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. 

Conflict: Ramp up Drama by Jules Dixon #WritingTips #MondayMessages @JulesofTripleR

Conflict: Ramp up Drama

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Last week I talked about beginnings of stories and this week I’m taking on the dreaded…sagging middle of a story…aka Act II…and the part where all the drama and plot happens in a story. And as much as I want to believe authors celebrate and acknowledge this section of the story, the fact is a lack of true conflict in stories happens too frequently and too many plots are easily resolved with one question.

Act One, the beginning, is exciting to write because you’re inventing people, places, and problems. The end or Act III is easy because it’s a culmination of tension and the reveal of either love or death or a moment that changes everything—a black moment.

But it’s the stuff in the middle of those two that takes a lot of work.

Sometimes combining action, dialogue, setting, and so much more into words comes naturally–I’d say about 1.945% of the time for 1.982% of the writers. But the other 98.008% of us writers have to think about how to make a story sing and keep readers interested…and more. Because if we don’t, we can end up writing a story where no drama, no events, no problems, and no progress ever exists.

And it’s a fact…

giphy (46)Readers want drama.

Readers want problems. Readers want to see characters mixed up and torn down and drug through the mud before they figure their lives out. Readers do not want a blasé, so-so, emotionally bereft story with characters who never progress from the first chapter and remain exactly the same. But planning the drama can take energy and is always a hard examination of what your character’s goals, motivations, and conflicts really are.

So “sagging middles” happen when characters in a story are just living their ho-hum lives. Sagging middles of stories occur when characters aren’t faced with major hurdles to lead to changes in both their external lives and their internal emotions. And boring–ahem, I mean sagging–middles continue when characters don’t face problems head on in a timely manner.

Imagine reading a book where the author tells you the brand of toothpaste a character loves? Why does it matter? Normally that kind of information doesn’t. BUT…if he’s self-conscious about his teeth cause he stopped smoking three years ago after a long bout of lung cancer and the stains remind him of how close he came to mortality, knowing why he thinks about what kind of toothpaste he chooses could be the beginning of a conflict which could propel a reader forward.

It’s examining what conflict is needed to show the themes and will resonate toward a solution most effectively.

 

My writing friend, Cheryl St. John relays that in romance, the central conflict usually revolves around “Why can’t he love her?” and “Why can’t she love him?”. What is it keeping the two lovers apart?

This conflict usually involves two sides: an internal component (emotional/past event/himself) and an external component (man/nature/inanimate object).

For example:

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A cowboy/ rancher sets his sights on the mayor’s daughter who moved back to town after her husband died in an accident, but in the process of wooing her, he not only to find out the mayor is coming for his land to create a new state park but that the object of his affection remains loyal to her father.

So in the example, we have good conflict, but it’s always about ratcheting up the conflict that helps to make a story go from interesting to great. Hurdles for the character to overcome are those conflicts.

I’ve heard of an exercise when trying to figure out the conflicts of an Act II. Take your main conflict and write it on a 3×5 notecard. Then start dreaming up other conflicts that could happen. Fill out a new card for each, starting it with “but” or “but then”. And then other conflicts.

In our example, ratcheting and advancing might include:

But his brother wants to sell out to use the money to follow his own dream.

But then the house catches on fire on the property and our cowboy/rancher has to live in the barn.

But the property has been in his family for 200 years, he feels an obligation.

But he’s had a crush on this girl since high school when he was a geek and she was the shy girl who never spoke to anyone.

But back then he was a geek, but not anymore, he’s matured in all the right ways.

But she won’t call him back and when he sees her in town she ignores him.

But the mayor has a heart attack and his love is upset.

But she has never rebelled against her father.

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After a writer has 15-20 cards with conflicts, then they can decide which ones seem most likely and write the meat of the story off of those conflicts. When determining conflict take a look at each card trying to see if there is dilemma, denial or decision to be written out…and how much drama is there to be explored. Which ones lead to great dialogue? Which conflicts can’t be handled quickly? Do any of these hinder his ability to get his goal?

What we need to keep in mind is that drama is between two people—not one sided. If the hero and heroine aren’t actually clashing or coming to heads about something important to both of them, it’s a lost battle from the beginning and the reader won’t care. In every scene, one character wants something from another character.

