Okay, since reading seems to be on my mind this week, I’m going to stick with the theme. Because I keep hearing authors talking about their reading habits and how they walk away from them when they’re in the middle of a manuscript.
What is it about that bad boy that attracts women? Oh, you know who I’m talking about… the man that swaggers into Friday night happy hour while you’re having an end of the week margarita with the BFFs. The leather jacket sits just right across those wide shoulders skimming along hips clad in faded jeans. And the two-day scruff doesn’t look unkempt, it just accents the dimple in his chin. He tips his chin at several tables as he moves through the bar and lands on a stool vacated by one of his equally naughty sidekicks. Oh, he is such bad news. You know it, yet you, and every other woman in the bar, is staring at this man who will no doubt break your heart.
It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about … eating or writing habits, methods of doing things or anything else. It’s just so easy to stay with the comfortable. “Because that’s how it’s always been done” is a common mantra. But if pressed, most people don’t know WHY it’s done that way. To take that one step further, some people are unwilling to admit that times have changed and perhaps the reasons for doing something a particular way are no longer valid.
I don’t mind change. It makes life interesting. But Mr. Pierce … not so much! I like analyzing and reevaluating to streamline tasks. It’s just how I’m wired. Change is good IMO. It keeps you from falling into a routine and not growing.
But what if you want to be the voice of change? Ah, now we have something different. The change isn’t internal. It’s not something I can control about myself. It’s showing others that a change may be appropriate and beneficial.
Shame on you … get your mind out of the gutter. I’m actually talking about something lots of authors wonder. Does the size of the STORY matter? (Didn’t see that coming from a romance author now did you?)
I’ve written all lengths of stories. From a short novella to a several full length novels and many in between. Now, if you’re looking for my opinion on the matter (which of course I’m going to offer since this is my blog) I think size makes a huge difference in a story.
But here’s ny caveat–but it depends on the genre.
I really enjoy reading erotic romance. But when push comes to shove or pull comes to … yeah, I won’t go there … anyway, I read for the other parts of the story. Like the paranormal or suspense thread. Yes, of course I want the heroine to save the hero and for them to fall into bed and hopelessly in love, but sometimes, if an erotic story goes on too long … I skip the nookie. LOL! Should I be admitting that? It’s not that I don’t dog-ear the pages for perusal later, it’s just that I’m really enthralled with how these two are going to get out of trouble or bring down the villain or make it to their happy-ever-after. So when it comes to erotic romance I prefer the short and sweaty … er, sweet. 😉
I’ve only been doing this writing gig eight years and it has amazed me the number of changes that have happened in the publishing world in that short time. It’s not so much that it’s surprising as the delivery of books is pushed by the advances in technology. It’s just that … wow! It’s hard to know which way to go.
When I first started writing in the summer of 2005 I had NO clue about writing a book. As a voracious reader I only knew what I enjoyed in a story and I sat down at the keyboard attempting to emulate my favorite writers. My first attempt wasn’t bad–not publishable–but not bad.
Back then most books were published at bigger publishers who accepted most submissions through agents. New writers needed to give their career credibility and prove they weren’t just doing this writing gig as a “hobby”, but were interested in making writing a profession. Enter Romance Writers of America. This national organization is dedicated to advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy. Being a member and more specifically a PRO member (proof that you’ve finished a manuscript, submitted it and it’s been rejected) was supposed to prove to publishers and agents that you wanted your writing to be more than just a one book diversion, but that you were actually interested in building a business.
From the national level of RWA I found the Maine Chapter of RWA. THIS is what I needed. A group of writers who had been through the process, knew the ropes and became my guiding light in a business I knew nothing about. I branched out to several online chapters of RWA all of them grounding me in the chaotic seas of the publishing world.
