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.

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.

How to write for an Anthology#TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Hello, lovely peeps, Doris here with her Tuesday thoughts. I’m going to talk Anthologies today, specifically how to write for them.

Having recently received an acceptance for the next Evernight Anthology—this will be my 10th Evernight Anthology—I’d like to think I learned a thing or two about how to write for them.

So, then exactly how do you do it?

How to written on a white paper

Well, first off read the Anthology call. I can see you rolling your eyes now, but, I mean it, seriously, read it.

Evernight excels at spelling out what they are looking for.

For this Antho call the brief was/is the following:

(for the purposes of this blog post I’m going to stick to the M/F anthology call)

The Alpha lives for the hunt…
 
Driven by instinct, an Alpha shifter recognizes his fated mate from one scent, one touch. He’ll pursue his woman, regardless of the cost, and anyone else would be smart to get out of his way. He won’t stop until he takes possession of his prize.
 
Although the hunter doesn’t need convincing, his mate certainly does. The Alpha will have to prove himself as a lover and convince his woman that he plays for keeps. 
 
 

Stories must have a strong plot, conflict, well-developed characters/dialogue, and a romance to remember. We do not want erotica. We want quality erotic paranormal romance. Original work only.

The Alpha can be any dominant shifter species. The Alpha’s mate can be any shifter species or human.

 

Limited space

No rape, infidelity, or incest

So, let’s digest that. They want shifters, that much is clear straight away. They want romance, a well-developed paranormal story line, must be an original work, and the Alpha in question needs to be a dominant species.

So, that means bear, wolf, large cat, etc. not bunny shifters 😉

His mate can be human or shifter, and interestingly enough, can be any species so, hey, she can be a bunny if you like.

Note the term Alpha. That does not mean they want an asshole, overbearing hero. They want an Alpha, a hero responsible for his pack, with a code of honor and a ruthless streak when it comes to pursuing his mate.

She needs to be reluctant, that’s where the conflict comes in.

The guidelines mention a hunt of some sort…interesting. A literal hunt or do they mean the pursuance of the heroine? Open for interpretation. One thing is clear, he recognizes she’s his mate immediately.

With me so far? Good.

If you’re anything like me, ideas are already percolating around in your brain.

Start with the hero. Who is he, what is he? What makes him stand out.

In my story, the hero is a battle-scarred wolf shifter, responsible for bringing peace to the packs in his area of Northumberland in the UK (my stories are always set in the UK!) He is under a certain amount of pressure to find his mate. His pack wants him to settle down, and he is being offered various, far too young in his opinion, she-wolves.

My hero is no angel. He has fucked plenty of females, both shifter and human, but lately, that has gotten old. Besides, he’s busy with his pack and his work in the forestry commission.

The hunt thing in the guidelines spoke to me because I’d found this picture.

tt17th-jan

That simply screams shifter defending his mate to me.

I got the opening very quickly in my mind. My hero and his pack are hunting, and the heroine literally stumbles into the hunt.

I shan’t tell you more because I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but that was my beginning.

Now onto the heroine. My first idea was that she was human. In fact, my first attempt at the anthology was a bear shifter and his human mate, but it quickly transpired that the story wouldn’t keep to the required word count (it ended up over 50 K in the end!), so the wolf shifter was Antho attempt #2.

A word to the wise here. Don’t be afraid to try several stories for fit in an Anthology. I wasn’t sure whether I’d have the time to write an Antho story after the first attempt veered off as it were, but I did.

In fact, this story practically wrote itself in the end. 🙂

Back to the heroine. I mulled this over for a while, and then it came to me. Would it not add to the conflict if the heroine was a shifter species which would normally be food for the wolves. In the end, I settled on a deer shifter.

My heroine left the deer shifting community because she didn’t exactly fit into what the stags expect of their mates. This deer isn’t meek and gentle. She has backbone and snark in spades, and she is determined to live life the way she wants it, now kowtow to some overbearing male.

