Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Naming Blunders...

I mentioned this last week on my blog and thought I'd share
it over here too.

The title of your book can be one of the most important parts
of any story.  It identifies the story, can intrigue readers to look
beyond the title (much like a good cover can do) it's how readers
can find the book, aside from the author name.

I name all my works in progress and usually the working title sticks
and I'm attached to it by the time I type that last word on the last page.
Normally I will do a quick search of the title before I begin - no one
wants to be the author of a book title already out there.

Of course if you don't name it until it's finished, you're miles ahead of
me on that front.

I didn't do that search on a new trilogy I started (and then had to put
on hold to complete something else) so now half way through the first
book I decided to do it. Not only was the trilogy name already out
there but so was the first title by two different authors...
Trying to come up with names I liked as much as the first took me more
than a few hours (more like a few days) to do and stalled all attempts of
writing (yes I was pouting).

Now I'm back on track again with the plot, all names searched and labeling
the files.

If you get hung up on the 'little things' like I do - search that title before you
put the first word on the page!

Have a great week!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Interview with Nikki London, aspiring romance author!

Today on Romancing the Muses, I’d like to welcome aspiring author, Nikki London, to share some of her insights, things she’s learned along the way, and to pose questions to any authors who might be inclined to answer them.

MUSES: You’ve been writing on and off again since you were young. Has it always been your ambition to get your work published?
N. LONDON: Most definitely. Books have been a part of my life since I was born. I would memorize stories and recite them to my family by the time I was 2. In elementary school, books were my best friends and I can remember coming up with new stories for all of my favorites. As I got older, I would read something and tell myself, “I could do this. I think I could write a story like this.” I just never thought there was a way to get it published. It wasn’t until I met a few authors that I found out the process wasn’t as difficult as I thought.

MUSES: You have mentioned in your blog posts that you have many budding plot-bunnies. Do you see yourself fitting into any one genre?
N. LONDON: I’m a hopeless romantic! Reading is an escape from the stress of real life, so I never got the point of reading something that doesn’t have a happy ending. I’m a fan of both contemporary and paranormal romance, so those are the genres that inspire most of my ideas.

MUSES: What do you enjoy reading in your free-time?
N. LONDON: Romance! Bet you didn’t think I’d say that one, huh? I’ve also been trying to dabble more in nonfiction as well. As of late, historical biographies and narratives have been gaining more attention on my Kindle, but when I really want to relax and enjoy a good book it’s going to be a romance.

MUSES: What does an author have to do to capture your attention?
N. LONDON: Create an interesting story. I’m a plot driven individual. I want to be able to envision the world an author has created. I can overlook simple writing errors as long as the story is solid.

MUSES: In looking forward, what excites you most about the world of publishing? Is there anything you’re dreading?
N. LONDON: I’m really looking forward to meeting new authors. I would like to be able to attend Lori Foster next year and say, “Yeah. I can be here. I’m an author.” That’s the biggest thrill I suspect. Being able to look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re a published author. Makes it sound a bit more legitimate. But I am worried about the possibility of rejection from editors and publishing houses. Then, if I do get published will the readers actually like it? Am I going to get angry emails from people demanding their money back? Is it going to get slammed on every review site on the planet? Those are the things that worry me, but I know the good definitely outweighs the bad when entering the publishing world.

MUSES: What authors have most influenced you in your journey? Do you try to emulate them in your own writing?
N. LONDON: Aaron Sorkin is my god of dialogue. I try every day to emulate him in my writing. “Good writes borrow from other writers, but great writers steal from them outright.” Sorkin and I don’t condone plagiarism mind you, but hopefully you get my drift. I also love how J.K. Rowling has worked so hard to create the work of Harry Potter. I know people can have their criticisms about her writing, but I can’t help but be in awe that she was able to make her worlds come to life. I’m also a huge fan of my published BFF. I can’t lie. I’ve followed her writings long before she was published and I love how she has the ability to write prose so well that a character can move me to tears without saying a single word. I love that. I really want to incorporate more “show” and less “tell” in my work. It’s a learning process.

