Monday, May 1, 2017

If you can't help don't hurt


Writing isn't easy, it's also pretty damn lonely. We all do our best to connect as much as we can. The friends we have on Facebook I think everyone hopes it becomes a real friendship. At this time I've stopped hoping because it usually fizzles and with it what little confidence when it comes to making friends I have left. I share those who've shared me and things that no one else have but that's about it. 

Many writers reach out to others for review requests, beta readers, and sometimes even advice. Usually it's just a post they put up. I will admit to just keep scrolling. Because the problem is that I am honest, because I just plain believe in it and as I said in my last post this writing thing when it comes to review, betas, and promos this shit is business, you need to act like it. Don't whine, don't beg-hardest thing ever is to no fucking beg for reviews, betas, attention, but seriously you need to do you homework and treat this like it's the only job you want. That said, so many people don't that I have learned when I see all those requests, unless it's a trade to just keep scrolling. 

My honesty comes in when I see a lacking cover, unless someone else has said it first I say nothing other than it's ok.  Because, like the person from last week, even if they ask for your opinion so many people seem to be asking for confirmation not your opinion. I don't want to crush them by saying I don't like it which comes to review trades, fuck is that hard for me. I have high standards and I have read very few that met my standards, but what was exciting was I have actually found several-shocking. But back to the title of this post, I saw a reviewer as if other reviewers were going to be honest or cowards. Um excuse me? Cowards, I really don't think it's being cowardly not to call something shit, even if you think it is. Maybe trying to focus on the positive instead of the negative and if you read the middle of the line  reviews most people will pick up on it. Ah,  just okay, I get it. 


Look there are hundreds of trolls out there just having a shit life and drooling over the thought of making someone else feel like shit who will write the review that spells it all out. I do believe in this day of reviews bought and paid for most people have figured out to go to the negative and read up from there. 


I am not saying this in kumbya(sp?) kind of way. We need to support each other and we need to help where we can and when we can't help just do your best not to hurt. 












Monday, April 10, 2017

This is business, it's not personal

I don't know what it is about me, maybe I have a masochistic aura or something but I am the person people tell their problems to, whine about their significant other or complain about life in general. For years I would nod make sympathetic sounds while keeping my mouth shut, because I wasn't sure what life advice I could offer. Then as I became older I started offering advice, huh the advice wasn't taken hmm yet here they come back around again with the same complaint so I offered yet more advice. Huh, oh look at that I haven't heard from them in a while. 

Gradually I realized there were people who just wanted someone to whine to. I also realized that getting involved in other people's life and problems was a great big ball of pain in the ass. So I stopped offering advice and kept my fucking mouth shut. I prefer to keep my mouth shut, really I do, even this blog, I write it and usually kind of giving a warning of this is just my thoughts take it as you will except for cover art, because for fucks sake there isn't really something more important than cover art. The cover art is pretty much number one in all self-publishing how to advice books, blogs and all of the above. 

Today I was given a lovely reminder of the why to stay the hell out of other people's whining. A fellow author apparently 'helped' her daughter in her first foray into publishing and it all went to shit. The author moaned about the loss of her daughter's innocence that writing is a fairy tale where you hit publish the sales come in and three months later you're buying your first home or that ferrari you always wanted. It didn't go well, at all. I sighed as a read it, this is hard, it isn't easy and the daughter will find if she really wants to be an author because when it doesn't go well, that's when you find out how bad do you really want it. That post went up Friday, I think, can't remember and can't verify as the author has unfriended me and blocked-thus the crux of this post. 

Now at least a day later but I'm pretty sure two days later the post continuing to pop up with the link to the book for 'help' sharing and caring and blah blah blah. Out of curiosity I hit the link and damn that is one ugly cover. First thing that hit me and loudly, I barely read the description just the first few lines and noped right the hell off the buy page. Go with your gut people, always go with your gut because my gut told me to keep on scrolling down the page. But did I? Nope, I saw the last comment, one of three on just how bad the cover was and how to find a better one and all kinds of advice. One of those three comment talked about paying money just to find a cover artist-no way. I hesitated, the post was over five hours old so the author had to have read and hadn't responded. Well since I love my cover artist so much I decided to recommend her. 

