Friday, April 18, 2014

I'll take my million dollars now

Okay, you did it. You sat your ass down in front of the computer, spent hours selecting just the right font, spent weeks coming up with the perfect first sentence, tortured yourself over the title then you actually sat down and wrote it. Hours upon hours, weeks upon weeks, weeks turned into months and still you kept going. You finished it. You wrote The End. Then came the real painful part, you edited until you turned it into something people would actually want to read. You made the hard decisions and cut the perfect scene that just didn't fit. You found the cover artist, you went back and forth and then finally it was done. You have an actual fully formed book and now you upload it to Amazon and you just sit back and check your bank balance because it was fucking awesome and everyone who reads it will be touched and excited and tell people they know to read it and it will sky rocket to the top of the best sellers and you'll be rolling in it.

Have you made the list already? You know, the one on what you'll spend your millions on first. A new car, pay off the house, buy a house, a trip to somewhere exotic? Did you pick the date when you're going to quit the day job you hate? Are you going to be civil and put in two weeks or just flip the bird and walk out?

I hate to burst your bubble but that isn't going to happen, not yet. Your mind flashes to the lottery winners that have been touted in the press, and those who like to brag themselves. The first big name was Amanda Hocking, USA Today even came calling, flashing the lottery winner across the internet and people took notice. But too many forget that she had three books, a trilogy that had the hook of the first book just 99 cents and the rest at 2.99 and it was at the start of the YA craze. Potter was over, what was next? Then came Twilight, now this book came out and hey, the title even sounds like Twilight. It was also when the Kindle was coming down in price and more people could afford them, so what were they supposed to buy? Ninety nine cents is pocket change, you can't get a candy bar for that, so okay, sure. (personal note I am a bitch, I know that, I've made peace with it, if you've been reading this blog you should have figured that out and made peace with it too.) Seriously, the books were nothing great, I read the first one and had no desire to continue and I swear that the success of those books stun me even today. Still, she did it, she put in the work, she had a product and she pieced it out and even if it leaves me wondering apparently it was good enough to push people to buy all three.

Three, she had three books that fit a gap and had a hook. Konrath had a back list and I don't care what he says, having once gotten past the gate keepers that said you're good enough meant something to readers who were willing to pay for his books, at some point he had been pre-approved.

So don't put the down payment on the house yet. Keep at it, build your list of books so if someone likes one they can move onto the next. I had a plan and I stuck to it and finally it's going into motion. Someone I know died, very young, I had slipped into a depression even before that and just going through the motions physically hurt. Then the person died and I realized that life is too damn short, there are no guarantees and there is no return policy. Stuck under fake lighting, dealing with fake coworkers and bullshit company lines that changed from one quarter to the next wasn't how I want to spend my life. But there's this thing called cost of living. So as I watched the book I had written that didn't fit any cute cubbyholes languish, I sat down and I made a plan. I went over hours of blogs and sales figures and I found what sells. Okay, I've read romance since I was twelve, I can do this. Six seemed to be the magic number, so the plan was for six. I had three half-written, dust them up and change them and go from there.

Those three turned into two and a year later I had seven. They are up and live and now I'm ready for my million dollars.

Not so fast, not yet. There's this thing called marketing, grabbing attention and getting the books in front of the readers. Of course they are all so fucking awesome that any person who is scanning through Amazon sees it and just knows it will be the best book they have ever read and will tell all their friends and on and on and they will sell themselves. (bitchy sarcasm can even be directed at myself) I would say the hardest part is over but there will be other hard times, my first 1 star review, the first time someone wants to talk smack, the days or weeks when none of the seven sell. No fucking joke, I have an appointment to go up from Xanax to something stronger.

Then there will be the next books, I wanted a break but they have other ideas on that. How to keep the new ones fresh while still delivering a good story. I swear sex scenes are the hardest damn things to write. Those are concerns for then and I'll deal with them as they come.

Right now I'm keeping my head down, focusing on the now and trying to work out how once again I start  a damn story in third person and now I have to change to first person. I won't lie, am thinking of a new car but only because mine is nine years old and it started making a new noise when it idles, and no I wasn't thinking of a Merc, I was actually thinking of a Prius.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Giving the reader what they want

Giving the reader what they want isn't always easy and it sometimes it just isn't possible. You aren't always going to be able to please everyone and to try can often be more detrimental to the story than anything else. I don't think you should write to only please the reader. I believe the story comes first, always, what I'm talking about is hitting the points of expectations by the reader.

If you say your book is a thriller than it should be fast-paced, full of action and not pages of thoughts, rambling dialogue and end with a whimper. I will say I don't get the Dark Romance that is popular right now, I haven't read it at all because it doesn't appeal but one thing I've noticed is that the reviews are so mixed because the expectation of what the reader was getting wasn't clearly set. These are bad reviews that could have been avoided, no one wants bad reviews but when they could have been avoided that just seems like the biggest loss of all.

