Show Me Your Worst

ShowMeYourWorst

Getting comfortable with discomfort is one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a writer, and it’s a work in progress. When I first started writing, I never left my comfort zone for any reason. Which meant, no matter how hard I tried to make my characters as epic as the ones I was reading, it wasn’t happening. I was able to get uncomfortable for my antagonists, because I didn’t have to spend any more time with them than that and I certainly didn’t need them to be likable. A completely different issue for main characters, and it took me awhile to realize that my cozy corner was their biggest enemy. Sometimes, I’m a slow learner. But eventually, I had to face the fact that I was the one robbing my protagonists of the greatness they deserved.

As most writers can attest, the ease in which we’re able to explore the emotional and psychological range of a protagonist, really depends on the character. There are the vibrant personality types that can be completely fleshed out within minutes – and, then there are the characters who aren’t nearly as forthcoming. When we decide to draw our character’s flaws to the surface and pick at them, it starts getting a little uncomfortable, because we love them and we want our readers to love them, too. But a hero or heroine who is flawless is both unrealistic and flat. Not epic. Imagine how forgettable Frodo Baggins would’ve been, if he’d never struggled with and overcame the temptation of the ring’s power.

Show me your worst. I want to see how deep the pit in your soul goes. Or do I?

It’s one thing to tell a writer: “You have to leave your comfort zone to write well.” Quite another for that writer to decide just how far to plunge into the dark unknown. Again, I think this depends a lot on the character. By my guesstimation, there are 3 basic degrees of Bad Guy/Girl protagonists.

1) The circumstantial bad: They’re bad due to horrible circumstances, tragedy, childhood trauma, etc. but really good at heart and easily redeemable.

2) The lost soul bad: They’ve spiraled so far into the darkness of revenge, tragedy, addiction, bad luck, etc. they’re barely hanging onto the edge of no return and it’s going to take more than just a quick genuflection and three Hail Mary’s to pull them out of it.

3) The unapologetic bad: They have fully embraced their dark side and have no qualms using it to their every advantage, yet there’s still a spark of good in them that allows them to love and be loved. They’re not on a quest for redemption, but to find that last missing piece that would make them feel whole.

The thing I try to consider when I’m working with option 1 or 2, is just how much work I can feasibly put into it. The deeper your character’s flaws, the steeper the climb to redemption, and to show one side in great detail without the other getting equal attention is the fastest way to disappoint readers. Sometimes, it’s a natural trajectory and I’m just following the character’s lead and then realize – Oh, snap! Now I have to dig them out of this mess. Ugh! Not just out of the mess, but within the confines of a word-count limit.

This is why I write a lot of series, that’s the naked truth of it. Word count caps and I, we’re not friends. You can laugh, but 100,000 words is rarely enough for this writer. With a series, I can let my characters get into all the messes they want and then dig them out little by little over a few books.

When it comes to option 3, there’s both an easier flow to it and more of a challenge. First, you have to convince (and frequently remind) yourself that your character has no boundaries except the ones you’re placing on them via yourself. The other side of that is figuring out where to draw the lines for your audience’s sake. Knowing your character is 100% okay with being bad frees up moral restrictions and can be extremely fun to take beyond your comfort zone – If you don’t get carried away! It’s not a good idea to make them so outrageously bad that they lack any and all qualities your readers would want to root for – especially, in a typical romance genre.

Last year, I started exploring the realm of Dark Erotica where the rules are completely different and pushing boundaries is not only expected, the lack of it will stir up the wrath of the villagers. I went beyond some of my comfort zones with the Avarice trilogy, but not to the point where I was squirming and sweating in my seat…much. A lot of Dark Erotica fans probably wouldn’t even label those books as such, but since it has triggers in religion, demonology and R.A.C.K. (Risk Awareness Consensual Kink) – which is the sadistic side of BDSM – I wanted to make sure my readers were more targeted and expectant (accepting?) of those kind of situations.

