Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Final Stretch


Despite suffering a cold and countless other interferences, I am finishing the rough draft of this project by Saturday. I'll have to forsake my usual Friday debauchery, but damn it, it's going to get done. As usual, my word count will come shy of what I planned, but that's okay.

There are always mixed feelings when finishing a project, whether it's a short story, or the final line edits of a novel, but for some reason the emotions are more intense and contrasting for me when I near completing the rough draft of a manuscript.

Naturally, there's a measure of excitement. Excitement to complete a new project, excitement to write the dramatic scenes of the story's climax.

But there's also a measure of dread and reluctance, both from leaving the new world and characters I created and fear of not writing an ending that does the characters justice.

And finally, there's impatience. Impatience to get the damn thing finished and to move on to the next project that's flirting with my imagination.

What emotions do you experience when you come close to the finishing line?

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Piece of Mind: The Price of Being a Bully, By Bennet Pomerantz





My friend, Bennet Pomerantz, wrote this article and it resonated so much that I was pleased to get permission to repost it here:



Lately, there has been aggressive behavior on line . . . Bullying on the pages of Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon as well as other sites. It hasn’t been young homosexuals or teens bullying by other teens. It’s worse than that. It is adults annoying and harassing adult writers of erotica . . . Both male and female.

Someone may say to me “You’re a critic, what do you know about erotica?” Well, I have written an erotic work of fiction (Last Wish) in the book collection Faggots. This story was a M/M romance. It does not make me gay, it just makes me a writer who has written in the genre. I also review erotic books. So now, you can say I have some street cred in talking about the subject.

I can understand someone giving a book or a novella a bad review. I am guilty . . . I have done that myself. However when I do say something is bad, I tend to give a reason why I assume you need not get it. It is not picking on an author’s life or lifestyle.

What annoys me is someone personally attacking another human being because they write a fiction genre they don’t like nor do they respect. Many of these writers are female. Most of these authors are married with families. They have productive lives out of writing erotica. They pay their bills like we all do. However some men (and a few women) assume that since a person writes a book with erotic content that it’s is okay to stalk, annoy, harass, and belittle these authors in public and private

There is a different between gentle kidding around and true harassment. I told an erotic author on Facebook that she was a BITCH (my term means a Beautiful Intelligent Talented Charming Honest lady). She said “Bennet that is the nicest thing anyone said to me”. She knew I was joking around.

Most of these people are not using a witticism like I did. They seem to prey upon these women (and some men). If they cannot get them by trashing their book or their private life in a public site, they do it with a campaign of hate and ignorance. In my opinion, this isn’t right. Someone needs to shine a light of them

An author friend of mine said “It makes me wonder. Why do people have to say nasty things about each other on Facebook and elsewhere?”

Another writer friend said this, “I've always kept this quote close to heart: ‘Your opinion of me is none of my business.’ People who understand you are the ones to keep in your life and those that don't, don't know what they are missing!”

What I think is that most of these people are close minded , narrow headed clods that either assume erotica is beneath them and their social status or are beer swilling (I know I am stereotyping very badly here) jackasses who go by the name Bubba. (I did say I was stereo typing–NO HATE MAIL PLEASE). Jeff Foxworthy is right. They might be a REDNECK. So with misunderstanding, they make judgments and putdowns that they are unsure of and/or are stupid. They point fingers for they do not know better. We also know many of these stalkers must have Hustler, Playboy , some girlie magazine or some erotic literature semen-stained under their bed, because their girlfriend or wife had a headache last night

I really do not know what we have to do. Nevertheless, I do not want a stalker’s list. For the moment we do that, someone will take someone else’s words or emails out of context or get their feeling hurt . . . then there is a mass riot because someone does get another’s opinion.

On a personal note, I’ve been a jerk before. Some people block you when they don’t understand you, instead of trying to open a dialog. Emails and online posts don’t have emotion as a real person on skype, phone or in person. In this modern age, a second chance is a rare event especially in this age of living on line. I always remember the Joan Rivers’ quote, it seems to fit here, “Always keep your enemy’s list in pencil. The person who is your enemy today may be your boss the next day.”

