One of the things I love about writing futuristic and fantasy stories is giving my muse the opportunity to really come out and play and stretch her wings creating new settings, new rules and new species.
A TOUCH OF LILLY found me in deep space creating a whole solar system with different planets and many unique aliens, some of them very human … others, not so much.
I had a wonderful time living in this world while I was writing the book. I loved hanging out in this world I created so much I’m working on a sequel. I can only imagine what it would be like to live on these fantasy planets.
But it’s not only imaginary places I fantasize about. I enjoy reading historical novels because I love the idea of living in the old west. I find the idea of living on the plains in a Native American tribe intriguing. I know it was a hard way to live, but there seems to be many wonderful things as well; living off the land and working in a community to survive. Yeah, there was a lot to do, but it also seems like there wouldn’t be much stress in your day-to-day life.
And if I got only one chance to visit one of those places I’d have a hard time choosing. What about you? If you could travel anywhere would you choose a magical fantasy world or visit another time period in this world?
So, it’s the question I ask myself every time I sit down at the computer with the intention of writing my next story. Do I write something that’s hot with the market or the story that’s rolling in my head? And trust me when I say … they’re not usually the same.
Now, let me clarify by saying that I’ve never written a story where I wasn’t proud of the final product. It’s just that I’ve enjoyed writing some more than others. And I have yet to have any characters just run away with the story. Nope. Soooooo not me. I’m really envious of authors who say they couldn’t type as fast as their characters talked or that scenes unraveled and they were just along for the journey.
Yeeeeah. Maybe some day.
But until then I weigh and measure which story to work on next. I have figured out I’m a one story author. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t left some of my novels to write something shorter, but I don’t work on two stories at a time. I’m singularly focused. I do have several plot ideas rolling around in my head, all the time, but until I have a really good idea where they’re going I can’t put fingers to keyboard.
For the last couple of years I’ve been really focused on what is selling in the erotic market. I’ve tailored my characters to fit in that mold. And you know what … it was hard. I’m proud of the stories and pleased with the end product, but the journey to completion wasn’t fun. Now don’t get me wrong … everyone, no matter how much they love their job, has those days when they just don’t really want to show up and when work is just that … work. And the same is true for me.
But the last book I re-wrote, the one where the rights reverted back to me, was a wonderful journey of being reintroduced to characters I loooove and writing that makes me VERY proud. It’s a futuristic erotic romance titled A TOUCH OF LILLY and is set in deep space. I really enjoyed creating the aliens and weapons and discovering a new setting. When this was out with a publisher, the reviews were awesome! The sales? Not so much. And that’s supposed to be all right because my writing should be about the story and not about what the readers are buying.
Or should it?
Let’s face it. I’m writing to make a living. I’ve never hidden that fact. When my body gave itself over to the MS I was forced to stop working. My writing has become my new career. Failure is not an option … okay, that has more to do with how I’m wired rather than my need to buy groceries and pay the electric bill. But still, I want this new career to keep me contributing to my family’s budget. So then I vacillate back to … write what the readers are buying. And with this new self-publishing thing going on it means I do have flexibility. I’m not bound to what publishers are buying. Still …
It’s a ping pong match in my head with stories vying for my attention. I don’t know what the answer is. I wrestle with it every time I sit down to write a new story. Ideally, I’d like a balance of both worlds, a story that is fun to write and one the readers will love. I have no idea if I’ll ever find the middle of that road, but I’m working on it.
So as an author, where do you head with your stories? And as a reader do you read by genre or by author or a balance of both? Because I’m dying to know.
And because this is my blog and a place for me to do a little marketing. Here’s the new cover from Dar Albert … an aaaamazing cover artist and the blurb:
Ex-Chicago detective LILLY D’ANGELO has a secret she doesn’t share with anyone. A master of the one night stand, she’s given up ever finding a soul mate and thrown herself head first into her career. That is, until she captures the wrong alien. Kidnapped and sold into the sex slave trade, she’s shipped into deep space. Barely escaping with her life, Lilly now travels the galaxy working as a bounty hunter using her secret talents to bring down criminals and seeking revenge on the one male who ruined her life.
