Let’s get real #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Hello, lovely peeps, Doris here with a hefty dose of realism today. I apologize in advance if this turns a bit ranty, but I’m just sick to the back teeth with people’s attitudes to writing.

Many of us quillers on here have touched on the general slump which seems to prevail in sales these days. Not a day goes by it seems, when you hear of another author who hangs up the writing head.

I always shake my head in wonder.

Puzzled Confused Lost Signpost Showing Puzzling Problem

Maybe, I’m just being naive, and of course, I’m not walking in that person’s shoes and there are no doubt a multitude of reasons why a person stops writing, but I just don’t get it.

Writers write. It’s what we do. I know I don’t feel right when I don’t have characters in my head clambering to have their story told. Then again, from as far back as I can remember I’ve spun stories in my head. Imagine my surprise when I found out that some people didn’t do that.

The number of times I was told off for daydreaming in class is unreal. Even nowadays, I can be lost in my own world, and you know I like it there. You’re never lonely when you are constantly concocting stories and get to live a thousand lives. Be that as the characters you write about, or the characters you read about in a book.

I’ve always felt sorry for people who don’t get that enjoyment from immersing yourself in a book.

I digress, however.

So, how then can anyone simply stop writing?

Oh, don’t get me wrong I get the financial reasons behind it. How could I not? Do you think it’s cheap bringing up nine children and assorted furbabies in the south east of the UK?

I can tell you, it’s not. Far from it. Hubby and I had to tighten our belts on more than one occasion, and that’s okay. We chose to have a large family, and we stand by our choices. Hubby has always worked his socks off to support us all, and I have always worked in one form or another to help out with the family income.

At one point, when we had just the two kids, I was actually earning more than him.

*smiles*

However, all I ever wanted was to be a mum at home with her kids and when that day finally came, I was beside myself with excitement. I still worked, in one form or another, mind you, always around the kids and driving myself ragged.

Fast forward quite a few years, and hubby’s work situation changed to such a degree that we could manage on just his wage, and I was free to pursue a life long dream.

 

I had stories that I wanted to share with the world, and the fact that readers out there want to read said stories still gives me the most amazing thrill.

That’s why I’m writing. Not for fame, status, money or whatever else you can think of. Certainly not to become a USA or NYT Bestseller, nice though that would be. And should I ever make it on one of those lists, you’ll hear me squealing about it like a loon, for sure.

Could I live off my writing? Heck NO! But then, very few writers can and you know what, that’s okay. For me, at least, writing was never about the money.

Sure, I love a healthy royalty cheque as much as the next writer, but Hubby and I long ago decided that this writing business is far too fickle a mistress to ever be able to rely on it as a source of income.

Sure, there are those writers that do and kudos to them, but I don’t need that pressure in my life. As it happens I do sell well and I make a nice enough contribution to the family coffers, which means that we don’t have to tighten our belts quite as much as we used to.

A big thank you to my lovely readers here!

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I can see you all roll your eyes now. Well, that is all well and good for you Doris, as you don’t have to live on your writing. Not all of us have a hubby to support us. No, of course, you don’t, and that’s why the majority of writers have an Evil Day Job that actually pays the bills.

Trust me, if my sales ever drop that low as to not help us out anymore, then I, too, will have to seriously think about going back to some form of paid employment, but, does that stop me from continuing writing?

No, it wouldn’t. Writing is in my blood, always has been, always will be, and while my productivity might drop right down, I would still be writing.

Like I said, I can only speak for myself, and I’m not walking in that author’s shoes who makes the decision to stop.

I do feel sad for those that do.

This is a tough business and hugely oversaturated market, but there will always be room for good stories, and writers write.

Just do so with realistic expectations. If you’re looking to get rich, then this is not the career for you. However, if you’ve got stories inside of you burning to be told, then take a deep breath and dive right back in.

Tell the stories on your heart, and if you do manage to get some success then don’t let it get to your head. Likewise, if you don’t or you only sell mediocre whereas others, in your eyes, far less talented authors, soar….

Well, the green-eyed monster gets to us all, yes even me. I shake my head and I bitch and moan about the unfairness of it all in private as much as the next person, but, you know, it’s a wasted emotion.

It really is. Even for authors right at the top of their game, there will always be someone who sells more, is more popular etc.

This isn’t kindergarten, folks.  Life isn’t fair. Deal with it.

