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

Not the ride I was looking for #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Greetings one and all, and happy Friday. Hope everyone has had a great week. Mine was decidedly strange, and truly should have ended on Wednesday. But I shall continue to slog through, it’s only a few hours more after all.

Today’s post is one that we’ve touched on prior here on NQ, but it obviously needs repeating. I’ve been reading a book which is the source of much angst currently in my life. Normally I can whip through an ebook in no more than two days, a paperback roughly three. This bugger has me currently at day four and I’m only half way through. It’s not a super long book by any means, 168 pages (print length), which for me is usually nothing.

But I’m having trouble with it. For one, the heroine has seesaw emotions that quite frankly have me feeling nauseous. I’m a roller coaster, slingshot, etc. riding maniac. The more something makes you scream the better. Yet this up and down with her emotions, one minute she’s terrified, two paragraphs later she’s all lovey-dovey, and then she’s angry, and then and then and then…

To top it off, roughly around chapter two, the hero in the story (and her future man) refers to himself in conversation with the antagonist. And not in a third person sort of thing, but as a separate person entirely. It threw me, completely. But so far it’s the worst thing that’s happen where he’s involved. The heroine on the other hand – she might just benefit from seeking professional help with her rather severe, and whiplash like mood swings.

While the concept of this book is also quite intriguing, the totality is thus far leaving me with no more than a bad taste.

Let’s be clear here authors. If your heroine/hero/secondary character, whomever, is in a traumatizing event – yes they should be a little out of sorts, and even moody. But once they have pushed through that initial trauma, unless you are specifically putting in some PTSD, quit with the emotional seesaw! Readers don’t like that shit. Other authors who read your works REALLY don’t like that shit. STOP IT!

The emotion of your character(s) needs to fit the situation. If it’s upbeat, light, and fun keep it that way. If you’re throwing them into danger than make sure their emotional state fits. Having your characters acting out of tune with the scene you’ve set in detail only confuses your readers, and makes it feel like slogging through the bayou on the hottest day on record. No fun at all.

So unless your one character knows something that the others in the situation don’t, or has had a horrid day, or ended up run over by a tanker trailer, try to keep their emotions on an even keel. Readers everywhere will thank you, and we on NQ won’t have to keep writing about it.

By any other name… #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday everyone, and also an early happy Mothers Day to everyone. I have to say that this week has been a weird one. Nothing I can put my finger on though. It’s almost like I’ve managed to completely forget something for the entire week. But haven’t got a damn clue what, lol! Oh well, probably doesn’t matter. After all, if it was something truly important I’m pretty sure someone would have said something … right?

Today’s post is probably going to be nearly as odd as my weeks been, so bear with me here. If I tumble into the ditch I promise I’ll pull myself back up eventually – if not, send help! Shakespeare’s quote from Romeo and Juliet started to meander around in my brain while I was doing some casual meandering about social media *cough* watching videos *cough*. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Most people know the saying, in part or in whole – depending if you were into Shakespeare’s funky English. Unlike some fellow classmates who groaned out loud, I quite enjoyed his word play. The man could turn quite a sentence.

The point here though is that people have all sorts of terms, phrases, or choice words for authors. But it doesn’t really matter – we are still authors. We are professional, or soon to be, wordsmiths. We slay dragons, save people, jump through flames, dash into danger, and a variety of other insanity every single day – with the words we write. While we may not be truly knights in dented armor, superheros, firefighters, cops/feds/etc., we do have ourselves a special skill set. We can take the letters of the English language, jumble them up, shake them viciously, and slap them silly until they turn into words. Words we then arrange, rearrange, and sometimes despair over, until we’ve created sentences. And where one sentence exists more are surely to follow.

Never let anyone take this away from you. Too many authors who have barely begun, or have been writing for years/decades, let the doubts get to them. And while I can’t speak for anyone but myself, this just isn’t right. It can be depressing, it can be lonely, you can and will feel isolated at times, and it will drive you right to the brink of insanity on the best of days, but it’s truly worth it. And that’s something anyone even thinking about stepping onto this cracked, chipped, and with the occasional stone missing path needs to consider. Authors need some level of self-assurance, inner strength, or ego even to take the first steps forward. You, the author, need to believe in who you are, your ability, and the vision you have for what’s to come.