Agent DALLAS SAWYER works for deep space’s version of the FBI. After a disastrous mission that left several of his team members murdered, a president executed, and Dallas near death, he’s determined to take down the assassin targeting government officials. When a sexy human female gets between him and his goal, Dallas and his alien partner find themselves on the receiving end of a passionate night they won’t soon forget and a proposition that may very well blow up in their faces.
Because in deep space … true love can happen with just a touch.
Writing. *sigh* I’m avoiding it like the plague this morning. I’m not sure why, just am. The laundry and bills seem to be shouting louder than my WIP and I’m having a grand time flitting around blogs and visiting with my friends. I turned to my own blog in hopes of channeling my energy into something at least semi-productive.
I know what’s slowing me down. I’m trying to come up with an idea for a western series … because I’m totally enamored with cowboys. But I know there are readers who are looking for the third book in the XTC Resorts series (and I do love Ethan). So I’m stuck. I’m not working on either one.
I’m like that. Sort of a one-book woman.
There are authors who have multiple projects going and thrive on the schizophrenic jumping around of plots and characters. That is so not me. Which may be why I get stalled. I know I’ve mentioned this on numerous occassions, but Ethan Jacobs is just being uncooperative. He’s dragging his feet, unwilling (or perhaps unable) to find his stride and let me unravel his story. He’s a great matchmaker, but doesn’t seem to want to find his own forever love. I’ve promised him all sorts of stuff including some very hot sex in the dungeon with a very sexy woman who’s never explored her submissive side if he’ll just help me write his story. Ah hem. But does he throw me a bone? Um…. no.
So we go ’round and ’round but don’t make any headway. Now I’ve put him on the spot. I keep dangling Jonathon (Maid for Master) and Derek’s (Invitation to Ecstasy) happy stories in front of him, hoping Ethan will be so jealous he’ll want to jump on the band wagon. I’m not above a little peer pressure.
But it doesn’t seem to be working. My CP says move on. Write a story that’s singing to me. I can’t.
Don’t ask me, I just can’t. It’s not that I don’t have partial projects sitting on my computer … I do. But I’ve given them all a fair go and finally had to abandon them for lack of research, character motivation, or (dare I say it) lack of sufficient plot. (That’s not the case with Ethan, he has all that in spades.)
I know some of you out there are shaking your head, wondering what the heck I’m rambling about this morning. But the writer friends of mine totally get this.
So it made me wonder. How many projects are too many to work on? Are you the incredible juggler keeping several things in the air all at once or the jockey sitting astride one horse, focused completely on finishing this single race? Do tell. Inquiring minds want to know.
To a scientist, being tagged means a little orange clip on one’s ear or a critter-cam on one’s back. Since I didn’t wake up with either of those this morning, I’m going with the child’s version of tag… and I guess now I’m IT! Which now means I have to dig deep into who I am and tell you seven little known facts about me. Okay, I don’t have to dig so deep, but perhaps there’s something new here you didn’t know …
I’m not going to point fingers at the person who tagged me, but you know who you are. And I know for a fact you giggled maniacally as you added me to your list of victims, errr … taggetts. (Yes, that’s a word, look it up in the official Nina dictionary.)
The rules are simple:
* List seven things about yourself
* Link to the blog of the person who tagged you (but I’m nice and I’m not going to “out” her).
* Tag seven new unsuspecting victims, um… friends and list their links on your blog. (And once again, I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you’d like to pick up the challenge … consider yourself tagged!)
**** (Oh, and no tag backs… I added that one myself… ’cause I’m clever that way! *g*)
So here goes:
1. I’ve been with my guy for 36 years. Stop laughing, I’m still a young sexy thing… we started dating when I was 2 and married when I was 10!
2. I’ve lived in Maine most of my life with short stints in Rhode Island and New York. And though my heart will always consider Maine home, I’m happy to be living out of its cold winters.
