Author Newsletters by Sha Renée

Recently I published my first newsletter as an author. I used Mad Mimi which was pretty user friendly once I got the hang of it. I had always wondered if authors actually need a newsletter, especially if we’ve already got a blog set up. Someone explained that when you write a blog post, your followers get a message letting them know you posted. They will need to go and click on your link to read your post.

With a newsletter, they’ll get an e-mail from you, and once they open it, BAM, there’s your message with everything you want to tell them. Of course they can choose to skip the email, but the important thing is it eleminates a step.  I like to look at it like this: Option 1 – the mailman comes to my door and tells me that Macy’s is having a sale on dresses. Maybe he even shows me a photo.  But I’m in the middle of preparing dinner which means I have to stop and go to Macy’s to look at the dresses. In option 2, the mailman comes to my door with 3 dresses from Macy’s. I can pick one right then and there. Tada!

Creating my newsletter was hard work, but it was also kind of fun. I included fun fall facts, tree trivia and some interesting information about fall foods which supposedly increase penile blood flow (someone get back to me with the results).

NEW COVERWhile I love promoting my book and the upcoming release of Forbidden Kisses, I wanted to include something extra in my newsletter – exclusive content which isn’t available anywhere else.
After all, if you’ve read my blog posts or visited my social media sites, you already know I have a kick-ass military romance which is available now for pre-order. So I wanted to include information you may not already know.

I’ve decided that 4 to 6 issues per year is frequent enough for my newsletters to go out. I have subscriptions to a number of online newsletters, but I find it annoying that some of the subscriptions send daily issues. Sometimes I get more than 1 issue per day from the same organization. That’s too frequent for me.

There is a feature I’ve seen increasingly on blogs and e-mail subscriptions and it’s a big pet peeve for me. And while I don’t judge those who include this feature… okay, yes I do… a little, I can’t see myself including it in my blog or my newsletter.

Imagine if you’ve been seeing an amazing guy or girl and things are getting serious. Today they’ve invited you to come over. Let’s say they have a 1-hour lunch break today instead of 30 minutes and they’ve asked you to stop and pick up some condoms on your way over. You make your purchase, get to the door and ring the bell. They answer immediately, completely nude, but instead of making the most of those 60 minutes, they shove their new pet hamster in your face as soon as you step in the door. “Hey check out my hamster. Look what he can do. Feel how soft his fur is. Look how he eats his carrot.” What the heck! That’s not what you came for.  This is how I feel when I visit a site that has a big pop-up message in my face BOOM – as soon as I log on. Can you at least give me a chance to view the information I came for first?

I was working on something recently that gave me the option to include a pop-up message that would appear to my viewers, and if so, how soon did I want the message to appear. The choices were 1 second, 3 seconds… are you kidding me? Why would I ambush them with an offer which may not even be relevent to the information I’m providing? Let them at least have the opportunity to get what they came for – what I invited them for.

You can include a pop-up message if you want to, but please give me a chance to come in and get settled.

Anyway, my newsletter doesn’t have pop-up boxes BOOM – as soon as you open it. You won’t get an issue on a daily basis. I have quarterly issues. And hopefully you’ll find the content entertaining and interesting, like excerpts I haven’t shared anywhere else and the complete Forbidden Kisses music playlist.  See for yourself!

From our table I watched Ethan’s performance. His eyes locked on mine as his song started. When he sang the first line in acapella, my heart laughed, danced and cried. The music started and the audience cheered. UB-40’s version of Can’t Help Falling In Love featured a slow reggae beat that everyone wanted to move to. I watched, transfixed as he sang to me. Me. He was singing to me. Was he saying he was in love with me?

Ethan was beautiful and so darn sexy as his hips rocked to the reggae beat. He sang and danced like he could feel the music. As if it flowed through his body the way it did mine. His eyes, his movements and his words seduced me.

Thanks for reading. I’m by no means an expert on creating newsletters, but I’d be happy to help you get started if you have questions.

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Writing a Book is Easy.

Or at least it seems easy in comparison to the tasks we’re faced the-endwith once we type ‘The End’.

 

If you’re an author or have friends who are authors, you know exactly what I mean.

thOnce the story is written, everything else you need to get that baby out into the world makes the time spent on your laptop, legal pad or typewriter (remember those?) look like a cakewalk.

