The Other Side of The Coin

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We all started as readers, didn’t we? Long ago, back when books could only be purchased in print and the idea of corresponding with our favorite authors was a pipe dream that earned us generic letters written by fan club volunteers–yet, we cherished them anyway.

All the late night hours, oversleeping for school the next morning, because we just couldn’t put that book down. We didn’t know how much money the author made, what they preferred for breakfast or the name of their beloved pet, until someone was lucky enough to get an interview with them. Authors were as distant as the stars and we worshiped them for their creative brilliance. We were awed and spellbound by the masterpieces they were able to create with words. We would wait months, years for their next novel, because that was normal.

Now, we’re the authors and we’ve come into this fast-paced, on-demand, high-tech industry with the same hopes and aspirations as the writers who came before us. We have the advantage of a self-publishing market and being able to personally connect with our readers through various social media platforms.

What’s a fan club? (I think she meant Street Team) Oooh, gotcha.

We aren’t distant or mysterious. Our readers not only know what we prefer for breakfast, they get before, during, and after photos on Instagram.

The disadvantage, is that the reader mentality has adapted to these modern times. Instant gratification has become the new norm and they’re no longer willing to wait months or years for your next novel to come out.

Are you?

Now that you’re on the other side of the coin, has it changed the kind of reader you are? Do you find yourself more sympathetic to the time and cost, or is there a switch in your brain between writer and reader?

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You know exactly what goes into each and every one of your books. The writing, the beta readers, re-writes, blurbs, covers, the editing, promoting and tours. No matter how small your budget, you publish at a loss, unless you’re skilled enough to do 100% of everything by yourself.

Do you wince at paying $2.99 for an eBook? Oh, I don’t know about that, I think I’ll wait for it to go on sale. You know that cover alone cost at least $45 if it was pre-made or author made (royalty free stock photos can cost that much for the right size). Upwards to $499 if it was custom ordered by a top professional.

“Yeah, but $2.99 is half the cost of my favorite espresso or 2 cheeseburgers off the dollar menu at McDonalds and I already know I like those, no risk of being disappointed.”

Instant gratification is worth the cost, but a new author we’re not sure we’ll like…um…maybe not so much.

Plus, there’s no resale value on an eBook, but you can always sell a paperback used on Amazon, at the flea market, yard sale, or trade it for credit at the paperback exchange – yes, they still have those.

And this isn’t a dis on technology, our spending habits or the new times. The world changes and we adapt. We have a lot of things to be grateful for as authors, that our predecessors only dreamed about – I’m just curious if becoming a writer has changed the way you behave as a reader? Are your reactions more lenient when you find a typo in someone’s book or harsher? Do you find yourself reading as a writer; critiquing plot, flow and character development as you go – or can you still fall into these things from a reader’s perspective alone?

Do you find yourself reading more or less? Do you have writer envy? Do you find yourself discouraged more often than not by other authors’ successes?bestwriter

Want a free book?

Uh…..

Bet you never thought you’d pass up on a free book, huh? These days, there are so many free book promotions that a good 50% never get opened in emails; click-delete, delete, delete, because we already have 1,000 free novels bogging down our Kindles from the last 25 promotions and we’re not even sure we’ll ever read them…like ever. 90% of them sounded good at the time, but they’re not even on our TBR list. They’re just sitting there, collecting cyber dust.

Do me a favor and look at the bookcases in your house, you know those beloved shelves you treat like a shrine, and tell me – is there a single book on them you haven’t already read at least once?

Does that make you feel guilty? Do you wonder if your own novel is sitting on someone’s Kindle, where it will go unread…possibly forever? Ever fear that karma’s gonna bite you in the ass if you don’t go above and beyond to support as many fellow authors as possible, even at the sacrifice of your own precious writing time?

Is your mind filled with:

“Read? Who has time to read?! I’m not writing fast enough, my readers are going to leave me for all those other authors, because they’re publishing books once a month, attending signings, giving out SWAG (where do you even buy that?) and still find time to post a new Tweet every five minutes!” (?)