However You cannot turn a blind eye to the man who messages someone with a line “Want to see naked pictures of me?” or “You are such a (Insert nasty word here), want to cam and play on line?” or “Want meet somewhere and screw?” or other winning pieces of crap that these stupid ones want to spew out on a Facebook wall or an email.

There are no easy answers to why someone does do what they do. Just more questions to ponder and to mull over. I would be remiss if I did not mention this old adage I was told when I was a child “Why Can’t we all get along?!”

Food for Thought



@Pen and Ink Inc

Friday, April 22, 2011

Anti Heroes


I've always had a thing for a well written anti-hero. One of my first crushes was on Raistlin Majere, an archmage in the Dragonlance novels who began as a neutral character, but steadily grew more evil until the very end, when he sacrificed himself to save the world. I love Professor Snape, but he had nothing on Raistlin.

The current hero I'm working on is a nice one, albeit a little autocratic at times. He was a relief after my last character, whom I'm not certain was exactly an anti-hero, but he was quite evil at times. Still, amidst all the sweetness of this project, I needed to take a break and read something dark.

I read THE DARK PATH by Luke Romyn and loved it. Vain was an anti-hero to beat all. This wasn't a romance, I warn you, but if you like a good dark supernatural thriller once in awhile like I do, this is a definite must-read.
Reading such a good anti-hero reminded me of others I fell in love with. Other favorites include Zarek from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series. His book, DANCE WITH THE DEVIL, brought me to tears.

Another favorite would be Rhevenge, from JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood novels. I'd been intrigued with him since he made his appearance in the 2nd book as the owner of a nightclub, drug lord, and pimp. There could be no saving grace there...but there was when he finally got his story in LOVER AVENGED.

So while noble heroes are all well and good, hell, I'm jealous of my heroine because I've fallen in love with my current one, there's just something about a bad boy.
One of my crit partners is still talking about my last one, Razvan Nicolae. When she read my first book, she kept commenting, I HATE HIM! But when she read the second book, she was all I LOVE HIM! ::sigh:: I done good there, apparently. In my next book, he'll be reunited with his long lost twin. My friend's been asking me for hints and all I can say is a snatch of conversation I hear where one of my characters says to Razvan, "I thought you were the evil twin!" Ooooh, he's gonna be so much fun!

The thing about anti-heroes is that they can be hard to write. There's such a fine line between wicked and repulsive. Redeeming them is also a struggle because it must be believable and suitably heart-wrenching.

What anti-heroes have snared your heart? What struggles and triumphs have you encountered with writing them? 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Awesome Deviled Eggs!



Makes 24 servings:
Ingredients:

1 Dozen Eggs
1/2 cup Mayonaise (Not Miracle Whip or salad dressing)
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions. (Scissors are your friend)
Snipped fresh chives
Dried mustard (wet mustard works too. I usually use both)
Parsley
Paprika
Seasoned salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Dried Dillweed
Milk (optional)

1.) Place eggs in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them. Bring to rapid boil on high heat.

2.)Reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. (Times may vary due to elevation differences. I'd check cooking times for hard boiled eggs in your area)

3.)Pour off water and fill pan with cold water and ice cubes if you have 'em. Let stand about 3 minutes

4.)Pour off water. Gently shake pan back n'forth to roll the eggs around and crack the shells.

5.)Peel off shells staring at larger ends of the eggs. Some are a pain, but most come off easy.

6.) Cut eggs in half lengthwise, scoop out the yolks and put 'em in a bowl. Set the egg halves aside in a shallow container.

7.) Mix in the rest of the ingredients to taste, except for paprika n' chives. Add more mayo or milk till you get your preferred creaminess.

8.) Fill egg halves with the mixture, top with paprika and chives. Cover and chill until serving.

Do not leave the deviled eggs at room temp. longer than two hours. They should keep for a week in the fridge.