If you decide to publish traditionally, you’ll have to make sure your manuscript it correctly formatted down to the exact font, spacing, margins, etc. There are strict guidelines that you’ll need to adhere to. Not to mention querying publishers, waiting for replies and dealing with rejections. Continue reading

Before It’s Too Late by Sha Renee

Recently when I accompanied a loved one to the hospital I noticed a man sleeping in a chair in one of the waiting areas. He appeared to be in a fairly deep sleep – arms crossed over his chest, head tilted to the side. I studied his sleeping visage for a moment. Surely he was the spouse of a dear friend I met long ago when our kids were in first grade together. But I hadn’t seen him in so long… was that actually him? If so, I should wake him up and say hello. Continue reading

The First Time

If you’re a parent, you’re familiar with the joy and pride of dozens of first experiences. From the first time you hear your baby cry and hold her in your arms to watching her take her first steps and say her first words.

Even if you don’t have kids, you have many of your own first experiences – the magic of your first kiss, the exciting feeling of driving home from DMV with your brand new driver’s license or the pride you felt on the first day of your very first job. It’s an amazing feeling.

For authors there are even more first experiences to look forward to… and worry about. The first rejection if you submit to a traditional publisher, your first publication, the first sale and the first review. It’s such an emotional roller coaster.

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As you may know, I recently wrote Forbidden Kisses as part of the Story of a Kiss anthology.  A Military Romance in which Layla, who is an enlisted member of the Navy, meets the perfect guy while she’s on leave. After several fun-filled days and passionate nights, she discovers Ethan is also in the Navy – and he’s an officer! According to military regulations personal relationships between officers and enlisted members are prohibited. In order to avoid disciplinary action and protect both of their careers, they need to put an end to their relationship. Unfortunately, they share a fiery attraction and have already gotten in too deep.

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Last week I had a wonderful first experience when the hard copy of  Story of a Kiss arrived in the mail. It’s great to read the electronic version of a story you’ve written, but for me, there is nothing like holding the tangible fruit of my labor.  It felt more real. I picked up a copy, squealed, spun around. And touched it… over and over. I flipped through the pages and looked at the words that I wrote.

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I have a copy by my bed and a copy in my car. I still can’t get over it.

Today I experienced another first. My first not-so-wonderful review. (I know! I’m just as shocked as you are!) I’ve known from the beginning that not everyone would enjoy my writing, but still – ouch. Seeing that review made me doubt – just for a while, but it also increased my motivation to make my future work even better.

Next month I’m scheduled to attend a book signing.

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I know! Me! I’m extremely nervous, but hopefully it will be a step to move my writing career forward. If you’re in the area on March 12, 2016, come by Bahama Breeze and see how I do at another first.

IF WRITING WERE LIKE A REGULAR JOB by SHA RENEE

imagesPNPZ0XHK Most of us write because we love creating stories. Even if we’re not likely to earn a living from projects we’ve poured our blood sweat and tears into.  While there are countless authors who have achieved financial success from their writing many of us have accepted the fact that we can’t quit our day jobs – at least not right away. Continue reading

Does music play a part in your writing?

I rarely listen to the radio. My house is surrounded by too many trees to allow good reception. My car is eleven years old and the radio is… well it’s no Bose stereo sound system,images (69) and since I have such a short drive to work, I usually don’t even bother turning the radio on.

So how do I listen to the hottest tunes? Like many, I utilize the latest apps which allow me to have awesome music right at my fingertips. With Pandora, Google Play Music and Shazam I search for anything I want to hear and create playlists on my phone.

Usually the music I listen to has a direct connection to what I’m writing. The playlist for my current story features songs I added because they remind me of my characters, or jams I can see my characters dancing to at a club.  On several occasions I’ve come across a song that just feels like it goes with my story, many of which contain lyrics appropriate for my characters’ relationship.

Many times I’ll do a search for something specific. For instance my MMC created a playlist for the first time he and FMC spent the night together. If any of you are familiar with my current WIP you know Jesse is very um… self-assured. He created his playlist in anticipation of their special night, not hoping he and Eliana would get together, but knowing. It was just a matter of time. So what songs would Jesse include on this playlist? Marvin Gaye obviously. The list featured Sexual Healing  and Let’s Get It On. Very Jesse. Also on this special list is was Making Love by Usher, the raunchy but intriguing Closer by Nine Inch Nails and We Can Make Love by SoMo.

images (70)So what do I do with this playlist once I have it? I listen to it not just while I’m working on the story, but also while I’m working at my other job. I listen while doing laundry or just relaxing and sometimes I get ideas. I even listen at night in bed. I let the music play to my subconscious while I sleep in the hopes that I’ll wake up with some brilliant scene.

Some writers feel that listening to music while they work helps them focus. Some, like myself use music to help set a mood.

So what about you? Does listening to music help you create your story? Do you have a specific playlist for your current characters?