Instead of getting sucked into that negative spiral chose to be different. Stay and think positive, and write. That is the only thing you have any control over. And for goodness sakes be grateful. It is such an incredible privilege to be able to write a story, to have a publisher wanting your work and to have readers spend their hard earned cash on you.

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That’s all from me today, folks, but before I go…

Stop groaning in that corner!  😉

You’ll notice some changes around here because we had a little shuffle around.  Some of us Quillers are taking some time out, so we had a bit of a restructure.

So, your future schedule on this blog will look like this.

Monday: Jules Dixon

Tuesday: Yours truly

Wednesday: Kacey Hammell

Thursday: Raven McAllan

Friday: Moira Callahan

Saturday and Sunday, you can take a breather from us. We’re nice like that, folks.

Now, get outta here, but do stay naughty. 😉

D xxx

 

 

 

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

Keep Writing. Keep Creating. #SatisfactionSaturday (@KaceyHammell)

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Good morning everyone. Today, I want to be encouraging and brutally honest. On social media and in emails, plus writer groups, I’ve witnessed so many authors struggling. And it brings me to my post today to reiterate something I’ve spoke of before, but also the awareness about this business as it stands for many right now.

It’s been a difficult year in publishing and it has shaken many authors to their souls. Many have considered hanging up their author hats because of low sales and the closings of most notable publishers – Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing and All Romance eBooks. Regardless of why they closed (at least for two of them who took author’s monies and ran away), it’s disheartening to see this happen. The cause overall is low sales. Across the board, there is suffering from this factor. All authors are feeling it – whether self-pubbing or hybrid (authors who do both). Many say that love makes the world go round. I’m a realist, and let’s face it, money makes the world go round. People need it to live on and nothing in this life comes for free.

What blows in all this mayhem of author’s self-doubts and reevaluations the most is the stories we may lose from these very talented authors. It’s heartbreaking to hear of those who have stories to tell who won’t share them with the world any longer. Being an artist, a creative soul – of art, writing, music – is that the heart and soul of these individuals all have stories to tell with their crafts. If they can’t do that and profit from it, unfortunately, it can be damaging to their happiness and stifling creativity can lead to depression and loss of value in oneself. The loss of trust in those who were running businesses and supposedly working with the authors’ best interests (and abiding contracts) is inexcusable and can feel like we’ve gone 20 rounds with Sugar Ray Leonard. I have had the experience myself, lost hundreds of dollars and had to jump through hoops and land mines to get rights back to books when the publisher breached contracts. It was heartbreaking and stressful. And while it was agony and I didn’t want to deal with any of it any longer, my characters continued talking, my heart ached for stories that I wanted to write and I forged on. For the words, the characters, the writing I needed to do.

Many authors have lost faith in this business due to the publishers who have taken their money and been dishonest, stomped all over contracts and treated them like shit. It is so frustrating at the dishonesty we’ve seen as of late. I can’t blame any authors for wanting to run for the hills and who want to protect what stories they do have. It’s become a cruel business for many, in a lot of ways, but I do hope with all my heart that every author – aspiring or with a catalogue of a hundred titles – can find the median they need in order to continue writing. There are stories within all of us that need to be told.

I encourage any authors doubting themselves or the business to ponder all sides. Sales may be down, but is it only the money you’re after? If it is, well that’s your business, and while I believe it’s doing it for the incorrect reasons, remember the artistry in your soul. Do you wish to reach people with your stories, have that creativity inside you that you wish to share? If you simply wish to write stories then do so. True authors can’t go long without writing a story, can’t stop hearing those characters in their heads and their hearts bursting with stories that must be told. That is the main reason why authors need to forge on. KEEP WRITING.

If some wish to take the time to sit back, reevaluate the business and recharge after so many blows, then do so. But never stop writing. Write until your WIP folder is full. Always keep that storyteller in you alive. And one day, six months or two years from now, you’ll have succeeded in honoring yourself and created stories and worlds that are full of passion and adventure, and you’ll want to enter this business again. I’m all for taking that time away from this business, but never stop writing. This business changes daily, with many hills and valleys. But a creative mind/soul never stops. Do not close the door to this business completely.

I know many authors are still struggling with decisions about the business and if it’s worth it. I wish them all the best of luck, I really do. And I pray that they never give up completely. True artistry needs to be explored and stories need to be told. Authors, as I said, aspiring or otherwise, write the stories alive inside you and then find the path in publishing that is best for you and honors the work you’ve created. But keep writing.