Or do you actually take the time to stop and think:

“Oh my God, I did it. I’m a published author, and there are people out there, right now, reading my book and I don’t care that they downloaded it for free and may never review it or buy the next one – they’re reading something I wrote – That’s all I ever wanted. I never thought this day would come!” (?)

Curious minds want to know…

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Alphas & The Ways We Confuse Them

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Image source: theartofcharm.com

I’ve been seeing a LOT of posts regarding Alphas vs. Alphaholes lately.  Maybe, because it’s approaching April, which is (among many other things) Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

I just read this amazing post over on Naughty Quills that I agree with 99%!

There is so much more to it than just Alpha vs. A-hole, though.  The role of Alpha Male has become so misconstrued it’s practically a stigma.  I think much of this has to do with crossing genres – or rather, readers who read a variety of genres and sub-genres – to the point where Alpha has now become a “Stereotype.”  [stares blandly].  So, let’s see if we can clear up some of the confusion.

  • All Alpha Males are bossy, chauvinistic, unyielding forces of nature that are most likely dangerous and rich.  A true Alpha doesn’t gloat, has manners, has the respect of almost everyone around him because he’s not an a-hole.  True Alphas are more like wolves, who take care of their pack, respect their elders, cherish their young and mate for life or at least make a good effort at it.  Alphas don’t announce they’re alphas.  It just comes naturally.
  • All Alpha Males are BDSM Doms.  Um, no.  No, they are not.
  • All BDSM Doms are Sadists.  Uh, no.  Domination is more about control than inflicting pain. Doms come in just as much of a variety as Alphas do.
  • All submissives are masochists.  No.  No.  Just stop labeling!

Okay, got that little rant out of the way.  Now, let’s look at Genre basics:

Contemporary Romance: It’s romance, possibly chock full of sexual tension, but there aren’t really any graphic details about the act itself.  Sex is a byproduct and not the main theme. If the male protagonist is of the Alpha variety, he’s among the most valiant of Alphas, even if he has scars, but most likely he’s just your average male with a balanced personality type that might have some Alpha qualities. Must have a HEA (Happily Ever After).

Erotic Romance: It’s a romance novel with explicit, graphic, detailed sex scenes and a HEA. It covers all of the sub-genres, to include SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual) BDSM.  Even if it skirts into the darker areas of Kink, it is Consensual.  These Alpha Males are the widest variety of personality types ranging from Valiant Alpha to starting off as an A-hole, but once you get past his armor of self-preservation, you find a lot of redeeming qualities.

Dark Erotica: It’s not necessarily a romance novel.  It’s not even required to have a HEA.  If there’s BDSM, it’s more than likely RACK (Risk Awareness Consensual Kink) which covers the heavier areas of BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Sadism and Masochism) like extreme sexual torture and blood play, or sexual slavery / abduction. It might also have non-consensual and other taboo scenes in it.  It’s DARK for a reason. It doesn’t have to play nice and neither does its characters, especially the ALPHA A-HOLE protagonist who may or may not ever show a single redeemable quality. Ever.

Genres serve a purpose.  Most readers are well aware of which they like and which they don’t, but with the astounding influx of Indie authors that fall under the “Erotic” category, it can get confusing on what’s what.  So keep a close eye on those genre listings.  If you don’t like A-hole Alphas, I would seriously avoid Dark Erotica.  If you’re unsure of a genre’s definition, look it up before you purchase the book.

I agree that as writers we should know the layered variety of Alpha Males.  I fully believe that it’s our job to RESEARCH more than repeat, copy or ‘wing-it,’ especially, if we’re diving into an area we’re not really familiar with.  Writing is our passion, so we should always be learning and evolving and digging deeper- but, I also think that readers should take some responsibility for their choices.  If you didn’t like the way an author portrayed their Alpha Male, then don’t read that author or that series, or that particular genre by that author.

That doesn’t mean that every author writes their Alphas the same.  And if you didn’t realize it was a “Dark Erotica” even though it was listed as such, that’s an oops on you, not the writer. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve done this.  It was my mistake, though, not the author’s. I just wasn’t paying attention to anything other than the fact that the blurb sounded interesting and the cover was all kinds of HAWT.  Those can be so distracting!

