Sunday, January 1, 2017

An insult to the written word? Brush that dirt off your shoulder

I have no idea why I read it. The minute I saw the title I rolled my eyes and I swear I meant to close the window. Instead, I clicked onto the page and stupidly, read it. And sure enough I was pissed off, completely and utterly pissed. When I finished I muttered questions about the writer's intelligence, her parentage, and several other rude things. Then I got up flushed the toilet-it seemed fitting I read it in the morning during my daily constitutional. But by the time I had washed my hands and began to get dressed I was giggling and by the time I was putting the coffee on I was laughing. Then the coffee was done and I didn't give it another thought until I saw references pop up in my facebook feed as I went about my day and whenever I saw it I shrugged it off. This was the exact same reaction I had to my first troll review. 

And here's the thing, that article, essay, post whatever it is, is just that: a troll review of the self-publishing community and the writers within it. Troll-make a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.

The writer didn't make any insightful revelations, did not offer any valid reasoning, or educate the reader. This person knew what she was writing was offensive and didn't care. (I had to delete a Trump joke-it wasn't easy) What this writer wrote isn't new-JESUS FUCKING CHRIST I HAVE HEARD THIS SHIT BEFORE. Sorry, deep breathe then exhale. 

Although writers everywhere on facebook were defensive-as the troll wanted them to be, slightly hurt, as the troll wanted them to be, and for maybe just a second questioned their very existence and the way they do things-as the troll wanted them to do. They also took a deep breath and then went-Fuck that bitch, she doesn't know what she's talking about. I have worked for years, hour upon hour, given up time with my family and friends, went to work half asleep so I could write through the night. I have put in the work and just because I refuse to let someone who hasn't written a fucking book tell me if I'm good enough to get past a gate make or break me doesn't mean I'm not good enough. Here's the thing, those gatekeepers don't care about prose, they care about being able to sell something. How the fuck else has Snookie become an 'author' if that were really fucking true? Yeah, I've read a lot of bad indie authors but I've read a SHIT TON of bad published authors too. I want to name names but I won't because it isn't the point.

Yes, writers were defensive and hurt but only because although we've heard this shit before it's been a while. It was a few years ago when all that whining that indies aren't real writers shit finally stopped because the publishing houses started paying those indies to publish and they wound up right beside the author who had previously pissed on indie authors. Then the indie authors started selling their insults to the written word to television and movies. To name just a few-Wayward Pines, The Martian, Still Alice, 50 Shades-ok 50 shades isn't a great argument but whatever, it happened. To name a few and there are dozens more still in production. So hmmmm....the insults maybe weren't that insulting after all?

What the troll believes doesn't mean a thing to me and it shouldn't to any other writer. Writers don't write for agents or publishers or other authors, they write because they need to, they have a story to tell and they are writing for readers. A reader who seeks to enjoy, to get lost in the story, to believe in love, to believe in magic, to believe in themselves and the world, that there is good and evil but that good wins as it sometimes so rarely seems to do in real life. To believe they could be as brave one day as they would like to be and to believe that love is real and exists and it might not be easy but it's worth all the work. 

I have written since I was eight years old. All I ever wanted to be was a writer. In fits and starts, for months then years I wrote even when I never believed I would be able to publish. I read the masters-not all seemed that masterful-I read for knowledge, I read for fun. I didn't read to please anyone but myself. I write to please no one but myself but somehow that doesn't matter because I'm lucky enough to have readers love what I write. 

I have written fourteen titles as Fiona Murphy and everyone of them taught me more about myself then I had known before. I started writing them to please readers but I ended up writing them the way the characters demanded to be written and when I was done I held my breath and I hit publish. In responding to readers I have chatted with they have told me they read all fourteen of the books I've written. That humbles the shit out of me. I'm floored. I'm in awe. I thank them with tears I'm glad are hidden by corresponding through email and I have asked how I can pay them back. The question came out of nowhere but came up every time-how can I pay you back by giving me the gift of liking what I have written enough to read it all? Their response each time is simple: don't stop writing. 