3. I graduated Summa Cum Laude as the valedictorian of my college class with a degree in Marine Biology.
4. I love water. Feel at home swimming in the ocean, canoeing a lake or rafting a mountain stream. Living away from it has been difficult for me and in the next phase of my life I’m going to live very near a body of water.
5. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 20 years ago. It’s an icky disease that seems to do what it wants, attack unnanounced and wreak havok on my body. Fortunately for me, though I did have to give up my teaching job, I am still somewhat mobile. And it moved me into the realm of writing… not a bad trade off!
6. I am a sun worshipper. I love all locations warm and sunny. I’ve visited the Virgin Islands and Hawaii as well as Florida of course. I still haven’t made it to the west coast and I do believe it’s God’s odd sense of humor that I lived most of my adult life in the artic north of Maine.
7. I’ve always wanted to be an actress. I was involved in drama when I was in high school and there was nothing more exciting for me than being on stage with all those people watching. (Hence the whole career in teaching… nothing better than 20 people held captive for an hour!) But my singing voice leaves a lot to be desired. I only sing solo… so low no one has to suffer through it! But I envy those children of actors who sort of just move into that profession.
Okay, I’ve beared my soul. How about sharing a couple of things about you too!
You’re probably not going to let me get away with this and I have to say … I’m soooo sorry! This week has gotten away from me AGAIN! I have no excuse. My head was in a bad place and I just couldn’t get my act together to blog. I know … shame on me.
And I can’t even say I finished the rewrite of my vampire romantic suspense, though I have been working diligently on it. One of my beta readers had some really good questions and I’m mulling them over and figuring out how to clarify. Still… it’s not a good excuse. Now I’m travelling to visit my family in Maine. Looks like it’s going to be a wonderful week at the lake. There will be a lot of laughter and too much wine and probably several nights of card playing. All fun and games. (Though I am bringing the laptop and have explained to my muse that she can’t play the whole week away). Yay!
Next week, despite the fact that I’ll be away, I’ll actually be pretty good about posting. (Because of course I, ummm … have them preloaded.)
And a happy wave to all my writer friends in Anaheim enjoying the final weekend of the RWA national convention. I’ve got a really good friend Meg Kassel whose YA manuscript has finalled in the Golden Heart! w00t! w00t! Go Meg! I’m lifting a margarita to all of you!
Okay, for those of you tripping on this hoping the erotic romance writer is talking about some sexually fun topic … forget about it. Just get your minds out of the gutter. I’m just rambling today about writing. Because what I’m discovering about this writing gig is the longer I’m doing it, the harder it’s getting. (Seriously, quit giggling and get your mind out of the bedroom.)
Now stay with me here.
When I first started writing I could sit at the computer for hours typing pages and pages. I didn’t worry so much where the plot was taking me or how the characters were behaving … I just wrote. Blissfully. Stupidly. My stories meandered here and there until I reached an end. It was so easy. Then I got published. Not once, but several times.
Okay, now I had an editor and a series going and wait … there are readers out there looking for my next book. Yay! What a thrill. It is, it really is, but now when I sit down to write I have this niggling anti-muse looking over my shoulder saying things like “the reader’s going to see that twist, don’t bother” “oh, he would say that?” “that’s not a good plot it’s been overused” “they’re not going to like this as much as the last book” “they’re going to slaughter you on Goodreads for that”.
Yeah, you get the idea. The whole nasty negativity stealing away my creative juices. So here are a couple ways I’ve learned to combat it.
1. Turn the music up louder. That’s right drown out the negativity.
2. Keep typing, everything can be fixed in edits
3. Type without looking back. Don’t allow yourself to turn around and second guess the day’s writing.
4. Even if you’re a pantser, take 5 minutes before you write and jot down the important points of the scene/chapter you’re working on. You’ll be surprised how much that will increase your productivity.
5. And if all that fails … gag the bitch and tell her to shut the f%*&@# up!
Whew I feel better. I hope those tips help. As for me, it’s time to find that gag and write out a couple of scene points and finish up the book I’m working on. I know readers are waiting on this one.