Now, here’s where it gets even more complicated.  Not all authors stick with just one genre or sub-genre.  I happen to be one.  This is my crazy ass list:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Erotic Futuristic Romance
  • Erotic SciFi Romance
  • Erotic BDSM Fantasy Romance
  • Erotic Paranormal Romance
  • Dark Erotic BDSM Paranormal Romance

ALL of my male leads are Alpha Males.  NONE of them are the same.  They cover just as much a variety of personality types as you would meet in real life.  They are just as varied as my female leads. Let’s not even get into the massive, downright horrible female protags I’ve read over the past couple of years. I’m probably a rare breed who finds more fault in female characters these days than any of the males.  It seems like the focus of personality is a little one-sided, lately.  Both in writing and reviewing.

Another confusion I see is readers/reviewers trying to measure a paranormal ‘hero’ to a human ‘hero.’  Hello, they’re not human!  That yardstick shouldn’t be anywhere near them.  Why in the world would a [insert supernatural creature/alien here] have the same personality traits as your real life idea of Mr. Right?  Come on, now.

Here’s the bare bones truth:  A bad book is a bad book.  A good book is a good book.  That hasn’t changed, no matter how many new authors there are, or which genre is more popular.

Here’s the 1% I don’t agree with from any of the Alpha vs. A-hole articles I’ve read: Telling writers how to write their characters. That should never be our agenda, just as we should never tell a painter how to paint or a musician how to make music. Writing is an ART and art is a form of expression that should NEVER have restrictions put on it of any kind.  Creative freedom should not be meddled with. You maintain your freedom to write a scathing review, if you feel the need. No one is making you read anything you don’t want to.

♥ Win a FREE Kindle Paperwhite! ♥

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image courtesy of Love, Lust & Lipstick Stains

Hello all of my Blogosphere peeps! I just wanted to share an AMAZING opportunity to win a FREE Kindle Paperwhite – while checking out some pretty AWESOME authors!

Just follow the link below for your chance to win!

Take me to LOVE, LUST & LIPSTICK STAINS, please!

Happy Saturday & Good Luck!

My First On The 1st!!! TZL Book Release & More…

CelebrateIt’s official!  Today is the release day for The Zen Lounge!!  Thank you to everyone who has put up bared with me during my first book publication – what an experience!  And to all of the amazing staff over at Red Sage Publishing who made this day a reality!

To my best friend, Kelly: Thank you for always making me push SEND!

Mom: Thank you for editing for me (among other things) when I was crazy-glued to your side, because my hands were utterly useless and I was on deadline!  I still don’t think it’s okay for you to read this book, so I’m going to pretend that you’re not.

I’d like to offer a virtual toast to all my friends here in the blogosphere, (or drink the real stuff, if you’ve got it!), for sharing this exciting new leap with me.  This is only the beginning!

Also, for today only, you can check out my Author Interview over at the amazing Love, Lust & Lipstick Stains!

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Buy Today @ Red Sage * Amazon * Barnes&Noble

Welcome to the Zen Lounge, twenty-one floors of customizable carnal pleasures to fulfill your wildest fantasies. Even in the year 2192, it shouldn’t exist but Voryk Kade simply couldn’t ignore the urge to take a closer look. What he finds is a woman bent on ruining everything he’d ever believed to be true. She holds the key to all of Voryk’s darkest, neediest desires and despite her silence, provides the proof behind his belief that there is something far seedier going on under the high-end gloss of professional eroticism.

Enlisting the help of his closest friends, Voryk’s only goal is to keep Nexlana safe, naked and his. Unfortunately, she was already someone’s favorite pet and when Master comes calling, it’s with a vengeance and the intent of never letting her slip away again. Haunted pasts continue to resurface, only Nexlana’s might be far deadlier than any of them could have guessed—connections between her, arson, an assassination and a cold case no one ever wanted to delve into again. To stop the worst case scenario from taking place, they must finally figure out just who in the hell the Master really is.  

