Saturday, April 14, 2018

Take the Time to do it Right

I was reading some reviews for the latest of an author I read awhile ago, who is an author I've read a few of and liked, well two years ago I liked her. I read a story a few months ago, the amount of dropped words, confusing sentences, and grammatical errors stunned me. Wait, she has a publisher. I've seen her post on Facebook about edits to and from her editor, so she has an editor. At the time I shrugged, but I didn't even get half way through a book I spent five bucks on. Disappointed I simply made a mental note not to buy her again unless I read the sample first. The reviews from the reader made it clear the errors from the book I bought several months ago are still there.  

The thing about this author is she writes fast, which is great really, the readers love it when authors write fast. But it shouldn't be at the expense to the story, to the quality of what you're putting out. Apparently this author is writing too fast, and it's hurting her and her stories. A reader spent money on you, they bought your book with excitement, they opened your book with anticipation as they snuggled into their perfect reading position on their comfy reading spot and they are looking forward to what you wrote. That is fucking huge to me, to know I have readers looking forward to me, (it also is as scary as fuck-the thought of letting them down) so in an effort not to let them down, I'm going to do everything I can just like I do every time I write to give the reader the best story I can. I'm going to take my time and give my characters the best story they deserve

At first, it was the excitement of the new release. Then as I dug into the story I had a hangover from Leo, this new guy is sooo not Leo. The whole time since I created the word doc I'm hanging onto the Amelia of His Under Contract, unable to separate that Amelia from this Amelia, which seems normal. She shouldn't become an entirely different person but she has changed, it will be three years since the end of His Under Contract, things have changed, shit went down. But at the same time in order to focus on this story, I needed it to be Amelia's story not just a continuation of Ethan and Holly's story. So, It, it was being able to focus on this story and get Amelia's story out in the month of April as planned. It's not going to happen. 

Last week the writing wasn't easy and I was getting frustrated with myself. The story changed for the third time but this time, I like this one, I like this guy a whole hell of a lot. No, he's not Leo. He's his own foul-mouthed, cocky, arrogant, asshole self with a sense of humor that has me laughing out loud. This Amelia, she's grown-kind of-she's working through struggles she never thought she would face, she's evolving whether she wants to or not. She's becoming who she is meant to be, letting go of who she was told to be. I'm not in love with her yet, she has more work to put in. I do know over this past week, it's coming easier now. These two are surprising me-so weird when that happens when I think my character is one thing then he opens his mouth and something comes out and I'm like what the fuck because I was not expecting that. So I'm here to catch the words and make them pretty. 

I'm sorry Amelia is late but she's coming. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A little challenge is good for writing

In the shift to write to market it was a slight veer from my 'normal' alpha who I don't think needs to be an asshole. Then again as I discussed the asshole component with a few people, what is an asshole really? What some people view as an asshole others might not. Stern, demanding, rude versus dick there's a whole lot of room for interpretation. It isn't an easy line to walk, there will be times I step over the line. All I can do is hope my readers don't hate me for it. 

When I sat down to write an asshole in mind, at first is was sooo hard. Writing Ethan was easy after a binge of Suits it came hard and fast without a whole lot of thought. This time though there was a lot of cursing, a lot of lost sleep, and damn the self-doubt was nearly crippling. The first draft was fucking painful. Then when it was done as I read over it, I was shockingly really happy with the story and I was kind of falling hard for this asshole alpha. Even though the first draft was ugly the bones were beautiful. 

For the record, I never phone in my writing, it's always something I do with careful deliberation yet there are habits writers form for better or worse. Patterns we write that sometimes we don't even see. In writing something different those habits and patterns weren't there anymore. I had to cut a  new path, and I loved it. I really do think the challenge helped make me a better writer. I'm hella proud of His on Demand and as I write my new one, because he's such a different type-not a billionaire that it is hard and I love and hate it even more. It's also making me stretch for more, for better. I'm actually excited about this new challenge. He's a charming, arrogant, asshole alpha and he makes me smile just thinking about him. Is it all asshole alphas from here on out? I don't know but I do know for now I love what I'm writing and I hope my readers do too. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Writing to market what it means and how to do it

Writing to market is a phrase that gets used a lot like A LOT and it is supposedly the gold everyone needs to mine in order to make all the money. There are books that seem daunting to get into. Here's the thing, it isn't that hard and should be able to be broken down in a simple blog post.

