Books

Characters and Settings: How I Keep It Together #MFRWAuthors

I stumbled around for a long time trying to work out a system of getting characters and settings settled in my mind. I usually start with an actor who could play the character I have in mind. Being able to see real people makes their physical characteristics easier to describe.But after awhile I tended to mix them up with other characters in the book—or even another book. Sometimes I totally forget what I’ve written. My haphazard records didn’t ensure that my characters eye color or hair didn’t change from one page to the next. In 2009, everything changed. I discovered a book called Break Into Fiction by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love. I worked through all the exercises and pulled all my notes together. I didn’t have to generate new information about my characters but this book gave me a record keeping system.

Since then I’ve looked at several systems for creating characters and settings but none have been as helpful as this book. Moreover, I attended two weekend workshops with Ms. Buckham which cleared up questions I had.

I’m afraid I’m not as particular about settings. The ones in my books tend to be real places I have been or seen. For example, Zander’s apartment in House of the Rising Son is modeled after Brian Kinney’s loft in Queer as Folk. Although I may change a few things, having concrete places in mind keeps me from having settings change constantly.

Today when I have a new plot percolating, one of the first things I do is to pull out my copy of Break Into Fiction and tackle those worksheets. I may not come up with all the answers when I start but this system reminds me that I need to know them to finish.

Finishing a Book: Complex Endings and Beginnings

I have friends who throw parties when their manuscript is finished. One even rented a hall, catered it, and signed books for the occasion. Others unceremoniously set it aside and start the next one. And others who throw up their hands in exasperation and declare they are sick of the whole thing, refusing to look at it again. I have elements of each of those extreme reactions, with a healthy dose of relief that comes completing a big project that is personally significant, and a little bit of grief that it's over. Not that I ever finish a manuscript. Rather, I am more likely to have it taken from me before I “edit all the life out of it”. Even after it has been sent off to the editor, I am likely to keep rewriting it in my mind.My best luck at letting go seems to be when I can bury myself in a new project. I keep a notebook of ideas and rely on a gem inside to intrigue me enough to pull me away.

There is so much that has to happen to successfully launch a book I am not sure how anyone finds the time to celebrate at all. And because for me, writing is something I'm driven to do, have no choice but to do, I forget what a monumental accomplishment completing a novel truly is. Going forward, I plan to honor my achievement by buying myself something nice. Some possibilities?

  • A Barnes and Noble shopping Spree
  • An Amazon gift card
  • A new tote bag
  • A fancy pen
  • A fancy journal
  • Chocolate

Hmm. Now that I look at these all in a row like that, it seems what I want for finishing a book includes only books and writing related things. Which bring me right back to writing. Oh, well.

Yes. Chocolate is involved. Chocolate is always involved. #don'tjudgeme

I Can Hardly Imagine Worse

I don't understand negative book reviews, and I have never been compelled to write one. If a book doesn't click with me, it doesn't click with me. Maybe if the book were racist, sexiest, and undecipherable, maybe I'd think that it would benefit society to hear my opinion. Otherwise, I recognize that nothing pleases everyone so if I read a book I don't like, I move on to the next book. My opinion about negative reviews was, unfortunately, exacerbated by my very worst one. You see, my worst review was also my FIRST review.

That's right. The very first review I received for my debut novel, HOUSE OF THE RISING SON, was a 1-star review. And it gets worse. The reviewer remarked, "I admit it. I skimmed it." She went on to say that she didn't like the main characters.

She hadn't even read it.

I am a realist. I hadn't expected the world to fall in love with me at first reading. I didn't think I was the next Laurell K. Hamilton. I just hoped some folks would find my book and enjoy the story, maybe connect with my characters. I knew that a book about a bisexual incubus with kids and a screwed up childhood wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. Still, I couldn't have anticipated that someone who "skimmed" the book would be so publicly and permanently negative. Yes, 1-star reviews are permanent. They affect an overall rating in a way that is difficult to overcome, mathematically speaking. Fortunately, I'm surrounded by kind, generous, and experienced authors who talked me off of the ledge. I recall, in particular, a letter from syndicated columnist and author Vicki Williams. Her words of support and encouragement meant (and still mean) so much to me.