Because without that, you too shall falter. But that doesn’t mean you have to let it stop you. We’ve all stumbled, scuffed a metaphorical knee, or taken a blow. It’s a fact of life. And unless you are living in a bubble, it’ll likely happen again. Something to be aware of especially in the era of instant everything.

Like that rose as long as you are putting words to paper you will be an author. No matter the name you, or those around you choose, it’s a truth that can never be taken away. So, now that my brain is starting to meander off I’ll finish up this post before we really go off the rails. Well, more than I already have that is.

Stay true to who you are, and to the path you have chosen. Stick with the vision you have in place and keep moving forward. Let the naysayers, and opinionated fools fall to the wayside. You’re going to be too damn busy writing to pay them any attention. Or you damn sure better be!

All the Good, Bad, and Ugly Excuses NOT to Write by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #authors

All the Good, Bad, and Ugly Excuses NOT to Write by Jules Dixon

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Hey, I get it. You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy. Agreed.

You have kids. I have kids. Sure, they’re adults now, but they still come around once in a while and ask for my attention, and I want to give it to them. Cause…I luvvvvs them. ❤

 

You have a job. I have a job. I unclog toilets and sinks for a living as a landlord, as well as write stories to entertain.

You have a spouse/significant other. Ditto. And he likes to talk to me for some weird reason.

You have friends. Yep, have those, too. They don’t always claim me, but I always claim them.

You have a family. Two younger sisters who like to see me once in a while. I think.

You have hobbies and like to give back to your community. Me, too. Cooking, baking, and dancing. Plus, I have a fondness for drinking martinis on Friday afternoons while sitting on a patio enjoying doing nothing. And I participate in the Omaha PRIDE parade and celebration, and other fundraising events during the year to support LGBT advocacy for equality.

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You have animals demanding your attention. Two cats here and yes, they like to be spoiled. Rotten.

You have favorite TV shows/bands/movies to see. I can’t stop watching The Goldbergs, Supernatural, or Friends. Over and over and over.

You have vacations and summer/spring/Christmas breaks. I don’t take vacations very often, but I know the concept and enjoy them when I do. And they’re vital to a healthy life.

And all of this means…You have a life.

Bingo.
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You got it.

I know it.

You. Have. A. Life. 

 

And when it comes to life, we have to make choices between have to do, want to do, and need to do. Priorities can feel like hardships and a drag on your excitement. Scheduling everything is rough to get everything done. And having to justify wanting to write over spending time with your spouse or significant other/friends/kids/family or doing other fun things, well, I know it’s hard to balance all and not have someone feel left out. But it can be done.

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Make your priorities clear. Make a schedule and put it on the fridge/wall/someplace where people in the house see it. Find a time every day that you can notch out just for you to write, even 20 minutes, which can yield 250 words–a page–would mean a 60,000-word novel in 240 days and still leave time in the year for editing and polishing before sending off to a publisher or agent.

I’m not saying to give up all TV time or friends or fun…I’m saying to balance and make sure expectations are set before you enter into an event. If you say to yourself, I can have lunch with my friend, but I will tell her I’ll be leaving at 2 pm to write my 1,000 words for the day.

Or if you want to write as bad as you’d want to watch that next episode of your favorite TV show, then make that the reward.

And FYI, 1,000 words a day x 5 days a week (giving you the weekends off–yep, I said OFF!) would be 260,000 words in a year–that’s over four 60,000-word novels. Four. Yes…

FOUR. That’s a significant number of books written each year. In fact, that’s quite impressive.

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So, set a schedule. Make it a priority. Set expectations. And then do it!

Okay, good luck.

I’m rooting for you!

Hugs, Jules

 

All gifs from Giphy.