There you have it–Conflict–ratchet up the drama writers! Bring on the emotional issues, the people who want to keep them apart, and the storms to drown readers on an excitement roller coaster.

Next week I’ll be talking about the end of a story.

Until then–have a great week!

❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

All gifs from Giphy.com.

Starting Again–Writing and Blogging by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #MondayMessages

Starting Again–Writing and Blogging

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So the Naughty Quills is now reorganized and we have new posting days for most or all of us. So I get to kick the weeks off from now on and I’m excited about this!

Today I’d like to talk about starting again as the topic relates to writing…and blogging.

As writers, we start again… a lot. Obviously, every story begins somewhere. And that place holds importance.

Beginnings are scary. If they don’t hold enough power, then readers aren’t interested. If they hold too much power and the story doesn’t hold up to the grandiosity of the beginning, then readers are upset the story wasn’t as epic as promised.

Act I, as the beginning of a three act structure is referred to, is the setup of the story. This portion is usually about 25% of the book. This time not only shows the hero/heroine in their normal environment but also sets the mood, characterizations, setting, and details the reader will want to know going forward.

The beginning of the book has to have a hook, a goal for the hero/heroine to achieve or a problem for the hero/heroine to overcome. This portion also presents the main conflict, both internal and external, by jumping into the action and getting the hero or heroine to go in a different direction or to question what they thought. Along with these conflicts, we will often learn their motivation–why is this goal important to them?

Lots of writers, editors, agents, etc will say there are ways that you should NEVER start a story. And although they mean well, I say start the story and then fix it from there. Don’t worry about the rules and standards and dos and don’ts.

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We all have different styles. What works for me as a beginning won’t always work for another writer, but that’s great! Beginnings are like sunglasses–what works on my face, doesn’t work on my daughter’s, but we share a DNA like writers share a passion. So we search for the right pair, the right look for us, the right color or shape.

And the same goes for beginnings. It’s a search. It’s trying things out. It’s making the mistake of wearing Audrey Hepburn sized glasses but finding out John Lennon circle glasses work the best.

giphy (44)Same with blogging. We all have different topics, strengths, weaknesses, issues that we face, so no two blogs–even if they’re on the same topic–will ever be the same.

A few other articles you might want to take a look at:

10 Ways to Start Your Story Better by Jacob M. Appel

Why Stories Should Never Start at the Beginning by Chuck Wendig

Plotting a Novel in Three Acts Opening Scene by Janalyn Voigt

My rules that I set up in my first post on Naughty Quills still stand and can be found here, Hump Day Hangout A New Girl on the Naughty Block.

So go try on different styles and colors of sunglasses because the right beginning can be blinding!

Next week I’ll look at Act II–the middle of a story.

Until then, have a great week everyone!

Jules

All Gifs from Giphy.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confused much? #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Hello one and all, welcome to another #SensualSunday post. Another week lies ahead of us, and who knows what it might bring. Maybe new ideas, or a plot twist, or even a solution to that section in your latest WIP that’s been driving you insane. One never knows but if you keep your eyes and ears open you never know what you may find.

Today’s post is all about genre choice. Seems simple enough. But I’ve run across some books that have left me feeling dazed and highly confused about their genre.

As any author knows our characters are our guiding forces. They tell us what we need to know to form the story they have to share. To an author they are living, breathing beings and while they don’t have any real form to them, the story they are contained in gives them shape.

Now, determining who these characters are, where they are from, what they do, believe in, and so forth helps an author to figure out what the genre of the book will be. I’m not talking about what genres your publisher (if you use one) might list it under, but your core genre. For instance, Paranormal or Sci-Fi. Everything outside of that, like romance, BDSM, etc. is icing on the cake. But an author needs to know, going in, what their genre is to be.

Could it change part way through? Sure, but if it does that means the previously written portions need to be altered/updated to fit. You can’t have half a book being one genre and the rest something else entirely. It’s like writing a werewolf story that suddenly because a zombie horror but there was never any mention of zombies! This is also where reader confusion kicks in. If a reader doesn’t feel like they have just read a cohesive work, they are going to say something. Usually nothing very flattering.

