Happy Authors are Happy

We have achieved book!

A Novel Approach

Last summer I so wanted to get a bunch of great people together, pitch an anthology idea to them, and get some great, sexy stories out there to be read by the public. My idea became a reality, and we had a total of ten great sexy stories ready for a winter release date. However, my fault lay in not realizing my editor and husband didn’t have the free time needed to edit that many stories. Winter fell apart, some of the authors thinking that putting out erotic stories was a bad idea and others just not having the time to put in so that they were truly proud of their product.

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The Road Not Taken

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

(Part I)

I’d like to say I was a typical nineteen year-old: relatively uneducated, inexperienced, and unworldly, but I can’t; it was worse than that. I just wasn’t very astute, and I didn’t have that—I can set the world on fire, I can make a difference—attitude. Whatever I could do with two sticks and a pile of dead leaves would surely go unnoticed even in my little home town. Continue reading

Meeting Readers’ Expectations

I write Regencies, a genre with fairly rigid genre conventions. Originally they were supposed to be witty, short, cheerful – the romance equivalent of the “cosy” mystery. By the end of some 200 pages the illusion of a picture-perfect reality is achieved, no matter what minor troubles the protagonists have undergone in the meantime.

The longer ‘historicals’ (successors of the romance genre’s seminal bodice-rippers) could have tragic themes, but for a long time devotees of the Regency did not have to confront life’s unpleasant realities in their favourite and quite addictive genre.
That changed when a handful of writers like Edith Layton, Carla Kelly and especially Mary Balogh began to write characters with true depth and anguish, even in the short regency format. They were not afraid to tackle grim subjects like rape, illicit pregnancy, prostitution, grinding poverty, or severe ill health. Some readers recoiled in shock, but with excellent writing and triumphant endings – no matter what harrowing experiences the protagonists had to overcome – these innovative authors convinced the majority to go along.

In hindsight I wonder, however, if this mixing of the two parallel traditions did not contribute to the overall decline of the Regency as a separate genre. There used to be several dedicated Regency publishing lines, the Signet editions being the most popular. Yet if the Regency became merely a shorter version of the Historical, why would readers not go straight to the longer, meatier works by those same authors, which offered steamy sex scenes as a bonus?

As a result of this blurring of lines, readers now want the circle squared: if a book sticks to cheerful, minor mishaps and mostly virtuous behaviour some will feel the characters and story lack depth; yet if the protagonists are exposed to grim realities others will resent that their expectation of an uncomplicated, soothing story were not met. One can never please everyone, but a genre in flux makes it even harder. Not to mention the incompatible demands of more sex scenes/no sex at all, and in many cases, of no sex at all before marriage.

Of course we write not only for our readers, but first and foremost for ourselves. Most authors write in different keys according to inspiration and mood.

This morning I had an idea for a novella with a very dark backstory indeed. I shall have to be careful to give a trigger warning in the blurb, and use a darker cover than usual; but even so, there will be some who dislike the subject. Others may like it and then be disappointed that my longer series, The Amberley Chronicles, is tame in comparison.

But at least these days we only have to please ourselves and our readers, and no agents, editors and traditional publishers. Every decently written book and story can find at least some appreciative readers, even if it deviates from the strict limits of its genre. I never cease to be thankful for that.

Balancing Acts by Emily Cooper

To write successfully we often rely on suspension of disbelief. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, from using premises that the reader’s are unfamiliar with to simply making characters believable. Once I’m invested in a character or a story, I’m willing to overlook a lot. I’m sure most people are.

We want believable characters, hell even in our villains. Look at the prevalence of the Antihero. So, that’s the question I bring to you today. What is the balance between believable characters and unpredictable ones?

I mean, I love a character I can relate to as much as the next person, but when does that get boring? When are you reading like, “oh let me guess, he’s not going to tell her what’s going on and mayhem will ensue.” Does outside influence have to be the surprise in your story?

