Tuesday, September 17, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit

Brand. What's your brand? Be on-brand.Stay true to your brand.

But what is brand?

Basically, it's tags that identify the person behind the work being branded. These days, you have to brand everything from your particular art style to what kind of employee you represent to a potential employer.

My biggest challenge, writing romantic comedy/paranormal romance/urban fantasy/hard science fiction/steamy romance was finding my brand. Because it's all over the board, isn't it?

Isn't it?

Maybe not so much.

I may have already shared this but it bears a reshare. Find your brand's voice with this fun exercise.

I started Diana's first step, crossing out those adjectives that don't apply to my stories. Whew! Identifying what I'm not is a whole lot easier than figuring out what I am. I'm still not completely done. But some of the remaining adjectives that stand out are...

Wild. Witty. Unique. Upbeat. Fierce. Exciting.

If you're struggling with your author brand, I suggest you give this technique a try.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

Engaging Readers--originally posted February 3, 2016.

Authors are told to read, read, read. I have to admit, between my own writing, studying how to write better, practicing flute, doing bills, keeping up with the house (well, not keeping up, more like running madly behind, trying to get within spitting distance...but at least my sink is clean :) ), making dinner, shopping, laundry...um, etc (substitute for me getting whiny, lol)--ANNNYWAY, I don't get to read for pleasure very often.

Always hopeful I might find a few minutes to enjoy a book, when I visit my library, I browse the New Release shelves. Last month, I found a book by an author I'd read a long time ago (but stopped reading), and picked it up. When I was sick the next day, I actually found time to read it.

It was SERIOUSLY good.

Hey, it might have been the fever. But I started another by the same author and it was also seriously good.

So, you probably have two questions. What's the book, and why did reader-me lose track of the series (and what's different about it now)?

The author is Lindsey Davis and the original series was Marcus Didius Falco, a private informer (i.e. detective) in Rome during the first century AD.

The new book is Deadly Election: A Flavia Albia Mystery (blurb at the end), continuing the Falco series with his daughter Flavia Albia.

Why did I enjoy the Falco series originally?
  • Well written.
  • I like stories that I can painlessly learn something (through the action). These stories are well researched, yet her research was represented in vivid interaction with the time and place, not dry facts.
  • A love interest who does NOT get tossed to the side or murdered (this is a pet peeve).
  • I like mysteries.
  • Good editing (bad editing is also a pet peeve).
  • Character was mostly driven by intelligent choices in difficult circumstances rather than making bad decisions to further the plot (aka not too stupid to live, another pet peeve).

Why did I lose track of the series?

I think it's because Falco was, in a way, too well written. He's a guy, and to me, he came across as a guy. Even though there's a love interest, she's left in the background a lot. And he still ogles and stuff. And does some guy stuff that is mildly interesting but not completely relatable to me (I do enjoy some traditionally guy stuff, like sword and armor making).

(Please note, this is from my memory of the books. I may be misremembering, but since I'll be rereading some of the earlier ones now, I'll update if I get more info.)

So what's different about this book?

The new series is about Falco's daughter, a widow living on her own, already meaty enough. But more, she's an adopted Briton with no known past, so she's a mystery and a bit of outsider even though she's totally accepted by her adoptive family. Her family has money, but she doesn't, except what she earns. She's capable and smart and kind but strong. She's a woman so she notices stuff like jewelry and makeup and how a home is put together and gives observations on women's roles in society from a woman's point of view, stuff I find I'm more interested in than the guy stuff.

And, good heavens, Flavia Albia's observations are witty. Love 'em!

The Falco series was good but I didn't identify strongly enough with the main character and the middle action wasn't quite compelling enough (for me). As an author I'd like to think readers will cut me some slack, but as a reader I know there are too many books out there that satisfy two or three out of the following four factors.

Bottom line: as many as possible of THESE FACTORS need to be met for me to engage as a reader: a STORY I want to read; a CHARACTER I can relate to (doesn't have to be the main character, but does need to be in enough of the story action that I don't put the book down); few-to-no PET PEEVES knocking me out of the story; ENGAGING ACTION (that is, character doing stuff that I care about).