MUSES: Tell us a bit about your favorite literary character, and what qualities made him/her stand out as more than just a name on a page.
N. LONDON: Wow…this one is a hard question. The first one that comes to mind is Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. His strength of character and his quiet tenderness with his children really struck me. He was the first literary character that fully came to life for me. And I have to admit that I did develop quite a crush.

MUSES: You have already developed a modest Twitter following. Tell us a bit of what you’ve learned so far about promotion, public relations, and web-presence.
N. LONDON: You can never have too many friends! It seems you can never start the business of learning the authors and review sites and the publishing houses too early. Everyone is so open and friendly in this community that I really feel welcomed into the fold. Various authors like J.A. Saare and others have been really fantastic about giving me all the advice I could ask for.

MUSES: Tell us a bit about your current WIP.
N. LONDON: I’d love to! My debut in the publishing world is Southern Comfort, the story of Jay and Kristen. Kristen has worked as Jay’s assistant for years, but both have been hesitant to take their relationship any further than “friends.” When they both end up on vacation in Natchez, MS, the sexual tension between them comes to a boiling point. In the end, they are going to have to decide if they’re willing to sacrifice their work relationship for a chance at romance.

MUSES: When you’re not writing or reading, what typically keeps you occupied? What do you enjoy doing in your free-time?
N. LONDON: Well, I have eight nieces and nephews who keep me constantly on the go. I have a neurotic cat, Lucy, who I’m always trying to convince is a cat and not a dog. I also love spending time with my BFFs drinking wine and playing board games. Most nights I curl up and watch a little Daily Show before I go to sleep.

MUSES: Is there anything you have been itching to ask someone already in the biz that you haven’t found the time or opportunity to ask?
N. LONDON: How do you do it? Seriously! I work full time and never seem to have the energy to write once I head home for the night. I really admire authors who can crank out the stories because I usually end up dreaming about them, but not getting it down on paper. Also, does everyone use outlines? I’ve never really sat down and put one to paper. I keep the basic plot in my head, but I sometimes wonder if an outline would make the process go a little quicker.

MUSES: Until we can pick up one of your books for ourselves, where can we find you?
N. LONDON: Well, I am on Twitter as NikkiLondon_1 and I also have a blog (which I really need to work on updating on a frequent basis). People can also email me at nikkilondon1@gmail.com. I’d really love to hear from anyone who wants to get in touch. I’ll take advice, book recommendations, advice, and advice from anyone! 

Thank you, Nikki, for taking the time to sit down with us!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ready, Set, Goal

These are both exciting and frightening times with the multitude of changes occurring within the publishing industry. New houses seem to pop up over night while brick and mortar book stores are closing across the country. Self-publishing is no longer the red-headed stepchild. We have options now that lean away from traditional publishing. But all these options can be confusing. So before dipping your toe in the waters, I would suggest formulating a clear set of goals.

Now these goals aren't set in stone. They will likely change over time. And they can be extremely personal. What is right for you might not be for me. My goals still include acquiring an agent and a NY contract and I have always planned on the slow and steady route to achieving this.

I think each of us have mentioned the importance of a back list. Most authors do. But until recently, I could not speak from personal experience. The second in my Watcher's series released mid-April and I did indeed see a spike in sales on the first book. Multiply that by five, ten, or twenty book and suddenly you are looking at a substantial check.

Many an author has toted the phrase I don't want to keep all my eggs in one basket to explain their reasons for subbing to multiple pubs. And if it is a small or relatively new house, I would totally agree. Because while this writing thing is something most of us are compelled to do, we are ultimately in it to make money. But I would argue that once you have attained an editor at one of the bigger houses, it is really in your best interest to develop that back list.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Write for YOU

Recently I had a long conversation with Madelyn Ford about writing and the way becoming published changes you. When an author signs his/her first contract, it's an unbelievable feeling. It's almost as if you've become validated. All those hours of writing, all of the time you've spent creating characters and stories, has finally paid off. However, once it comes to release day and your book starts circulating, things can and will change.

Allow me to explain.