For giggles I read the 1-star reviews of my favorite books.Doing so helped me to understand something about the review process. Since nothing pleases everyone and we live in a world where the internet makes it easy for people to express all sorts of views, negative reviews are the cost of being a writer. Our work is public, therefore opinions about it will be too. It is also clear to me that most people don't understand the ramifications of negative reviews and consequently don't hesitate to give a very low rating for peculiar reasons. For instance:

  • "I skimmed it."  How do you know if it was good or bad?
  • "I hated the cover." Not a commentary on the story.
  • "Just got the book, I'll change the review after I read it." No. Just no.
  • "Not the type of book I care to read." And that deserves a low rating?
  • "I skipped every scene this character was in...The book was confusing." Of course it was confusing.

Overtime, House of the Rising Son received more reviews, including many 4 and 5-star accolades. The fact that readers enjoy Cheyenne's story (and find him as sexy as I do) is encouraging, and has strengthened my commitment to continue writing. I do still read my reviews (can't help myself) but I take them for what they are: One person's experience. Bad reviews are going to happen. So are good ones.

If I Could Just Talk to Them #MFRWAuthor #book #authors

The list of writers I would like to meet and talk with is long. I’ve always been an avid reader and was lucky enough to discover Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, Anne MCCaffery, and Ursula LeGuin as relatively new writers. But before them, I had fallen under the spell of Andre Norton. Born Alice Mary Norton, she wrote at a time when publishers believed only boys read science fiction, and obviously only males could write it. She wrote other books under pen names Allen Norton or Allen Weston. Her juvenile fiction usually featured an outsider who survives challenges and becomes the hero figure, saving the day. This “rites of passage” theme appealed a broad audience making her a best seller to adults also. My love of “underdog heroes” can be attributed to her.

A little later, I discovered Barbara Michaels who I suppose would be classified as Gothic romance. Again the outsider, usually considered the “bad boy” in the beginning of the book would turn out to be the hero in the end.

I would love to talk to these women about how they withstood the prejudices against female authors (and readers) and flourished and became the leaders in their genre.

Some time between Norton and Micheals I discovered H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. Both these authors wrote in the 30’s but had a resurgence of popularity. I can almost understand my attraction for Conan who was born a slave but became a king. He does loosely fit my character preferences. But my attraction to the cult of Cthulhu confused me until I remembered The Dunwich Horror in which the truly bad guy was my favorite character. He became a bad guy because the townspeople hated his family and shunned him.

So my third author would be H.P. Lovecraft. I would love to understand the working of his imagination. And I would like him to know that while he was never recognized during his lifetime, 80 years later he and his creatures are an integral part of the horror genre.

My 4th and 5th authors are still living. I would love to talk to Tanya Huff and Poppy Z Brite and ask why they stopped writing my favorite books. Tanya moved from main characters who were gay males to write female main characters in the military. And Poppy went from anguished gay males to books that seem to be about food in New Orleans. If I could just talk to them, for even a moment, I'd also beg them to write just one more book in their old style.

 

The First is Always Special #MFRWAuthor

I have been writing most of my life. Although every story has a permanent place in my heart, House of the Rising Son is my favorite work. The obvious reason could be that it was my first traditionally published novel. Firsts always have a special place in your heart. But that isn’t the only reason it’s my favorite. It’s special to me because of Cheyenne. The original story was born in 1993. Cheyenne, the hero of the story, has changed over the years, and his family has had many incarnations. Some variations worked better than others. For example, Chey has always been a rockstar— the talent is in his blood—but being human didn’t seem to suit him.

Another aspect that has remained constant has been that this unlikely and totally unprepared rock star became a parent. His children’s ages, names, and even the number of his offspring have varied as Cheyenne’s world evolved. Only his reactions and judgments have changed. Consequently, some of Chey’s stories were adventures, others were love stories, most were funny and all were outrageous. He was not a hero to anyone or savior of anything in any of his previous lives.

When I decided to submit his story for publication and introduce him to the world, Cheyenne changed more than he ever had before. In House of the Rising Son I expanded the number of people in his life and focused less on his primary role as parent, instead focusing more on his role in the world as an important member of the Incubi Nation. Of course, he remained a rock star.