*smiles*

So when she meets the hero, sparks fly, as she fights the pull between them. Then there is the small matter of his pack. They will never accept a deer in their midst, right? Such delicious conflict right there. How will it all work out?

Well, you’ll have to read the Anthology when it comes out to find out what exactly happens, but I had oodles of fun writing that story.

And that is how you should approach any writing really, whether it is for an Antho or not. Have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to change things up, but do stick to the guidelines and the general story premise.

Dig deep with the emotion and the conflict. It’s a challenge to get that across, especially in a short story format, but digging deep and bringing that rounded story will be what makes your submission stand out above the rest.

If you haven’t written for an Anthology before, then do check out previous anthologies that publisher has published. Read them, get a feel for what they are looking for in a story. It helps, trust me.

Last but by no means least, if you get a no, or a revise and re-submit for a different line, do not be discouraged.

It doesn’t mean your writing is crap. Well, it might do, if you made a hash out of it, lol, but I’m assuming here that you’ll have done your best and have produced a great story.

What it does mean, is that it isn’t the right fit for this Anthology. There could be a number of reasons as to why. Maybe the publisher feels the story would be better expanded on. Maybe it is too close to other stories they already have in the collection. Maybe it’s too different from the other stories.

Maybe, you didn’t read the guidelines properly and shot way off base with your interpretation of what they’re looking for.

It happens to all of us. I recall one submission, not for an Antho, but a specific line, that I got way wrong. I did get an R&R, but decided to publish the story elsewhere as I loved it the way it was, and my other publisher took it and it’s one of my bestselling series.

See, it swings in roundabouts, this getting accepted to a specific submission call thing.

I know, especially with Anthologies, I never take a yes for granted. Well, I don’t ever take a yes for granted, to be honest with you. To do so would be foolhardy in the extreme, and smack of diva behavior I have no time for.

*smiles*

One last thing on writing for anthologies. You may not hear back about your submission for some time. You may hear right away, if your story is an excellent fit, and the publisher definitely wants it in there. You might have to wait till after the closing time for the submission call to hear.

Do not read too much into that wait. I’ve waited weeks before and I also heard back within days. It all depends on what else is going on. Of course, your paranoid writer self will assume the worst if you kept waiting.

Been there, done that, but look at it this way. What is the worst that could happen? They say no.

Okay, then you fix what they want you to fix to get it up the right standard and submit to whatever line they’re suggesting if it’s an R&R for a different line.

If it’s a straight no, again, pull up your big girl panties and have a good long look at the story, and see where it could be improved, and go from there.

And you know if the answer is yes, well, then, kick back with a glass of bubbly and look forward to having lots of release day buddies. 😀

Anthologies are great for getting your name out there and gaining new readers.

And if you didn’t make it into this call, there will be others. Don’t give up. Try again and again, if need be.

That’s all from me today.

Do stay naughty, folks.

D xxx

 

 

 

 

When Hard Work Pays Off #SatisfactionSaturday (@KaceyHammell)

saturday

Good morning all. Happy Saturday! I hope you all had a wonderful week full of love, laughter and good writing and/or reading. It’s been a busy week for me as I work on the current WIP and zip through my list of Christmas presents to buy for loved ones. The malls and streets in town are already piling up with people rushing to stores, hands full of shopping bags and frowns on their faces. Thank heavens, and *knock on wood*, we do not have any snow to trudge/drive through as yet.

On the blog here, a lot of us have covered many topics from pushing through writer’s block, to what inspires us to how to behave as a professional online and much, much more. I’m tackling a bit of a different angle today and ponder with you about what happens sometimes when hard work pays off.

So, you’ve written the story, submitted it, it’s been accepted, given a smashing cover and polished fifty times by you and your fabulous editor and sent out to the masses of readers at every online bookstore possible. The release day is awesome and full of anticipation to maybe hit a bestsellers list somewhere and every author sits and watches rankings go up and down at stores like Amazon hoping against hope that people are buying.