Happy Easter and I hope you enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eye Candy to Improve Your Monday

Sigh. It's Monday already, so I thought I'd give us all something good to look at. As you know, due to my current project, I've had rock stars on the brain. It's been a very nostalgic time, researching and remembering my old teen crushes. My practical side eventually won through as my childhood ended. I could never date a musician. I'm too dedicated to my own personal goals...and I'm crazy jealous. But now that I'm working with fictional rock stars, I'm remembering the old charms of the real ones. So let's bring on the eye candy!

 PETER STEELE (TYPE O'NEGATIVE)
He once posed nude for Playgirl. Alas, he died a few years back.

                                                            
      DAVE NAVARRO (JANE'S ADDICTION and RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS)  
He did something with a pearl necklace in a music video that had my friends and I melting

                                                   JON BON JOVI
I added him 'cuz my crit buddy mentioned him, but he was more my mom's crush than mine. :)
                      
                           ANTHONY KIEDIS (RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS)
          Gorgeous man...until he cut and bleached his wonderful hair. :( Why, Anthony, WHY?

                                                 DAVE MUSTAINE (MEGADETH)
   Lead singer of my most favorite band ever! ... and one of the few blonde guys I find sexy.
....Because I adore him, he gets two pics. :) He looks sad here because he wants me to sit on his lap....(I can dream, can't I?)

                                        TRENT REZNOR: (NINE INCH NAILS)
I think I obsessed over this guy for half my adolescence. He wrote some of the best break-up songs ever... Hey, he kinda looks like my vampire character, Razvan!

                                        JIM MORRISON: (THE DOORS)
         Because I can't blog about hot rock stars without including him. Look at that face!

      RONNIE JAMES DIO: (RONNIE AND THE PROPHETS, ELF, RAINBOW, 
                  BLACK SABBATH, DIO, HEAVEN AND HELL)
In my opinion, he had one of the most impressive musical careers ever, spanning across six decades. (1958-2010) He started out looking James Dean-ish cute in a doo-wop band and ended up becoming a metal god.
                                  ...and because he's freakin' DIO, he so gets another pic.
                                             ::Sigh:: THAT SMILE!!!!
What rockers get your pulse pounding?
Anyway, I hope everyone has a good Monday and let us all have a good and productive week! My goal is to get 10K by Saturday. Daunting, I know.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hot Heroes: Reader's Perspective vs. Writer's


This is a subject I've been pondering and longing to discuss for awhile. What pushed me to finally do it was when an awesome crit partner, Bonnie R. Paulson, made a comment about the hero in my current project, who's a rock legend.

"I love how he's older," she said. "He makes me think of Jon Bon Jovi."
She had the hero's age about right, though I never specified besides a vague hint. And she had his musical era down pat. The musical genre? Close, but not quite. Appearance? Well, they're both hot and had long hair and gorgeous voices. Still, it wasn't close to who I pictured, and that's great!

My point? I think I have a win here. In fact, I hope another crit partner pictures Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters, though that's even farther from my vision. Why? For the most part, I want the reader to picture their ideal rock star, not mine.

While men seem to have a stereotype on the "perfect woman," i.e. medium height, blonde hair, thin, big boobs, etc., Women's tastes in men vary a lot. Some like 'em brunette, some like 'em blonde. Some like 'em pale, some like 'em dark. My best friend likes guys her age, another friend likes younger guys. I always went for older men. Some women like chest hair and I don't. I love Virginia Henley's novels, but every time I read about the heroine threading her fingers through the hero's "pelt," I cringe...and sometimes gag a little. Other than that, her books kick ass!

While writing, I often wonder: How specific should I get with my descriptions of the hero? Should I point out that in my mind, his chest is always hairless, he always has long hair, and unless specified otherwise, his face is usually devoid of scruff?

Then there's the other side of the coin. The ideal is that the hero should always be tall, muscular, and well- endowed. (Seriously, I saw that in a publisher's submission guidelines.) I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Not all of my heroes are tall and hung. It seems redundant and unrealistic to me. Many fit those qualifications, but some of my guys are average...and some may be short in stature for a romance hero...and okay, I admit, none are "below average" in the other aspect.