We use the tag words genre, character, good writing, and plot for the four things above. I think to some extent those words have been leached of meaning and hope the ones I've used make more vivid pictures in your mind.

Notice how many of these things are dependent on the reader? We like to think, as authors, we're in a lonely profession. But the truth of the matter is all art is collaborative, and stories rely on what the reader brings to the table as much as any stage production's success depends on audience mood.

What about you? What makes you lose track of a series? What makes a series a keeper?

Deadly Election: A Flavia Albia Mystery

In the first century A.D., during Domitian's reign, Flavia Albia is ready for a short break from her family. So despite the oppressive July heat, she returns to Rome, leaving them at their place on the coast. Albia, daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, the famed private informer (now retired), has taken up her father's former profession, and it's time to get back to work. The first order of business, however, is the corpse that was found in a chest sent as part of a large lot to be sold by the Falco family auction house. As the senior family representative in Rome, it falls upon Albia to identify the corpse, find out why he was killed, who killed him, and, most important, how did it end up in the chest.

At the same time, her potential young man, Faustus, comes looking for help with his friend Sextus's political campaign. Between the auction business and Roman politics, it's not quite clear which one is the more underhanded and duplicitous. Both, however, are tied together by the mysterious body in the chest, and if Albia isn't able to solve that mystery, it won't be the only body to drop.

Kindle | Nook | Kindle UK | Also available in hardcover and paperback (and audio at Amazon.com)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

September 1T Status Update

School has started again! I'm eking out what writing time I can from lambda expressions and distributed Java. It isn't much, but I did get this status update put together :)

September news:

  • Big sale coming just in time for Halloween! Mark your calendar October 28-November 4. More information next month.
  • Hear the author play piccolo! 2019 American Legion band contest.
  • Night's Kiss edits turned in! Cover request sheet filled out and turned in. Hopefully we'll see something online by October.
  • Night's Bliss proposal package just about ready! My beta reader needs to look at the first three chapters and then I need to do a final pass over the whole thing. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit-The ONE WAY to write

The Writer's Journey, On Writing, The Elements of Style, Writing the Breakout Novel, Save the Cat, Swing the Bear...

Do you get confused reading all those titles promising you THE ONE AND ONLY WAY to craft a story that sells/wins awards/wins readers? Have you despaired figuring out the ONE WAY to write?

There is a refreshing post on story structure I wish I'd read before I started writing. The idea that one size does NOT fit all is life affirming (or at least writer-life affirming). The reasons why you want to do the One Way anyway are sound. The sarcasm is a bonus.

Here's the Three Act structure, explained by William P. Coleman in a way that works. Bonus, it uses Star Wars: A New Hope to explain.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

photo credit: FOR HUMANS ONLY via photopin (license)
More-than-Human Characters and Why I Love Them--Guest Author Roxy Mews--originally posted January 21, 2016.

Roxy has a great flow to her writing that I wish I could do. She makes even the most fantastic situations feel absolutely concrete through her natural, up-to-the-millisecond style. Today she's sharing a bit of how she makes that happen. Please welcome my friend Roxy Mews!
In fiction we play with extreme situations, because really, no one wants to read about the big strong hero folding laundry. (Although I would definitely pay to see that in real life.) And in playing with these extreme situations we want to have our characters react in fantastical ways.

In certain genres we have even more room to play. If we are writing about a vampire, we can show how he feels by the way he moves or the way his body reacts to another person. When my hero, Jake Meyers, is in deep thought his body ceases all movement, including breathing and blood flow.

My heroine in Coral-600, uses CPU’s to transmit reports to the lab she was created in, and certain bodily reactions cause very interesting data to be transmitted. This allowed me to give specific data to those in charge of her to prove her humanity in quantifiable ways.

And if we want something to happen for a story line, even if it’s not “believable” we can alter the world we are building to make it believable. We still have to follow lines of continuity and we still have to follow the rules we have laid out for our universe, but it’s our world to play with when we’re writing in Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, or SciFi.

Characters don’t always act the way I want them to. And there have been some instances where I have had to go back to the beginning of a manuscript and change major parts of the world, because the character I want wouldn’t exist otherwise.