My first book was a creation I didn't expect to do well. Not that it's a bad book, rather it was at a smaller publisher and I didn't expect high sales. Then, out of the blue, WHAM. It took off. I was stunned, to be honest. I never expected it. What occurred as a consequence was a fear I never expected.

For the first time, I was terrified to write.

Before, it was about "me." I wrote what I wanted to write, what I enjoyed. If the story took a dark turn, it was fine because it was just for me. Now, it's not so simple. Once I would have gladly sat at my PC and pounded away at the keys. More often than not, the time I spend now consists of me staring at the screen, torn between what I want to do and what I "think" I should do. That can be hell.

I've come to the realization that you can't do that. If you allow your readers to dictate what you create, then you're not really creating anything at all. You're a ghost writer of sorts, doing what others expect, and that defeats the entire purpose. When you create a story or stories, you have to be true to your vision. This is your work, coming from your muse. You can't hamper it by expectations or the fear that you won't please everyone. The truth is, you never will. No matter how hard you try.

So write for you. Write what brings you joy. Do what makes you happy. When you do that, the book will reflect your emotions as you wrote it. It's a tough pill to swallow, but it's something I believe all authors face.

Until next week, here is your eye-candy. Happy Writing!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tweets come and go, but the Internet is forever

It still amazes me how much technology has progressed in the past decade. Ten years ago, I was a high school sophomore. I didn’t have a cellphone or a laptop or any cool gadget with which to make my friends jealous. My first car was a 1989 Oldsmobile Cutless that occasionally died while idling at stoplights. I did have a car-phone – one of those dinosaur models you plugged into the cigarette lighter and had to molest in order to get it to dial out. Yes, the Internet was in existence – of course – but this was pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, and comments made on websites, forums, or any other outlet of the baby beast that became social networking.

Today, the Internet landscape is a horse of a different color. I worked at a local bank for two years, and the entire time I was there, I was made painfully aware whatever remark I made on Facebook regarding the job or my opinion of people I worked with – even if they weren’t “friends” or whatever – could be grounds for termination. Any remark I made about anything, in fact, could be used against me. For example, say Charlie Sheen and Prince were political candidates; if I made a remark about how Charlie Sheen is WINNING, and a bank customer happened to be a supporter of Prince? Yeah, that could land me in some deep doo-doo.

Granted, while these precautions were extreme, there is something to be said about being careful in how you come across to others. As authors – aspiring or otherwise – we assume a public presence whether we like it or not. Especially those of us in the e-publishing world – we are no longer an age of JD Salingers. We can’t produce fiction and hope to be remembered if we become technology recluses. Yes, there are some authors who are more “out there” than others, but the names you remember are typically those with a larger Internet presence.

What does this mean for authors? Well, it depends on the sort of author you want to be, the sort of audience you want to attract, and what sort of image you want to maintain. Offhand, I can think of several authors who are either publicly Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Tea Party, etc.; while their political affiliation doesn’t influence me one way or another, a diehard Republican might balk at reading something by an outspoken liberal, regardless of the subject matter. It’d be like Dick Cheney going out and purchasing a fictional action/adventure penned by Michael Moore. Not likely. Likewise, if you use your social outlets to graphically discuss sex, you’re going to turn some people off. I know this might be surprising to some, especially considering the majority of us enjoy reading and writing romance and explicit sexual content. Consider the following: my grandfather is a conservative, religious man, a minister, and so sensitive to profanity and sexuality he didn’t like it when I turned on the family-friendly program “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” when at his house. He is also incredibly sensitive to movies depicting the life and acts of Jesus – or really any biblical story – and he doesn’t care for History Channel programs that discuss “the end times” or how various religions interpret their holy books. Does this make sense? Well, yes and no, depending on who you ask. For some, what they do is not who they are; for others, it’s all they are, and to see themselves represented a certain way is insulting.