Oh, and just so you have something to discuss … what’s for dinner? (I’m always looking for ideas.)
Last year, after thinking about it for a long while, I finally self-published a book. It was an easy decision for me. I had a three book series that had gone out of print at my original publisher and I didn’t see any reason not to self-publish. I’m very happy I did. I highly recommend it. (Seriously, even after you read this little tale of woe, I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything different with this series.)
But … (isn’t there always a but?) I really can’t seem to catch a break. *sigh*
The books were originally written as erotic suspense. They were basically my first attempt at writing erotic romance and I was still learning the craft of telling a sexually explicit love story. What I discovered is that they weren’t the right kind of story for erotic romance readers, but were too explicit for main stream contemporary romance readers. I rewrote them and toned down the sex and amped up the suspense.
In 2011 when I released BLIND HER WITH BLISS and DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE, I had my artist design sexy covers for them. Though they weren’t erotica, they were still on the “hot” side of romance. When they didn’t sell, I stepped back and reassessed. I had the covers redesigned, changed the titles (the ones they currently have) to reflect the suspense element and edited even more sex out of the books.
I was really pleased with the changes and set out marketing. In the fall of 2011 the third book CHEAT HER WITH CHARM was released, but still I couldn’t help people find my books. A sale in December popped the sales a little, but still not what I was hoping. I decided to offer the first book free in February. The downloads were going well, when Amazon decided to throw my book out of romantic suspense and contemporary romance into the erotic category. And the downloads came to a screeching halt. Readers that downloaded the book thinking it was erotic romance were very disappointed. It took me over a week to get Amazon to correct the problem. By the time Amazon had it back in the right categories the momentum had been lost and the number of downloads never did rebound.
Mid-April I made the mistake of taking it off free. Thinking sales would continue as they had, the sales went completely downhill.
I decided to make it free again at the beginning of June. But in Amazon’s infinite wisdom they price matched the wrong book. It took a week to get that straightened out. But now I have BLIND HER WITH BLISS free at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Sony and Diesel, but Amazon won’t price match. As a matter of fact they have now decided this book … that isn’t erotic romance … is too explicit to list in general searches by Amazon readers.
Try searching it. It’s gone.
Yes, my direct links work. But you can’t go to Amazon and search “Nina Pierce” and have it show up in my list of books. You can’t find it by searching the title. And now I am fighting with Amazon to convince them that the book is not explicit and should be listed and searchable.
I’m ringing my hands. What I’ve learned is that when this is all said and done I’m leaving it. No more messing with prices. No more trying to price match. Just sit back and let things percolate and let Amazon lose sight of me. In the meantime … anyone have any suggestions?
Seven years ago when I began this writing journey my vision of how a book would go from my imagination to a manuscript to the readers’ hands seemed like a pretty well-worn path. The whole author —-> agent —-> publisher direction was the only avenue I understood.
Enter digital books and small presses and publishers who read manuscripts without having them submitted by an agent. Suddenly the publishing world opened up and more authors were jumping up and down over signing their first contract. Many (including Romance Writers of America) were appalled by the lack of advances. They felt authors weren’t making good business decsions or worse yet, that they were treating their writing career as a “hobby”. But the truth is, with a higher royalty rate, authors (including me) were pleased with their contracts.
Then along came a respectable way to self-publish (called indie-publishing by some) and the world exploded for authors. There were authors talking about leaving their jobs to write full time and others talking about making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Not just the NYT and USA bestselling, big name authors, but authors new to the publishing world (EL James anyone?) and exploding onto the scene.
Now, before I go any further, I need to explain that I’m one of those people who wants to have all the information I can gather before making a decision. I received 4 contract offers on the first book I published. I actually went through their author lists and emailed to ask several questions about their publisher. From the author’s responses (or lack thereof) I was able to make an informed decsion and signed a contract that fit me. This blog post is really just me sharing some current information. I would not presume to make any judgments about other author’s choices for publication nor am I trying to steer people away from traditional publishing. I’m just throwing out some food for thought.
