Fake News! #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday one and all, hope you had a great week, and also have a fabulous weekend. Let’s get down to business…

** WARNING **

The following is for Adult audiences only, as it may offend the weak willed and those with guilty consciences. It is my personal opinion, and only an opinion. It will contain profanity, several cliche’s, and likely sting those where it strikes too close to home. Enjoy.

First off, the title. I’m not talking about Fox News, Breitbart or whatever the hell it is that comes from the White House briefings. We’re authors after all, and all that crap is really nothing more than inspiration, and fodder for our next villain(s). It’s also a lot of shitty white noise that is unfortunately on nearly every station you tune into, even here in Canada. Personally I institute the mandatory eye roll, and go about my day.

No, what I mean by “Fake News” is the bullshit that certain authors like to sell, much like a bridge in the Sahara Desert. Sounds good, unless you really think about it or investigate even a little. These authors appear open, genuine, caring, and as having your back. In reality they are two-faced liars, scumbags, and would sell their own mother if it got them onto the New York Times.

The realists among authors, those of us who write for the sheer pleasure of creation, who enjoy talking to ourselves in public hashing out a story line, babble incoherently around folks who don’t understand about muses, and who will randomly tune out of conversations because they just thought of something that would make their story better, we know the odds of hitting the Times list are slimmer than fucking slim. But we all have dreams, and if it’s still sitting in the back of our mind in a dusty corner, so be it. We’re allowed to have our dreams too after all.

The fakers though will gladly stick a blade in your back, and climb over your still twitching corpse if it gets them even a millimeter closer to being “big time”. The worst part of it all is, while they are charming to you or in public, in private they are more vicious than a nest full of vipers. And you often have no clue until some unaware individual asks some random question, makes some strange remark, or gets in your face about something you are clueless about. Fakers will literally say anything, and they are usually the “victim” of the tale.

But they aren’t. What they are is cold, calculating, and willing to toss the innocent under the bus. They like to snuggle up to those in power, sell them their bullshit with sprinkles or even a cherry on top, and they always cover their asses. Sadly outing them is nearly impossible because they are slicker than a used car salesman. They are, I hate to say it but it’s really a great analogy, the current US government of the author world. They have followers who believe they spew rainbows and shit gold bricks. They can do no wrong, but you (the target of their malicious bull shit) are evil incarnate. And there’s shit all you can say otherwise. How the fuck do you proof you’re not the person they claim you to be? You can’t.

While the idea of keeping your head down, and staying out of the way seems the safe plan it will only hurt who you are as an author, and probably affect your bottom line. So instead I suggest you take care with your words online, find true friends who don’t care if you have a few screws loose – like the gals here on NQ do about one another – and do your own damn thing. Chin up, shoulders back, and tell the world at large to go fuck itself. You are your own superstar, and that’s all that damn well matters.

When one lying, conniving, bitch of an author goes down for the count another three will rise. Going head to head is not advised, and is honestly exhausting to even think about it. Instead be you, write your stories, and be gloriously giddy like a kid in a candy store each time you publish one. Live for yourself, not others. And remember this – no one can ever know you like you do. No matter what the shitheads may say, they don’t and will never truly know who YOU are. Wear that shit like a badge of honor.

Mean Girls #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Happy Tuesday, folks. I should probably warn you, this might get a tad ranty. As the title says, I’m talking mean girls today, specifically those in the author playground.

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Hmm, yes. I heard something this week, which left me stumped, namely authors in one publishing house talking trash about a fellow author in the same house.

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Come on now, peeps that is so not cool. Now, I get, it, personalities clash,  things said are taken out of context, the ugly green-eyed monster rears its head…. we’re human… I. Get.It.

But for the love of all that is holy try to keep things professional, especially when you’re voicing such opinions in front of readers. It makes us all look bad and like the mean girls. Really, haven’t we left those antics behind on the playground?

We’ve said it many times on here, there is room for all of us. This is not a competition. Sure we’d all like to sell tonnes like some authors seem to do so effortlessly, and yeah, it can grate if you perceive your stories to be that much better than the ones that sell.

Here is the rub, though, that is just your perception. What sells, what doesn’t, what grabs a reader’s attention is all so very subjective and that is as it should be.

There are as many different stories and authors out there as there are readers, and that is a good thing.

Variety is the spice of life and all that. There have been plenty of times I read something and shaken my head in wonder, and asked how the hell?

That’s fine, we’re all entitled our opinions. What none of us is entitled to do is voice those opinions at the expense of some one else’s feelings, especially when they’re not in the room, so to speak to give their side of the story.

And this is the other thing. There are always, always two sides to every story, or more if more than two people are involved.