 

Until next week,
KEEP WRITING!

Kacey (2)

Mood & ‘tude #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Good morning one and all, it’s that time again. To turn your clocks ahead (oops! needed to edit this) one hour if you are among the unlucky stuck with Daylight Savings. An outdated, and in my opinion, useless practice that maybe made sense at one point, but seems to be nothing more than a major pain in the derriere now. If they wanted to make it less painful, they should actually put it in the middle of a Monday – at least in Spring – who wouldn’t mind losing an hour off their Monday?

All right, enough moping, onto the post.

MOOD:  1 A temporary state of mind or feeling; 1.1 The atmosphere or pervading tone of something ~ Oxford online dictionary

ATTITUDE:  1 A settled way of thinking or feeling about something; 1.1 A position of the body indicating a particular mental state; 2 Truculent or uncooperative behavior ~ Oxford online dictionary

We authors are always trying to paint a certain mood with our stories. Whether it’s making the reader laugh, cry, or sit on the edge of their seats with tension, our goal is to create something the reader can’t help but get swept up into. Easy to do? Hell to the no it’s not! But every now and again the planets and stars align.

Then there is attitude, easy enough to portray with your characters actions and words, but there is a fine line of going too far or not far enough. No author wants a wishy-washy character who’s boring or dull, but you also don’t want a character that everyone is disgusted by or straight up hates. Unless they are the bad guy/gal in the story or the character to be reformed, then go for it. Make them reviled for every metaphorical breath they take. Have your readers hoping, and rooting for their demise.

Now there is the combination. Getting the right mood that works with the attitude’s you’re bringing to the scene, and vice versa. If one part is off it creates a disjointed scene that interrupts the entire flow to the story you’re telling. Learning to blend them in the right proportions does take time, and also takes listening to your beta readers and editors. They will help you to navigate these treacherous waters, and keep everything on the straight and narrow.

What may help you best is visualization of the scene. Put yourself into the mindset of the character, in that scene, and go from there. Not easy, but with time you’ll train your brain to do it and it’ll come faster, and easier with each story you write. This includes every character from your mains, to your antagonist, to the next door neighbor, to the individual at their “favorite” coffee house taking orders. The better you can picture them the better you can write them and create the realism that will help your readers view them as “real”.

So visualize the mood of your scene, get your character’s attitude geared up, and write. While there will be tweaks to be made – there always are – go with whatever you/they are feeling in that moment. You never know what might come about, or what you may create. Get your feels on folks.

XO Moira Callahan

Inspirations and Word Counts #SatisfactionSaturday @KaceyHammell

 

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Good morning everyone! Kacey here again. I hope you had a fabulous week and accomplished a lot of writing. It was a 6k writing week for me. Not too shabby but I’m not 100% pleased with myself either. However, it is much better than that dull boring old word – nil, zilch, nada, zero, zip, zippo, naught, nothing – so I can’t get too down considering what I did accomplish.

I usually post my words for the day/week in a couple author groups, on my publisher group of writing encouragement that we have, and the like. Yesterday morning I did the usual update and later in the day received an email from an author this afternoon who wanted to know how I could accomplish high results, and what keeps me inspired.

Now, I’ve shared a post or two in the past about inspiration, but I got thinking, perhaps it bears repeating. It’s never redundant – IMO – to share words of encouragement, resolution, being there for others when they’ve either hit writer’s block, or their imaginations are sparking that day. So, I decided to sit back for a couple hours and think of some of the things that have helped me, inspired me and kept me going over the last 3-4 weeks, which helped me accomplish about 25,000 words.

First off, knowing that there is nothing currently on my “Coming Soon” page. I had a new release in Dec, Jan & Feb. 2 were new works (which took me a year to write both during health issues), and a re-release from a previous—now dead—publisher, and I’ve been steadily increasing word count in my latest WIP. I know myself well enough now that it takes me more than a month to write a full length book – I mean 40,000 and up. If I was working on a story that was say 10-15,000 words then it might only take me 4-6 weeks, and that’s with no interruptions. I’ve learned this about myself and know that a story is done when it’s done. I never set a word count – unless for an anthology, but that rarely works out for me because I can’t seem to stay within the word count limit – so the stories are done when my characters say they are. Now, with nothing on the upcoming page, I’m eager to get my stories done and see there is more on the horizon. Oh, I know I can self-pub as I do on the side (being a Hybrid author and all that fun), but I write the stories for characters who are active in my head. Overall, the drive to have more in readers hands drives me, as it should all authors.