Time for an example. One book I read a while back was decidedly a paranormal romance. Clear as day. No question about it. Then I hit roughly the two-thirds mark and everything changed. Took on a fantasy, almost sci-fi feel to it. Threw me for one hell of a loop. Had me questioning all I’d previously read. Was it so subtle that I missed the clues the author had potentially dropped? Sadly, no. I finished the book, let it digest, and then went back to read it again a couple days later. I knew the ending, knew all this additional information, but it still was reading as a para-romance for over the first half of the book. No hint (and I was reading word for word slowly) of the shift in dynamics/situation to come. It was almost as if the author had run out of material and smooshed in some extra stuff they’d had on the side to get their word count up. After the second reading I was even more confused by the story, and while the characters had remained (for the most part) the same through it all, that sudden jolt to a whole new tale part way through rattled me.

Now, as an author myself I can’t post reviews on sites under my author name. Not that I apparently needed to. Between the time I’d bought the book, and then got around to reading it, there had been several reviews left about it. All had more or less the same core theme to them – what the hell had they just read? And ratings that reflected this overall thought. All of which dragged the book down through the ranks because folks were shying away from it.

Was it a good read? Yup, right up to that point where everything began to change, and not for the better. If the author had written these two genres as separate books they’d likely have had raving reviews from the readers. But smashing them into one just made one hell of a mess. Running out of material for a story is absolutely no excuse to do this. Stories are only as long as they need to be. Not determined by us authors, but by our characters.

So let’s be clear here. Pick your genre based on what your characters are feeding you. If, and it can happen, the characters lead you in a new direction like my example above then go back to the beginning and fix it. Keep your story one cohesive piece that is melded in perfection. Any editor worth their salt would catch you making this mistake, but for those who don’t have one at their disposal for whatever reason, take care. At the very least use a beta reader to ensure what you have to publish is a tight work that reflects on you in the best light.

XO Moira Callahan

So You Want To Be a Writer? by Jules Dixon @JulesOfTripleR #HumpDayHangout

So You Want to Be a Writer?

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There is no higher high than when a new author submits to a publisher and the story is accepted or the author decides to take the path of self-publishing and sees their baby on a variety of publishing platforms. It’s like climbing a mountain and standing at the peak in awe of the dirt on your boots and the lack of oxygen making your head spin. In a good way. Kind of.

But first, as with any journey, it begins with a single step. And yes, that is a take on a famous saying but it still fits.

I hear it a lot…

“I’d love to be an author!” or “I have a great idea for a story.” or “I started writing this story 9 years, 6 months, and 27 days ago. I haven’t picked it up since, but I really think it would be great. Will you take a look at it?”

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And that’s great!

But writing is not easy. Writing has rules. Writing has standards. Writing is hard. 

Like really hard.

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So when someone comes to me and says those words “I want to write a book.” I am all on board. Seriously. I am willing to listen and to encourage and to cheer them on. But…I won’t write it for them. And I won’t critique everything they write. And although I will listen when they start to feel the pressure, I will not give them permission to stop writing, because only they can give themselves that. I believe in finishing what you start, but I understand when someone can’t do that. Each journey is the writer’s only.

So where do you start? 

Of course, an idea is good. But that’s only a teeny-tiny piece of a story.

First, a writer has to figure out what point of view is right for the story.

Then there are characters and setting to consider.

Then plotting, conflicts and acts to figure out.

Then arcs of the characters to solidify.

Then what ending will wrap up all storylines.

And those are basics, it gets really deep…like complicated…like crazy complicated to write a good story. A really GREAT story.

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So…where to start is here…

READ! Read craft books that talk about developing stories and the basics and the middles and all the rest.

A few of the ones I have in my library are:

Building Fiction: How to Develop Plot and Structure by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker

5 Secrets of Story Structure: How to Write a Novel that Stands Out by K.M. Weiland

There are plenty of others that can be of use, too and I’d love to know about more if you have a favorite . But the point is…read about how to write and how to write well. At least you have a foundation to build your story on. And then sit down and write. Because to get to “The End” you have to trudge through the beginning and the middle.

So if you want to write…do it! Prepare and do it!