As far as traditional publishing, there may not be a better time to have your manuscript read. Recently, I’ve seen several publishers putting out calls for submissions. I suspect it may be due to the fact that slush piles aren’t quite as high with all the authors self-publishing. And if you choose that avenue, just go in with your eyes open. Not all traditional publishers are created equal. Ann Voss Peterson gives a great run down of her Harlequin vs self publishing experience. And Courtney Milan also gives a great accounting of her Harlequin and self-published book royalties and expenses. It’s easy enough to find out information about other publishers by simply asking around.
Maybe the disadvantages of traditional publishing outweigh the advantages for you. And you’re wondering .. Why wouldn’t I self publish? The answers are as individual and varied as authors. I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of traditional vs self-publishing. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has done a great job in THIS POST blogging about the differences between the two publishing options. (It’s really a wonderful post and totally worth reading if you have a manuscript and you’re sitting on the fence trying to decide what you want to do with it.)
So why did I choose to go the self-publishing route? For one, I had books whose rights reverted back to me after their contract expired at my first publisher. I didn’t think they fit at my other publisher and frankly, I didn’t have any solid reason not to try. As it turned out, self-publishing has been the financial boon I hadn’t quite achieved with my publishers. Yes, I’m still submitting and publishing traditionally, but I’m also choosing to spread my business across the self-publishing venue. With my last royalty statement from my publisher it’s become apparent that sales of my Tilling Passions Series has prompted sales of other books. Readers around the world are finding my books and that’s a very cool thing. But mostly it makes me happy because, for the first time in my career, my ledger is running in the black and I’m only 6 months into 2012!
I’m not shy in encouraging authors to give self-publishing a try. I know it made my knees quake before I actually ventured into the waters. But now that I’m there I’ve got to tell you, the swimming is easy and the water is refreshing. Am I saying I won’t pursue a NY contract? I’m not sure. Right now I don’t seem to have the patience to sit and write that novel that would fit the NY market. With everything going on in my life, my muse doesn’t seem to want to settle down. But with all the changes in publishing, I’m willing to stay flexible enough to take my career in the direction that works best for me.
What about you? Are you comfortable where you’re sitting right now? Are you looking to make changes or is status quo working for you? You know me, I’m curious about stuff like that.
Okay, anyone who knows me understands two things 1) I’m assertive and really don’t mind if the opinions I share go against the grain. I don’t expect people to think like me, but I think it’s important to share all sides of a debate (as evidenced by this post). And 2) I hate it when I don’t understand something.
So when I kept hearing about the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) lawsuit against Apple and 5 of the big six publishers my spidey antennaes started twitching. But I’m not pubbed with the Big 6 (Harper Collins, Hachette, McMillan, Penguin Group, Random House, Simon & Schuster) nor do I have any manuscripts
languishing, being held captive sitting on the desk of any editor or agent who will pitch my story to the big guns. So I was just kind of ignoring the tingle.
Then I noticed many authors were becoming impassioned by this discussion throwing around terms like “Agency Model”, “Author’s Guild”, “Collusion”, and “World Domination”, errr … I mean “Amazon Monopoly” and the twitch became a slow, burning vibration that could no longer be ignored. I’ve spent a good part of the last 3 days scouring the internet and annoying other writers to figure out what all the hoopla is about. And what I discovered is that this issue is a lot like taking a wild ride standing on top of a bi-plane… lots of wind with dips, twists and gasping that completely mess up your hair, but don’t seem to go anywhere. It’s very confusing and did I mention emotional? Yep, a bunch of “agreeing to disagree” stuff going on with this one.