And here is the other rub, both sides of that story might be right. So much is down to individual perception of things, after all. Rarely do two people see exactly the same thing, or take away the same impression from a book, painting, even a conversation.

What has sparked all this, you might ask. Well, if you’re one of the people involved and you’re squirming in your seat right now, take a good long hard look in the mirror, that’s all I’m going to say.

None of us is perfect. We all make mistakes, that’s a given, but there is never, ever an excuse for being one of the mean girls.

To further clarify, as far as I know, no-one has been spouting rubbish about me, or if they have I’m blissfully unaware.

*smiles*

And you know something else, knock yourself out if you are. That sort of thing always says more about the person who’s doing it then the person they’re talking about.

It reminds me of when I first started what you would call high school in the UK back in the day in Germany. I very quickly fell in with the popular crowd. I was tall, reasonably pretty, skinny, and sporty if a tad quiet.

I was happy with the status quo, why wouldn’t I be, until the new girl started. She was on the chubby side, with dark hair and ugly glasses, none of which were her fault, and of course, the popular crowd picked on her straightway.

Well, I’m happy to say my gran raised me better than that. I couldn’t just stand by and join in with the taunting. I stood up for that girl, and we became the best of friends.  Naturally, that also ended my spell as the popular girl. I became the picked on one, but you know what?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that. I learned a valuable lesson back then, to be myself, to not be a sheep, to not follow any bandwagon and to stand for what I believe in.

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What you see is what you get with me, and that can be brutal honesty at times. It’s a shame most folks don’t seem capable of extending that same courtesy.

*side note… Jamie…. Outlander….drool*

Erm, where was I? Oh, yeah, I was ranting, as I do. 😉

Seriously, though, let’s stop the playground mentality and support each other. Don’t be the mean girl. We’re all better than that.

And another side note, with all this drama seemingly going on behind the scenes all the time, how does anyone find time to, you know, actually write.

Baffles me, I have to say.

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Anyhoo, that’s enough from me today and my attempt at putting the world to rights. ( I wish!)

Stay naughty, folks.

D xx

Story Titles: What are we doing to romance? by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #MondayMessages #Mondayblog

Story Titles: What are we doing to romance?

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Thanks, Ironman, I thought it was timely and decided to give my two cents. Hope you’re ready to listen.

For the last year, I’ve seen book/story titles that have made me do a second glance. Mostly because of their shock-and-awe nature, but some because I’ve started noticing a trend of escalation.

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Escalation? Yes, with some titles making me cringe.

Some of the titles started out as puns on words, “Pucked” for well, I’m assuming you can figure that one out and I actually found that title to be endearing and appropriate for the book, as it was about a hockey player and comedic in nature. Kudos to Helena Hunting for a great title and series.

But then came other titles that I found harder to find a real reason for the extreme facets of the title. The specifics aren’t important, but what is important is that I’ve now laid my eyes on titles that are pushing the boundaries of what a romance title probably should be.

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In my opinion, a romance title should do these three things:

  1. It should give insight into a plotline or character of the story. For instance, if the story is about cowboys, then maybe Riding Again, which also indicates that maybe it’s could be a second chance love story or a person who found love, lost it, and is finding it again.
  2. It should tell a reader what they can expect. If it’s one word, I believe it’s harder to accomplish that, but I’ve seen it done. Especially in the case of Jay Crownover’s Marked Men series–all named with the guys’ name that is the lead character. Fun reading and great heroines. But promising something with the title and then not delivering, that’s a quick way to lose readers.
  3. It shouldn’t be created to disturb or shock readers. When we do that as authors we aren’t holding our writing accountable for being the story, the title is the story. Plus, if the story doesn’t deliver and the title created a bunch of attention then do we think readers will come back for more? No, they have expectations of the genre, including story, characters, plotline, and titles.

I know what you’re saying, but it’s the author’s right to decide the title. Sure. Up to a point, then if they have a publisher then someone needs to step in and say when a title isn’t appropriate or even offensive. If it’s self-published, I think beta readers need to voice opinions.

And in the end, if the author gets negative feedback because of a risque or politically/socially loaded title, then they need to be willing to accept the criticism and move on. No apologies. No regrets. No “sorry, but not sorry”s. Take it like a champ, because you chose it.

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But if a title is just for shock factor, I would encourage writers to think twice. Is that what you really want to be known for?

Titles are so important. Why choose one that might start judgment of the novel right out of the gate? I guess that might be something I’ll never know the answer to.

I want romance writers to respect the genre and their work, because if we don’t, who will? No one.

What do you think? Seen any titles that pushed the envelope for you? Don’t have to name names, but what about it triggered emotions for you?