And as always…HUMP DAY HAPPINESS to all! ❤ Jules

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Alpha Heroes: Taking the A-hole out of Alpha-holes by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #HumpDayHangout

Alpha Heroes: Taking the A-hole out of Alpha-holes

This past weekend I decided to check out the sample of a book, and after reading the first few offered chapters I was seeing red.

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Red Jules is not a good thing, I promise.

Why was I seeing red? Because what was probably meant to be an “Alpha male” was so extremely offensive that I couldn’t see past his criminally repulsive internal thoughts and behavior to imagine him as a believable person.

So today, I want to delve into what is an Alpha male character versus what is an Alpha-hole one. Doris O’Connor has already given us some interesting thoughts in her post, Write an Alpha, Not an A-hole.  

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First, I want to be clear–an Alpha male is not based on looks, not about being able to physically injure someone, and not defined by the ability to rip a tank top off his body. Sure, more attractive males might have an advantage with gaining the interest of an intended mate, but if their personality doesn’t hold up to the pretty package, then it’s a fail. He could be a Jensen Ackles or a Ryan Reynolds in looks, but if he’s rude and self-involved and believes he’s infallible, then he’s already failed the Alpha versus Alpha-hole test. He’s just a gigantic hole—and there’s no six-pack perfect enough in the world to overcome that failure.

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Second, definitions. An Alpha male is a character who exhibits self-control and integrity when it comes to his body, his thoughts, his dialogue, and his actions. A character who does three out of the four might be an Alpha as long as the instances of disregard are rare and not flagrant, but one who only does one or two out of four on a consistent basis is an Alpha-hole. From an examination of many books, an Alpha-hole will often have excessive internal dialogue, as in he only thinks of himself. He stinks like an actual asshole and there is not a body spray on the market that will make him smell good enough to be worthy of the leading love interest.

For instance, this example (and these are all fabricated from my mind and in no way taken verbatim from any book):

A pressure built in his groin. Gotta fuck her tonight. “Can’t stop thinking about you.” He grabbed his crotch and adjusted himself, making sure she viewed his growing cock, the one that would be her present tonight. What I wouldn’t do to bend her over and take her from behind, hearing her yell for mercy.

Okay, the pressure building in his groin—totally male, bodily reactions happen. We realize biology and attraction have effects, believable and common. His dialogue relatively sexy, in my mind, at least. Could he do better to engage the other main character? Sure. The grabbing of the crotch and over-acting his attraction, not Alpha, just a massive hole in humanity. And then the internal dialogue—O.M.G. no! That’s about as non-consensual as it comes, and not attractive in a man. And possibly, quite criminal if he acts on those thoughts.

Now what if this happened:

“My mind hasn’t stopped wandering back to last night. I’d really enjoy refreshing my memory tonight.” His body pulsed blood to his crotch. His cock really did have a mind of its own, but he’d appreciated her self-control with him last night. Patience would be rewarded. “Wanna meet up for a drink tonight? Say, seven at the Blue Point on Jackson Street?”

Do you see a difference? He’s talking, acting, thinking, and speaking with authority, restraint, and intention. He’s giving her kudos. He’s asking her for another chance. He’s making an effort. But we also know what it’s doing to him inside, instigating his natural impulses. That push and pull in a character is so much sexier than the character who beats his chest in the first example and practically yells, “Me, Tarzan. You, Jane … we do stuff!”

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Two, an Alpha male respects others and does not denigrate anyone. Let me repeat … Anyone! An Alpha male will not tear someone down to make himself look or feel better. And an Alpha male does not impress women with racism, misogyny, egoism, narcissism, homophobia, or sexism. Or any other -ism that makes his beliefs more important than hers or his depending on the genre of book.

For example:

“Hey, baby, why don’t we get out of here?” He leaned casually against the counter.

Jane’s eyes narrowed. “Again, I’m not interested.” She turned her back.

She’d brushed him off for the last time. He’d have her tonight.

“Are you a lesbian? Cause any girl in this room would give her left tit to be with me.” He made sure to speak his mind so the whole room heard.

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Breathe…just breathe.