So I'm not going to stop writing and self-publishing. The troll and all the other trolls are just some dirt to brush off my shoulder.

And by the way, I tried ONCE to read a Brad Thor book and it was so shitastic I didn't even make it half way through. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

How well do men write for women?

For me to friend/like you on Facebook back or follow back on Twitter all it takes is a quick glance to see you share other people and don't just shovel your shit down my throat. This has led to me following back and friending/liking a wide variety of writers. One of those writers I've been following for a few years now who after seeing his attempts causes me to pose the question: Are men able to write satisfying romance for women readers?

In my stalking of boards on Reddit (remember my freebie is Reddit inspired-you should check it out if you haven't already. Abby has Gone Wild) one of the things I've seen is that yes the erotic shorts sell on kindle unlimited or whatever form it took what the writers were doing were hoping to extend them and go to a longer format into romance to find a more loyal audience and therefore steadier income. I'm not saying everyone is/was doing it but most conversations in the threads went there.  I'm thinking that is where this writer is coming from, or maybe he sees the switch from erotic short to romance as a natural progression.

Erotic shorts, about five thousand words and written to be read one-handed don't require a whole lot of skill, let's compare them to a fast food hamburger not the best or worst but if you're hungry it does the trick. I'm sure many women read erotic shorts, the sales are too high to just be men. Here's the thing with erotic shorts though, there's no attempt to be anything other than a quick read to satisfy a need and there is a need or else people wouldn't buy them. I've heard someone refer to them as 'quick and dirty' and that's all an average reader is expecting and quite frankly wanting. 

However, when it comes to romance whether it's a contemporary romance or erotic romance there are different rules and a completely different expectation, number one that there is a story-with a plot, character development, and depth of feeling. Quick and dirty isn't the goal even in the sex scenes, okay maybe one of the scenes but the others-definitely more than one had better long drawn out and sinfully sweet. Romance is the steak opposed to the hamburger and with steak everyone likes it a little different from rare to medium and to well, it takes longer to cook and the perfection of those different selections can be seen as different from even the chef to the person ordering. The choice out there for romance is vast and doing it well, it isn't the same for everyone. There are still the plot lines that exist in erotic shorts from the step-brother, to the virgin, to dark romance or dubious consent but in those blurbs just like in the blurbs for the shorts the content needs to be given or hinted or given as a warning for a possible trigger. 

What caught my attention was the writer whining on Facebook about two reviews upset about rape-cause when it's forced it's rape. Somehow he didn't seem to understand this. No, no he assured me when I couldn't take him whining about how it wasn't rape and I had to make sure he understood when a person believes they don't have a choice then it is indeed rape. Despite careful explanation-he just didn't get it and maybe that's why there are the problems we have today and we have to have videos of what consent actually means. 

Fine, he didn't get no means no whatever but as a writer you don't have the right to get pissy about people having the same response in a review about the story it's something you need to learn from especially if more than one person are saying the same thing. He assured me he appreciated the reviews and of course he learned from them. Okay, then why exactly are you whining about their response of calling the story porn-the exact quickie stuff he'd written before. If you are going to make the change from writing erotic shorts then you have to change the way you write. Know your audience, period. It would be no different than changing from writing mystery to writing sci-fi. 

With romance you can't just take what had been a short and throw in an extra ten thousand words describing the countryside or an apartment or how a woman looks and thinking it will satisfy the reader. A kiss isn't just a kiss, it should be something more with a definite show not tell that grabs the reader. Example: The kiss was hot and deep and made me want to tear off his clothes. OR: My only warning is a rush of breath against my lips and in the next instant his mouth is on mine. His lips are silky and soft as they flutter over mine in light, delicate touches. I open for him, without hesitation, wanting more, needing more. The tip of his tongue comes over my parted lips. I gasp as the touch tugs at somewhere deep inside me and open wider for him. His tongue sweeps inside me with cautious strokes of tasting and learning. He tastes sweet and shockingly minty, it’s only then I realize he smells clean too as if he’d showered recently. My hands move into his hair, reveling in the feel of the thick, silky strands and my fingers tangle, unable to let go of him. I moan with the need for more, his kiss to be deeper, sweeter, more of everything.