Social Media Tag!

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banner created by Sabrina Wolfheart @ http://booksandbark.wordpress.com/

Okay, what writer wouldn’t want another opportunity to talk about their book(s)???  This idea was created by the author of Ravings Of A Dead Poet and I’d like to thank Sabrina over at Books and Bark for tagging me.  I feel very honored to be included in the beginning of this fun new way to share creative minds!  And, as a bonus, it’s not even an Award! So, here are the rules as stated by Kate:

The Rules: Copy the questions below and answer them. Then, tag five people to do the tag and notify them; make sure to leave a comment including your post’s URL for the person who tagged you, so that they can go read your post!

Twitter

Describe your plot in 140 characters or less:

A jaded billionaire.  A mute companion.  A perverted lawyer.  A Special Crimes Detective.  Dark and haunted pasts collide by chance…or is it fate?

Welcome to the Zen Lounge, twenty-one floors of customizable carnal pleasures to fulfill your wildest fantasies. Even in the year 2192, it shouldn’t exist but Voryk Kade simply couldn’t ignore the urge to take a closer look…

Facebook

With the parents/grandparents flooding this site, who is your oldest character?

Cedron, who is Voryk’s lifelong Head of Household Staff.  He also plays a rather important part in the storyline, as a kind of father figure to Voryk and his wayward friends.

Instagram

What does one of your characters look like? #selfie (find the closest picture you can!)

Voryk2This was the closest I could find for Voryk Kade, who is the main character of my book, though his hair is not quite as long or wild.  He’s a (rebel) businessman, after all.  Still, the dark hair and eyes are perfect.  As is his potential for pulling off both Voryk’s signature, malicious glare and that sultry, confident smirk!

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Designing your theme is the funnest part, so how would/did you design your book cover?

The Zen Lounge.Final.niinaI didn’t design the cover of The Zen Lounge.  That privilege went to the cover artist over at Red Sage Publishing.  However, I do have specific style covers in mind for one of my supernatural series that I am going to try everything in my power to see happen!  I absolutely love how this cover turned out, though.  There is simply no mistaking which genre my book is with the perfect combination of those elements!  (And I love the font… really, really love it!)

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Naming your blog is so difficult! What did you name your book?

The name of my book is The Zen Lounge, which I wasn’t sure my publisher would let me keep.  It’s actually the name of a business, a “Pleasure Temple,” as it were, where the two main characters meet and it plays a very significant role in the rest of the plot, as well.  I’m very glad they let me keep it!

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Get your weirdest questions answered. Ask your main character one weird question, and have that character answer:

AC: Okay, Mr. Kade, what’s your favorite condiment?

Voryk: (smiling slowly) Mayonnaise.

AC: On everything?

Voryk: Just the floor.

AC: Of course, silly me…(fans self)

Hilo: (pushes swinging door open) Did someone say something about condoms on the floor?

Gryph: (mutters, as he enters the room to haul Hilo out again) Man’s as dirty as the Global Censorship Index.

AC: (looks back to Voryk, whose seductive smile has only increased) I think that’s…is it getting stuffy in here?

Pandora / Spotify

What kind of music are you playing whilst writing? If you don’t listen to music, what do you think your main character would listen to?

My taste in music is so eclectic, it really does depend on my mood and I don’t normally listen to it while I’m writing.  I think Voryk would listen to a collection of Blues and Jazz, Eric Clapton would undoubtedly be his favorite, but I think he might turn to something heavier while boxing it out in his holosuite.  Probably some earlier stuff by Bush, because it would still need to have that coating of sensuality to it.

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All good things must come to an end! What is one book idea that you were really into, but lost interest in?

Ah, yes, that one book I swore I would finish!  I had this great idea for a children’s book with fairies and exotic birds that would tell the tale of the seasons in an adventurous way and I kept coming back to it for the longest time, making little changes here and expanding the plot there – but, alas, I cannot write children’s Lit.  I don’t regret never finishing it, though.  I just saw a similar book on Goodreads the other day, already published, so the story’s out there (more or less) and probably told in a much better way than I could have managed!