But as technology has changed and publishing has changed–so have my needs. For the last couple of years I’ve held on to my RWA national membership not only to give credibility to my career, but also so I could be a member of my local chapters. But this year with my latest move, I’ve come to realize the relationships I’ve forged with the writers in Maine would continue even if I wasn’t a member of the chapter. I haven’t been able to make the monthly meetings anyway and all of my interaction was online.
With the changing tide of publishing now flowing into the author’s control I realized I didn’t need RWA to anchor me anymore. At the end of last year … I finally cut ties.
Being the rule-follower that I am, I still feel a little strange about it. Due to physical limitation, (and let’s face it–finanacial costs) I’ve never attended the RWA National convention. I don’t know if this has put me behind the eight ball in my publishing career, but I suspect (for me) I’m not missing out on anything. Writing conventions have never sparked my muse, quite the opposite in fact (but that’s a blog for another day). Still, I wonder if I ever choose to look for an agent if they’ll see it as a red flag that I don’t belong to a “professional” organization.
I know as a reader I have no idea if an author belongs to a professional organization … doesn’t make any difference to me. I want their books, not their bio. I know other authors are struggling with this same decision. So what do you think? Do professional writing organizations say anything about an author? I’d love to know what you think. Because you know me … I’m curious about stuff like this.
Everyone has their own experiences in the world…things that have happened to make them who they are and form their beliefs. In all honesty, my experience is limited. My Catholic background and middle class friends didn’t really stretch my world into the paranormal realm. It’s only since I’ve been a writer and active on the internet and on various social media, in forums, and Yahoo loops that I’ve met some very interesting people who have pushed my boundaries of the “normal world”.
Today, I want to hear your take on witches, fae, vampires, that kind of thing.
I’ve met (online) several writers who are witches. To be honest, I’m not sure what that means. I do believe they study (or practice?) Wicca and that they are part of covens. Beyond that, I don’t know much about witches. I don’t know if they cast spells or simply have a different view of the world. I do have a witch trilogy that’s been percolating in my brain for awhile so it’s one of those things on my to-do research list. If you have more information, I’d love to know.
And what of vampires? I have a friend who says there is a (coven?) of vampires in southern Maine. Not playacting people who don fake fangs, but actual non-living, non-breathing vampires. (Not like this type of human vampire.) This one stretches me beyond what I can actually fathom. I’m all about the sexy alpha vampires filling the pages of my books and hanging out on movie screens … but walking the city streets? I seriously can’t go there.
There’s also this new trend to plant faerie gardens to attract the wee folk. Like really have faeries coming to your garden? Or do people think the enchantment is as real as Santa and it’s the spirit of the idea? I don’t know. I have a friend who planted a special garden this summer, but I haven’t seen her in person to have a lengthy discussion about all things with wings.
So where do you stand on all of this? Any experience with any of the above? I hope you’ll share. Because I’m really not trying to pass judgment, I’m fascinated by all of it and would love to hear what you all think.
(I’m also hanging over at Full Moon Bites Blog chatting about other worlds. I hope you’ll swing over.)
I’m visual. My memories are in pictures, usually very detailed. I can tell you what someone was wearing at the family get-together last year.
So in my writing I have to “see” the scene before I can write about it. I don’t have to draw out the house plan, but it has to be in my head so I can visualize how characters move through their surroundings.
I enjoy the same thing when I’m reading. I don’t want the author to gloss over the details. (And I’m not talking about character description… which isn’t really that important to me… but that’s a subject for another blog.) Unfortunately purple prose are out these days. Most readers don’t enjoy reading one or two paragraphs of scene description. So writers are left adding strong adjectives to give clues to the surroundings without resorting to long descriptions.
I love adjectives. They’re a great part of the English language. But just as they can make writing stronger, they can also tear it apart. Look at this piece of writing.
His capable hand found her silken thigh and slid up to the soft curve of her hip. His powerful knee pushed between her smooth inner thighs, opening them wide. Willingly, she gave way to his powerful leg and heard him moan quietly as his thick fingers found the velvet softness between her trembling legs.
