Keep your eyes on the ball #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Hello one and all, it’s that time again – FRIDAY! We’re going to get right to things today, and here we go…

While we have many posts on NQ about the content of stories, and do’s and don’t’s, one thing that needs to be said to all authors, but especially newbs, is to focus on the guts of the story. Everything you write should have one singular point that is the main focus for you. All that happens around that point is icing on the cake so to speak.

I’m talking about your core theme. Not that it has a murder mystery element, or that it’s supernatural, or sci-fi. What I’m talking about is the whole reason you’re writing it. For us, romance authors that is, it’s the romance element. While there is no singular way to write romance, or a right way to do it, you need to decide how the romance in your romance story progresses. And you must be consistent.

This does take a little forethought, and even some planning for some folks, while others can have it naturally unfold in a natural manner. Whatever works for you, but do keep your eye on the ball, or the end goal, or whatever turn of phrase works best for you.

For example, some good guidelines for your romance might be:

  • Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy meets boy (or whatever your combo might be)
  • The next logical step (depending on the story) would be getting to know one another however best fits your central theme
  • Along the same lines they would also spend time together perhaps doing things; walking, eating, sky diving, killing off mutant aliens determined to take over the planet and turn us all into mindless drones!!
  • There should also be some sex (d’uh!), or a lot of sex, or tonnes of sex, even copious amounts of sexual activity in all sorts of interesting positions and/or places – whatever floats your boat and works withing your central theme
  • and so forth, but you get the idea where this is going I’m sure…
  • Also, more sex
  • Did I mention sex?

Some things to avoid on the fringes of your romance might be:

  • Random surprises like killing off some character for pure shock value but for no real purpose
  • Jumping to a point too far ahead because you don’t know what to do to “fill in” the extra “time” before getting there – epilogues do not count, these are their own beasts of burden and can take place anywhere/anytime, as long as it works with your story line
  • Erratic behavior, unless that is who your character is – don’t put it in just because you can, again this all has to make sense from the first word to the last
  • Jolts are another one, this is often an unconscious thing an author does and one their editor should be catching. But a jolt (not really a writing term) is a break in the story line (whether a chapter break or a new chapter) that literally “jolts” the reader from the story – it’s disconcerting, and frankly often will ruin their read. A story should be one continuous, flowing read from start to end
  • Not having sex in a book that should have sex (ie: romance, erotic romance, erotica, etc.). If you are a “romance” writer, whether it be soft and gentle or hard and dirty, don’t fucking skimp on the sex

Basically the point I’m trying to make is find your center, your core theme, your be-all end-all for the story, and keep it front and center in your brain. And yes, like I said above, everything else that occurs is icing on the cake to make it a richer, deeper, more entertaining read – but it all still has to make sense. And most of all, it all actually has to work together. Don’t be random. Don’t do shock for shock’s sake. You’re an author, not a screenplay writer for Hollywood. Remember your craft, remember the artistry you have been gifted with, and treat it and your readers with the respect it/they deserve. In the end it can, and will benefit you.

So focus. Keep your eye on what truly matters to your story, and let the rest come as it may and how it might. Every story deserves to be told in the voice you have, but they will only be however long they need to be. No more, no less. You’ll know what needs to be said, what needs to be done, and when to type the words all authors both love and hate…

The End

“You don’t read that rubbish…” #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Hello, lovely peeps, Doris here with her Tuesday thoughts, which will be short and sweet, and quite possibly ranty. You have been warned.

 

What brought this on, you may well ask? Well, the title will give you a clue! The above was actually said during a wedding dinner I attended this weekend. Now, don’t get me wrong the actual event was fab, and I really enjoyed myself, but as we were sitting around this table making small talk which folks we’d never met before the conversation inevitably turned to, “So, what do you do?”

My ever supportive and far too proud of me hubby announced that I was an author.

“Oh, really, what sort?”

All well and good until the subject of what exactly I write came up.

As per usual, the whole oh like Fifty shades came up. I just smiled sweetly and said, “My dear, I write far hotter than that.”