Hope everyone has a wonderful Monday!

Take care, ❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

 

 

 

Just do it already! #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Hello, lovely peeps, Doris here. First off let me wish all you Americans out there, a very Happy 4th July, or as we Brits would say.

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist, and I’m only joking, of course.

You can probably tell what tone this blog post will take, right? I literally had no clue what to put in today’s post.  So what does one lil author do, when she has run out of things to say?

First off, moan to my fellow Quillers–naturally.

Kind of essential that one.

Then, squeal in delight at the critique of a first chapter you got back – thanks, Jules and Raven, you both rock!

Then, ponder this thorny question of what to blog about some more, and then it came to me. Not unlike writing, really, the answer is rather obvious. Just sit down and do it already, and something will come to you. Or not, but that’s where inspirational quotes from Pinterest come in…

So, without further ado, here are some of my favourites.

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I don’t think this just applies to new writers, to be fair. When you’re struggling to find that unique spin, it can seem as though you’re just running around in circles. Well, you may well be but that will be your circles and thus unique to you! Bear that in mind when you’re doubting yourself, and, you know just do it!

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Good lord, yes, this. If only there was some sort of technology which would enable us to transfer our thoughts/dreams straight onto paper. It would be a jumbled mess in my case, but it sure would speed up the process, wouldn’t it?

 

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Like I said, just do it already! 🙂

 

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Isn’t that the truth! Well, no one ever said it was going to be easy, right? Oh, wait, you thought it was? You thought us writers just moan for nothing? Well, sorry buttercup, but until you actually try to write a story yourself, you have no clue.

*smiles*

 

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Oh yes, it is beyond nerve-wracking when you first show your work to other people, but ya know, unless you’re just writing for yourself, there comes a point when you have to. You’ll also have to swallow your pride, be humble, accept constructive criticism, and be willing to learn from your mistakes. This writing lark is a journey that never ends and there is always, always room for improvement.

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Oh, how true is this? I never really understood that until I started writing myself and my characters simply took over. Darn ornery, mine tend to be, so I’ve learned to simply let them get on with it. After all, it is their story and they should know how it goes, right?

 

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And that is the worst thing that can happen. If they’re anything like mine they’ll start talking again at the most inopportune moment when I have zero chance of getting words on paper.

*sighs*

Anyhoo, for someone who had no idea what to blog about, I seem to have rambled on a bit, so I shall take myself off here and sort out my characters.

Do stay naughty, folks!

D xx

Happily Ever After: Writerly Musings by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #MondayMessages #AmWriting (or am I?)

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Oh, if it were just that easy to start a story … or finish it with “and they lived happily ever after”. But … it isn’t.

**Sigh**

The last two years I’ve focused on improving my writing by taking classes and reading books, and talking to other authors about plotting, characterization, themes, motifs (which, um, still like wtf?), arcs, first act, second act, black moment, third act, resolution, until my head spun and  my heart sunk.

Could I ever be the writer that XYZ is? Or would I ever say the words as eloquently, excitedly, ferociously (etc., etc.) as ABC?  Would I ever stop using adverbs? 😉

Or am I just as good as I ever will be?

giphy (82)The questions haunted my gut like a bad fruitcake for the last quarter of 2016 while I continued to write and throw away words. And write and discard words. And write and chop words. Finally, the words ground to a halt. Not some cool sliding to the side and gray smoke in the air from the tires rubbing on the pavement stop, but a jerked-against-the-seatbelt, airbags-in-face, whiplashy stop.

 

And then after I’d celebrated 2017 in a grand fashion with all the hopes and resolutions my head could concoct, I was boohooing through a day and my mentor had had enough and she slapped me. No, not physically, but ironically with words. She said “Stop that $hit! Be the writer you are, but be better each time.” Or something very similar to that fact. Whatever it was, the words and sentiment made me think just long enough and deep enough that I realized I don’t want to be like XYZ or ABC…

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I just want to be Jules Dixon.

 

I want to write about people who have problems and solve them with friends and family by their sides.

I want to write stories that find their way into people’s hearts and they remember how they felt reading about these people’s lives.

I want to find inspiration in everyday moments and share them with readers so they sigh and ooh and ah and feel.

I want to release a part of me into words and then let it go. Let. It. Go.

I want to take each day as a new beginning and know that there is no real end to writing.

I want to …. live happily ever after.

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But for that to happen, I have to make it happen.

This above post originally aired on my website in January. I have no come to understand that this post was a turning point for me. I now have a different direction to go with my writing career and I’m more excited about writing and the new projects I’ll take on that aren’t writing, but writing related.

