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.

Author Lessons Learned by Jules Dixon #MondayMessages with @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #LitChat

Author Lessons Learned

I haven’t been in this industry for decades like some, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned lessons. In just three years of being published, I’ve garnered some thoughts and here are three I’d like to share.

giphy (55)1. The choice between indie publishing and traditional publishing should be one you consider extremely carefully. With Indie publishing the author retains control, you are the decision maker, you don’t answer to anyone but you, but you also lay out the funds to make covers, buy ISBN’s, editing, formatting, and 100% of the marketing. Whereas with traditional publishing the costs of everything but marketing are assumed by the publisher and they should be. If a publisher makes you buy a cover or editing or almost anything…just say no and run!
So consider not only how much control you want, but your time, your available funds (noting that it takes upwards of $2000 to properly and effectively self-publish a book), and the amount of effort you want to put forth. And yes, $2K, so budget appropriately. But when you give up control to a publisher you are taking the chance that a cover won’t be your “exact” vision, the editing might not be exactly what you’d pay for, or the marketing might be far less than you ultimately want. Actually, the marketing probably will be less, and you’ll want to put forth some extra effort for your book. Your baby deserves it.

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2. Writing is only 50% of a successful book. The other parts are everything that comes after you write that “The End”. Including revision, getting critiques, beta reads for quality, then everything from cover and editing through marketing. And those things take time because they are important.

Don’t get me wrong, the story is extremely important and ultimately is a writer’s signature on paper. But the rest is the polish on the story and the way to get readers interested in reading. And that other 50% takes a lot of time. So much time that an author can find themselves…not writing! Which is…gasp…what we should be doing!

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3. Something is going to go bad or worse. I don’t care if you’re an NYT or USA Today best-selling author or sell two wonderful copies, at some point or another, the $hit is going to hit the fan in some way. And no matter what, you have to be an adult and suck it up. Maybe you’re not going to like something your publisher does or doesn’t do. Or you not going to get the reaction from readers on your book that you were hoping for. Or your series might crap out, leaving you with stories in your mind, but readers are moving on to other genres, books, series’. Things that are out of your control will happen. But it’s not what happens that matters, it’s how you react that matters. AND that’s what you can control. 

So you…let it go. I’m fully aware that it’s hard to, but for your sanity and your future, you let whatever it is slide off…and you keep writing. You reexamine whatever your plan was and adjust. And you move forward.

Forward.

Not backward.

And you definitely don’t stop.

If writing is in your soul, you just let it go. 

There are about 100 other…okay a 1000 other…thoughts/ideas/tips I could touch on, but those stood out to me this week. I’m sure next week another 3-1000 will stand out sometime soon and I’ll revisit.

Have a great week!

❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

All gifs from Giphy.

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.

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

Inspirations and Word Counts #SatisfactionSaturday @KaceyHammell

 

saturday

 

Good morning everyone! Kacey here again. I hope you had a fabulous week and accomplished a lot of writing. It was a 6k writing week for me. Not too shabby but I’m not 100% pleased with myself either. However, it is much better than that dull boring old word – nil, zilch, nada, zero, zip, zippo, naught, nothing – so I can’t get too down considering what I did accomplish.

I usually post my words for the day/week in a couple author groups, on my publisher group of writing encouragement that we have, and the like. Yesterday morning I did the usual update and later in the day received an email from an author this afternoon who wanted to know how I could accomplish high results, and what keeps me inspired.

Now, I’ve shared a post or two in the past about inspiration, but I got thinking, perhaps it bears repeating. It’s never redundant – IMO – to share words of encouragement, resolution, being there for others when they’ve either hit writer’s block, or their imaginations are sparking that day. So, I decided to sit back for a couple hours and think of some of the things that have helped me, inspired me and kept me going over the last 3-4 weeks, which helped me accomplish about 25,000 words.

First off, knowing that there is nothing currently on my “Coming Soon” page. I had a new release in Dec, Jan & Feb. 2 were new works (which took me a year to write both during health issues), and a re-release from a previous—now dead—publisher, and I’ve been steadily increasing word count in my latest WIP. I know myself well enough now that it takes me more than a month to write a full length book – I mean 40,000 and up. If I was working on a story that was say 10-15,000 words then it might only take me 4-6 weeks, and that’s with no interruptions. I’ve learned this about myself and know that a story is done when it’s done. I never set a word count – unless for an anthology, but that rarely works out for me because I can’t seem to stay within the word count limit – so the stories are done when my characters say they are. Now, with nothing on the upcoming page, I’m eager to get my stories done and see there is more on the horizon. Oh, I know I can self-pub as I do on the side (being a Hybrid author and all that fun), but I write the stories for characters who are active in my head. Overall, the drive to have more in readers hands drives me, as it should all authors.