While the women at the table were supportive, you had to get one joker, who came out with the rubbish comment, not to me, I hasten to add, but to his wife, who was talking to me about my books.

Cue her reply, “No, but she writes it.”

Cue me, smiling not so sweetly at Mr. Clever Clogs. “Yes, that’s right, and I do very well, thank you.”

The expression on my face must have given me away. I know I have a very expressive face and probably looked ready to take his head off…. because he dropped the subject. Then again, my continued ignoring of his might have had something to do with that too.

Seriously, though…. grrr….

That was on top if the usual, “Oh, I should write a book,” and wink, wink, nudge, nudge comments. Is it any wonder I normally keep what I do to myself?

   Anyhoo, just had to get that off my chest. I shall never understand why folks have such a low opinion of the romance industry in general and erotic romance in particular.

On the upside I also met several folks at the wedding who are avid fans of my writing, so, ya know it swings in roundabouts.

They tend to be quieter than the neighsayers, mind you, but that’s okay.  I shall continue to ignore those that belittle the genre and continue to write what I love. Best way of dealing with them really, and well I know what my next villain will be called.

He may or may not find himself emasculated by a pint-sized, erotic romance reading woman…

 

*whistles innocently*

That’s all from me today, folks.

Do stay naughty, won’t you!

Dxxx

 

 

 

You write what? #Tuesday Thoughts with Doris @mamaD8)

Hello, lovely peeps, Doris here. I must admit I had no idea what to write about this week, and then hubby was giggling about something, namely a colleague’s reaction as to what I was writing, and I thought to myself, yeah, let’s revisit that topic.

It ties in somewhat nicely with Ravenna’s post on what Erotic Romance really is.  You know, even though I write under my own name, it’s surprising how many folks have no idea what I actually do.

Then again, maybe not. Unless you’re friends with me on Social Media you probably wouldn’t guess that I’m an author. I don’t go around handing out business cards at the school gates, that’s for sure, or any other time for that matter.

But, every once in a while it will come up in conversation.

“Oh, what do you do?”

I usually smile and say, “I write erotic romance.” That results in one or the other reaction but nearly always this face.

Depositphotos_21687315_s-2015

Especially, when I then go on to explain what I mean by that. Always amuses me greatly, I have to say, especially when folks get so embarrassed by the mere mention of sex that they turn red and scurry away like frightened little rabbits.

I kinda feel like saying, “It’s okay, you can’t get pregnant from reading a book, you know.”

*sniggers*

Of course, you get the other reaction too. The wink, wink, oh I know what you’re doing now. No wonder you have nine kids and do your husband and you really do that…

Well, as far as I’m concerned that is almost as rude and nosy as the folks who exclaim about the fact that we do have nine kids and don’t we own a telly etc.

My standard reply to that always is, “Yes, but sex is so much more fun.”

Cue, red faces and they slink away. I once gave that response in the middle of a crowded church hall, after Sunday service.

I ask you. Mind you, that same church also insisted that I stop writing erotic romance and hubby lost his job as Sunday school teacher after he point blank refused to take me in hand and make me stop writing.

I kid you not.

He is still most annoyed about the taking me in hand comment. As it happens he is my Sir and thus in charge in the bedroom at least, but he would never dream of stopping me from doing something that I love to do or to presume to run my life for me.

No, sireee, not our dynamic at all.

Anyhoo, I digress, as usual.

The point is, folks will have all sorts of reactions to your writing, and you need to grow a thick skin early to deal with the fallout. And there will be fallout unless you write under a pen name and keep it completely 100 % secret, and heaven help you when that secret comes out.

Of course, there is also a different kind of fallout, the positive one. I’ve met so many lovely people, both authors, and readers as a direct result of my writing, they, by far, outweigh the odd neigh sayer.

So, be proud, own the fact that you’re writing in the bestselling genre there is, regardless of what subgenre you might be writing in.

You rock, folks!

That’s all from me today.

Do stay naughty,

 

D xxx

 

 

 

 

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.

fotolia_135297725_xs

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.

Let’s talk Labels #Tuesday Thoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Happy Tuesday, folks, Doris here with my thoughts on labels.