JsaWbWh Is a surprising character actually surprising or do you feel cheated by an unreliable narrator? I’m sure there is a balance in there somewhere, between being true to your characters and surprising your audience. I’m just having trouble finding it. But we surprise ourselves, right? And who do you know better? If I can do things that surprise me, like leading a meeting when every fiber of me knows myself to be absolutely terrified of public speaking, then isn’t it a disservice to our characters to leave them stuck in a loop of who they are supposed to be? Or must you follow a natural progression of character development to get some new bits out of your characters?

**** Emily is a wannabe currently working on finishing a novel (or five) and short stories.

See What’s Blooming at The Bowman’s Inn

In honor of the imminent release of The Bowman’s Inn anthology I would like to sit down with one of the delightful inn employees. But first, let’s give you a little peek into what to expect from this sweet and sexy collecticover 4 couple 3on of stories:

In the city of Anteros, you might find yourself at the Bowman’s Inn. You could be lonely, hurting, or lost more than you know. The bartender, Valentine Archer, will know just what you need. He not only looks like a Greek god, he used to be one. Cupid prefers to be called Val these days. But he still knows how to mend a broken heart.

Six authors have combined their talent to bring you a collection of tales with romance, mystery and maybe a little humor. The delightful short stories feature characters who own or operate the facilities of the Bowman’s Inn or are just passing through. Whatever the case, Cupid has a way to help each of them find what their hearts require. Mark your calendars. The Spring edition of the Bowman’s Inn Anthology is expected to be released in April 2015.

Now with that in mind, allow me to introduce Stacey Moore, one of the fine bartenders working along side Valentine Archer at The Bowman’s Inn.

Brandy Ayers: Hi Stacey, how are you today?

Stacey Moore: I’m pretty good Brandy, how are you doing? That trio of troublemakers from The Arrangement treating you any better?

BA: Ugh, don’t get me started on those three. They’re going to be the death of me. But enough about me, let’s talk about you! But none of that “what’s your favorite color?” BS. Let’s get straight to the point. What is your greatest regret?

SM: Jeez B, you aren’t taking it easy on me! That is really a hard one. I would love to say marrying that asshole of a man, if you can call him that, that I call an ex-husband. But I can’t regret marrying him, because without him I wouldn’t have our amazing daughters. I do regret giving up my career because he wanted me to stay home with the kids. It made it a lot harder to support my girls when he cut and run.

BA: That prick. Don’t worry, karma will catch up with his ass. Okay, let’s lighten the mood a little bit. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

SM: Now that’s easy! Perfect happiness is standing in my kitchen whipping up a batch of my killer cupcakes with my girls. Nothing better than hearing those two giggle while throwing powdered sugar everywhere.

BA: Come on, are yclaytonou really telling me perfect happiness isn’t something more along the lines of an earth shattering orgasm. Perhaps brought on by Clayton, that sexy as hell brewer that’s been coming into the bar lately?

SM: Haha. Well, that certainly wouldn’t be bad.

BA: My, my, Miss Moore are you blushing?

SM: Oh shut up Brandy! Next question.

BA: Uh huh. Okay, What is your current state of mind?

SM: Crazed. Between working strange hours at the Inn, spending time with my daughters, and trying to keep my head above water with all our bills and keeping the house standing, I barely have time to breath. And, yes, before you ask, I’m also incredibly sexually frustrated.

BA: Well since you brought it up, what is your favorite quality in a man? Personally I’m an ass gal. Nothing like a well formed gluteus maximus!

SM: Do you ever get your mind out of the gutter Brandy?

BA: Very rarely, what would be the fun in that?

SM: You’re crazy. Okay, favorite quality in a man, let me think… I’m going to say loyalty. Someone that is willing to stand by you no matter what. Be a rock for you, but at the same time won’t be afraid to lean on you when he needs you. Of course being funny and smart don’t hurt either.

BA: Don’t forget what he’s got in his pants!

SM: You have a filthy mind woman!

BA: I know, that’s why you love me!

SM: If you so say.

BA: Last question. What is your biggest fear.

SM: I think it’s a tie. First would be that I’m going to irreparably screw up the girls because of all this shit with their father, or I won’t be able to provide for them. Second is that I’ll grow old alone because I won’t ever find someone that I can trust again.

