Dear Indie | Prologues, Prefaces, Forwards, Introductions & Epilogues

Hi Indies! I’ve been thinking about prologues a lot lately. Mainly because most of my original works have them and when I get the rights back from my publisher, I plan to polish them up and have them re-edited. But, it seems that more and more readers are expressing their dislike for prologues these days. It makes me wonder if I should cut them out of my revised books, or just leave them as is.

Looking back on when I was gobbling books up by the dozen as a teenager, it seems that ALL books had some kind of Prologue, Preface or Introduction and usually an Epilogue to boot. When I first started writing, I used them all of the time because I thought they were standard and therefore, made my manuscripts look more legit. But, are they really necessary for your book? What exactly is their purpose?

I had to do a bit of research, because I wasn’t too sure on the differences between some of these extra areas of a book, or why they’re used. Here’s a short breakdown of what I learned:

FORWARD: In my experience, I’ve only ever seen a Forward used when the book has been re-edited or translated by someone other than the author. Maybe it’s an adaption of The Master and Margarita, something that wasn’t originally written in English – or it’s just an extremely popular classic novel that’s been re-published a hundred million times. Either way, a Forward is never written by the author of the book. It is always written by someone else, usually with some kind of ‘authority’ on the subject or other credentials.

Your book doesn’t have to be re-edited or translated to have a Forward, though. You can have a Forward written for your book by another author as a marketing tool. The Forward sells YOU as an author to readers. The writer of the Forward will highlight what they liked most about your writing style, vocabulary, etc. It’s not about the book or the book’s content as much as it is about you as an author, and what the Forward’s writer thinks the readers will enjoy most about your awesome skills.

PREFACE: I’ve noticed that most authors use a “Dear Reader” rather than labeling it a Preface, but essentially, they’re the same thing. Like the Forward is designed to “sell” the author, the Preface can be used by the author to “sell” the story. It’s when they talk to readers about where the idea for their story came from, and how it evolved along the way. It can cover the writing process or character development, as well. For example: I recall reading a Preface by one of my favorite authors where she explained how she’d scrapped hundreds of pages of her original idea, because her MC had better ideas and wanted to do it his way, LOL – this kind of insight in a Preface can be endearing to your readers and have them already feeling some kind of connection to your main character.

As a marketing tool, a Preface can be just as big of a selling point as the “Blurb” or “Book Description.” You can use it to speak directly to your readers and boast about how much you think they’ll love your book, while leaving baited hooks that will further pique their interest in the story.

INTRODUCTION: The perfect example of an Introduction that comes immediately to my mind is actually from a movie, rather than a book and that was the opening scene of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone where Hagrid first delivers the newly orphaned, infant Harry to the Dursley’s doorstep. This one short scene covered the entire foundation for the story to come, and gave just enough of the backstory that viewers knew exactly what kind of journey they were about to embark on with Harry.

The use of an Introduction seems to be more frequent and popular in Fantasy genres because they usually take place inside of a fictional world with elements unfamiliar to readers. By Introducing the story to your readers, you’re not only preparing them for what comes next, you’re also attempting to further pique their interest – so, once again, it can be a great marketing tool.

PROLOGUE: I think we’re all pretty familiar with and understand the purpose of a Prologue, I just didn’t want to leave it out. Typically, a Prologue is used to provide information to the readers about characters, a referenced event, or anything else that isn’t fully explained in the main story, itself, but you feel is vital for them to know to understand the plot completely. For example: In one of Nora Roberts’s series, she uses a Prologue in each book to show what happened to the ancestors of the main characters. Not only did this provide her the opportunity to share vital information with the readers, but it further invoked the ‘mystery’ of the whole, deepening her readers’ investment and interest in how the present-day plot would play out.

Most of the Prologues I’ve ever used was to flesh out a past event that will either come into play later on in the main story, or will explain one or more of the characters’ reasoning/personality/connections,etc. Prologues are good to use when the information you want to provide isn’t enough to flesh out a whole scene in the main story, or like the example above, doesn’t involve your main characters’, themselves, and may even take place long before their time. Prologues can help keep those bad “info-dumps” from showing up in your main story, as well.

