About Moira Callahan

Moira Callahan is an Erotic Romance author writing for Evernight Publishing. She currently writes Contemporary M/F stories with an eye on the future as she stretches into other genres.

Rip the blinders off #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Welcome to another Friday post folks. Gotta say, this week was better than last. My back, and hip are doing much better which makes me a much happier camper. The fact I can sit for more than ten minutes at a go makes everything easier – including writing. Today’s post is going to be some realities that, while covered before in various posts, need to be covered again. After all, no one considering becoming a published author should go into things blind. And many authors need a reminder. That being said, everything below is my personal view point, and/or opinion and no one else has had say in what I’ve posted.

Writing a book is easy. It damn well shouldn’t be. Yes, some stories come easier than others, but this is something that will be representing you for decades to come. Do you really want something out there you whipped up in an hour?

Every good idea’s already been done to death. Not by you it hasn’t. Every author in the world could write every fairy tale (for example) and not one of them would be the same as the others. Because not one author is the same as any other author. We all have our own views, our own thoughts, our own perceptions that make our fairy tale unique.

Being a full time author is the only way to go. If you can feasibly manage it, absolutely but most new authors (and even some long time authors) can’t. You need to be realistic, and do the math because you will NOT be making any money to live off of in the first year. Buy a cup of coffee, or get a decent meal – sure, live off, not even if you hit the NYT best sellers list. That first year sees more money going out than staying in your pocket. Which leads into a huge myth….

It’s an easy way to make tons of money. Stop right there. If you are in this only to make money then you need to reevaluate immediately. An author is an artist. Their art, the words they use to tell their vision, is a development that takes time, thought, and refinement. Pumping out works just to make money is what has caused a flooded market, and takes money away from those of us who are putting our hearts, and souls into every book we create.

There’s always ways to make it to the #1 spot. There are. Moral, and immoral ways. Moral ways are doing the work, putting out the best product possible, and advertising until your fingers fall off – all to gain the purchases that push you to the top. Immoral ways include “gaming the system”. This involves things like key word titles, specific tags that pull your book into nearly every genre on a site, and several other scummy tricks that take thousands of dollars away from hard working, honest authors. Don’t take the easy way out, in the end it hurts us all, but it will give you a black mark you’ll never get rid of.

Using pieces of other authors works. This is called, say it with me, PLAGIARISM. Or if that’s too tough for you to say, try THEFT or PIRACY. Yup, you got it. While you may “love” how an author wrote a particular section, use it for inspiration to make your own work better, don’t go and steal it in part or whole. For one thing, readers always can tell when they’ve read something previously even if it’s in an entirely different context. Particular words, turns of phrases are an entirely different beast – every author picks up something from their favorite reads and incorporates it into their write. But decent, law abiding authors do not EVER steal copyrighted material from another author. Can you say LAWSUIT? You will if you ever do this, and it could well cost you more than you have. Trust me, there have been several cases where a reader outed an author for their devious theft of materials. And they will never, ever write or earn a living again because of it.

Pseudonyms are good/bad. Many authors write under their own names. Authors, like myself for example, write under a pseudonym. I personally do it because of my day job work environment, and the requirement to keep my writing very separate from my real life existence. Other authors use a pseudonym because of family issues, privacy issues, or just because that’s what they’ve decided to do. The choice is entirely yours, and not something anyone else can decide for you. If you are comfortable with everyone you’ve ever known from diapers to today knowing you write whatever genre you’re going to be writing, use your own name. But whichever way you go, always keep your real life social media 100% separate from your author social media if you have young children. I say this only as a safety measure, and the fact authors can attract some weird (Misery by Stephen King anyone?) followers.

Publisher vs. going Indie. Again, this is something that only you can decide on. Each has their pros and their cons. See Jules Dixon’s post from Monday this week for some info on that, but do your own research. Some people, like myself, don’t have the time in the day to be an Indie author – you are literally responsible for everything. Others have the multi tasking gene to the extreme and thrive in such an environment. To each their own.

Social media options. There are many, and again this will be your personal preference what you do and do not get involved with. Facebook is a good start, and gives you the options of Pages. Twitter has it’s pros and cons, just like everything else out there. Do some research, talk to other authors in your position (publisher or Indie), and figure out works best for you. You can always get rid of, or take on more as you go along and discover what’s benefiting your career.

And last, but not least, one last myth that needs to be dispelled.