The sequel to House of the Rising Son is scheduled for publication later this year, with more books and short stories planned. It’s time for the rest of his story to be told. Then who know? Maybe his children’s stories will make their way into published works. I imagine it will be fun watching their stories unfold, too.

Their First Kiss #SexySnippets

Today's 7 sentence sexy snippet is from House of the Rising Son. It's the first kiss between Cheyenne (the hero and incubus) and Alexander, the human who is inexplicably drawn to him. Well, at least inexplicable to Alexander.


He wanted Cheyenne--the surprise was it never occurred to him he’d have the chance to do anything about it. But here he was, looking into the eyes of the person he’d fantasized about for months, the person who’d already set his life on edge. How many chances would he get if he blew this one and then regretted it?

He tilted his head, leaned down and pressed his lips against the smaller man’s. Cheyenne kissed him back, parting Alexander’s lips with his tongue and slipping inside.

The hunger that Alexander had buried for so long ignited in the kiss and melted away any lingering doubt. This felt more than right—kissing Cheyenne felt like home.


 

From Novel to the Big Screen: *Meh*

The blog hop topic this week is my "favorite movie made from a book". It would have been so much easier to write about favorite books that had been ruined by being made into a movie. I'm not generally a fan.

One of my earliest favorite movies is The Haunting (1963) based on The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It was a faithful adaptation as far as the technology of the day allowed. Now, 54 years later, I still consider it the scariest movie I've ever seen. I was thrilled when it was available on Amazon a few years ago.

Another favorite of my youth was the Conan series by Robert E. Howard, which appeared in the 1930's. Three movies have been made from it. I liked them all but have to admit the one with Jason Momoa as Conan is my favorite because, of course, Jason.

The movies from Salem's Lot and The Shining by Stephen King were also fairly effective. Usually, however, movies from books fail (in my opinion) because they choose actors who don't quite fit or change important factors. One example is a television show made from an urban fantasy series by Tanya Huff. The TV version turned my favorite male character into a very irritating young woman, and "updated" the vampire's career from romance novelist to graphic artist. The same is true for the Janet Evanovich movie based on her Stephanie Plum series. I don't know who those people were, but they were definitely not Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger.

The takeaway on this is that if you make a movie based on a vastly popular book, perhaps you need to put some thought into why it's so popular before you consider any changes.

Guest Author: Peyton Brittany Clarke

Join me in welcoming Peyton Brittany Clarke and her newest release, Bound to Them (Siren Menage Amour: Erotic Consensual Cowboy BDSM Menage a Trois Romance, M/M/F, HEA)


Jake Hargate is a man with a past. Born into a rich and powerful political family in Massachusetts, they were all raised to believe one thing: protect the family's interests at all costs. After leaving that life behind, Jake finds love and happiness married to Max Krause, a Dom, and Ally Renjel, a submissive. Being Max's submissive gives Jake the security he needs, and topping Ally gives him the control he craves.

But when a political scandal threatens to ruin Jake's brother, a prominent governor who hopes to move up the political ladder, Jake is drawn into a dark world of vengeance he swore he'd never enter again. Jake's family gives him a choice: help them or risk the life he cherishes with Max and Ally.

Deciding to do whatever it takes to protect Max and Ally, Jake is drawn into a world of darkness. Will Max and Ally be able to rescue him, or will Jake be lost forever?

Note: This book contains double vaginal penetration.

A Siren Erotic Romance

STORY EXCERPT Lear went to his favorite chair and sat down. He leaned back, crossed one leg over the other, and tapped his fingers on his thigh. If Baldwin’s marriage fell apart, his own life would go to crap. Not only would he be out of a very cushy, well paying job but he’d also lose access to the best pussy he’d had in a long time and the child it produced.

It was better for everyone to keep everything moving forward as planned. And in order to do that they had to make sure the public kept believing that Baldwin and Eleanor were happy and very much in love despite the rumors. Problem was Phoebe Jones was determined to get to the bottom of this affair thing and ferret out the truth.

“Phoebe may be snooping around, but she doesn’t know anything yet.”

“Tell that to my press secretary,” Baldwin said dryly. “She’s been fielding calls from that woman every day. And we’re both tired of it.”

I bet you are. It’s probably because it’s interrupting your fuck sessions.

“Really? I thought you liked having a reporter on your ass day and night.” Lear grinned savoring the little jab. His brother was a namby-pamby, he needed to have a little dirt shoved in his face on occasion.