 

Bunch of labels

Writing labels that is. Those we put on our writing ourselves, those put there by our publishers, distributors, like Amazon and our readers.

I’m sure I shared before that I never envisaged myself as an Erotic Author when I first started on this writing journey. And it very much is a journey. Five years into it, and my writing is still evolving, for the better, I hope.

The day I feel I know it all, the day I feel I’m writing the same stuff over and over… that’s the day I’ll stop writing. I would bore myself rigid, let alone any potential readers, but I digress. Back to those labels.

When I first chose my tagline I came up with this.

Writer of sensual, sassy, sexy romances.

Even though I very quickly veered away from mainstream romance I saw and still see no reason to change that tagline. After all, I am a writer, my stories are sensual, my heroines always sassy, and there’s plenty of sexy going on.

*sniggers*

While Amazon always places my stories into Erotica, I do not consider myself an Erotica writer. I write Erotic romance, the emphasis being on romance, the developing relationship between the main characters, which always ends up in a HEA.

Happily ever after.Typography template

We could debate the difference between writing Erotic romance and Erotica until the cows come home, but for me, it is this.

In Erotica the emphasis is on the sexual relationship between the characters, and there is no need to have a HEA or even a HFN. Typically, these stories are on the shorter side, a snippet of a couple’s sexual journey, if you like. They can, of course, be longer, and likewise, there’s plenty of shorter stories which are most definitively romance and not just sex.

Not that there is anything at all wrong with writing pure sex. I enjoy a well written Erotica story as much as the next person. Sometimes you don’t want the angst. You just want a quick, wham, bam, thank you ma’am kind of story to get you in the mood, say, or just to chill out at the end of a long day.

Although I would argue that a good writer can achieve that in an Erotic Romance too. That’s certainly my aim when I write. 🙂

However, this post isn’t really about the difference between writing erotica or erotic romance. It is about the labels we use when we describe our writing.

There seems to be a growing trend among authors to call their stories, filthy, the dirtiest yet, pure smut, pure filth, name it what you will, and my eyebrows always raise.

Why, you might ask? Well, for starters sex isn’t dirty. I always feel like responding, “I shall bring my soap,” when I hear of authors referring to their work as dirty.

I’m sure they think of it as a marketing ploy, but it has the opposite effect on me. Maybe, I’m just old-fashioned, hubby/sir and I have been together for 29 years after all, but stating it is your dirtiest book yet makes me not want to read it.

I’ll assume there is little more to it than sex, and I really want more than sex in the stories I read. After all, there are only so many ways one can write about the horizontal shimmy. Personally, I much prefer reading the build up than the act itself. Give me tension, give me passion, emotion that leaps off the page, plot twists that make me gasp, dialogue which makes me laugh, and yes, a good old dirty talking Alpha hero. Yeah, I love those, but don’t let that be all he is.

After all, a dirty talking man in the wrong setting is a sexual harassment case in the making.And before you roll your eyes, and tell me to lighten up and say it’s fantasy, it is. You’re right, of course, it is, but, and there is always a but. I would prefer for the characters I read about to be grounded in reality, in my contemporary stories at least, and certainly when BDSM is involved. However, that is a matter for discussion for another time. 🙂

Suffice to say that stories described as dirty don’t really do it for me. I think, and this is, of course, just my personal opinion on this, that authors labelling their stories as such do the industry no favours.

Romance, let alone of the erotic kind gets enough of a bad press as it is. We don’t really need to add to it, do we now?

Mummy porn, smut, filth, the devils’ work… (yes, my stories have been called that by some *rolls eyes in mild amusement*) those and more are labels forced onto the romance industry on the whole by folks who just don’t get it, and in most cases never picked up a romance novel in their life.

There are enough folks looking down their snooty noses at us, without us authors ourselves giving our work derogatory labels.

So, next time you refer to your latest story, take a step back and think about it.

That’s all from me today, folks. You’ll be pleased to hear I’ve put my soapbox away  for another week.

*smiles*

Do stay naughty, folks.