Fifty by Sha Renée

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The big Five-O. Yep, that’s how old I’ll be…well, I won’t say when.

Did you know that if you use all seven of your letter tiles in a Scrabble play, you earn 50 extra points?

“50 Cent” is the stage name of Curtis James Jackson III, an American rapper, singer, entrepreneur, investor and actor who sold drugs on the streets of NY at the age of 12.50 Cent snoop

His stage name was inspired by a 1980’s robber. He chose the name “because I’m the same kind of person 50 Cent was. I provide for myself by any means.” (Wikipedia)

The TV show Hawaii Five-O is so called because Hawaii is the last of the fifty states to officially become a state. 5-O (Five-Oh) – Slang referring to police officers and/or a warning that police are approaching, is derived from this show.

Fifty is also:

The number of chapters in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

The traditional number of years in a jubilee period.

The number of stars on the American flag.  Real-US-Flag_1

The speed limit, in kilometers per hour, of Australian and Canadian roads with unspecified limits.

The number of rings required to transform Sonic to his super form in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise

The atomic number of the element tin.

 

50 First Dates – one of my favorite movies – images (23)is a romantic comedy about a woman with severe anterograde amnesia.
Every morning when the FMC wakes up, the MMC has to convince her that they not only know each other, but they also love each other.

50 also refers to another well-known movie based on a novel which has sold over 90 million copies.

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In spite of all the criticism of the movie, I personally looked forward to viewing it. I’ve never been one to allow myself to view or pass on a movie or book based on the reviews of others. I know that my reaction is very likely to be different from that of the majority of viewers because I am actually quite different from most people. I don’t just look at the big picture; I look at the details, those minute nuances that many would overlook- facial expressions, mannerisms, the style of car being driven, the wording of e-mails the characters send to each other. I find these small distinctions quite entertaining. As a music lover, I enjoy much of the music featured in this movie (over 516,000 copies of the soundtrack have been sold.) and as a for the sex scenes: HOT.

Yes, the movie has been criticized by those who practice BDSM, as well as those who speak out against domestic abuse. I can understand the views and the concerns expressed by these groups, but this movie is a work of fiction. In my opinion – and each of us is entitled to his or her opinion – every single detail doesn’t have to mirror real life 100%, down to the letter in order to entertain. I’m glad I didn’t let all the negative reviews influence my decision to watch (and purchase) the movie and the book. I was entertained. And I’ll be entertained when I watch again tonight.

Let Them Read Romance

A few days ago I read a chapter of a friend’s novel which she had posted for critique. images8AL4AT50

I read it at the end of the day, and although I hadn’t had a particularly bad day, reading that chapter made me feel much better. You see, in this particular chapter, a young man and woman who had seemingly been in danger of never getting together, were taking a step in the right direction. I did a happy dance after I read it. I sent a message to my friend letting her know that I was thrilled, that I would sleep well that night.

Did reading that chapter release some endorphins that I was unaware of? Heck, I don’t know. Maybe. I just know it made me feel good.

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This particular chapter didn’t have a sex scene – there was no physical contact. But Like eating chocolate, hearing a news story about a community coming together to help a displaced family, savoring a slice of strawberry cheesecake from Junior’s

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or holding a baby, reading that chapter made me feel… blissful, euphoric, rapturous.

Many have said that reading romance is unhealthy, escapism, ‘as addictive as porn’.  I say it’s not just the reading of romance, any genre of literature, any activity which engages a reader to excess, has the potential to be harmful.  If a reader constantly misses work or neglects caring for their children or other responsibilities because they’re too caught up in what they’re reading, then certainly they have a problem.

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But is what they read the problem? If they exhibited the same level of irresponsibility while reading other genres – such as a murder mystery or fantasy, wouldn’t that be equally damaging?  Yet it seems that Romance is the genre which is singled out as being bad, addictive and harmful.

I read someone’s comments in an online blog which said romance novels in which the use of condoms is not addressed, makes the reader irresponsible with their own sexual health. Come on. If someone reads a book – any book – in which the lovers don’t mention condoms, or if the characters discuss and decide not to use them should the content read, or the author be criticized?

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How is a person who has unprotected sex after reading a Romance any more troubled than a person who commits a murder after reading a book about murder? Are there people who tie bed sheets to themselves and jump off buildings after reading a book about super heroes? I don’t know, maybe there are. But still Romance is the genre that gets a bad rap.

Any activity that controls a person is unhealthy. If other areas of a person’s life, are neglected, to the point that the questionable activity interferes with work or daily life, is it the activity that should be blamed? Should Pink Moscato be criticized because some people become addicted to alcohol? Should we condemn Percocet to relieve pain because some people abuse it?

