Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Character Backgrounds

I have been called (on occasion) the “Queen of Character Backgrounds”.

It’s a joke, but it is still true. I love character bios. I love listening to a character in my head telling me their backstory; they tell me in great detail all of their great deeds and misfortunes. I think I have more character bios on my computer than I do stories to put them in. No, scratch that: I don’t think this, I know this.

Every character, be them a main character, a minor character or a bit character has a full bio on my computer. I like to know what makes all of them tick, why they act the way they do, why they have a place in this story. No one is there as filler or fluff. I’m rather meticulous about it; maybe that is why my story is unfinished as of right now, because I am still listening to the back stories.

I’m sure that this is wasted time for most people, if a character is a bit character, a minor player than the effort is time and energy better spent on the main part of the story, but not for me.  Nothing is more frustrating for me than reading a story and being able to tell that the author has no idea why this minor character is doing what he does, I’m not saying that every character needs to have three chapters devoted to backstory, but you can tell when love and care is put into the smallest of characters.

So as December comes to an end and a new year is on the cusp of beginning I am going to focus on keeping my characters well rounded and knowing full well the how’s and why’s of their personality.  I don’t want to write something and have no idea what my characters would say or do in that situation.  So even if it may be a waste of time I will continue with my extensive character bios, it’s just how I roll. And to take a lesson from +Alexandra Webb , research will be a key focus of mine as well. Be it story research, character research, or the final stage of marketing research, all stages are equally important.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Research, Research, Research

So while I sit and wait for inspiration to get passed this super emotional tense scene, I decided to see what the next step would be after I get the book polished and shiny. (What can I say, I'm all for being optimistic) Mia actually let me borrow a book called Quit Your Day Job. It's a resource for self publishing by H.P. Mallory and it was a fantastic read.

I'm not going to turn this into a full on review, not yet, because I haven't had the chance to try the methods suggested. As you can imagine though, the book focuses on what to do after writing and polishing your novel. Helpful tips on what to do for your website, how to make a pleasing appearance on Amazon and BN, social media, and so on. That being said, I realized that, after reading this book, I am going to need to do a lot of research when the book is done. (and I'm not talking about for the book itself, I do that while I write so I don't have a bunch of crap to fix later.)

There are review sites to find, groups on facebook to join, marketing things that I have no idea about. I'm just glad that I'm not on this journey alone, because it can be overwhelming. Though reading the book gave me confidence in being able to be successful in self publishing, I'm still nervous about going this route. Of course it all depends on your definition of being successful, currently my goal is to get my stuff out there for people to read. From there? Who knows.

So the next step after writing and polishing is going to be more research. Woohoo! Who doesn't like research? I'm going to need minions....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SPE: Big Dreams, Losing Focus, and Doubt

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

At any given time I have at least 50 characters talking in my head. Sounds crazy? To some, maybe; but to writers and creators, they know exactly what I am talking about. I could be walking down the aisle at the grocery store, glance at a packaging for green beans and then be hit with a story idea or a character pops into my head. As fun as it may sound in schizophrenia-land, it’s a burden more than a blessing.

I struggle to keep focused when so much is rambling around in my head; jokingly I’ve even asked my husband if I should seek help from the doctor in the form of a Ritalin prescription just so I can focus on my projects. ADD jokes aside, my lack of focus comes from a mix of an over active imagination and being undisciplined in my writing. I have so many ideas typed up in my “idea’s” notebook, my WIP folder on my computer looks like a disaster and I’ve been dubbed “The Queen of first Chapters & Character Design” by my husband, who thinks that writing is easy and who can’t understand why I can’t just pound out a 120,000 word novel by the end of the week.

Oh the joys of being misunderstood, both myself and writing as a whole. Writing isn’t easy, writing and crafting something that is entertaining and well thought out takes time.

My SPE project has hit some snags. Snag #1 is: What the hell am I going to use as my SPE?

Well, let me answer that one for you and me both.

My SPE was supposed to be a story of a wolf and a witch set in Ireland, it was going to be the tie in to an entire series I have in my head. I did say “supposed to be”? Yes I did, when the characters refuse to speak to you, you just can’t force it and those two did not and still do not want to speak to me right now. Project scraped.  

Next on the agenda was going to be my Fallen Angel’s story, but I have decided that his tale might be a little too dark for reader. This, as you will see, is definitely becoming a theme for me. His story would be a prequel to a demon huntress story that is a mix of Religious conspiracy theories, demonology 101, a pinch of world history and so much sex it should probably come with an NC-17 rating. So, that option probably wouldn’t be good either for a first time self-published author.

