#TacoTuesday

Onions.jpg

Image source: redwhiteandblueberries.com

By now most of you know this has nothing to do with food and everything to do with your WIPs or published books! If not, then check out the original post HERE for the purpose. No time like the present to join in – just leave a pingback in the comments below so we can check out your post!

Now for the fun parts…

Writer’s Menu

Onions: Not everyone cries when they cut onions: share an outside-influence type circumstance/object that caused a character to tear up – or – notably didn’t, when they should have.

The moment they stopped moving and the shadows spat them out into an unlit room, Zoe went back to struggling and cursing her abductor. Beyond his enticing scent and the warmth of his unyielding body was the fragrance of a floral sweetened breeze and the kind of heavy, humid heat that immediately brought the deep south to mind. Where they were and why it was dark, Zoe had no clue. She could see through large, mostly undressed windows that it was a moonless night, yet it had just been morning in New York a second ago.

“I’m sorry it had to be this way, little doe,” Hex said at last. “If you’d quiet down, I could explain–”

Fuming one last time, Zoe stopped fighting and screaming. She didn’t need him to explain what she already knew, but she wasn’t about to miss the chance to get free of his hold. After several moments, he slowly pulled his hand away from her mouth. She remained perfectly still, until he released her completely. The second he did, she whirled and doused him right in the eyes with the pepper spray.

He stood there with his lids closed and patiently waited for her to finish, when what he should have been doing, was screaming in searing, tearful agony while begging her for mercy!

Once the can was depleted, he lifted the hem of his t-shirt to wipe the chemical from his face. Zoe tried and failed to ignore the fact that he was finally solid. That the veil of shadows had retreated completely and despite the natural darkness, she was seeing him fully for the first time. Along with the delicious display of hard packed abs and mouthwatering chest he revealed by using his shirt like a towel.

Pepper spray dripped onto the bridge of his nose from his bangs, where the most inhumanly pale eyes of silver peeked out at her. Hex traced his finger over the droplet, then stuck it into his mouth and made a sour face.

“That’s disgusting,” he remarked. “What is its purpose?”

“AAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!” Zoe blew her cool, throwing the spent canister across the room.

~ #WIP Hexed (Hell on Earth, #4)

Reader’s Menu

Onions: Name a favorite book you read where a character was brought to tears by an outside influence (ex: poked in the eye, thick smoke, laughing too hard, etc.) -or- where a character was notably incapable of being brought to tears for any reason.

CoverBlackDogNightsThe first book that comes to mind is Black Dog Nights by Ren Monterrey (a pen name of Karen M. Bryson). This was the second story I’d read in her The Club series, the first being Sapphire Beautiful. “The Club” is an exclusive, highly secure and anonymous company that allows rich men to hire girlfriends, and they each have their personal reasons why they would even need this kind of service. The women are vetted carefully and usually have a desperate, last-resort purpose for even applying for this money-making opportunity. (This might go the other way, as well, but in the books I’ve read, it’s always been a rich man and poor woman).

As unrealistic as that sounds, Ren Monterrey never fails to make her male protagonists uniquely different from any other main male character out there on the market (mine, included! LOL). In Black Dog Nights, Jae Rothko is no exception–but it takes some reading to discover that. By all appearances, he’s just another cookie-cutter wealthy and successful man blessed with gorgeous looks and unparalleled skills in the bedroom that lean heavily toward dominant.

Then we learn that Jae’s issue is medical and incurable. That he’s incapable of expressing emotions of any kind. It’s not that he doesn’t feel them, he just lacks the chemical in his brain that triggers everyone else in the world to display their feelings. Which, tends to have all of his lovers accusing him of being an emotionally stunted Alpha-Hole who just wants to regard them as possessions without any heart. Awww…poor Jae. By the way, that wasn’t too much of a spoiler, so don’t let it stop you from reading, there’s plenty more to the story than that.

I haven’t read all of Ren’s books and while I tend to find some things to nit-pick in each of those I have, they’re all truly good, HEA erotica stories that are definitely worth reading just to get a break from the same ol’, same ol’ when it comes to male leads!

Next week’s ingredient is…Tomato!

Tomato for the Writer: Embarrassment and/or ridicule often play a part in our character’s journey. What was one of your main character’s inescapable, red-faced moments?

