Saturday, May 30, 2015

Keeping the stories new and different, is it what the readers want?

An ad pops up on my Facebook feed for an author with four books out and I looked at it and rolled my eyes. The second book was a continuation and another book had pretty much the same title. My tiny mind dismissively thought, 'Can't come up with something original, too bad.' Thinks the dumbass who reads an author who writes basically the same three stories over and over and I've read pretty much every single one. The same alpha with the pudgy blonde hiding her smarts and is a total knock-over for the guy until an over the top dick move gives her a backbone and then the trouble starts. Huh. So why the hell am I rolling my eyes when I not  only read the same author over and over I regularly re-read the books to the point that one of them is falling apart. 

Then I thought about why I read them and it's mostly the reason I give and that's because there is so much crap out there-yes I said it and no I won't name names lest someone gives mine-that when I find a writer I like I stick to them like glue. If I find a writer I like then I love being able to trust they are going to give me the same great writing when I'm in the mood for that genre then there's the real honest reason-I want a new take on the story I've loved over and over again. How can I roll my eyes when I'm the kind of reader who would like what the writer is doing the most?

This was actually one of the things I thought of and considered when I started writing. There wasn't a huge plan, I had several story ideas and it was just to write what I had. Then when the stories came they were different because it isn't just the billionaire alpha male that a woman wants and thinks of as sexy and appealing. My women aren't all super skinny blonde, although a few of them are, then there are the curvy size tens up to the plus sizes although they all have a backbone and can stand up for themselves. 

So after an hour of over-thinking maybe I should be doing the same story with a slight twist, is mixing it up hurting me, am I really giving the reader what they want?

I finally stopped rocking back and forth and got off the floor and threw myself down on the bed in order to have my breakdown more comfortably. My knee nudges my laptop and the story I'm working on flashes and prods my ass to get back to work on it. It isn't a repeat of any I've done before and it's ready to come out and be told and there's my answer. I write the story waiting to come out and that should be my only consideration. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Throw out the rules when you're writing

This isn't exactly hard for me as I, in general, am not so great at following 'the rules' unless I want to. Who makes up these rules anyway? Who gives them the right to say, to do so? Do these people follow their own rules? For all those questions alone, I pretty much do what the fuck I want. I'm not a bitch-unless someone makes me-about it. I'm kind to small children, animals, and stupid people (but not ignorant). I don't attempt to be obnoxious but I also don't apologize for it either. 

Here's the problem with the rules when it comes to writing, writing is hard enough to do without adding all this bullshit of not writing a particular way-first, second, or third person or using particular words, no prologues and if you are dumb enough to do a prologue then you need an epilogue, no adverbs, don't open with weather, and a half ton of other bullshit. Yes, bullshit. All those rules-fuck'em. 

Write the damn story, don't stop to fix your switch from first to second or find another word to take the place of the fucking adverb. If your main characters meet cute in the down pour of a sudden spring deluge that has trapped them in a bus stop enclosure then fucking go with it. Get it out, all of it, the scenes that have been wandering around as you found the time before you could sit down, the snatch of dialogue that seemed so important it repeated as if on a reel and you just had to write it down. Ignore the rules, ignore the fact that the scene feels clunky even as you write it-write it anyway. 

My stories writes themselves and most stories do. While I often have a large part of the story in my mind before I sit down that just means I already know what I'm supposed to be typing when I get to that scene. Three times I've started in third person because I've been told over and over books are better in third person. My main character said- fuck that, this is my story and I've telling it my way. I do not argue with my characters because then they get bitchy and stop talking to me. Because I'm not completely in driver's seat for the most part the story, even if it has already run through my mind at least twice before I sit down to write because if I sit down too soon it just disappears like a mirage. I can kind of remember what it looked like but not always what it sounded like and duplicating, not gonna happen. 