Option 3, my baby. The story that I am dying to write, a tale of two characters bound together throughout time, forced to never be together until- well, you know, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for everyone. The only problem with that one is I am so emotionally invested in these characters that I find them hard to write at times. If I am stressed out over real life issues, then I can’t focus on them, they are so tightly wound around every fiber of my DNA that they respond as I respond.  Crazy, I know. But the mental hospital doesn’t have any rooms available to the “author and her characters who can’t seem to get themselves on track” and sadly the deadline is looming.

So the final word on what my SPE is going to be is: Option 3, unless I can be convinced that readers actually do like a twisted, dark, smutty story as much as I do in which case I will be using my Paranormal Erotica story involving Angels, Demons, and the Church.

Either way, focus is needed. Both projects are continually open in my WIP folder, so they should both be seeing an increase in word count throughout the next couple of months.

Snag #2: Novella vs. Novel

For the entire month of November I have agonized over this. The only conceivable answer is: Write the story (which ever it may be) and whatever it ends up at is what I go with. ß-- I think this might be my shortest answer ever to a question.

So, was there a point to my blog post this week?

Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. This post is mainly a little note to me, to remind myself not to get hung up on the little details. I lose focus when I stress, when I worry, when I become overwhelmed. We all, at some point, are plagued with self-doubt. When the stakes are high, when it is a dream that we desire above all else, when we are truly afraid of failing- That is when we run the risk of listening to those internal voices that try to bring us down, and it is at those moments when we need to reach out and ask for help. For me, help comes in the form of friends and fellow writers like Alexandra who help get me back on task and help keep me focused.  

My dreams are big and they scare the hell out of me, but if I give in to doubt then I will be in agony for not having tried. So, regardless of the snags I encounter, I will keep going until I finish. The only way I will truly fail is if I never try in the first place.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SPE update from Alexandra

It's been so long for an update, and I'm sorry for that. Life some times gets away from us and there are times when life must come before writing. I'm sure a lot of you can sympathize. I didn't have a particular topic in mind for today, so I thought I'd give you a personal update.

I have chosen, titled, and written part of, my SPE. I also used my SPE for my NaNoWriMo, and though I hit 50,000 words, the story isn't anywhere near finished yet. I would say a little over half way there. In Black and White came alive a lot more than I expected and the characters had different ideas than I originally planned. (Which is fine, because I plan loose enough for that.) I didn't, however, plan for it to be as long as it's going to end up being, but it needs to be that way.

Balancing this with another Nano project and my life proved to be a challenge. There were times when I was not in the mood to write this particular story and yet I forced myself to keep going. With Mia's help I realized that I could actually do this. Write something out side my normal genre and actually have it be decent. (I use the word decent, because most first drafts are crap...but we can polish crap. Thank you Mythbusters for proving that one.)

So onwards I go with a new glow to my confidence that I didn't have before Nano. I'm hoping to have In Black and White ready to be released by June. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Heartwood Box: A Fairy Tale

Review: 3 stars (out of five)

Okay, so I'm all for good sex in a book, but I do like a little bit of plot with my porn, cause I'm that kind of girl. This book was suggested to me by a friend, because it is a BDSM based book and that is what my SPE is. The Heartwood Box, written by Lilia Ford, at least had some BDSM ideas, control, bondage, punishment, reward, which was nice to see. The book is based in a fantasy world, so I didn't expect there to be any accuracy to the actual Lifestyle.

As far as plot, there wasn't really any. The first part of it moved slow, but it at least had a point to it. The characters met, they found that they were fated together and they married. After the marriage, you got a brief glimpse of a war that was supposed to be going between the Fae and the Demons, which could have been expanded on much more instead of used to only to get Damien out of the way so Genevieve was left alone with Derek on of Damien's brothers). The idea of the Heartwood box itself was fascinating and was executed well, a little more description of it would have been nice, because I was envisioning a small box, but this was supposed to big enough to hold a riding crop and a few other large items. There were a couple big time jumps that felt like the author just didn't have anymore information to put in there.

The male characters could have been better, they were hot, they were brothers and they were all doms. Three doms in a household, poor Genevieve. Though, there's not much else a girl could ask for, really. Each had their own part to play, but the two older ones (Damien and Derek) could have been developed better. Damien's reasons came from a tragedy in the past, which is where Derek's anger came from (at least from what I understood), but that's really as far as it went. Donald (the third brother) had the most personality to him, and I believe that was probably the intention of the author since he was not 'scared' by the tragedy). Genevieve did have more back story than most female character, however no reason was really given for her 'demon' (which is what makes her crave extreme pain).