Compared to some of the Dark Erotica novels I’ve read, it’s quite tame. Definitely in the mild end of the spectrum. That just means I should push myself farther away from my comfort zones for the rest of the series. More truthfully, I want to. I want the challenge of it, to see just how far I can go while still writing read-worthy material with characters my readers want to see win in the end. Though, Dark Erotica doesn’t demand a HEA, it is my personal preference.

Writing about things you would never do in real life is not the same as writing outside of your comfort zone. I would never go skydiving, because I’m terrified of open heights. But it wouldn’t stress me in the least to have one of my main characters do it. Actually, that would be kind of fun. One of the joys of both reading and writing is to have adventures, right? But, having your main character do something that makes you feel physically or emotionally drained when your through- that’s writing outside of your comfort zone!

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far, is having an ‘unapologetic bad’ protagonist show up for an established series that’s NOT labeled dark – and by his own admission, he is one sadistic f**k. When he first appeared, I was faced with the choice of either staying true to his character or true to the genre, because I can’t really do both without sacrificing something. This is still a WIP, but I’ve decided to stay true to my character, mainly because I know it can be done. I’ve seen Nora Roberts push this particular envelope more than once and while fame may be on her side, I’m still a big advocate for characters who are purely themselves and not diluted for genre’s sake. What’s your thoughts on that, as both a reader and a writer?

 I’d love to hear more of your take on this subject: How comfortable are you with discomfort? Do you try to challenge yourself with every new novel, or do you have to wait for the right character to come along? Show me your worst, writers! 🙂

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#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.

#TacoTuesday

And we’re back for week 4 of building our book tacos. Check out the original post HERE for what this is all about and how you can join in. Remember, it’s never too late, just leave a pingback in the comments so I can read your post! Now, for the next layer…

Writing Menu

Cheese: Share a scene where one of your characters interacts with some kind of camera, photograph or video for any reason. If there are none, then share one of their funniest moments or dialogue pieces.

Pulling his classic beauty into the parking lot of Shades Soirée, Matt eyed the modern building with scrutiny. “Looks high end,” he remarked, as they climbed out. “Not very busy, though.”

He counted a total of five cars on their way to the entrance, which was locked.

“Nightclub only,” Zach tapped the smoky glass to the left of the doors displaying the club’s hours of operation.

“We only need to talk to staff right now, anyway.”

They found the service entrance for deliveries around the left side of the building and pressed the call button.

“Yeah?” A male voice crackled over the intercom a second later.

“MCPD, is there a manager on site?” Matt asked.

Silence followed. Zach elbowed him and thrust his chin upward. “Smile.”

Matt pulled his badge off his belt and stuck it right into the camera lens. “Cheese.”

~ Shades Soirée (Matron City Trilogy #2)

Readers Menu

Cheese: Name a favorite book/series that had to do with photography, acting, reporting or any other camera-related theme – OR – where the humor was so off the charts you found yourself ‘cheesing’ through 90% of it.

CoverNakedInDeathJDRobbI either can’t recall or have never actually read a book where the main character or theme dealt with cameras. However, one of my favorite series, the In Death series by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) has a sub-character who makes an appearance or two in almost every book, because she’s the only reporter the main character, Eve Dallas, trusts. Not only is Nadine Furst a memorable supporting character, her and Eve’s banter is always humorous, so I think that qualifies.

If you haven’t ventured into Nora Roberts’ alter ego, J.D. Robb, with her In Death series, I highly recommend it. You get the same amazing writing style she’s known for with a lot more edge, steamier sex scenes and a full cast of characters you’ll fall head over heels for. If you like crime novels, murder mysteries and endless snarky banter, these are definitely books for you. Although each novel is a stand alone, and each homicide case is different, I highly recommend starting from the beginning with Naked In Death, because the series deals with the same characters, whose lives and relationships continue to evolve with each new book.

Don’t forget – If you’re reading this, you’re officially tagged!

 

Next week’s ingredient: Lettuce!

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

Lettuce for the reader: 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).