So when it comes to the monster that is social networking, what is appropriate? What’s not? Ultimately, that’s up to you. Nothing is right or wrong – everything is completely subjective. There is no how-to guide when it comes to dealing with your readers. You just need to be prepared for how others might perceive your actions or statements. If you want to be edgy and potentially offensive, that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you want to out yourself as a gun-toting, Obama-hating conservative or a liberal flag-burning communist, you need to be aware how that might affect your readership. Remember: you have the option to do or say whatever you like, but you need to be smart enough to know that somewhere out there will be someone who disagrees, and your reputation might hinge on what you say. As long as you don't mind the label you earn, you have the freedom to do and say as you please.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I love...err, hate my book

Yes, I'm ripping off the veil of shame and admitting something I don't think a lot of authors feel comfortable acknowledging (at least where readers are present) - sometimes I hate my work. Actually, hating my work is more the norm than liking it, especially when I've just finished a book. There's something about doing edits that makes me think I suck. Even though I know intellectually everyone has to revise and that my publishers did not buy my latest manuscript simply to be nice to me, sometimes I wonder what I'm doing thinking I have any business being a writer. But because I know this is my process and usually the book's not nearly as suckrageous as I think, I try to do my best and press on, as if the thing I'm now editing is not a pile of steaming…well, I'll leave you to finish that statement. ;)

With the book I submitted in January, something miraculous transpired. Finally, a book I did not hate! I kept waiting for the hate to creep over me as it always does in the days, weeks, months after submission, but nothing. Two months passed and I received a contract and I still liked it! Surely I'd turned a corner.

Then I got edits.

Suddenly my favorite book ever to write, with my favorite ever characters, had done me wrong. It had blinded me to its many, many faults. What was I thinking, liking this one best?

But I'm editing it anyway, to the best of my ability and with my wise editor's guidance. And I'm hoping that the beta readers/CPs who read it weren't lying when they said they loved it.

I submitted another book last week. I still love it. But this time, I'm not fooled. I'm waiting for the creep o' hate to begin any day now…

Part of my problem is I'm a perfectionist. I always think everything can be better. Which is a good thing, in that I keep trying and learning. But I also know that my perfectionism sometimes colors my perceptions so at certain times I need to trust others' opinions more than my own.

Do you ever hate your work? Or strongly dislike it, even temporarily? I have a successful author friend who doesn't understand this, as she never hates hers. So is it just me?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Career or hobby

I know not to go searching out reviews. Truly I do. It was a harsh lesson to learn. With my first published release, the response was wonderfully positive. At least those who left comments really seemed to like it. The second, now that was a whole other can of worms, a love it or hate it situation so I learned very quickly not to look.

Well yesterday I made the mistake of doing a name search. I do this periodically, searching for links where my books might be being pirated. It's a necessary evil of the job and something I know has all ready been discussed here by my fellow Muses. Anyway, as I said, I was doing a search and came across a link I shouldn't have followed. Yes, I'm talking about the dreaded review. Now I've had the typical 5 stars "It's the bestest book ever", the 4 stars "It's great", the 3 stars "Blah", the 2 stars "I just don't get it" but this was my first 1 star (Yah me!).

And what did I get for my one star? An "I would have liked it better if it had been longer" (I'm paraphrasing). Yes, I'm going with sarcasm here. Because it's better than crying.

Please don't take this as a bash on reviews or reviewers. It is not my intention or the reason for this post. They are more than welcome to their opinions. Only I don't need to know them.

Positive reviews are great. They help bolster an author's ego. To know someone out there really gets what we are writing is what keeps us doing what we do. Writing. But the negative reviews, those are the ones that stick with us. They swirl around our heads, buzzing in our ear that what we're writing is crap, that we shouldn't even bother. And the more we swat at them, they louder they buzz until it's the only sound we hear. If we let them.

So how do we fight it? Simple. Don't look. Once the seed has been sown, it's damn impossible to stop it from growing. Just like the crab grass I can't seem to get rid of in my front lawn, it will stifle all creativity for days or possibly even months. Because the truth of the matter is we all want to be liked. Even when logically we understand that is not possible. Not everyone is going to like what I write. Just like I don't like everything I read. But emotionally, it can pierce your soul.