I've heard other writers use the same expression, 'vomiting the first draft' and as gross as it sounds that's pretty much it. You have all this stuff you have to get out and it comes out this formless mass that you really just want to toss in the trash but you can't. There's this wonderful, horrifying, tear-inducing thing called revision. That's where you take that mass and try to make it into something solid. That's where you figure out that you might have wanted to be first person but all these other characters are talking so nope it's third, Well fuck, if you don't add a five page prologue you'll waste forty pages on backstory for all these characters and no you don't need an epilogue because everyone but the lone good guy came out alive. The adverb thing, don't even get me started on the adverb thing. Does it look and sound good? Do you have the abilities to write a better sentence without it? Okay fine do it but don't for a second think that the use of an adverb will have your reader tossing it and moving onto the next book because it just plain doesn't fucking make a difference. My one word of caution is, moderation. In a fifty thousand word story about a hundred or so adverbs won't make the slightest fucking difference. Ten adverbs for every one hundred words-pull out a thesaurus and look at the structure of your sentence. 

I rewrite at least three times. I vomit, throw myself onto my bed and weep from relief in a little ball. I try to let the story sit for a day or two, wait you forgot that scene, where did that scene come from and does it make sense that it's there? Then I go back and edit as I write, add the scene, cut a scene, add the multitude of dropped words and on and on. Then pretty quickly I print it out. Oh fucking shit, it's worse then I thought it was. My red pen bleeds then I go back to the computer and fix the stuff I found. Now it's more or less jello but still moving around too much. Then I print it out again and here's the part that can be most annoying. I use the find feature and type in- that, and, just, and but. Those words *sigh* I use them like I'm paying for words and they are only a penny. I do the find on the computer and write down the number at the top and then my goal is to cut that in half and the others by at least a hundred times. After that it's back to the computer. 

Writing is hard and there are no fucking short cuts to completing something that isn't shit. I have honestly thought in the past few months that I wish I could be happier doing something else that wasn't so hard. But there isn't, even if I didn't write the stories they would still come and make me crazy until I wrote them down. Yet, when I'm done, when I feel like I got it right all the tears, doubt, and frustration is completely worth it. 

In the past I've said rules are for people who need to be told what to do and how to do it. There's no paint by the numbers in writing. It's a blank page and you fill it with a story. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Editors, not just there to cut your words

While I did know an editor was important to clean up my dropped commas I was more afraid (yes, afraid) of my story getting cut to shreds. My only point of reference was the stories of Stephen King hating his editor and his stories being gutted-in his opinion. I already write lean, I didn't want anyone cutting my words. Still it was clear I needed someone to go in and fix-hopefully without cutting anything. So I bit the bullet and did it. 

Although it was a painful experience to see all the things I've done wrong. While one of them did the job it felt like he simply punched the clock on it and hey that's really fine and completely understandable. Although he said he was good with editing erotic romance the same way you don't want a beta reader who only reads romance to read your sci-fi novel I really don't think it was a positive experience for me because it wasn't really his genre and he could have quite frankly cared less. As a guy-I get it. However, there was also the problem that I felt like he didn't respect the story for what it was and that came across pretty clear-more than a few times. By the time it was done I was relieved, I felt as if I got kicked across the shins and I was ready for it to be over. 

And still I would use him again. Why? No I'm not secretly a masochist. Because despite the fact he didn't respect the story, and his writing style compared to mine wasn't even close (I swear to GOD he tagged my dialogue over and over with he said she said which was completely unfucking necessary and I wanted to scream-sorry). Yes he cut my words-descriptions of what my characters were wearing and I actually had to explain yes the reader wants to know what the characters are wearing. No I don't accept the changes. Yet even with all that, he did something every author needs from time to time-he told me my baby was ugly and he told me how to make it pretty and when the several times came that I didn't like how he told me to make it pretty I had to take a new look at what I was writing and how to make it better in my voice and my way. 

The first book I wrote took over a year to write and six months of editing-now I question if it was truly edited after all of this-by the time I was done I was sick to death of it. I didn't want to look at it anymore, I was done. Three print outs and two red pens had taken my adoration of all my pretty words and purple prose into disdain and revulsion. That sentence is too long, this is redundant, that is overindulgent, why the hell do you mention this and then never bring it up again. It wasn't pretty but when I was done it was what it needed to be. 