Making it to the New York Times (NYT) best seller list. For 99.5% of authors this is a fantasy. Do we all wish we could see our names on their list? Abso-fucking-lutely! It’s a huge coup for an author. But the reality is that in an over saturated market it is harder now than it was twenty years ago to get there. The other harsh reality you need to swallow is that you likely need to have an agent, be with a traditional (aka: paperback/hard cover print first) publisher, and have your editor on call at all hours to even get close. E-publishers aren’t in the same hemisphere as the traditional publishers. It’s much easier to get your book published through an e-publisher, like Evernight, but becoming a best seller is a lot harder. And being an Indie is even tougher. But nothing is impossible, and it’s always good to hold onto at least one dream no matter what it might be. It’s what keeps us motivated, writing, and creating new and fantastic stories each and every day.

Best piece of advise I have ever been given – never stop writing. Pretty simple, and yet some day’s it’s the most challenging thing ever.

Dreamers Wanted #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

OPENINGS AVAILABLE:

For individuals who can let loose the tight coils of reality, to fly beyond the mundane into the wildly fantastical, and who are not afraid to stretch beyond what they know. Experience is not required as everyday is a knew learning experience. Bettering oneself is encouraged. Strength of self, and a sense of humor a must. Apply today!

Welcome to Friday one and all. Hope you’ve all had a fabulous week. Personally I cannot wait for the weekend to kick in. Like our fellow Quiller Raven I’ve had a rather painful week, it (quite literally) has been a pain in my ass. Sitting, laying down, walking, and several other movements that I normally do in my everyday subconsciously have had me gritting my teeth. Raven, oh dear sweet Raven, I feel your pain – PS: Feel better soon!

But enough of that yeah? Onto the post!

While the ad at the top of this post isn’t real, it should be. Especially in this day and age. We live in a world that is too serious, too focused on being offended by every breath some stranger never before met takes, and that seems to have a giant stick up it’s rump.

Authors are part of a unique breed. We were either born as, or encouraged as we grew to be dreamers. While many might accuse us that we live with our heads in the clouds, and in some cases this could possibly be true, it’s not that way for everyone. In the heat of the story – sure, absolutely, definitely we’re all wrapped up in what’s happening. But we’re also pretty damn fine multitaskers. After all we have to keep names, places, dates, etc. all straight in our heads while writing, but we can also script notes in our heads while we attend to everyday business. For example many authors have families which means schedules that are insane on a daily basis, they find time for everyone in their lives, and yet still get their writing done. Not that we can’t get days, items, names confused – cause we can.

But authors are a breed, or at least were once upon a time, who didn’t sweat the little things. Unfortunately there seems to be too many cutthroats, too many overly pompous windbags, too many shysters, and too many self-proclaimed best authors flooding the market. People these days seem to view publishing as a get-rich-quick scheme instead of what it is. An expression of the imagination put into words to be shared with family, friends, and strangers near and far.

While I have absolutely nothing against an author making money off their works, we all dream of the day we can do it full time after all, those who are pumping out works faster then I can sneeze three times in a row make me highly suspicious. We need to bring back the dreamers. Bring back the love of the art that is writing a well told, well woven tale that helps the reader escape the harsh realities of our current world. We need to reinvest ourselves, and help others to find the path that is fiction at it’s finest – whatever the genre. Not only is it a relaxing pastime (when things are going great), but it’s also a beneficial one to not just the readers.

An author is an individual who has found a way to zen out in a highly constructive manner. Slipping into another reality for minutes or hours at a go. Pouring out the stresses of the day onto the page, and coming away with something fantastic in the end. And often times a weird twinge, crick or ache from all the strange positions we contort into during the process.

No one said writing couldn’t be a dangerous gig, and if they did – THEY LIED! LOL!

So let’s bring back the dreamers, the visionaries, and all those who can take anything dumped their way with a grain of salt. We need more calming influences in the world, and definitely more wondrous escapes from reality. We only get one shot at this thing called life, why not live it in a fun, amazing, and imaginative manner?

Unrealistic portrayals #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday everyone, and a happy Easter weekend to everyone. It’s time to get our chocolate on, lol! I’m heading out of town, and with fingers crossed that the weather holds out. While not unusual in Canada, no one wants snow to ruin their Easter fun.

For today’s post I want to discuss the “too perfect” characters some authors expect us to buy into. Now, to be clear, I’m talking about human characters mainly but also paranormal. Aliens are outside my realm of writing, so they are exempt from today’s roasting. Everything else is fair game, so here we go.

We humans as a species are imperfect – fact. We all have flaws whether we admit to them or not – fact. We all have at least one thing, often more than one thing, that we absolutely hate about ourselves – fact. Absolutely no human being on earth is perfect – fact. I’m sorry if this has caused anyone some upset, but it happens to be the truth. Anyone that says otherwise is a bold faced liar.