So far, I'm handling this by not getting too specific about those details. With some heroes, I'll point out that they're tall and have bare chests, but with others, I won't specify. I'll just mention his chest, or his presence with no reference to height or body hair at all. Same with the size of his junk. The reader can fill that in. One thing I won't bend on is that my heroes will either always have long hair, or they'll be bald. I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. :)

I remember an online discussion in which someone said, "If a man in a romance novel has long hair, I block it out."

Well, I'm the same way. Unless the author constantly emphasizes the hero's short hair, I picture him with long, lustrous locks, and with no "pelt" on his chest.

My question to you is: When is it fine for the author to leave things to your imagination, and when do you want the dirty details? When does MY idea of a hot guy freeze out yours?

Oooh, and some good news today: Thanks to my critique buddy, Millie McClain, my project finally has a title! It shall be called "His Solo Project." Thanks, Millie!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Publishing Myself" Guest post by Jamie DeBree


(Brooklyn's intro) Although self-publishing is not a direction I see myself going any time soon, a lot of people I know are doing it....and most of them have no idea what they're getting into. They act like it's a new cult, they denounce commercial publishers from their pulpits and vow they're going to be instant celebrities and make a fortune. So when my good friend and critique partner, Jamie DeBree decided to self publish, I was concerned. Now after almost a year, I see that she's being successful, but I also see that she works her butt off and treats it seriously, like the business it is.

Now, when other friends talk about self-publishing I tell them about Jamie. And I will tell you all: If you are going to self-publish, do it right. Now that I've added my two cents, I give you Romantic Suspense author, Jamie DeBree:   


Publishing Myself:  

Sounds kinda naughty when you put it that way, doesn’t it? And in some circles, it is looked at as a “naughty”, rebellious behavior, sort of like reading or writing erotica. I’ll admit, that’s part of its appeal in my case. I never have liked people telling me what I could and couldn’t do. I’ll be the one to decide that, thank you very much. ;-)

Brooklyn asked me to share a bit about my own self-publishing journey today. I’ve always wanted to self-publish my work. Even in high school, I just sort of assumed that if I ever wrote anything worth publishing, I’d put it out myself. I come from a line of crafters and artisans who take pride in making and selling their wares and artwork. To me, writing and publishing your own books is the same thing. So you can imagine my dismay years later when I finally thought maybe I’d seriously pursue writing not just as a hobby, but as a potential career, and everyone told me that self-publishing my work would be tantamount to career suicide. I bought into it for awhile, but my heart wasn’t in writing to suit a publisher, and all the months of jumping through hoops and waiting. Not really my thing. So I decided to find the fun in writing again, and do what I’d originally intended - write for the readers… That’s when I started posting free serial drafts on my blog. I knew they could never be published traditionally, and that took all the pressure off to write a certain way, or a certain story. I was still working on a manuscript to submit to a publisher at the time, but my heart wasn’t in molding it to fit the line. I ended up setting that aside, and focusing on my serials. I planned to clean them up and sell them on my web site inexpensively after they were done. I knew I wouldn’t make much money, but it made me happy as a writer - and that was the most important thing.

When I heard about authors self-publishing their work on Amazon, I started to get excited. I started studying those authors and everything they did. I paid close attention to those who were selling the most. They had covers that looked just as good as any publishing house had (sometimes better). The prose was polished and edited, and the stories were just as good as any I’d read from a large publisher. I read blog posts, I watched, I took notes.

I wanted to do that.

I decided to polish up my second serial novel to put up for sale as an “experiment”. I had a good friend with editing experience go through with her red pen, made the changes, and bought professional cover art (from another friend). I polled my would-be readers and found out at least a few still preferred print, so I researched and learned how to format a file for print-on-demand along with the formatting I was learning for ebooks. I was determined to make my book available to as many people as I could, and I spent hours tweaking and playing with the files to make them look like any other book on the market. I stumbled my way through my first launch, and was thankful not too many people were watching at that point, but I managed to get Tempest up for sale in print and digital formats in late August 2010. 