As Baldwin’s senior adviser, aka crisis manager, it was his job to watch Baldwin’s back at all times. When there was trouble, he handled it. Why this escaped Baldwin’s brain now irked him. “Fuck you too, Lear.”

“Whatever.” Lear checked his watch. He hoped he’d be able to get the airport early, so they could take off ahead of schedule. He reasoned it wouldn’t matter too much if he was late since he was using Baldwin’s private jet. “Are you done losing your mind? Because I have a job to do so back off and let me do it.”

He pulled the phone away from his ear while his brother yelled and ranted. He rolled his eyes as he waited for his brother’s caterwauling to end.

“Feel better?” Lear asked.

“For now, assuming you do your damn job,” Baldwin said. “How are you going to fix this?”

“Do you really want to know, or do you want to see the result?”

“Of course I want to know,” Baldwin snapped. “That’s why I’m talking to you.”

A smart politician would have said no, preferring to keep his hands clean, but not Baldwin. He was too controlling for his own good. In forty-two years, Baldwin had not changed one bit. He was still as high-handed as ever despite the everyman persona he showed to the public. His arrogant and dictatorial manner was legendary among his staffers and the servants that kept his house in tip top shape.

Lear knew Baldwin thought of him as just another lackey to do his bidding and not a partner in his bid for the White House. If there weren’t bigger things at stake, he would have dropped Baldwin a long time ago, leaving the asshole and his lofty political ambitions far behind.

“I’m going to use Dalcourt,” Lear said.

“What about him?” Baldwin asked.

“He’ll get that reporter and anyone else she’s alerted off of your back,” Lear said. “They’ll be too busy tearing apart his life to even think about you or your...friend.”

“Dalcourt is your big solution? I knew I should have went with Smith.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Lear asked.

“It means it’s a stupid idea. He’s not going to roll over and play dead for you,” Baldwin said.

“Yes he will,” Lear said. My talent is wasted working for him. “Why?”

“Because he will. God, man you are infuriating. Father always said you had the brain of an ox.”

“I won’t say what he said about you. Mostly because it will piss you off too much and I still need your help.”

Lear sighed. “My God you are a pain in the ass.”

“Are you just going to give that reporter Dalcourt’s name and address and hope for the best?” His tone walked the line between bitterness and incredulity.

“No. A little birdie is going to tell her that I’m leaving town and that it has something to do with this affair thing. Naturally she’ll follow me, I’ll get her to meet me and then I’ll dangle our little brother in her face. The story will be so juicy she’ll have to bite.”

“Why don’t you do that here?” Baldwin asked. “Dalcourt doesn’t live here. He lives in some dinky town in Wyoming called Wildsage. And I’m luring her to Wyoming to make sure she does her job and latches on to him, there. I can’t risk her getting distracted by you and your antics.”

“What if she refuses to bite and decides to return here?” Baldwin asked. The uncharacteristic fear in his voice was unnerving.

“She won’t. If you knew what I know about Dalcourt, you’d be drooling over this too,” Lear said.

“Finding dirt on Dalcourt is damn near impossible. He’s too shadowy,” Baldwin said. “You have got to tell me what you have on him.”

“I can’t. I’ve already said too much. The less you know about this the better it is for you and me.”

Baldwin laughed even louder. “You think that little pipsqueak scares me?”

“I didn’t say that. It’s my job to make sure your name stays out of these things and that’s what I’m doing.”

“Okay, okay.” Baldwin fell silent. “Once he finds out you that you’ve fucked him, he’s g oing to be pissed.”

“He won’t find out unless you tell him,” Lear said.

“I’m not going to tell him. But he will find out nevertheless. Doing that sort of thing was his job remember?”

“Okay so what if he does,” Lear said.

“You just need to be prepared.”

“I am because I know how to get him where he hurts,” Lear said.

“What if he manages to get that reporter off his trail?”

“He’ll have no choice but to do what I say if he knows what’s best for him,” Lear said.

“You’re a killer Lear, you know that don’t you.”

“That’s why you have me on your team,” Lear replied.

“Dal court’s our brother, why would you even think about doing that to him?” Baldwin asked.