Yay, now I get to tag people!

I tag:

  1. Latashia Figueroa
  2. Jodie Llewellyn
  3. Laura Lang
  4. Sue B.

And I’m going to *ahem* “borrow” Sabrina’s idea and leave the 5th tag open to:

5. You! Anyone who wants to join in is more than welcome.  Just follow the rules listed above and get to spreading the fun!

Obsolescence Overload

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I’m the product of the 70’s, who grew up in the 80’s and spent most of the 90’s with my nose in a book.  I saw the rise and fall of so many technologies, I probably couldn’t even name them all in one post – but do I really miss any of them?

I spent my childhood playing outside, riding bikes, watching the boys dressed like Michael Jackson break-dancing on street corners with giant boomboxes on their shoulders.  At home, my mom taped a penny to the needle of our turntable so the vinyl records we loved so much wouldn’t skip, as we danced around the house.  My dad took me to work, where I’d play on microfiche readers and run around labeling everything with an old dial-and-trigger label maker.  At one point in time, I owned a Crimper, just like every other girl in the world.  I made mixed tapes from the radio and gave them to my friends or crushes.

Modern technology allowed the advancement of television, the number of channels one could get steadily increasing, the portability of the sets (now with remotes!) an amazing feat.  I remember the birth of MTV, the Cordless Phone, the Nintendo and watching the end of the Cold War begin, the Iron Curtain fall from thousands of miles away, as everyday citizens tore down a graffiti plastered wall in Berlin, East and West reunited and families long torn embraced amongst the rubble.  New Geography text books introduced students to a country named Russia where the USSR used to be.

I complained about not being able to record on CDs, while simultaneously reveling in the fact that I no longer had to rewind or fast-forward to get to my favorite song.  It was like having a turntable all over again!  There was no internet, so I checked books out of the library.  I wrote stories on a Brother Word Processor where I had to switch reels in order to change the font to bold or italics.  Everything was saved on floppy discs, which only held 4 megabytes of information a piece, but this was a definite step up from the typewriter.  Pictures were taken on 110’s and turned in to be developed after you saved up enough money; more time waiting to see the finger in front of the lens, the flash whitewashing the faces, memories improperly captured or lost to overexposure.  Don’t even get me started on Polaroids.

I straddle a strange line.  I prefer modern tech over less efficient, more costly machines.  I like that I can just plug my digital camera or phone into my computer and print.  That I can preview my pictures, no longer losing moments with finger blurs and dark blotches.  I prefer my MP3 player over a walkman, my laptop over a desktop.  DVDs replaced VHS, but now DVRs have replaced them all and I can watch BlueRays on my PS3 or insta-stream Netflix.  My mom used to make cassette tapes of me talking to send to my grandmother and now we have Skype and Face Time.

I’m the author of an e-book for an e-publisher, own a Kindle, have downloaded my fair share of literature and fully support the growth of both the e-book industry and the Indie Authors, but I’m still the proud owner of a library card and read the classics in print.  I still shop at my local Paperback Exchange store in town, because I would hate to see the death of the Printing Press.  I take advantage of the instant gratifications that modern technology has provided us, but I also miss the simpler times when a needle scratched a vinyl record and music was given depth with white noise.  I miss neighborhoods where children played outside without cell-phones and iPods, when their parents weren’t ruled by Facebook statuses and Tweets, so they actually sat on their front porches and watched, visited, fed a community.

I don’t miss any obsolete technology, only the times when they existed.  Modern tech is a tribute to our creative ingenuity, I just wish it didn’t cost us human interaction to achieve it.  I think Ray Bradbury saw a very possible, bleak future with Fahrenheit 451 and the people of today should read it as a warning, not a work of fiction.  As I type this on my laptop, using Wifi and pingbacks, a wireless mouse, a cell-phone attached to my ear, I guess that makes me somewhat of a hypocrite, but if I must be one, at least allow me to keep the blinders off in the process for a little while longer.  Let me reminisce and harbor the essence of nostalgia, while I make my kids put the video games down and go play outside…