Second, I’ve been distracted to a point, though it’s helped to distract me FROM what’s happening in my life away from writing. My second child is heading off to college, out of town in Sept, so the writing is keeping me from thinking about it too much. And it’s kept me focused on something I can control. With him leaving, I don’t feel that control of knowing every moment that he’s safe, his Diabetes is maintained and overall just worry for him. So, if this keeps up, and when he does go off to school, boy I might just have novel after novel done because it distracts me from my worrying and concern. And hell, the lack of control of keeping him close and understanding that he needs to spread his wings.  Sometimes, life outside of writing can help. But I do not love it. Not a bit. But I’ll use the emotions to further my writing career along.

I’ve also taken to going back and reading some of my earlier work. For me, it’s motivated me to write deeper and fuller characters than what my older (3-4 year old works) titles had. I love all my characters, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve familiarized myself with them again and all the things that make them tick. But I also look at them now as a reader. I now see even more richness to each character. So much so, that if the time ever comes to re-release or revise them, I actually have some notes on my tablet copies in areas to enhance and bolster. I can also see my growth as an author and wanting to “show off” some of those new ways I’ve grown and learned into the new stories.  I never thought I would use older titles to pump me up and remind me why I love writing so much, but I’m glad I did. At first it was because I wanted to revisit a character again and couldn’t sleep. Now, I’ve read 4 old titles again and am inspired to do more with them at a later time, and to push myself even further as a writer.

Music. I live and breathe music on a regular basis. Growing up, and with my own kids, it’s every genre possible that is always playing in our house. If we are cleaning rooms, dusting, rearranging anything or just hanging out playing a board game, we have an endless playlist of songs always going. I go through periods where I have to write in silence and others when music has to be playing. I’m in the place now where I need the music to be pumping hard in the background, a sexy song to get the erotic feels moving and the sad songs to punch me in the gut when writing a crucial heartbreaking scene. Lately, Ed Sheeran is a huge inspiration to me right now. His latest album, Divide, is exactly what I needed. As well, the 50 Shades soundtracks have helped a lot (though I’m not that big a fan of the books or movies) then did some fantastic magic with the soundtracks. Give me some smooth jazz and great R&B, and I’m happy. Things start to come to live when I can feel the beat thumping through my head. I close my eyes and can just let the music lead the character forward, propelling them into a great pace and the words flowing.

And of course, the simple amazing photos online helps so much. Hot sexy men and women photos that get the thoughts running rampant are a must. I use places like stock photo sites, Pinterest and Facebook to spot moving photos and looking for those images that spark a thought, a single sentence which can lead to a whole book, or simply take my breath away. And I am not just talking about sexy photos or erotic couples in each other’s arms; I’m talking any kind of photos. I visit cover artist, Jay Aheer’s “Simply Defined Art” Facebook Page a lot. The visionary greatness of her creations is always inspiring to me. She creates powerful and compelling images that I can’t even begin to figure out how, and I’m left breathless and pondering the emotions coming from each one.

Of course, I have to share something from Ed that is playing all the time here.

There are many more ways that author’s use to feel/be inspired and create great stories with. These are a few of mine, which have kept me sane, but I do have a few other author’s advice to what helps them that I plan to try if my normal routes don’t work. I’ll keep you posted on anything new that might help.

To be honest, the other thing I did just a couple days ago was … I took a day off! A full day of little social media, didn’t even take my notebook and pens with me to write if something struck me, and I played hooky all day with my husband. We didn’t do anything that would make anyone jealous – like take a cruise or anything LOL – we just went and did normal married couple, we are thinking of renovating a few household things – and then had a long lunch full of laughter and talking. No cell phones on the table, no computers, no cares or worries (our children have specific ringtones on our phones so if it wasn’t one of those, we didn’t care), and just vegged and hung out. I took a day off without even thinking about the words I still had to do, the blog posts or what story would be next, I simply took a day off and boy did I need it. More than I thought.

So, let’s add that to the list. Take a day off every now and then and just live. Leave everything else behind and simply recharge.

 

Until next week,
Happy Writing!!