Two different things that give two very different feelings for a reader. Writing isn't easy period. I've read erotic romance and regular romance that sucked ass and were written by women. While I admit my question started because of an interaction with one man there have been other books that the more I had thought about it made me wonder the same thing: How well do men write women? Do men really understand women enough to write romance that women want to read?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cover art is important but no enough to steal

As I've mentioned I wander through Amazon and look through other top sales and high stars while reading reviews. It's a great way to spend a Friday night. Any way I'm clicking around and I see this: 

But his gorgeous face had been cropped out and someone was using the rest as a cover for their self-published title. Now I know I've said repeatedly a good cover is important but STEALING is just plain fucking wrong. 

For those of you who sadly do not know the man in the picture, his name is David Gandy and he's a pretty damn famous model. When I first saw the cover, (author will not be named) I wondered what the hell to do. From the look of the cover and others, she had many that looked the same, no face, hot body and it was clear it was a home made cover. Either that or a really shitty cover artist. Someone made the suggestion it could have been a stock photo but here's the thing-I've been on about six different stock photo websites and never once have I seen a David Gandy picture nor have there been other covers with a picture of him. Although the guy could make nice bucket of money doing the beefcake shots for branding or merchandising he hasn't.  So taking a photo from a shoot he's done and using it as a cover or in other promotion for your book, website, blog, or anything else is stealing, Period. My thoughts were confirmed when I sent the cover to an email address for him. I got a response back in less than 24 hours thanking me and letting me know his assistant would forward it on to his legal team. Less than two weeks later the cover disappeared and the ebook as well, unless she retitled it and did a completely different cover. 

Using any celebrity picture, model, or other picture you haven't paid for is stealing. If you're lucky you get a cease and desist letter from a lawyer, keep going down that road and you could be sued. Is it really worth taking a chance like that? Seriously? Stock photos are NOT that expensive. I know because of I've bought them, if my terminally broke ass can afford them the author could too, you can too. 

It's not fair but it's true, self-published authors need to do it better, cleaner and without doing shit that is in the least bit shady or unethical or could get your ass sued. I get it, hot pictures of men get posted all over the place and I've tweeted more than my fair share of them and of David Gandy but sharing a picture is different than taking it and using it to promote your work. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pen Names and different Genres/Categories

Most writers *shocking* are writing under a pen name, moi included. With that comes a cushion of anonymity some feel necessary when writing 'dirty' books such as romance and erotic romance and for others simply the anonymity desired because writers are a weird quirky bunch. For my non-romance it is also under a pen name, I like my privacy, as you might notice I'm not a selfie kind of person and will happily say I've only ever taken one selfie in my life and that was to whine about a haircut I thought was too short-weird yeah whatever. Any hoo, I've seen posts and talk about using pen names for other categories since I'm at loose ends without another topic I'm putting in my two cents. 

Personally, I only think you should use different pen names on your work for two reasons:

1. You don't want people to know you write the two different kinds of categories. Completely understandable if you are going from fantasy with fade to black versus romance where you gratuitously drop the f-bomb for description as well as dialogue. Better not to confuse or turn off a potential reader and completely understandable. 

2. If you are in fact going from two vastly different categories like thriller to chick lit. For better or worse people have preconceived notions and it's best not to lose out because of them. 

Otherwise I really can't see the benefit. If you usually write romance new adult and you are writing romance thriller why the heck leave readers behind? Just like most writers read and therefore write other categories your readers are just as likely to read other categories/genres. Most readers enjoy dipping into something different if they see a familiar name then they are pretty damn likely to pick yours over someone they've never read before. 