We all have to make sacrifices for the family and it’s time he made his. “Don’t worry about it. I have to go or else I’ll miss my flight. I’ll talk to you later.”

Lear ended the call and glanced at his luggage beside the front door. He checked his watch. He had just enough time to get to the airport, to check in and head to the bar for a drink. He needed a few drinks before he dealt with his younger brother.

Buy Link- http://www.bookstrand.com/book/bound-to-them

My Blog: Hot, Sexy and Shared- Erotic Romances by Peyton Brittany Clarke- http://peytonbrittanyclarkewrites.blogspot.com

Social Media

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Social Media, My New Playground

Over the past few years social media has exploded with ways to connect to friends and family.  As a marketing tool, they were economic and direct ways to interact with your readers. But there are too many to use them all effectively. Marketing gurus always advise a new one along with ways to use them. These are also ways for me to stalk, er, follow folks I'm interested in. Roman Reigns. Jason Momoa. The Winchester boys. But truthfully, no one has time to use them all. I do spend time on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. I try to check them everyday but sometimes that just isn't possible. I also blog. Obviously.

Pinterest Is my favorite. I go there to find clothes for my characters and sometimes the characters themselves. I have found their houses and apartments complete with floor plans. I spend many wonderful hours lost on Pinterest.

And that's the trouble. If I am not careful Pinterest, and all the other forms of social media, can take up too much of my time and there is none left for writing. I can easily justify the time we spend since we must have a platform. That is one of the first questions prospective agents and editors ask, and if you cant show them a decent following then you may not be worth their risk.

It's like the dog chasing its tail.You spend all your time on social media to maintain connections with people who like your work, which does you no good unless you make time to write your book. Finding balance is the key.

But I do like to play online. Come find me, and we'll play together. www.pinterest.com/trevannr

#EggcerptExchange: Tina Gayle's My Future Step Brother #MFRWAuthor

Blurb for My Future Step Brother Lyndsey Turner only wants to have fun. She doesn’t care if her dad marries Travis Clark’s mother. Travis is super-hot and sets her body on fire every time he steps near her.

Travis has other ideas. He understands Lyndsey’s wild streak and wants her attention on him. All seems to be working according to his plan until his mother discovers she may have breast cancer.

Now, Travis wants to solidify his relationship with Lyndsey and start planning for their future.

Will Lyndsey commit to be his alone or does he have to play the dating game a while longer?

If you love romance, don’t miss this short story from the popular Executive Wives Club series.

Excerpt

Frustrated by his answers and his standoffish attitude, she rose onto one knee and swung her leg over his to straddle his lap. She rested her hands on his shoulders. “And if he still doesn’t like the fact we’re dating?”

She rubbed his chest, enjoying the soft texture of his cotton T-shirt. “Though in truth, I’m not sure we can claim we’re doing anything other than sharing the same space.”

Grinning, he circled her waist and his fingers toyed with the hem of her top. “You’re just cranky because you’re still recovering from the concert last night. I told you when we booked it we wouldn’t get home until late.”

Lyndsey smiled, remembering the wonderful music. The only drawback being the long drive back from the casino in Iowa and the early wake-up call this morning to get ready for work. Tuesday night was not the best night to party. She’d survived, but today, her patience with his aloof attitude had hit ground zero.

“That’s not the problem.” She dropped her hand to the zipper of his jeans and cupped his length through the stiff fabric. “I’m tired of playing around. I want this bad boy deep and making me scream.”

Pick up Free at https://www.instafreebie.com/free/EwL6x

Other books in the series

Marketing Exec’s Widow

IT Exec’s Baby

CFO’s Affair

CEO’s Widow

Read 1st Chapter at www.tinagayle.com

Tina Gayle’s Bio

Her first romantic novel published in 2008, Tina Gayle has written over thirty romantic books under two different pseudonyms. Her novels span several different genres from contemporary to fantasy and sweet to erotic. She enjoys the challenge of drawing a reader into a story and having them travel down the same road as her hero and heroine. Married thirty years, she enjoys spending time with her husband on the golf course. Find out more about Tina on her website www.tinagayle.com

Twitter - https://twitter.com/#!/AuthorTinaGayle

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Tina-Gayle/214633841921560?ref=hl

Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Tina-Gayle/e/B002BM9GR8