Second, I’ve been distracted to a point, though it’s helped to distract me FROM what’s happening in my life away from writing. My second child is heading off to college, out of town in Sept, so the writing is keeping me from thinking about it too much. And it’s kept me focused on something I can control. With him leaving, I don’t feel that control of knowing every moment that he’s safe, his Diabetes is maintained and overall just worry for him. So, if this keeps up, and when he does go off to school, boy I might just have novel after novel done because it distracts me from my worrying and concern. And hell, the lack of control of keeping him close and understanding that he needs to spread his wings.  Sometimes, life outside of writing can help. But I do not love it. Not a bit. But I’ll use the emotions to further my writing career along.

I’ve also taken to going back and reading some of my earlier work. For me, it’s motivated me to write deeper and fuller characters than what my older (3-4 year old works) titles had. I love all my characters, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve familiarized myself with them again and all the things that make them tick. But I also look at them now as a reader. I now see even more richness to each character. So much so, that if the time ever comes to re-release or revise them, I actually have some notes on my tablet copies in areas to enhance and bolster. I can also see my growth as an author and wanting to “show off” some of those new ways I’ve grown and learned into the new stories.  I never thought I would use older titles to pump me up and remind me why I love writing so much, but I’m glad I did. At first it was because I wanted to revisit a character again and couldn’t sleep. Now, I’ve read 4 old titles again and am inspired to do more with them at a later time, and to push myself even further as a writer.

Music. I live and breathe music on a regular basis. Growing up, and with my own kids, it’s every genre possible that is always playing in our house. If we are cleaning rooms, dusting, rearranging anything or just hanging out playing a board game, we have an endless playlist of songs always going. I go through periods where I have to write in silence and others when music has to be playing. I’m in the place now where I need the music to be pumping hard in the background, a sexy song to get the erotic feels moving and the sad songs to punch me in the gut when writing a crucial heartbreaking scene. Lately, Ed Sheeran is a huge inspiration to me right now. His latest album, Divide, is exactly what I needed. As well, the 50 Shades soundtracks have helped a lot (though I’m not that big a fan of the books or movies) then did some fantastic magic with the soundtracks. Give me some smooth jazz and great R&B, and I’m happy. Things start to come to live when I can feel the beat thumping through my head. I close my eyes and can just let the music lead the character forward, propelling them into a great pace and the words flowing.

And of course, the simple amazing photos online helps so much. Hot sexy men and women photos that get the thoughts running rampant are a must. I use places like stock photo sites, Pinterest and Facebook to spot moving photos and looking for those images that spark a thought, a single sentence which can lead to a whole book, or simply take my breath away. And I am not just talking about sexy photos or erotic couples in each other’s arms; I’m talking any kind of photos. I visit cover artist, Jay Aheer’s “Simply Defined Art” Facebook Page a lot. The visionary greatness of her creations is always inspiring to me. She creates powerful and compelling images that I can’t even begin to figure out how, and I’m left breathless and pondering the emotions coming from each one.

Of course, I have to share something from Ed that is playing all the time here.

There are many more ways that author’s use to feel/be inspired and create great stories with. These are a few of mine, which have kept me sane, but I do have a few other author’s advice to what helps them that I plan to try if my normal routes don’t work. I’ll keep you posted on anything new that might help.

To be honest, the other thing I did just a couple days ago was … I took a day off! A full day of little social media, didn’t even take my notebook and pens with me to write if something struck me, and I played hooky all day with my husband. We didn’t do anything that would make anyone jealous – like take a cruise or anything LOL – we just went and did normal married couple, we are thinking of renovating a few household things – and then had a long lunch full of laughter and talking. No cell phones on the table, no computers, no cares or worries (our children have specific ringtones on our phones so if it wasn’t one of those, we didn’t care), and just vegged and hung out. I took a day off without even thinking about the words I still had to do, the blog posts or what story would be next, I simply took a day off and boy did I need it. More than I thought.

So, let’s add that to the list. Take a day off every now and then and just live. Leave everything else behind and simply recharge.

 

Until next week,
Happy Writing!!

Kacey (2)

 

 

 

 

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.

The Ole WB Came for Me: How I Survived Writer’s Block with @JulesofTripleR #HumpDayHangout

The Ole WB Came for Me: How I Survived Writer’s Block

There are two words I won’t say out loud together.

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Writer’s.

Ahem–Block.

 

Heck, I hate even writing them! I’ll say WB over the real words any day.

But I’m gonna come out and raise a white flag. Yes. I had the condition and I’m not afraid to admit it. And I’m here to tell of my tale.

From July of 2016 until two days ago, I fought for words. There were days when a few/dozen/two dozen was good enough. Some of my writing friends would point out that I still completed manuscripts, and yes, I did start and finish two novels and three short stories since then, but I did it in a fugue that I’d never experienced.

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Since August of 2013, I’d been on a writing frenzy. Words clamoring to get out of me. I’d liken the writing deluge of words to beginner’s luck if I believed in that, but still, the words came and the words stayed for tea and cookies…and tequila. Lots of tequila over the years.

But then three years almost to the date of when I started really writing fiction and romance, I crashed. There were days I stared at the screen for hours. My mind became a white board of desolation. And there was no marker to even scribble a hangman or sunshine to be found. Anywhere.