Nerves grab hold of the author and while release day is fun and exciting …

Well, this is me on release days …

releaseday-screamsreleasedayscream

No amount of wine helps calm the nerves and I pace a lot. LOL

But what happens months afterward? When the book you finished nine months ago hits bestseller lists and becomes a “Backlist” title? Dear lord, it collects dust maybe. Or, hopefully, with every new release you have every six weeks or so, your backlist titles – that book you wrote and published months ago – moves a little bit as new readers enjoy your books and want ALL your books. Hallelujah! Can you hear angels singing? It’s a goal that we all want. We want all readers out there buying every single book we write.

But then there’s this surprise. Maybe something that is forgotten because it only happens once a year. It’s not something on your mind every time a new book is released. And some months later, you see online, that you’ve been nominated? Yes, nominated for an award for your book! That book published nine months or so ago! The one you haven’t thought of much since about a month after it released.

All around the book community there are hundreds of sites/organizations that have yearly awards. The “best of the best” books from many authors/stories recognized for being pretty awesome. From review sites to RWA, to the RITAs, and even publisher awards. And I’m proud to say that our publisher, Evernight Publishing, which all of us here at the blog is published with, have their own yearly awards – the Annual Reader’s Choice Awards. The Finalists were announced today and it’s a very impressive list!  Again, for probably all of the authors at Evernight don’t often think of the awards. I’ll be honest, I forget all about them and even found myself voting on the last day of nominations this year.

The old saying “It’s just an honor being nominated” is very true. Don’t ever forget that. It really is an honor. Think about it, should you ever be nominated, remember that your story out of HUNDREDS was chosen by readers. As with Evernight Publishing, which publishes two books a day (Monday to Friday), there are A LOT of releases every year. Being nominated is humbling and so validating. Not to toot my own horn, as a past nominee the last couple years, it is so, so amazing and validating to have a title of mine remembered by readers. But of course, we all want to be FINALISTs, don’t we? Yes it is rewarding to be nominated but making that final cut – whew, it’s thrilling, over-the-moon, cloud nine type of world spinning.

And lap that shit up, authors!!

If you find yourself nominated – as an author and/or one your stories – embrace it! You earned it. You put in the blood, sweat and tears, and you deserve the recognition. Be humble of course! No one likes a bragger or an attention hog, but do hold the honor close to you because it’s enriching to know that readers (as well as colleagues who vote too!) believed in your work and selected something of yours that outshined many others over the year.

I am so, so proud of Evernight Publishing. I have been published with them for over four years now and every year they continue to impress me with the league of talented authors and stories they add to their catalogue. And I am especially proud of the authors nominated and who make the finals and share in the thrill and pleasure of their work being recognized. And another lesson here, as it’s been said before, be happy for them/celebrate with them. There’s so much reward in your fellow authors being pumped for your success. Support them. Always.

In closing, and the point I really want to stress, is that sometimes all the hard work and frustration that may come with each story it is worth it. When you least expect it, you’ll find yourself recognized by readers in a way you never expected. Enjoy it. Be proud of yourself and let it be a reminder, even if you don’t need it, that you are good enough. Your stories are good enough.

Congratulations to all the Evernight Publishing authors nominated this year, and those authors around the WWW who may be nominated for various other awards. Good luck!!

Now, back to your keyboards!! Yes I’m serious. Back to those keyboards and half-finished manuscripts to write the next bestseller and/or book to be nominated next year! *g*

 

Until next week,

Happy writing!!!!!
Kacey (2)

P.S. If you’d like to vote in the Evernight Publishing Annual Reader’s Choice Awards, visit >>> https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QM3S9TR and click on those titles/authors you were thrilled by this year.

ep4thyear

 

Thursday Ramblings with Doris (@mamaD8) – Friendship, Loss, Writing or the lack thereof

Hello, folks, Doris here. I know what you’re thinking. That Naughty Quills blog is all cockahoop this week. Raven did a post on Tuesday, Doris is here on a Thursday…whatever next?

The lovely Raven did, indeed step up for me on Tuesday, so as she’s not feeling too great with her fibro, I thought I would return the favor. Mind you, I’m not sure I’ll make much sense, so bear with me. These will be true ramblings indeed.