Tomato for the Reader: Share a book you’ve read where you were so embarrassed for the main character by something they themselves did or where they were ridiculed so badly, it left a lasting scar impression on you.

 

#TacoTuesday

Taco Tuesday is back! I’ve missed the last couple of weeks, so for those just tuning in, this is a fun way to share your WIPs or published works on the Writer Menu -and/or- share your favorite books on the Readers Menu. Check out the original post HERE for the objectives. There’s absolutely no time limit for you to join in, just remember to leave a pingback to your post in the comments below, so I can check it out!

This week’s ingredient is…

Writer’s Menu

Lettuce: Share anytime money was used, stolen, given, exchanged or otherwise the main topic of conversation in a significant way.

“Lay on the bed exactly how I instructed last night,” he ordered.

Tessa turned her back to him and started crawling across the mattress, moving things out of her path along the way. Her hand landed on a computer printout that read Receipt of Purchase at the top. She was ready to dismiss it as belonging to the items Remy had just delivered, until she saw her own name. Pausing, she read the whole thing.

Master/Owner: Félix Debré
sub/slave: Tessa Fauns
Auction Price: $10,000 USD x 7 Days/Nights
Total Purchase: $70,000 USD – Paid in full.

It was dated and time stamped for that morning, which meant it had been one of the ‘important’ things he’d taken care of while allowing her to sleep in. Even if she’d been right in her assumptions, going back to the auction had never been an option. Her submission had already been purchased for the entire week.

“What is this?” she asked, turning and holding the paper up for him to see.

He studied her in silence, his expression guarded. “I thought we agreed last night that you weren’t going back to auction.”

“But seventy thousand dollars?” she jabbed the paper with her finger. “Scratch that, eighty thousand, because you already paid that ridiculous bid last night!”

“And if you went back, Tessa, it would be triple that, because I would never let anyone outbid me for you,” he countered with a ring of finality.

Oh, sweet mother of pearl. She’d really never had the option of not being his sub. That insight made her extremely grateful they’d cleared the air, but it still felt strange knowing her own price. Harder to accept he’d be willing to pay more. She wasn’t that fucking special. Not enough to warrant an eighty-grand price tag! That’s what her brain said, but it touched her in other ways she was completely defenseless against. Ways that, just like trying to anticipate his next move, were absolutely reckless.

Not knowing what else to say, she simply shook her head. “That’s just… that’s way too much money, Master.” She was incapable of expressing the depth of that fact.

He smirked in disagreement, plucking the paper from her hand.

“No, my little fox, it’s not,” he debated, mild amusement edged in warning. “Now, lay down and spread your legs, before I’m tempted to show my pet why it’s not in her best interest to question her Master’s spending habits.”

~ #WIP Scavenger (Dark Day Isle, #2)

Reader’s Menu

Lettuce: Share a favorite book/series where money played a significant role in dialogue, the story line, or was used as a thrilling plot twist. (The more unique the situation, the bigger the cool points).

I know I already used J.D. Robb a few weeks back, but since the genres are different between her pseudonyms, I think it’s only fair I get to use a Nora Roberts book this week! (My game, my rules. See how that works? 😀 )

CoverTheWinningHandThe Winning Hand, which was one of the late books introduced to Nora Roberts’s MacGregor series, was by far the absolute best rags-to-riches romance I’ve ever read  – Want to know why? Because, Darcy doesn’t become rich by marrying some billionaire, she simply has a stroke of good luck when she’s at rock bottom.

Stumbling into the Comanche casino in Vegas, after her car brakes down in the desert and no one will give her a lift, Darcy’s only worldly possessions are a handbag and three lousy bucks. She’s hungry, dehydrated and looks like she just climbed out of a dystopian bunker. Some kind of heat stroke dizziness is going on, but she’s dazzled by all the bright lights and noises of her very first casino, more so by doing the first outrageous thing in her entire meek existence, so plunks the last dollars to her name into the Comanche’s biggest jackpot slot machine – and wins!

To make this story even more awesome, Darcy then proves to everyone that she’s highly capable of taking that money and using it to fulfill her dreams without the help of her ex-douchebag boyfriend (who shows up to claim her, and “their” winnings after it hits the news) or even her new love interest, Robert “Mac” MacGregor Blade (the manager and heir of the Comanche casino). She’s a woman who knows exactly what she wants and how to wisely invest her winnings to make sure she gets and keeps it for the rest of her life.