I thought maybe it was Seasonal Affective Disorder taking me over a little early. Sneaky thing seasonal depression is, hitting a person in a different way every year. Sometimes I go down in January when the holiday’s high is over. Sometimes at the holidays I find myself tumbling when I’m overwhelmed or emotional watching my kids open presents. They’re 22 and 20, so really it’s them opening their banking apps and seeing I transferred money, but there are stockings.

And there have been a few years where I just become a pile of human goo for three months out of the year—November, December, January. Thankfully those really bad years been few and far in between, but they have happened.

But I didn’t know what I know now.

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Not only was I experiencing my regular depression, but I was fatigued, exhausted, collapsing mentally because I didn’t give myself breaks. Three years of writing almost every day. YES, every, damned, day. If I didn’t, I imagined I was behind. I fought to “catch up” and I am here to tell you…there is NO catching up. There is only moving forward, taking each day as it comes, and rolling with the muses fucking punches.

I traveled to Canada for a retreat that my publisher, Evernight Publishing, held for their authors. The event was fantastic. I met some of the nicest people on the earth, including Kacey Hammell of Naughty-Quills. Lovely woman. But I returned to Omaha, Nebraska more out of sorts and more overwhelmed than before. I dragged myself out of bed each day because I had other commitments. I’d planned a 25 author signing event. I had to do the right thing cause I don’t quit—obviously.

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I was elected Prez of my local romance writer’s chapter. I slid farther down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and anxiety. Full on distress.

Wasn’t easy to keep up the appearance of having my shit together, but I did it.

I thought maybe I needed more sunlight. So I got a sunlamp and basically stayed up for two days in a row after using it. Apparently, I was too sensitive. My doctor said, “Stop using it, you have a real chance of having a psychotic episode”. That didn’t sound like fun. So I put it away.

Then came the holidays and I kept busy with shopping and events, but I’d open my computer and… nothing. So few synapses in my brain putting out good thoughts or hell even any thoughts. I would have taken bad, too.

I took the last half of December off and went to Denver, Colorado for New Year’s. My hubby and our friend did their best to keep me going and getting out with the peoples of the world, but I was über miserable.

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But I had commitments, so I kept up. I showed up. I made up. I faced up. I tied up. Put up. Shut up. And fixed up. What I could.

My mentor, Corrissa James, did what she could to encourage me and help me through the rough days, and I thank her and the other writing friends who stuck it out with me and encouraged me. And then there are others who will probably read this and say—WTF? I never would have guessed in a million years.

And that’s one of my points. We can never know what’s going on inside another person. Don’t guess. Don’t assume. And please, for the love of god, don’t judge.

February came around. The month of love. One of my favorite times of the year. I experienced a little improvement early in the month and I put a few words to the page. More than January, but less than December because I pushed myself to just get shit done in December, but that backfired, too. In January, my holiday short stories received a couple bad reviews. I only know the number (1’s and 2’s ain’t good, my friends) but not the words of the review cause I don’t read them, but it’s enough to know my readers weren’t happy. And I wasn’t happy.

And then the plague came on last week. Nothing like the f’ing upper respiratory flu to knock you down until you think death would be the sweeter passageway. I fought through and by the weekend I was doing better. And I actually had some hope. My muse was calling out and strutting…

giphy-21And this week, that vixen demanded I write a new story in the same series as a story accepted by my publisher for their newest male/male alpha anthology. Shifter wolves with special abilities.

So I wrote. And over the last thirty-six hours, 9100+ words have poured from me. This isn’t a record for me, and certainly many authors consider that a light day, but it’s a good thing for me. A good omen. She’s baaaaack! I have some of my spring back. My brain cloud is lifted and I’m ready to face writing again without wondering what the day will bring.

So, if you’re in you’re struggling out there, a little of the old WB got you down. Keep the hope. Muses are fickle beings. And then again, sometimes you need to realize when you need a break and take breaks. And don’t push yourself. Be good to you, and that muse will be good to you, too.

**And note: I know I’ve made this semi-amusing but depression is nothing to laugh about. I know this cause I live and have lived it. So, if you’re experiencing any thoughts of suicide, hopelessness, or hurting yourself or others, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US.

To celebrate my return to good writing days, here’s an excerpt (unedited) from what’s spilled from my muse in the last two days.

Mooncrest: Saving Honor

Her eyes widened. “No. I … you … we … not possible.” She inhaled small gasping breaths. “We’re … friends.”

He searched her pooling gray eyes to see if on any level she instinctually comprehended the truth, but she’d lost the ability to feel and trust. Only confusion and fear hazed her dilated pupils.

It was time to lay his feelings on the line, and even if she still rejected him, he’d keep trying. She was his. There was no turning back.

“Honor Creed, I’ve loved you for five long years, watching while another man put his hands on you, feeling in my soul your unhappiness, but there was nothing I could do about our torture … until now. Now, you’re free from him. I don’t want to stop being your friend. I want to be more to you. Mother Wolf told me when I was eighteen you were going to be the greatest love I’d ever know. You’ve been hurt. You need time. I understand. But—you and me—it’s gonna happen.”

Love, Jules AND Happy HUMP day, peeeeeeples!

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All Gifs from Giphy.com. 

 

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