When that happens I am usually in a corner rocking and hoping the editing fairy will visit me and fix the mess I wrote myself into. Turns out the editing fairy doesn’t exist and after a substantial glass of wine I get myself under control and fix it my darn self.

My books revolve around my characters, and creating worlds in which I can give them their happily ever afters. So when my character needs to be able to use mind control, I have to make him a vampire capable of compulsion. When my character needs to have the ability to smell someone from across the street, I make him a werewolf with heightened senses.

So far I’ve played with Vampires, Werewolves, Hybrids, Witches, and Robots. They all have had different stories to tell, but it was a blast letting them show me their worlds. I can’t wait to see where my characters take me next.

What is your favorite paranormal character to read or write about?

Roxy's latest in The DMA Files series, Interlocking Hearts, is available now!

AmazonBarnes and Noble iBooksGoogle Play | Samhain Publishing StoreKOBO

InterlockingHearts72lg (1)A human, an almost-human, and a more-than-human walk into a palace…

The DMA Files, Book 2

After her husband threw her out, Paisley Compton drew her sexuality around her like a shield. She finds solid ground as a palace maid until, during a formal dinner service, she trips onto the lap of a man who takes her breath away.

Ben has always known Jon is far more than property, and he jumps at the chance to get the android his certificate of humanity. Paisley—whose abilities far exceed her job title—is a welcome distraction from the bureaucracy.

Used and abused by his former owners, Jon trusts no one—particularly the smartass woman who’s caught Ben’s eye. He might not be certified human yet, but he has all the right parts to get to the bottom of this sexy mystery wrapped in a maid’s uniform.

Their attraction sparks unexpected new conduits among them, but when they realize Jon’s certificate comes with a terrible price, they must risk everything to foil an Anti-Mech plot—and hope they survive to lose themselves in each other’s arms.

Product Warnings

Overheating is likely. The mechanics in these pages require ample lubrication to perform at optimum levels. When possible, multiple system operators are recommended.

Roxy wrote her first story at age six on an electric typewriter. It was about a cat and a haunted house. Thankfully, her stories and technology have matured since then. Now Roxy spends her days fighting the evil day job in hopes of conquering the stories that run rampant in her head when she comes home at night. When she discovered Erotic Romance, Roxy fell in love. She can’t wait to share all her fun and sexy stories with everyone. To connect with Roxy Mews find her babbling on Twitter, friend her on Facebook, visit her Blog, or find all these links on RoxyRocksMe.com

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

1T Status Update-August

Three months to go! Night's Kiss is in edits this month, and I've got the first draft of the proposal package done for Night's Bliss, Elias's story. I'm seriously excited to finally bring this all together and get it in your hands!

This month:
  • Atlanta's Angel (Vampire Vignettes) releases
  • Reread of Assassin's Bite (Biting Love) Even the shadows fear him—how can any woman love him?
  • Classes start again (4 this semester, see you on the other side!)

Atlanta's Angel (Vampire Vignettes)

I’m Detective Leah Mackenzie, a human with the Atlanta PD. My partner and I are investigating the graveyard homicide of a young woman when arrogant master of the city Michael Obsidian stalks onto the scene.

Obsidian declares my case vampire business. Human hands off.

Tightly furious, I follow him to his lair to convince him he’s wrong. Yeah, I confront the strongest freaking vampire in the state, so what? My heart’s pounding in fear, too—bloodsuckers, even the lawful ones, are predators governed by deadly instincts born at the dawn of time. But Mom always said to do what was right, even if I had to go it alone. I need to get justice for the victim.

Then I get a lead on the killer that takes me straight into wild vampire territory, and going it alone threatens to turn me into the next homicide.

Special note to Biting Love fans—This isn't the Biting Love Universe. This is a short, first-meet story in a post-Unmasking universe. While there's sensual tension, it's meant for general audiences. There are vampires and snark, though. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Vampire Vignettes. Short. Scintillating. First, exciting meets between an apex master vampire and the human woman who lights his life for the first time in centuries. Each story features a vampire master of the city and the woman who charms (or fights or snarks) her way into his life.

Universal link to see more here.