Oh, I had all I could do not to scream as I read the above paragraph. Where I got it doesn’t matter, but the point I’m trying to make does.
Obviously, this is a love scene. This is the point in the book where I should have been swept away into the moment and been right there with this couple. After all, I’d been waiting and hoping these two would stop being so blind to their own sexual attraction and actually do something about it.
And there’s my reward.
Only, the author threw me out of the scene. The overuse of adjectives stuck out more than the action. Instead of being swept away I became more annoyed with each word. *sigh*
What I learned (and continue to learn)… is go sparingly with the adjectives. Give enough to the reader to make them “feel” and “see” the action, but don’t kill them with unnecessary words.
Books flying against the wall just aren’t pretty.
The first mistake the author made is that the scene is in her point of view. She’s not going to think of her skin as smooth or silken. And when you use the word “heard” or “felt”, you’re separating the character from themselves and in turn, distancing the reader. I also think if we could get a sense of the heroine’s emotion it would pull the reader deeper into the seduction. And what about other senses? How does he taste or smell? Most of these adjectives have to do with the sense of touch. What if the scene added a few other layers?
His capable hand found her
silkenthigh, andsliding up to the softcurve of her hip, trailing goose flesh in the heat of his touch. His powerful knee pushed between her smooth innertrembling thighs, opening them wide. She wanted this–wanted him. Her breath caught when he found the velvet softnessbrushed her most sensitive flesh. The scent of her arousal wrapped them in a sensual cocoon that seemed to drive his passion. He deepened the kiss, his tongue seeking and possessing, pushing away any coherent thought. When he pressed his thick fingers into her core, the moan of pleasure filling the air could have come from either of them.
The italicized words are mine. So what do you think? Did it read better with a few less adjectivesor am I all wet?
When you read do you find things like that jarring or have I become hypersensitive? Am I finding problems where none truly exist? I’d love to hear your opinion. Because you know me, I’m curious about stuff like this.
Here are 13 books that have made an impact on me. I can’t say they’re all necessarily my favorites … some are just memorable.
1. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough – Okay, I lied. This has to be my all time favorite book. The first real romance I read and I was probably 13. I’ve since learned I jumped right over all the wonderful Judy Bloom books most girls my age were reading. Ah, well, that’s me … I never do anything by the book … get it? By the … oh, never mind.
2. Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel – Actually the whole series. Many people didn’t like her detailed descriptions of the main character’s intimate relationship. I can’t lie … it’s one of the reasons I dipped my toe into erotica. (Yes, I’ve fallen head first into the pool!)
3. The Reef by Nora Roberts – This is the first book of many I read of Nora’s. From here I read everything she had in the local library. But this book will always remain one of my favorite of hers. (I have several more, but I didn’t want to clog the list with all of her books.)
4. Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown – Again, only the first of many Sandra Brown books I have plowed through. A lover of suspense, I go back to this again and again to learn from this incredibly talented author.
5. Freedom Series by Anne McCaffrey – Anne McCaffrey is an amazing science fiction author. There are many of her books I have loved. But this is the first series that literally held me captive until I got through all of the books. If you’re looking for amazing world building, you couldn’t choose a better teacher.
6. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger – Not assigned reading. As a matter of fact, it was banned from the school library and the English curriculum in my high school. So of course … I had to read it. Without the benefit of someone wiser than I to help interpret all the nuances, I didn’t find anything more than a lot of swear words and odd drivel by a young man. I’m sure I missed something.
7. A Death in the Family by James Agee – Now this is a book we had to read in English. The author did an amazing job of setting the reader up for an obvious death, but then twists your gut by killing off a main character instead. Amazing writing. Enough that the impact of that book has stayed with me all these years.
8. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks – A quick read definitely. There are arguments among authors as to the place this book holds in the literary world. For me, I almost fainted when I found out this book was only 55,000 words. The same length as Harlequin series books, but half the length of most main stream novels. With an economy of words this author told the life story of two lovers. Even if you don’t care for the writing, you can’t help but admire the success of this novel in all it’s media forms.