BA: Don’t worry Stacey. If there is one thing I know about Val and The Bowman’s Inn, it’s that he always knows exactly how to help. Thanks for talking with me sweetie! Give the kiddos a hug from their auntie Brandy.

Well that’s it for now. You can read more about Stacey and Clayton in “Strange Brew” look for it soon on Amazon! Have an orgasmic evening!

Brandy Ayers is a writer of erotic romance. Or romantic erotica, depending on how you look at it.

Find her:
http://www.BrandyAyers.com
Facebook: facebook.com/BrandyAyersAuthor
Twitter: @BrandyWritesSex
Pinterest: pinterest.com/brandyayersauth/

This Post Sucks!

I recently took part in the Women Read / Women Write conference in Pittsburgh. It was a great time and I learned a lot.

I took a couple seminars specifically targeted at writers, which were both incredibly illuminating. But I want to pick out just one thing a teacher said in those classes and talk about it.

Negativity.Downvote

Teri Coyne taught the class ‘Daring to Draft’ on getting through your first draft. At some point she asked one of my fellow students a question about her writing, I can’t remember the exact response anymore (hey, it was two weeks ago, give me a break!) but it was an answer that subtly put her own writing down. And Teri said something along the lines of “We’re ingrained to only put the negative out there.”

And she’s right! How many times have I told people when they hear I write “It’s no big deal, I’m not very good.” Or “It’s not good enough to get published, but I like doing it.”  It’s very similar to when I used to tell fat jokes about myself. If I’m the one making the jokes it won’t hurt as bad, right? Preemptively cut down your own work, and rejection from outside won’t be as bad.

On the same thread, those people that do say positive things about themselves and their work usually get a giant side eye. “Oh she thinks she’s so awesome, she actually says nice things about her work.”

But dammit, why shouldn’t we be kind to ourselves?! Writing is hard, and even attempting to put something creative out into the world is intimidating as hell. We should all be patting ourselves on the back for putting ourselves out there like that.

And yea, there will always be people who hate what you put out into the world. But you don’t need to be one of those people for yourself.

So I am issuing you a challenge. Next time someone asks you about your writing, try and say something positive. Don’t immediately put yourself down. I’m not saying you should run around and claim to be the next Ernest Hemingway, just try something along the lines of “Yea, I work really hard to be a good writer, and I’m proud of the work I do.”

Now was that so hard?

******

Brandy Ayers is a writer of erotic romance. Or romantic erotica, depending on how you look at it.

Find her:
http://www.BrandyAyers.com
Facebook: facebook.com/BrandyAyersAuthor
Twitter: @BrandyWritesSex
Pinterest: pinterest.com/brandyayersauth/

Ramblings of an almost Published Author by Stella Marie Alden

Know what’s great about watercolor painting? It’s one of the few arts that you can’t agonize over and go back and fix. You either get it right on the first wash, or it’s wrong. After that? One cannot paint over or it becomes too muddy. Throw it out and try again. Or accept the oddities and cherish them. There’s something wonderfully freeing about that. I’m not a great illustrator, but I can make the paint run in a pleasing manner that makes people want to buy my scenes of the ocean.

Writing, however, is not like that. My God. I just finished my final edits for my first book, and already, in my head, I am screaming, “Wait. Wait. Give it back. That’s not quite right. I could’ve said that better.” Damn. The better I get, the more I want to change it up. I don’t want to be done yet.

Someone asked, why I didn’t wait for a bigger publisher, or self-publish? Why? Because I needed an external deadline. Writing for me is like a drug and I needed someone to help me say, okay, you’re done. Fini. No more. Stop. Could my novel get better? No doubt. But it’s time to put it out there and stop hiding in indecision.

So now I wait. My editor will do my final edits and on May 6th, I will be a published author. Will anyone buy it? Will I feel any different? Or, like so many others, will my romance sit somewhere below 375,600 in the Amazon rankings?