Those who follow me on Facebook will know why I couldn’t post on Tuesday. If you don’t, you can read my blog post here.

I don’t really want to get into the ins and outs because I’ll only burst into tears and then this post will never get written. Like Raven said in her Tuesday post, friendships are wonderful, and I’ve been blessed with many friends which I’ve made on Social Media. Folks which I may never meet in real life, yet who I count as my friends.

Happy group of finger smileys with social chat sign and speech bubbles

I can’t even begin to tell you how much comfort I found from the outpouring of support my family and I received this week.  To know that a Facebook status will alert those dear to you and your extended network to rally. To know that folks are with you in spirit, and no matter what day or time it is, someone, somewhere in the world will be up and helping you through it.

 

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced that support. Earlier in the year when my daughter broke her collarbone and needed an operation, my FB friends were right there with me. At a time, when a so-called-real-life friend showed her true colour and let me down badly, which resulted in the end of that friendship, my online friends were there for me.

Plenty of real-life friends too, I hasten to add, but this post is about the friends we make online.

Social Media, when used for good is a powerful tool. Us authors are told we need to use it to market ourselves and our books, but I have always maintained that social media is first and foremost about making connections with people. I was on Facebook a long time before I became a published author, and I’ve always shared stories of my kids etc, slices of my life, celebrated and cried with my friends, and I swore to myself that I would continue to do so.

Of course, being an author, let alone an erotic author means, I’m not as free as I used to be with what I share. While I’m happy to talk about budda, I will rarely name the older ones, put up pictures etc without their permission.

It’s common sense and I know authors with pen names and sensitive jobs, shall we say, will try their utmost to never share personal information. Others, yet, seem far too free with what they share.

depositphotos_63275595_s-2015

 

I’ve always adopted the motto, that I don’t share anything I wouldn’t be happy to share with the world.

Be yourself, just avoid the overshare as much as you’ll hopefully avoid overdoing the promotion. I’m not talking release day madness here. We’re all allowed to make a nuisance of ourselves then.

Where am I going with all this? You know, I have no idea, I seem to have gone off on a rambling tangent…

Wouldn’t be the first time, would it, now?

*smiles*

The point is, I think, that you can make Social Media what you want it to be. I hope I come across first and foremost as a person, who cares. Yes, I’m also an author, but I value my friends for who they are, not what books I can sell them at any given time. Though, you know, if you feel like buying my books… I shan’t stop you either, which brings me nicely to another point.

nominate

The Evernight Readers’ Choice Awards are once again upon us. Nominations are open and you can find all the details on this link.

Go forth and nominate. This is where authors will list their books and say please nominate me. Well, I’m going to stick my neck out here and say this. I’m sure readers remember their favorite books and authors and will vote of their own accord, but that’s just my take on it.

You won’t find me listing my books. I’m far too all over the place, emotionally this week, for starters.

It’s kind of ironic, that my post on here last week was about NaNoWriMo. I have yet to write a single word this week on anything. In fact, this blog post and the one I wrote on my blog about losing lil Luther has been the most words I’ve managed since Sunday.

I’ll get back to writing, of course, I will, but I have no idea when. It’s progress that I can be on my laptop at all without bursting into tears  because it’s so closely linked to my writing buddy.

Anyhoo, this isn’t supposed to be a sad post, but one that celebrates friendship, the connections we make to other people, and I will include our pets in this, because where would we be without them? Lost, that’s where. A bit like I am right now, but I also know that I’ll find my way back.

Every day it gets a little easier after all.

That’s all from me today, you’ll be pleased to hear. Told you it was a rambling post.

Do stay naughty, folks.

D xxx

 

 

Retrospect #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Moira here welcoming you all back to another #SensualSunday. This week I thought I’d do a little reflection on my career as an author. The myths and the reality. But I then realized that could be one hell of a long post, and honestly I’d get distracted part way through and who knows where we’d end up. So I thought next, what about simplifying it?