D xxx

 

 

 

 

What I’ve Learned About The Publishing Industry From The Wizard Of Oz

Ravennas Monday MumblingsWelcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!

Anyone who’s been inside my writing room at home, or come to my desk at the EDJ, will instantly know I’m a fan of the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Every spring we’d wait for it to air on network TV. Yes, I was alive before VCRs, DVRs, cable TV, or Blu-ray. Now of course, I have it on DVD, but like with most movies, if you watch them too often, they lose their magic.

Sure, by today’s standards, the movie seems hokey and too simplistic, but I rarely judge entertainment by today’s standards. I judge it by how it makes me feel inside, and by the memories and emotions it evokes inside ME. Because seriously, what do I care how it affects someone else? I’m not watching or listening to it for someone else.

When searching for a topic this week, I already knew I wanted to take a look back at the years I’ve been writing, but I wasn’t sure how to approach the subject. I’ve learned a lot, both good and bad, about the way the publishing industry really works. What I didn’t want to do was write a blog post today that came off sounding jaded, bitter, or preachy, so instead I’m going to let one of my favorite movies explain it to you.

woo-tornadoTornadoes are a great analogy for the personal chaos in our lives, and in the publishing industry.

A therapist once told me that the reason I used to always dream about tornadoes wasn’t due to a fear of them. She surmised they were my personal symbol of the chaos in my life at the time. I believe she was right because once that period in my life resolved, the dreams stopped.

It’s no secret to anyone that the publishing industry is anything but calm and smooth. Once the Big Six became the Big Five, and Amazon set out to rule the world, it was mass chaos. The gatekeepers are all but gone, and literally anyone with a computer and the ability to use a keyboard can “write” a book then “publish” it online. You can tweet a book now, 140 characters at a time. You can write it on Wattpad. There are no boundaries or limits any longer. You don’t even have to be a good writer.

What does this mean for those of us who know where to put the punctuation, and how to construct a sentence so it makes sense? For those writers who understand character development, story arcs, and what dialogue should accomplish in a story?

If we’re lucky enough to grow a readership with brain cells that synapse, they will recognize our talent. But the market is so saturated that most of us are left in the dust, no matter how well we write, or how hard we try to give our readers something unique each time.

It’s difficult not to resent that as a writer, because our time and talent are no longer rewarded. Since anyone can do it, it’s no longer considered special. And in fact, there’s a growing number of readers who feel we should all be giving away our work for free, as if all the hours spent crafting a book mean nothing, and we shouldn’t be paid for that work.

dorothy-and-munchkinsWhen you find yourself in a strange land, make friends with the locals.

I still remember getting the first YES. It was five and a half years ago, and I can vividly recall it. Most writers can, and most writers never lose the thrill of getting an acceptance. But it’s a foreign land the first few books, and we often don’t know where to turn or how to ask for help. Your best and safest bet is to make friends with other authors, so you can ask questions and seek guidance from those who have gone before you. It’s also not a bad idea to pimp them along the way.

I’m not talking about pretending to like their work or them. I’m talking about an honest exchange of lifting each other up, which is what all authors should be doing anyway. The romance genre has taken enough shit in the past seventy years, even though for most of those seventy years it’s been the NUMBER ONE SELLING GENRE. We don’t need to add more fuel to that perpetually-burning fire by hurting each other.

It sickens me when I see authors bad-mouthing other authors by name, fighting with their readers or other authors online, or generally acting like disgusting divas by placing themselves above everyone else for any reason. Newsflash, chickie. You’re the same as each of us. I don’t care if you sell a billion books each time, or have made every list there is. You still shit stinky poop, and you still have to floss your teeth to get the food out from in between them. Get off your fucking high horse.

This is a very tough business. Don’t fool yourself about that one. And none of us can go it alone, no matter how many sales we make. We need each other. Plus, it’s the right thing to do. We weren’t put on this earth to be alone. We were put here to love, and to lift each other up. See THIS post.

yellow-brick-roadFollow the yellow brick road.