So why the fuck do authors continue to make characters flawless in every way?

Let’s be clear, I don’t mean in appearance because this is not the point of today’s post. Appearance is only the books cover. Do we occasionally get snagged first by the hottie on the cover? Sure, and there’s nothing wrong with that or admitting to it. But if that’s ALL we’re looking at then it’s a pretty shallow interpretation. We have to get to know the heart of an individual to truly understand them. Looks may be our instinctive first impression, but it should never, ever be the last. We as human beings are run by chemical and electrical impulses, but it’s the story behind the cover that gives us the context we need. And now that I’ve mixed metaphors, and realities around, let me get back on track a bit here.

Every character needs at least one flaw. Not merely hair that’s unruly or a crooked tooth giving a smile some character, although it does help, but some quirk or trait or situation that makes them more human. Yes, not every character is human, fully or otherwise. But for the readers very human brain to better relate they have to see in each character something that makes them flawed or different or unique. Maybe your character was injured, and everyday is a struggle. Maybe s/he never learned to read until s/he was an adult and still struggles from time to time. You get the idea.

Too perfect characters are the ones with every hair in place, or that just styled look that we all (at least once) wish we had going for us at some point. They have the job, the car, own their house/condo before they’re fifty, dream job, amazing high powered friends, etc. They are the unicorn among the cattle. Look too long or hard and you’ll pretty much go blind. They can do no wrong. And, let’s be honest here, they are as boring as fuck! No one, I repeat, NO ONE is perfect.

Yes, romance is fiction. Yes, there is a fantasy element to romance works. Yes, we all have had dreams about “that” guy being ours. But the sad, harsh reality is that “that” guy is either the biggest dick on the planet, would have you bored to tears before your first drinks arrived, or even worse still, he bats for the other team. Talk about depressing, right?

People screw up, sometimes in little ways and sometimes to epic extremes. This is a fact. This is a reality. And when a character (male or female) screws up and has to dig themselves from the hole they just dug. They’re driving a beater that’s being held together by duct tape and a prayer. They’ve had some unexpected expense crop up that has them sweating making rent, the car payment, or the bill payments. They got a cold they just can’t seem to shake. They have hay fever, or allergies, or something else that seems super mundane but is necessary. We’ve been there, lived through it, or known someone that’s been there, we can all relate to them.

So, authors one and all, remember the seemingly little things. The details that turn your perfect smiling, classical beauty, sex goddess into someone a little less other worldly, and let’s your readers feel closer to them. It doesn’t have to be much, but even a little something makes a huge difference. Keep it real as it were.

Enough to fill an ocean #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

It’s that time again folks, TGIF! Which also means it’s time for another post from yours truly. So let’s get down to it.

Every single person on the planet has doubts at one time, or another. For an author they can be crippling. And while there is no tried and true method to get around them, or banish them entirely, there is one key sentence that you should hold close. For when the wolves are baying outside your window, and doubt comes knocking on your door.

YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

For an author our voice is in every story we write, world we create, and characters we bring to life. Every word in every sentence tells part of the tale that is our voice. Our voices hold power, it can rise above the masses, or be soft enough that everyone must strain to catch it. We use it to draw outsiders deep within the walls we’ve built, paint the picture we wish them to see, and move them through the full range of emotions. From shock, to anger, to sadness, to joy and everything in between.

We are artists quietly toiling at our chosen craft, quite often in solitude. We’re distracted, absentminded, goofy, spacey, and any other number of terms. Not a single one of us is the same, except in a singular matter, doubt.

What if this is too much, or not enough? What if they don’t take, or worse what if they do? No one will read this, or will they? Maybe I shouldn’t put that part in, but what if I do? Can I say/do/have that in there? What if no one buys it? What if no one likes it? What if they hate it?

As I mentioned in last weeks post, you can’t please everyone. So push those questions drilling holes in your brain and squashing your creativity aside, and write. They are doubts, some will be stronger than others, but that’s okay too. You are allowed to doubt yourself from time to time, but do not let yourself get bogged down with them. Grab hold of something real, something tangible and yank yourself up from the mire that’s trying to swallow you whole and drown you. Throw your shoulders back, tilt your chin up high and let out a warriors cry.

YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

Make yourself a compliment jar. I know, it sounds silly, but trust me on this. Put in it every compliment you’ve ever gotten, each one written on it’s own piece of paper. Put in every great thing you’ve done, whatever you’ve accomplished (big or small), and everything that instantly brings a smile to your face. Pack all those little pieces of paper into that jar and leave it in your work space. When your doubts have you up against the ropes pull out one of those little things and give it a read. Embrace it, remember it, remind yourself that you are NOT your doubts.

And when in doubt (no pun intended) it doesn’t hurt to throw your head back and scream at the top of your lungs for no reason at all. It’s definitely cheaper than therapy, and a hell of a lot of fun. Especially in a crowd.

One size doesn’t fit all #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Welcome one and all. As we continue to shake things up on the blog I now get to post on a brand new day. This is going to take some getting used to I have to admit. I usually get a few hours to contemplate my post(s), all while sipping one of my many cups of coffee on a Saturday. So bear with me if my spelling mistakes suddenly take a huge upsurge in frequency, lol!

Today I want to discuss authors who are trying to be all things, to all people in their writing. Like my title says, one size doesn’t fit all. There is literally no way in this time or any other where you, the author, can satisfy every single person who will read your story. It is mathematically impossible.

There will always be someone, somewhere (usually in multiples) who has an issue with something about what you’ve written. Whether it’s the time, the location, the clothing, the language, the sex (it’s usually something about sex), how long the story is, how short it is, how much you/your publisher charged for it (that’s the other very popular complaint), the cover (pretty rare), or your creative interpretation or licence in regards to some detail (especially with real world places/locations). No matter how hard you try to write something that “shouldn’t” offend anyone – let me be straight with you here and now – there WILL ALWAYS be someone you offend.

Roughly 90% of the time it’s someone who just likes to hear themselves toot their own offended horn. 5% of the time it’s someone who didn’t a) read the description of your book (how dare you write an erotic romance and put it up where someone might buy it!), or b) disliked something you put in, or how you wrote it up. The other 5% is someone who’s offended by something, goes on a massive tangent, and it has NOTHING to do with your book. At all. As in, they didn’t even read your work but something else entirely, but put their rant and low one star rating on your product. You can usually tell from their overuse of capitalization, long winded sentences without any punctuation, and some reference to some point that never got near your work even in your earliest days of outlining. For example, you wrote a story which is in 19th century France, but they are going on about the fucking robots on Centurion Prime, and such things. These folks we like to recommend reporting and ignoring.

While most authors do try to watch their “turn of phrase” in a book they write, along with any local slang that might confuse a reader, and we all have some that have been part of our language since the first day we began to speak, you can’t go about writing your story while trying to dance across eggshells. As an author you have a solemn duty to yourself, and your characters to write from the heart. Yes, ensuring you are staying accurate with any real world location/event is usually a good idea, but we’re authors. We are licenced to occasionally flex our creative muscles for our stories. If you like a certain building in a certain city you’re writing in, but don’t particularly care for the fact it’s a fashion store go ahead and make it your own. You’re one hundred percent covered. It’s in your legal portion right up front in the book before you hit the good stuff – at least it damn well better be! In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, this is Evernight’s official “covering of our author asses”:

“This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.”

In other words: They know a guy named Joe who they hate, and had to kill in this book because doing it in real is illegal – and they don’t look good in orange. They adore that building in that city and while we know a bunch of you readers live there, they happen to hate what’s in it so for the sake of their story they are stealing the structure and using it for their own evil plans (like a BDSM club, muahaha!). They know all about that big ass war they are referencing as vaguely as possible (or maybe not so much), and you readers who were history buffs totally clued in but for the sake of their story line they moved it a few days/months/years to make it all fit.

Stuff like that.

We write fiction, even those who are writing historical or period works. Fiction, all of it. Which means ignore those folks who are tripping over the fact that you changed up their favorite spot in some city to work into your story. If they have issue direct their uptight selves to said legal speak and continue on with your day. We’re authors, we need to stretch our creative wings to ensure we are remaining true to what our muse has given to us as a gift. Naysayers need not apply.

Now, before I let you go, one last thing. This has been said a few times on here before, but because of what I’ve just written I want to emphasis this here and now. NEVER, EVER GET INTO IT WITH A TROLL. People will leave crappy reviews, so be it. People will leave shitty reviews that are in no way related to your work, report them and move on. People will try to get up in your metaphorical face on social media, remember your zen place and point to the legal stuff before going about your day. Do not EVER get into a battle of words with a troll, or some ignorant fool. They will only drag you down to their level by raising your blood pressure – and they are better at the low blows because that’s all they have ever known.