This example makes me see red. Crimson covered in maroon and dipped in ruby red then splattered with blood red, with steam coming from my ears! I want to reach into the book and shake the character and the author—and that author was me right there. I’m sick just having written it. Honestly, nauseated. And yes, this is similar–but not nearly as bad–to a book I read lately … and no, it’s not Alpha, not even close. Not within a mile. Universe!

If the love interest has made it clear he/she doesn’t want attention, then sure, the hero needs to find another tact, but attempting to insult him/her at the expense of LGBT people is not that tact. That’s tactless. This isn’t what an Alpha male will do. He’ll examine his love interest closer, find a commonality to build a connection, explore similarities and differences, and he’ll revel in those differences, not dismiss them.

If she/he’s spunky, he’ll find that sexy. If she/he makes him wait for sex, he’ll find her/his self-control attractive. If she/he turns him down, he won’t quit, but he won’t resort to insults or intimidation tactics to make her submit!

Without those basic common-sense and generally well-behaved attributes, the guy is alpha-hole material, writers. And it’s not attractive in a real man either. So keep the belittling and put downs out of male heroes. Persistence and determination, yes, those qualities are attractive, but not if someone has to be treated like shit to demonstrate them.

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Lastly, being an Alpha is not about control. It’s about demonstrating restraint to explore his own insecurities and growth. An Alpha-hole refuses to relinquish control because he believes that would show weakness. Thus, there cannot be growth in the character, if the character assumes he’s perfect from the beginning. And even if the character attempts redemption and self-improvement, the reader will never believe him because there wasn’t any humility to start with. It’s a crash and burn. Our characters must have discretion to be believable and plausible and to have what is called an ARC, which is a transformation, a journey of the inner and outer self.

Men who only exhibit self-indulgent behaviors make readers uncomfortable and not in the good ways. If internal thoughts are continually juvenile and disrespectful and self-centered, then the reader might find it exhausting to experiencing a male who constantly thinks of nothing but “tapping that ass” or “going balls-deep” or how impressive he is—none of which in repetition tells us anything about him, except that he’s an Alpha-hole.

If the male hero is only an egotistical, self-involved man, then he’d also believe he couldn’t fail. He’s invincible! That’s not realistic. We have to show he has some self-awareness to make him know he’s not perfect and capable of change. And failure can be sexy, too.

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Writers, I want us to expand our skills and make our characters more interesting for the good and advancement of the romance genre. So consider this litmus test with your main male character(s–in male/male romance)—

  1. Does my Alpha hero talk with respect and interest? Is his dialogue constructive to conversations? Does he uphold not only his self-esteem but also that of those around him?
  2. Does my Alpha show restraint when it comes to his natural urges? How does he “put in check” his libido to get to know the other leading character? Can I show his control and need without making him seem petulant or juvenile?
  3. Are my Alpha’s actions in keeping with his thoughts, speech, and bodily cravings? Does he touch the other hero/heroine with reverence, making their needs as important as his own? Is he/she treated in a way that portrays his true inner Alpha? Does the Alpha find the hero/heroine attractive in other ways, other than just a fantastic ass or beautiful eyes?
  4. Are his internal thoughts lending growth or just making him seem self-important? Do those thoughts demonstrate some measure of humility or understanding that he’s capable of failing or he has to try harder for this one person he wants the most out of all the people out there?

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Like Doris O’Connor, I’m passionate about this subject. Have I written a male character who bordered (but still wasn’t) on Alpha-hole? Yes, but not as the main character, and those characters are used as obstruction and conflict with the Alpha hero and heroine/hero. So I’m not saying don’t ever write an Alpha-hole, I’m saying use restraint and be purposeful.

Think about your favorite books. What about the character made you think, “Yes, I’d love to be his?”

Until next week, more tequila for all, big hugs, and as always—stay humpy!

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All GIFs from Giphy.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

Say what now? #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Welcome back everyone to another #SensualSunday post. I thought this week I would do up a post with some of the most common abbreviations and words you may come across in your writing career. This list is definitely not the total of it all, there are more than I can remember, and ones that I come across each day that I end up have to look up to figure out what the ever loving heck someone is talking about/referring to. But it’ll get you started. I should also mention that I’ve avoided putting in all the Texting slang although it was a close thing because it’s amazing how many editors I’ve had that have used the slang in their comments.