There is a path. Even though Dorothy and the gang lost it once in a while, it WAS there. So is yours. You simply need to know how to look for it. It’s called your muse, that voice inside you, your conscience, and similar names. You know in your heart what the right thing is. We each do. Be still and listen for it. It will speak to you. Then once you hear it, stop dicking around and follow it.

Each and every time I’ve strayed from what my muse led me to write, I’ve regretted it. Each. And. Every. Time. I promise you, my readers, I will not do that again, from this day forward.

wicked-witch-and-flyng-monkeyThe Wicked Witch and those flying monkeys aren’t as scary as you first think.

Yeah. I know. We all hated those damn flying monkeys. But let’s examine them, shall we? They’re actually kinda cute, in a magical creature sort of way. And they’re pretty harmless. All they did was pull stuffing out of the Scarecrow – who didn’t die when they did that, by the way – and pick up Dorothy and Toto to fly them to the castle. That’s it. Not really that frightening when you look at it that way, are they? They’re just big monkeys with wings, who were under the witch’s spell. Please. You could take them. Easily.

As writers, we face a never-ending series of frustrations, scary moments, and obstacles. So, okay. That’s called LIFE. Put on your big girl panties and face them head-on. Grow from them. Learn from them. Find ways around them. Put them to work for your advantage. The same way you face everyday life. All those sayings about failure being practice for success are popular for a reason. They’re true. You’ve got a lifetime of experience facing wicked witches and their silly minions. Put all that experience to work for you in the writing industry as well.

And never forget that the witch was taken down by water. It’s highly symbolic, after all. I mean, think about it. Without water, we die. All living creatures, right down to those creepy crawly insects we fear, need water to survive. In the story, water kills evil. You do the math and draw the obvious conclusions here.

wizardofoz_4675Sometimes, the wizards are phonies and don’t keep their promises.

We’ve all been burned by at least one reader, blogger, author, editor, etc., etc., etc. who seemed larger than life to us, and who promised us the moon, then failed to deliver. It happens. Why? Because they’re only human beings, just like the wizard in the movie was just a man who got lost in a hot air balloon. The hot air balloon was another great piece of symbolism, wasn’t it? He was full of hot air. Get it?

Some of the people you admire and trust along the way are also full of hot air. You can’t always see it at first. They disguise themselves, just as the wizard did. They put up a front and make you believe they’re much more powerful than they really are. When you expose them, or your dog does, you realize they’re exactly like you, and nothing more.

To his credit, the wizard did try to get Dorothy home, but in the end he failed at that task, too. Which brings us to our last lesson of the movie, and the most important one.

ruby-slippersThe power is already inside you.

A group of authors I knew when I lived in Tennessee called themselves by the name of those ruby slippers. They were all Golden Heart nominees one particular year. For those that aren’t familiar with the Golden Heart Awards, they’re one of the two main awards given each year by the RWA. These authors chose that name for a very good reason. They understood the analogy of those ruby slippers Dorothy wore for most of the movie.

You already have everything you need to obtain your fondest wish. It’s inside you. But just like our slightly clueless heroine, we have to figure that out for ourselves. And meet a lot of odd people along the way.

Let’s recap…

  • There will be chaos in your writing career. Expect it. Don’t run from it. Use it to your advantage.
  • Make friends with other authors. They’ve been there and done that, and have valuable lessons to teach you.
  • Follow your muse. Always.
  • Scary things aren’t scary if you look at them in the right light.
  • Some people are phonies. Once you realize that, it’s okay to walk away.
  • The power is already inside you.

Now go forth and watch that movie again, or for the first time if you never have! And afterward, sit down and let your muse guide you on the path to your true dreams.

Until next week, Happy Writing!

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Ravennas Monday MumblingsWelcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!

Today I’d like to talk about character names and how to choose them.

This is probably as individualized as each writer’s unique voice. There is no wrong or right way to choose a name, but one thing I would caution is not to choose one that someone well-known or highly recognizable is using. The last thing you want is to become tangled up in legal issues because someone took exception to you using their name, or one very close to it, in an erotic romance novel. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but your good intentions could easily be misconstrued.