So, write what makes you happy. Write what makes your characters clamor to be heard. Write what makes you smile, bite your lip, or squirm in your seat. Write for yourself. You cannot please everyone in this life, so don’t let them take a second away from what you are doing best. Writing.

Confused much? #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Hello one and all, welcome to another #SensualSunday post. Another week lies ahead of us, and who knows what it might bring. Maybe new ideas, or a plot twist, or even a solution to that section in your latest WIP that’s been driving you insane. One never knows but if you keep your eyes and ears open you never know what you may find.

Today’s post is all about genre choice. Seems simple enough. But I’ve run across some books that have left me feeling dazed and highly confused about their genre.

As any author knows our characters are our guiding forces. They tell us what we need to know to form the story they have to share. To an author they are living, breathing beings and while they don’t have any real form to them, the story they are contained in gives them shape.

Now, determining who these characters are, where they are from, what they do, believe in, and so forth helps an author to figure out what the genre of the book will be. I’m not talking about what genres your publisher (if you use one) might list it under, but your core genre. For instance, Paranormal or Sci-Fi. Everything outside of that, like romance, BDSM, etc. is icing on the cake. But an author needs to know, going in, what their genre is to be.

Could it change part way through? Sure, but if it does that means the previously written portions need to be altered/updated to fit. You can’t have half a book being one genre and the rest something else entirely. It’s like writing a werewolf story that suddenly because a zombie horror but there was never any mention of zombies! This is also where reader confusion kicks in. If a reader doesn’t feel like they have just read a cohesive work, they are going to say something. Usually nothing very flattering.

Time for an example. One book I read a while back was decidedly a paranormal romance. Clear as day. No question about it. Then I hit roughly the two-thirds mark and everything changed. Took on a fantasy, almost sci-fi feel to it. Threw me for one hell of a loop. Had me questioning all I’d previously read. Was it so subtle that I missed the clues the author had potentially dropped? Sadly, no. I finished the book, let it digest, and then went back to read it again a couple days later. I knew the ending, knew all this additional information, but it still was reading as a para-romance for over the first half of the book. No hint (and I was reading word for word slowly) of the shift in dynamics/situation to come. It was almost as if the author had run out of material and smooshed in some extra stuff they’d had on the side to get their word count up. After the second reading I was even more confused by the story, and while the characters had remained (for the most part) the same through it all, that sudden jolt to a whole new tale part way through rattled me.

Now, as an author myself I can’t post reviews on sites under my author name. Not that I apparently needed to. Between the time I’d bought the book, and then got around to reading it, there had been several reviews left about it. All had more or less the same core theme to them – what the hell had they just read? And ratings that reflected this overall thought. All of which dragged the book down through the ranks because folks were shying away from it.

Was it a good read? Yup, right up to that point where everything began to change, and not for the better. If the author had written these two genres as separate books they’d likely have had raving reviews from the readers. But smashing them into one just made one hell of a mess. Running out of material for a story is absolutely no excuse to do this. Stories are only as long as they need to be. Not determined by us authors, but by our characters.

So let’s be clear here. Pick your genre based on what your characters are feeding you. If, and it can happen, the characters lead you in a new direction like my example above then go back to the beginning and fix it. Keep your story one cohesive piece that is melded in perfection. Any editor worth their salt would catch you making this mistake, but for those who don’t have one at their disposal for whatever reason, take care. At the very least use a beta reader to ensure what you have to publish is a tight work that reflects on you in the best light.

XO Moira Callahan

Admit when you’re wrong #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Welcome one and all to another #SensualSunday post. First up, I’ve gotta apologize for last weeks post and my boo-boo which has been fixed in the actual post. I blame it entirely on not enough sleep/coffee, the result being a fried brain getting all frazzled and confused. And I’m Canadian, it’s in my genetic makeup to extend a heartfelt apology when I’ve erred. Secondly, this leads into my post today so let’s hit it!

As a species authors can be categorized by many terms, and the longer you do this the more you’ll add to your portfolio. We’re crazy, absent minded, off our rockers, easily distracted by shiny/pretty objects/images, and so much more. It’s our creative nature that has us always searching for new material and ideas. We are who we are, and that’s pretty damn special. But we can make mistakes, we are only human after all.

One thing that every human being on the planet Earth needs to remember, get through their thick skulls, and practice at all times – if you are wrong about something, own the fuck up and admit your mistake. Too many times in the author world I’ve seen someone called out on something they genuinely believed in, but when they came around to realize their error and apologize, they are lamb basted. Come on people, get your heads out of your tightly pinched sphincters and chill. Authors are just as human as you, your neighbor, your co-worker, and everyone else in the world around you are.