Here's writing to market in a snapshot: 
You know you want to write mystery but aren't sure what is the best for you to put your time into, you are open to just about anything so click on Bestsellers-> Mystery, Thriller, and suspense->Mystery-> Now under Mystery there are African American, Collections & Anthologies, Cozy (blood and violence takes place off the page), Hard-Boiled, Historical, International Mystery & Crime, LGBT, Police Procedurals, Private Investigators, Series, Traditional Detectives, Woman Sleuths. 

So say that you want to do Hard-Boiled. Now that you have the top 100 up, you then look at all those in the top 100, other than .99 cents, disregard those. Then start clicking on those and look at the blurbs, make a study of them then click on the also boughts under that, again disregarding .99 cent sellers. 
What are the blurbs about?  Snarky women, drug deals gone bad, quirky characters, DEA agents, CIA agents, FBI. This isn't a quick fix, you will need to dig in deep and see what all these have in common and how best to write to this common thread. Then you have to decide if this is something you really want to write and if you can do it well. It won't be enough to throw some keywords together and slap them on a couple of hundred pages. 

I'm not advising anyone to sit down and look at the best sellers and write to market. If you don't love what you're writing it will show. The problem with writing to market is you're facing even more competition, hello you're looking at the best selling books so you have to bring your A game there is no phoning this shit in. My best advice is think of what you want to write, go to the best sellers in that genre and see how you can make what you want to write or already write most like those on the best seller list. You don't have to hit every single point, but at least two out of three. 

Writing to market isn't always easy, there are people who think it's the ultimate sin. I wasn't enthusiastic about it myself.  Then I looked at my sales, I couldn't understand why if my reviews were so good I didn't have the sales to back it up. I had ok sales, not bad but not great. Then I released His Under Contract after a binge watch of Suits, I was awash with the hot angst Harvey brought on *sigh* he's such a hot asshole. So I wrote it without thinking about  it really, then it kind of blew up. Huh, I didn't see anything that much different, he's an alpha and I love writing alpha so that's the night I looked at the also boughts under His Under Contract hmm, wait a fucking minute. Okay, it's not just that he's an alpha it's that he's an asshole, manwhore, alpha. Seriously? Really, that's what women want? 

So, then I spent days, actual motherfucking days on the best seller list with the best sellers and their also boughts and sonofabitch, it is the manwhore, asshole, alpha. That's what women want to read in the genre I want to write in. Okay, even though I had Amelia's book half-written her guy isn't a asshole, manwhore so I put her book down and came up with His on Demand, completely pulled it out of my ass, I have no idea where it came from. It sold 353 books in  7 days, (Kindle only it is higher but the hard numbers aren't in from Draft2digital) sure yes at .99 cents but I've never had those kind of sales before on a new release at .99 cents. While I do believe the few newsletter promos I did really helped I'm more certain than ever it's because he's a manwhore, asshole. Because my also boughts tell me so. 

So I shared this info in a group for writers who are trying to make writing their full time job and people wanted to take a shit all over me for writing to market and how they will never sell out because their artistic soul won't let them. To which I say, Austin Energy won't accept my artistic soul as payment to keep my lights on. I'm not writing anything a whole lot different than what I was writing before, I write alphas, I love them. I personally think that a guy doesn't have to be an asshole to be an alpha. I'm also not really a lover of the manwhore BUT I read them too, and when a writer does them well I'll read that shit all damn day. It is a little harder  to write because there is a fine line between writing an asshole who is still likable enough and redeemable for him to be both a little hated as well as loved and also how to figure out how to make it so my h likes him enough to put with his asshole ways. 

At the same time I liked the new challenge, don't become complacent in your writing, a little challenge makes you work harder, makes you write better. Even though His on Demand came out of nowhere and Leo isn't the kind of guy I would normally write, by the time I  was almost done with the first draft I was in love with him and by the time I was on my last edit I LOVED their story, I'm so proud of it and it's in my top 3 favorites of everything I've written. 

So  there's writing to market in a nutshell. The good and the bad. It's not easy, none of this is. Mine for gold all you want but if you aren't mining with the right tools: good cover, good edit, and of course good writing to back it up there won't be any cashing in on anything. 

Good luck and happy writing 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Filter words, yet another way to be a better writer

Before a beta reader flaked on me she actually did give me something to be aware of. Filter words, I had no idea what in the world she was talking about. I went hunting to find out what in the world a filter word is. 
A filter word is something that goes between an action and the reader. 