Another thing to consider is the time it will take to give the other pen name life for promotion. Do you really have the time to devote to building profiles on Facebook, Twitter for four or five different pen names and make them seem interesting and if you don't and half ass it by throwing out, yeah I also write under this pen name then why the fuck do it in the first place? Honestly? If you have enough time to spend building up multiple pen names then that is time you are spending when you could have been writing. 

Maybe I am over simplifying it but I just don't see an upside to it. 

Monday, September 5, 2016


For the love of god people your book cover isn't just kind of more important than what is inside the book, it ACTUALLY is more important. It doesn't matter if you have written a Nobel Prize winning piece of literature. If your cover looks like crap it won't get bought. I have seen some covers that make me cringe from writers I know have worked hard. Yet when you put in the work and pay for the editing don't short change everything you've done with a crappy cover.

Of course my first shout out and much love goes to Carrie at Cheeky Covers who has done all my covers and I love every one. Her custom covers run from $25-100.

*Disclaimer 1*
Except Carrie Cheeky Covers I have never worked with any of these people and will not accept any blame if it doesn't work out but will accept kudos if all goes well. Pricing from various sites seem to run around the same $150 to as much as $300 for me $150 to $200 seems fair, I guess-what can I say am poor/cheap. I'm the first to admit when I just spent almost $300 for editing it's damned hard to open my wallet again to spend almost that much on a cover HOWEVER to spend that much on editing and then spend only $20 bucks on a cover is stupid as fuck.

I have tried to go all new on these, no repeats from my past covers but yeah this is the third blog on covers and those others were hot too-you should go through my entire blog to find them if you are searching but didn't find quite what you were looking for here   ;)

*Disclaimer 2*
I never look at the Hardcover/Paperback costs so check those because I only do ecovers.*

Yocla Designs caught my eye from someone on Facebook and so I wandered over. Glad I did. The premade covers are only $45 and do not look it (they look like they cost more). They do all kinds of work, everything from romance, to fantasy, to thrillers, The pricing runs normal $95-quick but hopefully not dirty, $150-basic and $299-all the frills. Their work on premades alone are impressive so I'm intrigued to know what they do for more.

Cover Bistro I like to give everyone a shot, the premades are inexpensive, and while no I'm not floored (sorry, I'm honest) I would say almost seventy percent of them were pretty dang good-so the portfolio leaves me curious to see what they would deliver-enough to include them in this. Because I would be willing to take a chance, especially since like I said the premades are pretty good and inexpensive. Take a look, you never know what you'll find.

Indie-spiredbookcovers Very good prices. Covers are also good.

Litteradesigns Premades run from $20 to $40. WTF?! They are good, damn good-I love you Carrie I promise I won't leave you. Covers all genres, and each one looks like it was just for that genre. These covers are all different styles and I can't say enough good things without y'all think they paid me. The price for custom seem standard $145-basic, $195-Standard, and $245-Premium 

Firefly Covers This one is definitely a you get what you pay for, a flat $200 gives you as many back and forths as you need and a promise of satisfaction. These covers are more mystery, thriller, and impressive. 

Jared Rackler Now y'all know I'm poor/cheap so the mention of this cover artist for only $100 made me type so fast I messed up twice. But I found it and DAMN! Wow, I was blown away. No there are no premades, but for the portfolio of past covers I wouldn't blink to pay for a cover. Genres are all different and all really great and fitting. 

Go Book Cover Design  All kinds of genres are represented and all look great. Very impressive and prices are even better. $99 to $169. They are also the first site I've noticed (sorry if I haven't mentioned before) that offer swag. Swag being the stuff authors give out-bookmarks, stickers, bookplates, post cards, etc. 

