem. I detect a theme there. Edit, edit, and edit some more.]
  • Listen to the criticisms and preferences of your trusted "first readers." [DL: And don't just listen. ENCOURAGE your beta readers to be HARSH! And when they are, LISTEN. Don't get mad at them. Listen. They represent your audience and readership, and they are there to help you. Would you rather they catch a major plot hole before you publish the book, or would you rather thousands of readers destroy you in bad word-of-mouth and reviews after the book is released?]
  • Write dialogue that people would actually speak. [DL: Would a character more like say this: "I do not know where we are going," or this: "I don't know where we're going."? This: "I'm aware that our neighbor provided sustenance that caused gastrointestinal upset," or this: "I got food poisoning from my neighbor's barbecue."? This is a good reason for reading your work out loud. Doing so allows you to hear bad dialogue.]
  • Novels are for readers, not your self-expression or therapy. [DL: If you write for yourself, it's called journaling. If your goal is to write for public consumption, remember that you need to know your market and that you need to give readers what they want, not what YOU want.]
  • Take no notice of anyone you don't respect or who has a gender agenda. [DL: Who cares if some ding-a-ling wants to snark off about how women shouldn't write homosexual romance because they have no right to when they're not homosexual men. I'm not a doctor, either, but I can still write about doctors. And I'm not a dude, but I've created some wickedly bad-ass alpha males my readers have fallen in love with. I'm giving MY readers what they want, and since my readers are mostly women, I cater to their tastes. They don't care if I'm a woman. All they care about is they loved my interpretation of two male vampires going through hell and back to find love with one another, not that I'm a woman writing M/M romance. Let the naysayers sound off. Who cares? Ignore their sorry asses. They aren't your bread and butter, and they're not worth the time you give them and take away from what's truly important: YOUR WRITING and your FANS.
  • Be ambitious for the work and not for the reward. [DL: If all you want is money without the desire to learn the craft of writing...without caring enough to put a quality product into readers' hands...then you're in this for the wrong reasons.]
  • Last but not least, Enjoy the work! [DL: If you don't enjoy it, don't do it. It's not the profession for you if you aren't enjoying every facet of the work, which includes editing and improving your skills.]
Here's the link to the full list of rules: The Rules of Writing

Happy Writing and Reading!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Need Your Help For a Book Launch

Until recently, I have not done official book launches, choosing instead to simply e-publish, do a blog tour, and rely on word-of-mouth to sell my books. Being a new author who published her first book this past March, I'm still learning the ropes, and am grateful and blessed my books have done as well as they have being that I'm a newbie and have had little knowledge about how to successfully launch a book.

My next release, Rebel Obsession, will likely be coming out in January. The manuscript and cover will be ready before then, but I want to do this one right, and I'm even considering creating a print run on this one if I can pull it off in time. I want to launch Rebel Obsession with some pizzazz and flair. I want to have fun and engage my fans and take the time to behave the way any good parent would behave when welcoming a new baby into the world. Because let's face it, for authors, our books are our babies. They deserve balloons, oohs, aaahs, debutante balls, and a few tickles under the chin.

I need to rely on my fans to help me out on this one. Authors, what suggestions can you give me to help make this launch a success? Readers/Fans: What gets you excited about the release of a new book? What kinds of things would you enjoy seeing and experiencing? Nothing is off limits here. If you can think it, suggest it. If you're an author who's had success with something, I'd love to know what that was. If you've seen other authors do something that was fun and effective, let me know.

I know I'm new and still learning, and it's all of you who are helping me do that.

Thank you in advance.

Happy Writing...and Happy Reading.


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Rules of Writing - Part I

First of all, I love that picture. I smiled as I read each rule on it, because I've heard them all before and actually employ many of them in my own writing efforts. Maybe you do, too.

But does writing really have rules? Do we, as authors, have to follow a set of prescribed rules to perform our jobs as writers correctly? Of course not. That's the beauty of writing. However, there are some rules, such as those pertaining to spelling and grammar that if you don't follow will make it hard or nearly impossible for your readers to understand your book. Imagine if you were to read a book with no paragraphs, misplaced commas (or no commas), or even no punctuation at all. You'd probably put it down before reading a word. So, some rules are pretty darn important, right?

While searching the Internet for writing tips, I stumbled across an English site that included several authors' self-created lists for the "ten rules of writing." I prefer to call their lists advice or the ten guidelines of writing instead of rules. Whether you want to call them rules, advice, or guidelines, what they had to say was poignant and sometimes entertaining. Below are some of my favorite "rules," as presented by the likes of Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, and AL Kennedy.