Sometimes happily ever after comes slowly. But when you take a few steps back, you can see it coming and how to make a plan to make it the best happily ever after possible.

Hoping that your 2017 is turning out to be everything you wish for.

Happy Monday!

❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

Collaborative Writing by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #writingtips #MondayMessages

Collaborative Writing by Jules Dixon

Writing can be a solitary effort.

Alone. 

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All alone.

So when the opportunity to collaborate with another author or many authors comes around, many authors will jump at the opportunity. But before saying an enthusiastic “Yes!” there are many things to think about. 

First, what will you be writing and what are the requirements for the project. For instance, are all stories to be in first or third POV? Or is it up to each writer? If it’s anthology, what is the story length both min and max? How many authors will be included?

Second, who will be deciding, retaining control of, and paying for major decisions, like the cover, editing, marketing, ISBN’s, platforms and release schedules, and more. So much more. Make sure all of this is down in writing for all to see and to be held accountable. When it comes to cover, will you get a say? What if you don’t like the cover?

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Third, what are the timelines for deliverables? First draft, second draft, edits, accepting edits, final drafts, beta reads, cover reveals, promotions, etc…they’re all important and it’s best to have it all in writing so you and everyone else can’t say they “didn’t know.”

Fourth, how is the money (i.e. ebook royalties/paperback sales) going to be paid out or is the money going toward something? For instance, my critiquing group is doing an anthology and we’re going to use the royalties for group activities, like maybe a retreat or going to a vineyard for a day and drinking wine and writing…the possibilities will be based on how the anthology does, so it’s in everyone’s interest to help it be a success.

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Lastly, expectations must be managed and one person must have the say when there is no time to ask everyone, or the decision is small or doesn’t affect the bottom line, or there is a tie in voting when it does. By this I mean there needs to be a project manager and someone to say “it has to be this way” when it does and can’t be any other way and for the times when someone won’t get their way and a “that isn’t possible” has to be said.

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For ours, that person is me. And it’s not easy. But it’s important that there is one person who holds the group together and finds a middle ground. I try to let the group be as democratic as possible. Occasionally, decisions just need to be made, and when I do it, I try to be respectful and give what I believe the majority would want.

So, in the end, when you ask someone to co-write or to join a collection of stories, have your ducks in a row. Have a contract written up to explain and detail the big parts of above. It will help everyone move smoothly through the project and lend to success for everyone.

Have a great week! ❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

All gifs are from Giphy.com.

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

Author Lessons Learned

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forward.

Not backward.

And you definitely don’t stop.

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

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

Have a great week!

❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

All gifs from Giphy.

Choose and Choose Wisely: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author

*skids into the room, crashing up against a wall in her haste*  I know, I KNOW. I’m late. Normally, I’ve got a post all ready and it explodes forth into the blogosphere at midnight eastern on Fridays. This week, not so much. But then again, that brings me to the point of my post this week.

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Thanks for sticking with me for this week’s Freaky Friday. Today I’ll be talking with you about work-life balance and why that’s so damned important. I’m about to drop some cold, hard truth on your asses, so gird your loins.

If you’re doing this to make money, you’re almost certainly going to be disappointed.

We’ve pretty much collectively agreed on Naughty Quills that writing is a labor of love. You’re not going to make millions, or thousands.. or even hundreds when you start out. Unless something really huge and earth shattering happens, that’s not likely to change any time soon.

What this means is the following:

  1. You’re probably going to be stuck with le evil day job for quite some time. (Sorry.)
  2. In order to write books at any sort of real pace to maintain exposure, you’ll be forced to make some choices about how you spend your free time.
  3. You will be forced to live with the impact of those choices.

On my down time from my day job, there was a time that I obsessively wrote. I realized, after I did the math at royalty time, that the time I was investing so much of wasn’t really netting me much financially.

The satisfaction of finishing a book that people enjoy is fantastic, but not necessarily as fantastic as what I was missing out on. Real life experiences with friends, family, my pets. Reading a good book. Laying on my ass in my PJ’s until noon on a Sunday.

Shit, the number of times my cat hopped on my keyboard in a desperate ploy for petting was kind of obscene. I’d scritch her ears and set her down. Then I’d keep clacking away at the keyboard. Looking back, I feel like a total dick about that.

Sure, I got a couple more words, but was it worth it? Probably not. Not for me, anyway. I had to change the way that I thought about this whole writing gig. So, for now, writing is a hobby that I try to indulge as I can. I hope that one day it will be a bigger thing, and I’ll certainly keep trying to get it there.

It’s a choice that we all have to make as time goes on. My only advice on this front is to choose and choose wisely. We only get one of these whole life things to work with.

XOXOX,

Michelle Roth