Endings:

  • HEA – Happily Ever After
  • HFN – Happy For Now (often used in serials)

Sexual Partners:

  • FF – Female Female, lesbian relationship
  • MF – Male Female, heterosexual relationship
  • MM – Male Male, gay relationship
  • MFM, MMF, MMFM, MFMM, FFM, FMF – Multiple partner relationship (can vary, and be mixed up many ways), also often referred to as Ménage
    • MFM – Both males are sexually active with the female, but do not touch one another
    • MMF – Both males are sexually active with one another, but also include a female partner
    • etcetera…

Other:

  • ARC – Advanced Reader Copy, also Advanced Review Copy
  • BDSM – an overlapping abbreviation meaning: Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM)
  • Erotic* – A work that leans toward the story more than the mechanics of sex, or the characters sexual antics; Still has plenty of sex
  • Erotica* – A work that leans more to the sexual heat, hungers, desires, actions of the characters than the story of how they met, their interests, etc.; Mostly sex less getting to know one another
  • Mainstream – Stories with no, or little sexual heat/activities; They can appeal to a wider audience unlike some other genres
  • MC – Main Character (not to be confused with MC Romance, or Motorcycle Club Romance)
  • MS – Manuscript
  • NA** – New Adult, a term for stories that usually are focused on the 18-30 age group, some publishers may refer to it as “Mainstream”
  • POV – Point Of View
  • PRN – Paranormal
  • R&R – Review & Rewrite, meaning your work requires some tweaks/fixes prior to resubmitting and possible acceptance, this is NOT a refussal to publish the work
  • Serial – A single story broken down into pieces/individual books
  • Series – Each book is a completed work, but the same characters carry through the other books
  • SFF – Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • TBC – To Be Continued
  • TBD – To Be Decided
  • TSTL – Too Stupid To Live, usually (like 99.99999999999% of the time) refers to the story’s heroine we all want to see fall down an elevator shaft while strapped to a C-4 packet on a short fuse
  • WIP – Work In Progress, the story you’re currently working on
  • YA** – Young Adult, a term for stories that usually are focused on the12-18 age group

* The distinction is very fine between Erotic and Erotica. Each publisher, and third party site selling your books has it’s own definition. For example Amazon® changed their definition between the two roughly a year or so ago putting a lot of us Erotic Romance authors into the Erotica category on their site, and thus hiding our Adult content safely away from the masses. We’re still pissed about this one FYI, but it’s the almighty Zon and therefore we authors have zero say in the matter. Or anything else they do on the site.

** Both the NA and the YA may have different guidelines governing them depending on your publisher. If you are an Indie, do your research into the genre you’re working in to ensure you don’t overstep any boundaries where it ends up with a classification you didn’t want. Some YA works fall into the category due to the lack of sexual content, and the same can be said for the NA. From what I’ve found (to date), these categories are usually based on the subject matter within the story. Things like loss, coming of age, those first steps into adulthood, etc.

While there are many more, and likely even more to come in the years ahead, this is a damn fine start to help you out. If you have another term you’ve used/had used in reference to your works please feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll update the list to keep it current. We can all use this list from time to time I’m sure.

For some other fun new author acronyms, check out Steve Laube’s post. Both funny, and useful.

XO Moira Callahan

Woman pretends to kiss man

Emotional baggage #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Welcome back folks, as I write this the weather outside is rather frightful, but it provides interesting mood to say the least. This #SensualSunday post is all about emotions. That we use in our writing, and those that effect our writing.

Let’s be honest – authors can be rather emotional. We are invested in our characters, their story, their happiness, what’s going on around them, and so much more. This is not a bad thing by a long shot, but not today’s focus. Nope, today’s focus is on what an author feels and how it can change their story.