9. The Hostage by Susan Wiggs – Looove this story. (I’m a huge fan of Susan Wiggs and had a hard time choosing just one book.) I’ve read and reread this book to learn how Susan Wiggs weaves a tale. She’s an amazing writer and I continue to learn from her every time I pick up one of her books. (I actually got to meet her at the writer’s conference I went to last spring. Nice lady.)
10. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – I didn’t have to read this classic either in high school or college. Feeling I had missed something, I went to the local library and pulled this from the shelves. It shocked me. But mostly the last few paragraphs have stayed with me. I thought it a rather odd ending. I know it was rich with symbolism, but hey … it just didn’t work for me.
11. The Loop by Nicholas Evans – Many who read Evans would have chosen The Horse Whisperer and though I’ve read it, my feelings are tainted by Hollywood’s gross interpretation of his story. So, in an effort to remain pure to this author, I’ve chosen this book that hasn’t been altered by a movie.
12. Firestarter by Stephen King – I don’t like to read horror, but I do like stories of regular people in extraordinary circumstances. King hooked me in the beginning with the very real possibility of college students being paid to participate in a drug experiment followed by a subsequent government coverup. The ending was just as memorable as a young girl takes her story to the only place that would believe her extraordinary tale … Rolling Stone Magazine. Love that twist. The man is truly a master of words.
13. Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach – I’m old enough to have read this when it originally was published. I lived on the Maine coast at the time and was enthralled with the idea of gulls being more than birds. It really taught me some new ways to look at my life.
So do you have some books you’ve read that have just stayed with you? Why do you think you couldn’t let go? Of course I want to know … I’m curious about stuff like that.(And now I’m off to have a little something to eat. Which begs the question … how do you feel about cooking nekkid?)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Publishing is a tough gig! Since I’m only in my adolescence when it comes to writing and publishing I can’t tell you if the days of the typewriter and printed manuscripts were harder than publishing is now. I really don’t know if the number of digital publishers and the ability to self-publish is making life easier or harder for the author.
What I do know is that there are a TON of books being released every day. No, I didn’t look up the exact numbers. (Feel free to google it.) But just think of all the traditional publishers, then add in small e-presses then add in self-published books and you have a lot of authors trying to find readers. It’s a regular cacophony of word music and it’s definitely hard for an individual instrument to stand out among all the overlapping songs.
There are only a few soloists who stand out, which means most authors are trying to find that one little trick that gets them heard. What will make their melody resonate above the river of music? Figuratively turn up the volume.
Okay, enough music metaphors. LOL! You get the idea.
Let’s face it, we all tag and like each other’s books. Why? Because there are rumors that the “likes” on Amazon affects the algorithms for a book and possibly give it a little extra to get up on the lists. (Since no one knows for sure, that information can’t be verified.) At the very least, when a reader pops over to a page and only 6 people have liked a book, it doesn’t quite have the psychological boost that a book with 231 likes gets. People wonder what they’re missing if that many people like a book. Is this gaming the system? Could be.
Knowing the impact of reviews, last year I began writing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for the books I’ve read. And guess what? I read a lot of self-published writers because that’s who I’m hanging with these days. If readers wanted to start pointing fingers they could say I’m padding the reviews of my friends … even if my reviews are totally honest.
The internet is a buzz about authors buying honest reviews. Yet, publishers (and authors) buy advertisements in romance magazines and books get reviewed. Isn’t that the same thing? There are stories of bestselling author buying thousands of copies of their own releases to have the new release climb the charts. So is all this gaming actually cheating the system? How far does it have to go before it steps over the line?
Is offering a book for free as a loss leader considered cheating? Some say yes. I don’t think so. What I think is that it’s one of those tools that’s allowed my books to actually stand up in front of readers and scream “Try Me!“.