Angela Haddon Great timing, she followed me on twitter. I checked her out and bookmarked her for the next ebook design post. Her premades are pretty good and range from $50-80. She has a flat rate on custom ebooks $220 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Stranger Things and learning how to make the old seem new again

OMG WTF WHAT WAS THAT?? Unless you've been living under a walk you've seen something about this show call Stranger Things. I saw the ads but was all huh, it seemed familiar and I kept thinking Stephen King. So I'm at the gym with my overpriced five inch screen phone trying to watch and I almost pull a Taylor Swift on the treadmill. Okay I'm not going to watch on my cell phone. This past Christmas I bought my dad one of those Smart TVs cuz they don't do cable either. I had mentioned Stranger Things before and my dad was cranky. After almost losing my life on the treadmill my dad owed me. 

So sneakily I started it before he could object. Again even as I waited in jumping anticipation mind was screaming STEPHEN KING, the little girl, the creepy world, and kids. Yet it also reminded me of the 80's Stephen King so I'm thinking someone took one of his lesser known books and did it for Netflix. I'm actually looking up Stephen King's wiki page to confirm my thought. Then it started and I didn't pick up cell phone the entire time I watched the show. ALL. EIGHT. EPISODES.

Because I watched it with my family and they were wimps not up for binge watching we planned two episodes a night. It's one of those shows if you miss five seconds you could miss the most important thing ever. Yes, yes, I'm not the only one in love with this show for too many reasons to list. I grew up in the eighties and I saw almost all the connections, Goonies, ET, Firestarter, more than I had watched cuz I was a kid in the eighties. And I have to tell you when that van flies over the kids I was just as in awe as when the kids' bikes started flying. 

Eight short episodes wasn't nearly enough and I caught myself watching one of those videos that talked about it-but not those explaining ones I hate those ones. What I saw as I watched was him make those connections and more that I hadn't seen one after another. In seeing those things one after another that had been done before yet still seemed new, exciting, and unlike anything I had ever seen. Even though in bits and pieces I had. 

I cannot stand to watch a show and know what will happen next and it's even more annoying when I know the dialogue. It happens alot, a whole hell of a lot and even more so when I read (I have a small circle of writers I like.) Out of all the books I've read and movies and television I've watched. There was only once that I knew what was coming in Stranger Things

And this, boys and girls is what writers have to do every time we start writing a story. Especially romance, boy meets girl some kind of something keeps them from living happily ever after until it all gets sorted and they do end up happily ever after. This is one of the most important reasons to read other stories and see the way they couldn't quite get it done. 

If you can and are able to make a brand new story that no one has ever heard or read of before but that's damn hard. The story doesn't have to be new, all the stories have already been told before. But you can make it new and different from others by bringing your style or giving it your own spin or quirk. You just have to be the one to write it. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Being Present

It sucks like a mother fucker but this writing thing is a business, especially if you're doing it on your own. There are all these cogs that keep the machine running, the writing-duh, the editing-huge duh-then there's the part that's hardest for most but is sadly almost as important as all the others and that is keeping your social media presence an actual fucking presence. It's the letting people know 'hey, I'm here.' If you like pictures of half nekkid men, sarcastic and saucy humor then you might just like the books written by that person. 

It can be a sonofabitch because to me it feels like I'm being pushy which is why I just post the stuff I find funny and think has to be shared. I also am an extremely private person so those times when I'm going through personal things and don't have the time to post to explain why I'm not in every day But here is the sad yet also glorious fact, the world keeps turning when you aren't in it. So if you don't reminding people you are here and are someone they should check out they will move onto the next person. 

The cool thing about it is that it doesn't have to take over your whole life, a few funny tweets you can steal from others. Quirky, unique abounds everywhere and if it fits you then share. Some twat once wrote you should spend an ungodly amount of time advertising and selling yourself unless your writing is complete shit then what the twat said is complete shit. 

Even when you're in the writing cave peek your head out and let everyone know you're about to deliver some awesome and maybe share a snatch of this and that. There are big things and little things, like you know maybe writing a blog on a consistent basis-just a thought.  (yes, that was sarcasm directed at myself)