#ReadWithMe ♥ Finding My Genre

readwithme3In celebration of National Reading Month, Ms. Felicia is hosting this amazing blog hop for all readers to spread the love and joy of this favorite pastime with the world. If you’d like to join in the fun, please click on the banner above to add your post to the linky list!

The Novel Brick Road

Every reader develops differently, but it seems that we eventually come to a specific genre that calls to us more than any other. Even if we take brief detours, we come back to the one genre that always puts a smile on our face.

My path to Erotic Romance is paved like a game of hopscotch, jumping genres back and forth and crossing wide gaps in random patterns. I’m not counting all the books I read as a kid or had to read for school. I’m talking about when I started taking control of my own reading choices.

It started off innocent enough. The reading bug coming to nestle in my brain, demanding that I find something to entertain it. My mom had a wide variety of books to choose from. She was a fan of Stephen King, Terry Brooks, Ann Rule and V.C. Andrews – I didn’t understand these were all different genres. They were just books! I read Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always and wanted to live in his brain, but it was really V.C. Andrews I became addicted to for quite some time. Luckily, my mom had plenty of her books to feed my obsession.

I went through a phase following this that I call the researching years. I wanted to know things, so my dad and I started going to the library on a regular basis. I love ancient Egypt. I have books and then I have BOOKS, as in large Coffee Table hardcovers spanning every dynasty of Ancient Egypt. I was going to become the next Howard Carter. I was 14. I was also going to be a supermodel, fashion designer and a Marine Biologist. Not necessarily in that order.

Around the same time, I got my first taste of the paranormal from the (now famous) author L.J. Smith and her Night World series, which includes the well known Vampire Diaries and Secret Circle. This was the first author I ever purchased from a book store with my own money. It was a big accomplishment in my life as an avid reader. I had never heard of L.J. Smith before, but I suddenly had options. Lots and lots of options!

It led to more research. With the help of Francis Ford Coppola, I became extremely interested in reading everything I could get my hands on about the truth behind the myth of Dracula and the real life Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. It eventually led to me learning about the medical condition of Porphyria, which disenchanted my research, so I returned to my fiction. I read Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. My dad never would’ve let me check it out from the library if he’d known what it entailed. A fanfiction sequel of sorts to Bram Stoker’s masterpiece with all of the dirty details a Victorian era Englishman would never dare to write.

On the hunt for new material, I found Anne Rice and never looked back. As much as I loved L.J. Smith, I couldn’t return to what I suddenly realized was very YA in comparison. More than that, Anne opened my mind up to the world at large, sating my inner traveler and historian simultaneously.

I became obsessed again, and only wanted to read Anne Rice… until I couldn’t find anymore of her books and needed another loan – mind you, this was before the wonderful invention of eBook retailers. Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey was placed in my hand with a “You have to read this,” and so I fell headlong into the mind-blowing world of epic fantasy. Now, I remembered, vaguely, The Hobbit from when I was younger and my favorite movie The Last Unicorn. It was a bit nostalgic diving back into this kind of world – only better, because it was at an adult level without losing any of the wonder of magic.

My first book idea was born on the cusp of my 18th birthday, but not yet hatched… more on this later.

Over my young adult years I read a wide variety, even some non-fiction, but mostly it was keeping up with authors I already knew, like Rice and Lackey. Then I ended up with a Nora Roberts book (honestly can’t recall how) and found myself obsessed yet again. I wasn’t alone this time, though. My friends got on the same kick and we had a grand time swapping books, buying new ones to share, putting them on our birthday and Christmas wish lists and discussing them like crazy. I think between just 3 of us we might own almost 75% of the books she’s ever written… okay, maybe 50%. Nora was my first true Romance author and not what I’d been expecting. I had never even glanced at the ‘obvious’ romance books on the shelves with the bare-chested buccaneers and Scarlett O’Hara wannabe’s.

Having children gave me the perfect excuse to return to YA with Harry Potter, Narnia and Eragon… yes, the books, not the movies (though, I love those, too). My oldest also has some of the Immortal Instruments novels, which I’m very tempted to read since watching City of Bones.

Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb unwittingly led me to my first erotica series, though it falls further under the Crime/Detective genre, the sex scenes are explicitly detailed, whereas Nora Roberts’ usually aren’t. I think she sneaks it in every once in awhile.

I went through a stint where I felt left out from a pop-culture standpoint, because I’d never read any of the ‘literary classics’. So, I attempted the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and found it far too dry and boring (don’t hurt me), so I moved onto The Catcher in the Rye, which was entertaining, yet 100% pointless (again no hitting). Of Mice and Men left me emotionally damaged and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a prophetic masterpiece that’s already coming true, therefore should be reclassified as non-fiction horror.

My first BDSM novel was Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Again, by ignorance. I thought it was just a fantasy. I was deliciously wrong. Later, I found out that Anne Rice also had other pseudonyms… and why. Exit to Eden followed by the Sleeping Beauty Chronicles added to my Erotic-BDSM shelf, Belinda borders on taboo and I haven’t finished reading it, but I think it might be along the lines of Nabokov’s Lolita – don’t quote me on that.

The ability to read an eBook helped open up the Erotic Romance genre for me even further when I became a reviewer for a friend’s reviewing site. It wasn’t long, though, before a new bug burrowed into my brain demanding to be fed – and I started writing…

But, I will save that for the next post. 😉

Are you still reading the same genre you first fell in love with, or perhaps the second? How many genres span your most cherished collection?

Book Tag: My Life In Books

mylifeinbooks

I found this on Felicia’s page, who found it on Didi’s, but it appears to be an ongoing blog tag, and too fun to pass up. Make sure to visit the other sites to see their answers!

Find a book for each of your initials. I’ve chosen these books from my ‘Read’ list on Goodreads.

CoverMOTO M – Moto by M. Never
coverenslavemesweetly E – Enslave Me Sweetly by Gena Showalter
coverlasher L – Lasher (Lives of the Mayfair Witches #2) by Anne Rice
covermicemen O – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
coverdyingforaliving D – Dying For a Living by Kory M. Shrum

 

Y – I am now challenged to add a book beginning with Y to my ‘Read’ list!

Count your age along your bookshelf: What book is it?

The 39th book on my shelf is The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles #6). It’s funny one of her books would come up in a post about my life in books, since I first discovered Anne Rice in a stack of old books when I was about 17. It was a dark green paperback with a small window showing a rundown Colonial mansion in NOLA. That was about 2 years before Interview With the Vampire hit the silver screen and by then, I was already fully invested in anything Anne Rice penned.

coverarmand

Pick a book set in your city/country.

The closest major city to me is Seattle. Home to Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and 2 absurdly popular book series I will not be naming. Therefore, I choose Possession by Ann Rule. Referred to by many as the ‘foremost true crime writer in America’, Ann Rule is a former Seattle policewoman and based this fiction novel on a real event/crime that she later wrote about in her True Crime (non-fiction) series. I was quite young and naïve when I stole this off my mom’s bookshelf and was completely unprepared for the explicit, graphic details. If you like crime-thrillers that leave you questioning the human psyche, though, you might like this.

coverpossession

Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to.

Since Middle Earth, Narnia and Hogwarts probably don’t count, I chose The Right Path by Nora Roberts. Although, I would love to travel to many places, Greece and the Greek Isles are at the very top of my list, especially Santorini. Nora goes into beautiful scene setting with this novel, plus it’s full of suspense, action and one dangerously sexy Greek Tycoon, Nicholas Gregoras. Yum.

coverrightpath

Pick a book that’s your favorite color.