In the way that only over-zealous over-achievers will understand, I have studied marketing to the point I almost know too much. As soon as I have an ARC (advance review copy), I have a list of at least fifty review sites that I will submit to. I have written and rewritten my blurb. I did yet another attempt this morning. But… is it good enough? Maybe I’ll rewrite it again tonight. Thanks for sharing in my angst.

In 1276, a young widow with a will of steel and a renaissance intellect meets her match. Blindfolded and bound, Lady Ann of the Meadows must marry ‘The Beast of Thornhill.’ What an injustice! She alone has transformed mud huts and starving serfs into a flourishing town. Abandon her beloved people to an ignorant Templar knight? “Never,” she vows.

A harpy for a wife? Was this marriage the king’s jest or some conspiracy? Sir Marcus Blackwell eagerly takes ownership of the village but the rest? No matter how beautiful, if she murdered her first husband, she will hang. First, he must discover the secrets to her vast wealth. There’s rumor she’s a witch and holds a hidden cache of gold coins. The longer he’s in her company, the more spellbound he becomes. How will either escape the king’s inquisition and the hangman’s noose?

Winner of RWA’s “The Molly” and “Show Me the Spark” contests, this Medieval Romance will appeal not only to the historical buffs, but for anyone looking for an exciting voice with a new twist.

Find me at http://www.stellamariealden.com

History of The Sun by DL Hungerford

Almost all living things on this planet depend in one way or another on the sun. Flocks of birds migrate when triggered by shorter or longer days. Plants bloom and put out seeds in the spring, then fade in summer and autumn. Early man looked up to the rising and setting of the sun to know time and season. Continue reading

A Balancing Act

As if I didn’t have enough distractions to keep me from my writing – family, friends, occasional Burn Notice or Criminal Minds marathons, cooking dinner, and other various household stuffs – I’ve decided to add drawing to my list of things to do. I know adding diversity to our creative outlets might seem like a distraction, just another something to take us away from that thing we love most, but for me, it used to bring balance.

I haven’t done as much drawing since high school as I’ve wanted to. In the past few years, it’s picked up a little – in the form of cartoonish sketches for the kids to color in. Bored and procrastinating a few days ago, I sifted through some drawings I did in high school, when life in general was balanced. (I may have been a little bit of an introvert, perfectly content to be on my own – most of the time.) I stared at one image in particular. Unfinished and eyeless, the teen-aged boy I drew in my Senior year art class stared back at me. I wanted to go back to those final days of high school and reacquaint myself with drawing. And finish that particular image.

You see, for a long time, I’ve felt… off-center; not quite balanced. In fact, I’ve felt so far off balance I’m not sure I’m even in the same orbit anymore. I chalked it up to a lot of major life-changes over the past five years – having kids and losing grandparents will do that to a person. But the most recent “event” was more than two years ago now. So what happened to my balance? Was it all just too much at once for me to deal with on a mental level? Or is there still something else missing?

It turns out, there is still something missing. Drawing. I’ve always been a doodler, a drawer, and a painter. It was fantastic for getting my mind off anything that was bothering me, or expressing my happy thoughts. The effect was just as powerful, cathartic, as writing is for me.

Writing is what I want to do. I want to write novels. I have several that are in various stages of disarray. But I’ve been stuck on my words for a while, on something that should already be done, and published to top it off.

In high school, when I wasn’t hitting the slopes with the rest of the ski team, or hanging out with friends or doing homework, I had my nose buried in the blank pages of a sketch book, drawing and/or writing, often on the same page. Each fed off the other. When words failed me, I turned to the visual of drawing, and my mind would go blissfully blank. That was my place of Zen. Everything else disappeared for a while. When the words started creeping out of the woodwork again, I let them flow.

Will drawing bring back the balance I’ve been missing? Is that what I’ve been missing? I don’t know. But I’m about to find out. Since the frantic search through my art supplies didn’t provide me with my preferred medium of vine charcoal, I’m off to the craft store in just a bit to stock up on everything I need. Balance included.

Where do you find your balance?

———

Milli Gilbert is a stay-at-home mom who loves to write. Maybe someday she’ll even be published too!