All of that said my other editor, I knew she not only respected what I wrote it was clear she liked it. I didn't think that because of ego it was because it was clear in her edits and her notes. Her writing style might be different but she made her suggestions exactly what I would have written. Did I take everyone of her suggestions? No, but the ones I didn't were extremely minor and just me being a brat. 

I feel like she not only made my stories better she made me a better, more thoughtful writer and any way I can grow I'm happy to take. One thing I hadn't expected was gaining confidence and feeling like I have a new ally when I write. There's a story I've been writing since October-yep October. I start and stop, torture myself with thoughts it will never be good enough. The reason why is it will likely cause a bit of a buzz-I talk about indie authors and models and the relationship between the readers and the erotic romances written and I guess you could say I tweak the nose just a tad. My hope is people will chuckle and blush a bit and enjoy the story but then again not everyone has a sense of humor and it could be taken the wrong way. A few times I've just said no put it away. Yet I have over thirty thousand words and fuck I don't want to throw it away. 

Slowly as I got story after story back from my editor I just knew, if I wrote it she could help me make it the best it could be. Could people bitch about my thoughts on the almost ridiculous lengths writers go to out dirty talk each other? It's true but they won't be able to mock the sentence structure or be annoyed at a dropped word. If I'm going to get whipped I want it to be for the right reasons. So now I'm working on it and for once I'm confident and happy as I do. 

Because editors aren't just there to cut your words they are there to give you better words and help you tell a better story and I finally found that. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Why having no life can be painful

Story is waiting, laptop open with damn blinking cursor sitting at the end of a hard fought to finish sentence. Taking a sip of water I'm lazy and some spills down my shirt. Damn, why is this shirt so tight? Oh yeah, it's ten years old and I am not the same size I was ten years ago. My eyes go to Gandy on my screensaver, gorgeous with his six pack abs.
 I don't know if I ever had a six pack, Shit, didn't I promise I was going to start working out? I haven't, ooh I know I remember when I lived with this body builder dude (sadly no sex involved, just a roommate) and when he started training a chick he had her start with a hundred crunches every day. It was a way to remind her of all the hard work and they were relatively easy even for people not used to working out. Hmm...I'm not doing anything. The last sentence sucked, I'm not going anywhere with this. How long could a hundred crunches take?

Okay, down on the floor. How do I do these again? Okay, ten down not that bad. Twenty...fuck where's my inhaler. Don't be such a big baby, breathe deep keep going. Thirty okay, slow down this isn't so bad. Forty, I'm almost half way done. Fifty, cramp of agony OMFG cramp of agony. Whimper and flail about as I try to uncramp. Water, dear god I need water. Half the water bottle gone. Inhaler puffed. Fuck, I was half way there. Come on, no pain no gain...

I'm laying on the floor with my hands behind my head for too long to admit to. Alright pussy, get to it. Sixty, okay this isn't so bad. Seventy look at that not even breathing hard. (Although it might have to do with me giving a five count after my head hit the floor before doing another.) Eighty, look at that, almost there. Ninety, water-I need water. Cramp? No, oh thank god. Just ten more to go, you can do it. 

One hundred, Oh god I did it. I really did it. That is so awesome. I look to Facebook, maybe Twitter to post then nearly pass out on bed huffing and puffing. Okay, maybe later. 

Two hours later and I've written about a thousand words and every time I move I'm reminded of the hundred crunches, woo hoo. I did it. Okie doke bed time. 

The next morning is errands, I'm feeling good, walking tall and straight. I consider sharing my hundred crunches achieved a few times as I go about my day but I stop myself and simply smile smugly. Once I'm home the words start  flowing and before I know it, it's after one in the morning. Damn, I wanted to do the crunches again. Tomorrow I promise myself. 