Ah, but we’re held to a higher standard aren’t we?

It’s all because of this presumed “fame” we hold because we have published something, have our name on it, and our name is linked to however many dozens of other items on the Net (social media, our web site, author pages, etc). But this does not make us any less human. We were born, had scrapped knees, went to school, got a job (or two, or three), and we have bills to pay. Human right? Damn skippy. So why do readers/fans and others seem to think we are living in glass houses up on a pedestal where we do no wrong? Probably because the moment you gain “fame” in any form you are now no longer classed in the same rankings as the rest of the mere mortals.

If you stick me I bleed, how does the fact that I wrote and had a book published make me more than you?

Yes, there are authors out there who gladly soak up the adulation and don’t care when they screw the pooch. They are not the sort to apologize either, but this doesn’t mean they are not wrong. (I could insert some correlation between this and the US President – but I shall resist…mostly.) They are also not the types anyone should be looking up to, or using as their inspiration to be a better person.

Now, before I degrade into a full on rant let me end this post with this thought. If an author (one book or hundreds) speaks out in error, and you a “mere mortal” correct them and they apologize – fucking just accept it. They have been proven incorrect, and they realize that thus thanking you for pointing out their error in thinking with a heartfelt apology. Don’t lord it over them, don’t be a dick and rub it in repeatedly on social media (I won’t say what that makes you), just be a good human being to another human being and accept.

On the flip side of that, authors if you have been proven wrong, damn well apologize for the error already. Be the better human being, admit you were incorrect and show others how to do the right thing. Be the example people assume we’re supposed to be. We’d all be much better off if people would just apologize. Then we could all get on with living our screwed up little lives.

XO Moira Callahan

Mood & ‘tude #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Good morning one and all, it’s that time again. To turn your clocks ahead (oops! needed to edit this) one hour if you are among the unlucky stuck with Daylight Savings. An outdated, and in my opinion, useless practice that maybe made sense at one point, but seems to be nothing more than a major pain in the derriere now. If they wanted to make it less painful, they should actually put it in the middle of a Monday – at least in Spring – who wouldn’t mind losing an hour off their Monday?

All right, enough moping, onto the post.

MOOD:  1 A temporary state of mind or feeling; 1.1 The atmosphere or pervading tone of something ~ Oxford online dictionary

ATTITUDE:  1 A settled way of thinking or feeling about something; 1.1 A position of the body indicating a particular mental state; 2 Truculent or uncooperative behavior ~ Oxford online dictionary

We authors are always trying to paint a certain mood with our stories. Whether it’s making the reader laugh, cry, or sit on the edge of their seats with tension, our goal is to create something the reader can’t help but get swept up into. Easy to do? Hell to the no it’s not! But every now and again the planets and stars align.

Then there is attitude, easy enough to portray with your characters actions and words, but there is a fine line of going too far or not far enough. No author wants a wishy-washy character who’s boring or dull, but you also don’t want a character that everyone is disgusted by or straight up hates. Unless they are the bad guy/gal in the story or the character to be reformed, then go for it. Make them reviled for every metaphorical breath they take. Have your readers hoping, and rooting for their demise.

Now there is the combination. Getting the right mood that works with the attitude’s you’re bringing to the scene, and vice versa. If one part is off it creates a disjointed scene that interrupts the entire flow to the story you’re telling. Learning to blend them in the right proportions does take time, and also takes listening to your beta readers and editors. They will help you to navigate these treacherous waters, and keep everything on the straight and narrow.

What may help you best is visualization of the scene. Put yourself into the mindset of the character, in that scene, and go from there. Not easy, but with time you’ll train your brain to do it and it’ll come faster, and easier with each story you write. This includes every character from your mains, to your antagonist, to the next door neighbor, to the individual at their “favorite” coffee house taking orders. The better you can picture them the better you can write them and create the realism that will help your readers view them as “real”.

So visualize the mood of your scene, get your character’s attitude geared up, and write. While there will be tweaks to be made – there always are – go with whatever you/they are feeling in that moment. You never know what might come about, or what you may create. Get your feels on folks.

XO Moira Callahan

You can’t say/write that! #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-SundayIt’s that time once more, another #SensualSunday post with Moira. This week we’re going to discuss a serious topic, and one that is faced more often than folks realize or believe to be true. It’s also a tough one, especially in this day and age where everyone is offended by something or someone. Please note that the below is in no way pointed at any one individual, and the examples used are merely my opinion on the subject.