No matter how girly my mom tried to make me growing up, blue has always been my favorite color. To keep with the theme of ‘Shameless Self Promotion’ my predecessors have established, I chose my own book The Zen Lounge for this one. TZL is the first full-length, standalone (no cliffhangers) novel in the Matron City Trilogy. It’s a Futuristic Erotic Romance with heavy Crime/Detective influence. You can read the first chapter for free right here: Chapter One of The Zen Lounge

The Zen Lounge.Final.niina

Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Dawn by V.C. Andrews. I read it when I was about 12 or 13 and it was my first real taste of a ‘grownup’ book, not to be confused with ‘adult novel’. It was my first non-YA fiction and I can still remember almost every detail – actually, of all the V.C. Andrews books I’ve ever read. She was another remarkable author that inspired me from a young age, especially in regards to character depth and development.

coverdawn

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

The Day of the Dolphin by Robert Merle, because it had little to no punctuation marks – anywhere. It was like one long, run-on sentence. Maybe it happened when it was translated from French? It took me forever to read because of this, but I don’t often stop reading a book once I’ve started. Curiosity vs. Cat= I don’t have many lives left.

coverdayofthedolphin

Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, because I know it’s going to put me through the ringer on every level. Literary classics tend to do that to me, which is why there are so many still on my TBR list. I actually started studying the Russian language, because I was hoping to read the original, rather than a translation, but I’m not that ambitious anymore. Yet, 407 pages of emotional upheavals, dark satire and mind-altering perspectives will undoubtedly feel like a major accomplishment once I’m through… I just hope I survive the aftermath.

covermaster

If you enjoyed reading this consider yourself tagged 🙂

Dear Indie ♥ Weekly Resource Post

Independent

First, a special announcement: Last week’s Dear Indie post got 13 likes on Twitter! I have never had a tweet get that much exposure before, so this is very exciting for me and I really hope it helped at least one Indie out of the 13! 😀

After linking that post on the launch page, I noticed that my posts aren’t really coming through in any sense of order – and sometimes having a simple step-by-step guide is so much nicer than trying to pinpoint resources spread throughout various posts. So, this week I’m going to go back to the basics and approach this from the place of a beginner, an aspiring Indie with no experience. That way you all can just jump in wherever it’s relevant to your personal journey.

A Step-by-Step Timeline for Self-Publishing

You’re an aspiring author with amazing stories to tell, filled with characters the world needs to meet. Right now, you think your only job is to write the first draft of that manuscript and then you’ll worry about everything else. – As one who has already made this mistake, I’m here to tell you that 90% of the work that needs to be done in order for your book to have the best chance at success, has to start right this instant.

Pre-Publication 101 (while you are still writing your masterpiece):

Step 1: Decide on your Author name and stick with it. How many famous authors do you know have multiple pseudonyms? Eventually, it gets out and their original author name ends up becoming the “Selling” name posted on their books. ex: Anne Rice writing as Anne Rampling. Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb. Always, their original name is in larger print on the cover than their second pen-name, because they’ve already established a fan base for the original, so it has become their “Brand” name. Most marketing experts today advise to stick with just one name and let it carry your books all the way through. Unless you’re writing both Childrens books and BDSM Erotica, there’s really no legitimate reason to use more than one name or have more than one website/blog – plus balancing multiple names and sites is simply more time you’re taking away from your writing!

  • Write your Author Bio and decide how you want to represent yourself. My best advice is to just be yourself, as lame as that sounds, people can generally spot a fake from a mile away. You don’t have to divulge your true identity to give people your genuine personality, if you’d rather stay anonymous. Just remember that your Author Name is the same as a company name, so how you conduct yourself online is how you are representing your company and your product (aka your books).
    • Authors of Fiction: Stick with what you’re selling and leave the rest for your ‘real identity’ pages. You do not have to share your views about sensitive topics on your author page in order to remain true to yourself. The people visiting your page are looking for the author of the books they love – not an update on the presidential campaign. If you need to rant or address something relating to your genre, the writing craft, etc. then by all means that would be better received by your followers. Just remember, your site is the professional place to promote your product – it’s not a soapbox.
    • Authors of Non-Fiction: If you’re writing about sensitive topics, politics, religion and/or current events, then soapbox away! That is what your author name and product is all about and the people coming to your page already know that, so have it!
    • ALL Authors: Never slander another author/book/genre on your page. It’s just bad form and possible career suicide.