Kacey (2)

 

 

 

 

You can’t say/write that! #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-SundayIt’s that time once more, another #SensualSunday post with Moira. This week we’re going to discuss a serious topic, and one that is faced more often than folks realize or believe to be true. It’s also a tough one, especially in this day and age where everyone is offended by something or someone. Please note that the below is in no way pointed at any one individual, and the examples used are merely my opinion on the subject.

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Now, I’m not only talking about the book burners, or locking out the media during briefings, but also what we say, how we say it, and as authors our written words.

We authors have faced a lot of censorship over the centuries. There were the book burning’s of works deemed too controversial, or those that turned youths to the ways of Satan, and let’s not even get started on witchcraft, education, or any other reason someone has deemed a book to be unsuitable for our youths to read and thereby it was banned, and yes, in some instances, lit on fire! While I will agree that erotica or pornographic material shouldn’t be in the hands of anyone under the age of majority, and some other topics should have some parental guidance provided, allowing kids to read works that make them think should never be censored. The adage that “if you don’t use it, you lose it” comes to mind. Like any muscle in the body the brain too needs to be exercised, and this comes from critical and contemplative thought. Which the world sorely needs more of.

fotolia_115519302_xsFor example let’s look at the most well known book IN THE WORLD. The Bible. Yup, you read that right. Now, I should mention I am not now nor have I ever been a religious person, it’s not who I am, and this is not about to go down the rabbit hole into religion – this is merely an example everyone on the planet (except in the countries this is banned) can relate to. We’ve all seen The Bible, whether in book stores, in churches for whatever variety of reasons we might be there (sermons, weddings, funerals, etc), in peoples homes, and even in motel/hotel’s in certain areas of the world. Did you know:

  • *North Korea punishes ownership of religious materials; imprisonment or death
  • *China permits churches or seminaries that are part of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement/China Christian Council to have them, and some bookshops sell them, but they cannot be mail ordered by private citizens, or any unregistered churches
  • *Maldives says citizens must be Muslim, yet permit foreigners to practice their own religion, but only in private; Bibles can be imported only for personal use
  • *Turkmenistan permits the import, with permission by registered churches, but production is not permitted
  • ^North Korea greatly restricted, or straight out banned it
  • ^Russia banned the import of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures
  • ^Spain had a prohibition against The Bible, written in Spanish, from the 16th to the 19th century

* Quoted from Quora
^ Quoted from Wikipedia.org

All right, enough of a detour, let’s get back on topic here.

Censorship happens every single day when it comes to books. Hell even the almighty Zon does it to our books each and everyday. Because it is their corporate guideline (ie: some big shot who caved to an individual(s) who didn’t want it/them showing up in their recommendations) that certain books with certain graphics/words/subjects/actions should be deemed “adult” and therefore kept away from the mainstream folks. Okay, I get it. You don’t want your 10 year old niece, who happens to be using your account to shop for her next coloring book off the Zon, being able to buy E.L. James’ book(s) off the Zon so you write in going ballistic and all offended that it should dare to show up in “her” recommended reads, and being the curious sort she is she clicked on it. Thank goodness you happened to wander by the computer before she one-clicked that sucker.

Side note: What have YOU been reading/buying that that book is showing up in “her” recommended feeds? Huh? Huh? Yeah, thought so.

I get where the Zon is coming from on this. They don’t want the angry folks taking offence to something (for no reason at all if they were ACTUALLY adults) bringing their pitchforks and torches to their front door (which happens to be at: 410 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA, 98109-5210 if you’re interested). So they go to the absolute extreme. Got a guy with his chest naked and showing his hip bones with a hint of something more on the cover? May end up being thrown into the adult category. Did you have your characters going full on bondage scene? fotolia_137449177_xscroppedMay end up being thrown into the adult category. Did you have a character go on a terrible rampage through downtown San Francisco terrorizing citizens, destroying property, and killing large bug like characters? May end up…being that movie I watched last weekend – oops!

And that there is the problem. People go ballistic, lose their shit, and everyone else around them or on the receiving end reacts by going to the extreme. Enough already! Sit down, shut up for five fucking minutes, take some deep breaths, and get your big girl panty wedgie under control – let’s discuss this like the adults we’re all supposed to be. Which is what the Zon should have done. They should have gathered information, had the maniac(s) take a psych eval, done some research on their own, figured out if maybe there was an algorithm that could easily solve the issue, talked with their tech guru’s, and even opened a discussion with those to be affected – the authors. But instead they, in their all knowing position at the top of the pile in the e-Book (and other retail items) world, made a unilateral decision that affected many authors who write of the more adult nature but nowhere near porn level. Just because you’re bigger than the other guy does not make you right.