EPILOGUE: Generally, an Epilogue is used to give readers a glimpse at your Main Characters at a future point. It can be an immediate future or years later. This can be for multiple reasons, either to tie up any loose ends, or to “introduce” some of the things that will be happening in the next book, if it’s a trilogy/series. While a lot of Epilogues seem to be geared toward satisfying the readers’ curiosity about what happens to the MC’s after the end of the book, sometimes it can be from a whole new character’s POV that is somehow connected to the story or Main Characters.

For example: I used an Epilogue at the end of Hearthstone Alpha to explain something that would happen in the next book, Little Queen. There were two purposes for this. One: it allowed me to give my readers pertinent information without the use of a dialogue info-dump later on in Little Queen – and two: it tied up a loose end from Hearthstone Alpha about a ‘missing’ sub-character. Since the Epilogue is written from that missing sub-character’s POV, it satisfies the readers’ curiosity about whatever came of him.

One thing that almost all of these extra areas have in common, is that they’re usually shorter than the length of one of your book’s chapters. Although, I have seen some pretty lengthy Forwards and Introductions before.

So, Indies, what’s your opinion on using these extra areas in novels? Do you think it’s solely dependent on the genre, or do you prefer your books without them? I’m mostly ambivalent, but in all honesty, those ‘extras’ can feel like treasured bonuses when they’re in a book I absolutely love and enjoy reading.

I do feel genre has a lot to do with whether or not an author uses a Preface, Introduction, or Forward, where Prologues and Epilogues tend to be more flexible. In today’s market, though, and especially for the Romance genres, I think readers appreciate when they’re used more sparingly. So, if there’s a way to work the same information into the main story, that might be the better way to go.

❤ Happy Tuesday! (Hey, at least it’s not Monday anymore) 😀

Dear Indie | Writing Female Characters Part 1: Inspiration

Hi Indies! I’d like to jump into character development topics over the next several posts and thanks to some amazingly positive feedback and requests for this particular article, I’m tossing in my two cents on the popular subject about writing female characters/heroines. Keep in mind that I’m a writer of Romance, so that genre will be the main basis for my tips, feedback, etc.

It’s unfortunate, really, that there are so many books out there that apparently don’t live up to readers’ standards when it comes to the female leads. Especially, considering 95% of our readers are women. I’ve read my share of heroines that were the equivalent of watching the stereotypical, half-naked woman running through the woods from a serial killer only to trip, fall, then continue to make the worst decisions while the audience screams at her not to. I understand how and why that trope became a slasher movie cliché –I’m just not sure why women are writing women this way in their books.

I will be breaking these posts up into parts to make them easier to digest, because there ended up being a lot more to cover than I’d expected. In this first post, I’m going to talk about where I draw all my inspiration from for my female characters and briefly talk about avoiding the creation of carbon-copies.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I’d just like to preamble that I haven’t read any of the other articles or books out there which address this topic, so I’ll apologize in advance if any of this sounds redundant. I’m not an expert, I’m just me, so I can only share with you how I write my female characters, the kind of females I love to read, and the kind that will have me ditching a book in a heartbeat – or writing a scathing review.

DRAWING ON REAL-WOMEN INSPIRATION FOR YOUR FEMALE CHARACTERS:

#1: Yourself. There is a piece of me in every single one of my characters. Whether it’s one of my strengths, weaknesses, quirks, flaws, hobbies, fascinations, something I envy, something I abhor – it’s drawn directly from my own personality, life, experiences or dreams. This is a mixture of ‘write what you know‘ and ‘have relatable characters‘. Even though readers might not be able to guess it and wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the exact elements that are ‘me’, they’re still in there. This practice can be just as therapeutic as it is fun. It can allow me to dabble in a career I’ve always admired, or explore a talent I always wished I’d been blessed with. It can also give me the opportunity to confront someone I never had the guts to, or right a wrong I’ve always regretted. Lending a piece of yourself to your heroine enables you to connect with them on a deeper level while you’re fleshing them out and makes it easier to put yourself in their shoes when they come up against an obstacle.