So, aside from scouring the tabloids or CNN for name ideas, where do you begin?

roseI like to match up the type of genre with my character names if possible. For example, if I’m writing something historical, I would research common names from that period, and then branch out a bit so not everyone is called William or Mary. Research also has a more practical purpose. If you’re writing a romance set in the Middle Ages, for example, you might want to make sure the name you choose was in use during that time.

Fantasy romance, anyone? The sky’s the limit here. Readers of fantasy love complicated, difficult-to-spell names that are taken from old legends or mythical languages. So have a great time, but make sure your readers can at least make a stab at pronouncing the name while they read it. Either that, or provide a glossary that spells out the more unusual names phoenetically.

Paranormal romance readers tend to like their hero names dark and brooding, to go along with that whole alpha thing. Strong, dominant names are also preferred. Poke around ghost stories, old legends, and gothic stories for ideas.

baby-namesWhen writing contemporary, literally anything goes, but you can still individualize your character’s names by choosing something about them to focus on. Their heritage, for example, or perhaps they were named after a beloved family member, and that person plays a part in the story?

Aside from googling “baby names,” or “most popular girl names in 1969,” you can also search sites like the ones below:

http://babynames.net With this one, you can search by letter of first name, country of origin, or even decade.

http://www.mithrilandmages.com/utilities/MedievalBrowse.php This is an awesome site to use even if you aren’t writing an historical. You can search it to find unusual names from any era.

http://ilovewerewolves.com/wolf-names-and-meanings/ Wolf names, anyone?

http://www.20k-names.com/index.htm This is another site where you can find female or male names from almost any country on the planet.

btn5It can be challenging coming up with names you haven’t used, especially when you’re up there in the double digits of books published, but for me, that’s half the fun of shaping a new character.

Whatever name you choose, make sure you own it. Make that character unique, and the name will stand out because of the person.

Until next week, Happy Writing!!

Shaping Up Shifting Shape-Shifters

Ravennas Monday MumblingsWelcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!

No, today’s post is not about tongue twisters. LOL!!

Today I’d like to talk about how I finally broke through my fear of writing another shifter series.

Writing shifters was something I was told would sell well by so many people, I felt I had to do it when I was still writing under a former pen name for a different publisher. But I didn’t approach it the right way. For one thing, I didn’t read enough shifter books by authors who sold well, and whose writing I loved.

Other things I didn’t do were research the mythology deeply enough, concentrate on sticking to the tried and true tropes, or ask the authors whose books I loved for advice. Oh no. I set about trying to do something different. Something unique. And that’s all well and good, but when you stray too far off the path, readers don’t like it. They are lost and confused. Their expectations for that type of book aren’t met.

wolfSo this time, and I had to push back a great deal of fear before I’d even try it again, this time I approached it differently from the get-go. This time I asked. I read. I researched. I dug a bit deeper. And then I came up with a unique spin, but not too unique. Not too far off the mark.

Did I hit a home run? Only time will tell.

But so that other writers don’t run into the same issues I did when they decide to take the plunge and write about those hot, sexy alpha men/animals and their mates, here are some tips I gathered from the best of the best.

Possessive, dirty talkers, alphas, show soft sides only to heroines.
Instant bond mating recognition.
Humans can know shifters exist, or not. It’s up to the writer.
Bloodlines and pack structure are important.
An element of danger.
Growling, possessive, tortured heroes.
Cave man like because they’re animalistic.

Can you relax some of these? Yes. It’s your book, after all. But these are the tips that were common among the sources I sought out before writing the first book in this series.

Now for some eye candy! These three hunks were the inspiration for heroes in my new series! Enjoy!! 

Canyon

Arizona

Stone

Until next week, happy writing!

He Did That… She Did This…

Ravennas Monday MumblingsWelcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!

Let’t talk about sentence and paragraph structure. Somewhere along the line, I know I learned this, but it was brought to my attention this past week that I tend to start A LOT of paragraphs in a manuscript with either the hero or heroine’s name, or a pronoun – he, she, his, her.

