Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Writing Life

Writing looks so romantic. A lot of people think it’s a cushy job and that we sit in front of a computer all day and just dream up stuff.

Yeah. I wish.

A member of my street team was visiting with me and we were talking about my books and the things I have to do every day. She watched me do promo – I was working on it when she walked in the door and I had to finish. Yes, I had a guest. And yes, I have to work.

Just as she was leaving, she made a suggestion: Tell people what you do. What your life is like. What it takes to be an author, especially an indie author. So here goes.

Three days a week I do promo. That consists of posting through Hootsuite to Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Then I have to go and post that post from my Facebook timeline to groups specifically for promo. That takes me about an hour.

I also do this blog post every Saturday and it goes to my street team page. From there, they take it and do their magic.

Speaking of which, I have a street team. They’re awesome. Really, really awesome. So shout out to Deanndra’s Construction Crew! I try to spend some time with them when I can.

I spent a good part of this last week designing swag. Then ordering swag. Then looking at the prices and having a stroke. Then getting a beer and trying to forget.

I do a blog post every Wednesday to feature a book that I’ve really liked. It’s not a review – it’s a chance for me to expose people who read my blog to books they might not otherwise know about. I don’t have to, but I usually talk to the author and tell them what I’m going to do so they can tell others to read it. I also ask them for a high-resolution cover shot I can put on the post so it’s really attractive.

I read a lot. I usually read in my genre, but sometimes I read other genres just to see how they’re constructed. That’s a real learning experience, especially if it’s paranormal or supernatural. That also gives me fodder for the Wednesday posts. Because of that, it’s important. I also believe that to write, you have to read, so I do, as often as possible.

I talk to my promo people. I have the best promo people in the world. We plot and strategize. It’s fun, but it’s time-consuming.

I have to design and buy a banner to use at signings. I design the banner. I redesign the banner. I order the banner, then have sticker shock, and then have another beer just because I can.

I write. I try to write. If I have time.

There is a lot of time spent looking for author events and sending out interest forms. Then I pray that I get in. Most of the time, I don’t get in. Maybe indie events, yeah, but others are populated by writers whose publishers bought blocks of tables, or they were there the previous year. You’d think they’d want new blood, but no. So there you have it.

I attend all kinds of things that will give me exposure or help me in the craft. I know some of you think your writing is so damn good that you don’t need that but, trust me, EVERYONE could use help in that arena. The ones of you who think your writing is so good that you don’t need a workshop or retreat are the exact ones who do. As I’m writing this, I’m rolling down the road with another writer, headed to my RWA chapter’s monthly meeting two and a half hours from my home. It’s the closest. That’s sad but true.

I do takeovers. For those of you who don’t know what that is, if someone is having a cover reveal, or a release, or any other type of event, they take a day or days or hours or whatever they want, divide it up, and give slots to authors or bloggers or anyone who will draw attention to them. During my slot, we play games like captioning a funny picture or finishing a sentence, and I award prizes. They’re not big prizes, but they’re good. And we have fun, so much fun, in fact, that I get asked to do them a lot. But it gets my name out there.

I talk to other authors. I actually try to help some of them. Some thank me. Some ask for help and never thank me. Some ask for help and it’s obvious they’re not listening; those don’t get any more of my time.

And there’s much, much more. Doesn’t sound particularly romantic, now does it? It’s not a lot of fun. But the research sure is fun!

P.S. My mobile hotspot isn't working, so I'm out in a library hallway, squatted down in front of a tiny little table because it was the only way I could get a signal to load this post. Ah, the things we do for the craft!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Reads: One to Hold by Tia Louise

If you’re here, you probably already know what I write, but in case you don’t, well, let me just define it this way: There is no word too “dirty” for my work. No, I don’t write erotica and erotic romance all the time, and not all of it is raw and scary, but a good deal of it is. When I read, I usually read in that vein, not always as raw, but still along those lines. So I don’t know how I came across it, but I found this read last year and decided to give it a go. Even though the sex wasn't as crazy and hot as that to which I've grown accustomed, I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Tia Louise was an unknown name to me. I bought the book blind. I have no idea how I did that. Maybe it was one of those “customers who bought this also bought that” things. I find a lot of books that way. However I found it, there it was on my iPad while I was sitting at the garage waiting for a ton of stuff to be done to my SUV. I wondered if it would be interesting enough to keep my attention.

And I didn’t stop that day until I’d finished it.

One to Hold is a story about wrong assumptions, misunderstandings, and eventual resolution. The first thing that drew me in was the point of view: First person past tense. Editors and publishers will tell you not to write in first person, that readers won’t read it, that it won’t sell. To that I call bullshit. FSOG is first person. I’ve read a lot of really good first person over the last year. I wrote a book in first person; matter of fact, I wrote four, and I’ve got seven or more waiting for me, all of which will be written in first person, and a great many of them in present tense. (If you want to do something that will have your shoulders in knots, write in present tense. It’s not for the faint of heart.) Lots of books are being written that way, and I, quite frankly, like them much better than third person. That said, I was glad to see this one written in this voice, and Tia did it well. It wasn’t stiff or odd at all. It was very comfortable.

The second thing that cemented the read for me was the likability of the protagonists. I’ve read quite a few books over the last few years that had protagonists I could never really care about. To me, that is the epitome of poor writing. I can forgive a lot of things, but that I cannot. If you can’t pull together a couple of characters I can have some kind of emotion for, don’t bother. That said, I really liked both the male and female protagonists in this book. Tia did a very good job of character building, not as detailed as I usually prefer, but still good compared to others I’ve read (I like lots of detail on my characters). Besides, let's face it: It's first person. How many people are going to fill you in on their own details? Only narcissists. That said, I knew enough about the female protagonist, Melissa, to want to choke her when she got on that plane, even though I knew she had to. And I knew enough about the male protagonist, Derek, to know something was going on there that no one could guess.

And with that, I’m going to tell you my favorite aspect of this book. I’m not into spoilers. I just don’t do them. And I don’t think this will be one. But I have to say, the first time Derek told Melissa “thank you,” my heart melted into a puddle. There was something about the way Tia handled that scene that left me saying, “Oh, my god, that poor guy.” And those of you who read my work know what I’m going to say next, don’t you?

Derek? Yes - he’s Vic. He couldn’t be more like Vic. He’s the big, tough, strong guy who’s really soft and warm and cuddly. And you know he’s carrying a load of pain – it just smacks you in the face from the very first time you’re introduced to him. You know it, just know it, and you’re waiting to find out what it is, how bad it is, how deep it runs, how broken your heart will be when you find out. You’re hoping that she won’t just leave. You’re hoping he’s gambled soundly. And so you wait.

Let me just say, you won’t be disappointed. Even though this was a slightly softer read than I usually pick up (oh, yes, the word "cock" gets used more than a few times, so I'm good with it), I was so not disappointed that when I finished One to Hold, I immediately one-clicked One to Keep. More about that later. But first, jump into this sweet little read and let it work its magic on you. I guarantee that it will.

A huge thanks to Tia for sending over the high-resolution cover art to go with this piece.