I’ve had three self-published books out for nearly a year. And you can see March Sales, May Sales and June Sales were nothing that could be called a living wage. But after several backflips (which ain’t easy for a woman with MS) and lots of groveling (see the post with the June sales), I finally got Amazon to price match BLIND HER WITH BLISS, the first book in the Tilling Passions series for FREE.
And guess what? I can actually say my writing is starting to make the kind of money I’d always hoped it would. Here are sales for the last six weeks.
Blind Her With Bliss: 80,000 Free, 14 sold = $30.00
Blind at UK site: 4663 Free, 0 Sold = $0.00
Deceive Her With Desire: 760 books = $1550.40
Deceive at UK site: 34 books = $35
Cheat Her With Charm: 563 books = $1148.52
Cheat at UK site = 22 books = $23
Barnes and Noble:
Blind Her With Bliss: Free
Deceive Her With Desire: 47 books = $91.18
Cheat Her With Charm: 39 books = $75.66
Approximate sales for Apple, Kobo, Sony and Diesel = $480.33
As many of you know, I released a 4th self-published book this week. I’m hoping with an excerpt at the end of the third book that readers will begin buying that book and sales will only go up.
Will this last? I don’t know. I’m really pleased after all my back-breaking work last year that something is finally falling into place for me. All I can do is keep writing the best books possible and hope the readers continue to enjoy them.
So, what do you think? Do you think there’s too much “gaming” going on in the book business? Are the truly great books rising to the top or is it the author who knows how to play the system that comes out ahead? Let me know what you think, I’m curious about stuff like this.
At the end of June an author friend of mine emailed me to tell me they’d found their books and every single one of mine on a site called LendInk. I’d link to it, but it’s recently been taken down. Of course at first blush the site looked like every other pirate site that was offering my books for free. Only … it wasn’t. It was a matchmaking service for kindle and nook owners who legitimately purchased books and were willing to lend them and readers who wanted to borrow them. (Please see THIS post for an explanation of how it works.)
But the site made authors noodgie. It’s scary watching your hard work being downloaded for free at sites where they don’t have your permission. Pirating is like a flu bug making you puke and weakening your resolve to keep writing.
So I completely understand when authors started banding together on twitter and facebook, sending DMCA notices to take down their books at LendInk. The fact is, they reacted before reading the fine print. (They had actually given Barnes & Noble and Amazon permission to have their books lent.) Hey, it happens. Authors are carrying a lot of responsibility for their careers these days. More, I believe, than any other time in publishing history. It’s a tough business with so many trying to carve out a career in the crazy noise of so many books.
And now LendInk is down and people are pissed … angry enough to post author names with twitter and facebook posts. (I’m not giving the link to that post.) One commenter mentioned he went to an indie store with the list and pulled all the authors’ books from the shelves. Others are boycotting the authors listed in protest.
And the whole thing makes me sad. Yes, LendInk was completely operating within Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s terms of service. Yes, they were making a small amount of money as Amazon Associates when someone clicked through their site and made a purchase on Amazon. Yes, readers were enjoying their site to find books to lend/borrow. BUT, for some authors, it smacked of, if not breaking the rules, definitely pushing the envelope of what Amazon and B&N had originally intended with their lending ability.
I completely understand why DMCA notices were sent. I understand why readers (and many authors who like the lending option) are upset the site was taken down. But making matters worse by punishing authors who felt they were only protecting their intellectual property seems to me, to be pushing things just a little too far.
Seriously as a middle child I’d just like to see everyone drop their pitchforks and torches, grab a coke and start singing:
Techdirt has a great explanation of how the whole thing unfolded (and I particularly admire their disclaimer at the beginning of the post).
*** NOTE: My apologies on missing a couple of posts the last couple of weeks. I’m working REALLY hard to edit my next book and seriously … these vampires are just NOT cooperating. But I’ll try to be better next week. ***