That makes this book one of the most realistic rags-to-riches stories available, because let’s face it – the odds of winning big a the casino are higher than meeting and marrying a billionaire. Especially, a hot-as-hell, half-Comanche-half-Scottish casino running billionaire with a good heart and a lot of…um…stamina resources.

Next week’s ingredient is…Onions!

Onions for Writer’s Menu: Not everyone cries when they cut onions: share an outside-influence type circumstance/object that caused a character to tear up – or – notably didn’t, when they should have.

Onions for Reader’s Menu: Name a favorite book you read where a character was brought to tears by an outside influence (ex: poked in the eye, thick smoke, laughing too hard, etc.) -or- where a character was notably incapable of being brought to tears for any reason.

Truth In the Name: BDSM

It’s nearly impossible to escape the influx of BDSM themed novels since the popularity was heavily increased by a certain trilogy that will go unnamed. I’m not here to add fuel to fires on either side of the Love/Hate line – but I have seen a lot of reviews and discussions that lead me to believe not many people actually understand what they might be getting by choosing to read a BDSM novel. You might have an inkling or preset expectation due to one of these situations:

Perhaps, you’ve read a light-hearted romance that had a little kink thrown in, a little handcuffing and mild spanking? That is not BDSM.

Maybe you read that one (or all gazillion) about the Billionaire with control issues and a loosely assembled contract he/she never actually follows and set of rules he/she fails to properly enforce, because his/her love/lust for this desired-after sub is enough to have them throwing all their previous unyielding, closed-off ways out the window to become an ordinary lover with a kinky side. This, unfortunately, is the new standard in Fictitious BDSM – it is not even remotely close to Real Life BDSM. No, seriously.

However, this is not a post designed to persuade you either way. This is simply a guideline for readers. A piece of advice, if you will, that if you’re unsure what a novel tagged as BDSM might entail, the best place to start is to take a look at the name, itself…

Bondage/DSM

Most likely a BDSM novel will have bondage scenes, whether this is with traditional equipment such as a St. Andrews Cross, Spanking Bench or the good ol’ leather shackles attached to the bedposts. Sometimes the bondage will be creative and will include items that are readily at hand, such as a woman’s stockings, a man’s tie or a pair of panties.

Bondage serves the purpose of giving a dominant control over the body, while keeping a submissive in a state of vulnerability. It is equally a fetish for both parties, as much as it can be used to build trust and break down a submissive’s self-preservation walls in order to hand more control (power) of themselves over to their dominant.

At its heart, BDSM is a Fetishist Community made up of kinksters in various levels of Power-Exchange dynamics. It is all Consensual, but still takes time to develop like any other relationship. To help expedite that, kink is used just as much for pleasure as it is for forging those bonds.

B/Discipline/SM

This is the one I see people having the most trouble with. For most readers, it’s completely okay for a submissive to get sensual spankings detailed as a kind of foreplay, but the moment their bottoms are getting whipped for stepping out of line, readers are screaming abuse.

It’s difficult to address this issue without actually diving deep into Real Life BDSM, which would bore readers to tears. Discipline is an important part of Behavior Modification and every D/s dynamic is employing some form of Behavior Modification, because it is desired by both parties. Discipline comes in as many forms as you can possibly think of from the mild end of being put in a corner, to the extreme end of being ignored by their dominant, and every spanking, humiliation or orgasm denial in between.

In novels, unfortunately, a writer is limited to what keeps the readers interested, and the story from falling flat. For BDSM novels, the ‘tension’ between lovers is often expressed when the Discipline comes into play. Spankings with hands, belts, whips, floggers and riding crops are the go-to Discipline trope in all Fictitious BDSM novels – to make it worse, when used as the source of ‘tension’ between characters, Discipline only ever seems to happen when the ‘Dominant’ is angry. Hitting anyone out of anger is absolutely abuse. Also, I’d like to note here that any Kink played while a dominant or submissive is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is also crossing into an area that can be deemed as abuse – and in my own personal opinion, that goes for straight up vanilla sex, as well. A person’s mental state should not have to be altered in order to gain consent.