 

 

Recipe for success #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday everyone! It’s been a long week, but I’m happy to report that Mother Nature is apparently working on getting herself sorted out. We’ve been seeing blue skies with minimal clouds, and plenty of sun. I also saw a pair of robins out getting a snack, a sure fire sign that spring may have actually, and finally sprung. Fingers crossed! Now, onto the post – it’s a short one today. Too much sitting right after my chiropractor beats me up is exhausting.

Today’s post header is a lot misleading, but with a purpose. Too many people, ads, scammers, spammers, etc. all seem to have the “quick and easy, sure fire way, money making tips that THEY don’t want you to know about” formula that pulls in the unwary, or the lazy. Do. Not. Be. Lazy.

In this business of pouring out every emotion, thought, hope, dream, vindictive thought, guilty pleasure, and everything else onto paper – there is no quick way to shoot to the top. There are two types of authors who make it to the “big time”. Those who had plenty of luck on their side (right place, right time) and those who work hard. Those authors who fall into the first category still had to do a lot of the second. That’s right, hard work. But there is a trick to it, all you need to do is find out what works best for you, and put in the time and effort.

No, it’s not instantaneous, and no, it’s not easy. But to make it truly worthwhile you need to sweat it out, and have a couple sleepless nights. At the very least. In the end you’ll be all the more appreciative of the success, big or small, that you’ve gained. Because you earned it your way.

You need to think about writing, promo, and everything authoresque as that recipe you found online and are attempting for the first time. It may not work at all, or it may be just the ticket. But like any recipe you tackle sometimes it needs tweaking. Perhaps it had too much of this, and not enough of that. So you adjust and try again. Writing, like cooking or baking is always a work in progress. What may have worked a month ago may not be getting it done today. Don’t give up, just change how you’re looking at the problem.

Think outside the box you’re currently in. The air will do you good, and you never know what you might find out there. Can it be discouraging? Sure. But think of the euphoria you’ll feel when you find that right mix that gets you productive again. So get out there and find the recipe that works for you. Just don’t think it will always remain 100% the same.

Some pointers to help you on the long road:

  • Persistence is a virtue
  • Research is your friend
  • Watch and learn all you can
  • Ask questions when you hit a wall
  • Educate yourself, it’ll only help you get better
  • Set goals, from small to big to achieve each day for a sense of accomplishment
  • Learn when to step back and take a breath
  • and most of all, Don’t beat yourself up. This is a marathon not a sprint.

It’s a tough gig you’ve chosen, but knowing your limits and knowing when to push past them will get you far. Also, never be afraid to ask for help. The author community is vast and rather knowledgeable. Just make sure you know what you’re asking for to ensure no one feels their time is being wasted. We all get stumped from time to time, it’s okay if you do too. And, no matter what, keep on keeping on.

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.

Two Great Words: The End by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #MondayMessages #WriterTips

Two Great Words: The End

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So for the last two weeks I’ve been talking about the Three Act Structure. We’ve visited the beginning of a story (aka Act 1 or the excitement of meeting characters and finding out their goals, motivations, and conflicts) and the middle (aka Act 2 where we take those conflicts and we make them even worse).

So now, we’re at the end.

The End.

Those are two words authors dream of typing and when it comes down to it, nothing ever feels better.

So once a writer has taken their characters to rock bottom and had the worst of the worst happen, they’ve broken up, shit has hit the fan, everything looks like it can’t ever be fixed, and the readers are wondering: How in the world are they going to get back together? This is Act III. 

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The resolution to the story.

In the conclusion, readers must find closure. The main characters in romance will always end up together, either in a happily-ever-after or happily-for-now. And while we do this, an author must still maintain the same emotion that they have built throughout the story. Pulling those heart strings of the reader.  

For instance, in one of my stories, Rest, My Love, the black moment comes when Rahl, the leading man’s PTSD comes to a head and when he finds the leading lady, Sage, in the arms of another man comforting her. He punches the man and Sage has to make the hard decision to end their relationship for his sake as he needs to concentrate on getting better.