Before this goes into a full blown rant, let me close this up with some last points and thoughts. We the people (not including countries under dictatorships, or with crazed nuclear holding presidents) do have the right to free speech, our own opinions, and the right to express them in a productive, cognizant manner to make our point/opinion known. We do NOT have the right to be douchenuggets stomping on other people and their freedom to speak, or write what they want as long as they happen to be well-informed, and factual. If they are writing/talking shit then they get what they deserve in return. So, as a whole, if we the people of the world could all pull up our big girl panties, stop being offended over every breath someone takes, and just scroll on past/skip over something that is not to our taste (unless it’s illegal, dangerous, or harmful) I think we would all be much happier in the long run.

And you, yeah you the author type person, be strong. There will be criticism, and there will be folks who pull out their pitchfork over what you’ve written while trying to censor your voice. But know this, as long as you are happy with the end result, and it speaks to who you are while possibly holding a message for someone that may need it right then – FUCK ‘EM ALL.

XO Moira Callahan

Black and white image of loving couple in a bad.

Characters #SatisfactionSaturday @KaceyHammell

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Good morning all! Hope you’ve had a great week. Chilly here today. The cold temps have returned to Ontario, and I’m extremely bummed about it. We got a touch of spring and Mother Nature has taken it away again.

As always, every blog post is from my pov and my take on how things work/don’t work in my writing/my career. This week, I want to talk about characters. I’ve always been a believer, since I read my first Nora Roberts way back, that the characters are what drive stories. The characters are the heart and soul of the story and good writing, not the plots. It’s Roarke & Eve from JD Robb’s “In Death” series that keep me coming back. Harry, Hagrid, Hermoine & Ron kept me coming back to the Harry Potter saga. And even movies … It is Dominic Toretto & Brian Connor that have kept me returning to the Fast & Furious franchise. As well as John McClane that has me watching Die Hard twice a year.

Whenever I start to get ready to write a story, it isn’t the outline I spend more time on, it’s the character spreadsheet. I need to know what drives the H/H. Their occupation, their childhood problems that have followed into adulthood, where they met their BFFs, what were some hobbies. Plus what their parents were like, what kind of music and movies they like and what they collect as a hobby. Some of the answers to these questions may never make it into every story, but it gives me a much better sense of who I am writing. I want to know everything about them that I possibly can, as well as what brings those secondary characters into their stories. For me, the more I know, the more I have to build on.

In knowing the above, it gives me a better understanding as to what the angst/trouble/struggle is for the characters. And sometimes it’s the minute details that can become a barrier for me as I write, possibly hitting a roadblock, and the only way I can get through it is to know things about my characters – mainly to become a better writer IMO – which readers may never see. Every story has hurdles for the characters; it is never smooth sailing, so the journey, and overcoming those feats make for some great writing. I also learn what the characters determination/motivation is and where it comes from. Having the insight to what each character needs and wants, and the way that s/he will go about obtaining everything is something I need to know from the beginning. Things will shift and change a bit as I write but it gives me a starting point. It also gives me a direction to go with the characters, their arc, and how it evolves from page to page. The heroine may start off as a quiet, button-up librarian or teacher at the beginning of the story, but the hope is that she evolve into a spitfire bombshell comfortable in her own skin by the end.

No information is too much for me. Everything that matters to my characters matters to me. They make the story, I just write their journey onto the screen/paper. Some authors are probably reading this thinking I’m off my rocker and saying to just sit and write, and that’s fine, but everyone’s process is different. I go where the characters lead me and their openness in the beginning makes it much easier to write the story, as well as understand their reasons and motives for whatever happens.

It makes for a better writing relationship as well.

 

Until next week,

Happy Writing.

Kacey (2)

The Ole WB Came for Me: How I Survived Writer’s Block with @JulesofTripleR #HumpDayHangout

The Ole WB Came for Me: How I Survived Writer’s Block

There are two words I won’t say out loud together.

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Writer’s.

Ahem–Block.

 

Heck, I hate even writing them! I’ll say WB over the real words any day.

But I’m gonna come out and raise a white flag. Yes. I had the condition and I’m not afraid to admit it. And I’m here to tell of my tale.