Neither one of these popularly used instances in fiction would ever actually fly in Real Life BDSM. A sub would walk out and never return and possibly report the Dom/Domme to their community’s authority, if not smear their name through the Kinkster social media mud.

If you find that you can’t handle reading a BDSM novel where Discipline is used to enforce/reinforce rules, not out of anger, but possibly disappointment or simply just for discipline itself, then perhaps BDSM really isn’t a genre for you, because that is a very large part of BDSM and goes back to the whole Behavior Modification aspect.

BD/Sadism/M

Not all BDSM novels touch on the extreme end of the Sadism spectrum. For instance, Daddy/Mommy Doms/Dommes don’t tend to have many Sadistic qualities. They’re nurturers and providers, they mainly lean heavily on Behavior Modification, and their Disciplinary actions tend to favor compassionate techniques, rather than straight out lashings, though spanking does typically play a big role in these novels. This is ‘typical’ not to say that a Daddy Dom novel won’t boast an extremely sadistic Daddy, so just make sure to read a book’s blurb or use the ‘Peak Inside’ feature to make certain.

As with all things, Sadism is individual and can range from mild to extreme, and it is not always a physical need to inflict pain. Sadists get their pleasures in many forms, including Denial, Degradation and Humiliation- or any combination thereof. Inflicting extreme pain is, of course, a typical Sadist’s desire in BDSM novels, so again, just make sure you read any Trigger warnings the author has taken the time to put in place (hopefully).

BDS/Masochism

Masochism plays a really small part in most Fictitious BDSM novels, I’ve noticed. It seems to be more popular for the ‘sub’ to not be a masochist at all, but still ends up craving the sexual pleasures derived from being dominated or even (mildly) disciplined. This stems from our societies belief that Masochism is a ‘Weakness,’ when all it really is, is basic biology just like any another personality trait.

Like Sadism, Masochism levels can vary and does not always have to do with craving pain. Some masochists thoroughly enjoy being degraded, abandoned, denied and humiliated, just to name a few. In the seldom BDSM novels I’ve read where Masochism actually does come into play, though, it’s typically of the pain-craving variety.

BDSMSymbol

While the truth behind the genre can be found in the name, BDSM can also depend on the rest of the genre. Supernatural/Paranormal creatures, for example, are probably going to explore the extreme ends of all BDSM, because they’re stronger, more resilient and this gives the writer more leeway to explore areas they can’t necessarily delve into with ordinary human characters – without someone ending up in the hospital or dead.

Realistically, whether an author does their research or has actual BDSM experience, it all boils down to Word Count limits and keeping the story flowing, with plenty of tension between characters – Therefore, the more a writer tries to implement Real Life BDSM scenes, the more readers lose interest. That’s the unfortunate truth, because Real Life BDSM is time consuming and everything is discussed and agreed upon BEFORE any kinky stuff even begins to happen. Before any clothing is shed – if it’s shed during a D/s couples first scene together at all, which is unlikely. Sexual intercourse is also a rare reality in an actual BDSM scene.

Just remember to shop smart, watch out for genre tags: Any time a book is tagged “Dark” or “Taboo” that means it is going to cover areas not very many people are comfortable with or can handle. Also, watch for Trigger/Content warnings and take advantage of the “Peak Inside” feature. This might not only give you a better idea of what kind of BDSM novel it is, but also an example of the writer’s style. I love that feature, really and rely on it far more than reviews or blurbs.

Hope everyone had a great Cinco De Mayo weekend and are fully recovered from the excessive Tequila consumption! LOL 😉

Save

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#TacoTuesday

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Disclaimer: This post has absolutely nothing to do with food – sorry foodies!

Welcome to a new kind of blog hop, engineered by moi for anyone who wants to join in. This is for fun, creativity, mostly cuz-we-can and designed to work for both readers and writers!

Objective: Every Tuesday I will introduce a new ‘ingredient’ until we have the biggest and best tacos in town. The only things you need are your own WIPs, published works &/or favorite books you’ve read. Answer as a writer, a reader or both, it’s completely up to you. There are no rules against using a different manuscript for each week’s writer answer, but please make sure to tag them with the story’s title so your followers know which books to look out for!