Some Examples:

(with filter phrase) I see the bee dance around the flower. 
(without filter phrase) The bee dances around the flower. 
(with filter phrase) I feel angry. 
(without filter phrase) I am angry. 
(with filter phrase) I hear a cry from the next room. The baby has woken up. 
(without filter phrase) A cry from the next room alerts me the baby has woken up.

As you can see although there isn't a huge difference, it makes the impact is there. One seems a bit rough, the other more refined. 

To help you out here are some filter words to be aware of: 

to see

to hear

to think

to decide 

to watch


to decide

sound like 

to notice

to be able to 

to realize

to wonder

to touch

to seem 

Just another something to watch out for when you are editing. 

Happy writing!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Twitter tips

Tips and etiquette that if you follow just might help on Twitter

I'm wasting time on Reddit/Self-publish and for what has to be the tenth time I see someone ask what's the deal with Twitter. It didn't work for them, should they keep trying, do they really need it? Every single time I know all the ways they have dropped a pretty important ball. So I'm just going to say, yes-Twitter is important and it's FREE and learn how to use it. 

1. DO NOT tweet your book over and over on the hour every hour. If I have shrugged and followed you, I will unfollow you. A few (2-3)times a day, MAX. 

 2. Retweet other people for fucks sake. This is not that hard, and don't tweet them musing on the peanut butter sandwich they're making. If they are posting a giveaway or something about their book retweet that, think of it this way, would you rather have someone retweet you bitching about traffic or the one of two times you'll tweet about your book today? It's so fucking not rocket science. 

3. Sure, tweet about traffic or your musings on Kim K.-if you must- but try and keep it as professional as you would say at work. It's okay if you joke with a coworker about the Biebs but you don't share every little thought-unless it's so damned witty you just can't help yourself, fine. Be your authentic self but there's ways you can do that without letting it all hang out. And as this about attracting and connecting with readers, really all of the noise in your head doesn't need to be shared with one and all on Twitter.

4. Say thank you for the retweet, it's polite but if you ever want me to retweet you again-return the favor and don't tweet me bitching about my hair. Again, you know which tweet you want others to read, if I tweeted your promo check me out and retweet my book or promo. It'll take you three minutes tops and I just might tweet you again. 

5. This a slippery thing for me and I admit I feel bad that I don't. People out there thank their followers but I don't because I have had to unfollow so many people that I don't auto follow back and it seems more rude to thank someone for following when I know I'm not going to follow them. If you are another erotica or romance writer then sure, I'll usually follow. If it's a blogger or someone who's bio says they like to read then I'll follow. But I'm not following the book quote peoples-my feed is full enough so I'm not going to follow. Also, those people who never ever retweet and are only following me because I retweet-nope not following you or tweeting your ass, it's called karma. 

6. Follow the writers in your genre, if you're writing science fiction do not follow and retweet erotica authors, this is the oddest thing I've seen happen. This might explain why no one is paying attention to your tweets. 

7. Follow bloggers, this will help you see what other writers in your genre are doing and what does and doesn't appeal to you. Tweet them as well, if there comes a time when you would like to ask them to host a spotlight or giveaway this will go a long way. 

8. Think of Twitter as a big party, if all you do is talk to about yourself and don't let others be heard your circle will grow smaller and smaller. If you're off in the corner not talking to anyone or even trying then you're not going to have a good time. 

Why I am not following or retweeting you back on Twitter

Interesting how I went batshit crazy while writing and editing for a week and barely opened Twitter only to find I'd gained several new followers. Because I know how important Twitter is and an important tool I did still do my best to retweet people who were kind of enough to retweet me because that's what I do. If a fellow writer retweets me I will retweet them (BTW pinned posts are great if you want people to retweet you easily) any way I do this because it's the right thing to do HOWEVER if I don't here's why.

Yes I tag my stuff EARTG for erotica which yes basically porn for most people, lots of shorts and reading one handed. Yet for me my writing is erotic romance, for me I have to be able to take away all the sex scenes and there still has to be a solid, heartfelt story or I don't write. That's the difference that I seem to be having a problem with on some people who follow or retweet me. I get it, it's hard and you want to do something to set yourself apart from others and do what you can to catch people's attention. But if you are tweeting pictures where tits and underbits are hanging out then no, I will not retweet you. If you are tweeting your cover or pictures with writing that talk about a pussy or cock or fucking then no I will not retweet you. There's a difference between sex and sexy and that line isn't the same for everyone, for me I don't think it's that hard to tell. But hey that's just me.