Rest, My Love Excerpt: 

“Sage…” Rahl stepped toward me and reached out.

I stepped back and the rain dribbled down my cheek, like tears but colder. “No. I just came out here to tell you that we need to take a break, Rahl. I need a break from us.”

“You don’t mean that. You’re my angel. We were brought together to save—”

“Each other? It seems like I’m trying to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. I’m getting sucked into your vortex of guilt and anger and I can’t handle it. I just started to love life again.” I stared into those eyes that melted a part of my heart. “Because of you.” My bottom lip tingled with the want to kiss him, but I fought giving in. “But you’re taking that away from me.”

“I love you, Sage.”

My body shuddered, some from the cold rain and some from struggling not to give in, but I needed to be strong. “I know you love me. From the moment you said it, I never doubted that fact.”

“Then can we just forget what happened?”

I didn’t want to forget, I wanted him to remember, to remember that his actions hurt people, and I couldn’t stand by and watch him crumble and take me down with him.

“No. I can’t forget. Just like you can’t forget the things that have happened to you and the things you know about Easton, and the darkness that is eating you from the inside out and the memories and fears that cloud your judgment.” I hiccupped a sob. “I forgive you for everything, but there are other people you need to atone to, including yourself. I don’t want to be another person to get caught in one of your explosions of impulsive emotion.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hit you, but he had his hands on you.”

“No, you didn’t mean to hit me, but if you hadn’t gone straight to violence and let me talk to you, you would have found out that Ollie and I are…” I swallowed as I stared into the eyes that melted my willpower. I looked away.

Maybe it would be easier for him to think the worst? If there is a time to be a good liar, it is now.

I stood straight. “You would’ve found out that Ollie and I are starting a relationship and you and I … we are finished.”

Rahl’s face paled. “You’re lying. You told me he was nothing.”

I mumbled, “I pray you get better, Rahl,” and tried to skirt past him.

He moved in front of me. “No, I don’t accept it. I don’t know why you’re lying to me but I’ll find out.” His hand ran down my arm to my wrist and he brought it to his mouth for a gentle kiss. “You’re killing me, Sage.”

Water droplets showered me as I shook my head. “No, Rahl. You’re killing yourself.”

Now, I could’ve done many things to bring them back together, but in the end, I had to torture them a little while longer while they were apart and give the reader more reasons for wanting them to come back together. I’m not going to tell you what I did, but it showed how much they were meant to be together, so when they actually ended up in the same room and Rahl was all better, the lightning bolts flew between them like they were two thunderstorms colliding, and when the storm was over, everything was good again, and then I had one more chapter to finish up all the tiny loose ends.

And their love is true, beautiful, and the real deal.

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When an author really comes to the end, the last sentences can make or break the novel. That final moment needs to remind the reader of something important, a repeated theme or a special element between the two characters. A final piece of the puzzle to make the reader go–YES!  

In Rest, My Love, I bring back something that Sage said to Rahl in the first chapter. So Sage says: 

I hadn’t forgotten my past, but I lived for the future and Rahl had decided to do the same.

And together we would create the sweet music of love for the rest of our lives.

Only you, Rahl. Only … you.

So the end can make or break a novel. Make sure yours gives the reader what they want, but not always exactly as they want. A surprise is always a good thing. 

Okay, until next Monday.

Hugs and ❤ Jules

GIFs from http://www.giphy.com. 

Unrealistic portrayals #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Triggers in Writing #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Hello, lovely folks, Doris here. As the title says, I’m talking triggers today. Specifically those reactions readers might have when they read your story.

There is some debate in the writing industry and amongst readers about this, so firstly, let’s look at how the dictionary defines triggers.