Here we go…

Writers Menu

Taco Shell/Wrap: Share a moment when a supporting character played a part in keeping your protagonist held together, even if it’s in memory.

“The problem is the whole in so deep already, though,” Reyna admitted, once she’d caught her breath. “I mean, he’s everywhere! He even knows my boss, for crying aloud. There’s no place in my life where he’s not already involved.”

Serena paused and softened, giving her a sympathetic look. “You mean like me and Maddy?” she pointed out. “Do you think it was any easier for us? You’re my best friend and his sister. We all grew up together, our parents used to barbecue together. We went to the same schools, the same family outings. Even if we went out separately, the other turned up there or was friends with those who were there. Do you know how long it took for me to get up the nerve just to admit to myself how I felt about him?”

Reyna opened her mouth, then closed it. She’d never thought of it that way before, but Serena was absolutely right. Madison had already been such a huge part of every part of Serena’s life, just like Corbyn was turning out to be in Reyna’s.

“The hardest part was getting past the fear that I would lose everything I loved, everything I’d known, if we didn’t work out. You, your parents,” Serena continued. “At the very least, that nothing would ever be the same again.”

“How did you do it?” Reyna asked quietly, desperate for any kind of wisdom her friend could bestow.

“I just did,” Serena shrugged. “I knew that if I didn’t try, if I didn’t give him or myself that chance, I would regret it for the rest of my life…”

~ Hearthstone Alpha (The Úlfrinn series, #1)

Readers Menu

Taco Shell/Wrap: Which book have you read with a memorable supporting character, and why did you like them?

itbiotc-front-coverMargo from In The Best Interest of The Child, by Felicia Denise. I loved every moment she was on the page, because her character came across with such a genuinely supportive personality. Even though Olivia hadn’t let her in all the way with her traumatic past, Margo was still there for her, without hesitation or judgment. She brought laughter, a shoulder to cry on, advice and even a good ‘shove’ in the right direction whenever Olivia needed it. I really hope we get to see more of her in the second book. (hint-hint!) 😉

This probably goes without saying…but

IF YOU’RE READING THIS, CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED!!

 

If you do participate, please remember to leave a ping-back in the comments below, so I can read your post. Happy Tuesday Muses!

You Name It!

Your Next Bad A__ CharacterCharacter names are the topic of today’s post, for both readers and writers, so jump right in! The other day, I was given the option to check out yet another free book and being the cover whore that I am, I couldn’t pass it up. I skipped the blurb and went right for the “Look Inside” feature. I made it through a good portion of the beginning, before I was even given the young woman’s name.

It was my mom’s name. 😐

Not a popular girl’s name in this day and age, especially for an 18 year old – but there it was. Glaring at me. I instantly started picturing my mom in what I knew to be an Erotic Romance novel and hit the back-button so fast my mouse filed an L&I claim.

As a Reader

I understand that this awkward situation depends largely on your genre of choice. I read a variety, but mostly Erotic Romance. So, there are definite names that will immediately turn me off to a book. Main Characters who have the same name as:

  • Any of my parents (I have 4)
  • My Kids
  • One of my ex’s that I cannot stand
  • A real life arch-nemesis – though I love it when they’re the antagonist!
  • And, depending on the circumstances, my nieces and nephews

That’s a lot of names when you think about it. Which, is why I usually feel fortunate and grateful that writers can be so creative with names!

Both of my kids have uncommon names. It’s very rare that I pick up a book and see my oldest son’s name. I have never seen my youngest son’s name used… as a first name… so it doesn’t have the same ‘scarred for life’ affect.

The rest of my family all have more common names. In the case of one niece and nephew, though, their names are sooooooooooo ridiculously common, that I know a dozen other people by their names and for some reason that makes it a non-issue. It’s like I have mental blockers for them, rather than the names, themselves. (Yeah, I’m a little weird).

More often than not, it’s that one ex-boyfriend situation that I run up against. I can’t even stomach seeing his name in print, let alone spend 1 to 300 pages reading it over and over again, picturing him in my mind, instead of the character I’m supposed to be seeing. A hero with his name is the last guy I’d ever root for, no matter what amazing qualities he supposedly has.

Just. Ain’t. Happening.

I’m probably missing out on some really great stories, but it’s not worth the nausea. Am I alone in this? Are you able to overlook these situations?

