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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I Know Who You Are by D.L. Hungerford

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Over the past few weeks, I have been working on a special assignment for RWA-SD with C.J. Corbin, an author and all around nice lady. We’ve had so much fun and I have made her my unofficial mentor. You can find her wonderful paranormal books on her web page: http://cjcorbin.com/home/ Continue reading

(un)Suprising Feminist Writing

I am a feminist. I make no bones about it.

This is reflected in my characters and storylines. Mina loves clothes AND hitting people, but more importantly, nobody finds that odd. Conversely, Rick and Sam are bad ass demon hunters who are also super caring, homey people. Sam does almost all the cooking, and Rick is, in universe, a calming, soothing presence. And, more importantly, nobody comments on these behaviors negatively.

On the other side, neither does anybody look down on the non-action characters, male or female. Jeff is a non-action oriented, male hero. He’s the cleric (if we want to get really geeky, and I usually do.), and is well respected by the monster hunting community.

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One of my big beefs, as a feminist, is the fact that male villains are almost inevitably rapists. Look, I know the stats on sexual assault, and I’m not saying that we should ban rape and sexual assault in media.

On the other hand, can we not also admit that making almost every villain a rapist is lazy writing? 1, it short-changes men and their emotional depth (as usual), but 2, it reduces rape and sexual assault to the mundane. A paltry banality that every captured female character “must” suffer.

And I realize that this is a fairly heavy topic for me, so let me explain where it’s coming from.

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I’m working on my novels these days. It’s a series, and I have this former couple, Edie and Randal.  She broke up with him and took a vow of abstinence. In Book One, Randal was pretty much the bad guy, sullen and uncooperative, usually ruining whatever team building Edie managed to do.

The books begin knowing that they broke up nearly a year before, but not what lead up to it. Now in Book Two, I’m getting into it. So to sum up, he’s angry, and she’s trying very hard to ignore it, because they work together, and if people think there is a chance she’ll break her vow of abstinence, they will kill Randal. Which she doesn’t want. Because his jerkass tendencies aside, he’s still important to her. It leads to this exchange:

“What happened the night Edie was invested?” Miguel asked.

The memory of Edie’s tear-streaked face as she ordered him out of her rooms haunted him for a moment. “Ask your sister,” Randal responded, unable to do anything but snarl and glare.

“I’m asking you.” Miguel’s rock-hard  tone demanded obedience.

“I’m not sure which version Edie prefers these days.” It was a cheap shot. But the truth would likely end in his exile, if not his death. Edie was keeping her mouth shut, and he’d do the same.

While reading this passage out loud to my husband, he stated that I needed to change it, because it sounded “rapey.”

Now, both of us know exactly what happened that night, and it was not rape. But to my husband, the implied sexual violence of the image combined with slightly ambiguous wording would damage my attempt to redeem Randal in this book.

My (feminist) argument for keeping this particular wording is that people shouldn’t jump to rape when reading this. Randal’s a jerk in the first book, but at no point do I ever, remotely  hint that Edie is afraid of him, or that he was ever, ever violent towards her in any manner.

The idea that our immediate assumption as readers would not be that a young man got in a fight with his girlfriend, said something that made her cry, and she told him to leave, is an insult to men. And it really is infuriating.

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As a feminist, I’m ready for men to have relationships with women that show depth and nuance. I’m ready for men in stories to engage with women on levels beyond the physical, be it romantic or violent.

Yes, Randal shoulders the role of antagonist for most of the first book. That shouldn’t mean that people automatically jump to rapist, but we do. It’s so universal that it’s a running gag on series about movie cliches.

As a feminist, I know I need to write more complicated men. Because keeping my men simple and one dimensional also limits my women. It reduces their interactions with male characters to shallow stereotypes.

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We need to challenge the idea of men as oversexed, under emotional, perpetual children that women must ‘tame’.

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This is not attractive… to most people. I swear I’m not trying to kink-shame here.

It’s not about conceiving a universe without sexual assault, or putting women above men. It’s about conceiving a male antagonist who doesn’t default to rapist. It’s about letting men and women interact with the richness and complexities of real people, good and bad.

In short, I’m a feminist writer, and I refuse to short change any of my characters based on gender.

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Kate Whitaker writes for fun and profit from the woods of the Olympic Penninsula. You can most likely find her sitting at her kitchen table yelling at kids as she tries to figure out a new way to kill made up monsters. She has a newsletter and a comic.

 

 

 

 

I did it! by Cayenne Michaels

I actually did it!

And I think it’s taken me almost up to now to realize it.

A couple of weeks ago I packed up my whole house. Well, technically the brick building is still standing, but I stashed all our belongings into the spare guest room and basement. Then I jumped on a plane to move halfway across the world. To study literature. Continue reading

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

Who Am I?

The old saying, Write what you know, has thankfully been put to rest and can now be ignored. Seriously, if we only wrote what we knew, no one would have written about dragons or sand worms or vampires or werewolves. That would be a serious failing in our literary worlds. Continue reading

The Great Humbling by Kate Whitaker

It takes ego to be an artist. Which is not to say that all artists are raging egomaniacs.

 

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However, it does take a certain amount of self-confidence to allow people to view your work. You have to believe that it’s good.

Do I believe in my work? Yes, yes I do. I write fun stories. They have, what I hope, is surprising depth, but they are fun, and I know I am good at what I do.

So this last week as been most humbling.

See, I stopped writing my fun shorts and novellas and dusted off my novels. 100,000+ word, door-stopping, epic fantasy… I’m BACK, baby!

 

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However, I set down these novels nearly three years ago. And I grew a lot as a writer in those years. I learned what not to do when writing. I learned  a lot of stuff I didn’t know when I wrote my novels.

Which isn’t me saying that they are terrible. They aren’t. The story is solid, the characters well-rounded, the world well-balanced.

It’s the prose. It’s the technique. It’s the little things that make me a better writer than I was three years.

And now I have to go back and fix those things. Which is very humbling. Acknowledging your faults and weaknesses as an artist is always humbling. I like that I’m a better writer than I was three years ago. But that fact that I wasn’t as good as I am now is smacking me in the face… a lot.

 

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I’m coming to understand artists who don’t review their old work.

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But I also have that ego I mentioned earlier. There is a good story here, and the work I’m doing on it is purely cosmetic. I may be better at sentence structure now, but my story structure and character development was always solid.

And I’m grateful for the other writers who took the time to help me learn the last few years. I’m going to take that knowledge and apply to these novels. I’m going to make them better because I’m a better writer.

However, being better means I wasn’t always as good as I am now… And there is the great humbling in a nut shell. If you are striving to improve, that means the stuff you did previously isn’t as good as what you do now… and I’ve gone cross-eyed.

 

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So yes, my humbling is also fueling my ego. My ego has grown because it’s been humbled. Welcome to being an artist.

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Kate Whitaker writes for fun and profit from the woods of the Olympic Penninsula. You can most likely find her sitting at her kitchen table yelling at kids as she tries to figure out a new way to kill made up monsters. She has a newsletter and a comic.

 

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Hidden treasures by Cayenne Michaels

Let’s talk about inspiration.

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Where does it come from? Is it stored inside of us and stirred awake when we encounter something in our everyday life that brings out this hidden treasure we never knew we carried?

Or, is it handed to us, as a gift, by someone or something that has you or me are the perfect person to see its true potential?

Elizabeth Gilbert says:

The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.

Have you found any yet? Please…share them with us in the comments field. As writers I think we all know how to appreciate them. We know how precious these discoveries are. 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