If you only tweet about yourself or your books or quotes then NO I will not follow you back because all you want is for me to retweet your stuff without you returning the favor. This isn't rocket science, it's pretty basic if you want followers and you want people to tweet you then tweet them back and if someone has been kind enough to tweet you and follow you then return the favor. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Because you can, what will you do?

A few weeks ago Terry Goodkind got a hair up his ass and in a childish snit posted his cover and encouraged people to belittle it and shame it. Was he pissed because he really thought it was that  bad or was he pissed because he didn't get his way? He says one, I personally think it's another. Not all writers get a say in their covers-one of the many  benefits of being indie. 
Then again it's a double edged sword getting the say on your cover. As much as I love my cover artist there have been a few times she came to me with cover ideas that made me wonder if she were drinking while she suggested them. Did I call  her out as a bad cover artist? Did I take my unhappiness with her cover suggestion publicly? Hell no. Many covers use stock photos and because of that many covers  can look the same, I have two covers that I tell myself often I will redo because the covers are similar to others out there. Did I slam my artist for using a stock photo so popular that only a week later I saw it used elsewhere? No. Did I accuse my artist of stealing the cover? Did anyone else feel the need to accuse me or my artist of stealing the cover? No. 
The internet with all its anonymity is not an invisibility cloak, the  things you do and say have an impact when they hit their  mark, they leave something behind whether you see it or not. People are judged not just by the things you do when people  are looking, more so by the things you do when you think  no one can see you. 
A young woman was told to kill herself the other day. Her cover art was supposedly something she copied, stole, what the fuck ever of another artist. That artist leaped onto her Facebook page and whipped up a frenzy of anger, malicious diatribe and just plain hate at this young woman that it didn't seem like anyone of them actually knew. Even if it were true that she somehow straight up jacked someone else's work  what was  said to her, to kill herself, that people were coming for her, none of that bullshit was 'fair' or 'right' or 'deserved'. The other cover artist bears responsibility for the cyber bullying that pushed a woman to attempt suicide. The only  good thing about this is that she didn't succeed. 
A, up until that point, well respected author knew what he was doing when he publicly pissed all over someone's work and invited others to do the same. There is quite frankly not a single good excuse for what he did. What he did has a huge impact on someone's livelihood, I  guarantee  you  if someone had said the same thing about his books he would pull the pacifier out of his mouth and cry about it yet he could barely bring himself to apologize for what he did because in his tiny little mind that he was unhappy made what he did right because he was  right. 
Right, fair, valid. All words we pull out to support the  reason why. The thing is you don't need any of those things, the  answer to why is because. Just that, because. Because you can so you did. Because you can make someone's life  miserable by shaming them publicly you did. Because you are miserable in your own tiny life you felt the need to try and make someone else miserable in their life so you did. Because you think the internet is a super secret weapon you used it to reach out and hurt someone  else to hurt as badly as you hurt. What if because you're better than all this you take  a deep breath and move on with your life when someone wrongs  you? What if instead of using your invisibility cloak to hurt others you help them?

Because you can, what will you do?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bring your characters to life

Are you worried you can't really see your characters? Worried they seem a bit like card board cut outs?

Some tips to add depth. 

1.) Create a bio on each character who appears in more than twenty five percent of your story. 

2.) Answer 20 questions on each character. Small things like favorite color, favorite flower, to bigger things like favorite memory, favorite food, do they have a favorite sports team?

3.) Write a short story on an event/something that happened in your character's past. At least 500 words no longer than 3,000

4.) Write a in one day of the character before the story starts, have them move around do grocery shopping, walk their dog, feed their cat, interact with their BFF, their mother, etc. Again, at least 500 words no more than 3,000

5.) Have another character in the story describe them, from that character's point of view. 

6.) Three flaws and three awesome characteristics, cusses too much, quick to anger, snaps their gum when they chew, is very unorganized, is a neat freak, is a gossip. Do they see their flaws? Do they want to change their flaws? Is super smart but not an asshole about it, has a way with animals, has a way with kids, is an idiot whisperer, always cheerful but not in a pollyanna way, can function without coffee, great cook. Do they see how awesome they are or are they humble like that? 

7.)  Give them a playlist, songs they would listen to while they work, workout, read, plays in the background of their life.