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Now, I’m not only talking about the book burners, or locking out the media during briefings, but also what we say, how we say it, and as authors our written words.

We authors have faced a lot of censorship over the centuries. There were the book burning’s of works deemed too controversial, or those that turned youths to the ways of Satan, and let’s not even get started on witchcraft, education, or any other reason someone has deemed a book to be unsuitable for our youths to read and thereby it was banned, and yes, in some instances, lit on fire! While I will agree that erotica or pornographic material shouldn’t be in the hands of anyone under the age of majority, and some other topics should have some parental guidance provided, allowing kids to read works that make them think should never be censored. The adage that “if you don’t use it, you lose it” comes to mind. Like any muscle in the body the brain too needs to be exercised, and this comes from critical and contemplative thought. Which the world sorely needs more of.

fotolia_115519302_xsFor example let’s look at the most well known book IN THE WORLD. The Bible. Yup, you read that right. Now, I should mention I am not now nor have I ever been a religious person, it’s not who I am, and this is not about to go down the rabbit hole into religion – this is merely an example everyone on the planet (except in the countries this is banned) can relate to. We’ve all seen The Bible, whether in book stores, in churches for whatever variety of reasons we might be there (sermons, weddings, funerals, etc), in peoples homes, and even in motel/hotel’s in certain areas of the world. Did you know:

  • *North Korea punishes ownership of religious materials; imprisonment or death
  • *China permits churches or seminaries that are part of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement/China Christian Council to have them, and some bookshops sell them, but they cannot be mail ordered by private citizens, or any unregistered churches
  • *Maldives says citizens must be Muslim, yet permit foreigners to practice their own religion, but only in private; Bibles can be imported only for personal use
  • *Turkmenistan permits the import, with permission by registered churches, but production is not permitted
  • ^North Korea greatly restricted, or straight out banned it
  • ^Russia banned the import of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures
  • ^Spain had a prohibition against The Bible, written in Spanish, from the 16th to the 19th century

* Quoted from Quora
^ Quoted from Wikipedia.org

All right, enough of a detour, let’s get back on topic here.

Censorship happens every single day when it comes to books. Hell even the almighty Zon does it to our books each and everyday. Because it is their corporate guideline (ie: some big shot who caved to an individual(s) who didn’t want it/them showing up in their recommendations) that certain books with certain graphics/words/subjects/actions should be deemed “adult” and therefore kept away from the mainstream folks. Okay, I get it. You don’t want your 10 year old niece, who happens to be using your account to shop for her next coloring book off the Zon, being able to buy E.L. James’ book(s) off the Zon so you write in going ballistic and all offended that it should dare to show up in “her” recommended reads, and being the curious sort she is she clicked on it. Thank goodness you happened to wander by the computer before she one-clicked that sucker.

Side note: What have YOU been reading/buying that that book is showing up in “her” recommended feeds? Huh? Huh? Yeah, thought so.

I get where the Zon is coming from on this. They don’t want the angry folks taking offence to something (for no reason at all if they were ACTUALLY adults) bringing their pitchforks and torches to their front door (which happens to be at: 410 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA, 98109-5210 if you’re interested). So they go to the absolute extreme. Got a guy with his chest naked and showing his hip bones with a hint of something more on the cover? May end up being thrown into the adult category. Did you have your characters going full on bondage scene? fotolia_137449177_xscroppedMay end up being thrown into the adult category. Did you have a character go on a terrible rampage through downtown San Francisco terrorizing citizens, destroying property, and killing large bug like characters? May end up…being that movie I watched last weekend – oops!

And that there is the problem. People go ballistic, lose their shit, and everyone else around them or on the receiving end reacts by going to the extreme. Enough already! Sit down, shut up for five fucking minutes, take some deep breaths, and get your big girl panty wedgie under control – let’s discuss this like the adults we’re all supposed to be. Which is what the Zon should have done. They should have gathered information, had the maniac(s) take a psych eval, done some research on their own, figured out if maybe there was an algorithm that could easily solve the issue, talked with their tech guru’s, and even opened a discussion with those to be affected – the authors. But instead they, in their all knowing position at the top of the pile in the e-Book (and other retail items) world, made a unilateral decision that affected many authors who write of the more adult nature but nowhere near porn level. Just because you’re bigger than the other guy does not make you right.