This month my publisher (Evernight Publishing) turns six years old. Now I’ve only been signed with them for just a smidge over two and a half years. But this light bulb had me thinking back to those first days, and to the last couple years of my journey. It hasn’t always been smooth and it hasn’t been without its trials, but it’s definitely been a ride. So here are my top 5 points of reflection.

Business cartoon showing two businesspeople looking down from a cliff. On the other cliff is a sign that reads, 'leap of faith'.#1 – Taking the leap
When I wrote my first book I had zero intention of submitting it. Truly. It was more of a purging to get it out of my head, and down on “paper” than anything else. But I let a friend read it who then convinced me I should send it in. Which then led to much debate about where I should send it in to.

I did my due diligence, did my research, and it finally came down to personal preference for the publishing house. The biggest reason I chose Evernight was the fact the authors there couldn’t say enough good things about the process, the people, and the general atmosphere. There are hordes of e-book publishers out there, not going to lie, and plenty look great at first and second glance. But too many didn’t hold up under the third glance of deeper scrutiny.

So, publisher chosen, manuscript polished to the best of my ability, and finger hovering over the Enter key about to send forth my first (and only at this point) “professional” work the nerves kicked into high gear. And, before I could talk myself out of it, I did it. Quickly proceeding to hyperventilate for the next twenty to thirty minutes wondering just what the hell I’d done.

#2 – Fumbling along the path
One thing everyone should know is, writing is not always easy. There are days where your fingers can’t keep up with the words flowing from your brain. Then there are days where you’re going Guantanamo Bay on your muse to get a syllable from the wench. There are sleepless nights, there are random bursts, and then there are marathon sessions that lead to even more sleepless nights – but at least these ones are productive.

There is no guidebook on what to do, what to say, or where to turn during your early days. One of the biggest reasons we seven got together to start Naughty Quills actually, to give the newbies out there some clue as to what they are getting into, what they could possibly expect to run across, and general advice for many situations that potentially may crop up. 3d Old man reading a mapWe all had to fumble around in the dark, and while we can give you some clues we definitely don’t have all the answers. Hell, most days we’re lucky if we have even a single answer, lol!

#3 – Trust your gut
This is a multi-purpose tool you should utilize. The saying “if it seems too good to be true” is exactly what this is all about. Going into any situation should you feel that something’s wrong, out of place, or generally just not what you expected do not even second guess yourself – step on back and review. While it may be a great option for someone else, it may not be best for you. And no matter what they say, or how they cajole you to get you to go along, if you’re not feeling it – GET THE HELL OUT!

For this is about you. You are the one writing the books. You are the one that knows what your goals are. You are the only one that can decide what is best for you. Believe in yourself, believe in your instincts, and do what is right for you always. You may lose “friends” over it, but if it keeps your career on the path you prefer, who the fuck cares? They aren’t the ones paying your bills, or sitting up late at night arguing with your muse about how a scene is playing out. They do NOT get a say in your career.

#4 – Ask questions
This applies to so many things, because the only way to better yourself and your knowledge is to ask the question. Everything from your research into your next story, to figuring out proper etiquette on social media, to discovering what your publisher (if that’s the path you picked) does and doesn’t like to get for books.

The best place to ask most questions is of the authors themselves. We’re a huge society who are more than willing, in 99% of cases, to assist newbie’s. After all, we were all in that same position at one time – wide eyed, terrified, and having no clue what was coming next. But you the newbie also needs to be aware that you have to come to the table Number 7 funny cartoon giraffeprepared. Be specific if at all possible, it saves everyone time that we all can be using to write.

#5 – Stand tall, chin up, shoulders back
You’re an author. This is a major achievement. While you may not have all the answers, or even an eighth of them, you’ve achieved something huge. There are thousands of people out in the world who can lay the same claim, but they aren’t you. You are unique, you are special, and only you know what it took to get you to this point. Celebrate it!