I wish I had answers on how to move on from a bad review but I am just now starting to emerge from a writing funk due to a snarky review from almost a year ago. It didn't totally stop the process, only seriously hindered it.

How do you get over a bad review? Leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Who's whatting what with who?

Have you ever read a novel wherein the author breezed over an explanation or offered one that wasn’t satisfactory? In other words, have you ever felt the author phoned it in?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve read three or four novellas that, while being well-written and entertaining, suffered from a lack of conflict. Conflict is essential to your plot, be it a novel-length book or something under fifteen thousand words. The main drive behind any story is the need for resolution as you watch the characters dig themselves into various holes, or view their actions and reactions to a life after the hole has been conquered, but not without consequences. I can’t tell you how many times conflict is forced upon a situation that really doesn’t call for it.

Think about it this way: if your friend said or did something that seemed unusual—something that directly affected you that you didn’t understand—the next step would logically be to approach that friend and ask what was going on. Similarly, if you caught someone doing something you knew they wouldn’t do, whereas you might immediately jump to an erroneous conclusion, chances are a simple conversation would set everything straight. If you find yourself in a situation, with a proposition or an opportunity that you would ordinarily laugh off, it normally takes more than fifteen minutes to talk yourself into something you find morally flawed or potentially dangerous.

Yet we’ve all had these things happen to us. We’ve had simple misunderstandings that turned into potentially friendship-ending fights. We’ve all found ourselves in positions where an opportunity has arisen we didn’t anticipate, though in order to take advantage of it, some wildly complex the-ends-will-justify-the-means course of action is needed. We’ve all stumbled through life while living. This is what makes fictional characters so accessible. In one way or another, relating to their trials and decisions is akin to experiencing them ourselves.

This is why conflict and decision-making are so vital to storytelling. When your characters are presented with a situation in which seemingly irrational behavior is needed for the events to proceed, the reader needs to be convinced just as much as the character that their choice is the right one. When a conflict arises that would ordinarily be resolved with a simple explanation, the reader needs to understand and be convinced by the character’s reasoning to not proceed with that simple explanation. Conflict and motive are key elements to any story. Consider your favorite book or movie of all time. What was the conflict? Why was it compelling? What kept you flipping pages or glued to the screen?

Furthermore, consider the following romantic classics of literature. What’s the conflict? What makes them popular? Why do the characters seem so accessible, yet similarly iconic?

1) Gone with the Wind
2) Pride and Prejudice
3) Jane Eyre
4) Wuthering Heights
5) The Phantom of the Opera
6) Rebecca

There is a degree of escapism in storytelling, but a part of that escapism coincides with the reader feeling the main characters’ drive or motivations would mirror their own actions if given that scenario. No, not everything needs to be perfect, some degree of reality, no matter the genre, should be present, if for nothing else so your readers, who do live in the real world, don’t abandon the journey.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Dreaded "P"

So you've written a book, you've been contracted, release date is looming. That means it's time for one thing. It's something many authors dread, as it is time consuming and terrifying, especially if you're not comfortable putting yourself out there as an author.

I'm talking about promo.

There are many ways to promote your material.  Some authors pay for interviews at the larger review sites, others pay for banners. There are also those who take advantage of book bloggers, giveaways, and conferences. Either way, it takes a lot of time, a lot of dedication and, sometimes, a bit of heartbreak.

The truth is not everyone is going to like your material. So when you send it out, you might not get the reaction you're hoping for. There is a fifty-fifty chance your story will be the next big thing everyone is talking about, gaining you new readership. However, there is also a chance the book might not be received in the manner you hoped. I've been on both ends of the spectrum, so I know first hand how difficult it can be. I'm very good at speaking with people, but I always get nervous when it's time to toot my own horn.

All is not doom and gloom, though. You can make the most of your promotion if you keep a few things in mind:

Social Networks: These are good to keep in touch with readers. However, most don't like to be spammed or annoyed when you constantly remind them you have a new release. Moderation is key. Maybe you can state you have a new release once in the morning, again in the evening, and as the days go by do one message per day to spread the word. I've found most readers appreciate when authors make it a personal versus a professional relationship. Talk to people just like you would anyone else. It really makes a difference.