Even though I do this, I’m also aware of the unfortunate backlash some authors get when readers accuse them of ‘being’ their characters. We are not our characters, even if we lend them a piece of ourselves, they’re still likely to do and say things we never would, for whatever reason, so don’t let that small downside discourage you from using things about yourself as a source of inspiration. #hatersgonnahate regardless.

#2: People You know. Many of my characters share personality traits with family members and close friends. Usually, it’s a blend of many. For example, my female lead from Hexed, Zoe Bankes, is the perfect mash-up of one friend’s infallible independence and A-type personality, another friend’s sarcastic mouth and no-nonsense attitude, my sister’s quick wit and snarky comebacks, and my geeky love for all things Supernatural and Star Wars. Then, I topped it off with a dash of traits unique just to Zoe. Since I had already developed her as a sub-character before she took on the role of main protagonist, those traits were already there for me to build upon.

Another great example, is my sub-character, Serena Daniels, from Hearthstone Alpha and Little Queen. She’s largely her own personality, but it’s one of my friend’s unerring belief in the importance and loyalty of family that I drew from that gave Serena all the trademarks of a ‘matriarch’ type of character, even though she’s no older than the main protagonist. In one scene, Serena gets quite verbal and bossy during her anxiety over family members arguing and this is something that my particular friend would do without hesitation.

Another reason why friends make such amazing sources of inspiration is because usually they’re bringing traits to the table that you don’t have. “Opposites attract” can be just as true in friendships, as it can be in romances. If your female lead has other women in her life, especially if they’re regulars in the storyline, using complimentary traits that differ from hers can be a great way to add depth to your sub-characters without having to completely flesh out their stories.

#3: Idols. I know I said “real-women inspirations,” but most of us have celebrities/artists/activists/authors/teachers/historical figures that we admire–and technically, they’re real people. Drawing on the traits of these women that you might idolize to some degree can also be a handy source of inspiration for your female characters. I wouldn’t necessarily advise creating a character that’s an exact replica of someone you know or look up to, but everyone’s personalities are multilayered. There are things you like and dislike about them, things you admire and frown upon, and those traits can be used for all kinds of characters, to include antagonists. This is where the therapeutic part comes in – how many times have you ever wanted to tell someone off or see them get a taste of their own medicine? I mean, you’re the one writing the book, so have at it! LOL

#4: Other Characters. Okay, so this is NOT real-women inspiration, per se, but most female characters are portraying real women, so it shouldn’t be discounted. And let’s face it, we can’t consciously keep track of every single female character we’ve ever had the pleasure–or misfortune–to read about, unless you’re blessed with photographic memory. But, subconsciously we tend to naturally draw inspiration from character ‘types’ that we’re attracted to the most. This can also be said for movie or TV show characters. And it’s another option to use for finding inspiration, as long as you’re not plagiarizing, of course. Unless, you’re borderline plagiarizing on purpose for a parody. In that case, good luck! 😀

Now, that I’ve covered these sources of inspiration available to you for writing your female characters, I’d like to briefly touch on a related topic.

WRITING UNIQUE FEMALE CHARACTERS

By this, I don’t mean unique from the world’s population at large, but from each other. If you have multiple books out, chances are, you’re already pretty good at creating female leads that differ from one another in enough ways they’re not coming across as carbon copies, or the same exact personality with a different hair/eye color combo.

With so many sources of inspiration at hand, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make sure all of your female characters are unique from one another. I usually have a general idea about my female lead’s personality before I even start typing the first words on the page, because I’ve found that this is much easier than just diving right in without a clue – and I’m a Pantser! But, it’s rare that I have no inkling at all. Still, there have been times when I started off with a personality type that I just couldn’t make work for the story idea and ended up having to start from scratch. Those are never fun, so I try to make sure I have the right ‘voice’ going in.

A lot of times, it helps if I just flesh out a little of their background first or maybe stick them in a scene with the male lead to get a better feel for who they are and how they respond to things.