Writing wise, it wasn't bad, and for being self-published it was polished and didn't have any weird errors, or formatting issues. The sex scenes were awesome, but the 'plot' parts were slow moving and very much all tell and no show. I did enjoy it, but it showed potential for more plot and better characters. If you like more porn than plot, pick it up, if you want an easy, sexy read, go for it and enjoy.

Buy the book:
Find the author here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Since I've been struggling with the plot for my SPE and bits and pieces are showing up here and there, I decided to turn my attention to a blog post. I talked to a friend over the week briefly about support, granted it was in a completely different context than writing, but support is always needed.

Without support as a writer you can flounder, get lost, and well give up. It has taken me years to surround myself with a proper support system, there used to be people around me who would claim, "Sure, I'll help you out." then disappear. When I say support, I'm not talking about money or even a tone of time. Here are some examples on how to support someone while writing, these come from my life.

Spouse: Ask how it's going, bring me a cup of coffee/tea while I'm writing, handle the child for a little bit, or find a way to give me some time alone to write. (My husband doesn't read any of the genres I write, therefore reading is not on the list.)

Friend: Ask how it's going, offer to read and give feed back, don't disappear when you offer,  or just read. If your writer friends are published, buy the book/story/novella, that is support.

Writer friend: Ask how it's going, (see a theme here?) offer to write together, if you're in the same town go somewhere to write, swap stories, offer feed back with everything, or bounce ideas off each other.

Family: Ask how it's going, give them space and time, bring them coffe/tea/beverage of choice, or encourage them with something.

As an author, support yourself, celebrate your success, no matter how small. Try not to give into your ruts, your doubts and your fears. Hard, I know and the support of other people is important as well. I don't know where I'd be without the support I've had, but either way...keep your head up and keep going. Some times you have to seek out your own support not wait until it comes to you.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Whispers of Murder

Review: 2 1/2 stars (out of five)

It’s a good thing I bought Whispers of Murder for free, a promotion from the author Cheryl Bradshaw on twitter, because I wouldn’t have been happy about spending $2 on it. I was aware it was a novella when I purchased it and I had read some of the reviews. The reviews were mixed, some saying that there were bad typos and others that were singing praise. There was an author note saying that originally the wrong file was uploaded and that the problem was fixed, so I gave it the benefit of doubt. 

It wasn’t the writing that made this a poor read for me, it was the plot line. Even in a novella, I expect mysteries to be just that, mysteries. There wasn’t a whole lot of solving in this book and it had almost every cliche known to the amateur detective genre. (If this wasn’t supposed to be an amateur detective book, I’m not exactly sure what it was supposed to be.) It only left you guessing “who did it” because of the massive amount of characters shoved into the story.

The characters weren’t fantastic, they weren’t unique enough to remember and I couldn’t really care about them. Even in a novella I expect good characters, maybe I’m picky, but if you can’t make me care about the characters why should I read it? 

I read this in one sitting, which was a plus of novellas, and there wasn’t any glaring typos like some of the reviews said, but I can’t figure out how this book made it into the top 100 of Amazon’s mysteries list. A quick and easy read, somewhat enjoyable, but not highly recommended. 

Buy the book:
Find the author here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: What a Boy Wants

Review: 5 (out of 5) Stars

I have to admit, I was surprised when I picked up this book. Like many people, I enjoy an easy to read young adult novel, but lately they all seem the same. What a Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn came to my attention from a friend of a friend, perfectly priced for my budget ($0.99) I was quick to pick it up. Two days later I was stunned that this was a self published novel. Yes, I knew this before I started reading, but it read so well and it was so polished I could tell that the author put a lot of work into it.

First thing that drew me into this book was that it’s written from the boy’s point of view. Yep, that’s right, a YA from the male perspective and it’s done well. Sebastian is a very well rounded character, a high school kid who has motives behind what he does and what he believes. It was refreshing to hear from the guys’ side for once in a YA romance and not from a forlorn, helpless, female.  

Nyrae doesn’t fall into the easy trap of making a flat characters. Oh no, far from it. What I loved about the characters were that I could pin point each on as someone I knew in high school.  The reader can still relate to the characters without the tactics of the author using empty and vague characters. Even Sebastian’s mother has a story to tell. These are not your cookie cutter characters and that was a relief to find. 