No one knows what tomorrow will bring so enjoy all the good, and amazing you’ve accomplished each day that you can. You are an author. That is no small feat that you’ve tackled. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the rush, and definitely enjoy all that comes from it. But stay humble. The world has enough diva’s in it. Remember where you came from, how you got here and be proud of everything, but don’t let it go to your head.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring after all. And the higher your horse, the harder that fall will be when it comes. And it always comes…

XO Moira Callahan

She's sexy and dangerous

Being thankful #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Moira here welcoming you back to another, and our regularly scheduled, #SensualSunday post. Since this is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada I thought I should do a post that fitted with the natural theme. I’ll be keeping this one short because my little brain is already thinking about what I might post next week.

No, I’m not planning on talking turkey, or all the dressing that comes with it – puns fully intended. Today I want to remind every author that we have much to be thankful for, and we should always remember that. So here we go, a few things that I am personally quite thankful for…

  • I’m thankful for my health, because without it where would I be?
  • I’m thankful for my job especially in these tough economic times in my province, too many others are not as fortunate.
  • Goofy Turkey saying the words, Gobble,GobbleI’m thankful for my friends and family, they keep me grounded, humble, and always amused – plus they occasionally provide useful fodder for my writing.
  • I’m thankful for the other six authors I am privileged to know who help contribute to this blog every single day. They are only a small part of the larger Evernight family that I’m blessed to be a part of.
  • I’m thankful for the artistic talent I do have, the one that allows me to write what I want, and how I want. While I may not be able to draw a straight line without a ruler, at least I’ve got an amazing fall back (lol!) talent.
  • I’m thankful for all my readers and fans. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am now. While they are only part of the reason why I write, they are definitely the main reason I keep on writing. They are generous, kind, amazing, and downright freakin’ awesome.
  • And I am thankful for each day I wake up to find the Zombie apocolypse has not yet started, because I am so totally not prepared – it’s not even funny. Really, I have so much to get ready for, thank goodness for online shopping!

Always remember, no matter how dark the day might appear there is always a reason to be thankful. Even if it’s because you remembered to pull on pants that morning. Chin up, shoulders back, and face whatever might be coming to you head on. But never, ever forget to thank those you got you to where you are today.

XO Moira Callahan

Handsome guy topless with whip BDSM

So Your Hero/Heroine Is A Claims Adjuster…

Ravennas Monday MumblingsWelcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!

This is the start of a new series where I’m going to give an overview of some of the professions I’ve done over the past 42 years. Yes, that’s how long I’ve been working for a living.

Ever read a book where the hero or heroine does a specific profession you just happen to know something about, and wonder where on earth the author got her/his information about said profession? Yeah. Me, too. That’s why I’m doing this series.

To be fair, there is likely some (or much) variation between the same professions in different countries. Even in the USA, there is going to be variation between states or general locations around the country. But the basics are still same, or at least very similar. That’s my goal for this series – to give you the basics. if you need more specific information as an author, your best bet is to find someone who does what you want your hero/heroine to do, and who lives where your hero/heroine lives, and ask them a ton of questions.

insurance-policyFor the past twelve years, I’ve worked for the largest insurance company in the USA. For four and a half of those years, I worked as a claim representative in fire casualty claims.

First, “Fire” claims is our company’s umbrella for all policies that are not auto and not life. Other companies may refer to these types of policies under a different term. Auto and Life have their own separate umbrellas in the company I work for. Although my direct experience is with fire claims, I’ve worked in a support role for auto claims so I can speak to those as well.

Life insurance and medical insurance are different animals, and I’ve never handled either, but handling a claim is still handling a claim. The basic procedures are still the same. And since I have never lived or worked in another country, I can only speak to the US insurance industry in this post.

A word or two of caution: the purpose of this post is NOT to give you a crash course on insurance, and I cannot, for obvious reasons, answer any questions about a claim you have, or specifics about your coverage. So please don’t ask.