  • Avoid prologues...A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want. [DL: This is not the first time I have heard this piece of advice. Since a lot of readers don't read prologues, it's best to include the information in your prologue as part of the story. Yes, you can do that. You're a writer. It's up to you to find a way to do that.]
  • Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. [DL: Again, I've heard this one many times, usually from editors.]
  • Keep your exclamation points under control. [DL: I've been told only to use them when your characters are yelling.]
  • Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
  • Avoid detailed descriptions of characters or places/things. [DL: A sure sign you're telling a story and not showing it.]
  • If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.
  • Read it aloud, because that's the only way to be sure the rhythm of the story is correct. [DL: This piece of advice came up over and over on the list from several authors. This is something I do when I'm in final edits, and I can assure you, it works.]
  • Cut. Get every inessential word out of your story so that every essential word counts. [DL: This is another piece of advice that comes up repeatedly, stated in different words, but with the same message: get rid of the fluff.]
  • Give the work a name as quickly as possible so you can own it and see it. [DL: I do this and it really does help guide the story.]
  • Finish the day's writing when you still want to continue. [DL: I've heard this one before. The idea is you'll be ready to go the next day if you follow this rule.]
  • Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. [DL: One read-through of your manuscript before you publish it isn't enough. If you want to be serious about your writing, you need to reread/edit/proof your manuscripts 5-10 times before they're ready, and even then it may not be enough. I've read a couple of mine upwards of 15-20 times.]
  • Join professional organizations which advance the collective thoughts of authors.
  • Do it every day. [DL: Writing is your job. If you worked in an office, you would be putting in 8+ hours per day. Why shouldn't you treat writing the same way? If you love it, putting in those kinds of hours shouldn't make you groan about not wanting to work that hard, because it wouldn't feel like work even if you spent 12 hours a day doing it].
  • Only bad writers think that their work is really good. [DL: Usually, it's the writers who don't feel their writing is up to snuff who are the best writers.]
  • DON'T READ YOUR REVIEWS. [DL: Yes, yes, yes! Follow this rule unless you want to get caught up in a mess of pain and shattered confidence.]
  • Likewise, don't write reviews. [DL: The rationale is that your judgment's tainted. This is one reason why I don't write reviews.]
  • Finish what you're writing. [DL: Don't start edits until you've finished the first draft. NO EXCEPTIONS! Editing and writing happen on two separate sides of the brain. You can't edit when you're trying to write, and you can't write when you're trying to edit. Choose one and finish it before starting the other. Trust me. You'll understand once you do it. This is another rule that is repeated over and over on the list.]
  • Increase your word power. [DL: Buy a vocabulary builder, take a class, read books outside your genre, make a list of words you find interesting, etc.]
  • Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious. [DL: Just read. A lot.]
  • Open your mind to new experiences. [DL: Each new experience is a plot bunny.]
  • Have humility...then have more humility.
  • Be without fear. [DL: Fear will kill your creative process. I know. I've been down that road recently.]
  • And last but not least (at least for today's installment), remember you love writing. It wouldn't be worth it if you didn't. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back.
These are just some of the pieces of advice given on the website. If you want to see the full list, the link is Ten Writing Rules by Authors . Take a look at what other authors have to say. I know I found a couple that have already helped to improve my writing, so perhaps you might, too. 

With that, I'm off to employ my own rules of writing and get back to work on my next AKM novel, Return of the Assassin. Have a great Labor Day everybody. Can you believe it's almost autumn? Wow.

Oh, and before you go, tell me what your favorite "rule" of writing is? Do you have one? 

Happy Writing!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

When Did You Know You Wanted To Be a Writer?

When I was in junior high, I started writing my first erotic romances. At the time, they were just fantastical stories about my friends and me running off with our favorite members of Duran Duran, but my friends loved them. I remember sitting on the phone with them, reading what I had written, and them saying, "Hurry and write some more." So I would set the phone down and quickly scribble in my notebook (we didn't have computers back then, but at least we had indoor plumbing - ha ha) then pick up the phone a few minutes late and read to them again.

As some of you may know from my bio, my friends informally voted me Most Likely to be a Romance Novelist when I grew up.

I was reminded of my childhood story-writing this morning as I was emailing my editor the first chapter of Return of the Assassin. "Do you think this is catchy enough? Will readers be emotionally vested and curious to see what happens by the end of chapter one?" I asked. Then I realized that, in a way, emailing her the pieces of my chapter as I finished them was sort of like reading my stories to my friends over the phone while sitting on my bedroom floor...with my tiny black-and-white TV turned to Friday Night Videos, or whatever else was on the five channels of TV I could get on the TV in my bedroom (only the living room TV got cable — yes,cable. Not satellite TV).

Thinking about those early years of my writing, I was reminded once more just how deeply seated writing is in my blood. If I had been paying attention all those years ago, I would have known I wanted to be a writer and could have saved myself a lot of time. At least then I would have known what to study in college. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it? I was born a writer, and while I should have know that thirty years ago, at least I know it now.

When did you know you were meant to be a writer? How did you come to that realization?

Happy writing!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Home Alone and Inspired by Julie and Julia

Tonight I find myself home alone. While the hubby has gone with his brother to see Motley Crue and Kiss at the former Deer Creek pavilion, I am celebrating the completion of the first edit of Rebel Obsession. The manuscript is now in the hands of my beta readers.

I could have begun work on the next book tonight, but I wanted to take time to relish this moment first. Believe me, though, I might not be typing, but my mind is definitely working over how the next book will come together. And ideas are flowing for three other story ideas, too, not related to my AKM series. In fact, with four series novels also talking to me, my mind is a very busy place right now, which is why it's important for me to begin work immediately on Return of the Assassin, book four of AKM.

But not tonight. No, no, no. I refuse. Tonight is for celebrating and me.

So, what did I do after I finished the first edit of Rebel Obsession? I watched Julie and Julia.

I think we all have things, whether they are movies, songs, pictures, or what have you, that inspire us. Julie and Julia happens to be one of those inspirational movies for me. So is Under the Tuscan Sun. Hmm, I'm seeing a theme here. Both movies are about writers.

I don't know why, but I walk away from these two movies feeling ready to do great things. Perhaps it's in seeing the struggles the characters go through, when they feel hopeless, that pulls me in, because no matter how hard life gets for them, or how many meltdowns they have, in the end, it all works out. Oh, I know it's Hollywood, but in real life we can have happy endings, too, and that's what I take away from the experience.  In life, when you're in the middle of the hellish meltdown, you can't see the future getting any better. But when you look back a year later, you see how all the hell got you to where you are that day, and it doesn't look so bad from that perspective.

So now I am going to listen to some relaxing music, maybe do a little cleaning, perhaps play a game, then read and go to bed. Because tomorrow, the celebration is over and the next book begins.

So tell me, what inspires you?