One of the pluses of the indie storytelling is that the previous point by point elements to a story that were required for a publisher to give a green light aren't there anymore. One of the best stories I had read in a while is an example. I read an interview where the author had to go back and add a love interest when he was done. It was an extremely good book and the love interest, really didn't add to the story or the character. For the most part, when I'm reading a thriller or mystery, I don't find a romantic element is always necessary but maybe that's just me.

I highly recommend that after you've hit the end and before you go back into revise and edit, hit up Amazon and Goodreads and find books that are as close to what you wrote and read their reviews and find out what most please and most annoyed the readers. You can't walk up to someone ask them what they like the best and what they are looking for in a story but with reading reviews you can see it all laid out. Does your book fall into a trap that readers feel is tired and there is a way to fix in revision? Is there an element missing that readers love and could add value to your story?

There are minuses to not having a publisher green light, how do you know you are giving the reader what they want when they hit buy? I believe reading reviews will help you know that, it takes time, it can be long and tedious and a little boring but so is editing and it's the most important part of writing your story.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cover and excerpt for A Favor

“Aren’t you forgetting something, Zoe? I was promised a kiss once we got here. I’m here, I talked to Taylor, and we’ve agreed to a six-month trial. Now it’s time for you to pay up.”
My brain goes fuzzy with him so close. His hands are on my hips and he’s backing me up toward the bed. All I hear is six-month trial. “A six-month trial?”
“I told you, baby, I don’t need the money, and I’m not looking for anything permanent. If after six months it’s still going well, then I stay, if not, then I go.” He barely presses me and I’m down on the bed. “A kiss, you promised, given freely.”
I can only nod, finally admitting I’ve thought of nothing else but this moment since I woke up this morning. His soft lips are at my temple, his hands are at my waist. Closing my eyes, I offer my mouth to him, yet for a long moment there is nothing. Then his hands shift me and unzip my skirt and pull it down. I’m so caught up in the feeling of his hands sliding down my body I don’t even think of telling him no. His hands slide back up and catch in the top of my panties. With a squeeze of my ass, he pulls them off much faster than my skirt.
“A kiss for the prettiest lips I’ve ever seen. Using my tongue on the sweetest pussy I’ve ever tasted.” A whimper escapes me as his fingers edge in and then out again to play in the soft hair. My hands move into his hair, and I’m sure I’m going to stop him, except my fingers won’t obey and my voice catches in my throat.
Velvet, hot and wet, slides over the seam of lips slick with need, and at that first stroke my hips come up begging for more. His hands tighten and hold me in place for him. Whispered words of praise for my scent and taste flow up to me, and he was so very right. He could talk much dirtier than he had and it made me wetter to hear the shockingly graphic words. I open wider, needing more from him, and he gives it. Thick fingers open me for him, and his tongue delves deeply, greedy and hungry one moment then gentle and teasing the next. It isn’t enough, and then so much more than I’ve ever felt it’s almost painful, and I want more. Sam is demanding his name from me, and I gasp it again and again. He rewards me with the feeling of two thick fingers slipping inside my slick channel.
“Fuck, how the hell are you so tight? My dick is a hell of a lot thicker than two fingers, and your pussy clings to them. You like that, baby? So wet. You taste so damn good. We’ll have to go real slow when the time comes. I promise I’ll make it good for you.” His mouth is back on me, sucking deeply and moaning about how good I taste. My hips meet his fingers as they work in and out of me. I’m close to coming, and he knows it. His tongue flicks across my clitoris and I cry out, begging for my climax, but he holds me back, his tongue tasting me deeper where his fingers move in and out of me. If I wasn’t so desperate for my orgasm I would be ashamed at the slurping sounds he’s making, but I have no shame of my need for him and what he does to me.
“Please, Sam, please.” My fingers tug in his hair, but he refuses to be led. He moves his fingers out of my channel and finds a spot that has me coming off the bed as he jacks his fingers in and out over it. A few strokes, faster and faster, and then his mouth moves over and sucks my throbbing clitoris into his scorching mouth. He sucks hard while his tongue flicks over the tight flesh again and again. I come in a gush far stronger than anything I have ever felt before. It’s so strong it scares me and I scream his name, as the world fades away.
When the world comes back into focus, I’m surprised to find I’m alone, and my door is closed. Rolling over onto my side, I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad he’s gone. He did what he set out to do and proved I want him, that I can’t tell him no. He accepted the job, and I know it’s because of me. If he had gone home, it would be over, and he wouldn’t have pressed for the kiss. I know deep down that he wouldn’t have started something if he had no intention of seeing it through.
So if I let go of the fear about hurting him that Sam keeps reassuring me isn’t necessary, then I could enjoy some extremely hot and amazing sex for a while. Yet all I can think about is that he’s gone now and he only agreed to six months. At his house he said he wanted me, not a relationship, and it could take a few months to get a need as strong as he has for me out of his system. Is that his offer, six months and then he’ll walk away? I should be happy, jumping for joy, only now lying on my bed alone and still trembling from what he did to me, I feel empty. Is it my turn now to be the one who gets hurt at the end?