A liability, or a casualty claim, is a third party claim. That means the policy holder, through their negligence, caused another person bodily harm or property damage. These types of claims are usually handled by specialized groups, but in some smaller insurance companies, claims adjusters may handle both first and third party claims. Auto claims often involve both first party and third party claims, as there is usually coverage for the driver and all passengers, regardless of whether those passengers are on the policy.

roof-pdThe difference between first and third party fire claims can be explained like this. If a tornado blows your roof off, you file a claim with your insurance company to have the roof replaced. It’s your policy. That’s a first party claim.

If the same tornado knocks over a dead tree in your yard and that tree falls on your neighbor’s roof and damages it, your neighbor can file a claim against YOUR insurance policy to pay for the roof damage the tree did. That’s a third party claim. Through your negligence (not having the dead tree removed from your yard) you caused property damage to your neighbor’s house. Your insurance company would pay for that damage from the liability coverage on your homeowner’s policy.

In an auto policy, at least in the company I work for, even if the driver is not negligent in their actions, meaning they are not at fault for the accident, there is medical coverage for the passengers in the car, as well as for the driver. The at-fault person’s policy would pay for additional expenses for injured persons in that instance. Auto claim representatives often work with other insurance companies under those circumstances to ensure everyone’s expenses are taken care of.

So, what does a claims adjuster do?

types-of-insuranceWhether a claims adjuster handles fire, auto, life, or medical insurance claims, whether the claim is a first or third party one, the first thing they do is contact the parties involved in the claim to find out what happened. That may include the policy holder, the injured person making the claim, witnesses, physicians, passengers in the car, neighbors, etc. They may also gather police reports or other documentation that is available to assist them in making claims decisions, and/or in reconstructing the accident.

The second thing they do is read the policy. Yep. We do read them and we do understand them. We have to, for obvious reasons. Next, they need to determine what coverage applies to your loss. And they need to determine if there are any exclusions to that policy that might take away coverage, or exclude certain parts of it.

No insurance policy will protect you against everything. It’s a common misconception that they do, but insurance is designed to protect you against LOSS FROM ACCIDENTS. Again, life insurance policies and medical insurance policies are a bit different, but they also have exclusions, because they have specific losses against which they are designed to protect.

How Insurance WorksWhy don’t insurance policies cover everything? Because it’s such a huge risk that no company could stay in business if they tried to do it. Insurance spreads the risk over a large amount of policy holders. If they didn’t do that, the premiums the company would have to charge to be able to pay claims would be astronomical.

Also, it’s important to know that in the US,  every state has a DOI – a Department of Insurance – that regulates not only how policies are written, but how claims are handled, when they need to be settled relative to the loss, etc. Yes, insurance companies have to follow the rules. If they didn’t, the company wouldn’t be in business for very long.

headlines_2011-04-20_adjusterAfter the claims adjuster determines coverage and any exclusions, they have one or more additional conversations with the person filing the claim. They have as many as it takes, and they may go out and inspect the scene if needed, or send out another person to do that if they are strictly an in-office rep. Things are fixed if they are covered, payment is made if there are medical injuries that are covered, and the process continues until there is no coverage left, the person has stopped treating for their injuries, or the property damage is fixed.

Claims adjusters have to be familiar with case law in the states where they handle claims, as well as statutes for those states covering property damage, traffic laws, and bodily injury. They have to understand the legal concept of negligence and what is needed to prove it in court. They often work closely with attorneys to resolve a claim.

claims-adjusterClaims adjusters may work out of their homes, only going into a local office when needed, or they may work from a desk in a busy office with other claims adjusters. The pay varies as well, depending on location and years of experience. It’s good pay, but no one becomes a millionaire as a claims adjuster.

It’s also a very busy job. They often work long hours at odd times, because auto accidents and fires don’t only happen between 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. They’re on the phone a lot, they have inspections to do, they have training to keep up with, and in some states, they need to be licensed. This requires additional training each year.

They have to justify what they paid, or what they intend to pay, with documentation, and usually with the approval of their supervisor. Supervisors, in turn, have to justly what was paid on claims to their boss, and sometimes it goes up a few levels, especially with a large loss which exceeds or nears policy limits.

Next week, we’ll talk about what a real registered nurse does in the USA.

Until then, 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!