As soon as I made my first sale, I was hooked. I loved everything about the process, and I was proud to have done everything I could to make my book as good as it could be, from editing to cover art to formatting and distribution. I decided very shortly after that I wouldn’t be pursuing traditional publishing. I knew from all my research that it would take awhile for my book to start selling, and it took about six months (note: I wasn’t always that patient, but I stuck it out, and I’m glad I did). Now Tempest is selling around 5-10 copies per day on average, plus a couple print copies per month. Not bad for a first book, and a novella at that.

I decided if I was going to continue publishing my books, I needed to be as professional as possible to instill confidence in readers. I set up a business - Brazen Snake Books - that would publish my own work under three names (three genres), and perhaps a few close friends who I could count on to produce quality work that would maintain the reputation I wanted for my label. I had my cover artist design a professional logo for me, and I decided on a publishing schedule. I bought a block of ISBN numbers to definitively tie my books to my business name. I read everything I could on publishing, marketing, and new releases, and I put that knowledge to work marketing my first book, and releasing my second and third. Because everything in my research suggests that those making the most money also have many titles out, I’ve established a publishing schedule that will help me end the year with a decent back list for each of my genres, and a nice beginning catalog for my company (13-14 titles total).

I treat my business like any small business. It requires capital for start-up costs, and I invest my own money (I still work a full-time day job) as needed to build it, though I’m making enough money now from book sales to pay for some of my costs. I fully expect the business to be self-sustaining by this time next year, and to be turning a nice profit within a few more. Will it be enough to live on? Impossible to predict at this point, but I’m optimistic. The more books I have out, the more likely something will really take off, pulling the rest of my titles with it. So my first priority is to write and publish more books, and my second priority is marketing.

That’s my publishing journey, in a fairly large nutshell. It’s not for everyone, but perfect for me.

A full-time webmistress by day, Jamie DeBree writes steamy, action-packed romantic suspense late into the night. Her goal is to create the perfect blend of sensual attraction, emotional tension and fast-paced adventure. Born in Billings Montana, she resides there with her husband and two over-sized lap dogs. She reads in a wide variety of genres including romance, erotica, action/adventure, thriller, horror and literary fiction. Connect with her at http://jamiedebree.com, and find links to her available books at http://brazensnakebooks.com

Monday, April 11, 2011

Keeping Up When Overwhelmed


Thanks to being sick last week, I am behind on my project. To finish it on time, I will have to average about 1500 words a day. The problem is not only is this "errand" week, but I also have to teach a class at the next IWL meeting as well as do some secretary stuff. Then there's my usual blog and networking schedule.

Argh!!! The only thing that comforts me is that I know I'm not alone in this struggle. I know many of you are under tight schedules and deadlines and want to scream at any interruption to the writing. I know you all have bills to pay and many of you have families needing your attention. I know there are pets to feed, dishes to wash, and socks to match.

You have no idea how much that comforts me. Writing is a lonely job, we all know. And I am comforted in the thought that those of you who read this rant understand the struggle. So I dedicate this post to you all and to the busy Monday. Let us all rant and rave and kick Monday's ass and take some names.

Rawr!

P.S. Thanks so much to all of you who helped with my title quandary on Friday. I hope to have a name for this project by the weekend.

Many words to you all!

Friday, April 8, 2011

GRRRR! Titles!


If you'll kindly take a look at the top right progress bar, you'll see that I passed the halfway mark on my WIP. You'll also see that I have yet to come up with a name for it. So, I'm starting to get nervous. :)

Titles are funny things. You use them to grab the reader, and hopefully, an agent or editor. But one thing I learned about the industry is that editors often change a book's title. Why bother giving your book a title then? Because a good one can still grab people and you may get to keep it. And you gotta call it something. That'd be like having kids or pets without names. It's just not right.