I personally can happily admit that when I’ve had a bad day, been in a piss poor mood, and/or been ready to do bodily harm – I have sat down at my computer to either write a scene in a current WIP, or opened up a new doc to write out my mood. I have several docs in a special folder titled, I kid you not, my Kill Folder. Yup. I actually have a folder saved with all the dismemberment’s, murder’s, and various other brutal endings to folks lives tucked away on my computer. Some scenes, with tweaks to fit in better, have made it into my WIP’s while others may well rot inside that folder.

bebe llorandoFor an author our writing is an outlet for all our emotional baggage. If we sad, angry, joyful, annoyed, or feeling blue we have the perfect place to put it all – in our writing. But there are two sides to this story. While being in an emotionally charged place can help in writing a specific scene (angry – killing off a character, sad – characters saying their goodbyes, etc.) we do need to take care not to try writing a scene in our MS that doesn’t fit our current mood.

A prime example – you just received some bad news, your emotions are all over the map, you’re crying, ranting, not in a great place. Why the hell are you trying to force yourself to write a sex scene? Not to say there are not authors out there who can’t take negative emotions and channel them into something different, but most of us are not wired in that manner. And your readers will notice that the scene that should be happy, or sexually charged feels off or even awkward, like you were forcing yourself to write something you weren’t emotionally into. So don’t. If you’re not feeling the mood of where your WIP is – write something else. Go onto a different scene that better suits where you are in the moment, or like I do, start a folder to let out everything in a non-destructive (in reality) manner.

Not only will your characters, and story thank you but so will your editor and your readers. In the end you too will be much happier with how the story turned out, which is a great feeling and one we all strive to achieve. “Write what you know” isn’t merely about jobs or places, people or situations, it’s also about the emotions we feel or don’t in any given situation.

Moral of today’s post – Don’t force that which you’re not feeling.

XO Moira Callahan

Sexy couple in bed

Recipe for a Book Blurb with Less Fat, More Flavor #HumpDayHangout with @JulesofTripleR

Recipe for a tasty book blurb with less fat, more flavor.

recipe-for-a-blurb

I’m going to say a word that will make some—maybe the majority of—writers cringe.

Blurb.

No, that’s not a bodily noise like a belch or a burp.

In case you’re not familiar, a book blurb is the well-organized and expressive words that a make a reader fall in love with your book. It’s the description of what was written. A succinct and interesting representation of say 20,000 words? 50,000 words? Or maybe even 100,000 plus words … in 50 to 150 words.

Yes, it’s taking what took thousands of words to communicate and shrinking it down to only a few sacred and poignant words.

Blurb is another word for hell. Of that I’m positive.

So yesterday, I sat with a new writer who had polished her brand new 15,000-word baby to a sparkling shine, ready to submit to a publisher, so excited and starry-eyed, and then I showed her the joys of writing…the blurb.

And she loved it!

I’m kidding.

She agreed that it was a pain just above having a bikini wax after allowing four months of winter growth down there. And those authors who love doing it, they are indeed a special breed—of crazy. But love you crazies!

However, blurbs are a necessary and required agony that comes with writing.

So here’s how we started.

First, we looked for blurbs of popular books in her genre that spoke to us on Amazon. What did they all have in common? I found three things.

  1. The blurbs were brief and informative. Ones that were longer seemed over-done.
  2. The blurbs used lots of figurative language but gave real details as well.
  3. The blurbs kept the reader guessing, and in the end, wanting to know more.

So we worked together to create a blurb for her submission, and in the end, it was fun. Kind of.

Here would be my recipe for a romance blurb. Note, it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. It’s a recipe that’s meant to be flavored with your seasonings. Baked in your brain oven, and served only when you’ve trimmed, plated, and decorated it into a beautiful presentation. In other words—don’t rush it! Take your time. Run it by a couple of other authors. We’re here to help—really!

Jules’ Recipe for a Blurb.

  1. Character XYZ before their conflict, little about them. What’s happening in their world?
  2. Then something happens to change their life/ideas/perspective/plans/efforts Whatever it is, it’s big!
  3. Then life gets worse! And the character is required to make a decision.
  4. Can the character change/find happiness/make amends before it’s too late?

So for example, I’ll use the blurb from Chaps: Cherry County Cowboys 2.

  1. Where does he start?

Rising rodeo star Nate O’Neill never expected to be living in a small Nebraska ranching town waiting for his rodeo brother to recover from a vicious ride.

Poor Nate, he’s all alone in a strange town. What will he do?

  1. What changes in his life?

His unplanned stop steers him into the arms and bed of local celebrity, Tennessee Reed.