Another obstacle, is that I write BDSM novels, so many of my characters share certain traits distinctly linked to being submissive. If you’re dealing with a handful of female leads that have a common trait such as this, you really have to try to make sure all of their other traits make them unique for your readers. Likewise, I have female leads like Reyna Daniels and Zoe Bankes, who don’t have a single submissive bone in their bodies – yet, they’re still remarkably different in how they approach and react to situations.

Regardless of where you draw your inspiration from, most writers share the common goal of wanting to create female leads/heroines that readers will love and root for. In Part 2 for this article, I will be covering tools I use and feel are most important for writing believable female characters. Hope to see you there! 🙂

❤ Please feel free to comment below if you have questions or need to point out something vital I missed (Wouldn’t be surprised, so don’t be shy! LOL)

Little Queen ✯ Book Blast & Giveaway!

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Little Queen (The Úlfrinn, #2)

By: A.C. Melody
Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance ~ Wolf Shifters
Release date: July 1, 2017

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Little Queen Blurb

The bliss Reyna and Corbyn found in their unique Úlfr engagement is quickly forgotten as their ongoing conflict grows just as passionately as their hearts and desires. Reyna needs her independence and reassurance that their feelings are real. Corbyn needs to keep her safe, and for Reyna to accept him as her mate once and for all. The only thing their enemies want is to tear the new Wolf King and his would-be Queen apart. With the clock ticking toward inevitable war, Corbyn’s worst fears are realized when someone ups the ante, striking at his mate from the one place he never saw coming.

Frightened and angry, Corbyn rushes Reyna to the Elders, only to end up on their healing table next. After the back-to-back horrors, Reyna realizes she needs to make a crucial decision that will change their lives forever…and possibly save them. Fate decides to put that to the test immediately, drawing them right into enemy territory where Reyna will finally discover what’s become of Jesse and gets an unexpected audience with real Úlfrinn royalty.

Just when it seems they’ve found solid footing at last, their world is shaken in a horrific homecoming of bloodshed and betrayal. Their greatest fears can no longer be ignored, as they face off with the evidence of their worst enemy’s return–and a living Nightmare. Can Corbyn trust his Little Queen to make the right decision for herself and their entire pack, or will he lose everything he’s ever loved in one fateful night?

Available Now!

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Little Queen Excerpt

Eying the door nervously, she quickly used Corbyn’s toothbrush and mouthwash three times, before finally dragging her fingers through her curls and opening the door.

Corbyn filled the exit, causing her to jump. Happy for escape, the steam rolled over his body like a mystical molestation that had lust unfurling in her system, jealous of the wispy tendrils. Her gaze traced the tongue-tingling lines of his tattoos, the steel and sinew display of his muscles. The air thickened, her heart already beating too quickly from being startled. Corbyn advanced, and Reyna retreated into the steam. A flash of silver in his eyes stopped her, his nostrils flaring with an unspoken thrill. Oh, my. Heady desire had her mind swimming, a new fantasy born in her blood. What it would be like to be hunted by a man like him? To be caught?

“Reyna.” A quiet moan of entreaty edged with warning, his eyes widening as if she’d spoken aloud.

“I used your toothbrush,” she blurted, a self-defense quirk triggered by the increasing lust. “Three times.”

Corbyn stilled, before he groaned out a miserable laugh and shook his head. “I don’t know why that sounded so fucking naughty, but coming from you, I think anything pertaining to things being in your mouth multiple times should come with a damn advisory label.”

Reyna laughed, her cheeks burning red and Corbyn touched them softly, as if trying to feel her blush. His gaze outlined the shape of her mouth, and she suddenly felt something a lot deeper than mere lust trying to snake its way through her system to dig its roots into her heart.

“You stayed,” she whispered.

“I told you I would and I keep my word, Reyna,” he stated clearly, leaving no room for doubt. “Always.”