I don’t want to spoil anything in the story itself, but I will say that this was well worth the dollar that I spent on it, and more. I honestly never expected a self-published book to be so polished and so professional. The story line was interesting, the characters lovable. I growled at the book, I laughed, and I was damn near crying at one scene. This one is a highly recommended book for those who like to read YA romance. 

Support an indie author and check it out!

Check out Nyrae Dawn here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Finding Time To Write

Like most aspiring authors I have a hectic life. It's chalked full of kids, significant others, animals, school, work, bills that don’t pay themselves, doctors appointments, family gatherings and a whole slew of distractions that make it difficult to get in some uninterrupted writing time.

I swear my children must have a little device implanted in their brains that alerts them every time  mom sits down to write. As soon as I boot up Scrivener the shenanigans begin with yelling, fighting, name calling and tears. In time, you, like every other sleep deprived parent out there learn to tune those sounds out, for the most part. But even tuning out the kids, finding time to write can seem damn near impossible.

~insert long pause… two weeks later~

*points up* See, life is distracting… So here is my point, no matter how distracting life gets NEVER GIVE UP. Keep writing, even if you have put your project down and haven’t touched it in months, pick it up, dust it off and keep going. Writing just five words is five words more than you would have had if you hadn’t picked up that pencil and paper or opened that laptop.

If this is what you want to do with your life, if you want to share your stories with the world (or even just a handful of friends) you have to stop saying “I don’t have the time.” Because let’s be honest, you do have the time. Sure other things are important but if you can tap away playing Angry Birds for an hour on your iPhone (*points to self* Guilty as charged), then you obviously have a little bit of down time to write.

So this isn’t some  “10 ways to find more time to write” blog post. You will find no pointers here, only the truth as I see it. No one said you needed 5 hours a day of uninterrupted silence to write. Carve out what you can, five minutes here, thirty minutes there. For me, every little bit counts, eventually I will reach my goal. And so will you.

And here’s a little bit of tough love for any procrastinators out there like me: If it is a priority then you will find the time.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Let me first say this: not everyone's creative process is the same and not everyone draws ideas from the same places. This post is to give you an insite to where my ideas come from and how it starts off my creative process. That being said, let's begin.

Photo thanks to hang_in_there
Every story has to start somewhere, normally that is an idea. Most of the time, for me, it's with a character. A little voice starts speaking in my head coaxing me to pay attention to it, from there it tells me who it belongs to. Sometimes a scene plays in my head over and over until I can find out about the characters and why they are in this situation. Occasionally, I get it wrong and we're back to square one.

As stated in No Plot, No Problem (by Chris Baty) it's the characters that make the story, not the plot. I don't 100% agree with this, but it's a great starting point. Personally, in all genres I write I like to have a strong lead character. As a reader books that use, what I refer to as, "pants syndrome" (thank you to The Oatmeal) (i.e. Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, I used these two as an example because 1)Twilight is the example to Oatmeal uses and 2) Both are different genres, but widely read.) bother me. Sure this writing tool can and will instantly grab most  readers. It's an easy, and lazy, way to get a reader to identify with the main character. I strive to use the tool of 'suspending disbelief' mixed with strong characters to achieve the same effect. No cardboard characters here. (I believe Mia is going to do a blog later on about character back story soon.)

So I have characters, now what?

Now it's time to work on the plot. That scene that plays over and over in my head is currently a short glimpse of a man explaining to a crowd what submission is. He has a name, the woman he's using for demonstration does not. I concentrated on that scene to figure out what this was supposed to mean. As I thought more and more on it, the scene became clearer. Once I finish getting the scene idea complete, I'll start outlining.

Yes, I am an outliner. I don't get very detailed, I just jot down what I want each scene to do and then leave it up to the characters. Once the plot is loosely down, then I will start writing. I carry around a notebook for random ideas, I have a pin board to use for timelines, series and character points that are important.

That's how my ideas come to life. Anything can trigger that little voice. Some times it's as simple as zoning and drinking coffee. Once I had an idea strike me at the movie theater while running to the restroom. (As to not miss too much of the show.) I'll run with and idea when I have one, I adapt if the characters demand that it be changed, but an idea is always my first step.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New and Shiny

A new and shiny blog! Let me explain briefly what this blog is for. Mia and I have decided to see what it takes to make it as a self-published author. We will both be documenting our experiences (from beginning to end) of attempting to be successful as self-published authors. There will be book reviews and interviews here as well in hopes that this blog can act as a resource for others planning on pursuing the self published route. Wish us luck! There will be more content soon to come.