Oh, so he’ll do Tennessee! What fun!

  1. How does it get worse?

Soon he questions what thrills him more—the rodeo or Tenn.

No rodeo? Gasp! But he’s a cowboy! What has that NFL football player done to him?!

  1. Will he change to find his happiness?

Forced to face his reckless past, he’s reminded that relationships can cause damage far worse than any bull ride … and maybe he’s headed for the same suffering again.

So he’s been hurt in the past, will he see that this time is different? That’s something a reader must read the book to find out.

Then I did the same for the other main character in the book, Tennessee Reed.

Professional football draft-pick Tennessee Reed returns home emotionally shattered by the unexpected passing of his father who left Tenn with a hereditary secret buried in his chest. He might be dying inside, but when Nate walks into his life all Tenn’s troubles seem to disappear into those hazel eyes and he’s never felt more alive. Will Tenn follow the cowboy wherever life leads? Or will he protect his heart and watch those fringed leather chaps ride away?

So there you have it! Now, go write your blurb and make it yours.

Hugs to all…and don’t forget! It’s HUMP DAY!

hump-day-bitches

Hump Day Meme Credit

 

Edit or Regret It! #SatisfactionSaturday (@KaceyHammell)

saturday

Good morning everyone! Kacey here again. Happy Saturday! I hope your week was amazing and easy. Hectic schedule here but overall, not too shabby of a week. I even had time to get some writing in, which is a blessing, and daily words have increased my WIP nicely.

In one capacity or another I’ve worked with publishers for over a decade. Many roles, many responsibilities and have a decent amount of insight to various practices that each publisher adheres to. With that knowledge, and discussions with other author friends, I’ve come to know which areas need the most author attention with every release.

The short answer of course, is everything. All details must be maintained and all authors should pay attention to every single minute detail. Editing is one that is the biggest *must* for all releases. The top important thing that has to be given every amount of attention and many passes should be given to every MS. Most authors go through 2-3 rounds of edits. I know there are some that only get 1, and that’s fine and dandy, but I personally think all manuscripts have to have at least 2 rounds of edits, then a thorough Line Edit done by the author.

This is my routine anyway. And I am aware that many publishers do have proofreaders/line editors, HOWEVER, I am a firm believer that it is my duty and responsibility to give every story the quality of my time to make it the best ever. Some publishers SAY they have proofers/line editors, but in my experience I have found for some publishers that isn’t always correct. So after completing edits, some places do NOT send it off to any other individuals for their fresh eyes and to perfect the nitpicks that slip through. Editors and authors are human, we all make mistakes and things slip through the cracks.

2016-07-23-03-20-02

But as I said, I feel it falls more at my feet than anywhere to ensure a story shines. After 2 rounds of edits, I have even asked for a 3rd if there is something I am still struggling with, I do my own line edits. I trust my publishers, but I would rather do everything on my end, without having to rely on anyone else. I will clear all comments/track changes from the MS and make a PDF copy of that “final” copy from the last round of edits. I’ll load that PDF onto my tablet and go through every single sentence – checking punctuation, consistencies, plot points and flow – everything that an author is responsible for with his/her story. Whether it is a 5k story or a 90k story, every sentence is scrutinized and polished. And believe it or not, though I have spent hours in front of my desktop working on 2-3 rounds of edits, I find that I see mistakes a lot clearer if I don’t have the pressure of editor notes and seeing anything other than a clean copy. Reading it as if I am seeing it for the first time, going in with that mentality, helps so much. I’ve even come away with 7-8 pages of errors to fix after the line edit. It can take a while, but like with anything someone has pride in, the MS starts with me. The editing and polish of each story has to be done, and start with me. That quote “the buck stops here”, is how I see things when it comes to my stories and what process they must go through. As much as I love my publisher(s), I believe that I must take matters into my own hands in case something falls through on their end. I’m sure it doesn’t happen but “better safe than sorry”. Besides, an author should never expect their editors to make the stories shine, doing all the work for the author. No way.

Trust your publishers, of course. But always remember that you – the author – are the director of your own story and business.

What final product do you wish to have in the readers’ hands?

 

Until next week,

Happy writing! xo

Kacey (2)