As a Writer

When I started writing in my teen years, I used names I wished I had, or that I could see myself naming my kids one day. Now that I have kids, I know better – especially with the kind of books I read and write! o_O

Typically, there are 3 different ways my characters can get their names:

1) It just comes to me and it fits. It might even come to me before the actual plot.

2) I get an idea for a story, and as I sketch that out a little more the character names start coming to me, usually as I imagine them be spoken aloud in dialogue. Actually, some of my ideas begin as dialogue, but that’s a whole other post!

3) The character is from another country and I research names until I find a combination that I like or feels the most fitting. I also do this with foreign sub-characters. Sometimes, it’s just their surname, because their first name has already made itself known.

With my Dark Day Isle series, Tessa’s first name came to me easily, then I had to wait for her last name, but I had to research to find Felix’s whole name.

The name Felix, itself, has been around long enough to have a very wide reach. However, in these modern times, it’s more commonly found in and around the kingdom of Luxembourg. My character happens to hail from Metz, which is nearby and politically linked to Luxembourg. I was excited when I came across the name during my research, and knew I’d found the perfect fit. Yes, I love Felix the Cat, too – stop aging us, gaw! 😀

While there’s no rule against using any name you want, it can be really useful to run a deeper search into a country’s various regions, for they each have their own unique traditional and modern list of names. Just searching for “French boy names” never would’ve given me Felix as an option. It only takes a few extra minutes of research, if you’re looking for something more authentic.

Of course, I’ve had characters whose names came to me first and only afterward revealed that they were of a certain heritage. For example: The main male character in my upcoming novel, Hearthstone Alpha (June 1st!) is Corbyn Bruschard. I didn’t choose his name – he did. I think I gave him a duck face, but he was 100% set on it and since he’s presumably ‘the boss’, I was in no position to argue. [insert exaggerated eye roll here].

Bruschard doesn’t even exist in Google’s world. At least not that I have found. Corbyn and his, ahem–pack–of guys, are Scandinavian, so I apologize profusely if Corbyn Bruschard is like the exact opposite of anything viking – you can take it up with the boss. Personally, I’d just let it go… I’ve met his cranky side. 🐺

Readers: Have you ever found yourself unable to read a book–no matter how enticing the blurb–simply because of one of the character’s names?

Writers: How do you come up with your character names? Is it different for each book? Do you have names before anything else, or do you have to flesh your characters out a bit first before their names come to you?

#ThrowbackThursday, #ReadWithMe Style

ReadingJD

image source: epicreads.com

To make sure I’m keeping up with Ms. Felicia’s Blog Hop, which is to celebrate March as the National Reading Month, this throwback is, of course, about our favorite subject. Enjoy!

A Fear of Reading?

Originally posted 12-18-2014

Have you ever stopped reading a book, because you were afraid of what was going to happen next?

I can’t recall if I’ve ever experienced this situation before. I started reading this book (won’t name names. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else) awhile ago and can’t seem to bring myself to pick it back up again. The crux: It’s not only my favorite genre [erotic romance. Surprise!] It’s by one of my all-time favorite authors!

The dilemma I’m having is that I fear the protagonist is on a downward spiral into ultimate ruin. A total train-wreck of self-destruction that I simply can’t bear to witness. Have you ever been too empathetic to watch one of your beloved characters crumble?  Do you feel embarrassed for them when they embarrass themselves?  (I do that mostly with movie characters, ha-ha!)

In truth, there’s a lingering mystery surrounding the main character’s misadventure that’s alluring and will probably tempt me back into the book, but it seems I’m using whatever excuse I can to put it further and further off into the future. I have this problem with not being able to not finish a book once I’ve started it – even if it’s a really bad book (again, I won’t name names).

That isn’t the case in this situation, of course. The writing, as always with this particular author, is phenomenal, the characters are intriguing, the scenery perfectly detailed, etc, etc, etc. I know, “just pull up your big girl panties and read the book, already!” I’m getting there. Eventually.

Until then, what books are you enjoying over the Holidays right now?  Any recommendations? (modified for lack of current holiday)

 

 

#ReadWithMe ♥ Reading the Write Way

readwithme1

Welcome back to another ‘Read With Me’ post for Ms. Felicia’s blog hop. If you’d like to link your post or blog to the list, just click on the banner above! This is in celebration of National Reading Month and will be happening all of March, so it’s not too late to hop in.