From July of 2016 until two days ago, I fought for words. There were days when a few/dozen/two dozen was good enough. Some of my writing friends would point out that I still completed manuscripts, and yes, I did start and finish two novels and three short stories since then, but I did it in a fugue that I’d never experienced.

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Since August of 2013, I’d been on a writing frenzy. Words clamoring to get out of me. I’d liken the writing deluge of words to beginner’s luck if I believed in that, but still, the words came and the words stayed for tea and cookies…and tequila. Lots of tequila over the years.

But then three years almost to the date of when I started really writing fiction and romance, I crashed. There were days I stared at the screen for hours. My mind became a white board of desolation. And there was no marker to even scribble a hangman or sunshine to be found. Anywhere.

I thought maybe it was Seasonal Affective Disorder taking me over a little early. Sneaky thing seasonal depression is, hitting a person in a different way every year. Sometimes I go down in January when the holiday’s high is over. Sometimes at the holidays I find myself tumbling when I’m overwhelmed or emotional watching my kids open presents. They’re 22 and 20, so really it’s them opening their banking apps and seeing I transferred money, but there are stockings.

And there have been a few years where I just become a pile of human goo for three months out of the year—November, December, January. Thankfully those really bad years been few and far in between, but they have happened.

But I didn’t know what I know now.

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Not only was I experiencing my regular depression, but I was fatigued, exhausted, collapsing mentally because I didn’t give myself breaks. Three years of writing almost every day. YES, every, damned, day. If I didn’t, I imagined I was behind. I fought to “catch up” and I am here to tell you…there is NO catching up. There is only moving forward, taking each day as it comes, and rolling with the muses fucking punches.

I traveled to Canada for a retreat that my publisher, Evernight Publishing, held for their authors. The event was fantastic. I met some of the nicest people on the earth, including Kacey Hammell of Naughty-Quills. Lovely woman. But I returned to Omaha, Nebraska more out of sorts and more overwhelmed than before. I dragged myself out of bed each day because I had other commitments. I’d planned a 25 author signing event. I had to do the right thing cause I don’t quit—obviously.

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I was elected Prez of my local romance writer’s chapter. I slid farther down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and anxiety. Full on distress.

Wasn’t easy to keep up the appearance of having my shit together, but I did it.

I thought maybe I needed more sunlight. So I got a sunlamp and basically stayed up for two days in a row after using it. Apparently, I was too sensitive. My doctor said, “Stop using it, you have a real chance of having a psychotic episode”. That didn’t sound like fun. So I put it away.

Then came the holidays and I kept busy with shopping and events, but I’d open my computer and… nothing. So few synapses in my brain putting out good thoughts or hell even any thoughts. I would have taken bad, too.

I took the last half of December off and went to Denver, Colorado for New Year’s. My hubby and our friend did their best to keep me going and getting out with the peoples of the world, but I was über miserable.

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But I had commitments, so I kept up. I showed up. I made up. I faced up. I tied up. Put up. Shut up. And fixed up. What I could.

My mentor, Corrissa James, did what she could to encourage me and help me through the rough days, and I thank her and the other writing friends who stuck it out with me and encouraged me. And then there are others who will probably read this and say—WTF? I never would have guessed in a million years.

And that’s one of my points. We can never know what’s going on inside another person. Don’t guess. Don’t assume. And please, for the love of god, don’t judge.

February came around. The month of love. One of my favorite times of the year. I experienced a little improvement early in the month and I put a few words to the page. More than January, but less than December because I pushed myself to just get shit done in December, but that backfired, too. In January, my holiday short stories received a couple bad reviews. I only know the number (1’s and 2’s ain’t good, my friends) but not the words of the review cause I don’t read them, but it’s enough to know my readers weren’t happy. And I wasn’t happy.

And then the plague came on last week. Nothing like the f’ing upper respiratory flu to knock you down until you think death would be the sweeter passageway. I fought through and by the weekend I was doing better. And I actually had some hope. My muse was calling out and strutting…

giphy-21And this week, that vixen demanded I write a new story in the same series as a story accepted by my publisher for their newest male/male alpha anthology. Shifter wolves with special abilities.

So I wrote. And over the last thirty-six hours, 9100+ words have poured from me. This isn’t a record for me, and certainly many authors consider that a light day, but it’s a good thing for me. A good omen. She’s baaaaack! I have some of my spring back. My brain cloud is lifted and I’m ready to face writing again without wondering what the day will bring.