Step 2: Once you have your name and bio in hand, your immediate next step is to start building your author platform. Your author name, whether legal or a pseudonym, is now your Brand. A Brand is a professionally marketed product. It is both who you are, and what you’re selling. The best part about this step is that it’s 100% FREE.

  • Start a Blog or Website: WordPress is the #1 blog site for writers with BlogSpot coming in 2nd, but there are new platforms on the rise like Wix.com. I don’t recommend Weebly, because it is practically unsearchable. If you don’t have your own domain name, the URL to your blog is a long string of numbers and letters that have nothing to do with your Author Name so won’t come up in the search results on Google or Bing. Spend time exploring to discover the best fit for you. If you want to own your domain right away, Godaddy is still the most popular place to purchase from.
    • The best way to get traffic to your blog is to cut out time each week or day for visiting other people’s blogs. Like, follow and comment on blogs and you might get followers and likes in return, but please don’t go on a Like-Spree just to get followers, be genuine! Most bloggers feel the same way about their time as you do and they’re not going to keep up with someone who doesn’t put any effort into the relationship. Just like in real life – you may never meet these people, but online, they are your friends and should be treated as such.
    • WordPress posts can be written in advance and scheduled to publish whenever you like, so you don’t have to be active on your blog 24/7 to be productive and keep your readers’ appetites fed. It doesn’t have to take a huge chunk out of your writing time.
  • Create an Author “Fan Page” on Facebook – this is different than a normal Facebook account/page, but very easy to set up.
  • Join Twitter and Instagram (the rest of the social media options are left up to you and how many you want to try to juggle.)
    • The rule of thumb for Twitter is to follow everyone back who follows you – but you will get hit with a lot of ‘fake’ accounts just looking to sell something, so take the time to look at their profile and make sure they’re a real person before following them back, or your Tweet feed will be filled with spam.
  • Sign into Crowdfire with your Twitter and/or Instagram account and use it to manage your social media without spending every second of every day trying to keep up – this program allows you to create as many Tweets and Instagram posts as you want in advance and assign them to a posting schedule, so you don’t feel pressured into pausing in your writing or guilty for your absence on social media. *Your personal preferences are your own, but I personally still respond to each and every follow or comment I get, I don’t have an ‘auto response’ set up, but that may be an option with this program, too. You’ll have to check.

Step 3: Create an account on Goodreads. As I stated in a previous post, Goodreads is the #1 spot for Indie support and resources. Take time to search through their groups and join those that fit your genre, as well as the Author and Indie Support groups. The combination will give you an endless supply of honest feedback, exposure and connections with professionals you may not find anywhere else. I found my best Beta Readers and my Editor on Goodreads – really, the sky is the limit on that site. Get critiques on your blurbs, bios, book covers, book trailers, anything and everything you may need a hand with! It is designed to help writers through the entire writing and publishing process, not just a place to promote your books after they’re already for sale.

  • Here is the direct link for the Goodreads Author Program. You can create a page for your upcoming books, it doesn’t have to already be published. Goodreads will generate a “Coming Soon” book icon for you.

Step 4: Let go of your Fears. Every new writer has the same exact fear as you about sharing their work with others. Let me explain to you why it is vitally important to let these following fears go:

  • It’s Still Rough / No One Will Like It: We are our #1 worst critic and #1 fan simultaneously, but getting feedback and constructive criticism on your novel is IMPERATIVE to your book’s success. You cannot see the forest through the trees, my friend – only an outsider can. Critique groups, Beta Readers and platforms like Wattpad can take your story from mediocre to spectacular in ways you can’t do on your own. You just have to let go of your fear of criticism and realize that it’s a necessary tool for your book. You want your story to be the absolute best it can be, right? The only way you’ll find out if it’s up to your reader’s expectations is to have them read it and give you that important feedback.
  • My Work/Idea Will Get Stolen: No, it won’t. First off, your idea is not original, I don’t care what you think – it’s already been done before. A famous trilogy about vampires that sparkle in the daylight is just a ‘new’ take on a non-original idea. It is not an ‘Original’ idea (vampire and werewolf stories are a dime a dozen). No one knows how well your story is going to sell, so why would they want to put the money and time out to edit, cover art, interior layout, publish and market your book as their own? Most Copyright cases that end up in court are only after an author has become a huge success, not before. And your work is 100% copyrighted from the moment you create it – registering it only protects you if you do wind up in court. But you probably have a better chance at winning the lottery than ever being taken to court over a copyright issue.
  • My Novel Will Get Pirated: Yep. It probably will and there’s nothing you can do about it, but guess what – that’s exposure you didn’t have to spend any of your marketing budget on so just take it as par for the course. Maybe it robbed you of a couple dollars worth of royalties, it just as likely saved you $50 on advertising. Say that person liked your book so much they came looking for more and were willing to spend this time around – what if they liked it so much, they told all of their friends about it and those people came looking to buy your books as a result? Whether you like it or not, piracy happens – so rather than fearing it – look at it as free marketing and exposure to audiences your book wouldn’t otherwise reach without dishing out money on ads.

Well, my friends, that is all I have for the very basic, preliminary steps. Next week, we’ll move onto the Post-Rough Draft/Pre-Publication phase. But first, here’s an additional resource I’d like to share:

The Best Article Ever Written About Twitter – Twitter for Authors, by T.K. Elliott: What it is, how it works and how best to use it to help build up your author platform!

Weekly Accomplishment: Collar Me Foxy has had 8 sample downloads from Smashwords! Thank you to all who have taken advantage of that feature! What are you celebrating this week? Let us know in the comment section below. 😀

Mind-Fracking

TAGFrackT-Shirt

Is it morphing or word-inventification?

Perhaps a year has passed since I responded to a Daily Prompt, but this one got me thinking.  The WP Guru’s want us to morph a common word into something new (in other words, add another slang word to the Urban Dictionary).  I get the process and as a writer, creating new slang can be so much fun, it’s downright distracting.  I’ve also seen it while reading the SciFi/Futuristic genres.  J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) has characters that use “Frosty” or “Frosted” or “Iced” instead of plain ol’ “cool.”

While I was working at this place (yeah, that place) during a rare snowy winter for this area, I entered the building with red-tipped everything, my teeth chattering so hard that when my coworker asked the ridiculous question if it was cold outside, I couldn’t get the word “freezing” out of my mouth, so opted for “frigid.” It’s shorter.  In here lies the problem with creating new slang… my coworker just happened to be English and apparently, while not exclusively British slang, there is only one use for the word “frigid” in the UK.  She gasped at me like I’d shouted something not as politically correct as PENIS, then with red cheeks informed me that Frigid is a girl who’s like a cold fish in bed (yes, that kind of “in bed”).  That’s it, end of story, no exceptions.  I refrained from pointing out that we weren’t in the UK when I chattered the word through very frigid teeth and gums.

On top of potentially morphing a word that has already been reassigned various meanings in countless foreign lands, I personally enjoy the creative process of just making shit up – or at least using combos never heard before within my personal realm.  So, in answer (at long last) to today’s prompt: I nominate Mind-Fracking.  More likely word-inventification than morphing, unless you take into consideration that it morphs two words into one fabulous replacement for Gobsmacked, Mind-F*cked or Flabbergasted.

But which kind of Fracking, you ask?   Frack (Frak) as in the profanity replacement for F*ck made most famous in shows like Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5 & Eureka (Fargo’s fave) – don’t judge me, I’m totally that geeky girl – OR – Fracking, as in “hydraulic fracturing” used during oil drilling?

D) All of the above.  Either way works, because when you’re that über “MIND-FRACKED” it feels like your hamster wheel’s been pulverized by something that drills a hole first before releasing potentially dangerous, pressurized liquid into it.

Happy TGIF!