First let me start with a couple of definitions:
Wholesale Model (or the way the big guys do it):
Publisher sets price ———-> Retailer gets book at 1/2 publisher’s price ————> Customer pays price RETAILER sets
Agency Model (Digital pubs & Self-Pubs):
Publisher sets price ———-> Retailer sells at set price (but receives 30% of sale) ——–> Customer pays price PUBLISHER set
That’s it in a nutshell. But if you’re like me and want a more indepth explanation check out Macstories. Yeah, I know the graphics on that blog are waaaay better, but I’m so much cuter. 😉
Now the author’s guild (of which I’m not a member) and John Konrath are really slamming the whole Agency model of doing business. Why? Because if hardcover publishers use this model it really screws an author out of royalties. Mr. Konrath has a great post HERE about why it sucks (his words not mine).
For me, I repeat … For ME who is self-published and published through digital publishers, the agency model makes all kinds of sense. I know what royalty rate I’m making and whether it’s on net or cover price when I sign the contract. There are no questions. Number of books X Royalty Percentage = Royalty Payment Every. Single. Time.
So what’s all the hoopla you ask? Well, if you’re still with me I’ll explain. (In my terms and with a bit of humor NOT legaleze so hang tight.)
The DOJ is alleging that 5 of the big six publishers and Apple got together over double double lattes and scones to discuss how Amazon was soooo big they could undercut prices of books and sell them at a loss. If left unchecked this bully could eventually push other publishers out of business and become the only game in town. So these 6 discussed banding together and adopting the Agency Model of selling books. If they all agreed to a particular price for books as publishers, then through the agency model the retailer would have to sell them at that set price. No one could undercut. Unfortunately it’s illegal for a group of friends to make these sort of deals lounging at the spa getting facials. Collusion is a bad thing and it’s the sort stuff that’ll get you a spanking (and not the good kind) and a hefty fine.
Jane from Dear Author has a very nice explanation of the whole lawsuit if you’d like more detail.
So how’s this affecting you as an author? Hmm, well, guess it depends on where your career fits in the publishing spectrum. The publishing landscape is changing faster than Cher at a concert and it’s important we all stay informed. Emotions run high when it affects our business. The trick is to gather all the information and make the best decision for you and your books. What makes sense for me might not be a good marketing strategy for you.
But I’m going to go out on limb and say … regardless of how the DOJ decides this case, I’m not placing bets on Amazon’s bid for world domination. Yeah they’re moving their armies across the proverbial Risk board. But see that strong hold over there at Kobo and the small armies sitting at Barnes & Noble? I’m betting that the next roll of the dice will bring them right back into the game. What do you think?
I really don’t know what’s wrong with me. But I’ve got nothing for you today. I actually wrote a whole long post about a series I finished recently. But it was really negative and in talking about the books it wasn’t going to teach anything or create a discussion worth having, so I stuck it in the archives until I can figure out what to do with it.
But it did get me thinking about reading and why people read. And what types of books they choose when they’re looking to satisfy whatever need reading brings to them. For me, reading is entertainment. I don’t like reading self-help books. I rarely read non-fiction unless I’m trying to do research and even then … not so much. I usually just skim pertinent information. I want a story to transport me to another place and time where I can forget about the bills that need to be paid or the laundry that needs to be folded.
My family actually started chatting about books at the holiday dinner table last weekend. One family member mentioned they only like to read books that leave them thinking, have some kind of moral message or some lesson to teach. When a couple of us mentioned a book we’d read and enjoyed, neither one of us could come up with a moral lesson. But then, I can’t say that’s why I read. For me it’s just getting lost in the fantasy of the story. But it was really interesting talking about how and why each of us reads.
On the writing front I’m working really hard to stay focused on a rewrite of a story I wrote yeeeeears ago, but was never published. The problem is I have several projects that have been waiting in the wings and I’m finding it hard not to be a little ADHD and work on them all at the same time. With my life in the chaos it’s currently in, I know opening more than one manuscript in a day would mean I’d never get anything done. Hopefully this story will be out to an editor by the beginning of June.
I’m also doing some beta-reading for a friend. I’m so excited for him as he’s been away from his writing for a long time and he’s such a talented writer. I can’t wait for this book to get out into the world.
And last but certainly not least … I spent last weekend with my grandson. He’s growing so fast! I hate having him so far away, but I’m pleased I got some time to spend with him. I hope you’re having a wonderful week.