Little Queen Teaser 1

Little Queen Author Bio(1)

A.C. Melody is a hybrid author of Erotic Romance and its many sub-genres, enjoying the evergreen life in the Pacific Northwest. Confessed javaholic, introverted geeky girl with a twisted sense of humor and a wretched muse. She has a weakness for hard ass Alphas and the strong women who capture their hearts, without damaging their rough edges.

A lifetime lover of fairy tales, myths, legends and ancient pantheons, she spends more time researching than writing. A.C.’s biggest goal is to provide new, captivating angles on old, favorite tales with very naughty twists and characters that redefine preset expectations.

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#CampNaNoWriMo

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Yay! It’s Day 1 of Camp NaNoWriMo and I’m already plugging away at my official project for this month: Scavenger (Dark Day Isle, #2) Revision with a goal of 45,000 words by July 31st. Here’s the Most-Likely-To-Change synopsis:

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It’s only day two of the week-long getaway on Dark Day Isle, and already Tessa is having doubts about her temporary Master’s real reason for bidding on her at the auction. After an intense confrontation, there’s no going back to the way things were before between them…yet, that might be for the best.

At a luncheon social, Tessa learns details about the resort she’d never expected and the information will ease more of her concerns, while piquing her curiosity higher. Together, Tessa, Gema and Kip only seem to deepen the mystery surrounding their anonymous host, rather than getting any closer to the answer.

One thing the unknown mastermind knows best, though, is how to throw a party and that’s further proven with the evening’s selected activity. Both Tessa and Master Felix’s competitive spirits come out to play during the kinky festivities, but they’re not the only ones hoping to scavenge a prize by the end of the night.

While I’ll be trying to meet my word count goals every day – I’m simultaneously working on the tail end of Shades Soirèe (Matron City Trilogy, #2) which is way overdue to my publisher and I think they’re assembling a task force as we speak to collect it! So, I won’t be around much this month – but there are a couple of events you won’t want to miss out on…

July 3-7: Avarice Unforgiving (Hell on Earth, #2) will be 100% FREE on Amazon

July 10-14: The #AwesomeAmazonAuthors #FollowFive are at it again! Beginning July 10th, one lucky winner will have the chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card in the second easiest giveaway on earth. All you have to do is follow us on Goodreads for your chance to win.

July 12th: Release Blitz for Little Queen (The Úlfrinn series, #2) hosted by Goddess Fish. The book actually released today and is already available for purchase on all your favorite retail sites, but the 12th will include a $25 Gift Card Giveaway for entries, excerpts, teasers and a $10 gift card to a random host.

Good Luck to all my fellow Campers, hope we all reach our project goals this month!

Little Queen (The Úlfrinn Series, #2) ✯ Cover Reveal!

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Little Queen (The Úlfrinn Series, #2)
by A.C. Melody

Paranormal Erotic Romance ~ Wolf Shifter
Full length novel, HEA, No cheating!
✯✯✯ Coming July 1st! ✯✯✯

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✯✯✯ Only 1 week from today! ✯✯✯

Little Queen Blurb

The bliss Reyna and Corbyn found in their unique Úlfr engagement is quickly forgotten as their ongoing conflict grows just as passionately as their hearts and desires. Reyna needs her independence and reassurance that their feelings are real. Corbyn needs to keep her safe, and for Reyna to accept him as her mate once and for all. The only thing their enemies want is to tear the new Wolf King and his would-be Queen apart. With the clock ticking toward inevitable war, Corbyn’s worst fears are realized when someone ups the ante, striking at his mate from the one place he never saw coming.

Frightened and angry, Corbyn rushes Reyna to the Elders, only to end up on their healing table next. After the back-to-back horrors, Reyna realizes she needs to make a crucial decision that will change their lives forever…and possibly save them. Fate decides to put that to the test immediately, drawing them right into enemy territory where Reyna will finally discover what’s become of Jesse and gets an unexpected audience with real Úlfrinn royalty.

Just when it seems they’ve found solid footing at last, their world is shaken in a horrific homecoming of bloodshed and betrayal. Their greatest fears can no longer be ignored, as they face off with the evidence of their worst enemy’s return–and a living Nightmare. Can Corbyn trust his Little Queen to make the right decision for herself and their entire pack, or will he lose everything he’s ever loved in one fateful night?