So, if you’re in you’re struggling out there, a little of the old WB got you down. Keep the hope. Muses are fickle beings. And then again, sometimes you need to realize when you need a break and take breaks. And don’t push yourself. Be good to you, and that muse will be good to you, too.

**And note: I know I’ve made this semi-amusing but depression is nothing to laugh about. I know this cause I live and have lived it. So, if you’re experiencing any thoughts of suicide, hopelessness, or hurting yourself or others, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US.

To celebrate my return to good writing days, here’s an excerpt (unedited) from what’s spilled from my muse in the last two days.

Mooncrest: Saving Honor

Her eyes widened. “No. I … you … we … not possible.” She inhaled small gasping breaths. “We’re … friends.”

He searched her pooling gray eyes to see if on any level she instinctually comprehended the truth, but she’d lost the ability to feel and trust. Only confusion and fear hazed her dilated pupils.

It was time to lay his feelings on the line, and even if she still rejected him, he’d keep trying. She was his. There was no turning back.

“Honor Creed, I’ve loved you for five long years, watching while another man put his hands on you, feeling in my soul your unhappiness, but there was nothing I could do about our torture … until now. Now, you’re free from him. I don’t want to stop being your friend. I want to be more to you. Mother Wolf told me when I was eighteen you were going to be the greatest love I’d ever know. You’ve been hurt. You need time. I understand. But—you and me—it’s gonna happen.”

Love, Jules AND Happy HUMP day, peeeeeeples!

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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

What’s Your Name Again? #SatisfactionSaturday (@KaceyHammell)

saturday

 

Good morning all. Happy Saturday. It is the last weekend in February and I feel like I haven’t accomplished a lot this month. Time is simply flying by too quick.

As always, I try and speak from personal experience only and happenings in my life as a writer, even personally. I came across an older email from an author colleague from a while back and it got me thinking for today’s post. In that email, the author wanted some help with character names. I love the process of coming up with the right names for each character. And yes, as some may have noticed in the past when I share my rituals, I have a spreadsheet of names that pop into my head, I hear on tv or read in magazines. I’ll put my own spins on some of them, and the list is so long, I don’t think I’ve even used 1/3 of them. I find the more unique ones, I’d rather save for paranormal stories, but each name has to fit the personality / quirks of the character. And I’ll cross out names I’ve used in any books, whether main or secondary characters.

Sometimes I start with a name that gets changed through from draft to draft. When I start writing a minor outline of traits for the characters (ie: eyes, age, etc.), the name I come up with doesn’t end up matching who the character evolves to be. When I have the character age firm as well, I’ll do the dreaded math to figure out what year the character was born in, then I look at the popular names from that year, for authenticity purposes. This is important to me because I wouldn’t want to see a name like Blue Ivy or North on a 50+ year old heroine/hero. Those names weren’t really thought of that many years ago and in keeping with the quality of the story, and to show that I did do some research LOL, it’s important to me and wouldn’t be authentic.

Also, one thing I do regularly when the name sticks, is research the name to get the origin of it, and variants of spelling. It’s nice to play a bit with the names, change spellings and such, and liven things up a bit. Most readers probably don’t notice names that much, spellings or even guess the origins, but as an author of the work, it is those little things (which are big to me) that matter. It’s part of my creativity process and putting 10,000% into every story. There is the odd time, I will just do something fun and not obsess too much about the name, but it depends on the story. For example, with Payback’s A Bitch, which is probably my fave story that was the most fun to write, Lark seemed to fit into the breeziness of the heroine and who she is. Not much weighed Lark down and she was all about living life to the fullest. I’m not even sure where I heard the name Lark but it seemed to work so well for her and the story.

Every author has his/her quirks and the naming of characters is one of mine. And no, I don’t figure out the ages of the characters in books I read, then look up that year, and get peeved if the author gave a name that wasn’t even thought of in that year. I’m not quite that bad. However, as the writer, I can be as anal about things as I wish to be. Authors all have those certain habits and rules they abide by that aren’t broken often.

But it is important to do some research and at least give characters names from at least around the decade of their age. Makes things a bit more believable.

That’s it for me this week. Another crazy quirk coming from the desk of Kacey. *g*

Until next week,

Happy Writing!

Kacey (2)