 

After I read my friend’s romantic chapter, I carried out my evening obligations blissfully aware that I could engage in an enjoyable activity with a clear conscience, making good choices. It’s up to everyone as adults to do the same.

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My advice to those who criticize the romance genre and the creative authors who write it? Pick up a good romance novel, maybe even some erotica. Enjoy it with a glass of Pink Moscato and then get back to your daily life.

Or even better, read a romance chapter with your sweetie. It might just spice things up a bit.

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Those Naughty Words

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How do you refer to sex organs when talking to your close friends? What about when you’re talking with your partner? Do you use the same words with your friends that you use to get your partner in the mood?

I’ve been struggling for several months trying to decide which words the characters in my novel will use. There are several options of course, but it has to be just right. I have to consider the period of time in which the story takes place as well as the personalities of my characters. Words used in a historical romance, for instance, will be different than words used in a contemporary romance.

Would my main character refer to her sex as a “love cave” or “honey pot”? Would she refer to her boyfriend’s penis as his “manhood”? His “member”? It was one of my critiquers who pointed that I need to decide exactly which words I’m going to use. She reminded me that my main character is no Victorian Miss.  She wouldn’t send a sexy text message to her guy that reads, “My quivering love mound has been aching for your throbbing member.” My characters just don’t talk like that. They’re in their twenties and they’re in the Navy for goodness sakes!  They could just be straight forward and use “penis” and “vagina” but let’s face it, when they’re in the bedroom, whispering erotic words to each other, the words, “vagina” and “penis” just aren’t sexy.

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I don’t use c**k, d***, p****, c**t, or even a**. I’m not judging anyone who uses such words in their ordinary language. It’s just not my style. They hurt my eyes as well as my ears.

Since those words don’t come naturally to me, I didn’t plan on using them in my novel. But just because the sound of the word p**** makes me cringe does not mean my characters can’t use them. After all, they are younger and hipper than I am.

I posted a question about this in one of forums on a Scribophile. Many responded that they use p**** when being intimate with their partners but found c**t to be too derogatory. Many of the men said they use c**k with their partners because it felt sexier to them.

About a week ago – several months after beginning work on my novel – I realized why the thought of using those words in my novel was such a turn off for me. When my book is published, I’m pretty sure I’m going to go right to my mother’s house and say’ “Mommy, Mommy, look what I did!” I feel like it will be a huge disrespect to my mother if I present my novel to her with those words laced throughout.

When I told my mother what I’m writing and that there will be content that’s inappropriate for her to see she implied that she would read it and then spank me.

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But there isn’t just my characters to consider, I also have to consider my audience. I want my readers to devour my book and when they get to the racy parts I want them to be fanning themselves while they read (or whatever else they choose to do to themselves while they read).

So after many months agonizing over which words to use, I’ve decided to let my characters speak in the way that is natural to them. If it’s feasible, I’ll consider having a few copies of a PG-13 version available for my mother, they younger kids in my family and anyone else who may be offended by those naughty words.

Feelings of Inadequacy

It’s hard not to compare ourselves to others. We compare our social status, financial situations, our grades in school. We compare our looks, our cars and our kids, even our abilities as writers.

Many of us post our writing on sites like Scribophile to be evaluated and critiqued by other writers. One of the very first chapters I read as a newbie was so beautifully written, with details and descriptions that jumped off the page causing me to really feel what the character was feeling.

After I read that chapter I cried a little. I felt like my writing was mediocre compared to what I’d just read and I wondered why I should even bother posting my own work. I sent a message to the author letting her know how moved I was by her work. I also made a note for myself describing what I loved about her writing – in this case detailed and vivid descriptions – so I could try to apply it to my own writing.

We as writers have different styles of composing. We have different education levels, different life experiences. These are some of the qualities that make our writing diverse.

Feeling inadequate or inferior may be a natural response when we compare our work to others’, but it’s important to remember that we are all different. There are many whose writing skills are better than ours and some whose skills are not as developed as ours.

What should we do when we come across someone’s work that we admire so much it makes us feel inferior?

One possibility – if it’s a community like Scribophile – is to send a message to the author. Let him or her know that you were impressed with their work. If there is something specific in their work that you would like to improve in your work, ask them if they have any suggestions for you.

Look online. There are so many resources on the internet for improving your writing skills.

Critiquing the work of others. No doubt you will come across many pieces that you feel are written better than your work. But you will also come across some that need more refining than yours. In this case it may help you to realize the strong points in your work. It might also help boost your confidence knowing that you can help others who are less experienced than you are.