Some of my other works were easy to name. I came up with IDOL'S KISS after writing 2 pages and AN IRONIC SACRIFICE came to me after the first chapter. However, BITE ME, YOUR GRACE and WRENCHING FATE were tough. BITE ME, YOUR GRACE was intended to be joke title after writing 40K and still having nothing. But when I mentioned it on Twitter, there was such a positive response to it that it stuck. After awhile it even grew on me.

WRENCHING FATE was originally called BLOOD PROPHECY and neither of those titles came easily.

Maybe you guys can help a little. This will be a category-length contemporary romance that's "sweet" in tone. Here's my basic premise: (keep in mind it's not in query or synopsis form yet)

After losing her baby and marriage, historical romance author Shayna Gray decides to take a walk. She walks for over a thousand miles, finally collapsing outside of a rock concert. Some thugs attack her and she's rescued by famous rock star, Dani Deity. Well, actually his body guards save her and that makes him feel really inept and he's got a "Knight complex" so he takes her in and takes care of her.

Shayna's been emotionally beaten down by grief from the death of her son and her controlling ex husband. Dani's one of those guys that needs to be needed. Because of that, and also because a rock star and author would be a good combo since they can tour together, they're a perfect match. Eventually, they'll figure it out.

As for a title, I like the idea of including something about walking in there, but can't get it to work. I also like the idea of hinting at Dani's modern "knight" persona, but again I'm still lost. Any ideas?

How do you go about choosing a title? What was your hardest one?


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Reading Writer


Short post today, I'm not feeling well. :(

I've always been an avid reader, really it's like a drug addiction. But in these last few years as I've become more serious about writing, I've noticed that my reading experience has really been affected.

Often when reading a story, my mind keeps shifting out of "reader mode" and going back into "Writer mode." I find myself rewriting the author's sentences in my head, disagreeing with the validity of the premise, freezing in place and thinking "This sounds like one of mine!" then reading on, sighing in relief thinking, "Oh good, it's not. They did it differently."

Sometimes I enjoy that because it makes reading a great learning experience, but sometimes it drives me crazy. I miss the days when I could pick up a book and it would be a world between the pages, not a story I KNOW someone labored over.

Does this happen to you too? How does your writing affect your reading?


Monday, April 4, 2011

Your Favorite Book


I am reading IT by Stephen King for the 11th time. Yes, you heard me right. Even though it's not a romance, it is my favorite book. Every time my friends and family see me curled up yet again with the 1138 page tome they shake their heads and ask, "Why do you love that book so much?"

"Because it's awesome!" I'd reply.

Now, I've really been thinking about it. Why do I love IT so much? And how can identifying these reasons help me become a better writer?

I'm finally getting a few answers.

A.) The characters were all outcasts but they became close friends: The Loser's Club. At first I I loved IT because I had little to no friends as a kid, so these characters became my friends. They're still my friends.

Now looking at it with a writer's eye I see that I want my readers to become friends with my characters. Every member of The Loser's Club has a flaw and a virtue, but most importantly, they all have something the reader can identify with.

B.) The setting (1958 Derry, Maine) is so detailed that it's like a character itself. I feel like I go back in time as I visit the landmarks: The creepy run-down house on Neibolt Street where IT takes the form of a leprous hobo, the Derry Standpipe where poor Stan sees the drowned corpses of little boys, the charred remains of the old Derry Ironworks that exploded during an Easter Egg hunt in the 20's, and the Barrens, where the Losers build a club house to hide from the bullies.

As a writer, I want my landmarks to become that real to the reader.

C.) The antagonists. IT is scary enough in itself: a monster that takes the form of whatever you fear and kills little kids. YIKES!!! But that's not all IT is. As you read, it gets deeper and deeper. Then there's the bullies that are determined to make the Losers suffer. Everyone had a bully. I bet even my bullies had bullies.

If I can create villains this compelling and frightening, ::sigh:: if I can do that...

D.) The trials and triumphs of the characters. Your heart alternately bleeds and rejoices for the Losers throughout their story.

I love my characters. So much so that I sometimes don't make them suffer enough. This book reminds me of that.

What is your favorite book, and why? What can it teach you to make your work better?