I wake slowly and breathe deep. Holy fucking shit!!! The breath is trapped in my chest. What the hell? I attempt to move to get out of bed but pain is blinding, shooting from my lower abdomen out in an angry buzz of warning not to move or it will get worse. What's the matter with me? What could I have possibly done to suffer-oh shit. The hundred crunches. No way, I felt fine yesterday and crunches are lower abdomen why does it hurt to breath deep. Shit, I have to pee, now-like right fucking now. I start to push myself up and the pain is so bad I almost piss myself then and there. Oh hell no. Lowering myself back on the bed I blindly think of the best way to get out of bed quickly with the minimum of pain. 

Putting my left foot up I push myself off the end of the bed and my feet hit the floor. Ow, ow, ow is all I can mutter as I go into the bathroom. Thirty seconds later, I'm relieved and calling myself a long list of names that call my intelligence into question. Okay, I'll make breakfast and pop some painkillers and it should take the edge off. Moving to clean up, pain explodes, that was bad. Really bad. Deep breathes you big baby. You can do this, move fast don't scream and do it. Whimpering, I bite my lip so badly I'm pretty sure it's bleeding. 

Now to get up. Oh come on, it can't be this difficult. But it is, it really is. Tears running down my face I wash my hands and walk stiffly and very carefully to the kitchen. I drop some toast and pour out more over the counter pain meds than I'm sure is safe. Forcing the toast down I pop the painkiller and then hobble to the chair in front of the television. I sit there for hours although the medicine helps, it only knocks it down to a throbbing nine instead of a twelve. 

For three days I hurt so badly at least once a day I want to bawl like a baby. 

And that's the reason why when I want dick around and not write I'll be on Facebook or Twitter. How was your week?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Visits from the little green monster

It's bound to happen, it's actually pretty normal I would think. You get a hold of a book that everyone is screaming is awesome you read it and go ummm... WTF because mine is so much better than this and it hovers at the one hundred thousand sold ranking. Or there is that one writer who has so many errors you want to fling your Kindle across the room in exasperation but no one bitches about her and you're sitting there with the grammer, punctuation nazi writing 2 star reviews on your ass. (BTW I love how when people write those their one paragraph always has at least one error-so you can't get it right in one paragraph and you're gonna bag on several hundred paragraphs that have six or seven errors? SERIOUSLY??) Sorry, yeah it's a little annoying. However I will admit after getting back my stories and seeing the red that was on every single page the thought of cutting my throat and letting it bleed all over my computer flashed-holy shit what had I done and would I ever get anyone willing to read anything I wrote again. Yet then I went back and read and even as mistake ridden as they had been I was once again reminded that mistakes or not there were readers who were kind and patient enough that they went from one story to another and I hadn't had as many vicious rants about errors that I would have expected for how bad it actually had been as I read through them. So, I could be called one of those annoying ones, I had errors and still there were people willing to overlook them and come back for other titles. If someone had read me they would have been shocked, annoyed, and maybe yes pissed that I had good reviews and their book the one they did pay to have an editor go over was languishing in the hundred thousand spot of sellers. It can be difficult, especially when you worked so hard and aren't seeing the results you were hoping for. 

Yet that's no reason to let jealousy cloud your plan and you do need one-please say you have one-even if it's just keep writing. Maybe that's the best plan there is, to keep writing and block out all the other stuff. Don't worry about what someone else is doing, worry about you. You have no idea what it took for that person to succeed, maybe they've been writing for ten more years than you, maybe they wrote another genre and have fans from that, maybe after toiling for more years than you they just flat deserve it. Could you're writing never take off, yes and the question will be will you have regretted the time and effort you put into it? If the answer is yes then you aren't doing it for the right reason. 

Personally, I think jealousy-a little bit-can be a good thing. It can kind of prod you to look at what you're doing with new eyes, are you doing the absolute best, is there something you could be doing but aren't, maybe you can take a look at the other person and get some pointers. I grew up with three brothers and I have always been a competitor, it wasn't reward based praise I needed it was, ha! I beat your ass. (the therapist said it wasn't a big deal, I had bigger issues to deal with) 

As I mentioned in a previous post what stuck a prod in my ass was seeing someone do well and all I could think was, no fucking way because I could do sooo much better than that. 

We all have our buttons that get pushed. I think the most important thing is what do we do when they get pushed?