Book Bloggers: Again, this is a great way to gain new readers. But there is a cost. You need to interact with people who post on the blog and show them how appreciative you are that they have an interest in your work. Make it less about you and more about them.

Contests: This is another good way to promote. However, you have to be savvy about it. I suggest doing a contest a week prior to release and giving away a copy of your book on release day. Then, after a week or two has passed, perhaps you can do another giveaway. The more giveaways you do (of the print variety of your books especially) the more likely people are to remember your book or to check it out.

Conferences: So far, I'm a noobie at this. I can say that I've met a lot of great people at conferences. The key is to say hello to people, talk to them, and don't try to sell your work. If they inquire, then you can share a bit about what you do. It's important to remain tactful. Most people attend to meet new authors. If you give them a chance to talk with you, chances are they'll eventually ask about what you write.

It's not easy, but you can get your name out there. It just takes time and a little bit of patience. Keep your chin up. We've all been there. The best thing is once it ends, you'll write another book, receive a contract, and start the dance all over again.

Now, eye candy!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Heading down the Garden State Parkway and getting off at the exit clearly marked, The Zone

Have you ever been in a place where you have something you really want to work on and something you really need to work on? For the past few weeks, I have been procrastinating on something that is beyond due simply because I want to do something else. The trouble is, I know I shouldn’t neglect X because of Y, and working Y inspires guilt…therefore instead of working on either I do nothing.

At first, I identified this as blatant avoidance behavior. I wanted to write, but I had something else to do. Consequently, for several weeks now, I’ve done neither. Time on the computer has been spent on Twitter, blogs, surfing, visiting guilty-pleasure forums, and essentially doing anything but what I ought to do. My deadline for Project X has passed, but thankfully it’s a rather lax assignment to begin with. The trouble is when you’re in The Zone, everything seems easy and conquerable. Once you leave The Zone the world again feels disjointed and every effort placed forth to find your way back seems forced. On my writing projects, I was in The Zone, switching easily between two WIPs and cranking out upwards of 10k a week. Now my muse is silent, because I let a good thing run dry.

To sum it up, it sucks.

Writing is a tricky art. Treasure those times when words flow naturally and each scene is easy to visualize, for if something should throw you off your game, finding your way back can be a lengthy process. The best tools I can suggest are rereading whatever it is you last committed to paper, and ensure your writing space is void of all outside temptations. Dry spells are inevitable, especially following lengthy bouts of creativity. For the moment, I blame my dormant muse on Project X, though if I were inclined to be honest with myself, it’s likely just an excuse.

In the meantime, perhaps I should try and complete Project X. Perhaps once it’s behind me I’ll be in a better place to hunt down The Zone.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Back to Basics

I'll admit I'm not one for rules. I don't like following them though I do usually attempt to find out what the rules are before I try to break them. But the past few weeks I've discovered a couple things I've ignored as "not for me"…well, they kind of are. Things that will make my writing tighter. Things that also take a lot of time, but them's the breaks, I guess. Part of doing what you love includes putting in a lot of hours to ensure your words come across the way you intended them to.

Some rules still confound me, I'll admit, and I worked as an editor for an e-publisher for two years and so far, as a proofreader at a newspaper for eleven. So I thought I'd share two tips for tightening your writing that I've been confronted with in my latest batch of edits
1) Get rid of words you don't need. Even ones you like, such as "even." I love "even". We're bff's. I'm also quite enamored of "little", "always", "exactly", "all but", "besides", "though" and probably a dozen others I repeat without knowing it. Clean writing is the goal and cluttering up your sentences lessens their impact. It also leaves you with a ton of edits from your editor. *waves hand*

2) Break the "was" habit. It's not always passive voice, but that doesn't mean you need them all the time. I like "was" almost as much as "even." One thing I've noticed while doing my many edits recently is that I tend to drop into "was" territory when I start telling and not showing. You need some of them in your story for sure, just don't them overpower the soup. Sometimes you can replace was with a more active construction. Example: She was jumping rope. Becomes this: She jumped rope. Fewer words, punchier sentence.