Before this goes into a full blown rant, let me close this up with some last points and thoughts. We the people (not including countries under dictatorships, or with crazed nuclear holding presidents) do have the right to free speech, our own opinions, and the right to express them in a productive, cognizant manner to make our point/opinion known. We do NOT have the right to be douchenuggets stomping on other people and their freedom to speak, or write what they want as long as they happen to be well-informed, and factual. If they are writing/talking shit then they get what they deserve in return. So, as a whole, if we the people of the world could all pull up our big girl panties, stop being offended over every breath someone takes, and just scroll on past/skip over something that is not to our taste (unless it’s illegal, dangerous, or harmful) I think we would all be much happier in the long run.

And you, yeah you the author type person, be strong. There will be criticism, and there will be folks who pull out their pitchfork over what you’ve written while trying to censor your voice. But know this, as long as you are happy with the end result, and it speaks to who you are while possibly holding a message for someone that may need it right then – FUCK ‘EM ALL.

XO Moira Callahan

Black and white image of loving couple in a bad.

Say what now? #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Welcome back everyone to another #SensualSunday post. I thought this week I would do up a post with some of the most common abbreviations and words you may come across in your writing career. This list is definitely not the total of it all, there are more than I can remember, and ones that I come across each day that I end up have to look up to figure out what the ever loving heck someone is talking about/referring to. But it’ll get you started. I should also mention that I’ve avoided putting in all the Texting slang although it was a close thing because it’s amazing how many editors I’ve had that have used the slang in their comments.

Endings:

  • HEA – Happily Ever After
  • HFN – Happy For Now (often used in serials)

Sexual Partners:

  • FF – Female Female, lesbian relationship
  • MF – Male Female, heterosexual relationship
  • MM – Male Male, gay relationship
  • MFM, MMF, MMFM, MFMM, FFM, FMF – Multiple partner relationship (can vary, and be mixed up many ways), also often referred to as Ménage
    • MFM – Both males are sexually active with the female, but do not touch one another
    • MMF – Both males are sexually active with one another, but also include a female partner
    • etcetera…

Other:

  • ARC – Advanced Reader Copy, also Advanced Review Copy
  • BDSM – an overlapping abbreviation meaning: Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM)
  • Erotic* – A work that leans toward the story more than the mechanics of sex, or the characters sexual antics; Still has plenty of sex
  • Erotica* – A work that leans more to the sexual heat, hungers, desires, actions of the characters than the story of how they met, their interests, etc.; Mostly sex less getting to know one another
  • Mainstream – Stories with no, or little sexual heat/activities; They can appeal to a wider audience unlike some other genres
  • MC – Main Character (not to be confused with MC Romance, or Motorcycle Club Romance)
  • MS – Manuscript
  • NA** – New Adult, a term for stories that usually are focused on the 18-30 age group, some publishers may refer to it as “Mainstream”
  • POV – Point Of View
  • PRN – Paranormal
  • R&R – Review & Rewrite, meaning your work requires some tweaks/fixes prior to resubmitting and possible acceptance, this is NOT a refussal to publish the work
  • Serial – A single story broken down into pieces/individual books
  • Series – Each book is a completed work, but the same characters carry through the other books
  • SFF – Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • TBC – To Be Continued
  • TBD – To Be Decided
  • TSTL – Too Stupid To Live, usually (like 99.99999999999% of the time) refers to the story’s heroine we all want to see fall down an elevator shaft while strapped to a C-4 packet on a short fuse
  • WIP – Work In Progress, the story you’re currently working on
  • YA** – Young Adult, a term for stories that usually are focused on the12-18 age group

* The distinction is very fine between Erotic and Erotica. Each publisher, and third party site selling your books has it’s own definition. For example Amazon® changed their definition between the two roughly a year or so ago putting a lot of us Erotic Romance authors into the Erotica category on their site, and thus hiding our Adult content safely away from the masses. We’re still pissed about this one FYI, but it’s the almighty Zon and therefore we authors have zero say in the matter. Or anything else they do on the site.

** Both the NA and the YA may have different guidelines governing them depending on your publisher. If you are an Indie, do your research into the genre you’re working in to ensure you don’t overstep any boundaries where it ends up with a classification you didn’t want. Some YA works fall into the category due to the lack of sexual content, and the same can be said for the NA. From what I’ve found (to date), these categories are usually based on the subject matter within the story. Things like loss, coming of age, those first steps into adulthood, etc.

While there are many more, and likely even more to come in the years ahead, this is a damn fine start to help you out. If you have another term you’ve used/had used in reference to your works please feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll update the list to keep it current. We can all use this list from time to time I’m sure.

For some other fun new author acronyms, check out Steve Laube’s post. Both funny, and useful.

XO Moira Callahan

Woman pretends to kiss man