 

ˈtrɪɡə/
noun
plural noun: triggers
  1. 1.
    a small device that releases a spring or catch and so sets off a mechanism, especially in order to fire a gun.
    “he pulled the trigger of the shotgun”
    • an event that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation.
      “the trigger for the strike was the closure of a mine”
verb
3rd person present: triggers
  1. 1.
    cause (a device) to function.
    “burglars fled empty-handed after triggering the alarm”
    synonyms: activate, set off, set going, trip

    “burglars triggered the alarm”
    • cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.
      “an allergy can be triggered by stress or overwork”
      synonyms: precipitate, prompt, trigger off, set off, spark (off), touch off, stimulate, provoke, stir up, fan the flames of; More
    • (of an event or situation) cause (someone) to do something.
      “the death of Helen’s father triggered her to follow a childhood dream and become a falconer”
    • (especially of something read, seen, or heard) distress (someone), typically as a result of arousing feelings or memories associated with a particular traumatic experience.
      “she started crying and told me that my news had really triggered her”

     

 

What this doesn’t explain, is the gut wrenching reaction the person who triggers will have to this. I never really understood it either, until it happened to me. I was reading a blurb, and wham…. there it was a trigger I didn’t even know I had.

Or rather I knew it made me uncomfortable, due to this particular subject being a cause of considerable upset and trauma for someone very close to me and this person still struggles with her demons every day. It was a particularly painful time for us all as a family. I’m being vague on purpose, so forgive me.

This is is not the vehicle to discuss this matter, and I guess in part that is one of the reasons why I reacted so strongly to this story.

I’d come across it previously in a dark romance I read, and I had to stop reading it. It was just too close to home for me, but, at least, it was a dark romance and in this story, it was done to the heroine, not self-inflicted. I still couldn’t read about it mind you, but that’s my own personal cross to bear if you like.

I certainly didn’t blame the author for writing it – though some warnings about it would have been appreciated – but this is where the contention comes in.

As authors, we need to be able to write the stories we see fit to write. And if you listed every possible trigger or objection someone might find in your story (which in itself is an impossibility, because human beings are so unique in their likes and dislikes) the list of warnings would be longer than the actual story.

Only half kidding.

What we authors must do, however, is think long and hard if the subject matter we’re writing about is suitable material for the category we’re writing in. In this instance, an erotic romance. Personally, and again, this is my opinion, and I am fully aware that I simply cannot be objective in my assessment here, this particular subject has no place in an Erotic romance. Now a YA one, hell yeah. I still couldn’t bring myself to read it but done sensitively and in the right framework, it could be hugely beneficial to readers.

I recently watched the Netflix series 13 Reasons why which deals with the reasons why a teenager killed herself and is based on the best-selling book of that name.

Harrowing, yet compelling watching, and it highlights an important issue. Triggers galore in there as you can imagine, and I dare say lots of people couldn’t watch/read it.

Yet it was a story so worth telling in that framework,

That blurb that triggered my very intense reaction…..

Well, I don’t know, because I certainly will not be reading it. I hope/assume the author has done her research with this sensitive issue, and I shall let the readers decide on that one.

Like I stated above I would never tell an author what they can or cannot write. And as someone pointed out to me, that blurb did a good job, in so far that it told me that there was no way on this earth that I would read that particular story.

Strong words, I know, but I still feel sick when I think about it. Which is by no means that author’s fault, but it’s something to be aware of when/if you do choose to tackle a subject which can cause strong emotions.

I had to come off FB that day, read lots of laugh out loud romances to distract me before I lost that sick feeling of dread in my stomach, the clammy hands and the rage at what I had read.

It made me understand those readers better who leave incensed reviews because they came across something they didn’t expect when reading.

Triggers, when they happen to you whilst reading are painful, real and they evoke emotions that surprise the feck out of you.

Had I written this blog post then it would have been an expletive-filled rant, which would not have been fair or constructive.

After all, that author didn’t set out to ruin my day. She just wrote the story she needed/wanted to tell and that is all any of us can do.

However, keep those potential triggers in mind when you are writing as best you can.

That’s all from me today.

Do stay naughty, folks.

Dxxx

 

Enough to fill an ocean #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

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

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

YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

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

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

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

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

YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

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

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