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Stay tuned for links to the Book Blast Tour happening July 12th, hosted by Goddess Fish with a $25 Gift Card Giveaway to one lucky reader and a $10 Gift Card Giveaway to one lucky blog host!

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Little Queen Author Bio(1)

A.C. Melody is a hybrid author of Erotic Romance and its many sub-genres, enjoying the evergreen life in the Pacific Northwest. Confessed javaholic, introverted geeky girl with a twisted sense of humor and a wretched muse. She has a weakness for hard ass Alphas and the strong women who capture their hearts, without damaging their rough edges.

A lifetime lover of fairytales, myths, legends and ancient pantheons, she spends more time researching than writing. A.C.’s biggest goal is to provide new, captivating angles on old, favorite tales with very naughty twists and characters that redefine preset expectations.

Series Updates & Introductions

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What are you writing?

So, after a great comment on my last Dear Indie post (you know who you are, lady), I got a bit of a guilty conscience on whether or not I’ve shared current updates on my series with everyone. If this is redundant for my newsletter subscribers, I apologize – just want to make sure everyone’s getting the same info.

Indie Series Updates

Dark Day Isle Series:

Scavenger (Book 2) has returned from beta readers and is in the revision process. I’m hoping to get it to my editor by the end of January. If all goes according to plan it should be published by March at the latest.

Hell on Earth Series:

Avarice Unleashed (Book 3) is still with my last beta reader, expecting a return by the end of this week. I wanted to get this one published by February, but just learned that my cover artist is booked all the way to April 😦 So, unfortunately, this won’t get released until sometime in the Spring – if that changes, I will let you know! *fingers crossed it’s sooner!*

Publisher Series Introductions

Summer 2017 will see the release of a brand new Paranormal Romance series from my publisher, Red Sage. This will undoubtedly be labeled as a Wolf Shifter series and delves into ancient Norse and Greek Mythology without leaving present/modern day times. In total it will span 10+ full length novels.

June 2017: Hearthstone Alpha (The Úlfrinn series, #1) – A Contemporary Paranormal Romance with a touch of naughtiness thrown in. This is completely done and with my publisher.

July 2017: Little Queen (The Úlfrinn series, #2) – An Erotic Paranormal Romance starring the same MC’s as Hearthstone Alpha. This is completely done and with my publisher.

August 2017: Violet Night (The Úlfrinn series, #3) – A Erotic Paranormal Romance starring different MC’s than the first two books. This is about 1/3 of the way done and I’m working on it!

Sometime in Fall or Winter of 2017, two more new series will be introduced by my publisher.

Dark Descendants Series: An Erotic Paranormal Romance that delves into legendary historical and fabled figures – some villains, some heroes. It will span approximately 6+ full length novels.

Unknown: Dark Duplicity (Dark Descendants series, #1) – An Erotic Paranormal Romance set in present day/modern times and an alternate plain of existence. This is completely done and with my publisher.

Pleasures of Paradise Trilogy: A strictly BDSM Fantasy-Meets Modern World mash up with a full cast of characters that switch POV’s much like Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones).

Unknown: Euphoria (Pleasures of Paradise, #1) A BDSM Fantasy/Modern World tale that follows a cast of characters through various places in New Paradise. This is completely done and with my publisher.

Continued Trilogy

Fall of 2017 will finally see the 2nd novel following my first publication: The Zen Lounge (Matron City Trilogy, #1). This is a Futuristic Erotic Romance trilogy with prominent Crime/Detective elements and spans 3 full length novels, each with a different set of MC’s and though they can be read as stand alone novels (no cliffhangers) the character backstories and over all experience will be better if read in order.

September 2017: Shades Soirée (Matron City Trilogy, #2) – 20k words to go, then it’s done – I’m currently wrapping it up!

Of course, I’m also trying to make sure I stay ahead on the next installments for ALL of these series, so stay tuned for more updates as they come along & thanks for reading!

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