What crutch words do you find yourself returning to again and again? Do you have any tricks to make self-editing less painful?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Making the rounds

While I've been busy tracking down other authors to find out
the answer to my question about what the hardest part of being
published is for them, I've been doing the hardest part for me.

Promoting - ugh!   If you have one book published, it's still hard
and a long trek but the decision is easier.  I have six books out
there now and trying to decide which one I should focus on
gets to be tiresome.   Of course if it's Halloween I focus on my
one that takes place at that time of year, but otherwise it's a game of
spin the wheel to see which characters get their spot in the lime
light when I have the time to promote.

This week it's my last release, I've signed up for a week long
virtual tour.  The tour is a great way to get the book and my name
out there.

Another way to promote is using a book trailer.  I've made
a few of these and it was fun to do, even though my level of
skill in that department is very basic I was pleased with the

I had an epiphany about a month ago when I realized the
easiest way to promote all of my books would be to get my
name out there, because lets face it I may have six books
with pretty covers and ISBN's but I am one small ant in
the enormous colony of the publishing world.

I decided to have a trailer made - an author trailer and not
just a book trailer.  I won't post the trailer here on RtM because
this blog isn't all about shameless self promoting but I'll
add the link to the end if you feel like checking it out.  I'm
trilled with the results and wished I'd thought of it sooner.
Now I can promote the trailer and not have to spend hours
setting up promo's for my individual books.

Is this going to work?

I have no idea!

Which is what promoting is all about in my mind, you
wander aimlessly making the rounds on the net collecting
many friendships and picking up readers that have actually
read your books as you go all while trying to figure out if it's
working and what direction you can head next...

Aside from becoming rich and hiring someone to figure all
of this out, I'll just have to keep plugging away at the illusive
art of promoting.

I've tried to bribe my kids to hurry up and finish their education,
get brilliant so they can be my proofreader /editors / pr reps and
I can go back to the part I love the most - the part where I
create characters and the world they live in ...  my children
laugh and think I'm kidding - umm, I'm not guys so lets put those
adolescent hormones on hold and focus on getting diplomas!

Okay, I am kidding - sort of...  

Feel free to share your ideas for promoting, the more options
all of us have the easier it's going to be!

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Monday, May 2, 2011

The Wank Heard Round The World

Disclaimer: Today’s post has a few naughty words. If you’re easily offended by profanity, you might want to skip.

It being Monday, May 2, 2011, this is old news now. People who have never picked up an erotic romance book are a-buzz discussing the controversy surrounding self-described mild-mannered Judy Buranich, who has also made a name for herself publishing numerous erotic romance novels under the name Judy Mays. And yes, I do feel a little dirty posting her real name beside her penname, but as I said, it’s old news now.

Several of my writer colleagues and I were quick to jump on WNEP’s Facebook page and throw our support behind one of our own. Indeed, the writing community, a wealth of current and former students, and people just dumbfounded at the pile of “what the fuck-ery” have inundated the web with posts like this one to rage over the non-story. There has been a lot of smear going on in the last few days; I doubt anyone at WNEP could have predicted the shitstorm they welcomed, or had any idea how huge the erotica writing community is. Truth be told, though, I’ve been on the fence regarding their part in this fiasco. On one hand, Mrs. Buranich’s writing is no one’s business but hers and her readers, so outing her as an erotica author is skeazy to say the least. Similarly, the way the report was executed was something out of the tabloids. On the other hand, WNEP is hardly the only news organization—local or otherwise—to tackle a “sexy” story for no other reason than to have something scandalous to air, so a part of me holds the unpopular opinion that their role has been overplayed.

I’m not going to repeat the sentiment of others here, either. Judy Mays has responded to this ordeal with nothing but class. I don’t know her—though we are now Facebook friends—therefore it’s a little strange to feel this overwhelming sense of respect and downright awe toward an author whose name I wouldn’t have recognized a week ago. From what I can tell, the only people who have a problem are a small group of conservative women who apparently have a history of creating problems just for the hell of it.