My post went,  'I loathe saying this but the cover art looks homemade and not in a good way. ' I then gave my cover artists info and thought nothing of it. Two minutes later she replied to my comment of thanks for the insult. Ummm, excuse me? Someone else has already told you the cover art is lacking, you had no response to that and I thought you were moaning about the poor showing your daughter's book had and a huge factor in that had to be the cover art. Flash went through my head. Leave it alone, this person isn't ready for the truth she's too close, she's emotional, she won't be receptive for shit.

But of course I couldn't because I have never insulted another author, even when I found their work lacking. I kept my mouth shut and I averted my eyes because I know how fucking hard this is. I have the scars to my pride to show for it. BUT I also figured out really fucking quickly this is a business if I want to be able to sell enough to live off my writing I need to treat everything else but the story like the business it is. That's why I now spend money to make money on my editor, on my cover art and I spend the time on the top 100 on my genre to see what's going on and keep up and know what's selling. I show off my cover and go with the most votes not the one I love personally, although thankfully they are usually one in the same. 

I get cover art is hard, because it seems crazy to pay so and art is subjective, like real art. That a person would pay so much for a Jackson Pollock is beyond me. A pretty picture is a pretty picture, right? Um no, not right not when it comes to books there is a standard that needs to be met. This is basically what I wrote back, if you were to walk into Barnes and Noble and look at the book you were selling would it fit into the other books on the table. Look at the 100 genre and does the cover fit there?  By the way, I'm not the only person who said as much and you didn't thank them for the insult. 

No response but the unfriend and block. I sighed laughed and shook my head. You know they say the person who defends themselves has a fool for a client? When you can't look at the business of writing as a business for the feedback you get to make your business better then you are making your success that much harder. 

Do I wish this person ill, is this a get back at the person post? Fuck no. If it were names and ugly cover art would have been shared but it's not and it won't be. Because again despite what that author thought it wasn't an insult it was one author trying to help another. To loosely quote someone much smarter than me if you can't help someone then at least don't do any harm. This is a business, it's a hard sometimes soul destroying business that makes you wonder sometimes why the fuck you keep doing it then you read a review that makes you glow down to your tip toes and then you remember oh yeah, that's why. At the end of the day, this is a business, you don't close up shop if you had a bad day or even a bad week. You go in every day you do the hard work, and you show your customers they can depend on you for a quality product every time. 






Monday, March 27, 2017

Still

I'm back...due to love and hella unselfishness of a 16  year old, my little sister! I have a laptop again and can now write again!! I couldn't believe she told me she wanted to buy me a laptop saying, "Whatever your dream is I want to be able to help you do that." *tear*

Of course it wouldn't be me if there hadn't been some sort of what the fuckness happening and it did. I went online ordered, it came only three days later and I was so excited until I opened the box. Umm...all I could think was this looks nothing like what I ordered. That's because it wasn't, not even a little. Not about to lie if it had been better than what I order I would have probably kept it but alas it wasn't even close. After sending a very distraught email then an even more frantic chat with Amazon it all was cleared up pretty quickly. I went online and ordered again. This time delivery was long and painful-over ten days from hitting buy until received today. Now yes eyes might roll and mumbles of first world problems only it wasn't really a first world problem. It was an anxiety fraught ten days where I very seriously lost five pounds and spent many a tear stained night. Why?

Because after so long without a computer and being able to write whenever I wanted and yes needed to I started having some serious doubts. I began to wonder if I had lost the ability to write well. What if I couldn't do it anymore. No ego I'm really happy with my last two books and truly believe, aside from Abby they are the best things I've written so far.  As the weeks have passed two stories have been spinning around in my head yet I felt I couldn't nail down pretty important specifics which before had come easily. Between want and need the plans I have would be on a tight schedule even without me being a world-class procrastinator. When I factor that in and the stress of an insanely low paying day job where overtime is a necessity to pay bills, not an option my stress has doubled. How am I supposed to write while working overtime to pay my bills, let alone cover editing. What if in the short time I wasn't able to write anything other than crap?

Then my step-mom of all people told me what I've always told other writers, 'you can always rewrite.' I remembered at that moment how many I had to rewrite His Under Contract before I was happy with it. The stories have still kept coming, as they have since what feels like forever, it will be up to me to write them down. Whether I have a laptop or not and could write it doesn't change the fact that I'm still a writer. 

Still Fiona writing the happy endings with some hot sex thrown in. 





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.