Read What You Write, Write What You Read

Let me tell you about an adventure I had with this #1 most common piece of writing advice…

When I switched from avid reader to reader/writer 10+ years ago, I didn’t even know ‘genre’ was a thing. Mostly, because I was absolutely clueless about marketing. In my last post, I mentioned that my first book idea was born when I was only 17, but not yet hatched. It festered in my mind for years, warping, evolving, maturing and expanding. One book idea spread into a series with its own maps and timeline, all centered around this singular world, plot, and set of characters.

This is how my brain (aka my muse) works. Simple is a foreign concept we cannot comprehend. It took me 5 years to finish my very first novel at over 150,000 words. As you can see, I was just as clueless about word count limits. It also happens to take place in the middle of my massive series, not the beginning – please refer back to my explanation of simple.

I would classify the book as Fiction-Fantasy. It’s not epic and probably breaks every fantasy genre rule ever created. I couldn’t get it off the ground to anyone. No one wanted this ‘pretending to be fantasy’ novel, not literary agents, publishers or e-pubs. In not so many words, my friend gave me the advice: Write what you read. It was probably more like: “I love Nora Roberts, you should write a book like hers!”

In a weird, roundabout and completely self-serving way, she was right. It had been years since I’d actually read a fantasy novel. During the 5 years I’d been trying to write fantasy, I’d only been reading romance, erotic romance, crime/mystery and Anne Rice (yes, she’s her own genre).

Call me an overachiever. My 2nd novel only took 2 months to write from start to finish at a little over 100k words. I had taken my friend’s advice – and that turned out to be a major problem. Remember all the genres I listed in the last paragraph? Yeah, well… they all ended up in the same book. I don’t think that’s what ‘write what you read’ is meant to accomplish.

I never sat down to write with a particular genre in mind, I just wrote what I’d been reading. It wasn’t until I was asked to label my book’s genre in the submission form to my publisher that I even considered it. And I floundered.

Um…. Can’t it just be a good book about people and stuff? Whatever happened to creative freedom?!

So, there I was with this novel that takes place in the near future with advanced technology and some space travel, told mostly from the male POV, whose female love interest is mute, explicit sex scenes and dark, gritty crimes that needed to be solved – and they want me to put a genre-specific label on it? 😐 I didn’t even know where to start!

Anyone perusing my collection of books would call me genre ignorant. A genre floozy, if you will. I am unbiased of genre – at least, I used to be a lot less biased. This was the first of many lessons in my professional writing journey. I ended up slapping a multi-genre label on it to satisfy the masses. The Zen Lounge is listed as a Futuristic Erotic Romance with Crime/Detective elements. But, that’s a freaking mouthful!

I learned my lesson, mostly. I’m a bit more conscientious about genres and ‘reading what I write’ rather than trying to write one book about everything I’ve ever read. We shall call this Reading the Write Way. Authors should be reading, at any rate. It’s a great way to expand your vocabulary, find inspiration and keep up with what’s already being done to avoid cliches.

Personally, I’d rather not to be known as a copycat or a Bandwagon writer. You won’t ever catch me referencing or comparing myself to the most popular authors or their books in my genre. I don’t want to be known as being “like [insert author name here].” Our greatest achievement should be when our work and therefore name, stands on its own merit, because it is that good and that loved by readers. However, there are ‘genre specific’ elements that readers expect to get and those are important to know. At the end of the day, we’re still running a business, and if we hope to succeed, then we need to be mindful of our demographics.

There are many authors who decide to write different genres, typically under different pen names, so readers won’t get an unpleasant surprise. This is a good approach and one that I might put to use someday by returning to my long ago attempt at Fiction-Fantasy. This time, I’ll make sure I spend a lot of time brushing up on my fantasy reading first!

I’ll likely keep reading other genres for the pure enjoyment of it, and have a variety on my TBR list. But, I’ve noticed that since I started writing Erotic Romance, that’s definitely the first genre to grab my attention while looking for new reading material. How about you?

Do you Read What You Write? Do you find yourself drawn more to your own genre, or away from it?