I will include the obligatory links at the end of today’s post. As countless others, I am now the proud owner of a Judy Mays novel. I have quite the TBR list, as most authors do, but I’m putting it at the top.

What I really want to discuss is the culture in which sexuality and expressions of one’s sexuality is something shameful. How many of us dance around what we write when asked by friends, family or even complete strangers? I’m as guilty as anyone. I’ll say “fiction” or “paranormal fiction” or even fess up to “paranormal romance.” I have never once said, “erotic paranormal romance” or “erotic romance.” Why? Am I ashamed of what I write? Hell. No. It’s this societal belief that sex is something dirty and wrong, something we shouldn’t talk about or even acknowledge. Now, mind you, I’m not in favor of candidly discussing what goes on in the bedroom. Sex is a private affair; I don’t want details on my friends’ sex lives, and they don’t want the details of mine. However, there is a very definitive line between TMI and shame.

So here’s the dirty little secret: sex is natural.

Egads! What will I say next? That everyone has it? That everyone thinks about it? That everyone has sexual fantasies? That sexual fantasies are normal and healthy? That sex is something we should celebrate and enjoy?

Oh no she di-in’t!

Yes, gentle readers, I did.

The thing that strikes me is the people who are so adamant about sex being evil are likewise the same who deliberately insert themselves into the lives of others in order to police how and when they view or have sex. Take the parents involved in the current sex-related debacle. They believe the writings of a woman who has never so much as mention her publications in a schoolroom interfere with her ability to teach. Why? Because of sex. They believe sex is so shameful, so dirty, they can’t help but hold up a megaphone and announce that someone around them writes about it. Think about every time a sex-related topic makes headlines and answer me, who is it that makes it news? Nine times out of ten, I guarantee, it’s someone who wants to monitor what happens in the bedroom all the while sliming those whose sexual practices might be different from theirs.

Another thing that kills me? Erotic romance. Romance. Most erotic romances end with the participating parties in stable, committed relationships. Is it so hard for these people to believe that loving couples have sex? Erotic romance: the genre that promotes a healthy sexual relationship between people who love each other.

Oh. Please.

Recently, I gave my mother a copy of one of my books for her birthday. I have never, ever, ever let her read anything of mine. Of course, she knew my penname so there was nothing stopping her from buying and reading on her own—and she told me she had done so. My mother was raised by a fundamentalist Church of Christ minister, and I was brought up in the same sort of filtered environment. I recently expressed the reason I believed I had never been comfortable letting her read my work—and to be honest, I’m not fully comfortable now—is this mindset that I should be ashamed of what I write. And sorry, that’s crap. I love writing what I write. And I’ve decided to start embracing it. My mother is extraordinarily proud of me. She talks about my accomplishments to her staff and has asked if she can share the book I gave her with others.

Turns out that I didn’t need to be ashamed after all. Who knew my mother would enjoy reading my work, even though it includes gratuitous S-E-X?

So I pose this question, to those opponents of Judy Buranich, few as you seem…what is it about sex that you find so threatening? I presume, you being parents, you’ve had it at least once in your life. Why should we erotic romance authors be ashamed? Why should Mrs. Buranich’s credentials as a teacher be in question? Is JK Rowling guilty of the Cruciatus Curse? Should we arrest Stephen King for the attempted murder of his family at the Overlook Hotel? Is my aunt, young adult and nonfiction author Pamela Smith-Hill a young girl in a country divided by the Civil War? Does Jeffrey Lindsay kill people who deserve it? Am I a demon hunter or vampire or a high school student about to take his best friend’s virginity?

I really want to know. I’ve searched on every discussion forum regarding Mrs. Buranich I’ve found, and not once have I encountered a comment wherein one of her opponents had the balls to say, “Hey, I’m here, and I agree with those parents!” If anyone could give me an honest reason why she or I or any one of the thousands of published and unpublished erotic romance writers should be ashamed, I’d like to know.

Until then, I’ll go back to sinning. It’s what I do best.

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