Two amazing fellow Evernight authors are going to read the second Tortured Love book for me before I submit it (thank you Doris and Raven!!) and as a prep, I sent the first book in that series, UNYIELDING, to each of them to read and understand what I was looking for in the second book.

Raven pointed out to me how many sentences I begin with a name or a pronoun. When I went back and looked at what I’d written in the second book to date (all 175 pages of it!!) boy, oh boy was she right! It was enough that she was counting them in UNYIELDING. YIKES.

pronoun trainTook quite a bit of time to go back and fix them in the manuscript, but I’m so grateful I did. This second book is a much better read with the variance. But let me tell you, sometimes it’s not easy searching for a substitute, and also making sure you aren’t beginning every single paragraph or sentence with a gerund – those annoying ING words. That sticks out like a sore thumb, too, and can really distract from the reading.

So, just one more thing to keep in mind as you write and then self-edit. Like you don’t already have enough to think about, right?

Until next week… HAPPY WRITING!!

But I LIKE Editing…

Ravennas Monday MumblingsWelcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!

Today I’d like to talk about edits. Aside from blurbs and synopses, nothing provokes more whining in authors and wannabe writers than the dreaded EDITS. Well, I guess I’m weird because I don’t mind that part. I mean, aren’t they part of the process?

Think about it. An artist does not sit down and design a perfect book cover on the first pass. It’s a painstaking process of finding or making the images, lining them up perfectly, trying again about a thousand times, finding the perfect font, balancing that with the images, on and on and on. And then they let it sit for a while and return to it with fresh eyes.

A musician does not sit down and write a piece, as if he were taking dictation, unless he’s Mozart. LOL! But seriously, it’s a long process, completed in bits and pieces, over hours and hours of detailed work and endless revisions.

film editingA movie goes through numerous cuts in the editing process. Sometimes those cuts are kept in for a separate release known as a Director’s Cut, and often they are released on a blooper reel or included as deleted scenes in a separate featured extra.

Why, then, would anyone who writes expect to sit down at the keyboard and bang out a perfect book requiring no corrections or tweaking, in the first draft? Seriously? If you believe that’s how it’s done, you don’t understand the creative process.

Take this blog post, for example. Ten drafts to get to the one you’re now reading. Sure, plenty of authors write fairly clean the first time around. I’m one of them. But I still edit my work MANY times before it goes to the publisher. Writers, like artists and musicians, are only human beings. And even published books that have had many sets of eyes on them before they were completed contain mistakes.

editing oneEditing is akin to tweaking your image or fine-tuning your composition. It’s the same necessary step in creation that an artist or musician goes through. Writers aren’t exempt from this.

Try looking at this another way. Editing is your chance to take a look at your story with fresh eyes. It’s an opportunity to make it even better. To fine-tune the emotions of your characters, and to add a bit more meaning to their conversations. It’s a chance to place tiny actions here and there that emphasize their personalties, foreshadow an important plot point for your readers, or give your hero and heroine more depth.

track changesWords are our medium, the same way notes on a page are the musician’s medium and brush strokes are the painter’s medium. Words are what we use to paint a picture in the reader’s mind, and compose a song in their hearts.

If you find the idea of going back through the entire manuscript and editing it exhausting, try breaking it down instead. There’s no rule that says you HAVE to complete an entire draft first and THEN go back. You can edit every chapter if you like. You can go back and read over what you wrote the day before, like I do, and edit that part before you move on. You can edit in whatever way you choose because it’s YOUR creation, and the only hard and fast rules are the ones YOU decide on.

edit twoEither way, expecting a perfect manuscript the first time around without the additional work of fine-tuning it isn’t realistic, nor does that do you or your readers a favor. Everyone’s work could use some improvement. It’s not your editor’s job to fix a messy first draft. It’s YOURS. Self-editing is part of the process of writing a book.

When discussing edits you receive from your publisher or an editor you’ve paid, after the manuscript is finished, it’s still YOUR job as a writer to do them. An editor is there to help you improve the story, not turn it into something intelligible, with correct grammar and punctuation. You should already be doing that part yourself. If you’re not, we have bigger problems than your hatred of editing.

Until next week, happy writing!